Get ready for your tryout

If you’re looking for an executive position, don’t be surprised if your prospective employer wants you to go through a “tryout” or trail period before committing to a permanent position. BusinessWeek reports the practice of hiring executives on an interim basis is becoming more common.

At one time or another all executives have experienced that special horror—the moment when they realize they’ve hired the wrong person. For Justin Moore, the revelation came during his chief financial officer’s first week on the job. As Moore, CEO of Axcient, a data storage company in Mountain View, Calif., was scrawling out scenarios at the whiteboard, he started to feel as if he were pulling the new guy up a hill. “I was constantly having to lead him into a high-level discussion and say, ‘Come on, get high-level again. Let’s think more strategy here.'”

Moore had an out. Like a number of executives, he has scotched standard operating procedure in favor of a new hiring strategy: trying before buying. Once Moore finds a potential candidate, he auditions him or her before making a permanent offer. Sometimes tryouts last weeks, sometimes months. Why get married after only a few dates? “It’s foolish of any of us to think our interview skills are so great we can predict how well someone is going to work in terms of the dynamics of a team,” says Moore.

The idea of interim executives also has some benefits for the employee. In today’s world of instant information, you can wait to update your LinkedIn profile until the job becomes permanent.


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