I have to build with Legos during an interview, I don’t want to cross a picket line for work errands, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. I have to use Legos to build something that represents me during an interview

Using your recommendations for resumes and cover letters, I landed an interview with what I believe to be my dream job. While prepping for the interview, I looked up some common interview practices for the company. Most of it was standard, but there’s one that threw me through a loop.

The company is Lego, and according to Glassdoor and an interview with a hiring manager, applicants are left alone in a room upon arriving for the interview and given a half hour or so to build something that represents them out of legos.

I’m lucky to have this tip beforehand – but I’m still at a total loss on what to do. I’m applying for a marketing position, so the work wouldn’t require artistic/design qualities. I thought about things that incorporate their core values, mission, etc., but I’m drawing a blank as to how I can actually show this in Lego-form. What is the interviewer looking for with this question? In your opinion, what would a “good” answer look like? Not suggesting providing the verbatim answer, but I just want to get the gist of what they’re actually evaluating with these types of questions.

I understand quick thinking and creativity, but is there something else on the table? In your experience, how useful are these questions at evaluating candidates, and what is the cost of a “bad” answer?

Ugh, not a fan. Unless you’re applying for a job that includes building things out of Legos, or that’s adjacent to that in some relevant way, I’m really skeptical that there’s much correlation between this and who will excel at the job.

I googled to see if I could find someone at the company talking about the practice, and I found an interview with their HR director where she talks about why they ask candidates to do this. She says: “We like to see how familiar candidates are with our product and how comfortable they are creating something fun and imaginative with our bricks and also how willing they are to be vulnerable. Watching future employees build a part of themselves is very memorable and reflective of our spirit and values. We keep the model they build in the interview and, if they are hired, we have it waiting for them on their desk on their first day of work.”

So creativity and vulnerability, basically. I think vulnerably is highly suspect as a value in hiring unless a job truly requires it, but hey, it’s their culture — and if that turns you off, that’s valuable information about how comfortable you might be there. (Similarly, if you think that’s awesome, that’s valuable information too.)

2. Can I avoid crossing a picket line while doing errands for work?

Do you have any advice regarding crossing a picket line at work? I am an admin and as part of my job I am in charge of stocking the office kitchen with drinks and snacks. Typically I will go to our local grocery chain to take care of this shopping. Their workers are currently out on strike, and personally I would be opposed to crossing a picket line. Would it be appropriate to ask my boss if it would be okay to go to a different grocery store for the duration of the strike? The next closest store is about an additional 15 minutes away from my office and is a bit more expensive, so this would mean it would take more time from my day, cost slightly more in mileage reimbursement, and overall add to the grocery bill. I generally only go about once a month, so I wouldn’t anticipate this being hugely disruptive or adding a lot of cost to my employer.

If that is not okay, could I offer to take on this increased cost myself? I am both relatively new to this job and the working world in general, so I don’t have a great sense on how reasonable a thing this is to ask. I also do not really have a read on my boss’s thoughts on unions and how he would perceive this.

Ask! But when you do, be specific about how much you think it’ll add to the bill. It’s easier to say yes to “it will probably cost about $20 more per month” than a vague “it will cost more.” If he says no, at that point I’d only offer to pay the additional cost yourself if you feel really strongly about this — like it’s something that you’re willing to use up a significant amount of your political capital on since you’re new (meaning you may not have anything left for other requests for a while). And even then, he may just say no.

But before you ask, I’d check if there are other options that could avoid the issue entirely, like ordering online. A lot of the big office supply stores let you order drinks and snacks online, like other office supplies.

3. Should I run any job I apply to by the recruiters I’ve talked to?

I’m looking for a new job and have talked to a number of recruiters, in addition to doing my own search. A few of the recruiters have told me that if I find a listing I’m interested in, I should run it by them before applying, because the recruiter might have a relationship with the company/be able to get me on the inside track. Is this a good idea? I get it that they might be able to get my resume pulled out of the pile, but on the other hand, wouldn’t a company prefer to just hire me than pay a recruiter to hire me? I’ve had bad experiences with recruiters in the past and not sure whether to trust them on this point. What do you think?

Yeah, I wouldn’t do that unless it’s a recruiter who you’ve worked with and really trust. A lot of recruiters ask this because they want to own your candidacy, so that if a company hires you, the recruiter gets a fee. That’s the case if they’re already working with the company (as they’re implying to you could be the case) or if they plan to just approach the company cold, with no existing contract — using your candidacy as their “in” to do it.. Either way, the benefit to you is likely to be slim, and the risk is fairly high: if the company isn’t working with the recruiter and the recruiter tries to present you to them, many companies will turn them down because they don’t use external recruiters (who charge companies hefty fees) or because they already have one they’re happy with. And then your application goes nowhere.

If you’re working with a recruiter who you really trust, that can be different. But outside of that situation and as a general rule, you’re better off managing your own job search; let recruiters work with you on the jobs they bring you, and continue managing the others on your own.

4. Employee quit and now keeps sending us her financial statements

One of our employee recently resigned and no longer works here. Now she keeps sending emails to management with bank statements, credit card statements, etc. We don’t know what to do with them and what she wants from us. We have cleared every everything regarding financial transactions and reimbursements during her employment with us. Can you please help us to write a notice that we do want to get any emails from her and pleasing her to stop sending emails further?

Have you tried asking her why she’s sending you those? It’s bizarre behavior, and the only explanation I can come up with is that she thinks you owe her money. So, try asking directly what’s going on — as in, “I’m not clear why you’re sending us bank and credit card statements. Are you waiting on some action from us?”

If you don’t get an explanation that makes sense, then go with, “Please stop sending us this information or we’ll need to block your emails, which we’d prefer not to do in case you need to reach us for legitimate reasons in the future.” But then block away if needed (or set her emails to go straight to the trash or to their own folder, which someone checks only rarely).

But also — what do you know about her? Has she displayed erratic, unbalanced behavior in the past? If so, you can view this in that context. If not and she’s always been reasonable, there’s something here that you’re missing.

5. I’ve never been promoted — is that a problem?

I have a general career question. Though my resume shows me in increasingly senior positions with more responsibilities and oversight, I’ve never actually been promoted at a place of work. Is this a problem? My first five years of professional experience were in an industry with very lock-step rules for promotions, so I’m not worried about that. Since then, I’ve been with three employers, for 4.5, 2.5, and now approaching 1 year. While each of these roles represents a “step up” professionally and came with better titles and more pay, I’ve never received a formal promotion with a title change and pay increase from an employer (which is part of what’s led me to move on — in one case there was a promise of a promotion that never materialized, and I’ve received some half-step promotions that included nominal raises and a bit more responsibility, but that’s it). I’m happy at my current job, but is this something I should be concerned about when potentially seeking opportunities in the future? Does the lack of an internal promotion look bad to hiring managers?

Nah, not typically. You’re showing a steady trajectory of growth, and it’s fine that it’s at different companies. (That said, I’d make sure that you’re staying at each for at least a few years, so that you have time to have real accomplishments and it doesn’t look like you’re hopping around without solid stays.)

{ 638 comments… read them below }

  1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    I really want to ban “vulnerability” as a qualification or trait in the workplace, including in hiring.

      1. BeeBoo*

        It’s actually becoming much more mainstream in the nonprofit arena I’m working in, based on Brene Brown’s book, Dare to Lead which is focused on being vulnerable in the workplace

      2. Anonandon*

        Nope. There are many people who now talk about ‘vulnerability’ as a key to leadership. (eg Daniel Coyle, ‘The Culture Code.’) What they mean is: A leader or worker who admits they don’t know everything and is open to help and collaboration is more effective than someone who assumes they need to solve the problem all by themselves. The problem with things like this is that the otherwise well-intentioned employer might not understand the author’s intent, or not understand how to apply the advice skillfully, and then the word gets turned into another piece of meaningless corporate jargon.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I don’t think that vulnerability is the word that fits. They could just say ability to work with others, ability to collaborate or whatever.
          I seek opinions and inputs of others and I would never describe myself as vulnerable.
          However if the person is in a room by themselves and putting Legos together. That tells them NOTHING about working with others. They could just ask each candidate to tell a story or two of working with others. And they could ask the candidate about their own experiences with the products.
          It seems to me that they could end up with a higher than usual number of overly confident people as not everyone wants to do an interview like this.

          1. Observer*

            I think it’s the wrong word too, but it’s not about working with others per se. It’s more about being able to manage being imperfect and not in complete contorl and with all the answers.

            Do you remember the boss who wanted their employees to always speak with confidence, regardless of the actual facts and what they do or don’t know? That’s an extreme version of what people are tying to avoid.

            1. DixieNoodle*

              I think the right words are “humility” and “flexibility.”

              “Vulnerable” implies a certain level of emotional rawness that I would feel particularly uncomfortable with at work!

              1. Jennifer Juniper*

                Thank you! Anyone else also thinking that someone seeking “vulnerability” in the office is a possible predator looking to groom employees for sexual abuse?

        2. Sharon*

          The problem I’ve seen with stuff like this (and other things originally aimed at upper leadership) is that while it makes sense for someone with top authority in the company, it doesn’t really apply to “individual contributors”, but they shoehorn all the workers into using it too. With this in particular, I can see learning it might help prevent someone with great authority from becoming arrogant. But by virtue of an average non-management worker NOT having any authority, they don’t need it – they’re already somewhat humbled by the nature of their position in the company. For some reason HR and corporate leadership teams don’t seem to understand this and think that it’s so great everybody should do it.

          1. boo bot*

            Yes! “Be vulnerable,” is great advice for the people at the top. Everyone else is ALREADY vulnerable – mostly to the caprices of the people at the top!

            1. Anonymeece*

              Thank you! My boss is very big into this – and I think misunderstanding how it’s meant to be applied – and has been pressuring all of us into being more “vulnerable” at work. Something about it always struck me as off, but I could never pinpoint it before. You and Sharon just put the problem with it so well!

          2. selena81*

            good point: there is a huge difference between relevant skills for big CEO’s versus skills for lowly office drones.

            F.e. it kinda baffles me when recruiters desperately want anyone to aspire to be ‘a leader’, even in positions where severe competition would be extremely detrimental to the entire team. How about hiring for skills and motivations actually relevant for the job in question, with the understanding that everyone is different.
            Like, some people are good at math, some people are good with other people, and i _thought_ it was your job as a recruiter to put the round peg in the round hole, but instead you seem deadset on finding square pegs and mashing them down to roundish shapes? what gives?

        3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          But but… leaving a candidate alone in a room with a pile of Legos, before they’ve even talked to anyone, looks a lot like *wanting* them to solve the problem by themselves. Who is OP going to admit to that she does not know anything, and reach out to for help and collaboration, if she’s alone in a room with the door shut? I love Legos, but this interview practice baffles me.

          1. The not so little mermaid*

            I seriously doubt that the LW will arrive at an automatic door that will lead to a room with LEGO. There will be someone there to welcome them and explain the process.

            1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

              Did I ever say she will? I was referring to “applicants are left alone in a room upon arriving for the interview and given a half hour or so to build something that represents them out of legos.” How are you supposed to showcase your willingness to admit your weaknesses and to reach out for help, when you are alone in a room?

              1. The not so little mermaid*

                There’s a LEGO employee further down explaining the process. It just a few minutes and they don’t at all expect a masterpiece. Stick two bricks together and as long as you can tell a good story about the creation it’s all good. They’re not leaving you alone for an hour with 2,000 pieces and then expect you to create their new bestseller.
                Brickployee compares it to a small icebreaker, that’s it.

                1. Karen from Finance*

                  You are missing the point. Anonandon said:

                  There are many people who now talk about ‘vulnerability’ as a key to leadership. (eg Daniel Coyle, ‘The Culture Code.’) What they mean is: A leader or worker who admits they don’t know everything and is open to help and collaboration is more effective than someone who assumes they need to solve the problem all by themselves.

                  But then the test is not designed to see whether candidates ask for help, it’s meant to have the candidate resolve the test by themselves. No one is saying they can’t ask questions at the moment the test is explained. It’s that the test is evaluating the opposite ability than the one that is meant to be at the root of the “vulnerability” thing.

                2. The not so little mermaid*

                  I would say that the vulnerability aspect comes into play during the conversation after building something. That’s when you talk about what you were thinking, while you put something together and how you felt. So no, you might not talk to anyone while you build – but you’ll do so immediately after.

                3. Washi*

                  I don’t think it’s necessarily testing the opposite. Vulnerability could be “Well I’m not a master builder or anything but I took a stab at it anyway and had some fun with it and here’s what I was thinking.” Basically being open to not having the right answer, but trying your best, and being transparent about that.

                  I mean, I agree with everyone that vulnerability is a poorly defined buzzword that is misused all the time and was poorly explained here, but I can kind of see what they’re getting at and don’t think it’s absurd.

                4. Karen from Finance*

                  I’ll give you that, yes. Because also, they’re not just asking them to build anything, they’re asking them to build something that represents themselves, and explaining that can be very scary. One would be showing how comfortable they are being vulnerable, indeed. But it’s probably a different type of vulnerability than the one from Anonandon’s quote. The former to me is a red flag to be testing, while the latter seems like a useful ability to screen for.

        4. pleaset*

          Great description Anonadon – when applied properly the concept is extremely important in creating effective organizations in complex times.

        1. Wakeens Teapots LTD*

          Really? I was with you on the first sentence and then it all crashed and burned directly after that. Humility and kindness go hand in hand with vulnerability.

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I want to be clear that I’m not bashing you or “people like you,” and I don’t believe I’ve called anyone a stigmatizing or marginalizing name (but perhaps I inadvertently struck a nerve, which is why you opened with an unkind attack?). The kind of vulnerability you’re describing is absolutely valuable on teams!

          My comment, which I now realize was overly reductionist/pithy, is aimed at well-intentioned employers who are using a very different definition of “vulnerability” in their hiring and promotion practices. The definition I’m pushing back on focuses more on employees baring their emotional processes, even when that level of openness is harmful to the employee, or non-useful for the work being performed or the team dynamic. I’m thinking of prior letters about mandatory group therapy or problematic meeting practices of examples of misplaced or misapplied “vulnerability” principles.

          Finally, I apologize if my participation frustrates you and your friends, although I’m a bit alarmed that I even register as a topic of conversation. I truly hope I’m not occupying that much mental space or energy for any internet stranger.

          1. Rosie M. Banks*

            Hey Princess Consuela . . . whatever the problematic comment was, it was removed before I saw it. I gather it involved some sort of personal criticism. As an extremely infrequent commenter, let me just say that I appreciate you and all the other regulars. I hope you don’t let some random internet comment make you feel bad.

            1. PhyllisB*

              Agreed, Princess. I didn’t see the comment, but I always enjoy your comments. As we say in the South, “You bring a lot to the table!!”

            2. Not So NewReader*

              Ditto from me.
              I can see that you put a lot of thinking into your comments. It takes you a few moments to type something out because you are thinking along. That shows in what you say.

            3. boo bot*

              Agreed, and I don’t even think your original comment was overly reductionist or pithy! The mandatory group therapy/talk about your childhood examples we’ve seen are actively destructive, even if they’re well-intended, and beyond that, I think the word itself is just bad optics: frankly, if I see an organization looking to hire workers based on “vulnerability” I’m going to assume they are looking for people they can most easily exploit.

              Rosie M. Banks, I’m such a fan of your books! ;)

              1. Rosie M. Banks*

                Thanks! It is always nice to be recognized, especially since some people (I’m looking at you, Bertie!) have criticized my literary output. :)

            4. Busy*

              I’m not sure what the comment was, but it sounds like they were using the mean girl bully tactic of “everyone is talking about you”.

              No one is talking about you. Your comments are just about always fair and thoughtful. I know it is hard, but don’t allow this person to make you think otherwise just because they are having a bad day/week/life.

          2. Sara without an H*

            Hello, Princess — Alison had deleted the comment, whatever it was, before I got here. If it was criticism aimed at you, I call bullshit. Your comments are always well thought-out and fun to read. Please keep right on being you.

          3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            Thanks for your kind words, all! It was clear that the commenter was upset and frustrated, and I’m not taking it personally.

      1. whingedrinking*

        It feels like an episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race. “You’re fabulous but we want to see more of the real you!” Hard pass unless $100 000 is on the line.

          1. Karen from Finance*

            Just wait. It’ll totally be a challenge in season 15.

            And then a queen will be kicked out for not properly reflecting her childhood traumas in legos.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Based on the context in the quote, I think they really mean vulnerability — they want someone who will take risks, feel a little silly, open up, etc.

        1. I Took A Mint*

          I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing, if that’s the kind of workplace culture you want to cultivate. Especially for a company like Lego where you’re basically making children’s toys–if all the employees were afraid of looking childish/silly, or afraid to be creative and true to themselves, that would be pretty weird!

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I have mixed feelings on this. On one hand, by all means, create a culture that works for your company, and it’s totally fine if it’s very distinct in ways that don’t work for everyone (as long as that’s not just dressing up the fact that your culture only works for white men or so forth). It’s your company! You can run it how you want. On the other hand, I think usually that hiring for things like vulnerability isn’t the same as hiring for people who will excel in the role, so it’s not great hiring — if you assume that hiring for people who will get excellent results is more important than culture fit. That said, it clearly does work for some companies — like Southwest Airlines and the way they hire for bubbliness. (But I also think they only use the bubbly filter for flight attendant and customer service positions, not for accountants. I’m highly skeptical that it makes sense to apply it across the board, as LEGO seems to do.)

            But yeah, their company, their choice of culture, and people can select in or out.

            1. Indigo a la mode*

              Across the board, maybe not, but for a marketing position, I think it’s justifiable if we consider Southwest’s client-facing bubbliness justifiable. (I do. I fly Southwest because of it.) The best marketers believe in both the product and the mission, and for LEGO, I can see that translating to childlike enthusiasm, constructing your idealized world through bricks, and creatively assembling a solution to an ambiguous challenge.

              Personally I would love that challenge and find it so endearing that they put my sculpture on my desk for me (and I’m also in marketing) – but I do agree that as an “interview question,” it doesn’t tell you much that’s useful. Just a cute activity.

              1. Cathie from Canada*

                So maybe the Lego Movie and the “everything is awesome!” theme was closer to reality than I thought!
                I am now recalling many hours of helping the kids put together lego projects, trying to follow their picture instructions that showed the sixth red brick in the stack of 12 had to be an 8-hole rather than a 6-hole…
                Not to mention the joy of stepping on a stray Lego on the way to the bathroom at night…which is practically a meme for our whole culture, really.

                1. ket*

                  Oh man… now I’m imagining interviewing with LEGO and just strewing all the blocks across the room, concentrating on the path the interviewer will take when entering… ow ow ow! “This represents my recent relationship with my family, mediated by LEGO bricks…. it symbolizes the relationships between openness to growth, leadership development, and the small pains that go along with new opportunities…..”

              2. That Girl From Quinn's House*

                ” I think it’s justifiable if we consider Southwest’s client-facing bubbliness justifiable. (I do. I fly Southwest because of it.)”

                And I know a bunch of people who specifically DON’T fly Southwest because of it. Flight attendants function in a serious safety capacity. If there’s a safety or medical emergency, I would much rather be in the hands of serious professionals and not a group of camp counselors singing and dancing.

                1. Perse's Mom*

                  This seems sort of hostile and dismissive. They’re still professionals and very good at what they do – they’re just bubbly while they do the run of the mill parts of their job. I suspect the bubbly goes away and they turn into the ‘serious professionals’ you prefer when there’s an emergency.

                2. Indigo a la mode*

                  Agreed with Perse’s Mom. Of course they’re competent, qualified professionals. Dressing in Halloween costumes or rapping the safety brief doesn’t impugn that in any way. (In fact, unusual safety briefings increase engagement, which can save lives.)

                3. austriak*

                  Several years ago, I interviewed with Southwest for an accounting position. They did not ask anything about accounting. They just asked silly questions like, “How do you think you would do in an office Olympics?”

                  For me, it is a complete turn off of working there. I don’t like it when employers focus so much on a goofy culture rather than having people with the right skill sets that can fit in without acting like a fool.

            2. I Took A Mint*

              Oh I totally agree. I think some companies definitely overprioritize culture fit, which means that they’re not getting the absolute best person for the role–just the best person who also fits that culture requirement. So I think it’s important for companies and HR leaders to make these choices intentionally–makes sense to first filter out jerks, even if that means you lose out on the best llama rider in the world who happens to be a jerk.

              And it’s certainly problematic when companies use culture fit to (inadvertently) select for certain genders, races, ages, drinking habits, etc. I know a company that only considers you if you use their product, and all my acquaintances who work/interviewed there are a certain demographic. I think the company is definitely creating a blind spot for themselves, especially because I’m not sure if this is an intentional choice, or just a correlation that happens when you hire from the same people you market to.

              But I can also see how the Lego company wants people who like legos. I know she said that they look for “vulnerability” but I can see other values in seeing someone’s reaction to your company’s main product. I could understand if Starbucks wanted to see what applicants thought of their coffee, as a way to see what they thought of the company as a whole.

              1. Indigo a la mode*

                While I totally agree with you and see the parallels, interestingly, I wouldn’t put Starbucks coffee in quite the same category as LEGO bricks! Howard Schultz famously said that they don’t sell coffee, they sell the experience. I don’t think they’d actually mind if their potential baristas didn’t like coffee, as long as the candidates DID care about creating meaningful moments in brief conversations, cultivating that comfortable, creative, social vibe that keeps people wanting to hang around for hours, turning a moment of service into the best part of someone’s day, etc.

                LEGO sells world-building magic through bricks, but ultimately, their focus is on selling the bricks that turn you into an architect, rather than selling you the experience of being within a new world with bricks being kind of incidental. I think that’s the distinction I’m trying to make.

                1. I Took A Mint*

                  That’s fair! Maybe Starbucks was a bad example. But I think selling a certain experience is not so different from selling a certain product. For example, Disney is all about the “magic is REAL” experience and I’m sure they try to select people who can provide that, who understand that, or who can fake that convincingly. And that’s probably more important than just hiring the most talented cat herder. Maybe a better parallel would be non-profits who prefer candidates who believe in their mission.

                2. Forrest*

                  >>Howard Schultz famously said that they don’t sell coffee, they sell the experience

                  That… makes a lot of sense. Every time I go to Starbucks I am furious with how bad the food is, and I try to remember it, but I still somehow associate positive feelings with it and end up in there again.

                3. Not So NewReader*

                  Starbucks sells the experience?
                  What a world we have. This parallels what I saw working in a grocery store. It’s supposed to be entertainment. They have foods that will never sell, no one actually buys them. (Okay very few people buy that particular item.) But the item is stocked to make the store look more interesting to the customer. I think that it’s supposed to make the customer feel like they are shopping at a more sophisticated store and in turn this means the customer feels more sophisticated.
                  But selling the experience cracks me up. I can have the same experience at a convenience. store. I don’t see much difference except maybe price.

                4. Baby Fishmouth*

                  Yes, there’s a theory that we’re in what’s called the ‘experience economy’ right now – there’s a HBR article about it from 20(!) years ago that’s really interesting (link in my name). I can definitely see a huge shift for most businesses/retailers to offering a positive and integrated experience, rather than simply a service/product. Especially with social media, it’s all about getting people involved before and after their visit. Starbucks is the epitome of this.

                5. A*

                  @I Took a Mint

                  Disney is hardcore. I had a friend who was a C-Suite officer. He was out in the park and stopped to get an ice cream. A janitor came up to him and discreetly covered and removed his name tag and told him “Sir, you most have forgotten to remove this! There’s an absolute rule that no cast members can eat or drink anything but water while on stage.” The young man scurried off before my friend could say anything.

                  What the janitor meant was that anyone with a Disney badge was viewed as part of the “cast” creating an experience in the park and that any public are was the “stage.” My friend later found out that this was a hard rule and applied to anyone. Back in the day, it even applied to Walt himself.

                  There’s a reason Disney is referred to as the happiest little fascist state on earth.

                  Everything is controlled if it is possible to control it.

                6. Falling Diphthong*

                  I recall the grocery store bit–that people who intend to buy iceberg lettuce want the fancier lettuce around, even if they aren’t going to ever buy it.

