Your dream candidate may be the temp right in front of you

Survey shows one-third of CFOs use temporary assignments to evaluate potential hires

Posted October 21, 2015

A "working interview" may be the key to your next successful hire. More than one-third (34 percent) of chief financial officers (CFOs) polled in a recent Accountemps survey said having a candidate work on a temporary basis initially provides the greatest insight into whether he or she will be a good fit with the company culture. CFOs also cited asking open-ended interview questions (30 percent) and checking references (27 percent) as effective ways to gauge someone's potential fit with the work environment.

CFOs were asked, "In your opinion, which one of the following provides the greatest insight into a job candidate's potential fit with the corporate culture?" Their responses:

Having the candidate work on a temporary basis initally 34%
Asking open-ended interview questions 30%
Checking references 27%
Having the candidate attend a group lunch or social activity 7%
*Responses do not total 100 percent due to rounding.  

"Applicants who mesh well with the organization's employees and work environment assimilate faster and are more likely to stay longer term," said Bill Driscoll, a district president of Accountemps. "Bringing in professionals on a temporary basis while you evaluate them for full-time roles can prevent costly hiring mistakes. Once candidates have performed on the job and interacted with the team and management, employers can make better-informed decisions as to whether they will make good permanent additions. Applicants can also get a better sense of whether the work environment is right for them."

Accountemps offers five tips for companies that are considering testing out potential new hires through temporary work:

  1. Partner with a staffing firm. Let your recruiter know immediately if an assignment has the potential to become a permanent position, and clearly outline the responsibilities of the job and key aspects of your workplace culture. That way, your staffing firm can search for appropriate candidates who will be able to commit to a permanent position, if offered.
  2. Let them know what success looks like. You can't make a fair assessment of a temporary professional's performance if he or she doesn't understand what is expected. Give adequate direction, including project details and deadlines as well as company norms, like employee communication preferences.
  3. Give challenging assignments. Provide interim employees with projects of varying degrees of difficulty. Pair them with key members of your team and seek staff feedback on how the temporary workers performed and collaborated with others.
  4. Bring them into the fold. Invite temporary professionals to the same meetings, team lunches, and events everyone else attends. Make sure they receive emails and other communication about company news. Remember, they're evaluating your firm as much as you're evaluating them.
  5. Keep in touch. Regularly check in with temporary employees to answer questions, seek feedback, and gauge how things are going with the assignment. If you want to make a full-time employment offer, alert your staffing firm to coordinate details.

About the Research

The survey was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on telephone interviews with more than 2,200 CFOs from a stratified random sample of companies in more than 20 of the largest U.S. metropolitan areas.


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