No Working During Interviews

“I have job candidates work with me for a day to determine if they have the skills for the job. If the day goes well, I hire them. If not, I pay cash for the day’s work. Are there any problems with this?”

When you are interviewing candidates for your job opening, you must still follow all the normal employment laws. While the candidate is not yet an employee, there are still protocols.

If the candidate doesn’t do well after working for you for a day, you’re paying them cash for their time. However, both the IRS and California would object strongly to this because they didn’t get their taxes from that money. When it comes to the workplace, you can’t just hand out cash and walk away. You need to put them on your payroll, even if it’s only for the day. That’s the legal way to pay for that time.

If you need the candidate to work a whole day before you can tell whether or not you want to hire them, you need to work on your interviewing skills. Not only are there a lot of questions you can ask to help determine just what this candidate does and doesn’t know, but there are other ways to test their skills.

We love to see interviews that include an “active” testing component. Examples include:

  • Administrative – Provide a letter with several formatting challenges and have the candidate duplicate it on the computer. Looking at the digital version will tell you how well they know the software you use.
  • Electrician – Provide an electrical plan and ask the candidate to identify the parts.
  • IT Help – Loosen a computer cable and ask the candidate to create a document on the computer. Learn whether they understand the protocol for determining why a computer isn’t working.
  • If a candidate needs to know specific software, create a test with that software and watch how well they can use the program.

When using these tests, make sure they are very job-specific and you are consistent by using the same test for every candidate you interview for that position. It only takes some imagination and thought to develop better questions and a test you can legally use. Learn to go deeper and deeper into how the candidate did something so you can tell if they were merely a part of the process or truly understand how it worked.

No matter how well the interview goes, you may not know how good this person may be as an employee until you have them on the job for several weeks. If things don’t work out, use that experience to determine what else you could have asked during the interview to have made a better choice. Interviewing techniques should be refined with each new hire so that, over time, you are making much better hires.

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