How much free labour during hiring process is too much ?

Azt7Azt7 ITIL, MCSA Office 365, MCSE Productivity, AWS CSAA, Azure ArchitectPosts: 113Member ■■■■□□□□□□
edited July 10 in IT Jobs / Degrees
I share situations I encounter every now in the job search and now I am starting to agree with the overall gut feeling that a lot of people are getting taken advantage of. 

So you go through all the steps in the recruitment process. Then comes the employer wanting to evaluate how you work, rightfully so. That's when it becomes blurry :  
  • A marketing specialist I worked with was asked to translate and put company branding on a 10 page document in a 24 hrs window. As a full time employee, she produced it and never heard from the employer again.
  • I was asked by a well-known global bank to produced a risk assessment for a web portal involving PII. Did it and sent it then they asked me to tweak it for a  presentation for executives. Tweaked it and sent it, and now the recruiter hasn't heard from them for over a week when they would usually respond in hours.
  • A consulting firm asked previously for me to provide my risk dashboard templates but I refused because it seemed fishy, I offered to do a use case of their liking. Never heard from them again
  • Now, I'll be meeting a company who's looking for a cyber sec advisor. They told me that they usually request you to do a 15-20 hours project to evaluate you. Even ask you to come in their office if you want to, meet the team. 
On that last one, I will refuse to do anything like that for free but I still want to meet them to get a better feel of things instead of using previous experiences to cloud my judgment. 

How much is too much in terms of showing your value ? 

I have heard for years about people asking you questions and using your responses to fix issues without ever hiring you but never believed it. I guess now it starting to make sense. 
Certifications : ITIL, MCSA Office 365, MCSE Productivity, AWS CSAA, Azure Architect, CCSK
Studying for : ISO 27005 Risk Manager - 11/19 
2020/2021 : CRISC - TOGAF 
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Comments

  • 10Linefigure10Linefigure CCNP R&S, Security+ USAPosts: 368Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    I wouldn't do any.

    If they want to bring you in for an interview, maybe a whiteboard session, or they may even have a small lab set up with a sheet that says fix problems A,B,C or something similar, that's all good. But asking someone to actually create a production deliverable  before being officially hired, no way. 

    Also, your resume should show your competencies and ability to add value to an organization. Your references should be able to verify these and probably provide even more details with a quick call. 
    CCNP R&S, Security+
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  • cyberguyprcyberguypr Senior Member Posts: 6,832Mod Mod
    edited July 10
    Ah, I've read too many similar horror stories in /r/recruitinghell. Simply NO. Zero special projects for me. Companies pull this crap because they know someone out there is desperate enough to oblige to their games. The most I am willing to do is take some stupid personality test. White-boarding is also OK with me. 
  • Azt7Azt7 ITIL, MCSA Office 365, MCSE Productivity, AWS CSAA, Azure Architect Posts: 113Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    Definitely agree with all of you guys. I have been way too conciliatory in my research and actually feel ashamed that I bent backwards in previous situations. After a decade in this industry, I should definitely know better. 

    I am currently a full time employee so I'm not that desperate. Funny thing is I'm waiting on an offer letter in the next 2 weeks (administrative delay / background check) and I'm just looking around as a backup plan. 

    They can pay me an hourly wage if they want me to produce anything. 
    Certifications : ITIL, MCSA Office 365, MCSE Productivity, AWS CSAA, Azure Architect, CCSK
    Studying for : ISO 27005 Risk Manager - 11/19 
    2020/2021 : CRISC - TOGAF 
  • Azt7Azt7 ITIL, MCSA Office 365, MCSE Productivity, AWS CSAA, Azure Architect Posts: 113Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    Just as an update, the company advised that the project will be paid up to $1200. 