                  (Disclosure: I routinely buy things like arugula and endive.)

                7. Thatlady*

                  Just chiming in as a former SBUX barista. You really did need to know and consume the product. Part of the “experience” they are creating is a relationship between barista and customer. You can’t intelligently speak to a customer about a certain roast or a new drink if you haven’t tried it. We had to go through and sample every roast they offered and record detailed notes about it and what words we would use to describe it to a customer. So in this case, I think SBUX is a good comparison. How can someone effectively market LEGOs if they don’t show an understanding or appreciation for the product?

                8. Richard Hershberger*

                  @ Thatlady: What if, upon tasting the new drink, the barista’s response is to spit it out? I find coffee concoctions of the sugary sort utterly undrinkable. And even for straight coffee, forcing each barista to come up with his own canned description seems suboptimal. It requires both coffee connoisseurship and word-crafting–two unrelated skill sets.

                9. fposte*

                  @Richard–but they’re free to hire for two unrelated skillsets if that’s what they value in the job. (And I think the ability to communicate effectively about what you sell isn’t all that unrelated anyway.) If you hate what Starbuck’s sells, you’re probably not a good fit for employment there, especially if you disdain those who do like it.

                  (And their revenue seems to be doing fine with this hiring model, so I think it’s hard to sell it as suboptimal.)

                10. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

                  No, when I go to Starbucks, it’s because I want coffee that I didn’t make at home, and their drive thru is convenient.

                  If I want an “experience”, I’ll MAKE an experience, not BUY one.

                11. LJay*

                  Starbuck’s barista application used to require a paragraph about what you like about coffee. I don’t actually like coffee, so I usually wrote something about how I liked that it helped people start their day off on the right foot. I never got called back.

              2. Wintermute*

                I totally agree with what you said about how focus on “culture” is often a dog whistle for hiring people only in the same phase-of-life, cultural origin, etc. I do think that there’s an exception for wanting people that actually use your product in everyday life. There’s a reason that car companies offer special parking for employees that drive their own vehicles and relegate competitors to a long hike to the front door.

                Though I also feel like that’s one of those were it depends on your product. If you sell something basically everyone owns (cars, cell phones, etc) you have more leeway to strongly prefer candidates that prefer your brand than if it’s a luxury product.

                1. PhyllisB*

                  My husband used to work for General Motors, and when he first started he drove a Ford truck. He had to park in the “back forty.” Desirable parking places were reserved for GM vehicles. When the plant first opened, the plant manager wanted to ban all non-GM vehicles from the parking lot, but that was shot down.

                2. Not So NewReader*

                  @Phyllis. In a similar vein, there was a grocery store chain here who forbid all employees from shopping at a competitor. If you were caught (???) shopping at a competitor you were automatically fired. Nothing says “insecure” louder than an employer who micro-manages what people do in their off hours.

                3. JanetM*

                  Replying to PhyllisB — my union used to have statewide meetings at another, larger union’s hall. There is a sign in their parking lot directing drivers of vehicles made with non-union labor to park in the farther-away lot.

                4. Kriss*

                  When Trader Joe’s came to the Houston area, the local news team caught the CEO of HEB (local grocery chain & the main spokesman for the company) checking out the grand opening. the reporter had the camera turned on him & yelled, “Hey, we know you. Scott, do you want to come over & make a statement?” & he just laughed, waved at them, & ran off.

              3. Richard Hershberger*

                @ A: I grew up in southern California. Working at Disneyland was regarded as the ideal summer gig, except by those who had actually done it.

            3. Wakeens Teapots LTD*

              FWIW, I would 100 want people to play with Legos if I was hiring for Lego, especially in marketing. The people who make it in marketing at Wakeen’s get silly happy about our quirky products and I watch for the gleam in the eye during interviews. You need that in marketing and sales.

              1. Tom*

                So, basically – they need to display a passion for the product?
                I used to be in consumer sales / retail – and found that if i liked a product, or used it myself (positively) i was much better in presenting that product than something i didn`t know, or didn`t care about.

                So, perhaps this type is EXACTLY for marketing type people – as you said – the ‘ gleam’ in the eyes have it.

                1. Wakeens Teapots LTD*

                  Exactly what I mean. I’ve been in this industry for 30+ years and while it is not as fun as idk LEGO, I never stop getting excited about new product intros. Dorky level excited for some of them. The people I work with are the same, although they may dork out over different things than I dork about.

                  Lego, I’d be all “tiny pirate hats!!” and I’d want to work with people who looked at the product the same way.

                  Since the OP calls this a dream job, I’d guess that she is lit up about tiny pirate hats also, I’d say just bring the fun to the building part of the interview.

                2. Anne of Green Gables*

                  With this perspective I actually feel a bit different about it, though I still think that hiring solely based on culture fit or even product use and enthusiasm is a bad idea.

                  I work at a library at a community college. I hire student workers. I ask them if they use the library. This is not a deal-breaker question by any means, but it can give a student a leg up if I need something that distinguishes one candidate from another.

                3. Hibiscus*

                  That is why when I worked at Nordstrom Rack they gave extra discounts on Nordstrom’s in-house lines every quarter, so we could sell more effectively.

              2. Elemeno P.*

                Yes, I feel the same. I also work for a fun industry and people who are passionate about the product are great. If they’re not passionate about it, they should at least be comfortable with it, because working for something like Lego means that people in your life are going to ask you about Legos. If you’re hesitant to play with Legos, why should you represent Lego?

              3. Falling Diphthong*

                I do think there’s a big difference between building with Legos for Lego, versus building with Legos for Berkshire Hathaway.

              4. Thatlady*

                Agree. Surprised at some of the people who think this is so off for an interview in marketing for a specific product.

              5. smoke tree*

                I think this is probably what they are essentially looking for. As a writer/editor, I often get interview questions asking about a piece of work I’m really proud of, or about what I like to read. I think that’s a pretty fair question–it’s hard to be a good editor if you have no interest in reading, and I imagine it’s hard to succeed in marketing or a creative role at Lego if you have no interest in the product. The building approach feels a little more gimmicky than asking a question about it, but I think I would personally enjoy it.

            4. tamarack & fireweed*

              I share the mixed feelings, but to play slightly the contrarian, it’s Lego – an extremely iconic brand of toys for small children. Wanting to hire employees who are comfortable and familiar with the product doesn’t seem quite far out of line for such an ubiquitous brand. And given the age group and presentation, anyone who will happily demonstrate familiarity could conceivably be described as making themselves vulnerable. Grown people building something out of Lego bricks are a little silly, right? But working in marketing for Lego this kind of comfort with silliness would be a welcome trait.

              Obviously, it’s easy to overdo it with the “vulnerability” schtick, and this may just be what’s happening here.

              1. JJ Bittenbinder*

                Obviously, it’s easy to overdo it with the “vulnerability” schtick, and this may just be what’s happening here.

                So one shouldn’t, say, build a therapist’s office out of LEGO and place a minifigure that looks like them on the couch? ;)

                Vulnerability sounds so…well, vulnerable. Unprotected. I understand the concept and the goal, despite what I personally think of it, but I think the word often invokes the desire to fiercely protect oneself. It’s a lot to ask someone to be willing to show vulnerability in an interview, when they’ve probably had a phone call or two and that’s it. For many (most?) people, vulnerability comes after carefully observing someone and determining that they’re trustworthy.

                1. JJ Bittenbinder*

                  @Grayson: so awesome to hear that, because I just got tickets to see him in a few weeks. I’m quite excited! I’ve never seen him live.

            5. Sara without an H*

              My reservations about “vulnerability” are similar to my reservations about “team player” — I don’t know what either term means. A quick scan of the AAM archives will turn up a bunch of letters in which “team player” means being a good sport about degrading and non-work-related activities, e.g. asking new hires to sing at their first staff meeting. (There are worse ones, but I don’t have the stomach to dig up examples this early in the morning.)

              So what does “vulnerable” mean in the work place? I’d think better of the folks at Lego if they’d come up with an actual definition: “We hire people who are creative, flexible, and not afraid to make mistakes.” OK, that I could work with. Just telling candidates that they’re looking for “vulnerability” doesn’t really tell the poor job seeker what the exercise is supposed to prove or why Lego thinks it’s valuable.

              My other concern with “vulnerability” is that, frankly, the whole concept reflects class privilege. Upper class people with university degrees who wear good clothes and work in offices can afford to be “vulnerable.” People who mop floors, dig ditches, work erratic schedules, and are paid by the hour with no benefits can’t afford the luxury of “vulnerability.”

              1. Emily K*

                To me, hearing “vulnerability” in this contexts makes me think of the famous Google research a few years back that found one thing that a wide variety of highly effective teams had in common was what they came to call “psychological safety,” of which vulnerability was one component. Essentially, it means people felt comfortable offering half-baked ideas to the group without fear of ridicule. Those half-baked ideas could be improved upon or fleshed out by the team while on other teams, people were too afraid of embarrassment or shame if others didn’t like their ideas, so nobody ever suggested anything new or creative and the teams stagnated and got stuck on problems.

                It’s a bit hard to hire for in an interview, though, because it’s so dependent on team dynamics and interpersonal relationship skills. You’re better off hiring for people who won’t laugh at their colleagues than hiring for people who aren’t afraid to be laughed at, and then working to promote a culture of psychological safety…you can’t really hire your way into it very well.

              2. Anonymeece*

                Ding ding ding! I think you’ve nailed it. I think for a lot of upper-class people, “vulnerability” is something you play at. It’s a show you put on, because you’re not really vulnerable.

                For people who have been/are vulnerable, that term is not a cute dress-up. It’s a real thing.

                It’s like people talking about taking risks. Taking risks isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s a lot easier to do when you know you have a safety net below you.

                Thank you for helping me understand why I was getting the skeeves to hear “vulnerability” bandied about. I couldn’t figure out why I had such an instinctive negative reaction to it.

              3. Lora*

                THIS. Thank you.

                Also, the acquaintances I’ve seen most often bemoaning a lack of “vulnerability” in their corporate culture? 100% predators. We’re talking everything from “sabotages colleagues’ projects” to hardcore harassers groping female colleagues in the hallway. Yeah, I just bet they do wish people were a little more vulnerable.

                It’s management’s job to create a safe space for, and reward, risk-taking that will necessarily sometimes result in failure, if that’s the sort of thing they want. You can do the 80/20 thing and let people spend one day a week on their own personal pet projects, you can give people some amount of discretionary budget for pet projects, you can go out of your way to praise failures as something to learn from, you can create private offices to give people space to work without 98734987 busybodies and distractions and interruptions from the open office leaning over their shoulders, you can change your project approval/monitoring methods to not include the input or structures of 1000 stakeholders and committee every idea to death, you can do a lot of things. Expecting individual contributors to fix the perverse incentives created by management generally doesn’t work at all though – it hasn’t worked for literally anything else.

            6. Patty Mayonnaise*

              But LEGO is an iconic brand, with many qualified people jockeying to work there and a TON adults who love LEGO. For them, it’s not a choice between “vulernable/weaker candidate” and “not vulernable/strong candidate”; they can have strong AND “vulernerable.”

              1. Genny*

                Yeah, I’m not terribly surprised a company that’s highly competitive to work at has designed extra steps to test not just competency, but softer skills and cultural fit. Places like Google, Lego, Wall Street, the State Department, big four law firms, Prada, etc. already know they’re getting cream-of-crop applicants. Once you’ve gotten to an interview stage with those companies, thy’re looking for something that differentiates you from the other thousands of people who’ve applied and hundreds or dozens of people who have interviewed.

            7. Not A Manager*

              It’s not really clear that they are “hiring for” vulnerability, though. The Lego test is only one part of the application. Apparently it gives them some information that they want, but it’s very possible that a rigid, invulnerable accountant will get a job there anyway, whereas an invulnerable exec (or an uncreative design applicant) might not.

            8. Close Bracket*

              Being willing to take a risk which might make you look silly or childish could be critical in excelling in a role. One of my former employers had “risk taking” as a core value in their employees. I think you should listen to some of Brene Brown’s interviews and TED talks, especially if you can find one where she described talking about vulnerability to military folks and how it applied in their jobs. Basically, any time you go into a situation without knowing the outcome, you are vulnerable. In combat situations, the ability to go in without knowing the outcome is crucial in excelling! She might change your mind on this.

          2. Patty Mayonnaise*

            Exactly – I work in a children’s toy-adjacent industry and when the employer said “vulnerability” I took it to mean “release the inner child that is totally creative and unafraid of critique,” or “turn off the ego and superego and go with id only.” My favorite expression of this is “letting the baby drive the bus.” I think being able to “play” literally and metaphorically is critical to success in creative roles (and marketing is creative to me).

          3. selena81*

            Other companies (such as Oracle) also sometimes use Lego’s and the reasoning i’ve heard is that it helps autistic-y programmers open up a bit.
            No doubt some companies use it as simply another meaningless gimmick that recruiters can point to as proof that they are using _the_ latest hiring tricks.

            Anyhow, these past few years Lego is building a reputation for ’embracing the Lego community’ (such as adults playing with Lego), so it fits with their new image to embrace applicants who themselves love tinkering with the little bricks.

        2. Marzipan*

          When I was studying design, a willingness to embrace failure was seen as a really core thing; a route to opening up wider possibilities and eventual success. So I guess to me, in this context, vulnerability has those connotations. I feel like people are reading it as ‘show us your innermost soul’, where I’m taking it more as ‘show us you aren’t afraid to try things and put forward ideas even if they might not work’.

          I do think it’s fair to question how necessary a quality that is in, say, an accountant working for Lego, but in marketing? That seems to me like a reasonable ask, given the product.

          1. Washi*

            I think it’s a good trait, no matter what the job description!

            I remember when my job switched from one online timesheet system to another very similar timesheet system, and some of my coworkers lost.their.minds. How could they spring this on us! It’s so hard to learn! Why can’t we just do it on paper like we did in 1980!

            There are fewer and fewer jobs that involve doing exactly the same thing every day with absolutely no variation or room for improvement, and I think a willingness to try new things (and potentially fail) is really helpful in any job!

        3. Brickployee*

          That’s it exactly. The phrase we use internally is “being comfortable with being uncomfortable”. Also, as I’ve noted below, the building exercise isn’t used to eliminate candidates, unless someone had a huge red flag (ie started yelling at the HR person) during it. Being flustered or unable to think of anything is a normal reaction and they don’t penalize you if you respond that way. In fact being genuine and upfront about how you didn’t know where to start would likely be seen as a positive. We’re all humans too and almost all of my colleagues understand that interviews are crazy stressful.

          1. Brickployee*

            (Probably all of my colleagues recognize that but I don’t like to speak in absolutes, lol)

    1. sacados*

      Yeah the “vulnerable” bit is kind of eye-rolly.
      That said, the part about saving the sculpture and giving it to new employees if they are hired sounds like a really nice tradition, and I wonder if that’s more the focus of the exercise in practice.
      Seems to me that (unless their priorities are seriously skewed) the only way you could “fail” this part of the interview is if you obviously and egregiously half-assed the sculpture / sat there looking uncomfortable and not really building anything / appeared dismissive or snotty about the task like “you want me to play with TOYS?” — or something along those lines.

      1. Indigo a la mode*

        I agree with all of this. I would get the warm fuzzies at that kind of welcome. And hey, Legos are fun!

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Ohhh! So, like in the movie Big where he loves his work at a toy manufacturer so much that he cannot help but play with all the toys! Yeah, that I would certainly understand.

        1. Patty Mayonnaise*

          Yes! I was trying to describe this up thread and “Big” is the perfect way to explain it!

      3. boo bot*

        I think that there are probably plenty of people who would obviously and egregiously half-ass the sculpture/sit there looking uncomfortable/act dismissive of the task, though, and that’s what they’re looking to weed out.

        Above I was pretty critical of the “vulnerability” shtick, but I actually do think it makes sense for Lego to want people who aren’t going to roll their eyes at playing with Legos – that kind of attitude could be really destructive inside that company, and a willingness to pick up a few blocks and stick them together without being a jerk about it is probably a bona fide criteria for the job.

        I’d probably do it Men in Black style, though, and just leave all the interviewees in a room alone with a big pile of Legos on the table and see who does what.

        1. Karen from Finance*

          Yeah, this changed my mind about this practice at well. For this company in particular, I think it makes certain sense. It’s quite logical for a company to want to hire people who love their product, specially one that is as popular as Legos. You’d want to weed out the “too cool for school” candidates.

          When I read the title I had first been scared that they were going to be applying some faux psychology to over-analyze the results (“You picked red bricks but none of the blue ones! That must mean you have anger management issues!”) which is not unheard of. I’m relieved that this doesn’t seem to be the case.

          1. selena81*

            When I read the title I had first been scared that they were going to be applying some faux psychology to over-analyze the results (“You picked red bricks but none of the blue ones! That must mean you have anger management issues!”) which is not unheard of.

            Me too: that stuff is way to prevalent.
            It reminds me that some of the recent time-periods that we tend to see as bastions of liberation and equal-opportunity where actually chock-full of pseudo-psychological nonsense that was used to weed out all the undesirables (stick a scientific mask on your sexism and racism, because, hey it is not _really_ racism if you follow the advice of your handwriting-expert)

      4. Kivrin*

        Actually, I think there is one more way to fail this kind of thing, and I am worried that the OP is about to fall into it. Specifically, I would be worried that any attempt to “game” this system by making it about LEGO, instead of about the candidate, would not be well-received.

    2. NeonFireworks*

      It makes me cringe. I can understand wanting those who are willing to go out on a limb a bit, but I’ve seen it used by abusive folks as code for “share your insecurities and give us ammunition that we can use against you in our time of need!”

      1. valentine*

        Building something that represents work-you may suffice. For OP1, something like a Twitter bird emerging from a radio held by a newsboy.

    3. The RO-Cat*

      Banning vulnerability as a qualification would result in poor leadership, actually.

      Many seem to get hung up on the word itself (and Brene Brown is very good at explaining why, btw). Replace it with “openness”, “authenticity” “human-ness” and it all sounds way less ominous. Good leaders are open about their shortcomings, accept they mess up sometimes and are ready to call for – and listen to – feedback from the team. All these come nowadays under the umbrella of “vulnerability”, but are traits that leadership rsearch has been showcasing for some time now.

      It comes also, I guess, contrary to the “self-made-person”, the “brilliant money-making jerk” myths. But (to give just one example) Google identified 10 behaviours that make great managers in their corporate culture. Out of those 10, only 1 has to do with the technical aspect of the job; the other 9 are parts of emotional intelligence, where this “vulnerability” thing falls.

      Maybe it’s me being not American, but I’ve always looked for autehnticity and a lack of reserve when accepting imperfection in would-be managers when recruiting, and it served me well. Also, we only see here a small part of the whole recruiting process; I’d venture to guess the more technical / managerial / whetever aspects are also carefully treated.

      1. Wintermute*

        I agree with everything you said. It’s tough to find a word in English that sums it up well, “vulnerability” seems to not quite capture it well, but I can’t think of a single word or short phrase that captures “A willingness to step outside your comfort zone and try something outside your expertise, while acknowledging that in doing so you may fail, and if you do fail it is not a personal failure, coupled with a general willingness to accept that you are only a human being and you will not succeed perfectly at everything and that your perspective is necessarily limited and that means you need to be open from feedback from others, including subordinates.”

        1. The RO-Cat*

          Right, it’s a mouthfull. Still, the best description for this human trait I’ve seen so far. Heart-warming!

        2. fposte*

          It’s a bit tied to a specific researcher, but that sounds very much like Carol Dweck’s “growth mindset,” which she contrasts with a “fixed mindset.”

          1. The RO-Cat*

            Growth mindset woul play a big part, I’d say, but there are some conotations of “vulnerability” that aren’t covered by this concept (like emotional openness, courage etc). At least that’s how I see it after reading Brene Brown’s boks.

            1. fposte*

              To me that’s a requisite emotional part of the mindset, but some of this may also be culturally inflected. Like I said, I think it’s significant that English doesn’t have a really good word for this :-).

      2. selena81*

        Google identified 10 behaviours that make great managers in their corporate culture. Out of those 10, only 1 has to do with the technical aspect of the job; the other 9 are parts of emotional intelligence, where this “vulnerability” thing falls.

        Makes sense to me: a leader should have *some* sense of what their underlings are doing (enough to see when someone is clearly slacking of f.i.), but a leader should spend most of their time keeping the team happy and bringing in more work which are things that individual team-members typically don’t have to be too concerned about.

    4. Obi-Wan Kenobi*

      Yeah, I second this.

      I have, as they say, “seen some shit.” The walls that are up between my professional life and my inner emotional life are there for a goooood reason.

      1. Natalie*

        I mean, it sounds like you wouldn’t be a great fit at LEGO, then, so this exercise would exactly serve its purpose.

    5. Thankful for AAM*

      There are a lot of reactions to the call to ban vulnerability at work, which PCBH qualified below. Some say it is a key trait, others pointed out that there is an important trait related to this word but vulnerable is not the right word.

      I’m a librarian so I go to sources. Mirriam-Webster says vulnerability means; 1. capable of being physically or emotionally wounded (the patient was vulnerable to infection)
      2 : open to attack or damage :

      I dont think vulnerable is the word we are looking for. I have a coworker who is vulnerable; it is an almost daily emotional rollercoaster that is not a fun ride.

      We are all “vulnerable” to attack; it is how we respond that matters. I’d prefer a response that is respectful of others.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I can see where this might be a short-falling in English–“risk-taking” would be accurate, in that you’re willing to take the risk of admitting you don’t know something, but that’s been identified with the bold self-starter whose parents are funding them and so they “aren’t afraid to take risks.”

      2. PieInTheBlueSky*

        Maybe “humble” is a better word–lacking ego/pride and self-consciousness, open to feedback, not minding looking silly or being wrong, etc.

      3. Observer*

        There are some other definitions, as well, which are relevant.

        According to Google’s define function (I don’t know what source they use) another definition is ” in need of special care, support, or protection because of age, disability, or risk of abuse or neglect.” which is a bit closer to what people are thinking.

        Dictionary.com also has “open to moral attack, criticism, temptation, etc.: ” which really does speak to what people can be legitimately looking for.

        Vocabulary.com says:
        Use the adjective vulnerable to describe something or someone open to being physically or emotionally wounded, like a newborn chick or an overly sensitive teenager.

        Vulnerable is from Latin and is based on vulnus, “wound.” From its literal meaning, it has come to be more often used for someone who is easily hurt or likely to succumb to temptation. It’s best used for a person whose feelings are so delicate that they can’t withstand any criticism or pressure: “Don’t speak harshly to her, she’s very vulnerable today.”

      4. pleaset*

        “2 : open to attack or damage :”

        This suggests to me that the word fits quite well. It’s about being willing to put out ideas that are easily attacked (but might also be good). It’s about sharing bad news. It’s about a willingness to say “I don’t know” even if you worry some people will attack you for it.

        As opposed to holding back or being evasive to stay safe.

    6. Susana*

      Yeah. I mean, I love Legos, and everything they stand for. But I would find it incredibly manipulative and infantilizing to be judged by how I played with a kid’s toy. And “vulnerability?” This is worse than being asked to fall backwards into a co-worker’s arms!

        1. selena81*

          “kid’s toy”

          what rock did you hide under for the last 3 or so decades: all the cool companies are into gamification of their workplace
          (i don’t think it always works out great, and like most cool stuff is often just an excuse to skimp on salary, but the lines between childhood and adulthood are definitely getting blurrier)

    7. Bostonian*

      I’m having a hard time imagining what healthy “vulnerability” in the workplace looks like – I’m picturing 2-hour daily therapy sessions. Maybe what they really mean by it is “openness”?

    8. Anon Anon Anon*

      *Commenting without reading all of the other comments first so this might be out of place.*

      I would take “vulnerability” to mean confidence in being open and honest even when there are risks involved. Assuming the risks are well calculated and there is something of value to be gained, that seems like a good trait in an employee or co-worker. I would assume they’re looking for people who will talk openly about the challenges they’re facing, suggest new ideas that might receive criticism, and form genuine (while professional) relationships with the people they work with.

