Has anyone else been asked to make spec work for a brand as part of an interview?

I interviewed for an ecd position at a fashion brand and they asked me to create a "spec" digital and social campaign for their Fall Winter collection. I politely told them that, no, sorry that sounds more like freelance with the emphasis on free, and further, if they need to get a sense of my ability, they should take another look at my portfolio.
Wondering if anybody else has encountered this?


  • Yes, I did for an ECD position. The "spec" work in question was my coming up with an entire campaign for them. After I stopped laughing I politely explained to them that I would need it in writing that they were going to pay me for that work, regardless of whether they hired me. They demurred, so I withdrew.
    Here's the thing: Some places like Facebook and Uber do this as part of their applicaiton process, but this is usually third-party handled and never part of something they would actually use. If that's the case, I can see it if you are a junior-mid level. Otherwise, no way.
  • I have had to do it in the past and in that case I did get the job. However for an ECD role I would question what they are evaluating as the role is not about being 'on the tools' yourself, it's about leadership and management. You will already have a portfolio that shows that you know what good work is and how to do it yourself.
  • Not personally, but friends who I graduated with fell into this trap straight out of Uni – it's all too often that students with no experience yet believe this is an opportunity for both party's, however, the brand, has no intention other than making a 100% profit from your work. It's wrong, and it devalues the industry. It's exploitation; plaigerism, if it's percieved non-commercial, and the brand runs with it anyway. There should be laws in place to prevent uncompensated work.

    Glad you handled it the way you did!

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