Be prepared for homework on your next job search
Bottom Line: It's harder to hire well than it's been in about 20 years. The great news for Americans and the economy generally, is the lowest unemployment rate since 2000. That's not great news for hiring managers however – it's a whole lot harder to find the right people for the right job. Rather than hiring and hoping it works out, the fastest growing trend is to make potential employees prove their work prior to working for a company.
The point is pretty obvious...someone who's diligent and produces a well-executed assignment is far more likely to be serious and dedicated (compared to someone who mails it in). According to the Addison Group, a year ago, 10% of all job interviews included some type of "homework" assignment as part of the interview process. Today that's doubled to 20% with some industries up to 30%. What's typical if you do receive an offsite project as part of the process?
Most projects are expected to take 2-3 hours to complete. And are generally related to a mix of skills that'd be useful in the job. That being said there are some assignments that are simply designed to weed out those who don't want to put in the extra effort. So, you shouldn't be shocked if it doesn't seem directly related to the opportunity.