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What Is a Job Trial?

It’s the moment of truth in recruiting: You’ve reviewed resumes, had qualified candidates complete assessments, conducted preliminary interviews over the phone, and then successfully interviewed the best candidates twice in person. One has clearly checked all of the right boxes and you’re ready to make an offer. 

Sounds great! End of story.

Or, is it?

It is only if you made the right choice: There is still a possibility that this was not the right person for the job—or that your organization was not the right one for the new hire. In fact, according to a report by ADP Research Institute, 60% to 70% of employee turnover is voluntary and Robert Half & Associates found that 91% of new hires are willing to leave a job merely a month after starting—which shows that even the best candidate on paper may not work out on the job.

However, there is one additional step you can take as a recruiter to ensure that not only are you making the best choice, but your prospective employee is also. By holding a job trial, also known as a trial day, you bring your top candidate choices to work in your office for a day so you can observe how they’ll behave outside of the controlled interview process to get a sense of what they’ll really be like as an employee. Similarly, your candidates get to experience what it's like to work for your company, so they have a realistic picture of what the position entails, how well they will be able to perform the job, and whether or not they will get along with the team.

As a result of trial days, you get another layer of vital information you can use when hiring. This can go a long way toward ensuring that the person you believe is your ideal candidate is a performance and cultural match to what you need. But, in order to accomplish this, you have to put in a lot of thought about how you will execute the job trial.

Five tips to help you organize a successful job trial   

1. Develop a real challenge

Although organizations can create a simulated challenge for candidates to work on during a job trial, to get the best results, assign tasks that are based on a current business challenge that your company is tackling, or one based on a challenge that was handled in the recent past. This will give hiring managers a real frame of reference to judge candidates by, as well as ensure that the person you hire does not experience any unpleasant surprises after being onboarded.

2. Give every candidate the same task

In order to make the trial day fair and ensure there is a level playing field, you should give each candidate the same task. This will make it easier for your company to assess each prospective employee because they are being evaluated based on the same standard with no variations that give anyone an unfair advantage.

3. Evaluate both hard and soft skills

Although you’re evaluating candidates based on the skills directly related to the position, it’s important to pay attention to their soft skills as well. For example, how do the candidates speak to members of the team? Do they take the initiative to ask questions or do they only speak to others when they are spoken to? Are they able to acclimate to your company’s work environment or do you see the potential for problems coming up because they can’t adapt? While things like technology, writing, and presentation skills may be an essential part of a position, soft skills should not be ignored. 

4. Give everyone on the team a chance to meet candidates

Even if all the employees in a department are not going to be directly involved with the job trial, you should still have them all meet the candidates. This will help to make them feel more welcome and comfortable so they can put their best foot forward as they execute the task. Also, this is another data point you can use to determine which candidates are the best cultural fit.

5. Make sure all bases are covered

When planning a trial day, be sure that you have everything in place that candidates will need to perform the task at hand. From workspace to tools, give all of the candidates the means to do the work that you expect of them. 

As a recruiter, you want to collect as much information as you can about candidates in order to choose a successful hire. A job trial is an excellent way to get more pertinent information about candidates while helping to reduce turnover in your organization.

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