• Dollcee Khattar

Interview Tests - A scam

Latest News, I was approached by a company in the same city - Pune, India for an "Exciting Opportunity" on LinkedIn. I appreciate such initiatives and like to take them seriously and much more professionally, with a full intention to collaboration or resulting in something productive and worthy. Since in this post I am addressing a huge issue that exists in the creative industry, I will name the company and people who wanted to take advantage of this situation. In not any manner am I trying to say they are bad people or a bad company, the predatory ethics is the matter of concern, however.

Company Name : Gravitasq Stories Person In Contact : Aloysius Domnic | Anupama Sathe Place : Viman Nagar, Pune, India Website : http://www.gravitasqstories.com

To apply for the exciting opportunity, I was called for an interview and asked if I was likely to submit a small test to prove my capability to take over the job/project. To which I did not deny. I agree to the interviewing stages. The following day, I received an email as attached below.

The Issues : 1. Message Received : End of a working day - 530pm

2. Deadline : working hours - less than 3hours or non working ( less than 10hours)

3. Tasks : The small tests includes a branding project and 2 brochure options.

4. The Red Flag Issue : Send the Raw Files.

Any studio test are compatibility test. They are done in order to prove your skillset, your thinking process, your time management, your attitude and of-course the final design/look. A studio test, in order to get free work done is predatory. This should be raised as an issue, there should be measures and awareness that help young designers to read these red flags and save their work and time.


Reading this email I was in RAGE!

Giving them the benefit of doubt that no head designer was part of their team, just young designers in a fairly new company that needed some guidance and structure in place, I called back to clarify and put forward my issues which was received well. My 'small' studio test was now - a brochure with 2 day deadline. I agreed to this. Received the following email. This extents how much they are in need of design head.


One tip to all the designer who are currently looking for a job and constantly have to submit these studio test - Deliver before the deadline. Always. And good work. Original work.

Here is what I delivered. The story continues after. Hold on!


For a studio test and less than 24hr delivery, I think its pretty decent. Of course I could spend more time and give it more finishing but its only a test, not a real project, I'm not getting paid and not yet have I also any offer on the table.

As per doubts the next email I received, it made the company's ethics and intentions more clear.

The RAW File Issue :

Again, I say it, a studio test is only a formality which is optional. Originally, your portfolio should speak for itself. To make yourself stand out more - have references along with your resume. If a studio text takes you more than 4 hours to do - There's something fishy.


Firstly, a studio test should never be a full project with a perfect design output. It should be little task or tasks . Secondly, it should never be a company's clients project that they might sell forward. You should never do free work without signing a contract or agreement or at least have an offer on the table.

Thirdly, never pass on your raw files. period. It's your work. If they like it, they should hire you otherwise they should buy it from you. They should not use your work without your permission. The 'it's okay if you're not comfortable' Issue :

I called them out in an email, to which the response was :

Comfortable? It sounded like I was not the victim anymore, instead they were. These companies, they try tactics that make you feel guilty of you doing the right thing. Asking for raw files without any contract/agreement/payment/or even an offer is predatory. I'm sure many designers have fallen for this trap. And switching the narrative in the email, is just another last try. A couple statement that I have heard that are similar to 'guilt' aspect : When you're quiting your HR might say :

- you're not even the best here, we have done so much for you. You might not even get a better job anywhere else.

- You will end up nowhere.

Don't take it to your heart. They are trained. Its reverse psychology. They are saying it probably because you are good, and they can't openly say they need you otherwise you'll ask for the raise. So they attack your morals, your confidence and get you to a state of mind that can be manipulated. Be wiser and stand your grounds. And to the conclusion of the episode.

Did I send my raw files?

Nope.

Did I get the project/job?

Nope.


Did I get any feedback on the 'Small task'?

Nope.


Did they answer my follow up calls?

Nope.

Even today in India, the creative industry is yet to be more protected by laws. Laws for predatory contracts, for mis-use of work, for non payment or bills/projects, for copying and illegally owning else's work. We need laws against immoral companies and how they treat their employees. More over I believe we need a minimal hourly wage rate for professionals. At the moment a young designer having a average salary of 20k INR is only earning Rs. 74/- per hour. Thats a SHAME for your government to allow that. What can you buy with Rs. 74/- not even a proper meal. But one issue at a time. Guys protect your work. read all the red flags and don't fall for such scams.

Written and designed by Dollcee Khattar. If you would like to work with me or join the conversation reach out at hello@dollceekhattar.com or leave a comment bellow and I'll be touch!

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Hi I’m Dollcee. A graphic Designer based out of India, working for international clients. If you’re looking for a creative partner for your project, feel free to hit me up. 

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