      In other words, they want you to take a risk and build what you really want to build with the Legos, not what you think will impress them based on things that would be obvious to almost everyone. Then tell them something interesting, unexpected, and memorable while explaining it. But yes, of course connect it to the job in some way. Not necessarily the sculpture itself but what you say when you talk about it.

    9. TheAwkwardInterviewer*

      I’m cool with this as long as they realize how ineffective and kitschy this is as a hiring practice.

  2. Annette*

    LW 3 – Many recruiters are grifters. They are hoping your desperation will = stronger than your common sense. If you see a job on a normal website. Just apply the normal way. Don’t let the con men take you for a ride.

    1. Skeeder Jones*

      And you may find out that because of their involvement, your direct hire position just became a contract position and you’ve lost out on benefits. These recruiters don’t care about you, they care about themselves and their own ability to draw income. I had a contract position through a recruiter (although my recruiters were awesome and really fought for me to get to the interview even though my recent position didn’t have the right job title, and that eventually led to a permanent position in my dream job). I had to go to their office at one point to sign papers and there was some writing on a whiteboard talking about the perfect day. It involved having x number of phone calls, x number of meetings, x number of contracts signed, jobs posted, etc. It made me really glad I wasn’t a recruiter because their jobs are my nightmare job.

      1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

        This. Recruiters are sales people, and if you contact them with a job you found, you’ve basically done their job for them.

        1. JM in England*

          When I’ve been called by a recruiter and I’ve turned down the job they are dealing with, they then have the audacity to ask if I know anyone else who might be interested in it. Errmm hello, isn’t that their job? Have also been tempted to say yes but only if you give me commission! :-D

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            Eh, I mean, if your friend is looking and it’s a good fit, you’d want to refer your friend, right? I mean, if your friend already found the open position, they wouldn’t need the recruiter, but maybe they didn’t. To me, the most annoying thing about recruiters are the “drive-by messages”, where (I’m guessing) they scattershot anyone they can find with the same message about a position, because when I email to ask for details, I never have gotten a response. I think those in particular are either looking for volume over quality, and/or are looking for candidates who are desperate rather than choosy. Either way, at least I know to be glad to be shut of them. :)

      2. lnelson in Tysons*

        Yes, I will attest to this.
        I’ve applied for many direct hire positions only to be shoved into the contracting/temping. Granted I have needed a paycheck so at least some income would come in and I have learned a lot from the experiences.
        Now here comes the “but” because I have temped/contracted often employers see that as the equivalent to job hopping and less apt to want to hire me for a more permanent position. Lovely double edged sword. At least I was working BUT only as a temp, even though it was in my field.
        Back to the OP’s dilemma. No I have never told a recruiter when I was going up for a permanent position applied to directly. Although I have taken some perverse pleasure in informing recruiters that another agency has already put me up for said role whether direct hire or contract. I will tell them if I have applied to that client in the past and it was a no go.

    2. NativeForeigner*

      I tend to agree.

      My subjective advice is to avoid the recruitment agencies when possible. You can send your resumes to all agencies not known for scam – check this first, some just want to phish your personal data for marketing or worse – but do not sign any exclusivity agreement.

      If you see in a job board an interesting position announced by a recruiter, quickly search if it is available in the company pages. Even if they keep the client “confidential”, more than often the position is announced in the company pages and is applicable from their own web page. A quick copy paste search from the post of the recruiter will lead you to the original source if it is public. Never apply for the same job via different channels, though.

      If the recruiter or job board etc tries to sell you some “premium membership” you have to pay for, run far and run fast. That is a sign of scam. No respectable recruiter charges the job applicant a cent. In many countries it is even illegal, but they use those premium clubs to circumvent the rules. (I would pay a month’s salary for some one finding a perfect job for me, but I just cannot believe that anyone else than me would be able to do it.)

      Of course, if you have a trustable recruiter, you can go ahead and let them do the search, if you are not desperate and do not want to spend time for it.

      1. Aveline*

        Ditto on the exclusivity agreement.

        If any recruiter tells you that’s the way its’ done, run. That’s not the way it’s done.

        DH was represented by the top two IT executive recruitment firms in the US for a while. Both knew the other represented him.

        Recruiters who know what they are doing don’t force you to do unreasonable things. If the recruiter is valuable, they make plenty of money without harming you.

    3. Grey Coder*

      When I’ve been on the hiring side, we actively preferred direct applications, and not only because we saved the recruiter fee. Recruiters definitely did not have access to an “inside track”.

      1. JJ Bittenbinder*

        Yes, while some search firms are great (and usually it’s the ones who are search firms rather than recruiters, contracting with an organization to source candidates for hard-to-fill positions), the vast majority that I’ve been exposed to have lived up to the bad reputation that seems so pervasive among job seekers and hiring managers alike. Not only do they frequently not have the inside scoop, they’re often sending many candidates for the same position because it’s a numbers game for them. It’s the HR equivalent of throwing a bunch of spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks. They’re not known for representing the job accurately to the job seeker, or representing the job seeker accurately to the hiring manager.

        1. JM in England*

          I’ve been burnt by recruiters too in the past. In one instance, was told the position was permanent but at the interview, the hiring manager told me it was maternity cover! Afterwards, got on the phone to the recruiter and tore them off a strip for lying to me, which led to a waste of my time & transport costs. I then blocked them on both phone & email….

          1. Leela*

            I used to recruit at an agency and it was awful (I liked recruiting in-house). The managers put so, so, so much pressure on you to do stuff like this, even to the extent of plugging in to your phone and listening to your calls to make sure you do it if they don’t like your numbers.

            A job we know will never go full time becomes “well it’s contract for NOW, but if you show them what you can do there’s a chance to go full-time!”

            A job where we know nothing at all about the manager becomes “I can tell you’d get along really well with the manager, it’s going to be a great fit!”

            A job where we know you really want to do X but the job is all admin stuff that’s somewhat adjacent to X becomes “This will be a truly great step and leads to doing X!” When we have no way of knowing that at all.

            In-house they want a good fit. Agencies want to flip candidates for profits

    4. Burnt before by crafty recruiters*

      Don’t trust external recruiters when they tell you to let them know where else you applied. When they know there’s an opening at that company, they’ll send resumes to that company and you’ll effectively be competing against other candidates from that external recruiter. A recruiter told me this herself.

    5. Lepidoptera*

      Agreed. I’ve been burned by some real scumbag recruiters over my career, since temp-to-hire is very common in my field. Currently, I have been fighting for years to get up to the salary I should have, because a recruiter caused my company to low-ball me early in the process.

      In general, think of this like any other transaction: adding middle men to the process rarely adds value.

      Recruiters have to get paid somehow. The fee they take is either tacked on to what the employer has to pay you (in which case you cost the employer more to hire than do other candidates) or subtracted from your pay (which means you earn less). Plus, there’s often a kill fee to get the recruiter to release you as a free agent.

      OF COURSE they want you to run potential jobs by them, they’re making you do their job for them!

    6. Karen from Finance*

      My latest experience with a recruiter has been that he tried to get me to go to an in-person interview without giving any details about the job other than the job title. I asked for a phone call, we agreed on a time, he didn’t call or write back with an explanation/to reschedule. I’m assuming he found plenty people desperate enough to show up to a “blind” interview?

      I’m beginning to hate recruiters.

    7. EH*

      I get tons of cold calls from recruiters, to the point that I have a contact in my phone for them and it goes straight to voicemail. There’s a tone of voice that makes it clear they’re saying the same script for the umpteenth time, and I won’t work with them if I hear it. Ditto their emails (and now they’ve started texting me too, wtf?).
      There are a handful of recruiters who have left me voicemails in a tone that tells me they have actually read and thought about the posting and my resume, and I’ve worked with some of them – but once or twice those folks turned out to be the pushy salesperson type and I dumped them.
      Jobhunting sucks, and these cold-calling, pushy-sales-person recruiters just add to the aggravation.

      1. NativeForeigner*

        Cold calls are very unprofessional. There are several reasons you do not want to talk about a job offer in phone at the moment. You may have to reply rude to avoid an awkward situation even if you want a job.
        True professional recruiters send an innocent email to agree on the phone time.

    8. TheAwkwardInterviewer*

      They are sales for sure. I applied for a role at company D, and an employment agency I was working with called me about a position at the same company. Since there are very few roles at that company that I would be qualified for, I presumed it was for the same job, so I mentioned, oh, is it for Y role? Because I applied already, but it’s been weeks and I have not heard anything. It turned out that it was, but the recruiter saw it on Indeed (not from a contract with the company to fill the role for them) and knew I wanted to work there (right by my house) and called me on it.

      The agency offered to call their contact and get info. Figuring I had nothing to lose, I agreed…. my rejection for the role came an hour later. Maybe it was timing, but I suspect the recruiter tried to get a cut and the company bounced on me.

  3. Annette*

    LW 4. Why haven’t you asked the employee what is up with the emails. It would be most people’s first step. If you don’t care to ask why. Then you already have your script. It’s exactly what you wrote.

    1. Artemesia*

      If you owe them money you would expect an email that says. “My records show you owe me $345 for the reimbursement for the Kansas trip; when can I expect to see the check”. NOT. copies of their credit card bill. My first thought would be it was a mistake; they meant to send it somewhere else and somehow your address populates accidentally. This would be odd but not as odd as sending them to you intentionally. That suggests a certain level of derangement.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          And it’s so easy to hit reply and type “I don’t think I’m the person you intended this email to go to.”

          1. JJ Bittenbinder*

            Yes, the long-lost art of using one’s words!

            I’m actually pretty curious to know the answer, though. I will say, when I used to handle employee reimbursements for a previous organization, many people were so cavalier about sharing their financial documents. Employees would send over original credit card bills with none of the information redacted, bank statements, what have you. Not only did I really not want to be privy to their spending habits, I was very uncomfortable having their credit card numbers. Whenever someone did this, I would immediately let them know to please redact all but the very small amount of information I actually needed to process their reimbursement next time.

            1. valentine*

              I’m thinking this isn’t a pleasant person, or OP4 wouldn’t have hesitated to reply. If you think your ex-colleague is trying to make a point, it’s understandable to withhold until you can tailor your response.

              It’s weird, but I don’t understand why others are seeing malice or mental illness.

        2. Tom*

          That might be what happens.
          Especially certain mail client suggest contacts based on the first few letters

          So if you have a jane.doe@company.com as contact – but also a Jane.Eyre@isp.com as friend – the company one will show up first. Hit enter – and it goes to company.com mail instead of isp.com mail.

          1. ConstructionRecruiter*

            My first thought was she had it set to automatically go to her work email and as she left now her emails are forwarding to this address.

            1. the cake is a pie*

              Yes, this right here. And maybe she was just auto-archiving them or something so she’s forgotten this process is even going on. I’m guilty of trying to be helpful to myself by creating auto-file filters for certain messages and then forgetting I’ve done that. Then, later: “Where are those emails??”

      1. Ron McDon*

        I assumed that this person was sending the bank/credit card statements to demonstrate how they were in dire straits after being fired and to ‘beg’ for their job back … but then re-read and saw they’d resigned! So, I got nothing.

          1. JJ Bittenbinder*

            “Look! I can go out to dinner now! And I buy books and theater tickets and take vacations, too!”

      2. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

        Eh, sometimes people are strange about not protecting their own privacy. It could very well be that she’s trying to demonstrate “you never reimbursed me for XYZ expense, which I paid for on my own credit card, look here; and look there, the amount never showed up in my bank account.” And just assumes everyone receiving the emails already understands this context.

        Definitely LW needs to ask why, but that’s the only explanation that makes sense, especially as she keeps re-sending these – you’d think if she was trying to send it to someone else, she’d have noticed the error by now, by checking her ‘sent’ folder when the intended recipient informs her that the email was never received.

    2. Aveline*

      I would suspect computer virus or error.

      Maybe she’s thinking she’s sending them to someone else.

      I’d start by sending her something in writing pointing out you have been receiving private documents in error.

    3. Mike*

      When the employee left, was their email address kept active and set to be forwarded to another employee or manager? It’s possible that they used their company email to sign up for electronic statements, and either forgot to change them or can’t change them.

      1. Drax*

        I was just coming to say that, there is a chance that’s the problem

        But also I kind of hope it isn’t and I wanna know what the reason is… Like if it’s purposeful that so odd I gots to know

      2. The Cosmic Avenger*

        That occurred to me, because the OP didn’t give any concrete details about the nature of the emails. My partner uses their work email for EVERYTHING, despite my advice to the contrary, and so when they leave they’re going to have to switch the email account of record for SO many things. You would think these would just bounce, but as you say, if important work-related emails might have been coming to the departed employee, the company would probably forward their address to someone else at the company. But then, it wouldn’t just be bank and financial statements, right? It should be obvious based on whether they are also receiving, say, coupons and marketing emails and such, but those might not have the ex-employee’s name on them, or they might get filtered.

  4. Annette*

    LW2 – bring it up. If your employer wants you to cross a picket line to save 50 bux – says it all about them. Valuable information to have. Solidarity forever.

      1. valentine*

        Online ordering is probably better, as is grocery delivery, especially with a loyalty card for the employer. Even if it were more expensive, they may prefer a direct payment to the total cost of reimbursement.

        1. EPLawyer*

          It might be better in saved time and mileage too. The higher cost of the order might be offset by these savings. Run a quick check and see. In fact, online ordering might be the way to go even after this nationally publicized strike ends.

        2. blackcat*

          I’m willing to bet the store in question in Stop and Shop. Many Stop and Shops are located in zones where you can get Market Basket delivery through Instacart. I’d try that.

          1. DKMA*

            There is no way Stop & Shop (don’t know if Giant is following suit) is the cheapest choice in the area. Sounds like this is a monthly trip, so it’s all packaged goods. You might be able to get everything you need, or close substitutes as a Dollar General which will likely be cheaper if for some reason there are no good online options.

            1. Prior American Shopper*

              Of course it’s possible for Stop & Shop to be the cheapest option- when I lived in Northampton, MA it certainly was. What you have available to you wherever you live might not exist somewhere else. Don’t be obtuse.

        3. TootsNYC*

          Then again, if I’m not willing to cross a picket line, I might want to stick with brick-and-mortar.

          1. valentine*

            I meant order online from the further store, so they’re neither crossing the picket line nor adding time or mileage costs.

        4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          It depends on your volume.

          I can’t imagine they’re sending an admin to pick things up if it’s an option but it may be they’re unaware of the service.

          I tried online for us when we did a BBQ and nope, it was outrageous to order it. Unless you’re buying hundreds of dollars of things.

          Costco is good for drinks if you go through cases a month which we do. But not everyone is within their business delivery area.

    1. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

      Yes, I think most ethical companies would be just fine with a small added expense if the alternative is forcing an employee to do something that makes them uncomfortable or breaks the employee considers unethical. While the picket line thing has never come up, most places I’ve worked have been pretty clear about not wanting employees to feel pressured to do work that makes them feel uncomfortable, even if it’s work that needs to be done. The only place that *did* ask us to make ethical violations, was themselves a deeply unethical company.

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        This came up exactly at my first ever office job when I was eighteen. I was working at a local university (not the one I attended) for a summer job as administrative assistant to a dean. She sent me up to the supermarket a block from the office to get supplies for some event later that day and I ran into a picket line. I had no idea whether I was doing something completely unacceptable by office standards, but I went back to explain the situation to the dean and ask anxiously whether it would be okay if I took a little while longer to go a few blocks further away to a different supermarket because I would rather not cross the picket line if I could help it. She was actually delighted with me for caring, and assured me that she hadn’t known that supermarket had a labor dispute going on but that she wouldn’t want me to cross their line anyway. I went to the further store with her blessing and a very relieved heart. :)

    2. epi*

      Totally agree.

      OP2, if your boss insists, just approach the picket line, say hi, and explain why it is unavoidable that you go in. I had to do it a few weeks ago when a building where I had a medical appointment was being picketed. It stung extra because while I was not a member of this union, historically I have gotten similar employment terms to whatever they negotiate. After that one unexpected need, I avoided that building until the strike was over.

      Being kind to people, thanking them, and making clear that you are not just crossing their picket line because you don’t care, goes a long way. I hope you don’t have to though!

    3. DKMA*

      I don’t think it’s incumbent on a new employee to start a labor vs management solidarity conversation with their manager. Perfectly reasonable to avoid that conversation.

      That said, I think Alison is advising a bit too much caution here. You don’t have to have a big solidarity conversation with your manager. It’s completely fine to leave it at a quick “I’m not personally comfortable crossing a picket line to (Stop &) shop, I’m thinking of going to store X or finding products online, which would your prefer”.

      Odds are manager won’t press, even if they do you can go with a vague “I’m really just not comfortable with it”. If a manager presses beyond that, THAT is relevant information.

    4. TootsNYC*

      I actually wouldn’t ask. It’s an extra 15 minutes, once every month or so? And what, an extra 75¢ in gas or something?

      Just change stores. You could spend that 15 minutes by being caught behind a slow customer.

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        It depends a lot on what the usual timing is of the errand. If we’re talking an extra 15 minutes on what would normally be a ten minute errand because the store is just up the street, it’s going to be noticed.

    5. JSPA*

      If you (being new) don’t want to take a public stance (for now), but emphatically do want to avoid crossing a picket line, you could go before work (or overlapping with your lunch break), and frame it as “more convenient” / “on my way to/from another errand.” And then drop in the bit about not liking to cross picket lines either. But that’s AFTER having given a practical reason that your boss should be open to, regardless.

      If they shoot back something about cost, suggest doing it at the other site once, to comparison shop. And then do so. If you then want to offer to make up the difference, that’s the next conversation.

      I’m not a huge fan of the online option, in that you’re quite possibly ordering via workers who are treated worse, have less chance to unionize, and no visible way to picket. Going someplace local but a bit more is arguably a better way to signal, “I’m willing to pay a little more, so that the workers can be treated / paid a bit better.”

    6. sam*

      also, if you need another argument to add your basket of reasons not to shop there while the strike is happening, I just read an article about how many of the stores are running out of stock, because the teamsters won’t cross the picket line and so stores are not getting deliveries.

      On top of the very good moral reasons not to cross the line, it might also just be pointless if the store doesn’t actually have any food.

      1. Lies, damn lies and...*

        Came here to say this. Most likely this is a one time thing if the trip is monthly as I’ve heard they may be negotiating and ready to open as usual on a Monday.

  5. RUKiddingMe*

    I cant figure out my personal Lego avatar… Do they make a “woman really annoyed with this kind of shit” face?

    1. RUKiddingMe*

      Oh and I should add … I live Legos. I have spent many, many *hours* and *hours* sitting with my son building Lego worlds (from scratch, no kits) and loved every second of it. I just think this interview thing is stupid.

      1. I Took A Mint*

        But I would say I think this is a good opportunity to show that love to the interviewers! Why not build something like you would make with your son, and share that story with them? That sounds exactly like the kind of thing they’re looking for.

        I agree it’s a little gimmicky but I think someone who was asked to play with Legos and scoffed wouldn’t be a good fit for the Lego company!

        1. Indigo a la mode*

          I agree! It sounds like a fairly benign if less-than-useful interview question, a fairly fun little activity/bonding experience, and a fairly good get-to-know-ya where you write the script. Honestly, it kinda makes me want to know if they have an office near me because it sounds like a fun culture. So, like you say, maybe it’s a good way to see who wants to be a part of that culture!

          1. MassMatt*

            I think many commenters are bringing their own baggage about other weird or unorthodox interview techniques to the question. But this isn’t a bank, this is Lego! This is a toy company wanting to see how you treat their product.

            IMO this falls into the “unless the job entails X” exception. It’s not unreasonable for an interview at Lego to involve… Legos.

            1. I Took A Mint*

              Yes, exactly. I’d expect to wear a swimsuit to a lifeguard job interview and be judged on my makeup at MAC. But anywhere else that would be a hard no! I would be super weirded out if Home Depot asked me to play with Legos as the interview.

              1. Save One Day at a Time*

                I have applied to a lifeguard job, you don’t wear a swimsuit to the interview. But you do need it to pass the tests to get certified

                1. That Girl From Quinn's House*

                  I hired lifeguards and I conducted swim tests before the verbal interview.

                  An alarming number of lifeguards who are certification-in-hand cannot pass the swim skills test required to participate in the certification class in the first place. There’s a huge problem in the industry with instructors falsifying skills.

            2. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

              I dunno…would you think the same if the OP had applied at Tonka and the interview required her to play with toy trucks, or she applied at Mattel and the interview required her to play with Barbie dolls?

              1. Marzipan*

                My dad used to be an engineer at a toy company. His interview, in its entirety, consisted of them handing him a toy and asking him to describe what he could infer about its inner workings. So, he didn’t have to play with it exactly, but there was definitely a toy involved, and knowing and being able to demonstrate *how* one would play with it was very much part of the process.

                1. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

                  This makes sense. So do the other examples people have used here.

                  This is NOT what lego is asking for, and I’m not sure why the people who have posted can’t see the difference.

                  Lego is saying “Tell is a story about who you are through toys” and it is a gimmicky crock of crap in a job interview like this.

              2. Musereader*

                I would expect any interview with any manufacturer of any product to include some discussion at least about the product, I would totally expect to play, taste, use or demonstrate the product they make, whatever it is, as your reaction to it is what they are looking for and if you are not comfortable with it how are you going to sell it

              3. Amy*

                I work for a publishing house. And yes, everyone legitimately loves books! We enjoy talking about them, reading them and a massive perk of working there is all the free books you could want. (I just took 5 new lovely children’s book home on Friday)

                If you don’t love books and feel comfortable talking about that in the interview, it’s probably not a great fit for you.

                1. PhyllisB*

                  THIS would be my dream job!! I love books. It would be my husband’s nightmare because I already have enough books to open my own library!! :-)

                2. Lily Rowan*

                  Yeah, I used to work at a place that makes beloved products, and while I was a little embarrassed after my interview that I had mostly talked about my childhood love of the products (they make things for all ages), I’m confident that my enthusiasm actually helped get me the job.

                3. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

                  I legitimately love Barbie and Monster High dolls, and “play” with them IRL (no, I don’t have kids, they are MINE, and I have no shame about it), I’ve even taken Barbies apart (as an adult) to see how they work (I even have the inner hip joint of an old Barbie doll as a charm on a necklace!) but if I went to apply for a job at Mattel and they sat me down, told me to play with dolls, and come up with a story that was relevant to me, I would be blindsided, confused, feel pressured and put on the spot, and I would really have NO IDEA what they were actually looking for- or why it related to the job at hand.

                  They could ask me IN DEPTH about the construction of the dolls, the different types of bodies, the pros & cons of this, that, or the other type of joint; they could ask me the history, the different series/lines, they could ask me to demonstrate what I know on an actual toy- all that I would not only be totally capable of, it would actually be relevant to the job, and it would show FAR more of my large store of knowledge about their products than being asked to sit down and “play” with them would.

                  This lego thing is just another pointless, gimmicky interview tactic that doesn’t actually tell you anything about the person applying, or whether or not they will bring what you need to the position, but it IS highly exclusionary of lots of people with disabilities (such as those that affect fine motor skills) who cannot do the test but would still excel at the job at hand.

              4. Knork*

                Maybe it’s my love of LEGO talking, but playing with a toy and building with a toy are a bit different.

                1. Thankful for AAM*

                  @ Knork, I agree, playing and building are different.

                  I loved playing with Legos as a kid and with my son, but I loved the play, not the thing I made.

                  I feel all “vulnerable” at the thought of being judged by the thing I made and whether it represents me.

                  For me it is the process, not the product.

              5. Patty Mayonnaise*

                The question isn’t “play with LEGOs”, it’s “tell us who you are/a story about yourself through LEGOs.” You can do the same thing with Barbies and Tonka trucks too – this is essentially what kids do with them all day long. I work in an adjacent field and all of these interview questions sound pretty reasonable to me!

                1. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

                  Yeah, that is not a reasonable question to ask at a job interview, unless the job you are looking to fill requires being able to come up with imaginative stories on the fly.

