Why You Might Be Expected to Test-drive Your Next Job

The interview went great, but a job offer isn't the next step.

Hire by Trial

It’s not quite a job offer, but a paid trial period could help you and an employer figure out if the job is a good fit.

More companies are looking to get a feel for how employees might fit in with their culture and perform on the job before officially offering a job. Potential employees can decide whether the gig is the right one for them, too.

“We want people who join the company to be confident it’s a great decision for them,” Keepsafe CEO Zouhair Belkoura told us. “It benefits the potential employee because they can picture themselves working alongside us and be sure it’s the right decision for them.”

His digital privacy company offers a weeklong test drive to potential new employees.

“Taking a new job is less important than picking a spouse, but more important than buying a car,” Belkoura wrote in a blog post outlining the company policy. “People date before committing to a relationship. People test drive cars before making a purchase. What if people made car-buying decisions after a few conversations with a car salesman? Taking a new job is a big life decision and should be treated that way.”

Keepsafe isn’t alone in requiring job test drives to new employees. Automattic (you surely know their most popular product: WordPress) uses their trial periods, in part, to see if hires will thrive in the company’s all-remote workforce.

Web hosting and site building company, Weebly and JOOR, a wholesale marketplace that connects retailers and brands, also have trial periods.

Like Keepsafe, Weebly, offers a week-long job test drive – as CEO and cofounder David Rusenko told Business Insider, it’s intense. “This is not a socialization exercise,” he said. “This is not a chance to come in and see if you’re a cultural fit. It’s really about hitting the ground running.

“It’s really a great opportunity to show your work, instead of having to just sell yourself in an interview, which a lot of people find very difficult,” Rusenko said.

JOOR’s trial periods are much longer. The company has transitioned from 30-day trial periods to 90 days, said the company’s founder and CEO Mona Bijoor. “When we were first hiring, we found ourselves hiring individuals who didn’t fit with our company culture and values at JOOR,” Bijoor told us.

“What we do is very specific, so finding the right talent has been full of failures along the way,” Bijoor said. “With our evaluation period, we’re able to find people that understand and mirror our values, our work ethic, and our expected results. On the flipside, potential employees get to come into the office daily, understand the workflow and processes, and feel out the opportunity for themselves. Work relationships are fluid. We want our employees to be satisfied and passionate about their job as much as our employees want JOOR to succeed in our results-driven environment.”

Bijoor and many of the other executives making these hires insist that trial employees are thoroughly interviewed and treated as traditional employees from the start, but Uncubed’s cofounder Tarek Pertew has some concerns.

“All full-time employees will have to wonder if the new employee is gonna make the cut, which stinks for the recruit.” he said. “I think overall, the upsides are great for both candidate and company, but it will test the cultural strength of a company. And you have to hope that companies don’t take the hires slightly less serious, since there is an out if it doesn’t work out.”

Still, Pertew said, “The benefit to both the candidate and the company is undeniable. Hiring is a major commitment for both sides and typically, it’s a total leap of faith. Trial periods eliminate that, entirely.”

If you are offered a test drive, determine how long the period will last and negotiate a fair day rate and make sure you know beforehand what your full-time salary would be should you get the job. Do your due diligence to make sure the position is right for you, too.

And because these trial periods are becoming more common, it might not be a crazy idea to ask for one if you’re not sure about a job, you’re terrible at job interviews, or are having a hard time convincing an employer that you’re right for the gig, said Pertew.

“I think if a candidate fits most of a job’s requirements, but not all, a trial period can help prove to an employer the candidate’s ability to learn or adapt the role to fit the needs of the company,” Pertew said. “It’s the old ‘just give me a chance to prove myself’ bit. Generally, I like it. It’s exciting and might lead to companies hiring hungrier talent.”