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10 Key Steps to Run a Successful Working Interview

Updated: Apr 14, 2023

Traditional interviews have historically been a key part of the hiring process. Doing well in a traditional interview setting can make or break a candidate's chance at employment. So, where does that leave people who communicate differently? In the past, this would mean that people who don't communicate in a traditional way would be left out of the hiring process, despite having the ability and the skills for the job.

You might be wondering if there's a better way to interview people who communicate differently - we are here to tell you that there is! It's called a working interview. This article will cover everything you need to know about working interviews and how you can conduct one effectively.

What is a Working Interview?

Let's start from the top: what is a working interview? It's when a candidate is asked to do a task (sometimes more than one) from the day-to-day job they're interviewing for. Working interviews can happen before, after, or instead of the interview. It is another tool in a hiring manager's toolbox to help them make the most informed hiring decision, and is one of the many ways companies can accommodate their hiring practice to be more inclusive. There are five main benefits to a working interview:

  • Allows the employer to properly assess whether the candidates can put their skills into action

  • Allows those that have difficulty communicating to showcase their skills

  • Allows candidates to see if they will enjoy working at the company by experiencing the culture and tasks

  • Lessens the opportunity for biases in the hiring process

  • Helps create a more inclusive hiring process

Working interviews allow candidates to show what they could bring to your team and help you find the right candidate for the job.

10 KEY STEPS to Run a Successful Working Interview

For some companies, working interviews have already become a standard in the hiring process; for others, it's a new option to take advantage of. But overall, it's an underused tool. When done correctly, working interviews can ensure you pick the right person for the job every time. Here are the ten key steps for running a successful working interview:

  1. Determine the main goal By determining your goal, you can better tailor the tasks in your working interview. Some questions to ask yourself are: Is the goal of providing working interviews to offer an accommodation so you can fulfill your Duty to Accommodate? Is it to modify your process to be more inclusive? Or is it to assess a particular skill? By incorporating your goals into the planning process, you will ensure that you have picked the best task a nd make use of everyone's efforts.

  2. Set up an appropriate task and determine the length of time/the scheduling needs to complete it Now that you have a goal, determine what part of the job would best showcase the candidate's skill. Some questions to consider include: Does it need to happen remotely or on location? Do you need other team members present? How long would a candidate need to complete the task? Does this vary by experience level?

  3. Determine what other skills can be assessed during the interview (grammar, teamwork, etc.) Working interviews can assess skills beyond those discussed in traditional interviews. For example, a working interview allows employers to see teamwork skills, friendliness, ability to focus and follow instructions, and grammar (if written). By determining these skills, you will see what the candidate is capable of, especially if they have difficulty expressing themselves under pressure.

  4. Set up a grading template to ensure the evaluations are unbiased To create an impartial hiring process, create a template that will grade all candidates when doing a working interview. This process could be similar to what you would use for a traditional interview, and will help make an unbiased and inclusive process.

  5. Be transparent about compensation, and discuss it with your HR This is especially important when tasks take longer or when there is potential to use the candidate's work Compensation for working interviews is a debated subject. However, whether compensation is required often depends on the time and effort a candidate would take to complete the task. If you are asking a hybrid candidate to come into the office, consider paying them. If you are asking for a task that would take more than an hour to complete, consider paying. If you are asking for written work that might be used by the company, consider a process that would ensure the candidate gets compensation if their work is used. How you run and compensate for working interviews can help build or damage your company's reputation. You can check if you are paying fairly by looking up the working interview standards in your region and checking with your HR team.

In Canada, The ESA interpretation manual states that:



In the United States, The Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division states that:


6. Tell the candidate what they can expect Knowing what to expect can impact a candidate's ability to perform when being evaluated. Just like a traditional interview, the working interview process can affect an individual's nerves. Provide candidates with the information they need to best prepare—such as the task, format, what they need to bring, and the time allocated to complete it; this will help them perform to their standards and yours. 7. Pick the right time Choose the right time to conduct it; If you are running both a traditional and a working interview, you can schedule it before, after, or on a different date from a traditional interview. However, keep in mind that extra time might be needed due to external circumstances (i.e., connectivity issues, accommodation needs, and other important events occurring at the workplace.) 8. Meet with the candidate afterward to debrief A debrief can benefit both you and the candidate. It allows you to analyze how it went, what can be done better next time, and how they perceived the work, tasks, and culture. It's also an excellent opportunity to provide time for the candidate to ask questions. 9. Meet with the team members that may have interacted with the candidate during the working interview A working interview can help you see how the candidate works with your existing team: this is especially important in team settings. Additionally, it can improve the current team's feeling of involvement. 10. Have a good response time When candidates complete a working interview, they have dedicated time and effort to complete their tasks. It would be respectful and serve as evidence of your company's initiative to respond in an appropriate amount of time—regardless of whether they were the chosen candidate. Everyone has a different way of communicating and showing who they are and what they can do. You can create a more inclusive and diverse workplace by offering working interviews to potential candidates. Now that you know all about working interviews, you're ready to expand your hiring process and develop one for your next candidate. You will not only fulfill your Duty to Accommodate but also find the best candidate for the job!

Are you an employer located in Ontario, Canada? Discover how you can become a more inclusive employer through LCOworks Click here to learn more

References Miles, M. (2022, April 12). Why a working interview can help you land your dream job (and candidate). Retrieved from BetterUp: https://www.betterup.com/blog/working-interview

Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development. (2022, June 15). Employment Standards Act Policy and Interpretation Manual. Retrieved August 2022, from ESA: https://www.ontario.ca/document/employment-standard-act-policy-and-interpretation-manual/part-i-definitions#section-4

US Department of Labour. (2008, July). Fact Sheet #22: Hours Worked Under the Fair Labor Standards Ac. Retrieved August 2022, from US Department of Labour: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/fact-sheets/22-flsa-hours-worked

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