Hiring: Why you should try before you buy

 Hiring: Why you should try before you buy


Source: http://www.lethbridgemusicaltheatre.ca

I just finished reading a great post on hiring by Matt Mullenweg, founder of Automattic and the creator of open source WordPress software.  The post focuses on the company’s “unorthodox hiring system” and how it has enabled Automattic to hire great talent and realize high employee retention rates.  Although time consuming, I think Mullenweg and Automattic are on to something.

Before Automattic extends an offer, the candidate must first go through a trial process, on contract.  The candidate is given real work and is compensated for doing the work.  At the end of the trial process both the company and the candidate have a better picture of each other and if they are a good fit.  Or as Mullenweg puts it: “There’s nothing like being in the trenches with someone, working with them day by day. It tells you something you can’t learn from resumes, interviews, or reference checks. At the end of the trial, everyone involved has a great sense of whether they want to work together going forward. And, yes, that means everyone — it’s a mutual tryout. Some people decide we’re not the right fit for them.”

Mullenweg acknowledges the “huge time commitment” of this process.  But he points out the benefits and why they have not abandoned the system for an easier one: the process is able to identify great talent that works well within the company’s culture, the process weeds out candidates that are not a good fit before they become a part of the team, and the process had led to consistently high retention rates.

In my experience, too often both companies and candidates are guilty of moving their relationship forward faster they should – and regretting it later.  For this reason “auditioning,” as Mullenweg calls it, or “try before you buy” as I think of it, is an hiring strategy that should be embraced more often.

What do you think of this hiring strategy?  What are the advantages and disadvantages do you see?