Do you test drive your candidates? Does having a trial period as part of your recruitment process make sense to you? While they give you a good opportunity to ‘try before you buy’, and to avoid making the mistake of hiring the wrong person, what else do you need to consider before including a trial in your recruitment?

First let’s look at two companies that have implemented the trial period before hiring.


Number of employees: approx 260

How? Trials last between two to six weeks, with candidates being paid a standard rate of $25/hour.

Result? Since trials began in 2005, 10 people have voluntarily left, around 30 let go.

Hire rate from trial: 44%


Number of employees: approx 150

How? Candidates are flown out, put in a hotel and paid for their trial week. If they are currently employed, they are told to take holidays to do the trial. They are given a project to work on and are given around three weeks’ work to complete in a week, without much guidance. The week ends with five or six colleagues and managers asking questions, with the candidate usually going home on Friday knowing if they have the job or not.

Result? Nearly all of the employees went through the trial. In five years, four people left voluntarily and two let go.

Hire rate from trial: 66%

So what benefits can you get out of a trial?

  • the candidate can also assess whether they want to work there. It is easy to oversell your company in an interview, which can lead to a disappointment when the candidate sees that reality is different to what they pictured. A trial allows a candidate to also assess you as a company and decide whether what they will be doing is really what they want.
  • you can assess skills and productivity. Some people interview better than others, then cannot live up to expectations. Others may be nervous and be weaker interviewees but in fact stronger workers, a trial can give you an insight into how someone works and whether they have the abilities to perform the tasks needed.
  • assess cultural fit and teamwork skills . What’s the point of hiring the most talented person if they don’t get along with team or are unpleasant to be around? A trial allows your existing employees to also have a say on the hire. This is important because ultimately, they’re the ones that will be working with the candidate. (You can also assess cultural fit and teamwork skills during the interview process.)
  • you’re less likely to mishire. A bad hire can cost your company a lot more than just the cost of a replacement.

Things to consider…

  • How long do you set the trial period for? It is difficult to offer a trial period of one or two weeks to candidates who are currently employed. Trial periods may not be long enough to assess what is needed. 4-8 weeks needed to see if a developer is skilled or not. Can applicants really take the time off?
  • Legal issues. candidate may currently be working for a competitor or have conditions in their current contract where they cannot work for another employer.
  • Which fields do trials work for? Automaticc CEO Matt Mullenweg believes that trials work best for developers and people in support and design.


Do you use trials before making a hiring decision? Let us know below!