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Test drive employees

Cartoon of Jason Fried
  • De Jason Fried and David Heinemeier
  • 25 jul 2009

Interviews are only worth so much. Some people sound like pros but don’t work like pros. You need to evaluate the work they can do now, not the work they say they did in the past.

The best way to do that is to actually see them work. Hire them for a miniproject, even if it’s for just twenty or forty hours. You’ll see how they make decisions. You’ll see if you get along. You’ll see what kind of questions they ask. You’ll get to judge them by their actions instead of just their words.

You can even make up a fake project. In a factory in South Carolina, BMW has built a simulated assembly line where job candidates get ninety minutes to perform a variety of work- related tasks.

Cessna, the airplane manufacturer, has a role-playing exercise for prospective managers that simulates the day of an executive. Candidates work through memos, deal with (phony) irate customers, and handle other problems. Cessna has hired more than a hundred people using this simulation.

These companies have realized that when you get into a real work environment, the truth comes out. It’s one thing to look at a portfolio, read a résumé, or conduct an interview. It’s another to actually work with someone.

Excerpted from Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson © 2010 37signals, LLC. Reprinted by permission of Crown Business, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group.

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