                  It doesn’t tell you anything about a person’s actual ability to do the job they are applying for.

              6. PennyLane*

                My friend works at Mattel, and during her interview she was handed a new action figure and asked what changes she’s make to reduce production costs. So, yes, she had to study it and see how it worked and moved. It was totally expected for her interview (she was prepared and ready).

                That being said, I understand the OPs questions around how to “win” at building something with Legos.

                1. WellRed*

                  That makes more sense. It has an actual business function. It’s not “tell us the story of who you are through play.”

                2. SusanIvanova*

                  The whole theme of the Lego movie was that you don’t “win” at building them. You just do what feels fun. This isn’t like a personality test – “aha! You built a spaceship! You are obviously type Orange Pterodactyl!”

                  Just like there’s no “winning” answer in interviews. Good interviews are less concerned about whether you get the right answer and more about how you approach the problem.

                3. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

                  That’s completely different than what OP is going to be doing at the lego interview.

            3. Liane*

              “…this is Lego! This is a toy company… ”
              And it makes a toy line that many adults actually play with. Not just people like RUKiddingMe, with young kids, but people with grown kids, or no kids.
              Not that I agree with the Buzz Word of the Day type explanation (IMO) Alison found for the company. Oh, PUH-lease…

              OP, if Lego is your dream company, show them that, and good luck at the interview. And update us.

              1. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

                My husband has all his lego Sets from when he was a kid (he took excellent care of them) and still buys and constructs them as an adult. He’s even more playful and childlike in some respects than I am.

                I know for a FACT he would either absolutely HATE having to do something like that in an interview.

            4. EPLawyer*

              When the LW said “my dream job” I was at first thinking “maybe not if they have this weird requirement.” Then I saw it was a job AT LEGO. It makes sense that you handle their product in the interview.

              However, I think the LW is overthinking this. The project is make a LEGO that represents YOU. The LW is talking about incorporating the mission of LEGO into the design. That’s not the goal. The goal is to have it be about YOU, not them. Don’t get too hung up on this. Think ahead of time of what YOU would like to build out of bricks and be prepared to explain why you built that. As noted above about building bricks with their son, that is what they are looking for. A willingness to have fun with the bricks. Not a marketing idea using bricks.

              1. Aveline*


                Build something that you can do easily to take the stress out and have a good story about why it applies to you.

                You are applying for a marketing position, so the key here isn’t the build. It’s the opportunity to market yourself by making a lego that you can use to talk about yourself.

              2. Librarian of SHIELD*

                That was my initial reaction when I started reading the letter as well. But I think you’re right that this activity makes sense for the company. If I were interviewing at a financial firm or a non-profit and they asked me to build a Lego sculpture as part of the interview, that would feel really weird. But the fact that the interview is actually with Lego makes the difference.

                As a kid, I built a lot of abstract stuff with my Lego set. It wasn’t about making something recognizable, it was because I liked the way the shapes fit together. I can see where making a sculpture that’s not actually analogous to a real life object and explaining it as something like enjoying the shapes or wanting to see how wide you can make the top before it falls over or something along those lines would be seen as a good indicator.

            5. Falling Diphthong*

              Yeah, I think building with toys as an interview technique looks really different when the job is marketing (or designing, etc) this specific toy.

              There used to be a wonderful toy store near the movie theater that had construction kits of all different types, and tons of sample stations where you could try out the German snap tiles or elaborate erector sets. Great source of unusual Lego bits.

            6. Holly*

              This is how I feel about it… it’s not making a dinner for staff, or any other totally off-base thing. It’s the product the company is known for making!

        2. RUKiddingMe*

          Oh I agree really… I mean it is Lego. I think I just get fed up with stuff that seems “gimmicky” in general and at first blush this seems like just more if the same.

        3. Harper the Other One*

          I think the big problem with it is the idea of representing yourself at work with it. I love building little Lego things, so if they told me “play with LEGO for a half hour” awesome! But when they say “and build something that represents you…” it puts pressure on the build which to me is the exact opposite of the spirit of the thing.

          1. RUKiddingMe*

            Yes I think this pretty much sums it up. I don’t want an employer to really know “teal me” that well. I want them to know “work me” which is so much…better (? still early will find a better word later) than “real, vulnerable me.”

          2. smoke tree*

            I think that wording is probably the main issue–in an interview situation, it feels like a lot of pressure, and I can see how the LW is inferring there is a “correct” answer they should be striving for. But I doubt they expect anyone to create a lego sculpture that bares the essence of their soul. They just want you to build something quick and tell a story about how you loved creating lego cities as a kid, or that you and your kids love to build elaborate sculptures together, or whatnot.

        4. WellRed*

          Except she’s being asked to build something that represents her. Not sure how that translates in Legos. However, I do think the fact that this is Legos makes this marginal, rather than a hard no.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        But it’s AT LEGO. That whimsy is part of what the company sells so maybe it’s not the dream job OP1 thinks it is.

      3. Annoni*

        Thing is, that is probably what they’re looking for with vulnerable. Are you okay with playing with Lego at work and feel a bit childish or do you think its stupid and beneath you? Because if so, then Lego marketing might not be your thing.

        1. Tom*

          Not mean to me.

          But – you have a point.
          If they need people who aren`t afraid to show their love of LEGO – then this is one ideal ‘ test’ .

          Too bad they are not close to me and hiring – as THAT part i`d gloriously win :)
          (The rest would be harder).

          1. pleaset*

            Yeah, it’s spot on. Many people here are taking this very seriously in ways that seem to suggest they shouldn’t work there.

            Gimmicky stuff may be annoying in general, but this is brand related and seems to be just about trying and talking. Roll with it and try OP.

            I see this work for example: “invasive”

            Yeah, it’s invasive like asking to talk about yourself is invasive…..

        2. Ethyl*

          I don’t know if “I think it’s stupid and beneath me” is where people who object to this are coming from though. For me, personally, it makes me really uncomfortable, not that I think it’s stupid. I think it’s invasive in an off-putting way, especially for a company I don’t even work at yet! If it were me, I’d be rethinking my candidacy because this is obviously not a culture I would be comfortable with at all.

          1. Tammy*

            And honestly, that might be part of the point of the exercise – it’s a way of saying “this is an important thing about our company culture” and filtering out people who aren’t comfortable with that. Culture is a tricky thing at companies – sometimes it’s what emerges when you put a bunch of people together and let them do their thing, but sometimes it’s a set of shared values and operating principles that a company develops very intentionally.

            A company like LEGO is fully justified in saying that one of their values is playfulness or creativity or vulnerability, and to define that how they like, knowing that people who don’t share those values might not fit in at the company. (In fact, if you Google “the lego brand site:lego.com” you can find a whole lot about what their brand stands for and what these words mean.) But I don’t necessarily think that all companies should try to make their culture palatable to all people. Companies are allowed to have a point of view about what they stand for.

            1. fposte*

              Yes, I would agree with this. I’m thinking of Zappos, Southwest Airlines, etc., where there’s a specific and defined company culture. It’s okay to be put off by that company culture, and it’s good for both sides to know before you get hired that it’s a mismatch.

              I also think that quite a few employers have tacit culture expectations and it might actually be easier to negotiate the ones like this where they’re stated and upfront.

            2. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

              I’m extraordinarily creative, extremely playful, and have zero fear of vulnerability re: revealing who I am to the world, and I would still find this exercise EXTREMELY off putting.

              All this exercise does is tell you if someone is good at building a lego thing quickly and coming up with stories on the fly. It says nothing about their actual ability to do the job or Eve about their ability to fit in the culture.
              Unless they are hiring someone precisely for the job of “telling a story about X with Legos”, this exercise is absolutely useless from an interviewing standpoint, and it’s also exclusionary of many people with disabilities, who may not want to reveal those disabilities at the interview stage, or who may not normally even NEED to, if those disabilities don’t interfere with their normal work functioning.

              1. I Took A Mint*

                I mean… it’s a marketing position! I would expect someone applying to a job to market Legos should be able to tell a story about Legos on the fly. They could say “market this new Lego to me” and it would be the same thing.

                You raise valid points about disabilities and I wonder how they handle that.

          2. pleaset*

            I don’t see how this is more invasive than, say, being asked to talk about describe yourself in detail.

    2. Slartibartfast*

      I would build a house, because that was my go-to as a kid. My son makes some really great robots.

      1. My Cabbages!!*

        I built people. Not the minifigs–I would build little stick figures out of the bricks themselves. Then I would make up super complicated storylines about the people. (I still remember when the princess threw off her programming and changed from a long skirt and ankle-length hair to a miniskirt and a top ponytail.) (It was the eighties so that was cool.)

      2. DataGirl*

        I would build a house too. My daughters were crazy about Legos as kids but we always used them to build houses and other buildings as part of a city. We had the Duplo train and the different buildings would be stops along the tracks. As a woman though, I would be afraid building a house at an interview would project the wrong things (oh, she’s just a homemaker at heart).

        1. DataGirl*

          Also, when I was a kid myself I used my Legos, Tinker Toys, etc to build things for my Barbies.

      3. Decima Dewey*

        I would build some sort of pattern, and would be looking for the red or yellow LEGO I’d need to continue the pattern when the door opened again.

        As far as vulnerability is concerned, my mind goes straight to bursting into tears at the interview. I’m thinking that wouldn’t go over well.

        1. smoke tree*

          But honestly, I suspect all they’re really looking for is for you to show them your sculpture and explain that you find making lego patterns really soothing and it helped get you through exams at university, or whatever. I think “vulnerability” is a bad way to phrase this, since it could imply that they want you to open up about deeply emotional subjects. But I would assume their motivations are more benign unless they give you reasons to think otherwise. (By “you” I just mean hypothetical candidates.)

    3. Gyratory Circus*

      This is my team.

      And FTR the test feels like a way to weed people of a certain demographic out, ie people not of at least a middle class background. Lego isn’t cheap; they were certainly out of my parents’ price range when I was a kid. So while I know what they are (and apparently they have a ton of specialized kits now, according to the toy aisle at Target), I have zero hands-on experience with them.

      1. JJ Bittenbinder*

        I suppose one could also make the case that it weeds out people with fine motor skills difficulties, although I really hadn’t thought of that until I read your comment.

        If they really want to put “vulnerability” and “LEGO” in the same sentence, the candidate should just strew some on the floor and walk around without shoes on. That’s vulnerability with LEGO.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          From the comments from people who work there, it seems like this might be a winning approach.

      2. Amy*

        “Weeding out people of a certain demographic” seems like a stretch.

        My son’s PreK is about 50% high poverty and is full of LEGO bricks.

        Our children’s library has a big LEGO / Duplo section. It feels pretty accessible these days.

        1. Gyratory Circus*

          Now they’re accessible via libraries etc. Back in the day, not so much. The best you could hope for was a friend who had some Lincoln Logs.

        2. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

          I don’t think it’s a stretch – while their might be lots available free today, they’re not hiring *children*. These things weren’t necessarily available when people applying there today were kids. And even with the library option – if it wasn’t a toy the kid was exposed to more regularly, they probably wouldn’t seek it out at the library.

          And as JJ said above, it’s also difficult for people with fine motor skills difficulties or other physical impairments (my own disability makes LEGO a tricky toy for me, although one wouldn’t know I was disabled at all by looking at me). Which also potentially puts candidates in the awful position of having to disclose a disability *in the interview*.

          On the one hand, I can see ‘show us your passion for our product!’ as a potentially useful thing in an interview. But I’m not so sure that this is the best method to demonstrate that passion, or that ‘passion for the product’ is more important than ‘actual skills that will be used on the job.’

          I could definitely see it as a good thing for the marketing department/sales departments to be given buckets of LEGO products to play with, though. Easier to sell the newest product if you’ve used it yourself.

          1. Amy*

            But you can easily seek these things out as an adult now, especially if you know you have an interview.

            I don’t have many memories of playing LEGO as a kid. Maybe we had them at home, maybe not. I guess I could ask my parents.

            For me, everything I know about LEGO is from the last two years of being a parent. If I were interviewing with them, I would absolutely spend an afternoon in the public library or splurge ($20) for a few hours at a LEGO Discovery Center. Even if you’re just observing the play, not participating.

            Consider it research.

            1. Marzipan*

              I would go so far as to say that Lego is sufficiently intuitive for a person who had never seen or encountered it before to grasp the concept and build something creative and perfectly respectable within the space of half an hour. Plus I’m sure there’s tons of stuff on YouTube or wherever, that someone in that position could use to get the idea of Lego. So yeah, I think the idea that there’s some sort of middle-class-and-above Lego apprenticeship situation going on with the practical exercise is a bit of a stretch.

              I do think it would be problematic if the company were overly swayed in their hiring decisions by the childhood Lego experiences of their applicants – so, if the person who says ‘I loved Lego growing up and built my own full-size batcave which I lived in for a year’ were automatically prioritised over someone saying ‘I didn’t really have to opportunity to play with Lego as a child but here’s my perspective on why it’s great’ then that would be an issue. But I don’t think childhood Lego exposure really gives a significant advantage when it comes to the task described here.

              (For clarity, I’m taking here about the perceived weeding-out of people raised in lower-income households; not the disability aspect.)

              1. LaurenB*

                Exactly, you can access them as adults if you really want to. I don’t, personally – I think Lego is cute but I don’t have much interest in it. But I know adults who have built extensive collections as adults and are passionate about it. If they’re looking for people who really love their product, they don’t really care that you didn’t play with Lego as a child – do you love it today? Every field has people who were at advantages due to early exposure and it’s impossible to truly eliminate.

                1. Aveline*

                  Really, How exactly?

                  I just sat here and thought “If I were too poor to buy a set, where would I go?”

                  I know for a fact that none of my local libraries have them in the play area. I’ve been in several of the local doctor’s offices. Don’t have them. Neither do the churches. The Pre-K program for the impoverished (where I was last week) didn’t have them. I think the private, Catholic school might have them, but the public school does not. Too great a risk of choking.

                  So please state where they are so easy to access. Because I’m honestly at a loss.

                  It’s easy to assume something is available if it is readily available where you live, but the reality is different for a lot of people.

                  FWIW, most of my foster care client children in the year 2019 do not have experiences playing with them. Most of my clients don’t have any toys that did not come through the Angel Tree or Toys for Tots. Legos aren’t typical for those programs. At least not here.

                  Many toys are still “middle class” much more than some of you think.

                  I just went on Walmart.com to see if they carried them locally. They do. The cheapest set is over $15. That’s more than an impoverished family can afford.

                  I know the Dollar Store carries some knock-offs toys, but I very rarely see any of the poor families purchasing them.

                  Finally, if you don’t believe me they are middle-class, believe Lego and UNICEF or the Child Creativity Lab in Orange County, California. All of them have had programs to collect used legos to be cleaned and repackaged for poor communities (in the US and globally) because lack of access to “building and creative” toys is a known problem.

                  As someone who works with poor communities, I can tell you that lack of access to books and lack of access to “building and creative” toys is a known and persistent problem.

                  All that being said, I don’t think LW has to worry about that. I don’t think they care how well she builds. They care about why she builds what she builds.

                2. LaurenB*

                  Of course they’re middle class toys. So is education. I am just not going to get up in arms about a company that hires people with $40,000 degrees is also looking for people who prioritize buying a few $20 sets of their own product over other luxury goods.

                3. Marzipan*

                  Aveline, I do agree that there are people who don’t have/didn’t have access to Lego (or all sorts of other toys or items) – which is why I’d come back to my point that I don’t think a person needs to have played with Lego before to be able to play with Lego. I do think that for an actual applicant not able to physically access any Lego, just checking out a few pictures/videos to be sure you knew how it joined together would get you up to speed. I’m sure it would feel intimidating but in some ways coming to Lego with fresh eyes could be an advantage, too – you wouldn’t have preconceptions. (I know you weren’t replying to me, but still.)

                4. Amy*

                  If you do a search, you may be surprised. I live near the Bronx, where almost 50% of the residents experience extreme poverty (I live nearby)

                  There are tons of hits. LEGO clubs at the public library, a city funded STEM camp, public school workshops.

                  You might be right but you also might not be looking.

                  My child is one of the few kids at his school not on free lunch. And LEGO is not some strange rich people toy that his classmates have never heard of. Kids play with them, know who Emmet is etc

                5. Aveline*

                  @ Amy

                  You live in a major city. A lot of Americans don’t. I’m not failing to look properly. They aren’t here.

                  When I lived in major urban areas (most of my adulthood), I’m sure I could have found free lego play. I can’t now.

                  There are a lot of resources for the poor in urban areas with public transport that don’t exist at all in non-urban areas without public transport.

                  Part of what I’m trying to point out is that we have to move beyond assuming that something that was a normal and ready part of our childhood applies to everyone.

                  But, let’s let this go. I don’t want to derail on it as it’s a pretty tangential point.

                  I think we might be having a different conversation if this was a skills-based Test. It’s not. It’s a narrative test. LW should be able to do that even without experience with Legos.

                6. Risha*

                  @Aveline – I will say I’m a little baffled here. My family was solidly buy-our-clothes-at-thrift-stores-and-Kmart poor (though not poverty, peer se, at least not during the periods when my dad was paying child support and we were off food stamps) growing up in the 70s through the 80s. And we had tons of legos. The sets were and are extremely expensive so those were completely off the table, but plain blocks weren’t, especially secondhand, and they were available at seemingly every thrift store and yard sale. And they were inevitably communally shared by all the children in the family. I didn’t know any children in our income bracket who didn’t have them.

                  FWIW, it looks like today you can get mixed blocks by the pound for about $15 off of Amazon, which is certainly out of reach of some poor kids but far from all, at least for christmas or their birthday. I can’t speak to exact prices 40 years ago.

                7. Risha*

                  @Aveline – To clarify, I believe you when you say many of your impoverished clients don’t have legos or access to legos. I’m just not positive that it’s purely a cost thing, unless things have changed drastically.

                8. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

                  To Aveline: When I was a kid we got almost all our legos second hand at yard sales. My parents couldn’t have afforded to bought fancy sets new either. Instead we had quarts and quarts of mixed sets, which was probably more fun and definitely more creative. Lots of Tyrannosaurus headed cars with wings.

                  If you’re a parent, it’s a great way to get a massive collection cheap-buy other people’s outgrown collections. The pieces don’t wear out and can be sanitized easily.

                9. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

                  @ Risha – I grew up in the 70s and 80s too, and while my family was middle class, since both my parents grew up during the Depression, they still lived that way in many respects- such as being solidly buy-EVERYTHING-at-thrift-stores-yard-sales-and-Kmart. We went thrifting/yard saling ALL THE TIME and while we found ALL sorts of really awesome old toys that way, the one thing we never did come across was legos.
                  Maybe because we lived in a working class suburb (in Southern California, not the middle of nowhere), maybe people just held onto them, but I am serious when I say that we once found a box of antique bisque headed dollhouse dolls and paper dolls, but NEVER any lego. And even our middle class parents (who had no problems buying us stuff at pricy Toys R Us) thought legos were way too expensive.
                  Neither my brother or I had a lot of friends as kids, so I can’t say for certain how popular they were in general, but none of the friends we did have (many of whom were lower income) had them either.

                  Your experience doesn’t represent everyone’s experience.

                10. I Took A Mint*

                  Let’s not forget here that while access to Legos may be a privilege that not everyone gets, this is for a JOB at the LEGO COMPANY. So if you didn’t play with it as a kid but want to apply for the job now, then it’s up to you to research the company and do other prep as you would for any company. Or if you really can’t find Legos anywhere cheaply, Legos aren’t hard enough that you couldn’t make something up on the spot (again this is a marketing position). Or, worst case scenario… apply somewhere else.

              2. Falling Diphthong*

                I. . . I totally see the sales potential in the 50,000 piece full-size Lego Bat Cave.

                Also Millennium Falcon.

                1. RandomU...*

                  I would totally want to live in a life size Lego Millennium Falcon.

                  Or the spooky house from Scooby Doo…

                  Or well I was going to say the Lego Tree house, but I think the one I’m remembering wasn’t Lego, maybe little people.

                  Ok, now that I’ve relived my childhood a bit… I think the OP needs to stop worrying about the Lego build. Don’t go in with a plan, just build whatever the mood fancies the day of the interview even if it’s a big ol’ block version of nonsense. Then as the question arrives how does this represent you, make up a story or go with a generalized one.

                  “I know this isn’t really a typical Lego build, like a house or a robot, but with nothing defined it can be adapted to anything it needs or wants to be. I don’t like putting fences around who I am” or something like that.

              3. pleaset*

                We use Lego bricks in workshops sometimes, with people who have never used them or anything similar. Ever.

                And they do fine.

                The things are toys designed (initially) for children. It’s not that complicated.

                If the company was judging people on the complexity and precision of what they build, then yeah, it could be problematic for people w/o access to them as a child or for practice.

                But the way it’s described – no. Children can do it.

          2. Aveline*

            I agree with you and disagree with the other commenters about how middle class they are. Also about how intuitive they are.

            There are programs, some run by local children’s museums, and some by LEGO and UNICEF that are designed to get used legos into the hands of impoverished children precisely because these types of building tools are critical to children learning certain skills when they are young. And this skill is not intuitive. One has to learn it as a very young child.

            But where I disagree on this slightly is how important that is to OPs situation. I don’t think LEGO cares how well she builds. It’s the fact she’s willing to do so and the story she tells.

            If this were a skills test, I’d agreed it was biased. But it’s not. They aren’t testing how well one builds.

            1. Marzipan*

              Yes, I think people are really over-worrying about the technical aspect of this. To me it sounds like it’s more about a sort of targeted messing-about. I don’t think it’s really possible to do it ‘wrong’ in terms of the output – but I do think if someone showed a real distaste for Lego that would probably give them pause for thought.

              1. Aveline*

                Yeah, I think the key is not to show frustration. If she’s inept, she needs to laugh about it.

            2. someone*

              “And this skill is not intuitive. One has to learn it as a very young child.”
              Uh, no. It’s putting a brick on top of a brick. You don’t need to learn it as a child.

              The utter outrage about Legos here is pretty ridiculous honestly.

              1. pleaset*

                I’d love to see some analysis of what provokes outrage here. It’s quite remarkable sometimes.

          3. RUKiddingMe*

            Even parents who could easily afford Legos may have chosen to not “waste” their money on things they considered “frivolous” like toys, more than one change of clothes/one pair of shoes, etc.

            “Passion” or non-passion for a particular product doesn’t mean someone will/wont do excellent work.

            Most of us work for money…cash…green (or other colors!) backs, dough, clams, etc. We are super lucky when “passion” intersects with “make a decent living.”

            For instance, I don’t care one teeny tiny bit about import/export, transportation, bills of lading, and all the test of it, except that I’m good at it and it pays well. My passion pays nothing monetarily. That’s life.

            Legos? Love them. Build a representation of myself: I’m still at “annoyed woman.”


          4. JamieS*

            An adult doesn’t really need to have grown up with Legos to figure out how to use them though. They’re pretty intuitive so anyone with some basic logic skills should be able to figure out how to use them.

      3. PVR*

        I don’t think you need to actually have hands on experience to build something with LEGOs though. It doesn’t sound like they are looking for archetectural perfection, but the process you take as you build. And if you had no experience before the interview, you could even use that to your advantage and describe what it is like to build something as a new user. The fine motor skill issue is a good point, though they do make some larger bricks like Duplos for that exact purpose.

        1. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

          I actually didn’t know they made larger bricks, that’s neat! But again – requires the candidate to disclose a disability in an interview, and at that, one that isn’t even relevant to the job. Either that, or be flustered and embarrassed by their inability to properly manipulate a children’s toy.

          I get that they’re not looking for the most impressive creation here, but if the best you can do (either because of physical impairment or just not being used to playing with LEGOs) is ‘plain stack of bricks’ it will make the person look unimaginative and/or like they don’t care, even if neither is true. I’m of the opinion that it’s better to keep skills testing in interviews constrained to that which is strictly relevant, rather than as a stand-in for a personality assessment, because you might accidentally end up testing for something completely different than what you intended.

