Hiring Quality Talent and Skill-Based Testing

At best, traditional Interviews are an imprecise way to determine the future success of a new hire.  We scan resumes for the right keywords, ask all the questions we can think of, and listen intently as candidates expound on their virtues. In the end, making an offer usually feels like a leap of faith.

To eliminate uncertainty,  many recruiting professionals rely on skill-based testing.  Laszlo Block, the Senior Vice President of People Operations at Google believes that skill-based testing is the best predictor of on-the-job success, and many hiring managers include this step in their interview process.  Skill-based tests can take a number of forms, including on-site presentations, take-home tests, or “white-boarding” where technical candidates are presented with a set of problems to solve, and they demonstrate their problem-solving skills and thought processes.  Spa days are another method of skills-based testing. It allows candidates to spend significant time in the business, observing the operation and engaging in meaningful dialogue and interaction with prospective co-workers and managers. Spa days allow hiring managers the opportunity to gather data about the candidate’s knowledge, thought process, and culture fit.  

Another popular method for testing skill is a working interview.  In a working interview, candidates are invited to spend time performing the tasks of the job.   Working interviews are popular in a number of industries, from food service to sales to the medical field.  While the working interview sounds like a great way to fact-check your candidate’s claims of expertise, employers should be aware of the risks involved in this interview method.  

First, both state and federal law requires that all work be compensated.  If someone performs work or you “suffer or permit” the work to be completed for your benefit,  that work is considered compensable, and you must pay at least minimum wage. That means that you must hire your candidate and pay him or her for the work completed in the working interview.  You’re also required to withhold taxes and complete the I9 employment eligibility process.

To protect against any misunderstanding about the term of employment, you should present candidates with a written document that clarifies the exact purpose and length of hire.  You’d want to explain that the candidate is being hired for the limited purpose of a working interview, and as a result, he or she should have no expectation of continued employment.

If conducting working interviews seems like too big of an administrative lift, don’t despair.  There are a number of techniques that aid in making scientific hiring decisions with predictable outcomes. The XFactor process, our proprietary interviewing methodology, is one such approach.  To learn more about the XFactor method, download our whitepaper, “Perfecting the Perfect Hire” below or contact us.

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NEXTAFF helps companies Hire Quality Employees.  By offering a complete range of temporary staffing agency services, we help your company – no matter where you are in your business evolution – raise productivity through hiring better quality employees. We are able to service all your staffing agency needs with local staffing offices in Sonoma County-CA, Des Moines-IA, Raleigh-NC, Overland Park-KS, Topeka-KS, Kansas City-MO, Gulf Coast-MS, Phoenix-AZ, Miami-FL, and Harrisburg-PA.


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