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Q&A: Do I need to pay for working interviews and skills assessments?

Question:

Do I need to pay for working interviews and skills assessments?

Answer from Brody, PHR, SHRM-CP:

Candidates must be paid at least minimum wage for working interviews, but don’t need to be paid for skills assessments as long as they involve no work that will be useful to your organization.

During a working interview, you ask the candidate to work alongside a high-performing employee or complete tasks that are a benefit for your organization. The employee or you can then evaluate the candidate’s skill within a real-life working environment. The downside to a working interview is the need to have the candidate complete an I-9 and W-4, as the candidate’s working time must be compensated.

In contrast, skills testing involves setting up a scenario separate from the work done in your organization that tests whether the candidate has the skills required to do the job. It does not require compensation. For example, you could provide a candidate with old payroll information, assign them a task with that information to do at home, and then assess their work for accuracy. This would be an acceptable unpaid skills test. Other common skills testing includes writing samples, cognitive skills assessments, or other small tasks associated with the type of work the candidate would perform if hired.

When using skills assessments, you generally want to make sure that the amount of time it will take to complete the exercise is reasonable – around an hour or so, not a full day. Also, typically only finalists for the position should be asked to complete such exercises.

We have more information on the HR Support Center for working interviews and skills assessments. Type Working Interviews and Alternatives in the search box to find additional resources.

Picture of Brody, PHR, SHRM-CP

Brody, PHR, SHRM-CP

Brody has over 13 years experience in HR & Customer Service, supporting client companies within the small and medium size markets. He has a focus on identifying opportunities for growth and evolution within his client companies and strives to make his clients better HR practitioners. His past personal involvement with a small non-profit start up has created a special sense of devotion to supporting businesses that share a values based social responsibility. Brody holds dual HR certifications from the HR Certification Institute as well as the Society for Human Resource Management.

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