Jason over at 37 signals has a great post about the difference between trying something and using something. This ties in nicely with something that I’ve been thinking about recently which is: what is the best way to interview potential new hires. I started thinking about this after reading about the idea of bringing someone in to work with you instead of interviewing them. This makes sense to me for a lot of reasons, not least of which is I’m a bad interviewer. I never prepare enough in advance, I rarely have a set of questions ready to ask the candidate, and last, but not least, I never trust that they can do what they claim. All of these problems can be alleviated if you just bring the candidate in for a day and work with them. In this case, interviewing the candidate would be like “trying” them, where bringing them in would be “using” them (I’m fully aware that the trying and using thing applied to people is starting to sound bad at this point, but I think you get my drift).
I would propose that once you’ve got your potential hires list whittled down, you should take your top candidate and ask them to come in and work for a day with you. Don’t be cheap on this either, offer them something like $500 for the day, because if you find out that they are a bad fit now it’ll be worth far more in reduced headaches in the future. Have them pair with a few different team members over the course of the day and then let them know (preferably right away at the end of the day) if you want to hire them. This would eliminate the risk you face and the worst case scenario for the candidate is they make $500 for one day of work.