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Opinion Editorials

Should you be paying people to interview?

(EDITORIAL) In this competitive job market, employers are asking how to stand out in the hiring process. Offering pay to interview may be the answer.

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Person in an interview.

There is a small trickle that could soon turn into a trend in the business world, and that is compensating job seekers for their time. Let’s talk about how this is implemented and why it might or might not be a fit for your company.

Last week, I got a text from my best friend who works in a marketing position for healthcare products. She was recently promoted and has been working on the ever-exciting and ever-daunting task of hiring employees for her team.

The text was a screenshot of an email from a candidate that interviewed for an open position. It read: “Hello! Just wanted to drop by and say it is so completely unprofessional to invite someone for an in-person interview that lasts for almost two hours (I had to tour the whole place and speak to every single person employed there) and then not even have the common courtesy to respond to an email letting the candidate know you’ve hired someone else. Thank you for completely wasting my time!”

Okay, a few things: first, this person has lost a shot at ever being up for another opportunity at this company. Second, the entitlement and confusion of what is part of the interview process is staggeringly evident. Third, a job in social media marketing is no place for your run-on sentence.

While we’ve all been this person (hopefully sans the email) and know how incredibly frustrating it can be going through the interview process (taking time off work, commuting, spending your time in an interview, etc.), the process is rarely cut and dry.

To this email, my friend wrote back: “Thank you for the feedback. Although we chose to go another direction for the position, it was only finalized yesterday, hence why you have yet to receive a formal email stating such.”

“We very much enjoyed getting to know you. As you were one of the final candidates, it would have been premature to tell you that we had decided on another applicant when our process wasn’t complete. We’ve had new hires change their minds at the last minute and/or not make it through their first day of work, at which point we offer the position to a person that we felt would also have been a great fit.”

“I apologize if you feel your time was wasted. I will use your feedback to ensure more transparency with applicants in the future. I wish you all the best in your job search and next career step!”

Man staring at computer in shock after interview decline.

This was good for two reasons: one, it was professional (even though I know my friend and know she seethed the whole time writing it). Two, it speaks to the feedback and transparency that are required of an interview – on both sides of the table.

This is even more important nowadays as finding workers can be a difficult task, and it’s important that employers get creative in how they’re attacking the process.

First would be the example above: be completely transparent from the get-go of what the process will look like (to the best of your knowledge). This can extend to the job listing itself, as more employees and job seekers are calling for salaries to be included in the description. Putting a base salary would save everyone a lot of time.

Speaking of finances, a company in Toronto recently made headlines for paying candidates to come in for interviews. They are paying qualified candidates $75 for a one-hour interview.

For companies that can swing it, that seems totally reasonable. This can help offset the cost of gas, travel, time taken off the current job, etc. But smaller businesses may not be able to compete with that. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t still improve their interview practices.

Start with the idea above and make the job listing as detailed and transparent as possible. You’re looking for the best possible candidate and they’re looking for the best possible fit for them. A way to expedite this process (and hopefully weed out any not-so-good fits early on) is to begin with detail and transparency.

Another interview suggestion that I wrote about recently is that you shouldn’t ask a candidate for feedback if you’re not willing to provide them with feedback. It’s a bit crummy to be all “thanks, but no thanks. Oh! Can you fill out this survey real quick?”

Set a hard beginning and end time for an interview and stick to it. And let the candidate know of the hard start time and give them a heads up of how long they should anticipate being there. Of course, things come up (and conversations go on) that might extend or push back a few minutes, but try to be respectful of the time of everyone involved (including the next candidate in the waiting room).

Overall, just be honest in what you’re looking for and ask them questions that will truly get to the bottom of that (not that BS “what are your strengths and weaknesses?”). Tailor everything to this job to make it worthwhile for yourself and the candidate.

And, if you’re the candidate, don’t send a snippy email after the fact. It doesn’t bode well for anyone.

Woman in video interviews and making a confused hand gesture.

