No matter how well you interview, more and more hiring organizations will ask you to participate in a real-world project before they extend an offer. They want to test your ability to do the job, whether you’re redesigning a social media campaign, documenting a tricky bit of software, or editing a keynote presentation. Proceed with caution when offered such an assignment: Sometimes firms use them to pit two or three candidates against each other, and they usually pay below-market rates for the work. But don’t turn down the opportunity. A project gives you the opportunity to shine — and win credibility — in advance: If you get the job, people in the organization will know you’ve already delivered something above and beyond a decent track record. It’s also a good chance for you to learn about what it’s like to work with your future boss and colleagues.
Adapted from the HBR Guide to Getting the Right Job.