    Not bad !
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    Studying for : ISO 27005 Risk Manager - 11/19 
    2020/2021 : CRISC - TOGAF 
  • PCTechLincPCTechLinc CISSP, CHFI, CEH, MCSA Server 2008, Project+, Security+ce, Server+, Network+, A+ King City, CAPosts: 621Member ■■■■■□□□□□
    Most of these requests are completely illegal due to being required to be paid for any type of work at all.  At least in California, companies can ask someone to provide "sample" work to prove their skills, but they have to get paid if it's production work.  Like everything else, people will continue to do anything until someone fights back.
    Master of Business Administration in Information Technology Management - Western Governors University
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  • cyberguyprcyberguypr Senior Member Posts: 6,832Mod Mod
    This is a personal decision. I would consider a "hiring" project a consulting engagement. Since they are offering to pay, I expect nothing other than a contract stipulating scope of the work, NDA, terms etc. But again, I have zero patience for this BS.
  • iBrokeITiBrokeIT GXPN GPEN GWAPT GCIH GCFE GICSP GSEC eJPT Sec+ Posts: 1,240Member ■■■■■■■■■□
    Azt7 said:

    How much is too much in terms of showing your value ? 

    I would not say no but put the ball back in their court and request they demonstrate their value to me by providing a pay check for said work.  After all, employment is a two way street and they certainly wouldn't expect you produce a deliverable that has business value for free... right? /s   ;)
  • scaredoftestsscaredoftests Security +, ITIL Foundation, MPT, EPO, ACAS, HTL behind youPosts: 2,710Mod Mod
    None! I would send a bill to the other few places you did something for. God what gall!! 
    Never let your fear decide your fate....
  • PseudonymPseudonym A+, Net+, Sec+, Linux+, ITIL v3, MCITP:EDST/EDA, CCNA R&S/Cyber Ops, MCSA:2008/2012, MCSE:CP&I Posts: 341Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    I was asked to come in for an unpaid trial day at my current job, ended up spending probably up to 40 hours on making a project for the trial day. 

    To be honest, I can understand people's concerns, but it's helped me step up from desktop support to Devops engineer in one go. I'm now migrating all of their apps to kubernetes and have a massive degree of autonomy to implement projects from scratch. Not to mention a substantial pay rise. 
    Certifications - A+, Net+, Sec+, Linux+, ITIL v3, MCITP:EDST/EDA, CCNA R&S/Cyber Ops, MCSA:2008/2012, MCSE:CP&I, RHCSA
    Working on - RHCE
  • thomas_thomas_ CompTIA N+/S+/L+; CCNA R&S; CCNP R&S Posts: 902Member ■■■■■■□□□□
    Azt7 said:
    Just as an update, the company advised that the project will be paid up to $1200. 

    Not bad !
    “Up to” - Watch them come back and give you $100 for your 15 - 20 hour project that ended up taking you 40 hours to complete.
  • Danielm7Danielm7 Posts: 2,264Member ■■■■■■■■□□
    A friend of mine is trying to get a new job in marketing. He's got lots of marketing experience, ran his own company for years, a degree, etc, he's qualified. He even interviews well. I thought he was joking when he was talking about all the tests he has to do just as part of the application process, he started taking screenshots of some of them and sending them to me. 

    He's had to take a bunch of basic math tests, a few of them had spelling tests involved. One of the application processes was an online app that took easily 30+ minutes to fill all the fields, then upload your resume after (of course) then it kicked right into a three tests, each one saying expect 45 minutes to complete. Personality testing, one was a browser based VM where you had to do basic office tasks like copy and pasting in emails, it was a silly waste of time. 

    I know it's a little different than the free work thing, he's been asked to do that as well, but the amount of pre filtering some companies expect to do is insane. Already require 5+ years of professional experience, a BS or higher and you have to bring a full portfolio of your work. Do all that, then be asked to take a spelling test and math that I've literally helped 2nd graders do. (The questions were like, Jerry has two shoelaces, one is 20 inches long, the second is 7 inches longer than the first, How long are both of them together?)
  • Azt7Azt7 ITIL, MCSA Office 365, MCSE Productivity, AWS CSAA, Azure Architect Posts: 113Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    edited July 12
    thomas_ said:
    Azt7 said:
    Just as an update, the company advised that the project will be paid up to $1200. 

    Not bad !
    “Up to” - Watch them come back and give you $100 for your 15 - 20 hour project that ended up taking you 40 hours to complete.
    Yeah, the overall vibe was odd. Anyway, I won't be taking the job or move forward with any project with them. 

