Every business owner knows that one of their most valuable resources is their employees. But, they can also be one of the most expensive. And, when an employee, well, just doesn’t work out, then the expense rises considerably. So what is an employer to do to avoid hiring someone that won’t be “a fit” for their team? If you are used to conducting interviews the old fashioned way, the answer might surprise you. What you might just need is to give that new candidate an employee test drive.
What is a “Test Drive?”
An employee test drive could be anything from an hour or two demonstrating a job specific skill or task, all the way to having the candidate work for a week or a couple of months in the role they are trying to earn. They key is actually seeing what they can do before making the long-term commitment.
The norm over the past several years has been the Behavioral Interview; you ask the candidate about past performance and their answers indicate what to expect from their future performance. But that isn’t always enough. Taking the interview one step further to ensure that you are making the right hire may just be the most important part of the interview process. What if a candidate were asked to demonstrate their performance? In other words instead of taking them at their word allow them to prove to you what they can do!
Certainly much of this depends on the time available. If you are in need of an immediate replacement for a position you might not have much time to invest in the test drive. But if time permits, it might be well invested. Regardless of the candidate’s experience it is wise to see how they will fit into their position, your team and with your company. If you have only a few days to make a decision it might be necessary to come up with a mock test that can be completed in a day or two. This will at least give you something more concrete on which to base your decision. Assign them a project or task that they would likely have to perform on a daily basis?
If there is time it might be worth it to allow a longer period to test drive the candidate. Perhaps allow anywhere from a week to a couple of months depending on the position and the time frame of your company. One New York company brought in seven people to work in their data operations department on a trial basis. All candidates started on the same day, received two days of training and performed 30 days of work on a contract basis. At the end of the trial, three of the candidates were hired full-time. The benefit to the company was that the three candidates hired were in the words of the company’s owner “rock stars”!
Employee Test Drive Tips:
- Test drive inexperienced candidates for half a day or less before committing to a longer test drive. Waiting to commit to a longer test drive can avoid wasting your valuable time.
- Test unemployed candidates for longer (1-3 week) paid test drives. This longer commitment will probably seem reasonable given that an unemployed candidate will likely have time.
- It is not necessary to pay unemployed candidates an industry standard salary for the test drive.
It might sound like a new way of doing things, but consider a few last points. Small businesses stand to lose the most from a bad hire; the smaller the company, the bigger the hit when you lose one employee. A test drive can give a candidate the opportunity to show whether they will fit in with your team and your environment. Just because someone looks great on paper does not mean they will be great in reality. Also, it’s imperative to remember that there may be laws and compliance issues that need to be considered first. If you think any of the test drive options might benefit your business be sure to consult with a qualified HR professional (or your Employers Resource client service coordinator) to determine what factors may need to be addressed. Taking some time to make sure a test drive is right for your business and is performed in compliance will save you from any headaches if something doesn’t work out. The Employee Test Drive can give businesses the opportunity to build a team that will work for their benefit, build productivity and build your business. We test drive cars, why not our valued new employees?