Getting Talent: Why we do paid one-day trials

At Advanced Human Technologies Group we are building a set of business models largely based on distributed part-time talent.

On our Why Work For Us page on our We’re Looking For Talent site we describe our process for building great working relationships.

We usually begin with an interview and one or more brief tests (later I’ll share more about the kinds of tests we are using and finding useful). From there the next step is almost always a one-day paid trial.

There is clearly only so much you can learn from interviews, no matter how exhaustive. You need to work with people to understand their capabilities and how well you are likely to be able to work together. And clearly, if you want to get people who are talented and in-demand, you can’t expect them to do work for free.

As such, we offer a defined task or set of tasks – usually that will take one day of their time – with two objectives: to achieve something useful; and assess whether there is a mutual desire to work more together. For project managers, the task is often to scope a project and provide a high-level plan. For developers it may be to create a prototype of a API-based tool. Writers will always begin with a defined article or piece of work.

We offer these short paid trials to many people, as after the initial assessment phase often the most useful next step is to see them at work, rather than doing more interviews. We expect that a minority of the people to whom we offer paid trials will continue with us.

In some cases it is evident even before the end of day of work that we will not want to continue working with the candidate, in which case we end the trial and pay them for the full day. If we do want to continue working with them, we streamline the process by designing our initial contract so that it can automatically be extended into ongoing work.

Following a paid trial we continue to build the relationship. A day’s work is sufficient to show that there is potential, but the greatest value comes on both sides when we can find the best application of their capabilities to our projects.

From there we build in profit share and other incentives, as described in our principles for working with talent document.

I’ll share more soon on what we are learning as we develop our distributed work models.

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