The New York Times profiled five tech companies this morning who make workers go through temporary trial periods of varying length before they agree to hire them.
While the internship has for decades given companies an opportunity to evaluate people (mostly) fresh out of school before signing them up full time, companies like WordPress creator Automattic are expanding the try-before-you-hire process to workers of all experience levels.
The Times reports that the web tools company puts every single potential new hire through a contract period that can last from two weeks to a month and a half, during which the employees are paid $25 an hour for their work.
For smaller companies like Joor, a tech platform for wholesale retailers with 50 employees, one or two bad hires can cause significant setbacks due to turnover.
Its founder and chief executive Mona Bijoor tells The Times that the company’s use of a 30-day contract work period, which in its first run yielded three new employees out of seven participants, has made it easier for the company to avoid hiring people who are a bad fit.
“They are willing to take the risk because they believe in what we are doing or see themselves working for a start-up,” Bijoor says of the people who brave the company’s temporary employment experience.
Noticeably absent from the Times’ story were the voices of employees who had gone through these so-called test drives, both those who succeeded in getting jobs and those were turned aside.
While a trial period could benefit workers by preventing them from stepping into a job that is a bad fit for them, it does serve as an impediment to applicants who cannot afford to quit their job or halt their employment search for a position that could be gone within a month or two.
If the trend continues, it will be interesting to see whether companies begin holding tryouts instead of offering internships, which are generally framed as learning experiences but in many cases serve only to provide companies with temporary, usually low-cost labor, and the opportunity to evaluate someone for a full-time gig