Below is an example of a typical question posed by a business manager and the type of answer you might get by using an HR support organization.
Q: “We would like to add a working interview to our selection process. Is this permitted and are there other options to help us finalize our selection?”
A: From Wendy, PHR
Yes, you can have a working interview as part of your selection process, but there is a caveat. If you have the candidate do “real work” which is useful to your business, you will need to hire them as a temporary employee, have them complete new hire paperwork, pay them at least the minimum wage, and then jump through any termination hoops if you do not hire them. You cannot lawfully classify them as an independent contractor for this purpose. Here are a few more things to keep in mind:
- It will likely be most convenient for you to write a check to the candidate at the end of the working interview. But if not, make sure they get paid within the time frame required by your state’s final pay laws.
- If a candidate is injured during the working interview, you may be liable for a workers compensation claim.
- You should be clear with the candidate that the working interview is not an offer of employment. When the work is completed, give them a timeline for when they can expect to hear back from you.
If you would prefer to avoid the work involved with hiring candidates as temporary employees, there are alternatives which can yield similar results. Here are two we recommend:
- Test candidates’ skills by assigning them a task to complete. This task should be something that can be completed quickly and that does not benefit the organization—it should not be work which needs to get done. For example, you could have them process part of last week’s (redacted) payroll or have them write a particular type of client communication which has already been sent.
- Allow candidates to observe a current employee doing the job for an extended period. Job shadowing shows candidates what to expect in the role and what sorts of tasks they would be expected to perform. This will help them gauge their likelihood of success in the role.
This Q&A does not constitute legal advice and does not address state or local law.
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