          1. Penelope Garcia’s glasses*

            Okay, look, when I encounter stuff I can’t do because of my own disabilities I don’t throw a tantrum, I just let people know and move on.

            1. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

              Not wanting to disclose in a job interview is not “throwing a tantrum.”

      4. sb51*

        I’d hope that the interviewer would be fine with someone coming in and saying “Lego was out of our price range as a kid; I’m excited to see what I missed” and then explore the product. (As someone whose family could afford some Legos but not all the fancy kits, I’d be inclined to run around and find all the funky pieces and see what strange things I could build with different pieces.)

        Like anything odd or unfamiliar in an interview, talk through your answer and a *reasonable* interviewer will understand. (And you don’t want to work for an unreasonable interviewer.)

      5. Dust Bunny*

        They’re Legos, not a build-your-own-computer kit. You snap them together. They are just blocks except harder to knock down. And they’ve been around for *decades* so I cannot imagine you can’t find used Legos inexpensively on which to practice.

        As for motor skills: They do make larger blocks (Duplos) so before we assume they’re weeding out people with fine motor issues, we could find out if an applicant could ask to use the larger blocks instead.

        1. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

          The problem with this theory is that it would require the candidate to request them, and explain why. As someone who actually has a disability that makes using LEGOs hard, I don’t want to disclose that in an interview. And unlike a candidate who was, say, paralyzed, you can’t ‘see’ my disability by looking at me. Which can be beneficial in some ways (unlike my friend who actually *is* paralyzed, nobody assumes that the disability means I don’t belong in the workplace at all) but also adds extra weirdness (a shocking number of people think that if a disability is invisible, it must not be real). I’d really not open that can of worms in the interview, particularly with a job that wouldn’t be affected by this particular disability.

      6. BananaPants*

        This seems like a big stretch, especially since Lego is designed to be very intuitive (even for small children who can’t read). OP is an adult going for a job interview *at* Lego; I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect some familiarity with their products.

      7. Maya Elena*

        Why would you need deep experience with the Lego brand specifically, and from childhood, to figure out how to stack LEGO blocks? The basic concept of the Lego blocks exists in lots of other products and has for many years – including large primary-colored ones for toddlers. I’d imagine it’s a pretty small demographic that has never had any access to any blocks, ever, to the point where this interview activity puts them at a serious disadvantage.

        1. fposte*

          Yes, that was my thought–I bet they’d be delighted to see somebody who’d never had a chance to play with Legos thoughtfully sort them into piles or excitedly play fight with the blocks or whatever. This isn’t a test of experience or ability, and I suspect it’s a lot less class-inflected than an Excel test.

      8. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

        My husband had to save up and buy all his lego sets when he was a kid because his parents couldn’t afford them. (He still has them all, by the way- original boxes and everything.)

    4. CupcakeCounter*

      I would build a house because it is the only thing I can actually make with Legos

      1. Ethyl*

        Yeah this is the other thing. I’m not great at building undirected stuff out of Lego, and I wouldn’t know where to start if it was something that had to “represent me.” And I’m just not sure that “can build with Lego without directions” is a skill set one needs to be hiring for, even at Lego.

        1. SarahTheEntwife*

          Yeah, building something out of LEGO to represent me would be sorting all the blocks by color and size and then building a giant wall of soothingly color-matching stripes.

          On the other hand, if they were hiring me it would presumably be for some sort of data management or archival work, so that might actually be ok.

          1. Ethyl*

            Mmm soothing matched stripes sounds perfect. Also I feel like I recognize your username from somewhere, and if so, hi!

          2. Susan*

            And that should be fine as well. I was thinking the same thing, and I’m guessing part of the interview is some variation on “tell me about your creation”. Then the answer could be a fancied up way of saying “I love playing with the variety of colors” + “this is what intrigues me/hooks me”

            1. fposte*

              Or even “I wanted to get acquainted with the process and the possibilities, so the process rather than the outcome is what represents me.” This isn’t a building-a-Lego-house-against-the-wolf test–it’s seeing how you engage with the physical object that has huge conceptual meaning there. Are you game? Do you like it? Do you roll with it if it falls apart?

              It makes me think of the lab of John Gottman, the famous marriage researcher; couples have to build a rocket to the moon or Mars or something out of construction paper. And you can see that people sometimes get lost in the literality of the direction when the researchers couldn’t care less if the couple said Screw it, rockets are annoying, we’re going to make a construction paper parade instead.

              1. smoke tree*

                Yes, I think this is it exactly. They just want to see that candidates are reasonably willing and able to engage with the product without feeling stupid. I don’t think they’re looking for a ten-foot sculpture that maps the contours of your psyche or a life-size model of your mother. I think it’s reasonable to expect candidates to have some enthusiasm for legos and some willingness to put themselves out there creatively.

    5. Aveline*

      In her shoes, I’d just google “simple lego builds” or something like that.

      Alternatively, just think of one of your hobbies or loves and try and built that.

    6. Allison*

      Me either! I loved Legos as a kid, I built some cool stuff, and I’m not against Lego somehow incorporating their product into the interview, but I really don’t know what I could build that “represents” who I am as person, let alone specifically an employee.

    7. tink*

      I’d probably build a castle or a tree, because those are my default “I have a bucket of legos and some free time.” pieces.

  6. lyonite*

    LW1: Honestly, it seems like you could build pretty much anything and come up with a reason why that would sound good enough. I can’t imagine they’d decide against hiring an otherwise promising marketing candidate because they didn’t make the right kind of sculpture in the interview. (I’d build a duck. Not sure how this helps you, but I felt the need to share.) (It would probably be a very bad duck.)

    1. FabJobTag*

      Then you could talk about how you feel it’s important to get all your ducks in a row when taking on a new project.

    2. Jeannie*

      And if you get hired and get to keep the sculpture, then you should use as many different pieces as possible, so that you can add them to your collection.

    3. HannaSpanna*

      I also don’t think it has to be a recognisable thing – could be a postmodern sculpt as long as you could talk about how this bit represented your x quality or this colour reminded you of y personality trait. They might not even want that, just want to see if you are enjoy using Lego.
      (That being said, as a Dramatherapist, making a sculpt out of lego to represent myself is totally in my wheelhouse. But can’t imagine any job I’d get at Lego.)

    4. Mesmer*

      Exactly. LW1: There is something called LEGO Serious Play, look it up. It’s really just about how we as humans are narrative animals and look for structure and meaning in everything, so there isn’t really a “bad” answer and in that sense it’s not different from “tell me about yourself”.

      You can not really fail there because you can build anything and say that it is X and it represents you because Y and no one can tell you that it is not X because you’re the one who made it. You don’t have to think it through beforehand because the point is to “think with your hands”. Just relax and have fun with it.

      1. Harper the Other One*

        I comment above, but in the context of an interview, it’s no longer play. There’s pressure and a power dynamic there that’s antithetical to play.

        If this is standard for LEGO, I think they should just get people to wait in a room full of the stuff and tell them to feel free to build while they’re waiting! None of this “assignment” style stuff.

        1. Mesmer*

          How is that pressure different from the pressure that arises when the interviewer asks you to tell you about yourself?

          I’m not really qualified to explain the intricacies of Serious Play because I am not a trainer or anything, just participated in a few sessions, but it’s a facilitation technique that is used rather widely in a business setting. Would you say that it should not be used anymore because there is group pressure and team/leadership power dynamics?

          1. pleaset*

            “How is that pressure different from the pressure that arises when the interviewer asks you to tell you about yourself? ”

            This. Apart of the physical disabilities issues, so much of the negative reaction to this could apply to many aspects of interviewing. You try. You talk and explain. That’s communicating.

            Particularly for a marketing position this does not seem very disturbing or hard. At least not harder or more disturbing than being in an interview in the first place.

        2. Colette*

          If I were left alone in a room with no direction, I’d probably play with the bricks but wouldn’t necessarily build anything relevant. If I were given the direction the OP describes, I know exactly what I’d build and how I would use it to explain my qualifications for the job. It’s not the same exercise.

        3. CheeryO*

          Okay, but there’s always going to be a power dynamic in an interview situation. If you were hiring for a capital-B Brand like LEGO and had the choice of two equal candidates, and one candidate was clearly more excited to use the product, wouldn’t you hire that person?

        4. Patty Mayonnaise*

          But that’s the whole point – can the candidate bring their sense of “play” into a high-stakes corporate office? It’s partially seeing if the candidate can turn off the background noise of the power dynamics and “play” with the product.

          1. smoke tree*

            Yes, I think in part they may be trying to screen for candidates who are comfortable in an environment that takes play seriously, if that makes sense. If your day-to-day business decisions are about deciding things like whether a castle moat should include alligators or not, you have to be okay with playing with legos and thinking from the perspective of the user, who is probably a kid. Hopefully they have better ways to screen for these qualities and aren’t resting too much on this exercise, but it probably does give them relevant information if a candidate seems visibly annoyed or contemptuous about an exercise that involves playing.

    5. PieInTheBlueSky*

      I would agree with this. It’s not the sculpture you build, it’s the story you tell about the sculpture that you build. That’s how I would approach this, as someone who’s never been in this position.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Yup. A good story with a glob is going to beat out a pristine thing you looked up and explain as “well, you said use Legos.”

      2. Rezia*

        100% this- it’s about the story you tell, not what you build. I’d probably build a cup of tea and explain that I love tea and making tea with friends and how community matters to me, etc, etc.

    6. Purple Jello*

      First, i would sort by color, then by size/shape. Then I’d start building symmetrical sculptures that mostly resembled each other.

      Not that I’ve ever played with a pile of Legos before…

      1. Pommette!*

        You’d get one step further than I would. I’d sort and classify and then maybe start over with a new classification scheme. I’d try to spin it (“I really like doing the boring background work that makes it possible for others to get creative!”)… but really, I just find sorting really relaxing.

  7. Approval is optional*

    LW1: I actually think applying the building exercise makes sense for a marketing position (assuming it makes sense for anyone of course). Familiarity with the product, being able to put yourself into the shoes of the consumer etc.
    I don’t think there’s a ‘wrong answer’, though perhaps building something like a massacre scene with lego people might be now I think about it! Just try to have fun with the blocks.
    The vulnerable bit is a bit ergg – I wonder if it’s the closest translation of whatever the Danish word is that they use to explain the exercise, and has lost something in the translation.

    1. Just Employed Here*

      Yeah, I thought this was horrible when I saw the headline, and then more or less fine once I read it was actually the company itself doing this.

      Most prospective employers will ask you what you know about their products — I can see why just saying “little colourful bricks” wouldn’t cut it here, but that they’d want to see you interact with the product. I agree there probably isn’t a right or wrong answer they are looking for, nor any specific skills in building stuff

      Although “vulnerability” isn’t a great word here, I can imagine what they might be looking for: not taking yourself too seriously, being creative, a bit of the Law of Jante as well

      1. Willis*

        I’m with you…it sounded pretty annoying until the “The company is Lego” part. I also agree that it probably doesn’t matter much what you build, but more that you’re willing to engage with the product. The word “vulnerable” is pretty loaded, but I doubt they’re expecting you to represent some dark fear or deep expression of yourself. I’d interpret it more as being willing to voice (or I guess in this case sculpt) your ideas, even without a lot of parameters. Which actually seems like it could be relatively applicable for many positions.

        If this was a core item they were going to base your candidacy on, I’d think it was pretty dumb. I don’t know that it adds a ton of value, but assuming they have a normal interview after, it doesn’t seem that out of place. And the part about saving your sculpture to put at your desk is kinda cute.

        1. Ethyl*

          This is so interesting to me, because at first I was like “eh that’s silly and weird and probably useless but whatever” at first, it was when they said they wanted to make potential (potential!) employees feel or demonstrate vulnerability that my shoulders got all up around my ears!

      2. JSPA*

        I see benefits.

        1. Do you genuinely like the product?
        2. “openness”: specifically, willingness to let other people see the steps in your process / let others watch you think and temporarily fail.
        3. do you get frustrated when you hit a snag?
        4. advance planning: do you notice that you’ll run out of “X” and modify? How do you budget your time? Do you think, then work, or jump in and “think with your hands”?
        5. whimsy vs solidity in the construct (neither is wrong, but they may be looking for a certain balance in their teams)
        6. attempt at a literal depiction vs something evocative
        7. spatial reasoning
        8. seriousness / playfulness

    2. Indigo a la mode*

      That’s what I was thinking. Marketers more than almost anyone else should be excited to capture the magic of LEGO. The whole idea is to build worlds, which is a form of self-expression as much as sewing, painting, or writing – living that out would be a big boon for their marketing team.

      I think it would be pretty easy to avoid real vulnerablity if that (understandably) makes you uncomfortable. Build a lighting-bolt scar or a luckdragon and talk about how your love of reading let you escape into new worlds and learn from all kinds of people you’d never meet in real life, and taught you to construct those worlds in your head and bring someone else’s creative vision to life. Bada-bing: Perfect fit for LEGO marketing.

    3. Forrest*

      There’s also a whole thing of using Lego in a business/workshop setting to explore ideas. I’ve been on both sides of this, having done it as a work exercise and been trained in how to use it (though I never have used it yet.)

      It’s actually pretty extraordinary: there’s something about getting people into a play space which does invite much more confidence and openness than people would normally be willing to share in the workplace, and as a facilitator you have a huge responsibility to manage that and make sure you don’t let people get more open or vulnerable than they might be happy with (ie. you keep bringing people back to describing the Lego building they’ve made, you gently cut off any deeper confidences or explanations of the emotions behind that, you manage the questions that other people are allowed to ask.)

      When I did it the first time, it was just after a big restructure that had left me in a pretty crappy position. I knew I was fed up but hadn’t really figured out why, but then I ended up expressing it through Lego and my manager did actually take action to improve some of the crappy stuff.

      I would be cautious about using it in interview for exactly this reason, though: you don’t have much time or space to set the stage or manage it if the potential employee ends up going off in a direction they didn’t foresee. But maybe it’s not just “vulnerability” but actually “managed and appropriate levels of vulnerability” that they want to test for.

      1. Samwise*

        We’ve done games in our classes or had student teams build things with different sorts of materials — I do it on occasion because it forces students to work together and problem-solve in a different way (and it makes my arty and craftsy students happy). Dials the anxiety level way back, too — they have fun and a lot of laughs. I rather like it when we do things like this during work retreats, as long as it is a short infrequent exercise, for the same reasons.

    4. HannaSpanna*

      I suspect you’re right about the translation of vulnerability. To be playful takes vulnerability. Also a big part of
      being creative or expressive.
      On Netflix there is a documentary called ‘The House that Lego Built’ all about the journey to design, build and open the Lego museum.
      It feels like Lego want all the employees of Lego to be excited about Lego (even if they are not in marketing jobs.) It tells you a lot about the culture.

    5. Copenhagen*

      The danish word for vulnerable is “sårbar” wich directly translates to “woundable”, mainly used to describe a person who you should take extra care with. Babies and people who’s partner just left them are “sårbare”. Not a word you’d use in a work context (especially not in Denmark). So I don’t think it’s a case of something getting lost in translation.

  8. Clay on my apron*

    OP4, it sounds as though your employee is not including any type of covering email otherwise you’d know why they were sending you this stuff. In that case it’s possible that they are sending these unintentionally.

    For example, they start to type “mar” intending to send something to their personal accountant Marabo, and then hit enter and accidentally send it to Marguerite at their old company (i.e. your company).

    First find out whether they are actually sending it to you on purpose and then ask why.

    1. Artemesia*

      Yeah this is what I was suggesting above as well. It is the only scenario that is not seriously disturbed here and quite plausible.

    2. Myrin*

      Your first sentence is what fascinates me about this scenario – she sends an empty email to management, nothing but an attachment which turns out – BAM! – credit card statement! I can definitely understand why OP was thrown by this! (I can not understand why the recipient didn’t immediately write back asking what is up after the very first email but, well, we’ve all been in situations so bizarre that we didn’t react in an understandable manner.)

      Like Artemesia says, this can basically only mean two things: ex-employee is a strange person who now wants to pressure the company to do… something? Give her money, probably? But is really quite bad at that; or she actually wants to send these to someone else who doesn’t need any additional context, just the statements themselves, and accidentally keeps sending them to her former employer. I hope we’ll get an update on this one!

      1. Ethyl*

        Yeah it really is *so* weird! I would probably ignore it the first time or two to be honest, figuring it was a mistake as many folks have suggested. I really want an update!

    3. Hamburke*

      My guess was that she had them sent to her work email from the bank. Now that her work email is closed down, it forwards to her old manager, seemingly from her but it’s a feature of the email system.

      If I were this letter writer, I’d check the email address that it’s sent to.

      1. Sorrel*

        This was my thought too – although assumed the OP would know this was the case if it was common practice.

        1. Hamburke*

          They may have very little turnover or very conscientious employees who have left in the past who cleaned up their inbox before leaving or didn’t use their work emails for person stuff so this never came up.

          The email system may be configured differently than in the past so it now is forwarded instead of being redirected making it from the old employee. And it’s quite possible that one person made the decision to forward based limitations of the past email system or the knowledge of the person in charge of the email system or on practices from a previous employer while this company just assigns someone to check the former employees email occasionally.

          I also don’t get the impression that this employee left on great terms so they don’t want to reach out.

          I still think this is the most likely scenario.

          1. Rebecca*

            I think this is some sort of auto forward that the employee hasn’t thought to cancel. We had an employee in my office who was fired, and she had every personal thing you can imagine sent to her work email address. I learned this when I accessed her Outlook archive because I took over several of her customers. It was littered with emails from banks, credit card companies, utilities, anything and everything, and online shopping sites (yes, there was a reason she was left go!).

            My gut tells me employee either used her work email address for statements, etc. or has an auto forward set up on her personal email that she has forgotten about. I vote for reaching out by phone and just telling her “hey, we’re getting these, can you look into this” . I don’t think it’s anything nefarious.

  9. Thomas*

    LW1: Being totally honest here: your use of the plural “legos” is a far greater threat to you possibly getting a marketing job with LEGO than whatever you might build to represent yourself out of LEGO bricks. They are super-serious about correct usage of their brand terms and trademarks.

    1. Lilith*

      So LEGO bricks is correct but Legos is incorrect? IOW, one has to include the word bricks when pluralizing?
      I think it would be kind of a fun part of an interview but I can also appreciate your trepidation. I’m the least skilled person I know, so my build would look vaguely like a house with a driveway.

      1. doreen*

        Lots of companies have lost their trademarks- thermos , laundromat,aspirin – and that’s why you see adds with the format “X brand product” such as “Kleenex brand facial tissues” or “Lego brand building sets”. But it’s not a matter of pluralizing – companies that want to protect their trademark discourage any use of the trademark as a noun. So talking/writing about a LEGO or a set of LEGOs are equally incorrect.

      2. pleaset*

        The company says Legos is incorrect, so around them, and certainly when applying for a job with them, the OP should use their preferred terms.

    2. JamieS*

      Interesting. I think they’ve failed miserably in that regard though. I can’t think of a time I’ve ever heard them called anything other than legos. Definitely not Lego bricks.

      OP the point of the exercise seems to be to get to know about you so I’d just build something pertaining to your personal life that’s not overly personal such as something representing a hobby.

      1. Marzipan*

        Interestingly I think this is another area where US English differs from British English. In the UK I’ve never heard Legos; it sounds really weird. We just use Lego as it’s own plural (like sheep or whatever). You can have one piece of Lego, or lots of Lego; ‘Aaaarrrghhh, there’s Lego all over the floor and I just trod on a piece!’.

        (Even we don’t say Lego bricks in everyday conversation, though.)

        1. ConfusedKiwi*

          Same in New Zealand – our house is strewn with Lego – many many pieces but it stays singular.

        2. Daisy*

          The grammatical terms everyone is grasping for are ‘countable’ and ‘uncountable’. Apples are countable: ‘there is an apple’, ‘there are four apples’. Rice is uncountable: ‘there is some rice’, not ‘there are 4 rices’. You need to use a counter: ‘there are 4 GRAINS OF rice’. LEGO is uncountable in the U.K. and countable in the US (apparently).

        3. JamieS*

          So when a kid has their legos strewn all over the floor parents say “kid, go pick up your Lego”? Hmm, just sounds off to me

          1. londonedit*

            Yep, a parent would absolutely say ‘Go and pick up your Lego’. In the same way, to my British ears, ‘Go and pick up your Legos’ would sound totally bizarre.

            1. JSPA*

              Mechano used to be like that–thought of as a unitary group entity, or an uncountable, even in the US. (Do they still sell mechano?)

              But indeed, “legos” is the default in the US. Though actually….legos, for sure, when strewn about; but potentially “lego” when saying, “my kids outgrew it, so I gave the Lego to the neighbor.”

          2. Amanda*

            Yup. We say exactly that. I said it to my seven year old this morning!

            Saying “Legos” sounds completely bizarre to me. I had never realised Americans do that!

        4. Alfonzo Mango*

          I say Legos becuase I’m from the midwest and we plural or posess everything (‘Krogers’ lol)

        5. BonzaSonza*

          Aussie here.

          To me “legos” is like “sheeps” – jarring to the ears and something I would correct my toddler for saying. I’ve never heard it before today!

          I would totally say “pick up all your Lego before stories”, “your sister is eating your Lego tow truck”, or my personal favorite, “whoops, vacuumed up another piece of Lego”

        6. Copenhagen*

          In danish “one LEGO brick” (LEGOklods), “all of my LEGO”. You can’t say “one LEGO”. So it’s not really uncountable, I guess – it’s just weird.

      2. NeverNicky*

        The use of plural ‘legos’ does seem to be an American English usage. UK English is definitely ‘lego’.

        I’d love an interview where I got to play with lego. I think it would do wonders for those pre interview jitters.

        1. MK*

          It’s also how the word is used in the three non-English-speaking European countries I know about; it’s Legos, not Lego bricks. I would think it pretty silly to reject an otherwise great candidate because they name the brand the same way a sizable portion of their customers do.

            1. Colette*

              I’m also in Canada, and I’d say “playing with lego” but “where are the legos?” I don’t know why.

              1. Baby Fishmouth*

                Yeah I was just thinking that we in Canada somehow use both terms, and they both sound right. ‘There’s Lego all over the floor!’ and ‘here are four Legos’.
                Canadian English is weird.

                1. Falling Diphthong*

                  I like the idea of using this to unmask spies. “You’re no true Canadian–you’re a rogue Floridian!!!”

          1. Wintermute*

            When issues like “trademark genericization” are in play, and the position is a marketing position… yeah misuse of the trademark is a bit of a red flag. That said, I wouldn’t *personally* count it against someone as the brand guidelines and branding guide are secret internal documents a candidate wouldn’t have read.

            Basically to sum up if people regularly use your trademark as a generic noun for the entire class you lose the right to it– think of how scotch tape became the term for all cellophane tape in the US, they have lost their US trademark, in the UK they call it cellotape as the generic and Scotch still owns a trademark for “Scotch Tape”, same goes for “Kleenex” brand facial tissue. A company currently fighting the fight is Google, who are fighting very hard to keep “google” out of the dictionary as a verb for the act of searching for something in a web search engine.

            Anyone in marketing should be aware of the legalities and phenomenon of genericization, especially with a company for whom it is an existential threat they’ve been fighting for years.

            1. Catherine*

              And the French for sellotape is ‘le scotch’. In French if they sellotape something the verb they use is ‘scotcher’. Just saying. I’ll shut up now.

            2. Natalie*

              3M and Kimberly-Clark still have their US trademarks for Scotch tape and Kleenex respectively.

              1. MK*

                Trademarks aren’t automatically lost, but they can be weakened over time and be less effective. If another company used “scotch” in their branding and 3M took them to court asking them to stop using the term and possibly damages, they might lose if the other firm demonstrates that the consumers aren’t correlating “scotch” exclusively with their product, or they may be denied damages if they can prove that people don’t necessarily think they are buying the product because it has “scotch” on the package.

            3. Shad*

              I’m not sure the same issue would be at play where legos still only refers to the branded product—yes, we make it plural, but no one I know would ever call a knock off legos!

