Pre-employment trials

Sometimes it is appropriate to ask job applicants to perform tasks as part of the interview process, so you can assess whether they have the skills needed for a job.

If you are asking an employee for a pre-employment trial, make it clear that performance of any tasks is a part of the interview process, and that the assessment is not paid or rewarded. It's good practice to advise the job applicant of this in writing. For example, this could apply in cases where the applicant’s previous work experience used different skills, or to help you to compare the skills of several applicants.

If you are using assessment tasks, they should not take too long and should genuinely assess an applicant’s ability to do tasks relevant to the job. You should tell applicants in advance about the assessment they will be doing.

There is a risk that the performance of the assessment tasks may be considered employment under some circumstances. This could include situations where it is unclear if the tasks performed were actual work or part of the interview, and/or if the business received financial gain from the tasks performed.

Payment by money or reward (or the creation of such an expectation) makes the performance of the tasks more likely to be viewed as employment. For example, it is acceptable to ask a barista to make 2 or 3 coffees, or a waitress to service a table, but working a whole shift, or even a few hours, would likely be considered employment.

A skill assessment as part of a job interview should not be confused with a trial or probationary period. Trial and probationary periods can be part of an employment agreement between an employer and employee and apply once employment has been offered and accepted.

Trial and probationary periods

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