Staff Writer, Taylor Leddin is a publicist and freelance writer for a number of national outlets. She was featured on Thrive Global as a successful woman in journalism, and is the editor-in-chief of The Tidbit. Taylor resides in Chicago and has a Bachelor in Communication Studies from Illinois State University.

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Opinion Editorials

Shady salary transparency is running rampant: What to look out for

(EDITORIAL) Employees currently have the upper hand in the market. Employers, you must be upfront about salary and approach it correctly.

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Man holding money in the dark representing false salary transparency.

It’s the wild wild west out there when it comes to job applications. Job descriptions often misrepresent remote work opportunities. Applicants have a difficult time telling job scams from real jobs. Job applicants get ghosted by employers, even after a long application process. Following the Great Resignation, many employers are scrambling for workers. Employees have the upper hand in the hiring process, and they’re no longer settling for interviews with employers that aren’t transparent, especially about salary.

Don’t be this employer

User ninetytwoturtles shared a post on Reddit in r/recruitinghell in which the employer listed the salary as $0 to $1,000,000 per year. Go through many listings on most job boards and you’ll find the same kind of tactics – no salary listed or too large of a wide range. In some places, it’s required to post salary information. In 2021, the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act went into effect in Colorado. Colorado employers must list salary and benefits to give new hires more information about fair pay. Listing a broad salary range skirts the issue. It’s unfair to applicants, and in today’s climate, employers are going to get called out on it. Your brand will take a hit.

Don’t obfuscate wage information

Every employer likes to think that their employees work because they enjoy the job, but let’s face it, money is the biggest motivator. During the interview process, many a job has been lost over salary negotiations. Bringing up wages too early in the application process can be bad for a job applicant. On the other hand, avoiding the question can lead to disappointment when a job is offered, not to mention wasted time. In the past, employers held all the cards. Currently, it’s a worker’s market. If you want productive, quality workers, your business needs to be honest and transparent about wages.

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Opinion Editorials

3 reasons to motivate yourself to declutter your workspace (and mind)

(EDITORIAL) Making time to declutter saves time and money – all while reducing stress. Need a little boost to start? We all need motivation sometimes.

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Clean work desk representing the need to declutter.

It’s safe to say that we’ve all been spending a lot more time in our homes these last few years. This leads us to fixate on the things we didn’t have time for before – like a loose doorknob, an un-alphabetized bookshelf, or that we’ve put off ‘declutter’ on our to-do list for too long.

The same goes for our workspaces. Many of us have had to designate a spot at home to use for work purposes. For those of you who still need to remain on-site, you’ve likely been too busy to focus on your surroundings.

Cleaning and organizing your workspace every so often is important, regardless of the state of the world, and with so much out of our control right now, this is one of the few things we can control.

Whether you’re working from a home office or an on-site office, take some time for quarantine decluttering. According to The Washington Post, taking time to declutter can increase your productivity, lower stress, and save money (I don’t know about you, but just reading those 3 things makes me feel better already).

Clutter can cause us to feel overwhelmed and make us feel a bit frazzled. Having an office space filled with piles of paper containing irrelevant memos from five years ago or 50 different types of pens has got to go – recycle that mess and reduce your stress. The same goes with clearing files from your computer; everything will run faster.

Speaking of running faster, decluttering and creating a cleaner workspace will also help you be more efficient and productive. Build this habit by starting small: try tidying up a bit at the end of every workday, setting yourself up for a ready-to-roll morning.

Cleaning also helps you take stock of stuff that you have so that you don’t end up buying more of it. Create a designated spot for your tools and supplies so that they’re more visible – this way, you’ll always know what you have and what needs to be replenished. This will help you stop buying more of the same product that you already have and save you money.

So, if you’ve been looking to improve your focus and clearing a little bit of that ‘quarantine brain’, start by getting your workspace in order. You’ll be amazed at how good it feels to declutter and be “out with the old”; you may even be inspired to do the same for your whole house. Regardless, doing this consistently will create a positive shift in your life, increasing productivity, reducing stress, and saving you money.

