Auditioning.  Isn’t that reserved for performance-oriented jobs?  For people who sing, dance, and act!?  Then again, I suppose I have been in meetings before when I’ve been expected to perform.

Let me ask you this, is your job performance-based?  Are you expected to hit certain objectives and milestones!?  How are you evaluated (or…how do you evaluate your team members)?  In business, we don’t hand out participation trophies.  You don’t get a raise just for showing up!  No, you have to do well.  You have to excel!  You have to…perform.

Ultimately, it is performance-based.

A couple of weeks ago, I was listening to a podcast and they were talking auditioning candidates. Before dismissing the idea as “not applicable,” I considered what it might look like to audition a programmer.

I really liked the idea, but my team had mixed feelings on it.  However, after some of the successes I’ve had with outsourcing, I thought that I might be able to kill two birds with one stone.  Not only could I test a candidate to see if they would be productive member of the team, I could do it with a real problem that our team was facing effectively outsourcing development of code to our candidates!

But a nagging feeling remained.  Something about it felt…unethical.  What if these guys did the job, but only did it…ok?  It might be good enough to work, but I don’t want to hire “ok” team members.  If I don’t hire them, I didn’t feel as if I should use their code.  But then that makes the entire exercise a waste of my time and theirs!

In the end, my wife came to the rescue with a simple nuance: pay them.  Right now, the “gig economy” is all around us.  Uber, AirBnB, etc.  it isn’t uncommon for people to be working on contract – so why not work on a contract with us!?

So, I put together the “audition package” and started interviewing.  I quickly realized that this opportunity wasn’t for everyone.  In fact, I decided that I would only offer it to candidates that I felt were really worth pursuing.

And when I explain this concept to the candidate, I talk about how this is an opportunity for us to work together.  They get to treat us like their customer. We don’t have a formal boss-employee relationship.  They haven’t made any life changes that require them to make it work.  They just get to try things from where they are.

Ideally, we will get a glimpse into who they are, and we get to choose if we want to do business with them again.  On the other hand, they get a taste of the work we do and get a sense of working with our team.  If neither of us are happy, we can easily part ways.  And, with us paying for them to do the job, we don’t have to feel like we took advantage of anyone…and they don’t have to feel like we asked them to do our work for no pay.

So far, I am liking this new system and I look forward to using as I continue to grow my team.