              1. Working Hypothesis*

                I’ve heard it used peri often for knockoffs that have a similar attachment structure. Interestingly, I’ve never heard anyone use the term ‘legos’ plastic blocks that connect by any method *other* than little bumps on the top that hook into a lattice of spaces for them underneath. But for a true knockoff that has those bumps, I’ve heard it often used without regard for brand.

            4. londonedit*

              Apologies for getting off-topic but I think Sellotape is actually one of the few brand names that we in the UK would use as a generic term (‘Has anyone got any sellotape?’) – to me this seems to be far more prevalent in the US. We’d say ’tissue’, not Kleenex, and ‘plaster’ rather than Band-Aid. Off the top of my head, the only other brand name (apart from Google which I presume is a verb globally) that we’d use generically is Hoover (we often talk about ‘doing the hoovering’ rather than ‘doing the vacuuming’). From my experience of American English it seems that brand names (Kleenex/Xerox/Band-Aid etc) are used far more frequently than they are here. No idea why, but I find it interesting!

              1. That Girl From Quinn's House*

                In Harry Potter, they repair broken wands with “spellotape” and it took American me several books to get the pun.

            5. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

              When my niece was only 5 or 6 (a few years ago), she would tell people to “JUST GOOBLE IT!” whenever anyone got in a debate over something that could be easily solved that way.

              If even kindergarteners are using google as a verb, that barn door ain’t getting shut again.

      3. Doctor Schmoctor*

        Apparently they are quite anal about that. Just don’t call it “Leego” like some kids when I was in school. It almost hurt me ever time I heard it.

      4. Jeannie*

        They / it is called Lego when talking about one brick or multiple bricks everywhere in the world except for the US.

        1. Working Hypothesis*

          Apparently this is not true – MK mentioned above at least three countries which use the ‘s’ plural.

    3. Mockingbird*

      Even though I’ve never heard the phrase “LEGO bricks” EVER – and I have kids who used to play with them – from a trademark point of view this is absolutely correct. If your trademark is used too often by consumers as the generic name for this type of product, you can lose your trademark rights to the name. It happened with aspirin, linoleum and escalator: those all used to be brand names, way back in the day. Kleenex and Xerox are fighting the good fight; hence the companies encourage you to say “Kleenex tissues” and “Xerox copiers,” and never use their trademark as a verb (“I have to go Xerox this report” or “Let me Google it”).

      Anyway. Use LEGO properly as an adjective, not a noun, and you might really impress someone in your interview. :)

      1. valentine*

        Is this true even if LEGOs only ever refers to LEGO-brand bricks?

        Does Google not want to be a verb? That ship ain’t comin’ back.

        1. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

          I don’t think the ship is coming back on kleenex, xerox, or band aid, either.

          And I think it’s HILARIOUS that these corporations are trying to police people’s speech this way.
          Sorry, your brand name becoming the generic name for something is just part of the price of success.

          1. PhyllisB*

            Yep. And in the South, it’s “What kind of Coke do you want?” Even if the answer is Dr. Pepper. I’m sure people who work for CocaCola hate this.

          2. pleaset*

            Trademarks also protect consumers. I’d be really pissed if someone sold me something they said were Lego bricks or Legos and they were some other company’s product.

            As a consumer I want to know who made/markets what I’m buying. That’s the purpose of trademarks.

          3. Falling Diphthong*

            They aren’t policing the speech of normal people–you can stand on a street corner and yell “I am blowing my nose in this kleenex!” all you want. They are preventing Joe’s Facial Tissues from trying to market themselves as Joe’s Kleenex, thus far successfully.

            Google I think may have wanted to become a generic term in the name of get there early and dominate the market.

            1. pleaset*

              “They aren’t policing the speech of normal people–you can stand on a street corner and yell “I am blowing my nose in this kleenex!” all you want. They are preventing Joe’s Facial Tissues from trying to market themselves as Joe’s Kleenex, thus far successfully.”

              Yup. This is good for consumers.

      2. MK*

        True, but I don’t really think such tactics work; Goggle tried very hard to not become a verb, with little result. However, it does makes sense to not have their own employees use it; you don’t want your opponent in a trademark lawsuit to be able to claim that even Lego employees use it as a noun.

      3. JSPA*

        Pretty sure the problem only happened when the term was used for non-brand as well as branded products!

        Nobody says, “let me google that with duck-duck-go” or “let’s just get the generic legos.” As opposed to saying, “could you xerox this” (which has no implications of using a Xerox brand copier), “mind the escalator” (same), or “get the store brand aspirin, it’s on sale.”

    4. MsSolo*

      Oh thank god, I’m not the only one flinching every time! LEGO themselves are very, very clear that Lego is both singular and plural, and not to use Legos, so using it in the interview is going to make you look like you haven’t done your research properly! It’d be like applying to Microsoft and touting your experience with Words and Excels.

      1. SarahTheEntwife*

        But nobody says “Words” or “Excels”. I agree that you should do your research and use the correct branding, especially as a marketing person, but “Legos” is an extremely common colloquial usage in the US.

    5. Electric sheep*

      I came here to check if anyone else had picked up on this and I was not disappointed.

      (Also picking up on another response to this comment: don’t bother with saying ‘Lego bricks’ for plural, just use ‘lego’ as a plural like ‘sheep’ eg ‘look at all my lego’, ‘just put that with the other lego’, ‘wow, what a lot of lego you have’.)

    6. Lepidoptera*

      Yes, this is important. My company’s internal document on proper use of our trademarks is 11 pages long. It includes charts of which names and symbols are registered in which countries, which are “maintenance” brands, which are “abandoned” brands, and what formats/style markers are to be used for all of them.

      For anyone scoffing at this: the U.S. Trademark office (and some other jurisdictions) requires you, the trademark owner, to do your due diligence in maintaining brand integrity. If you don’t bother with this “word policing” and a competitor challenges your trademark(s), you can lose it permanently. That’s six figures or more down the drain, plus the soft cost of losing your brand identity.

      1. Elizabeth Proctor*

        This is why big sports have to go after small-time high school teams that use their mascots, etc, even though it makes them look like assholes.

        1. JSPA*

          In theory, you only should have to challenge uses that could create confusion or the false impression of a connection, right? Beyond that, it’s companies going over and above. Per the advice of their legal department, who are presumably not entirely neutral on the topic (as one tends to think that one’s own function is of paramount importance).

          There’s a tiny, old, one-room “Starbucks Fast Food” down the road. Predates the big coffee company, looks entirely different. There is exactly zero potential confusion. Somehow, the world has not ended for either of them.

    7. Aisling*

      From LEGO’s website: “The name ‘LEGO’ is an abbreviation of the two Danish words “leg godt”, meaning “play well”. It’s our name and it’s our ideal.”

      I visited LEGO headquarters while visiting Denmark, and it’s definitely singular.

  10. Bulbasaur*

    “…I should run it by them before applying, because the recruiter might have a relationship with the company/be able to get me on the inside track.”

    Hahahaha. No.

  11. Ico*

    That Lego interview practice actually sounds really awesome. They keep it and put it on your desk to welcome you!

    Not every company needs to be all things for all workers – let them build the workplace that fits their vision. If you don’t share that, just move on – it wasn’t for you.

    1. Artemesia*

      I usually find gimmicky things like this stupid — but this one doesn’t strike me that way. It is about marketing, uh hem, ‘lego bricks’ and so doing something creative with legos seems a reasonable part of the hiring process. Being comfortable with legos and playful with them would be an asset for a lego employee in marketing.

      1. Batgirl*

        Yeah I think a marketing person for Lego, at a minimum has to have an enthusiasm for building it! If they are given an opportunity to build with it and their response is more “what fresh hell is this?!” than “yay! Lego!” that’s relevant data.

        I do think Lego has to keep in mind they may throw some interviewees off game, who are not stuffy but just concerned about how to give the company an appropriate response, but I think clear guidance can overcome that.

    2. Jen S. 2.0*

      Agreed. In almost any other industry I would find a toy-based interview patently ridiculous, but now that I know which company it is, and that it’s a marketing role, I can see how expressing yourself with their product makes sense, and is uniquely “them.” I hope the art is not a make-or-break part of the interview, and I hope it doesn’t go on for hours, but I can see how it’s not a selling point to be the one who’s all, “Ugh, I would never play with these silly things. What even are these?”

    3. Marzipan*

      Yeah, I think it sounds really lovely, too. It makes me want to work for them!

      I’m also a bit confused about why #1 feels that a willingness to play with Lego isn’t relevant to a job marketing Lego. I mean, yes, they make specific kits to build specific things, but really when you think of Lego you think of kids cobbling together weird random stuff out of whatever bricks they have available. Lego is a tool for channeling creativity and imagination into object form. An openness to that seems pretty relevant to marketing it. The company literally exists for play; coming across as squeamish about the concept of play is probably not helpful (if this really is your dream job).

      My advice would be, stop worrying about the physical object as being a judgeable representation of yourself that can be ‘wrong’, and start looking at it as a process of play. Have a very vague concept of something you’d like to make, if it will make you feel more confident (maybe combine two ideas that are relevant to you, like mashing up a favourite animal with a hobby, or whatever) and then just mess about. I truly don’t believe that the interviewers are going to reject you because your cupcake-spaceship is insufficiently technical, but I do think that if you inadvertently come across as someone who thinks playing with Lego is the most awful thing one could ever be asked to do, that might make them a bit wary. Embrace it as a process, and good luck!

      1. I Took A Mint*

        Yes!! This is literally the real point of Lego, that anything you do in your imagination is valid. They even made a whole movie about following instructions vs. branching out on your own creatively. I can’t think of a company that has more clearly laid out their philosophy about their product.

      2. londonedit*

        I agree. If it was any other company, I admit I’d give it some serious side-eye, because in general I really dislike gimmicky interview tasks. But…this is a job working for Lego! Marketing Lego! Getting you to build something out of Lego makes total sense in this situation. I get the feeling they’re a company that really wants their employees to care about the brand – I expect they’ll want people to talk in their interviews about how much they loved Lego as a child and how they understand the magic of building imaginary worlds using Lego bricks. And it doesn’t sound like this is a test with a right or wrong answer – they just want to see a bit of personality from the people they’re interviewing. Maybe they even think it’ll help to relax people before the main interview process.

      3. JSPA*

        I’d like to see LEGO move up the timeline for their shift to plant-based and recycled plastics. Doing so fully by 2030 isn’t a bad goal, but they’ve only just barely started rolling out “plants from plants” (that is, only the softer, polyethylene add-on pieces, not the bricks).

        Also, further reduce their previously VERY gung-ho promotion of the extractive industries (and not send money to political entities that fund pro-extraction candidates and platforms, with fairly complete disregard towards other issues. Note: this is not–even in the US–a cleanly partisan divide, so I’m hoping this comment passes muster).

        But other than that, I’d totally love to work for them!

    4. Mimsie*

      I came in to say that this is one of the very few times I’ve disagreed with Alison! And the only reason I disagree is specifically because it’s Lego and for a marketing position. This task sounds entirely appropriate to me. If you “get” Lego – their product, their spirit, and their mission – this task sounds like a great opportunity to show that!

      Okay I did have two minor niggles.
      “ Vulnerability” is a strong weird motivation but if that’s part of their values (I mean they do work with kids so I guess I kind of understand) then okay.
      Second, they should have told the candidate that this would happen instead of finding out through glassdoor. Everyone should know this exercise would happen ahead of time to have a level playing field. I don’t think there’s anything to be gained by springing it on some people who didn’t know.

      But other than those minor things, great exercise from Lego! I wish the LW all the best and to please take the activity in good faith because everything I heard about Lego makes them sound like a great company! I don’t this this is in spite of this process, more likely because of it.

      1. SwingingAxeWolfie*

        Completely agree – I also think it might be helpful to reframe this as a sort of breather exercise rather than an assessment (I personally find this stuff really relaxing, though appreciate not everyone would).

      2. Rhoda*

        Yes, exactly.
        If you’re selling baked beans or cleaning products you shouldn’t need to believe what you’re marketing. But when it comes to something like Lego you should be genuinely enthusiastic about Lego.

        1. JSPA*

          Sure you should. If you don’t know what the product does excellently, and where it’s merely OK, then you can’t design a marketing strategy that will have legs.

          The platinum goal isn’t to get someone to try a product once, or existing users to remember to buy it this week, rather than next; it’s getting new people to try it and love it, and existing users to find new uses and buy it more.

    5. DiscoCat*

      Spot on! It’s relevant to show creativity with the product you’re going to market…. The question sent my mind on a pleasant creative exercise thinking about what I’d build and how I’d explain it :-)

  12. Thomas*

    If a recruiter has a relationship with a company that is really going to offer you an advantage in the application process, then *they will know about the job before you do*, in most cases.

    Where 3rd party recruiters bring the most value to a company is in hard-to-fill roles, where they’re bringing in candidates who might not be actively searching. If a recruiter hasn’t been retained for a role, then that probably means the employer is attracting a good pool of candidates without outside help. And if a recruiter brings you to the table where most candidates aren’t coming in that way, you represent an additional 15-20% in year 1 compensation costs. Unless you’re truly outstanding, why hire you instead of someone without those additional costs? And if you are truly outstanding as a candidate, you’ll have no problem getting an interview without the recruiter.

  13. Skeeder Jones*

    For question #1
    So this isn’t something I built with legos but a way I used legos to help show different aspects of my personality. I have 3 lego people: a queen, a person in a shark costume and a wizard. I wrote up a little thing about how they are my spirit legos. I discuss the queen representing my ability to be a leader, to take care of the people in my sphere of influence and to practice diplomacy. For the shark, I call it “Left Shark” and explain how it reminds me that people are going to make mistakes but that it is important to be able to see the humor in situations and even laugh at myself when needed. For the wizard, I talked about how sometimes I have to make magic happen (I’m a technical writer/Instructional designer so creation is very much in my job requirements). Everyone who read it had positive reactions and we even used it as a team icebreaker. I hope this helps you think a little outside of the (lego) box.

    1. Indigo a la mode*

      This is such a charming comment. I’m so glad you’ve harnessed the powers of all three of your spirit Legos.

      1. valentine*

        If it’s a take on spirit animal, I would change it to something not stolen from indigenous people.

        1. Batgirl*

          Well, not knowing Skeeder’s background and the possibility they are drawing on their own genuine totemic philosophies, I really doubt that’s what they meant by the use of the word ‘spirit’, since it’s a pretty common word which simply means ‘not physical’ and ‘not literal’.

          1. Electric sheep*

            I read it the same way as Velentine, as a riff on spirit animal.

            Even if you don’t mean it that way, Skeeder Jones, you should be aware that it’s highly likely other people are hearing it that way, and I encourage you to consider using other terminology (representational Lego? Aspect Lego?)

        2. Knork*

          If the term used was “totem animals,” your point might be valid. The idea of a personal animal spirit or familiar has been used all over the world, and the term “spirit animal” is way more new-age than indigenous.

          1. Ethyl*

            If you Google “spirit animal appropriation” (links get sent to the spam filter) you’ll find lots of great resources about this issue.

        3. Lepidoptera*

          It’s incredibly odd to me that people have hijacked “spirit animal” as belonging first and solely to Native American cultures. Paganism used the concept in recorded history hundreds of years before Europeans had even heard of the Americans continents, thus the concept obviously developed concurrently in multiple parts of the world.

          1. Mongrel*

            I think it’s not so much that it’s a concept that has been used by multiple cultures across multiple times. It’s about the context of what it means to the average person where they are. If the lucky LEGO guy is an American then 85% (guess) of people will only think of their indigenous peoples’ culture.

            It’s much the same way that certain words were fairly innocuous over here (UK) but have too close a link to slavery & racism in the USA, or the numerous ways that the Alt-Right use codes & dog whistles to show their nature to others in the know (“What’s the harm? It’s only a cartoon frog!” or “Aren’t they well spoken”)

            The meaning may stay the same but the nuances can tell a different story depending on their context.

        4. Skeeder Jones*

          Hi Valentine,
          The “bad” is on me here because I didn’t even consider appropriation. I think there are a lot of terms/phrases/etc that are just so a part of my lexicon and I’ve used them as long as I have been a speaking person (ok, well, remove some of my early talking years truthfully), that I don’t stop and think about their origin. I don’t object to being called out for that since that is how I will learn and change my point of reference. I did intend it as a rif on spirit animals but maybe it is closer to an avatar or patronus.

          I am the sort of thinker that often uses symbolism, metaphors, etc when crafting my thoughts. What these Legos are to me is a visual reminder of the parts of me I am trying to “channel” in my professional life. I have each of them on my desk. So whatever phrase can capture that, without appropriating something from a culture that has already lost so much, is what they are to me.

          This does bring me to a question, and you are not necessarily the person to answer this question, I don’t know you well enough to know that. This is written text so the tone of voice or other vocal cues are not available so I want to give this disclaimer: I ask these questions in genuine earnest with a desire to learn. Is there a difference between the idea of the American “melting pot” and cultural appropriation? If there is a difference, how do I know when I’ve gone too far? When does recognizing that another culture has something really awesome and I want to integrate it into my own traditions cross the line? Does it all cross the line? As a primarily white middle class girl, there are a number of things I have probably appropriated that were never a part of my cultural heritage and this is definitely an area where I have lots of opportunities for growth. I do thank you for bringing up this issue.

          As an aside, I do have native American in my background but it was never part of my culture, or traditions growing up. My uncle is actually a shaman and studied with the Navajo (Navajo is not part of my heritage, my uncle was just very influenced by his experience living in Arizona and wanted to learn more and eventually found someone to teach him). This may also fall under appropriation, however he did study it through the tribe and no one there had an objection.

          Thorny issues, all of these. I need to channel the diplomacy I spoke of earlier as I navigate them.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      As someone who summarized the last Super Bowl Show as “It’s no Left Shark” I love this.

      And I think building a Left Shark would be a home run in this context.

  14. Stuff*

    For the LEGO one it asked for something to represent you. I think you are overthinking. Do a hobby or if you read a lot make a book. Or a warrior, or really anything that represents you. I don’t think WHAT you makes matters as much as that you took the assignment in stride.

    1. Samwise*

      It doesn’t even have to be representational. Make some crazy looking thing all out of blue bricks and talk about the color. Or talk about the process of putting it together — concentrating or focus, letting your mind go and seeing where it ends up, play and creativity… There are lots of things you can do. You can use this as a way to talk about something about yourself that’s not work-related, or to talk about personal qualities you have, or to talk about your approach to solving problems, etc. Tie it to some memory you have about the product, perhaps — did you play with them as a child? do you have a child who plays with them? have you seen a news story about building contests? do you know something about how they’re used to intro kids to robotics and programming? Whatever.
      Loosen up and have fun — clearly the company cares about that.

      And now *I* want to work for LEGO!

  15. ENFP in Texas*

    OP#1 – Just as a heads up, you will want to know going in that LEGO is very protective of their brand and trademark. The name should be written in all capitals (LEGO, not Lego), and the blocks should be referred to as LEGO bricks, not “legos”.

    I know it might seem insignificant, but knowing details about the corporate culture can help you get a leg up during the interview process.

    Ref: https://www.lego.com/en-us/legal/legal-notice/fair-play

  16. Chocolate Teapot*

    1. I once saw a programme on Channel 4 about working for Lego at Bilsund, and it showed the candidates at tables with large plastic crates full of different sized and coloured Lego.

  17. FabJobTag*

    I would build a replica of the Large Hadron Collider… jk, I probably couldn’t make anything more complicated than a tall stack of legos. But I would come up with a good story such as “This stack of LEGO bricks represents my belief that I should always reach as high as I can to achieve the best I can, and I don’t make things more complicated than they need to be to achieve my goals, and so on.”

    1. Indigo a la mode*

      A single brick, displayed proudly before you: “This is my potential. I might be small, just a tiny part of something, maybe even a cog in the machine, but I can become anything. No matter where my family, company, member organization, or country needs me to be, I’ll be a solid and stable part of the greater whole.”

      It’s all about marketing, really.

      1. CheeryO*

        You have had a lot of good ideas in your comments – I think you should interview with LEGO! :)

  18. Anon Lego Builder*

    What I’d build in a LEGO job interview is obviously a dilemma I have to solve right now, as I can hardly think of anything else now. I’d build an abstract, colorful sculpture with plausible mathematical elements.

    1. Penelope Garcia’s glasses*

      Just make sure it’s something you’re happy to see on your desk on day one!

    2. Yvette*

      “… plausible mathematical elements.” Building with LEGO (and the younger version DUPLO) teaches children basic math without them even realizing it. You can cover a 6-stud LEGO with two 3-studs, or 1 3-stud and a 2-stud and a 1-stud, or six 1-studs, or 3 2-studs. 3 + 2 + 1 = 6, or 6/3 = 2, or 2 * 3 = 6. Many nursery schools and early levels of grade schools use LEGO (or generic knock-off types) as a way of introducing basic math skills.

      1. Samwise*

        But only if you’re aiming to match and build straight up! I always loved how they’d stick together connected just with a single row of studs.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      This and insomnia has me thinking… I always build a sma) symmetrical house when I first sit down. Always. The second thing gets innovative and bigger. That must say something. But it might just say I’m in dire need of sleep and delighted tomorrow is a vacation day.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        My autocorrect is developing a sense of humor… I typed small and it wrote “sma”. Which is close to the Danish små …which translates to “small”.

    4. EPLawyer*

      We have a LEGO outlet store nearby. I am wondering if I can convince Hubby to drive up there this morning. I feel a need for a LEGO sculpture that represents me.

  19. Autistic Farm Girl*

    Lw1: i’m not sure about the lego thing. Not for you, but in general. It’s great for most people, but what about people who don’t have great fine motor skills? Quite a few disabilities means that fine motor skills can be very poor, and that something like that would be very very difficult to accomplish.
    I’m autistic and i’d be incapable of doing that, not in such a small amount of time anyway, and i know i’m not the only one.
    I just hope they don’t use that exercise as a screening technique to not recruit disabled people (and yes, i’m probably over thinking it, but you’d be surprised how far some companies are willing to go to not recruit people like me)

    1. Autistic Farm Girl*

      Replying to myself to add: if i didn’t know about it in advance i’d also probably completely panic, if i’m expecting an interview and i’m asked to build something that would be the end of the recruitment process for me.

    2. Mimsie*

      I think that’s a valid and fair point. I did a quick google and actually saw a few articles mentioning LEGO as a beneficial therapy tool for autism, so that’s interesting. In terms of fine motor, LEGO range in their brick sizes, including my favourite chunky Duplos.
      Of course this isn’t coming from the company itself about its interview process but I can imagine it could still be inclusive with some mindfulness on the company’s part. If they actually are is unknown.

      1. MayLou*

        I think the difference is that in play therapy, you expect to be asked to play – whereas in a job interview, not knowing in advance that play is part of the process would throw anyone who needs to visualise things in advance (like me!). It’s good that it’s possible to search online and find out about this aspect of the process, but I’d feel they should let people know in advance really.

        1. Koala dreams*

          Yeah, I feel that it could be a fun activity (just like many other commenters here), but it’s a pity that they don’t tell people about it in advance. I would be so confused if I expected a normal interview and ended up alone in a room with a bunch of lego bricks!

        2. Autistic Farm Girl*

          I think that play therapy and LEGO/building bricks can be great, but it’s a completely different setting, with a lot less pressure than an interview, and no pressure at all on the result (and regardless of what has been said below, having to build anything and then tell a story about it is a massive amount of pressure for someone like me).

          They should absolutely let people know in advance and ask if people need any accommodation for this!

      2. MsM*

        I remember reading an article about an engineering or consulting company that gives autistic applicants the option to build things (I think they might even have used LEGO) if they’re more comfortable with that than a traditional interview format.

    3. only acting normal*

      Asking for easier-to-handle Duplo instead of Lego sounds like a reasonable accommodation to ask for, especially since it sounds like they tell people ahead of time that this is part of the interview.

      1. only acting normal*

        My mistake, OP found out on Glassdoor. Still a reasonable thing to ask them for.

    4. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

      I’m dyspraxic and have the same issues with fine motor skills.
      I’d also panic if I didn’t know about it in advance and have time to plan, and wouldn’t be able to build anything in 1/2 hour even if I HAD planned ahead. It seems very short sighted, unnecessary, and gimmicky for them to require this.

