Job Trial: The Single Greatest Thing You Can Do to Separate ‘A’ Player from ‘B’ Player Candidates


The job trial can be used as a filter to weed out people who see it as an obstacle. People who are passionate enough about the role they are a candidate for will make the job trial a priority. After all, isn’t that the kind of person you want to hire?

“Lately”, she said, “it’s been harder to identify the best candidates. It is a very competitive job market and the more time we take to evaluate candidates, the more we seem to lose them to other opportunities. What could we do differently?”

My colleague and I chatted for several minutes, discussing a variety of options. The best course of action was to insert an incremental step into the hiring process that could help her team identify the best candidate more quickly.

Go Slow to Go Fast

The more competitive the job market, the more imperative it is to make a great hiring decision. And let’s face it, the job market is extraordinarily strong in 2018. A job trial is a step in the recruiting process where candidates complete a specific work product related to the role that they want to be hired into. By adding a job trial to her hiring process, my colleague’s team was able to reduce the amount of time spent deliberating internally about who the most qualified candidate is.

Without fail, a job trial puts the candidate’s qualifications on full display, allowing the best candidate to emerge. This helped her team reduce the time spent in the “Decision & Offer” stage by a full 50%, allowing them to accelerate at the end of the process and extend an offer to a candidate with conviction.

To find out more about how to put an effective job trial process in place, download The Do’s and Don’ts of Job Trials.

Move Beyond the Song and Dance

Certain aspects of an interview process, such as someone’s manner of speaking or behavior in a conference room, have no actual bearing on whether that candidate will be successful in the role. Some people are amazing interviewees and their sheer presence can charm the interview team. But you’re likely not going to compensate them for their charm. Interview skills can’t predict how well a candidate will do as an employee. And rehearsed answers give you no indication of a person’s actual skills and abilities. Interviews can be “performed” and the job trialhelps you move from the song and dance into the actual evaluation of each candidate’s capabilities.

There are specific advantages to conducting a job trials as part of your hiring process:

  1. They go beyond the typical questions that can easily be prepared for, refined, and rehearsed in advance of an interview. Job trials can’t be rehearsed.
  2. It showcases a candidate’s ability to do the job and separates those who can from those who can’t. It demonstrates the differentiated skill sets individual candidates have and helps the evaluation team better determine who is more qualified.
  3. It provides the candidate with a real-world example of what type of work they will be doing and how their work will be scrutinized if they go forward and accept the position.
  4. It provides actual evidence and proof of each candidate’s qualifications and skill set.
  5. It produces a tangible result that can provide insight to your team and open their eyes to a new approach or solution to a problem. 

For other tips on how to recognize an ‘A’ player during the interview process, click here.

The job trial should be placed after the various competency interviews are complete. The objective is to narrow the pool of candidates and only ask those who have a serious chance of performing well in the role to complete a job trial.


A job trial is a step of the hiring process in which the recruitment team delegates a task to the candidates. This task is most likely similar or just like the day-to-day responsibilities that the candidate will experience if hired. The results should be tangible but aren’t typically used for the company unless the candidate is hired. Job trials are used for all types of roles from entry level to CXO positions.

Here are some examples of job trails we’ve put in place for our clients:

  • Market analysis: candidates are given a market situation and asked to present their findings and suggested approach
  • Customer / Prospect analysis: candidates are given an anonymous customer (or prospect) situation and asked to present their approach
  • Prospecting & selling skills: candidates are given a challenge designed to evaluate their prospecting acumen. Candidates are asked to present their approach to these scenarios to successfully advance the sales motion
  • Marketing campaign: candidates are given a product or market situation and asked to design a campaign to drive a specific outcome from a defined market segment
  • Sales strategy: candidates are given a company backgrounder with hypothetical data about market growth and historical revenue growth. Candidates are asked to develop a sales strategy outlining how they will make the number. Download a specific example of this job trial here

The job trial may feel like an extraordinary obligation or inconvenience to the candidate and the internal evaluation team, but that is a benefit to everyone involved. The job trial can be used as a filter to weed out people who see it as an obstacle. People who are willing to do what it takes to succeed and who are passionate enough about the role they are a candidate for will make the job trial a priority.

After all, isn’t that the kind of person you want to hire?

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