Try Before You Hire: The Week Long Interview

As a HR Generalist, recruiting is one of the hardest things that you will do. In fact, it’s so difficult, it’s oftentimes split up into a separate Recruiting role. And it’s not even finding the qualifications either, it’s trying to find the right person who is the perfect fit with everyone. Even if everything on paper was perfect, great education, wonderful experiences, clean background check, spot on recommendations, it’s still no guarantee that the placement or hiring of a new person is going to work out.

And the stakes are 10 times higher when you’re working in a startup environment where person may have to wear 20 different hats, how do you figure who will thrive and who might go off the deep end?

So how do you people find the best people?

Weebly and Keepsake are two tech companies that are trying to get it right the first time. As part of their hiring process, they start a trial week. That way the employee gets to get a feel for the environment and the company gets to try out the employee.

According to the article from Business Insider “at the point where most companies would make a job offer, Weebly asks applicants to work for a paid trial week.” Wow, an entire week?

From an HR perspective, this is fantastic! But I have some concerns.

  • Is a week really enough time? Or is it the equivalent of cramming for a test?

One project doesn’t demonstrate a person’s ability to work for a company. It’s definitely one week more than you would normally get, but if the employee does well for a week, is that a good predictor for success?

  • Wouldn’t the applicants’ current jobs notice if they go missing for a week?

I mean sure, it would be okay to say that as an employee you’re going on vacation for a week, but how many people are willing to use up five of their precious vacation days for an interview that lasts a week (no beaches in sight)

And finally,

  • What if there are things that a person can contribute as part of a project that take a much longer time to see results?

One project is great as an indicator of projects but does it help if you’re trying to implement a longer business plan that takes months to see results from.

In my experience at a very small 64-72 people company, at any given moment when you add a new addition to our culture, it completely changes the dynamic. For example, we had one employee who was very bitter about the way things were done in the Company and constantly negative but she was good at her job. We ended up losing seven different employees. Like a festering wound, one disgruntled or negative employee can cause a chain reaction.

Another example, we brought on a brand new person for a role that had never been done before and this person was coming in from out-of-state. We were not sure if the position would work out or if the person was the right fit. So we decided to do a one day paid working interview. This gave us a great look at his attitude,  how he handled different situations, and gave him an idea of how things worked in our Company as well.

Have you done a working interview before? And what are your thoughts about the effectiveness of a “trial by fire”?

Overall, I favor the idea of a working interview, even for a day, if not a week. It gives the person a chance to really understand what the culture of a company is like and what they will be expected to do.

But what do I know? I’m…

~Just the HR Girl

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