    5. Crivens!*

      Yeah, and plenty of people just don’t have any artistic skill whatsoever. I surely have the childlile enthusiasm, wonder, and vulnerability they’re looking for. But I am never going to be able to build anything decent out of Lego, ever, just as I’m never going to be able to draw anything more than a stick figure. I’m sure I’d come up with a way to explain this, or I’d just flat out say “this is what I’d build if I could, but my hands won’t cooperate”, but I might leave feeling pretty humiliated by whatever I did manage to build.

        1. Samwise*

          I don’t think they care what it actually looks like — what they’re looking for is what you say about it.

          1. Ethyl*

            The more I read, especially from the Lego employee below, the less I would ever want or be able to work at Lego. I would be able to say “this is a block of Lego I stuck together.”

      1. Washi*

        But they are not asking you to build a masterpiece! They just want you to play around a bit and come up with some sort of explanation for what you created. I totally get the motor skills objections, but “I’m not artistic and I don’t want to be embarrassed” might be the kind of cultural mismatch they are trying to screen out.

        1. Ethyl*

          I guess and I am considering myself permanently screened!

          Honestly if it hadn’t been for the emphasis on “vulnerability” I might be seeing this a lot differently. But in my world, that’s not a quality or trait that belongs at work and the people I’ve encountered who insist that it is were……not good people.

          1. Washi*

            Haha, yeah it seems like the kind of thing where the HR person was trying to turn a pretty casual icebreaker into trendy buzzwords that just make it sound worse than it is.

        2. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

          Look, IRL I love collecting and “playing with” Barbie and Monster High dolls- I change their outfits regularly, buy them custom doll outfits, pose them in little scenes. All my friends know about this and it doesn’t bother me at all.

          But if I went to apply at Mattel and they started the interview by asking me to play with dolls, I’d be totally thrown for a loop. I’d have no idea why they asked that, what they were looking for, what they expected of me, what they be judging over while I did it (and of course they’d be judging me on it, or they wouldn’t have asked me to do it, right?) It would instantly make my jangly interview nerves 10x worse, and I might blow the interview on nerves alone.

          And then we get into all the issues of people with disabilities and why this has the potential to be very excluding.

          I think this is one of those ideas that sounds plausible in theory (Well it’s LEGO! Of course they want you to play with toys!) but when you actually delve into it it’s actually just as terrible as every other gimmicky interview tactic, ice breaker, or team building exercise.

      2. Lilysparrow*

        I’m not sure if they do this for all positions, but certainly for marketing position, the story you tell about why it represents you is far more important than what it looks like.

        Because that’s what marketing is.

        If you can’t come up with some way that these three orange bricks (or whatever) represent you, given an entire half-hour to think about it, then marketing is not a good fit.

    6. cncx*

      i too would be impossible at making anything of merit out of legos on the fly that shows my creativity or my personality. I also have poor fine motor control in new tasks (gets better with routine tasks) and doing that in an interview combined with interview nerves….i would fail horribly. It’s not very inclusive at all.

    7. Koala dreams*

      I’m also on the spectrum and I think building things in lego would be much easier than a typical interview for me, even though I haven’t used lego since I was a child. The lego are not the problem, however, the experience would greatly improve if they changed it like this:
      1. Told candidates in advance! (most important thing)
      2. Had the lego building and the interview together, so the lego would provide something to look at and something to do with your hands while talking
      3. Had both the interviewer and the candidate build things. After all, why is it only important with vulnerability for candidates and not for employees? Surely if the interviewer would need to see the candidate use lego, the candidate equally would want to see the interviewer use lego. Otherwise how will they know if the company is a good fit for them? Just having the candidate build with lego is like trying to fit together a piece of lego and a piece of duplo. It doesn’t make sense!

  20. Alex Di Marco*

    This seems perfectly legitimate to me. It is possible that by “vulnerability” they mean that they want to see their candidates thrown by the situation, or not, as it were. Once you are playing with Lego bricks you may forget to pretend. They want to see a real person behind the presumed mask people tend to put for interviews. Nothing sinister there.
    Incidentally, Lego is lately branching out in management consultancy as in Lego Serious Play and that looks great, I’d rather do that than suffer the usual tedious consultancy methods.
    PS – I do not work for Lego :)

    1. Forrest*

      see comment above – I’ve done Lego Serious Play from both sides and it’s surprisingly powerful.

  21. TL -*

    OP#2 I have a feeling I know which picket line you don’t want to cross and in general, I’d be surprised if there weren’t support in your office!
    Good luck!

    1. MarketingGirl*

      Agreed. I suspect that this is in the Northeast. Their lots were empty this weekend. OP, it’s certainly worth an ask to avoid the picket line!

      Also a store more expensive than Stop and Shop?!? Didn’t think that was possible.

      1. NewWorkingMama*

        Where I live it’s actually the cheapest option (also my experience in my college town).

      2. Yikes*

        Maybe Whole Foods? The one by my parents’ in Massachusetts is roughly a bazillion times more expensive than the Whole Foods in my neighborhood in Texas. They also appear to live by the world’s most expensive Stop & Shop, I HATE going there, I can never get over the mark up. Market Basket forever!

  22. misspiggy*

    So LEGO only want people who have good coordination and manual dexterity, got it.

    It’s one way to quietly exclude disabled and chronically unwell people from their workplace without being accused of breaking any laws, so I guess they have some motivation for keeping it going.

    Or maybe they’re so oblivious to these issues that they genuinely never thought about it. Which also puts up red flags for their ability to be inclusive.

    1. misspiggy*

      To continue my rant: taking the example of me as someone who could never put two Lego bricks together but is an excellent typist and creator of visual materials, and capable of as much vulnerabilty as you like, I agree very much with Alison.

      Using any kind of proxy for employee qualities is a pointless endeavour. Can the person demonstrate what you want in the job context? Can they describe it, or can others describe them doing it? That’s the only way to tell.

    2. Musereader*

      I am autistic and dyspraxic and no coordination whatsoever, and I can still put LEGO together, there are a lot of other disabilities that in no way would affect putting blocks together, like MH or dyslexia.

      It has been repeated over and over that they are looking for enthusiasm for their product, so if for whatever reason someone isn’t then it isn’t the right job

      1. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

        Funny, I’m dyspraxic too (severely so) and while I learned to draw, sew, put on quite elaborate makeup, and do some other fine motor tasks quite well, there are others that still elude me after decades of practice- like typing, brushing my teeth properly, and putting together legos.

        Not all people with the same disabilities will have the same symptoms at the same levels of severity.

        I also find this gimmicky legos building test to be excluding and dismissive of a number of people with different types of disabilities, and as it is NOT NECESSARY to determine whether someone is a good fit for the position they are applying for, it should be eliminated.

    3. Marzipan*

      If they aren’t prepared to work with applicants to accommodate disabilities, then I agree with you – however, I can think of ways this task could be adapted for most circumstances. So, for manual dexterity concerns, for example, it could be adapted to be done collaboratively, with the applicant directing someone else in how to place the blocks; or it could be done using Duplo if that’s more manageable for the interviewee; or just allowing longer for the task might do the trick.

      The key thing is that companies should give applicants a sense of the sort of thing they’ll be asked to do at interview, and asked whether they need any accommodations (e.g. “your interview will include a short task involving reading written information and communicating it verbally; and a computer-based task” or whatever, with a clear invitation to ask for adjustments if needed. If they aren’t approaching it on that way, then I agree it’s something they should be addressing.

    4. Brickployee*

      See below for my experiences, but it literally is an ice breaker, not a critical interview component, and no one would be eliminated from consideration based on the exercise, nor do they care if you have excellent building skills or not

        1. Brickployee*

          I’m not in HR so I can’t speak to that, but they are very interested in having a diverse workforce so I assume they would make accommodations.

    5. Autistic Farm Girl*

      I don’t know if they do it on purpose to avoid people with disabilities, but I find it quite bad that they don’t even tell people about it beforehand, as I said above, if I arrived for an interview (already stressed) and found myself in front of a bunch of LEGO and asked to build something, I’d have a meltdown, cry and leave the whole thing.
      I love building bricks, I just can’t put them together to save my life.

      1. misspiggy*

        Yes, I think that’s it. Bring asked to do something I struggle with so much without warning would really throw me off, and I wouldn’t necessarily want to disclose the need for accommodations before the interview had happened and I’d got a better idea of their attitude.

      2. Reese*

        Then you wouldn’t get the job. I mean, what about people who have meltdowns, cry, and want to leave because an interviewer wants to ask them questions? You can’t get an accommodation for everything. Sucks, but why would you even want to work for LEGO if the thought of building with LEGO gives you a meltdown?

        1. someone*

          Agreed. Why would you go for a job at a place and assume you’d never have to deal with their products??

        2. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

          Its not the thought of building with legos that causes a meltdown.

          It’s being hit with a gimmicky, unnecessary, and totally unexpected task that a person would never anticipate happening in a job interview.

          I’m really, REALLY shocked at how callous some of the people in this thread are being to those of us who have disabilities.

        3. Ethyl*

          This is a very unkind and insulting reading of what Autistic Farm Girl and misspiggy are saying the issue is.

    6. Colette*

      I really doubt they’re trying to exclude people with dexterity issues and disabilities by this part of the interview. If someone had such a disability, the thing to do would be to calmly and politely explain that they can’t do it (and I’d also suggest explaining why they are excited to do marketing for a company that makes products they can’t use).

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        This. I have some mobility issues, and if they arise in the course of my regular life because people assume I can do what most people can do, then I: briefly explain them. It’s not possible to create a world in which people never casually ask others to do anything that might be difficult due to an invisible disability–that would rule out all verbs.

        1. Attuned*

          I agree. Of course it is reasonable to point out that this particular task may be difficult or impossible for some people with certain disabilities. But if interview questions would need to be eliminated if they cause anxiety, well, we would have to get rid of interviews altogether, wouldn’t we?

  23. KP*

    No 1 — I’d just use the Legos to make a giant word LEGO (maybe deliberately stacked and one letter slanted, like the LOVE pop art and statue by Robert Indiana. Maybe not, depending on whether that is unacceptable cross-referencing in marketing.) But I think it’s a terrible job interview exercise.

  24. Brickployee*

    As an actual LEGO employee who’s gone through this interview practice, let me shed some light on my experiences.

    First of all, keep in mind that LEGO is a dream employer for thousands of people, so if you’ve made it through the phone screening to an in person interview, you are already likely completely qualified to work there from a technical/skills sense. The in person interviews are all about seeing if candidates fit in the culture. There is definitely a “type” of person who thrives at the company, but it’s not about having a specific point of view. It’s about being collaborative, open to trying new things, willing to be challenged, etc.

    Second, as many people have intuited, the benefits of play are one of the primary foundations of the company. In fact, the owners believe so strongly in it, they give all employees a “Play Day” each year to remind us why we do this work.

    In general, you are ascribing far more weight to this part of the interview process than they will. (Not a criticism—I did the exact same thing when I was prepping for my interview). It’s literally a 5 minute “ice breaker” to start the interview, and you won’t have a lot of time to even find specific bricks, let alone craft anything much. (Note that not everyone gets their model given to them on the first day of work—I think that may depend on the specific HR person who leads you through the interview). Honestly, what you should be preparing for is being ready for some really challenging questions—I’ve sat in hundreds of interviews in my career, both as a candidate and as an interviewer, and consistently the LEGO ones have been among the most challenging I’ve ever seen. If you are a regular AAM reader, then nothing should throw you for a loop, but it can feel pretty intense because you’ll be asked a lot more about how you collaborate with others than your specific achievements.

    I can’t speak for all hiring managers here, but when my team is hiring, there are no “right” answers to any question we ask. For example, we may ask about how you prefer to be managed. We don’t care whether you say “X” or “Y” is your working style, but we want someone who has a good self-understanding about what they personally need to succeed.

    Having been with the company for about a decade, it is still the best place I’ve ever worked and it’s still my dream job. It’s also the hardest job I’ve ever had, and I’m often amazed at the challenges I’ve learned how to face. But I’m not going to lie. Even at such a great company, things aren’t always perfect, and we often are frustrated. So don’t build it up too much in your mind as the end all-be all of jobs.

    BTW, some of my coworkers stories of their half-assed interview “builds” are hysterical, and yes, they got the job even with making a little lump of bricks and stammering about how it reminded them of a vacation they took, or making a car and saying they just liked to build cars. The exercise is really just about loosening up and having a little fun.

    1. Marzipan*

      This is such a great comment – thanks for sharing your experience! I bet #1 will really appreciate this.

    2. Whoop*

      This is fascinating. LEGO sounds like such a cool company to work for, even the challenging aspects of it. Thanks for giving such an interesting insight!

    3. Everdene*

      I was really hoping there was a lego employee in the AAM community! Thanks for this insider knowledge.

    4. The not so little mermaid*

      Allison, I think you should link to this post at the beginning of the comments. A lot of commenters seem to think that the exercises is a BIG part of the interview, where something big and special is expected and where the building skills really are going to be assessed, when that is not the case. Sounds like it’s just a few minutes and something small with a handful of bricks is all that is needed. No one is expecting the applicants to produce a replica of the Death Star.

      1. Washi*

        I agree! I hope they have some accessible alternatives as other commenters mentioned, but what Brickployee describes sounds perfectly reasonable.

    5. CheeryO*

      Thank you for sharing! I think the exercise makes perfect sense as an ice-breaker. I’m glad that LEGO is a great company to work for, that gives me the warm fuzzies.

    6. wittyrepartee*

      When I play with legos, my constructions tend to break to pieces because I’ll build something weird like an inverted pyramid pirate ship. I was trying to figure out what the HR person would be putting on my desk…

    7. fposte*

      This is absolutely fascinating, and it makes reasonable sense to me. Thanks so much for sharing, and I love the username!

      (I’m absolutely crap at crafts and building but if I knew this was more like an icebreaker I could have a lot of fun with what I might build.)

    8. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Thank you for the insight!

      I love the idea myself and I’m like “of course they do cuz Lego!!”. I would be bummed if a company who makes toys wasn’t doing this kind of thing.

      I’m so anti mega corps, my heart grew a smidge but only because Lego is legendary ;)

    9. LaDeeDa*

      This is awesome thanks! And this is the same for any company that is well known for its culture — by the time you get an in-person interview they have no doubt you are qualified to do they work, what they are interviewing for is to see if you fit in their team and culture.

    10. CatCat*

      Second, as many people have intuited, the benefits of play are one of the primary foundations of the company. In fact, the owners believe so strongly in it, they give all employees a “Play Day” each year to remind us why we do this work.

      This is super interesting to me. In some ways, it makes sense since play is such an important concept to the company. But it’s such an odd concept to job candidates in the context of looking for a job, I think your comment is really helpful and the company should maybe make clear that this is part of the process and is meant to be a fun icebreaker, not meant to be a confusing source of stress for candidates.

      I just read a book that talked about when Jorgen Vig Knudstorp took over as CEO, the company was really struggling from over diversifying, but he turned things around and made the company profitable again by refocusing on the core purpose of the company: inspiring play and imagination! Interesting to see how that’s coming to bear in this particular context though.

      1. Venus*

        > the company should maybe make clear that this is part of the process and is meant to be a fun icebreaker, not meant to be a confusing source of stress for candidates

        They might actually do this. If AAM has taught us anything, it is that interviewees tend to overthink things (because they are stressed, which is valid, but often not to their benefit)

    11. Tisiphone*

      Thanks for this! We used to have Legos in our break room several years ago and people would stop by, add a brick or three to the structure, and go on with whatever else they were doing.

      Good luck to the letter writer!

    12. Aggretsuko*

      Wow. I wish I was good enough to work at LEGO (but of course, I’m not). I would be so down with this.

    13. I coulda been a lawyer*

      Thank you for this. A few years ago I read an interview of someone high ranking (CEO? CFO? Can’t remember) and what I thought about it was “That’s the kind of person I’d really really like to work for!” Glad you are happy!

    14. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      This is amazing and now sounds incredibly fun as an exercise before wading into a rigorous interview. Thank you so much for sharing your insight and experience!

    15. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

      It’s supposed to be about loosening up and having fun, but you can see by the number of people commenting how stressful this would be for them, that it’s not really having the desired effect.

      Also please note the number of people who have mentioned that their disabilities would make this difficult or impossible- disabilities, I might add, which would NOT affect either the ability to do their job, or fit in with your “corporate culture”.

      I really think this is a terrible, gimmicky, exclusionary, and unnecessary exercise that has NO place in a serious job interview at all. I really hope your company ends this practice, even if it takes them getting sued by someone with a disability who could not perform this exercise to do so.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Yawn. They won’t change their culture and they’re a huge corporation that doesn’t need the Internet to tell them about their liabilities legally speaking, they have their own legal team.

        Don’t work for Lego. End of story, bye.

    16. lucky cat*

      Yes I read this and thought immediately of LEGO serious play, which we have used in my school. The bricks and what students build are just a prop and talking point for the more “weighty” discussion, which is where the importance is. I’ve seen students build so many wildly different things, and it is always a joy to listen to them explaining how “it has wheels because…” or “the flower means…” and then pieces fall off and we have a giggle. It’s a really fun and creative self reflection exercise.

      1. Pear*

        Thanks for the Lego employee for that great post.

        And my story: Many years ago, I interviewed for a low level marketing and public relations job for a boutique agency. We (the three interviewers and I) went through the standard interview questions and then they escorted me to a room with one of those huge boxes of Legos. I was then instructed to build something – anything – that represented my personality and creativity. I was given 30 minutes.

        I admit a bit…more than a bit of resentment at this request, but managed to build a very rudimentary structure that didn’t look like much of anything at all. I spent most of the time trying to figure out how I was going to tie this…thing…to my creative personality.

        And 30 minutes later, into the room comes my interview panel. “What a great thing,” they exclaimed, “what is it?”

        Reader, I did say, “It’s a prison. Is that what it’s like to work here?”

        I did not get that job.

  25. Cynthia*

    LW1 – a company wants you to use their well known, fun, and easy to use product in an interview. This doesn’t seem to merit a complaint. For all the unrelated tests we read about or experience companies giving to job candidates, this one is by far the most relevant.

    1. Person from the Resume*

      Ditto. Clearly Lego is a dream job for many people just because they love the toy. The company is asking you to use their well known product. This makes it much less outrageous than it would be for any other company. And if you’ve never built anything with Legos, you’re not going to be a good culture fit.

  26. Amy*

    “I’m applying to a marketing position so the work wouldn’t require artistic/design qualities”

    I really do not understand this comment. If you said, “I’m applying to an admin position, a tech services position, a customer service role,” it would make more sense. But good design goes hand in glove with marketing! Sure, it’s not the same as being a graphic designer but marketing usually works closely with design team and creates the overall vision. There a huge amount of artistic creativity required in the field. Especially at a company like LEGO!

    I would not hire someone who took that view of marketing. And considering the company, I don’t find the LEGO activity that unusual either. Maybe check out a LEGO Discovery Center to get some ideas. My toddler and I spend hours there and it’s so interesting and creative, it could make anyone a LEGO convert.

    1. Wakeens Teapots LTD*

      Quibble: a strictly marketing analyst position wouldn’t require those abilities. (I had the same reaction you did and then though, well, somebody whose job was analyzing the numbers produced by the creative marketing people’s work and giving the numbers back to the creative people, would not require the same.)

    2. sunshyne84*

      Even as any other position, I’d think anyone applying at LEGO would hope for the chance to play with them at some point.

    3. Pilcrow*

      There is a big segment of marketing that is largely data driven: statistical analysis of demographics and economics, doing surveys and focus groups, deciding what media channels get the best response. Households with an income of $X buy our product, this area of the country has a large number of households with that income, so we target that area with our advertising. Our research shows that Z type of people would respond to a set at $Y price-point and we will make a profit on it. People who buy GI Joe also buy the LEGO pirate set, so we’ll position our products in stores near the action figures. The Jane Smith family has 3 kids under the age of ten, we’ll send email coupons in November.

      I’m guessing the OP is looking at a job that deals more with data and strategy than creative content.

      1. ket*

        But as a data person myself…… you have to have domain expertise and creativity to gain insight from data. Yes, I realize that there are folks who only run reports and have no ‘creative’ input or control into their data analysis, but to be very frank those folks are going to see their jobs replaced by algorithms very soon. It’s people who bring human talents to the data analysis who are going to retain their positions.

        1. Amy*

          Agreed. I definitely wouldn’t mention a lack of artistic talent, creativity etc even if it’s a purely analytical role.

          I work for a children’s publishing house and do a lot of work around market research, trends, segmentation, A/B testing of campaigns etc. But at its root, there still should be a love for children’s literature and creativity. Otherwise, it reminds me of that scene from “Big,” where John Heard’s character drones on about how “we’ll see 1/4 of the revenue for this market segment and that represents 1/5 of last year’s growth” but feels zero connection to toy itself or the kids who will be playing with it.

  27. Cat mom*

    Regarding Lego creativity. If you are on Facebook, check out the group “National Park Service Lego Vignettes.” A colleague regularly posts small and amazing Lego scenes relating to National Park themes which are both clever and funny. During our recent 5-week furlough, this person produced a new one every day! It certainly helped our morale during that time. Good luck.

  28. Delta Delta*

    #1 – I’ve been reading AAM for a while, and I feel like we have seen some completely bananas interview exercises (the one where the group had to cater a dinner for 30 people springs to mind). However, nothing about building something with LEGO at a LEGO interview seems out of line. I might feel differently if it was an unrelated job or if it was dangerous, but this seems… expected, almost. Actually, I think if I was going to interview there and they didn’t have blocks to play with I’d feel a little disappointed.

    1. Anon Anon Anon*

      I agree! Because Legos are the company’s product and the position involves knowledge of the product. If it were something COMPLETELY unrelated to the product, I could see it being optional, but only if there was no potential to transition into a more product-related role later on. I’m a dissenter here. I think it is a useful and relevant exercise.

  29. The not so little mermaid*

    LW: at your interview, do not EVER say “Legos” – refer to them as “Lego bricks” if you need the plural. It’s a big thing there!

    (Source: half my social circle consists of LEGO designers and they’ve talked a lot about that)

      1. The not so little mermaid*

        Are you going to write that as a response to everyone, who posted the same info after me as well? Sometimes things will come up several times – just scroll past them.

      2. Phoenix Programmer*

        Not to mention the refresh delays. I’ve been reading the comments and this is the first time I have seen it.

  30. Cats cats cats*

    To OP 1- there’s a really interesting Lego documentary called “Beyond the Brick” that’s all about working at Lego and the formal design process. It may help with ideas, as some designers discussed what they made and their thought process. Also, please don’t feel like you know the interview secret as this is made very clear . Good luck!

  31. Sleeplesskj*

    Re crossing the picket line – most grocery stores deliver now. And if the store itself doesn’t have delivery, there are services that will shop and deliver for you. (Peapod and other similar services)

    1. Charlotte Bartlett I guess*

      But ordering online from the store is still crossing the picket line! The point is not to give them any business.
      I actually disagree with Alison (and I also have a suspicion of what grocery chain this is). I would present it as a given that I wouldn’t be going there: “Hey, Store A is still on strike so I can’t go there, is it ok if I go to Store B or is there somewhere else that would be better?”
      But then again I’m in a union and I’m pretty sure my employer wouldn’t want the bad publicity that would come with forcing their employee to cross a picket line. There have been several local news stories about people getting shamed for crossing, so that might be another angle to present it from: “obviously we don’t want any bad press.”

      1. anonymous 5*

        THIS! And if the store is the one I think it is, there are (at least where I live) other chains who offer delivery services, not to mention the option of ordering snacks from your office supplier. Heck, you could do the Amazon thing (I realize that this, too, could present an ethical dilemma, but at the moment it isn’t crossing a picket line to order there as far as I’m aware).

      2. Hiring Mgr*

        I assume Sleeplesskj meant they could order from a different store that has delivery (since the distance to the other store then wouldn’t matter…) BTW I assume the OP is talking about Stop and Shop in Mass? Unless this is happening in more than one place…

        1. notfunny.*

          The Stop and Shop strike extends to Connecticut and Rhode Island as well as Massachusetts.

