Hiring a new employee is risky and expensive. And not just for the employer, but the future employee as well. There is only so much information you can gain from a resume, reference checks and multiple interviews. A person can look fantastic on paper and be a smooth talker in an interview, but once you hire them will they be able to perform? Will they fit in? Will they thrive in your environment? This is where a working interview can help eliminate any uncertainties.

I co-lead a digital marketing and web development company with a team of 25+ members. It is my responsibility to ensure we have a good culture and a strong, talented team. We are more successful when we operate as a team so it’s important for us to find a person who is a good fit. One wrong hire can cause you hours of unproductive effort. It’s not always about hiring the most talented person, of course that is important too, but you need to look for people who share the same passion and core values as your company. You want to look for people with potential to grow and who will help your company grow. Working interviews can help you achieve that. This is why we hold “tryouts” for potential team members. I’m a sports guy, so bear with me on the analogy.

We still sift through resumes, check for questionable social habits, call references and conduct regular interviews. But once that’s all done and we feel the candidate could make a great team member we bring them in for a tryout and see what they can do. Each tryout is different. We develop a mutual project with the candidate that would best demonstrate their talents. A project that allows them to show what they know, while giving them a small challenge. We bring them in to work with our team, in our environment. The tryout isn’t just for us. It shows us that the candidate is willing to take the time to see if we are the right fit for them too. We want them to make the right choice. It’s a great way for us to evaluate their talent in action and for them to evaluate our working environment.

We involve our existing employees in the process too. After the tryout is complete, we talk to our team. It’s important to us to gain feedback. Part of creating and keeping a strong company culture is giving your employees the chance to have a buy-in during the hiring process. After all, they are going to be working with the new hire. It has to be a good fit for the team as much as it is for the company.

We’ve had great success with working interviews at Acumium, and everyone who has gone through the process has really appreciated the chance to get to know our company better before making their decision to join our team. Holding a tryout helps you to test personality and get to know the candidate before hiring. The process reduces turnover and the fear you hired the wrong person. More importantly, it helps to confirm that you hired the right person.