Try Before You Buy: Why Smart People & Smart Companies Are Ditching the Interview

Once is a coincidence, twice is a trend? Increasingly I’m hearing about talented folks and sought after startups ditching the interview process as final arbiter of employment and instead opting for some sort of ‘try before you buy’ arrangement. If structured in a clear and respectful way, it makes perfect sense and can also serve to activate more passive candidates.

Some recent examples:

  • Startup pursuing executive from larger tech company. Mutual interest but exec just. can’t. make. that final decision to leave comfy environment. Company offers to bring him on as an advisor so they can get to know each other first.
  • Marketing manager tells startup that instead of discussing fulltime gig, she wants to pick a specific project she can work on for them over next few weeks and if it goes well, start the broader conversation about a job.
  • Product manager knows founders of a later-stage startup pretty well. He has an idea for a way to expand their product line and would join company if he can lead this particular effort. An engineer and designer from the company work with him to build a demo. Once done, the exec team and board will take a look and make a decision.
Some downsides to this sort of process:
  • It’s half-pregnant. No one is really committed but they’re trying to make themselves fall in love.
  • Candidate can be poached by another offer, or similarly the company can decide to hire someone else or go in a different direction.
  • Candidate needs job security if they’re going to give up current employment.
I know contractors get asked frequently to go fulltime with clients. Are there other examples you’re seeing of “try before you buy?” As a founder or employee, would you be comfortable with these arrangements?

5 thoughts on “Try Before You Buy: Why Smart People & Smart Companies Are Ditching the Interview

  1. Founder and I came up with the idea for but needed a dev to build it, couldn't find one so we contracted it out gave equity with a commitment from him now ten months later we have a great product, however we need to help getting the word out. CL sucks, we have a faster simpler way to list products to the web. Without all the #scam#spam. Wouldn't recommend contracting out the dev. One of us could have learned how to dev and saved us a lot of money.

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