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Opinion Editorials

How to identify and minimize ‘invisible’ work in your organization

(EDITORIAL) Often meaningless, invisible tasks get passed down to interns and women. These go without appreciation or promotion. How can we change that?

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Women in a meeting around table, inclusion as a part of stopping gender discrimination representing invisible work.

Invisible work, non-promotable tasks, and “volunteer opportunities” (more often volun-told), are an unfortunate reality in the workforce. There are three things every employer should do in relation to these tasks: minimize them, acknowledge them, and distribute them equitably.

Unfortunately, the reality is pretty far from this ideal. Some estimates state up to 75% or more of these time-sucking, minimally career beneficial activities are typically foisted on women in the workplace and are a leading driver behind burnout in female employees. The sinister thing about this is most people are completely blind to these factors; it’s referred to as invisible work for a reason.

Research from Harvard Business Review* found that 44% more requests are presented to women as compared to men for “non-promotable” or volunteer tasks at work. Non-promotable tasks are activities such as planning holiday events, coordinating workplace social activities, and other ‘office housework’ style activities that benefit the office but typically don’t provide career returns on the time invested. The work of the ‘office mom’ often goes unacknowledged or, if she’s lucky, maybe garners some brief lip service. Don’t be that boss that gives someone a 50hr workload task for a 2-second dose of “oh yeah thanks for doing a bajillion hours of work on this thing I will never acknowledge again and won’t help your career.”  Yes, that’s a thing. Don’t do it. If you do it, don’t be surprised when you have more vacancies than staff. You brought that on yourself.

There is a lot of top-tier talent out there in the market right now. To be competitive, consider implementing some culture renovations so you can have a more equitable, and therefore more attractive, work culture to retain your top talent.

What we want to do:

  1. Identify and minimize invisible work in your organization
  2. Acknowledge the work that can’t be avoided. Get rid of the blind part.
  3. Distribute the work equitably.

Here is a simple example:

Step 1: Set up a way for staff to anonymously bring things to your attention. Perhaps a comment box. Encourage staff to bring unsung heroes in the office to your attention. Things they wish their peers or they themselves received acknowledgment for.

Step 2: Read them and actually take them seriously. Block out some time on your calendar and give it your full attention.

For the sake of demonstration, let’s say someone leaves a note about how Caroline always tidies up the breakroom at the end of the day and cleans the coffee pot with supplies Caroline brings from home. Now that we have identified a task, we are going to acknowledge it, minimize it, and consider the distribution of labor.

Step 3: Thank Caroline at the team meeting for scrubbing yesterday’s burnt coffee out of the bottom of the pot every day. Don’t gloss over it. Make the acknowledgment mean something. Buy her some chips out of the vending machine or something. The smallest gestures can have the biggest impact when coupled with actual change.

Step 4: Remind your staff to clean up after themselves. Caroline isn’t their mom. If you have to, enforce it.

Step 5: Put it in the office budget to provide adequate cleaning supplies for the break room and review your custodial needs. This isn’t part of Caroline’s job description and she could be putting that energy towards something else. Find the why of the situation and address it.

You might be rolling your eyes at me by now, but the toll of this unpaid invisible work has real costs.  According to the 2021 Women in the Workplace Report* the ladies are carrying the team, but getting little to none of the credit. Burnout is real and ringing in at an all-time high across every sector of the economy. To be short, women are sick and tired of getting the raw end of the deal, and after 2 years of pandemic life bringing it into ultra-sharp focus, are doing something about it. In the report, 40% of ladies were considering jumping ship. Data indicates that a lot of them not only manned the lifeboats but landed more lucrative positions than they left. Now is the time to score and then retain top talent. However, it is up to you to make sure you are offering an environment worth working in.

*Note: the studies cited here do not differentiate non-cis-identifying persons. It is usually worse for individuals in the LGBTQIA+ community.

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