Should job candidates be paid for doing interviews?

'There needs to be a lot more respect for employees on the employer side about what people are individually dealing with'

Should job candidates be paid for doing interviews?

“It’s ridiculous… there is no rhyme or reason.”

So says Allison Venditti in talking about the intensity of many interviews these days.

“Twenty years ago, when I started hiring, it’s max two interviews, like half-hour interviews: meet the HR team, then meet the hiring team, make a choice,” says the founder of Moms at Work and My Parental Leave.

“Now, you have an assignment; now, you have a panel interview… one role I got asked to, I went through three interviews, and they said, ‘OK, now we’re going to go for coffee with the top three candidates together.’ And I was like, ‘No, this is stupid.’ It starts getting ridiculous, and I’m like ‘This is uncomfortable, unnecessary and, frankly, unprofessional.’”

‘Valuable assets’

In addition, people are often being asked to prepare marketing plans or write entire articles during the recruitment process — and often not given credit when the employer uses these without hiring the person.

“We just need to reset, and really think about people as people and as valuable assets to companies, and they need to be treated like that from the start. That whole process has gone out the window into a method that I am now unfamiliar with and I’m actually quite disgusted by,” says Venditti.

“It’s really only going to stop once the employee side says, ‘Enough… I’m not going in for three interviews — I have a job and a family and a life.”

On that note, Reddit user theonepercent65536 recently garnered attention when he posted screenshots of text messages from a company he was interviewing with. They wanted him to come for a second round of interviews that would last from 9 am to 2 pm with an hour break.

He suggested they watch the recordings from his first interview, and if they still wanted him to come in, requested $100 per hour for his time.

Paying for interviews

In recognition of the time and effort put into taking interviews, employers such as FoodShare are paying for people’s time.

When a job candidate comes for an interview at the food justice organization in Toronto, they’re given $75. If they go for a second interview, they’ll receive another $75, and if they’re asked to prepare any kind of presentation, they’ll be compensated at the hourly wage of the position they’re applying for.

It’s about respecting people for their time and labour in preparing for and undergoing an interview, according to Paul Taylor, executive director at FoodShare.

“Things like paying for transit, paying for childcare, the cost associated with taking a day off, the time spent reviewing, researching, preparing for presentations — countless amount of hours go into that that we feel employers have been allowed to get off the hook by not having to compensate prospective candidates for.”

Read more: Employers lower criteria to find much-needed talent

Overall, the interview process has become more intensive, he says, “and more demanding, and the expectations have become higher and more rigorous.”

And when employers don’t provide feedback, it can make people feel like they’ve wasted their time, says Taylor.

“I think it goes even further — it makes people feel really disposable.”

Return on investment

As for cost, that’s not a concern at $75 per interview, says Taylor.

“When we consider our budget and when we consider the impact that it can have on someone's life — especially if someone is out interviewing and sending resumes and is unemployed, trying to seek some work — getting a payment, an honorarium payment for an interview of $75 could be a game changer for someone's week and make the difference between whether or not they have food to eat or not.”

And with the payment helping with transit or childcare, single-parent households could also benefit, he says.

“These sorts of interventions do help to increase the kind of diversity that we see in the workplace, for sure.”

Read more: How to achieve the fullness of diversity

Venditti also pays job candidates for interviews, and the rate is the same no matter what the role, she says.

“You don't get paid three times as much because you're an accountant coming to this job than you are as someone who's packaging groceries — this is a flat rate to respect the fact that you're engaging in this process.”

Many front-line workers don’t have paid time off if they’re sick, so having to leave work and give up hours is a financial detriment, she says.

“My goal isn't to make sure that some senior engineer who makes more than $400,000 a year is compensated properly, it's to make sure that the 70 per cent of our population that is not protected under these things is able to do these things without risk to whether or not they're going to buy groceries.”

Often when employers complain about candidates “ghosting” them by not showing up for interviews, it’s because the jobseekers can’t get time off work or find a babysitter for their kids, she says.

“There needs to be a lot more respect for employees on the employer side about what people are individually dealing with.”

Read more:Ghosting’ takes a toll on employers

Making a positive impression

But there are also companies compensating job candidates at a higher rate, such as Datapeople, a recruiting analytics company based in New York.

With many employers including a trial project as part of the hiring process, the firm decided to recognize people’s efforts by sending an e-gift card with compensation reflecting the expected amount of time they spent on an interview project.

"We pay candidates for the small projects we ask of them as part of the hiring process. Simply put, we recognize that candidates’ time is valuable. It’s also something we do to create a more equitable hiring process. Feedback we've received from candidates say that this practice speaks to the type of company we are and how we value candidates,” says a representative.

Compensating people for their efforts in interviewing for a position makes a positive impression, says Taylor of FoodShare.

“It gives insight into what someone can expect once hired by that organization… those are really important cues to pick up along the process of seeking work.”

By paying people to do interviews, it creates trust, says Venditti. “I know that my time is valued.”

Putting a pricetag on an interview might also help with the hiring process, according to Taylor.

“Maybe having a cost associated to who you interview will really force organizations to be a little bit more mindful about who they're bringing in. And maybe instead of bringing in 10 candidates for a part-time contract role, it might be really focusing in on only two to three folks for interviews.”

And for any employers that are struggling with staffing, this could be a good move, he says.

“For us, that's not the motivation, but we recognize that certainly for groups that struggle with recruitment and retention, that this is the kind of intervention that, without a doubt, will have a positive impact.”

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