    I have an offer letter coming in for sure thanks to a customer referral for another company. No value to show there since a big customer is vouching for me  :D


    Certifications : ITIL, MCSA Office 365, MCSE Productivity, AWS CSAA, Azure Architect, CCSK
    Studying for : ISO 27005 Risk Manager - 11/19 
    2020/2021 : CRISC - TOGAF 
  • Infosec_SamInfosec_Sam Security+, CCENT, ITIL Foundation, A+ Madison, WIPosts: 363Admin Admin
    Danielm7 said:
    A friend of mine is trying to get a new job in marketing. He's got lots of marketing experience, ran his own company for years, a degree, etc, he's qualified. He even interviews well. I thought he was joking when he was talking about all the tests he has to do just as part of the application process, he started taking screenshots of some of them and sending them to me. 

    He's had to take a bunch of basic math tests, a few of them had spelling tests involved. One of the application processes was an online app that took easily 30+ minutes to fill all the fields, then upload your resume after (of course) then it kicked right into a three tests, each one saying expect 45 minutes to complete. Personality testing, one was a browser based VM where you had to do basic office tasks like copy and pasting in emails, it was a silly waste of time. 

    I know it's a little different than the free work thing, he's been asked to do that as well, but the amount of pre filtering some companies expect to do is insane. Already require 5+ years of professional experience, a BS or higher and you have to bring a full portfolio of your work. Do all that, then be asked to take a spelling test and math that I've literally helped 2nd graders do. (The questions were like, Jerry has two shoelaces, one is 20 inches long, the second is 7 inches longer than the first, How long are both of them together?)
    I can't remember which job I did it for, but I did the same thing! It might seem silly to IT folks, but if it filters out even a single candidate, it's doing exactly what it was built to do. I remember thinking to myself, "Is my ability to recycle a file really getting tested right now?" I guess if it's stupid and it works, then it's not stupid.

    As far as actual pre-offer work goes, I was just asked to draft a couple of responses to some forum posts so they could gauge my writing style/ability (Community Manager position). None of that work actually contributed to the business, so I didn't feel taken advantage of. Plus, it was only a half hour or so of work, so it was more than reasonable in my opinion.
    Community Manager at Infosec!
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  • MrsWilliamsMrsWilliams Junior Member Posts: 161Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    edited July 12
    Azt7 said:
    I share situations I encounter every now in the job search and now I am starting to agree with the overall gut feeling that a lot of people are getting taken advantage of. 

    So you go through all the steps in the recruitment process. Then comes the employer wanting to evaluate how you work, rightfully so. That's when it becomes blurry : 
    I personally don't see anything wrong with it, within limits of course. 

    I applied for an incident handler position years ago. It was with a big defense contractor. Everything was going smoothly, so I thought. I was given some items to download and analyze in Wireshark and a scenario.I remember it was some questions I had to answer based on my analysis. 

    It wasn't a right or wrong answer but it was a right or wrong answer. 

    Recently, I heard from someone that said they give developers projects to see how they would handle them. 

    I have seen a few resumes and laughed to my self and hit the LOL button on a few resume recommendations. For instance..you say you are "proficient", "familiar", "hands on", or "working knowledge",  with *insert programming language here*. Ok, cool. What  does all of that mean? How can I gauge your productivity in the production environment with those vague and less than detailed resume keywords/key-words? Makes you think doesn't it? Ok, I can definitely gauge it by giving you a hands on activity. 

    I said that to say, I see nothing wrong with understand the individual work and worth. 

    For one reason and one reason only... People Lie on Resumes. All HR is going to say is YES he worked here during these dates or NO he didn't. HR can't confirm or deny you pushed START on a Vulnerability scan and why you put Information Assurance and Penetration Tester on your resume. Most organizations don't do thorough background checks for several reasons. The most thorough of any kind of background check anyone will EVER receive is when going through a high level clearance investigation with all the (physical) interviews and 1,000,000 questions. 

    What has to be understood is, most big organizations (not recrutiers/hiring agencies) don't go looking for talent. Talent comes looking for them, most of the time. Not all. Organizations that have a great salary, benefits, vacation, etc have the right to be selective and picky. 

    Veterans, you know why the Coast Guard is so small? Because 1. They are selective and picky. 2. You come looking for them, they don't come looking for you. In most high schools you'll see Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine recruiters (give or take one or two). I've never seen a Coast Guard recruiter in my high school ever and I grew up in a big city. 

