From formal interviews to video conferencing, companies use various methods to find the perfect candidate. Companies may even invite you to partake in a working interview when they want to see your skills in action before they officially hire you.
The working interview portion of the interview process does not have a specific length of time, however the most common duration generally lasts between 3-8 hours. An hour or two will be enough time for some positions, whilst for other professions they may require an entire workday.
As you might imagine, the more skills that might be required for your job, the more demonstrations of your abilities you may be required to give. This has a direct correlation with how long your working interview might last.
For example, an in-house technical writer may only need to stay for a couple of hours as they gather the information they need to write and then submit a trial piece whilst a fitness instructor might teach or lead one class and be finished before mid-morning.
Someone in the food industry on the other hand might need to put in a full day’s work to demonstrate they have all the planning and preparation skills needed to deliver a full service.
Regardless of the profession, the length of the working interview should be made clear to you during the planning stages when you are determining your availability. If the employer does not specify how long you will be there, it is perfectly acceptable to ask.
What is a working interview?
When we think of job interviews, we often think of someone sitting across from us at a desk asking questions with our resumes in hand. A traditional interview consists of talking and explaining past performances and projecting how we will handle work-related problems and opportunities in the future.
However, in today’s competitive business world, employers use diverse methods to find the top contenders for employment in their company.
A working interview is a hands-on interview that allows an employer to see potential candidates in action. In other words, it’s a “try before you buy” for both the employer and job seeker.
A working interview is most common in professions that are technical or scientific. For example, someone in the foodservice industry may have to cook in an unfamiliar kitchen and test their skills under pressure. In contrast, someone in customer service may be observed answering phones and engaging with customers during their working interview.
No matter the profession, if you are asked to a working interview, you can count on being observed by the interviewers as you complete specific tasks expected for the job.
But just because the focus might be on your skills and experience, don’t confuse it for a simple skills test. Often, the employer will also be looking for how professional your interactions are with your co-workers and how well you handle stress and nerves as the interview progresses.
Does a working interview mean I got the job?
Anytime you are invited to an in-person interview, it is a good sign that you have made it to one of the final rounds of the interview process and the employer is seriously considering you for the job, however it does not necessarily mean the job is already yours.
How the working interview goes could be the deciding factor in if you get a job offer. Ensure to take the interview process seriously and maintain a professional attitude throughout the entire time you are in the role.
Will I get paid for my working interview?
A working interview is a significant time commitment. You will also usually be doing productive work that the employer can use, just like if the company already employed you. It is only natural to wonder if you will be paid for your work during the interview.
In the US State and Federal laws require that anyone performing services for a company be compensated – this includes time spent taking part in a working interview. The payment is minimum wage or higher, so you can expect a flat fee or hourly rate. Working interview pay should be negotiated and finalized before the interview takes place.
What are the benefits of a working interview?
Working interviews are becoming more common because they offer many benefits to the job candidate and the employer.
The employer sees the candidate perform their skills and interact with the company in the work environment. As the job candidate, you get to see what it would be like to work there and experience for yourself the company culture before signing a contract or committing.
Benefits for the candidate
This type of interview gives you a chance to show off your personality in a way the traditional interview cannot. One of your best qualities might be how well you get along with others or your engaging personality when dealing with customers. A working interview lets the company fully see you in action and observe all of the qualities you bring to the table.
During a working interview, you get to experience what it will be like on a typical day of work at the company. You interact with co-workers and supervisors. At the end of the interview, you should have a good idea if it will be an enjoyable work environment.
Benefits for the employer
The working interview also offers a lot of perks for the employer. A working interview can make the process of finding the perfect candidate easier. Evaluating skills in person is a way to ensure the candidate has the experience and skills they indicated on their resumes.
Observing a candidate in the real work environment also gives an idea of how much stress they can handle and how well they get along with co-workers. By the end of the day, an interviewer will have learned a lot about the candidate. Besides skills and personality, they will collect information on how well they stayed focused on the job and will have made an observation on their overall work ethic.
Take home message
A working interview is a chance to “wow” your potential employer. A hands-on, live-action performance where you show off your skills and the experience listed on your resume come to life.
More than a skills check, the interviewer will be observing your professional conduct, how well you fit in with the company’s culture, and get along with your co-workers.
How long this working interview will take depends on the profession, type of job, and workplace requirements. It varies significantly between occupations, but on average, a working interview can be expected to be completed between 3-8 hours.
The more experience and skills you must demonstrate, the longer you can expect it to take. It can seem daunting to be observed for such a long time, but take heart! The longer you have with the employer to show off your skills and best qualities, the better. They have more opportunities to observe the tremendous asset you will be to their company.
Competition for new jobs and promotions can be tough. Use this resume checklist to review your resume and stay ahead of the crowd.
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