How Much Should an Employer Ask of Interviewers?

Making a job offer is a major decision for an employer. Employment relationships involve much more than just the cost of a salary. Benefits and employment regulations put companies in an important legal relationship with workers; a company’s reputation can be impacted by its staff; and, of course, employers want to make sure the person they’re spending so much money on is actually capable of doing the job.

It’s understandable, then, that employers may want to take a potential new hire out for a test drive and assign the person a simple task related to the company’s work.

Testing Before Hiring

“Factoring some form of working task into the recruitment process has long been a way to assess a candidate’s suitability for a role,” writes Megan Carnegie in an article for BBC Worklife. “Along with being a chance for employers to see how their potential hire would approach aspects of the job, these ‘working interviews’ also enable the candidate to flex their skills, especially if they don’t thrive in the interview hotseat.”

But some companies may be taking things too far, Carnegie suggests. “Some candidates are expected to put in days—sometimes even weeks—towards ‘proving themselves’ fit for the job. And it’s a problem, in more ways than one.”

The Problem with Expecting Too Much

One problem with this interview strategy is that employees often feel like they’ve been deceived and coerced unfairly into doing work for free for a company that may have no interest in hiring them. If an interviewee is hired, the person may start the employment relationship in a state of distrust, and those who don’t get the job are certain to tell their friends and social media followers about their experiences.

A more immediate concern for employers, however, should be losing the interest of applicants asked to jump through such hoops in a job market that heavily favors labor. Why spend a weekend putting together a lengthy report for a small chance at a job when 10 other employers are interested in hiring you?

Yes, testing may make sense in some situations. But think carefully about the potential risks and rewards before you ask prospective employees to jump through too many hoops.

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