Interviews are becoming much more in depth than a few simple questions these days.  Interviewers often want to see examples of your actual work, and may ask you questions that give them insight into what value you can really add to the company. For example, they may ask: “If you joined, what would you suggest doing about X?”  They may even ask you to work on a sample project that can take significant time.

With these new interview tactics, the question on many job seekers’ minds often are, “How much of my ideas should I give away?” and, “If I share my ideas, will they be taken and used even if I’m not offered the job?”

It’s a tricky one, but in my opinion you should always go all out in an interview, giving it everything you’ve got.  Doing anything only half way will not get you great results, especially in the interview process.  So if you’re asked to work on a project or present an idea for the company, be thoughtful, thorough and brilliant.

That being said, how can you really know if your idea is going to be taken and used without you in the equation?

3 Things to Consider

1. Interview with companies that have good values and company cultures. Look on Glassdoor.com, speak to people you know who work or have worked there, and do lots of research.  When you start to investigate a company’s culture from reliable and candid sources, you may learn if it’s a “shark-like” environment.  If it is, spend less time worrying about their intentions with your idea, and more time pondering whether or not it is still a company you want to work for.

2. Gauge the intentions of your interviewers. This is kind of a tricky one to pin down, but go with your gut.  Are you really connecting with the person you are interviewing with, or does it seem like they care less about who you are and more about what you can produce?  In some cases, partially taking that approach is fine, because at the end of the day, results are important.  However, it’s not all that matters.  Looking behind the results to figure out “how” someone gets there should also be important to the company. Ask yourself if they are focusing on both.

3. Have faith in the fact that the idea itself usually isn’t the hard part, the execution is. I’ve heard this a lot… and I do believe it. Coming up with an idea is relatively easy compared to executing on it successfully, which takes time, effort and the right person. Even if a company does steal an idea, your goal in an interview is to make sure they also know you are critical to executing that idea. The only way you can do that is by emphasizing and impressive and unique skill set.

The next time you are asked to present an idea or work on a project as part of an interview process, consider the three things above. Then, go all out and give it your absolute best shot!

Have you ever felt uncomfortable working on a project as a job candidate? Tell us in the comments.