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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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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