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

By Jacquelyn Lynn

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The 90-day probation period is a standard element of mostcompanies' hiring process, but Jolene Reith prefers not to waitthree months to find out if she's made a mistake. Her company,Titan Plastics Inc., is a point-of-purchase display manufacturer inMenomonee Falls, Wisconsin. Job applicants are interviewed andreferences checked, but before a hiring decision is made,individuals are brought on board for a week of on-the-job trainingand 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 tobe successfully wooed by another company. "People need to becomfortable and happy at work," Reith says. "I tell them`Work with us for a week, learn what you'll be doing and see ifyou like it.' " Candidates are paid for that week,usually at about $1 per hour less than the position's regularpay 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 canask to part ways for any reason, with no hard feelings. Although itappears to cost more upfront--especially when candidates reject thejob--Reith says it has saved money in the long run because fewerhiring mistakes means increased productivity and reducedturnover.

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