    People that NEED a job can't be picky. If my bank account were to ever be small (god forbid), I would be less selective on what I decided to do and not to do if requested by a recruiter or potential employer. 
  • MrsWilliamsMrsWilliams Junior Member Posts: 161Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    edited July 12
    Azt7 said:
    I share situations I encounter every now in the job search and now I am starting to agree with the overall gut feeling that a lot of people are getting taken advantage of. 

    So you go through all the steps in the recruitment process. Then comes the employer wanting to evaluate how you work, rightfully so. That's when it becomes blurry : 
    I personally don't see anything wrong with it, within limits of course. 

    I applied for an incident handler position years ago. It was with a big defense contractor. Everything was going smoothly, so I thought. I was given some items to download and analyze in Wireshark and a scenario.I remember it was some questions I had to answer based on my analysis. 

    It wasn't a right or wrong answer but it was a right or wrong answer. 

    Recently, I heard from someone that said they give developers projects to see how they would handle them. 

    I have seen a few resumes and laughed to my self and hit the LOL button on a few resume recommendations. For instance..you say you are "proficient", "familiar", "hands on", or "working knowledge",  with *insert programming language here*. Ok, cool. What  does all of that mean? How can I gauge your productivity in the production environment with those vague and less than detailed resume keywords/key-words? Makes you think doesn't it? Ok, I can definitely gauge it by giving you a hands on activity. 

    I said that to say, I see nothing wrong with understand the individual work and worth. 

    For one reason and one reason only... People Lie on Resumes. All HR is going to say is YES he worked here during these dates or NO he didn't. HR can't confirm or deny you pushed START on a Vulnerability scan and why you put Information Assurance and Penetration Tester on your resume. Most organizations don't do thorough background checks for several reasons. The most thorough of any kind of background check anyone will EVER receive is when going through a high level clearance investigation with all the (physical) interviews and 1,000,000 questions. 

    What has to be understood is, most big organizations (not recrutiers/hiring agencies) don't go looking for talent. Talent comes looking for them, most of the time. Not all. Organizations that have a great salary, benefits, vacation, etc have the right to be selective and picky. 

    Veterans, you know why the Coast Guard is so small? Because 1. They are selective and picky. 2. You come looking for them, they don't come looking for you. In most high schools you'll see Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine recruiters (give or take one or two). I've never seen a Coast Guard recruiter in my high school ever and I grew up in a big city. 

    People that NEED a job can't be picky. If my bank account were to ever be small (god forbid), I would be less selective on what I decided to do and not to do if requested by a recruiter or potential employer. 
    Plus.....

    An interview can be a waste of everyones times. Before someone says, an interview can isolate the facts and the fictions on a resume.

    Ok, we had an interview. HR was there and 2-6 other people who should be working right now but stopped to conduct this interview. I've had interviews during lunch time, true story. So, HR was there and 2-6 other people who would rather be at Chick Fill A right now know within the first 5 minutes your resume was fluff and this is a total waste of time. But, they smile and act like it's not a big deal when it is and wish you the best. 

    You fluffed your resume, waisted everyones times, they smiled like it wasn't a big deal, when really it was and they wish they picked the intern that just graduated college because he is trainable, will take 60% less because he has 60k in student loans and you know he doesn't know anything. ... but he is trainable.. and desperate. ..and will work long hours .. and won't complain. But, you can mold him to be the best (insert title here). Which, is really worth it in the end. More money saved for the business win-win.

    I think we should go through measures to eliminate physical contact to ensure the right person is coming in for the interview and not just based off a resume.

    Ok, I am done here. Have a nice one!
  • Danielm7Danielm7 Posts: 2,264Member ■■■■■■■■□□
    I think a few of the earlier comments are looking at it more from a technical exam sort of direction and I'm not sure anyone really has a problem with that. When it's "do a full assessment of my environment, write it up in a report and presentation that I can show my board, using my template, and I want it done by Friday." that it starts to get into the realm of "free work" vs a test. If you want to be a pen tester and they show you a sample web app and the exam says you have to do 10 things to pass it, sure, that's a test. Asking you to be a free consultant is another thing entirely. 
  • NavyMooseCCNANavyMooseCCNA CCNA R&S, ITIL, Security+ ZZ9ZZAPosts: 543Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    I wouldn't do unpaid work. I did work for a firm that had a DB problem and didn't have a DBA. The IT director put out a job req looking for DBAs. He did it to show the problem and get a solution...for free.

