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Trial Run

Put prospective employees through a training program before making a hiring decision.

The 90-day probation period is a standard element of most companies' hiring process, but Jolene Reith prefers not to wait three months to find out if she's made a mistake. Her company, Titan Plastics Inc., is a point-of-purchase display manufacturer in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin. Job applicants are interviewed and references checked, but before a hiring decision is made, individuals are brought on board for a week of on-the-job training and to at least partially do the job they may be hired for.

In an area where competition for qualified workers is strong, Reith believes employees who like their jobs are less inclined to be successfully wooed by another company. "People need to be comfortable and happy at work," Reith says. "I tell them `Work with us for a week, learn what you'll be doing and see if you like it.' " Candidates are paid for that week, usually at about $1 per hour less than the position's regular pay rate. They work with experienced staff members, watching, learning and, when possible, doing the actual job.

It's a one-week test drive for both the candidate and Reith. It's understood that at the end of the week, either side can ask to part ways for any reason, with no hard feelings. Although it appears to cost more upfront--especially when candidates reject the job--Reith says it has saved money in the long run because fewer hiring mistakes means increased productivity and reduced turnover.

Contact Source

Titan Plastics Inc., P.O. Box 516, Menomonee Falls, WI 53052-0516, (414) 250-0808.

This story appears in the July 1998 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »