Here Are Our Candidates for an Open HR Coordinator Spot - Who Would You Pick?
Real World Stats - Cover Letters and Thank You Notes...

Should You Ditch the Second Interview and Have Candidates Work a Half Day For You?

If you've hired enough, you've felt the pain of what I call "missing".  You did everything you should have done in the hiring process, got feedback from others so you didn't make a hiring call in a bubble, ran the behavioral interview and probed.

Nice job.  So why did that new hire turn out to be a dud?

It's nothing personal.  Anyone who says they never miss has either only hired 1-4 people or is lying.Dwight_interview Everyone misses.

So what can you do to reduce the number of times you miss?  You can make sure your interview attempts to measure what's important in the job, provide a realistic job preview, get more people involved, etc.

You could also have them do a live exercise with you to see how they react to real world conditions.  You could even have them work a full day for you in the role they'll perform before you make an offer.   

Is that possible?  Seth Godin thinks it is:

"There are no one-on-one-sit-in-my-office-and-let’s-talk interviews. Boom, you just saved 7 hours per interview. Instead, spend those seven hours actually doing the work. Put the person on a team and have a brainstorming session, or design a widget or make some espressos together. If you want to hire a copywriter, do some copywriting. Send back some edits and see how they’re received.

If the person is really great, hire them. For a weekend. Pay them to spend another 20 hours pushing their way through something. Get them involved with the people they’ll actually be working with and find out how it goes. Not just the outcomes, but the process. Does their behavior and insight change the game for the better? If they want to be in sales, go on a sales call with them. Not a trial run, but a real one. If they want to be a rabbi, have them give a sermon or visit a hospital."

Target practice with live ammo - I like it.  I've always included some type of inbox with a lot of the positions I've filled on my team.  Seth's thoughts take it to the next level.  Not role play, but live action.

To get there, you need to get yourself, your team and the candidate to understand that the work included in the process is a contracting/consulting opportunity.  For a 60K job, one day's work equates into about $250 in cost.  About the cost of a posting on Monster....

That seems cheap for what you get in return.



Come on HR folks, catch up. (That was a little joke, don't get all bent out of shape. Now I'm sure this will be in my personnel file.)

I did this with a company over four years ago and they don't have an HR department. It was the owner's idea. When I asked him why he did it he said he wanted to see how I reacted with customers, other workers and how I handled the problems that came up.

He felt that hiring temp-perm was a waste of time and money. Spend 8 hours with them and you should be able to tell the kind of person you are dealing with he said.

He had been doing this since the 70s when he started his business. He just recently sold it and retired.

And since Kris knows who I am, he also knows I didn't take the job. I will say it was the most unique interview I had been on, except maybe the one when they told me they'd sue me if I didn't show up the next day...

laurie ruettimann

Not a bad idea at all. It's also a good way for a candidate to see the company for him/herself, too.

Michael Haberman, SPHR

Ah yes, but being the pessimist that I am (not really, just the HR cop), what about such things as FLSA, I-9, workers' comp, taxes, etc. for that one day. You say that is not necessary? What if you decide to not hire them and then they go to the DOL and explain they worked for you and then were fired? What happens if they get hurt that day? I have always thought it was a great idea that has the potential for lots of trouble. Anyone have a response? I would like to know how you mitigate the risks.

HR in Denver

We do the same thing, but for free. After a successful 1st and 2nd interview, we have the candidate do a 4-hour job shadow. They accompany someone else with the exact same job title for 4 hours to learn more about the job. Some folks self-select out after this, but again, this reduces turnover.

Kris Dunn

MH -

Great point. This isn't going to get you over the hump, but I'd be a big fan of treating them like a contractor, and pay them as an independent contractor via a 1099.

That's just me - or I'd put them through a temp agency with all the right coverages - how about that way?

Thanks - KD

Michael Haberman, SPHR

Those would work. I was trying to get across the idea that just having someone come to work for you for the day is not quite as easy as it sounds. There are potential pitfalls to what sounds like a great idea.


I was very impressed with the interview process for my current job. My (now) boss had prepared a number of real tasks that would actually be part of the job. For example, one of the tasks was to compose a letter to a client - so she would really get an idea of the person's style and communication ability.


When I was a newspaper journalist, all of my job interviews for newsroom jobs involved working for at least half a day. This was protocol for most newspaper interviews.

When I interviewed for a reporting position right out of college, I had to conduct interviews and write a story that was published in the newspaper -- in addition to interviewing with almost everyone in the newsroom. (It was a small paper.) That interview lasted 1.5 days.

Two years after that, at an interview for a copy editing position, I went through 2 days of interviews and spent at least 4 hours editing stories and writing headlines. I also interviewed with at least half of the people in the 30-person department AND with the top editors in the newsroom.

Since leaving journalism I've been wondering how that same "demonstration" of ability could be done in other types of interviews. I'm currently working as an HR Coordinator, and I don't know how I could have demonstrated my abilities for this position, seeing as how it takes at least a few weeks to figure out a company's culture and way of doing things to be effective in this role. If you were to have an HR Coordinator work for you for half a day, what would you have the candidate do? There are obvious answers if you apply this question to other professions, such as many IT jobs or creative positions such as graphic designer or copywriter. But is this an approach that could work for the majority?

Chris Young

I personally like this approach. It gives a candidate a great chance to respectfully decline a job offer without feeling like they had missed out on something.

Looking back if I had had the opportunity to test drive a job before accepting it I would have saved myself from months of being stuck in a job I couldn't stand.

I think internships are fairly effective at providing this insight as well.


I agree with Chris Young's comment. I think the whole point you where trying to get across from the article was internships. Yes it's important for both the employer and employee.

The comments to this entry are closed.