    'My dear you are ugly, but tomorrow I shall be sober and you will still be ugly' Winston Churchil

  • Azt7Azt7 ITIL, MCSA Office 365, MCSE Productivity, AWS CSAA, Azure Architect Posts: 113Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    edited July 16
    I wouldn't do unpaid work. I did work for a firm that had a DB problem and didn't have a DBA. The IT director put out a job req looking for DBAs. He did it to show the problem and get a solution...for free.
    At this point, I wonder how many times it happened to me. Especially when during the interview, people are taking lots of notes instead of focusing on the conversation.


    Certifications : ITIL, MCSA Office 365, MCSE Productivity, AWS CSAA, Azure Architect, CCSK
    Studying for : ISO 27005 Risk Manager - 11/19 
    2020/2021 : CRISC - TOGAF 
  • JoJoCal19JoJoCal19 California Kid Posts: 2,799Mod Mod
    None

    All work is, is...  trading hours of life for pay.   I'm not giving people hours of my life for free, it doesn't make any sense.....
    My man knows what's up! Right now I value every free hour outside of my core working hours at $250/hr, which is honestly on the low side compared to what some people value theirs at (Brandon @ BiggerPockets values his at $1000/hr as an example). I'm definitely not going to perform a deliverable for someone as part of a job application. Technical challenge/lab as long as they're not too long, or whiteboarding, sure. 
    Have: CISSP, CISM, CISA, CRISC, eJPT, GCIA, GSEC, CCSP, CCSK, AWS CSAA, AWS CCP, CEHv8, CHFIv8, ITIL-F, MS Cyber Security - USF, BSBA - UF, MSISA - WGU
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  • DatabaseHeadDatabaseHead CSM, ITIL x3, Teradata Assc, MS SQL Server, Project +, Server +, A+, N+, MS Project, CAPM, RMP Posts: 2,475Member ■■■■■■■■■□
    edited July 16
    Seen this NavyMoose.  My former boss brought in an AI/Data Scientist resource in an interview knowing he was going to cost to much money and not stay long in the role....... However he thought it would be good insights so he brought him in for an interview with the sole purpose of "picking his brain".......   

    This is a great topic BTW.  
  • NotHackingYouNotHackingYou Posts: 1,460Member ■■■■■■■■□□
    Danielm7 said:
    I think a few of the earlier comments are looking at it more from a technical exam sort of direction and I'm not sure anyone really has a problem with that. When it's "do a full assessment of my environment, write it up in a report and presentation that I can show my board, using my template, and I want it done by Friday." that it starts to get into the realm of "free work" vs a test. If you want to be a pen tester and they show you a sample web app and the exam says you have to do 10 things to pass it, sure, that's a test. Asking you to be a free consultant is another thing entirely. 
    Totally agree with this!
    When you go the extra mile, there's no traffic.
  • PantherPanther Posts: 114Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    edited July 19
    I've heard about this, but to hear it first hand is crazy, having candidateS spend countless hours, and in the end you may/may not get the job or even hear back.
  • PantherPanther Posts: 114Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    edited July 19
    Pseudonym said:
    I was asked to come in for an unpaid trial day at my current job, ended up spending probably up to 40 hours on making a project for the trial day. 

    To be honest, I can understand people's concerns, but it's helped me step up from desktop support to Devops engineer in one go. I'm now migrating all of their apps to kubernetes and have a massive degree of autonomy to implement projects from scratch. Not to mention a substantial pay rise. 

    What did they see in you, to ask you to come in?

    I'm trying to step up from desktop support also.

    I'm tempted to seek/do volunteer work outside of current role/team, at my current company.

    I actually don't have a problem with it, if it will give me a leg up. Of course there are no guarantees either, and they could just be using you.

