Should Job Seekers Get Paid for Going on The Interview?

Alex Cherici
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Traditional job interviews can only tell an employer so much about the fitness of an applicant for a job, and online job interviews are still relatively new. So, with most job interviews still being carried out remotely, it’s understandable that employers seek more practical ways to test whether candidates will be a good fit for the company. Many employers are now asking applicants to perform real work, complete tasks, and prepare test projects before advancing them to further stages in the hiring process. There’s no harm in asking applicants to prove they have certain skills, but since these tests often require them to spend extra time and resources, should they get paid? 

As an employer, you should be careful when asking candidates to come for an actual working interview, during which you’ll have them perform real work for a certain number of hours. Working interviews can be very helpful to see how the candidate deals with time, problems, and potential co-workers, but unpaid working interviews may be a no-no. So, if you opt for this testing method, you should formally hire the candidate for a trial employment period (even if it’s only a few hours).

If you ask for a test project (which would likely be prepared prior to the interview) and you’re not paying the candidate for this work, be mindful of the time it may require them. While working on this project could be useful—maybe even enjoyable—for the candidate, who can use it as an opportunity to show off skills and creativity, you should establish manageable goals and give candidates specific indications on how many hours they’re expected to put into that project. If you foresee the project to take more than 4-5 hours, you should consider compensating the candidate. Additionally, whether you end up hiring a candidate or not, if you decide to use the materials (or ideas) they shared with you, you should ask their permission and pay them for the work done. If you don’t and the candidate finds out, they’ll likely be angry about the way they were treated, which can impact your corporate image.

Similar authorship-related issues can also concern skill-assessment simulations, in which you ask candidates to perform hypothetical tasks or solve hypothetical problems. While it’s in your right to use this test, if the candidate comes up with a great solution you had not thought of and you wish to implement it, you should ask permission and give adequate recognition to the candidate.

While most job applicants don’t expect to be paid for that the time they put into job seeking, applications, interview preparation, etc., if you ask for something extra, especially something your company can use to its own advantage, you should consider offering compensation. Paying candidates is not a waste! It can really help you improve your corporate image: getting paid makes prospective employees feel valued, and, if hired, they will be off to a better start as they’d have developed respect for the company. If they’re not hired, they’ll still be left with the impression that the overall experience was positive.

In the current climate, when workers still have many options as to where they want to work, companies should be thoughtful about the requests they make of prospective employees. While being asked to perform extra tasks can be useful to candidates too, that doesn’t mean their time and talent is not valuable. Paying for tasks could be an effective way to stand out in a competitive job market as a supportive employer that values workers’ time and contributions, and is willing to invest in talent.
 

The information provided in this article does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available are for general informational purposes only. 

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