As if the interview process wasn’t stressful enough, some employers have added an additional hurdle prospective candidates must clear in order to receive an offer: the job audition. In the past several years, these “tests” have become increasingly popular across several fields. Designed to see how a candidate will actually perform in the role, job auditions vet an individual’s skills, strengths, and traits to ensure they can satisfactorily complete the work that will be required of them and that they’ll be a good fit for the company’s culture.

Fans of the job audition argue that these tests — which can range from passing an edit test to creating a marketing plan to fixing a coding problem — make the playing field more equal for prospective candidates. They allow those who may not interview well or who have a less credentialed résumé an opportunity to demonstrate their real abilities. On the other hand, those who don’t care for these auditions argue that companies are essentially asking for free labor and that they create situations where ideas and strategies can be stolen without compensation.

The New York Post recently shared how job auditions are ‘spiraling out of control’ in an article that examined the phenomenon in more detail. Below, we’re sharing highlights from the article to make it easier for job seekers to navigate this hiring hurdle.

1. Know the norm
When asked about job auditions Lauren Clifford Knudsen, Executive Vice President at J Public Relations told the New York Post, “It’s important to understand what is standard in your industry and determine where your boundaries are.” Before you commit to creating that marketing plan, be sure to do your research. Are most companies in your field asking candidates to complete tests like these? Scouting out the hiring company on websites like Glassdoor and asking colleagues in the industry about their own experiences can help you gauge what’s typical and what’s asking too much.

2. Negotiate your time
Completing a complex assignment for prospective employers can be incredibly time-consuming — especially if you already have a full-time job. When it comes to the amount of time you should feel comfortable investing in a job audition, Liz Tran, a VP at venture capital firm Thrive Capital and the founder of Reset, says that one to two hours is reasonable for most positions, but notes that those applying for a senior role can expect to spend up to 10 hours. However, if a company is asking you to do a project that’s too time-intensive, try to negotiate your time before passing up the opportunity completely.

3. Be aware of red flags
In order to ensure that you won’t be working for free, look out for red flags before you agree to an audition. For starters, watch out for employers who ask for an audition before other important elements of the hiring process, like a phone screen or interview. If the test comes immediately following a screener phone call, or in place of a screener phone call, it’s likely that you’re simply wasting your time or “donating” your ideas. Additionally, ensure that the work you’re being asked to do is “dummy” work — an edit of a document that won’t be published or suggestions for a fictional marketing plan. If you’re being asked to contribute to a real company project — one that may be used — then that’s work you should expect to be compensated for.

4. Be ready to discuss the audition
Finally, know the test doesn’t end after you’ve turned in your work. Be prepared to talk through your process and explain why you made the choices you did to the hiring manager. Additionally, preparing a few questions about the work that expresses your interest, enthusiasm, and curiosity about the company and its mission can go a long way in setting you apart from other candidates.

Only agree to audition projects that genuinely interest you. If you aren’t truly invested in the job or the role, it’s sure to show, and those feelings are a good indicator that the position won’t be a great fit. Instead, choose to take on projects that you’re enthusiastic about and then do great work. Job auditions can be a great way to put yourself at the front of the applicant pool and to ensure that an offer comes your way.

Read the full article from the New York Post here.