June 22, 2021

Work Samples at Spreetail: Tips on How To Succeed

Rachel Gannon
June 22, 2021

Work Samples at Spreetail: Tips on How To Succeed

Rachel Gannon

In the first six months of 2021, we have added 1300 new Spreetailers to the team. That’s a lot of interviews! We’ve grown our recruitment team to ensure we can provide consistent communication to each candidate throughout the process, providing transparent updates with the goal of completing interviews in a respectful timeframe. To streamline our process as we continue to grow, most of our candidates will experience a three-step interview process after applying for an open role. This includes a phone screen with a recruiter, an interview with a hiring manager, and a panel interview for candidates to present a work sample.  

Work samples are an important part of Spreetail’s hiring process. A work sample is a presentation that a candidate gives during the first 20-30 minutes of their interview. The work sample prompt is created by the hiring manager for the role and it includes questions or scenarios for a candidate to speak to in an interview.

Typically, we see candidates use visual aids like PowerPoint, Google Slides, handouts, etc. as they answer the prompt for the interview team. During COVID-19 as we transitioned to working from home, we’ve had candidates share their screen to present in a virtual interview. After team members return to our offices, we will have candidates present their work samples in-person to the interview team like we did prior to the pandemic. After the work sample presentation, the interview team asks the candidate questions about the work sample and their thought processes, research, or philosophies behind why they completed their work sample the way they did. Then, the team will ask standard interview questions and make sure to give time at the end of the interview for the candidate to ask all their great questions.  

Completing a work sample is a way for candidates to understand what the projects and day-to-day tasks of the role would consist of at Spreetail, but it also helps the hiring team understand the skills and experience that the candidate would bring to the table. This is a great way for candidates to display their knowledge and experience in a visual way versus explaining it through answering questions from the team. Work samples facilitate a deeper discussion about past experiences, current knowledge, and potential for the future.

“The smooth communication from the HR team, to the hiring manger, to the work sample interview, everyone was committed to making sure the candidate was the best fit for the role AND the role was a good fit for the candidate. This level of commitment when it comes to hiring certainly requires more time and effort on the front end, but I think this process will be part of the reason Spreetail continues to be successful.” - Candidate Feedback, March 2021

Candidates typically have multiple days to complete the work sample, which gives them time to prepare for the interview and put their best foot forward. First, our work sample prompts lay out the context of the role. These are details like the main duties of the role, how the role will impact team goals, and how the role fits into the overall company vision. We believe this context is important for candidates to know as they approach the work sample so they keep the entire perspective in mind.

Next, the work sample prompt will generally have one question. This question can be hypothetical or literal, for example: “Tell us about a project you completed in the past that either increased revenue, decreased costs, or reduced risk in your career.” These are typically very open-ended questions so that candidates have the freedom to answer however they’d like.  

Finally, we have an expectations section where the hiring manager lays out 5-6 questions or statements that help the candidate know which direction to take the presentation. Examples could be “What will your key KPIs (key performance indicators) be through the planning and how will you measure success?” or “How was the project ran and scoped?” There is no right or wrong way to approach or structure the work sample. Our teams look for high level philosophies/strategies and experiences versus perfect answers to every question.

“I really liked the interview process and I think utilizing a work sample in the final interview is a great idea. It highlights the candidate's abilities and also their willingness to prepare a presentation.” - Candidate Feedback, April 2021

On average, it takes about 3-4 hours to complete a work sample, but it does differ depending on the role. We want to make sure candidates can prepare well for the work sample presentation by doing strong research on the overall ecommerce industry, marketplace selling, and anything else specific to the role they are interviewing for. We also encourage candidates to ask their recruiter questions about anything that may be unclear once receiving the prompt.  

When presenting a work sample, our team recommends speaking to the items on your visual aid without reading directly from them. This will show the interview team that you are a subject matter expert of the content and are not relying on the words on the screen, but rather the knowledge you have. A great rule of thumb when preparing to present is to think through what questions the interview team might have for you as you present – get in front of those and answer them in your work sample. This will show the team that you have thought one step ahead. Be sure to get rid of all distractions like computer notifications, external noises, or even your phone during the interview. Find a great spot with strong Wi-Fi and a spot with no background distractions so all members can be attentive and engaged. Last but not least: come with confidence! The team is excited to hear from candidates and learn what they bring to the table.  

At Spreetail, interviewing is a two-way street. We are evaluating the candidate just as much as they are evaluating us as their next employer. Work samples allow candidates to have a glimpse into the role prior to starting, whether through providing an exercise of a task they’d complete on a regular basis or an example of a project they could expect to tackle after joining the team. To start your interview process with us, apply today at www.wearespreetail.com/our-team.  

Rachel Gannon

Recruiter

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