I’m in the process of finding a website developer to work on some exciting new projects. And I’ve got a really solid lead that I’m thinking is the right person.
Last Friday I was having coffee with a friend and telling her about the project, process, and status. I told her that I had narrowed it down to one developer and was awaiting his proposal. She suggested that before I commit I send him a test project. My immediate response was,
No way. He’s the expert, that’s demeaning, and not a good way to start a relationship.
Since she knows me well, she wasn’t surprised by my strong opinion on the matter and asked me why.
When standing in the shoes of the person hiring, test projects seem like a wonderful idea. You can see how the person works, what the quality is, and how responsive they are.
When standing in the shoes of the person being hired, test projects suck. You are being told: work for free on the chance I decide you are good enough.
Test projects mean you start your relationship from a position of mistrust. Because we all know that if you thought they were amazing, you would hire them outright.
Don’t get me wrong; you shouldn’t blindly hire team members. However, there are ways to assess these things without giving them a test project.
I’d never hire someone for my business that didn’t come with a trusted recommendation. The potential web developer worked with a friend of mine and she gave him a glowing review. I can see the quality of his work from her website and from the other websites in his portfolio. I could ask him for other references and check to see how easy he is to work with and how responsive he is. I can do some research to find out if he is likely the right fit.
I can also assure that we structure our relationship so we can part ways.
With independent contractors, you include a fair termination clause in the contract. A termination clause will give you both the option of parting ways if things aren’t working out.
With employees, you do this by assuring that they are at-will employees. And you can end the relationship at any time with at-will employees when it’s not a good fit. (And probationary periods are notorious for eliminating at-will employment.)
Eliminating test projects shows that you respect their skills and time. So if you are thinking about requiring a test project, I encourage you to:
- think about the other person
- brainstorm ways to get the same information—without requiring free work
- set up your relationship so that you can part ways if it isn’t the right fit
Eliminating test projects shows that you respect their skills and time.
Have you asked for test projects? Have you been asked to complete a test project? What are your rules and policies around them? Share your stories in the comments.