    You did a week's worth for free ("up to 40 hours")?
  • Azt7Azt7 ITIL, MCSA Office 365, MCSE Productivity, AWS CSAA, Azure Architect Posts: 113Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    edited July 19
    Panther said:
    I've heard about this, but to hear it first hand is crazy, having candidateS spend countless hours, and in the end you may/may not get the job or even hear back.

    It becomes even more interesting when you bring in 5 competent candidates and you submit use cases to them. 

    Can you imagine having a few 10-15 years IT vets giving you different perspectives on the same issue ? For free ?

    That has to be an amazing feeling lol. 
    Certifications : ITIL, MCSA Office 365, MCSE Productivity, AWS CSAA, Azure Architect, CCSK
    Studying for : ISO 27005 Risk Manager - 11/19 
    2020/2021 : CRISC - TOGAF 
  • DatabaseHeadDatabaseHead CSM, ITIL x3, Teradata Assc, MS SQL Server, Project +, Server +, A+, N+, MS Project, CAPM, RMP Posts: 2,475Member ■■■■■■■■■□
    Just experienced this yesterday thought I would share.........  

    Received a case study for a data architect position.  Asked dozens of scenarios including how I would go about building out a warehouse including email communications etc....    It took me 4 hours.  I get a reply back saying the hiring manager is on the fence loved most but there was a crucial part missed, which was the change management piece.....   The annoying part was on the case study it said there was no right or wrong answer yet he was saying it was wrong and wanted clarification.  In the spirit of this communication I declined to provide anymore insights unless I would be compensated for my time at a rate of 100 an hour min 2 hours......    
  • PseudonymPseudonym A+, Net+, Sec+, Linux+, ITIL v3, MCITP:EDST/EDA, CCNA R&S/Cyber Ops, MCSA:2008/2012, MCSE:CP&I Posts: 341Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    Panther said:
    Pseudonym said:
    I was asked to come in for an unpaid trial day at my current job, ended up spending probably up to 40 hours on making a project for the trial day. 

    To be honest, I can understand people's concerns, but it's helped me step up from desktop support to Devops engineer in one go. I'm now migrating all of their apps to kubernetes and have a massive degree of autonomy to implement projects from scratch. Not to mention a substantial pay rise. 

    What did they see in you, to ask you to come in?

    I'm trying to step up from desktop support also.

    I'm tempted to seek/do volunteer work outside of current role/team, at my current company.

    I actually don't have a problem with it, if it will give me a leg up. Of course there are no guarantees either, and they could just be using you.

    You did a week's worth for free ("up to 40 hours")?
    My certifications helped, I imagine. See below:
    Certifications - A+, Net+, Sec+, Linux+, ITIL v3, MCITP:EDST/EDA, CCNA R&S/Cyber Ops, MCSA:2008/2012, MCSE:CP&I, RHCSA
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  • Azt7Azt7 ITIL, MCSA Office 365, MCSE Productivity, AWS CSAA, Azure Architect Posts: 113Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    edited July 26
    Just experienced this yesterday thought I would share.........  

    Received a case study for a data architect position.  Asked dozens of scenarios including how I would go about building out a warehouse including email communications etc....    It took me 4 hours.  I get a reply back saying the hiring manager is on the fence loved most but there was a crucial part missed, which was the change management piece.....   The annoying part was on the case study it said there was no right or wrong answer yet he was saying it was wrong and wanted clarification.  In the spirit of this communication I declined to provide anymore insights unless I would be compensated for my time at a rate of 100 an hour min 2 hours......    

    This is the most difficult task we have. How do you show your value without being taken advantage of ?

    Clearly, you  have the killer combo knowledge + experience but you have to refrain from giving too much otherwise the company will just implement your ideas without hiring you. It is such a head scratcher that I don't think there's a way around it. 

    At this point, I will start asking question early in the process to see exactly where is the process going and do I really want the position. For example, the bank position I highlighted above was very desirable to me. Even though I provided too much as per ''our standards'', it was worth it for me. 

    In any other case, I will keep the answers somewhat vague.
    Certifications : ITIL, MCSA Office 365, MCSE Productivity, AWS CSAA, Azure Architect, CCSK
    Studying for : ISO 27005 Risk Manager - 11/19 
    2020/2021 : CRISC - TOGAF 
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