Bringing new employees to your team is always a gamble. While applications, resumes, and interviews can help you make an educated decision about whether or not you think someone would be a good fit for your company, you’ll never really know until you hire them. They don’t and they start working in their roles. That’s why a trial period can be a useful next step in the hiring process that can help you see how a candidate handles real-life problems.
However, you’ll want to strategize thoughtfully to ensure that the trial period is an effective test of a new hire’s abilities and potential. To help, eight members of the Young Entrepreneur Council share their best tips for designing an effective trial period so you—and the renter—gets the most out of it.
Members are pictured from left to right.
Photos courtesy of individual members. 1. Tailor the test to the use case
To ensure that a trial period is an effective test of a new hire’s abilities and potential, it is best to tailor your tests to relevant use cases. For example, if you’re hiring a marketer, design the test to best assess the new recruit’s marketing skills and abilities. The test should be specifically designed to assess whether the potential recruit is capable of effectively designing and executing marketing campaigns. This will give a clear message to the recruiters regarding the position they will be hired for. This will also help the company to assess the skills of the candidates and see whether they are fit for the job or not. – Stephanie Wells, Formidable Form
2. Create an onboarding plan with goals and milestones
Every new hire should have an onboarding plan with associated goals and milestones. If you give a new hire a set trial period, there should be some defined goals for the employee to hit during that period. In fact, all new hires for us have a 30-, 60- and 120-day onboarding plan with expectations and goals at each stage. We’ve found that by being transparent with expectations, we set both the employee and the company up for success. In most cases, we share these expectations during the hiring process so that new employees have an idea of what will be expected of them before agreeing to take on the role. We have found that this approach creates alignment on both sides and yields the highest possible success rates. – Ariane Radmond, IgnitePost
3. Schedule a check-in to deal with any issues
Check in with the direct supervisor after the first week. Often, the issues with overzealous resumes emerge very quickly. Make sure you document the problems that are arising early on and point them out. The goal is to keep the employee—not let them go after the trial period. Recruiting for that is very expensive. I will have at least two 30-day check-ins before making a decision to keep or part with the employee. We’ve all probably brought in someone new and continued to give them the benefit of the doubt, despite red flags during their trial period. I have learned to trust my judgement. If it’s not working during the trial period, cut them loose. Sometimes no matter how confident you were that you picked the right candidate, you might be wrong—and that’s okay. – Jennifer A. Barnes, Optima Office, Inc.
4. Assign a project that reflects the actual work they are doing
Create a specific project with a defined start and end date that will reflect the type of work that will be done full time. This will give the candidate an idea of what the job will be like and give the team a sense of what it’s really like to work with this person. I believe this helps create a better alignment and ultimate fit than a typical interview process. – Josh Weiss, Reggie
5. Gauge Work Style and Strengths Through Personality Assessment
I have two tests for new employees: Gallup’s CliftonStrength Test and the DESC Profile. The Gallup test tells me what the top five forces of hire are so I don’t hire someone who likes to talk a lot in the library to do research all day. By identifying what the new hire’s top strengths are, I am able to connect them to their core job duties. DiSC profile helps me to understand what is their working style. Some people prefer to attack a project individually by first understanding it on their own and then collaborating with a team. I like to think about it out loud with a group and then assign duties as to who is going to do what by when. After learning the new hire’s work style and strengths, the three-month probationary period allows me to leverage their talents to see if the hire is a good fit. – Givele Lamano, Lamano Law Office
6. Ensure open communication at all times
One way to ensure that a trial period is an effective test of a new hire’s abilities and potential is to clearly communicate the expectations and goals of the trial period to the new hire and provide them with the support and resources they need to succeed. have to provide. This may include providing them with a detailed job description, giving them access to any necessary training or resources, and setting specific goals to achieve during the trial period. It’s important to check in regularly with new hires to provide support and feedback and to give them the opportunity to ask questions and address any concerns they may have. This can help ensure that the new hire is on track to meet the goals of the trial period and can help identify potential areas for improvement. – Andrew Saladino, Kitchen Cabinet Kings
7. Structure testing around specific KPIs and OKRs
One way to ensure a trial period is an effective test of a new hire’s abilities is to structure the trial period around key performance indicators (KPIs) and measure them against the organization’s Objectives and Key Results (OKRs). Setting clear expectations ensures that both parties are on the same page and that the new employee can demonstrate their skills, abilities and potential. During the trial period, it is essential to provide the new hire with feedback and guidance in order to maximize the effectiveness of the trial period. Additionally, it is important to provide a proper timeline for the new hire to focus on their goals and objectives. It’s important to make sure you continually assess the new hire’s progress to make the most of this period. – Jay Dahal, Machine
8. Agree on Success Measures
Start with really clear and mutually agreed upon measures of success. For example, “If XYZ is completed by the end of this test, we will both agree that it has been successful.” Put your assumptions in writing before the trial period begins, and book time at the end of the trial period to ensure that you look back to review your assumptions. It is fair to involve other people in the company beyond the hiring manager and employee to ensure this meeting is fair, as both those directly involved in the decision will be subject to confirmation bias. Through this process—which should have a mutually agreed upon set of objective goals and a careful review process that is resilient to confirmation bias—you can ensure an effective trial period with a new hire. -Andrew Powell, Learn to Win