Job Auditions: A New Way to Interview

Mar 23 2017

man playing violin at audition Interviews are fine, but do you ever wish you could really test someone before you hire? We can’t figure out how we’d ever measure this, but Ron Friedman, author of The Best Place to Work, is often quoted as saying that over 80% of people lie during an interview. To get a clear picture of how someone will perform, you need to see them in action—and the best way to do that is to “try before you buy.” Job auditions are a great screening tool for entry-level roles, and they also work well for jobs that tend to have a high turnover rate. Here are 3 simple ways to “try out” your candidate and put their skills, personality, and work ethic to the test:

1. A Job Shadow
Inviting potential candidates to follow you, or a member of your team, is a great way to get a feel for their potential. Do they engage with others and ask smart questions? Do you have a good rapport with each other? Job shadows can give you great insight into whether your candidate is well suited for the role just by observing how they react and adapt as you move through a typical day.

2. A Sample Project
You wouldn’t hire a wedding photographer without seeing some samples of their work—so why would you hire an employee without a similar screening process? Assigning a small, short sample project will help you get a sense of the kind of work your candidate will produce for you. It’s fine to see a portfolio assembled from previous projects, but this doesn’t show how quickly someone works or how well they respond to and incorporate constructive feedback.

3. A Role-Playing Exercise
Whether you’re hiring an administrative assistant, customer service professional, or sales manager—role playing is a fantastic tool to help you “audition” potential employees. Consider presenting candidates with a common problem or situation they’ll encounter on the job. For salespeople, ask them to research your company and then give you their best sales pitch. For customer service candidates, try a mock call where you play a customer with a common problem.

How potential employees react to job auditions is revealing. Look for candidates who demonstrate valuable traits like positivity, creativity, quality work, a strong commitment, and a sense of urgency. You can train someone on your software and your sales model, but you can’t train these intuitive behaviors.

While a job audition is a great way to see how certain people operate, not all roles are well suited for it. If you’re having a hard time filling a role and are trying to recruit people who are working elsewhere, adding additional hoops to jump through can be a turn off. Be mindful of your candidate’s background when determining whether an “audition” makes sense. For people who are interested in your opportunity but hesitant about making a change, a job shadow can help them get a feel for what they’re walking into before accepting your offer. Whether the outcome is positive or negative, it will save you both time and money.

Happy Hiring! 


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