      3. HappySnoopy*

        I thought the delivery option suggestion was for store B, which is not striking but is a bit further (1/2 hour round trip for OP) then striking store A.

      4. John Thurman*

        It’d be nice if there was a law or something that made online customers aware that the employees are on strike. Like a big ol banner on the front page, legally mandated.

    2. Vermonter*

      This was my thought as well, as long as they use a delivery service from a different store.

    3. blackcat*

      Peapod is owned by Stop and Shop, the grocery chain currently experiencing a significant strike in New England.

      There are plenty of other options! Instacart lets you chose the store, and in my area, they even do Costco (which would be super cheap for drinks and snacks).

      1. wittyrepartee*

        Key foods in Brooklyn too. Saw scabbers out and about this weekend, and made a note to shop elsewhere for the time being.

      2. Not the Boss*

        Costco for Business is great. We have our office snacks delivered weekly or semi-weekly, depending on what gets eaten. The Admin takes care of the ordering, online. She generally gets the same types of snacks, but if you want something out of the ordinary all you need to do is ask.

    4. The Gollux (Not a Mere Device)*

      If this is the strike I’m thinking of, Peapod is owned by the company whose workers are on strike. So using Peapod right now would feel like crossing a picket line, even if they were delivering normally–but the strike is also affecting delivery services.

      Alison’s suggestion of ordering from an office supply store is probably the least expensive option here. If OP’s employer doesn’t want to pay for extra travel time and gas to drive to a different supermarket, they probably don’t want to pay a fee for grocery delivery either.

  32. Lupin Lady*

    #4 – My first thought is that either the employee or OP is the target of a cyber attack, the kind that sends emails to people on your contact list with fake information. Is that possible?

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Probably not, as the thing most malicious hackers would do with bank statements and the like is steal the person’s money and/or identity, and the best way to do that is to NOT let on that the information is compromised, as once it’s discovered the accounts will probably be closed and a freeze put on the person’s credit. While some black hat hacking is done just to create chaos if it’s personal, it’s usually for profit, and there’s no profit in the scenario you describe.

  33. Bookwormish51*

    OP#1–I think there’s a more positive way to look at this interview task and one that makes sense. They want to see if you are a genuine and enthusiastic fan of LEGOS. Do you know the pieces and are familiar enough with LEGO building that you can make something creative (especially since you are trying to do marketing). My guess is they don’t care if you do a mountain because you love hiking, fireworks, or whatever. They just want to see that you can use imagination with LEGOs. The whole idea with LEGOS is to make them so fun that people yearn for the next set and can’t wait to get going. Think of it that way rather than ‘this is dumb’. As a manger, I’m always looking to see if a candidate has genuine enthusiasm for our work.

  34. Christine M*

    The Lego letter. I am Danish, they are a Danish family owned company still based in the tiny little town they started in. My brother worked for Lego.
    Lego will have containers of bricks in all of their meeting rooms and encourage people to build with them during meetings, there are Lego bricks everywhere and access to a special basement with all the bricks currently available for that year.
    Since they are family owned still they can be a bit weird but their name is ‘leg godt’ which translates to ‘play well in English.
    My thinking would be it is a way to let people settle in before the interview and allow them the possibility to play with their product. I’m not sure about the rest of it but from what I know about Lego it does not surprise me.

    1. Butter Makes Things Better*

      So interesting to have this additional context. I would love this part of the interview myself, though I wish they would change “vulnerability” to “willingness to take risks” or something about not letting fear of looking silly stop candidate from offering new ideas.

      1. Yvette*

        “I wish they would change “vulnerability” to “willingness to take risks” or something about not letting fear of looking silly stop candidate from offering new ideas.” Yes, from other letters about things like corporate retreats and trust exercises and group therapy sessions, too many people interpret “vulnerability” to “tell us your deepest darkest fears and secrets”

        1. wittyrepartee*

          Willingness to take risks, openness, and a childlike sense of play I think is what they’re going for.

          1. Yvette*

            Oh I agree, but there have been letters from people whose employers want them to “open up” and “be vulnerable” with things like mandatory group therapy and meetings where people are encourages to share their worst experience or deepest fear or what makes them sad. So I think that is where a lot of people go when they hear “vulnerable”.

  35. CupcakeCounter*

    Avoid those types of recruiters. A good recruiter won’t ask you to put all of your eggs in one basket. I met with one on Monday and all he requested was a list of places I had applied in the last 6 months and to let him know if I apply on my own to any other postings so he wouldn’t present me. He gave me a list of the places he has connections with and said if I see anything posted for those places I was interested in to give him a call and we would discuss the best way to apply (through him or on my own).
    Make them do the work they are being paid for and find you opportunities you normally wouldn’t see.

    1. Lily in NYC*

      Yes, don’t fall for this trick, OP! I made this mistake very early in my career. I trusted the recruiter and told him where else I was interviewing (I used more than one recruiting firm, which is very common for admin jobs). He was just using me to try to get his hooks into those jobs as well. One of the companies agreed and he sent his own candidates to interview. I was so mad at myself. When he called me again to come in because he had some more interviews he wanted to send me to, I was prepared. When he asked me again if I had gone on any other interviews, I messed with him and made up three jobs that didn’t exist at high-paying firms I knew he would drool over (like Goldman Sachs). I knew I was about to get an offer through a different firm so I wasn’t worried about burning my bridges with this guy. I enjoyed imagining him getting more and more frustrated while trying to chase down the “leads” I gave him.

  36. Q*

    First rule of trying to get a job with LEGO is to know that it is LEGO not Lego and never never is it Legos. LEGO is singular/plural like sheep or geese.

  37. gsa*

    I did not read all 203 comments.

    OP#1, you said: “I’m applying for a marketing position, so the work wouldn’t require artistic/design qualities.“

    I believe marketing does require some sort of artistic/design qualities. But that’s just me.

    In the meantime, I have a box of Legos in the garage and if there was any way for me to send them to you I would. There from the early 70s if I remember.

    Good Luck!

    1. Close Bracket*

      Holy smokes, can you send them to me? jk. (unless you really would send them to me)

  38. Anne of Green Gables*

    LW #5 — I obviously don’t know what your field is, but in my field, promotions the way I understand them simply do not happen. If you move up, it’s because you apply for a new position. It certainly happens that the new position is with the same employer, but it’s very rare for someone to just be moved into a higher position. Because people are dependent on someone leaving (or a brand-new position, also rare) to be able to move up, it’s just as likely that they will have to change employers than stay where they are. The type of career progression you describe is the norm in my field.

    1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      I agree. I’ve been working professionally for almost 25 years and never received an internal promotion, because I never applied for one. Unless you’re in a junior role, in my experience, there’s really no way to be promoted without applying for a new position.

    2. Ethyl*

      I think this is really common nowadays in many, many industries. We just don’t live in a world anymore where you stay with the same company for 50 years, y’know?

      1. doreen*

        Doesn’t matter- I’m a civil servant and do live in a world where most people stay with the same employer for 20,30 or even 40 years. There still isn’t any promotion fairy that just goes around promoting people who haven’t expressed interest in any way. How you express interest may differ from job to job – maybe you take a test, or fill out an application or send a resume in response to a job posting or you send a letter of interest to your immediate supervisor who forwards it up with his/her recommendation- but no one gets promoted out of the blue.

    3. Librarian of SHIELD*

      This is true of my field as well. Every public sector job I’ve had has had very strict rules regarding hiring and documentation, and you have to justify that you’ve chosen the best possible person for the position. Getting handed a title boost and a raise just doesn’t happen. Ever. I currently work for an organization that really prioritizes promoting from within, but you still have to apply and go through the same interview process as the external candidates.

  39. Kisses*

    LW1, congratulations for getting your foot in the door. My son wants to be a LEGO engineer. I would suggest looking at places like brickbuilders.com for some ideas- they have a section where anyone can create a model and it receives votes- over 10k votes gets a look from LEGO themselves and many have been turned into actual products in this way if the licensing works out.
    I suggest something like a small rocket, or even something with nature- it’s a little more personal than a house or something standard- a rocket could represent reaching for the stars, and something from nature could represent connecting the industry with a healthy outlook if that makes sense. From what I’ve gathered from LEGO employee videos, they want to be seen as a ‘children at heart’ type of culture and might be seeing if you fit in with that. Build something whimsical or different, watch the LEGO movie and think like Emmet! You got this- I hear it’s a very rewarding job regardless of what position. Best of luck, and I hope we get an update!

    1. Kisses*

      Oh, I forgot mini-builds as well! They make things like model trains for the minifigs to play with and tiny little buildings out of some of the smallest pieces- it seems like a fun way to represent something in a slightly more abstract view than the typical minifig sizes.

    2. Clisby*

      Oh, I would try to build the LEGO version of elaborate doodling. To me, this sounds like a fun exercise – but I loved playing with legos (don’t shoot me!), building blocks, and tinkertoys with my kids.

  40. Dust Bunny*

    Legos: I don’t want to be vulnerable at work. Vulnerable is for personal relationships.

    However, I work in a department within a larger institution and the fact that other departments don’t have a good understanding of what my department does is a pain in the neck, so, yes, I think that even though you’re in marketing and not design, it’s fair to ask you to demonstrate a level of familiarity with the product. And I wouldn’t be thrilled by a candidate who was resistant to using the thing they were being hired to promote. Go get yourself a baggie of Legos and just wing it for awhile. They’re fun. Don’t overthink the “represents you” part at first, just see what you come up with; you’ll probably get more ideas as you go.

  41. Kate*

    Re #1: The title of this post sounds like a ridiculous interview activity – until you read the company IS LEGO. We don’t think it’s odd that non-profits often want people who apply to be passionate about their core issue (e.g., be interested in food access when working for a food bank) – why should it be odd that someone applying for a company be passionate about their product? The best way to demonstrate that is to require them to use the product. I don’t see what’s weird about this request. The red flag isn’t that they’re looking for “vulnerability” – the reg flag is that you’re prepping for the interview by writing an e-mail to a work website rather than prepping by breaking out a box of LEGO and starting to play.

    1. Holly*

      I totally agree with this – if the company is asking you take a little break from being too serious and show us you enjoy interacting with our product, why not??

    2. Yikes*

      I also 100% agree with this. The people who are saying it’s ridiculous because they’d freak out and panic, hey guess what! They’re weeding people like that out of contention. That’s the whole point! And as a private company, that’s their prerogative, to hire the sort of people who wouldn’t balk at this exercise.

  42. boop the first*

    I would be delighted to play with lego, and I would probably make up a tangled grey-block mess and they would regret it deeply.
    But then, lego has evolved so much since the 80s that, assuming they provide more than just basic blocks, I wouldn’t know how most of the pieces function together and that could be a deal breaker for all I know. I think the personal effort to connect, the chance to relax/meditate during a stressful moment AND having a workplace keepsake is really sweet.

  43. Joe in Frederick*

    LW #2: Good on you for respecting the workers! Online ordering or alternate sourcing is the right answer, depending on your boss’s input. But I just wanted to cheer you on and say that I won’t cross picket lines, ever. I’m a fed, so it’s led to some interesting TDY issues but being flexible and knowledgeable about the government travel regulations has helped me do the right thing when it comes up.

  44. LaDeeDa*

    Is the push for vulnerability tied to Brene Brown who wrote “The Power of Vulnerability” (watch the TED if you haven’t it’s great!) If so, I think the people who are implementing it must to be communicating it correctly- because in Brown’s writing, it is about how you must be vulnerable to being self-aware, not afraid of failure, to stop striving for perfection, and to be yourself.
    So for Lego the lego interview– I would build whatever, in the colors that appeal to you and then when describing it I would touch on those areas– how you strive to be self-aware of your own behaviors and how those are perceived by others, while no one likes failure you understand that it isn’t about failure but about how you respond to failure and learn from it, etc.
    Another option would be to use your DISC color style– if you are familiar with DISC and your style, and talk about how you don’t believe a person is bound to one style but can pull from all the styles. Again, that goes back to being self-aware and vulnerable by sharing your style.

  45. Save One Day at a Time*

    LW1 – I feel like this is their way to not hire someone who would scoff at their product. Kind of like – this is LEGO, we make legos, and if you work here we want you to be able to use them and not feel weird about it, because we are proud of this product. If you were applying for a publisher and hadn’t read any of their books, they wouldn’t hire you.

    Since you are applying for a marketing job, they’d like to see someone who is comfortable or familiar with Legos and doesn’t hate them. If that sounds like you, go for it. If any other company did this it would be weird, but they are the company who built legos, so it’s fine.

    Just like you might not want to show up to a marketing interview for Coke telling them how much you love Gatorade.

  46. Wing Leader*

    OP#1/Lego Master,

    I actually think this is kind of cool. It’s definitely unique (though I’d probably think it was ridiculous for any other company besides Lego). However, what worries me is how they plan to “judge” your creation. How do they determine who does well and who does poorly? Seems like a very subjective thing, so it’s really just a gamble on whether they like it or not.

    1. londonedit*

      It doesn’t sound (from Brickployee’s comments further up) like the exercise is actually used to determine the outcome of the interview in any way – it’s just an icebreaker and I think meant to be a bit of fun. I suppose if someone was seriously weirded out by being asked to make something out of Lego bricks as the kick-off to an interview at Lego, then it might be cause for concern for the interviewers, but otherwise it sounds like they just want people to relax and enjoy playing with the bricks – they want people who are comfortable with their product.

    2. L. S. Cooper*

      I would assume that the judgement would be based more in effort and enthusiam than overall skill– or, at least, I hope so! If not, I agree with you that this would be quite worrying.

  47. LaDeeDa*

    #4 – former employee sending in bank statements. I really want to know if someone has asked her why, and if they haven’t asked her, WHY NOT? What does ex-employee’s email say “Please find attached my bank statement from date-date.’ but nothing else???
    OP please tell us!

      1. LaDeeDa*

        LOL! I am glad not the only one, when I read my first thought was, just as Alison wrote – “DID YOU ASK?!”

        1. Anonymeece*

          Right? I kind of hope it’s something utterly benign, like she forgot that her phone was set up to automatically forward stuff or she’s just been sending it to the wrong email by mistake.

          1. Anon21*

            That was my guess too–she has them set to auto-forward to her work email, now that work email is redirecting to someone else at the company, and she just hasn’t noticed.

          2. Kella*

            Something mundane is the most likely explanation. The only thing that makes me think it’s more interesting is wondering what about the relationship between the OP and the ex-employee is keeping the OP from asking, hey, did you mean to send this to me? I think that’s perhaps the most interesting part of this letter.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      I think this is where crowd-sourcing is so useful–because I started on “She’s trying to show how impoverished she is? Or how much better off? Being weird at least” but computer virus offers one of those “Oh. Yeah, that would totally explain it” abrupt shifts in perspective. Also email address autofill.

  48. Observer*

    Alison, I think you missed something with #1 – The exercise IS actually relevant, which is pretty unusual. For one thing, marketing may not require artistic talents, but creativity most certainly IS. And it is eminently reasonable to want to make sure that someone is really familiar and comfortable with the product before hiring – ESPECIALLY in a marketing role.

    As for the “vulnerable” bit – that could either be a big red flag or just an HR person who needs to rethink her use of language. It’s quite possible that what she means by that is “we want to see someone who doens’t have to be the person who always has the answers and has everything under control 100%, because life isn’t always like that and it’s a lot easier for everyone if you can admit that something is or or reach out for help when you need it.”

    So keep an eye out for signs that these folks have no boundaries and expect an inappropriate level of sharing. But realize that it could just be a desire to avoid people who are NEVER wrong.

    1. fposte*

      Yeah, I don’t think we have a really good English word for what’s meant by it here (which is kind of interesting in its own right), so it’s actually a word I’ve used to similar purpose myself. I get that because it’s an outlier in hiring practice it feels gimmicky, but I find it reasonable in this case and could see why it’s enlightening. It could even also be enlightening at a non-Lego company, but that’s where the gimmickry would overbalance the value.

    2. Belle8bete*

      I agree. It’s LEGO. It makes sense you show that you aren’t above messing around with the product. This seems like a no brainer to me.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I totally agree.

      Also I kind of gasped at the idea that marketing isn’t tied into creative/design as well. My marketing folks have always come to the production/creative folks with lots of insight into what a customer base actually wants. If they think “We could really use this product but if it were tweaked like this, we could sell hundreds more”. That’s not something the design team is going to be hearing, they’re not usually working close enough to the distributors/clients.

  49. your vegan coworker*

    #1 I rather like the Lego exercise and the reasons for it. People who are able to reason spatially and visually as well as verbally have more tools in their problem-solving and strategic thinking kits. Creativity is important across the board. Vulnerability sounds icky at first but think about it: Why don’t people ask for help when they need it? (Fear of vulnerability.) What keeps people from stepping out of their comfort zones to try or learn new things? (Fear of vulnerability.) Who is most likely to be unresponsive or brittle in response to corrections or constructive criticism? (People who can’t stand to be vulnerable.)

  50. It's Not That Deep*

    I’m sorry – if you’re feeling creatively bankrupt playing with Legos in what sounds like a relatively low-risk exercise on fitting in with the company’s core product and mission, then I don’t think a creative job at Lego is right for you. It seems vulnerable in a “there’s no right or wrong answers” kind of way, and LW is way overthinking this whole thing.

  51. a1*

    Now I want to work for LEGO. I wonder if they have any positions in the Midwest. (Goes off to look)

    1. Anonforthis*

      Me too! And frankly, if I was interviewing with LEGO and this wasn’t somehow part of the interview process, I’d be a bit disappointed (like another poster mentioned). My college-freshman son still buys and plays with LEGOs all the time. He says it’s a great stress reliever.

  52. JokersandRogues*

    I’m actually pretty relieved by the answer to #5. In 25 years I’ve been promoted twice from plain to Senior {varies} Analyst, but I’ve always gone up in salary/responsibilities when I jump. And really nothing much changes when I do get promoted, I’ve just generally accumulated stuff to do/projects etc.

    *Note: The word in front of Analyst changes every time I go somewhere new but it’s usually the same sort of things I end up doing.

  53. Leela*

    #3 former recruiter here, both internally at the company I hired for an externally at an agency…don’t do this! I say this because the agencies put extreme pressure on their recruiters to pitch people as contract only because we make way more money that way, even if the company was looking for full-time and you would have preferred it as well. Companies also get a barrage of recruiters trying to break down their door and get an in for contracts, and the hiring managers I’ve known would have really soured on meeting a candidate this way (and they can get in big trouble for bypassing the recruiter who technically “found” you). The benefit is all to the agency whose recruiters you’re working with. If they have an “in” at a company and there’s a role you’d be a good fit for, they should be bringing that up to you anyway, not letting you do their work in finding a job and then swooping in and taking chunks of cash out of that.

  54. NaN*

    “We keep the model they build in the interview and, if they are hired, we have it waiting for them on their desk on their first day of work.”
    I think that part is kind of sweet, even if it’s not a good hiring/interviewing practice.
    And think about this: That means it’s actually part of someone’s job to destroy the creations of people they choose not to hire. I find that hilarious.

  55. V*

    LW #2 – the stores near me whose workers are on strike are suffering from product shortages. From a purely practical standpoint, it would make sense to shop somewhere else that would have everything you need to purchase, rather than crossing the picket line and not being able to get everything you need (and therefore still need to make an extra trip).

    1. Happy Lurker*

      V has a good point.
      This may also be a case where asking for forgiveness is better than asking permission. LW could consider just going to the further store (if they have their own transportation and it is not a hardship) and only bring it up if asked. Play if off as “of course I didn’t go to striking store”. I would guess the boss wouldn’t think to ask where they are going to shop, unless it is brought to their attention.

  56. Yes*

    OP #5 – I also think it’s perfectly acceptable to switch companies and get positions with increasing responsibility that way! I’ve heard the saying “You either move up or out” and you chose to move out.

  57. Susana*

    I was thinking that the credit card/bank statement emailer was … well, a little unstable. But is it possible these are emails meant to go to her *old* work email, and because that email has been retired, they’e going to the office? But otherwise, it’s really, really odd. Especially the bank statements – all that personal information. I wouldn’t want my current employer to see that, let alone a former one!

  58. Sarah*

    #4 – Is she forwarding the financial statements to you… or to her old email account which was set up to forward to you? If the latter, she probably has no idea that you’re seeing her private business! She could have set up an email rule to do that automatically long ago for whatever reason (or maybe even used her work email for the account set-up!)

  59. Belle8bete*

    I mean it’s the LEGO company. If you get hung up on building something out of their product it’s likely not a good fit, no matter what your role is. In this situation I think it kind of makes sense to me. They probably have enough people to pick from and they want people who enjoy the product.

  60. Wild Bluebell*

    #1: I personally think this is awesome and every company should have building Lego as part of their interview! :)
    Just because it’s fun!! :)

  61. Someone Else*

    I think my problem with the type of exercises like the LEGO example is, sure we’ve heard now from an employee that it matters a lot less than it may seem. And that there’s no “right” answer. And that they’re looking for fit. I absolutely love interview processes for fit where there isn’t a “right” answer and the point is really truly to hear a genuine answer. That’s great. But too frequently that’s not clear up front. So then these exercises feel like mindgames. It’s a test. If we tell you a vague thing, how will you react when you have no idea of its relative importance or what the real end goal is?
    It can be a very reasonable thing to have someone do. But whenever someone is being evaluated on a thing but has no idea WHY they’re being asked to do it, it’s not a great evaluation tool. There could be 2 or 3 or even more perfectly reasonable things I might do, and when I don’t understand why this is being asked of me I’m basically guessing at which one will paint me in the best light. And if I guess right, I’m in, and if I guess wrong, I don’t. When it’s a question and just a question, I’d probably ask for more information, but sometimes with these, it’s structured to feel like it’s wrong to ask for clarification. You’re supposed to divine where the employer is coming from because it’s part of “the test”.
    Now, maybe I’m putting way too much thought into it. In the LEGO example, I probably am. But if I’m a candidate, I have no way of knowing that. So I favor evaluation methods where it’s clear what I’m actually being evaluated on. Where it’s less likely to introduce that panic that you can’t read minds. Any kind of “make a toy that represents you” or “what kind of tree would you be” these feel mind-gamey.

    1. Observer*

      Well, in the Lego example, there a two things. One is that there are some obvious connections here – this is the product they are making, so clearly comfort with the product is part of the “right answer”. Secondly, the company is apparently pretty transparent about what they are doing and why. I’m not thrilled with the language, but they clearly are not running a test to see if you know the secret handshake.

  62. winecrawler*

    I haven’t read all the comments so take this as a second or nth vote. Build your name, or a nickname (if you are willing to have that known), or a pet’s name, or name of someone or something that means something to you. Mix up the colors. Have doo dads sticking out. Build a base for it. Have fun!

  63. Janelle Desrosiers*

    I agree with a lot that’s been said with regards to #1! That it’s a fun and logical, if small, part of the interview in a company that really lives and breathes its “play as serious business” philosophy. LW#1, you might want to watch all of the LEGO documentaries on Netflix and get some more perspective on just how passionate this culture really is about creative play and how much they value imagination. The LEGO house is like a child’s fantasy come to life… and I think that’s the point.

    A company like that doesn’t need to hire any marketing professional that’s great at their job. They can afford to look for people who also value that culture and who light up at any opportunity to get their hands on some LEGO! And I think a lot of the people who seem put off by this, even with those details in mind, would not be as good a fit as those who are so excited by the idea they’re leaving smiley faces in their comments. It’s just not for everyone. And that’s ok!

  64. Elizabeth West*

    I’d be totally on board with building something from Lego bricks if the company WERE ACTUALLY LEGO.
    Anyone else doing this would get serious side-eye!

  65. Scully*

    LW #2: If you do end up ordering online, though, try to avoid Amazon if you care about supporting workers.

  66. JRH*

    This might seem harsh, but if you’re applying for a job at LEGO and are struggling to come up with how to use LEGO bricks creatively, it might not actually be your dream job.

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