Yesterday, early in the morning, I had an interview as well. The CEO sat with me and turned it into a working session where I had to give him solutions on the spot on how to improve his online tools. A whole hour of discussing the techniques and methodologies I would use, paired with whiteboard sketches to visualise it all. Basically, working for free, giving him a consultation.
At the end of our working session he said, "Great! Thanks for all that. The next step will be for me to send you a project to complete so I can share it with X, Y and Z." And I was like, "My time is very important to me. I think I have displayed to you now how I think and what I would do to improve your online tools. I am happy to come in for a few hours to work with your team on site, or to put in an hour of thought towards a theoretical problem that you can share with your colleagues, but I am not able to do several days worth of work for which I am not compensated." I said this very diplomatically, but the message was clear: I do not work for free. I haven't heard back from him.
To be honest I wouldn't want to work at a company that takes advantage of people in such a way – or doubts their skills so much – so I'm a little relieved. I'm even a little angry that I have given so much of my expertise to them for free already. Doing more feels out of the question. I feel like my portfolio and work experience should speak for themselves, and that I shouldn't have to give additional days of free work to prove myself. After 17 years of doing what I do – and doing it for clients like Microsoft, eBay and McDonalds – it feels like an insult, treating me like I am a junior who might not be able to do what I say I can. Ultimately I think it reveals their insecurity and unprofessionality.
So anyway. Today's interview went great. Fingers crossed that something comes of it.