A "working interview" may land you your next hire, according to a recent Accountemps survey. More than one-third (34 percent) of polled CFOS said that having an initially temporary candidate can provide great insight into whether or not they fit into the company culture.

CFOs also cited open-ended interview questions (30 percent) and checking references (27 percent) as other ways to judge a candidates' fit into the company.

"Applicants who mesh well with the organization's employees and work environment assimilate faster and are more likely to stay longer term," stated Bill Driscoll, a district president of Accountemps. "Bringing in professionals on a temporary basis while you evaluate them for full-time roles can prevent costly hiring mistakes. Once candidates have performed on the job and interacted with the team and management, employers can make better-informed decisions as to whether they will make good permanent additions. Applicants can also get a better sense of whether the work environment is right for them."

CFOs were asked, "In your opinion, which one of the following provides the greatest insight into a job candidate's potential fit with the corporate culture?" Their responses were thusly:

Having the candidate work on a temporary basis initially


Asking open-ended interview questions


Checking references 


Having the candidate attend a group lunch or social activity





Accountemps offers the following five tips for testing out potential new hires through temporary work: 

  1. Partner with a staffing firmLet your recruiter know immediately if an assignment has the potential to become a permanent position, and clearly outline the responsibilities of the job and key aspects of your workplace culture. That way, your staffing firm can search for appropriate candidates who will be able to commit to a permanent position, if offered.
  2. Let them know what success looks like. You can't make a fair assessment of a temporary professional's performance if he or she doesn't understand what is expected. Give adequate direction, including project details and deadlines as well as company norms, like employee communication preferences.
  3. Give challenging assignments. Provide interim employees with projects of varying degrees of difficulty. Pair them with key members of your team and seek staff feedback on how the temporary workers performed and collaborated with others.
  4. Bring them into the fold. Invite temporary professionals to the same meetings, team lunches and events everyone else attends. Make sure they receive emails and other communication about company news. Remember, they're evaluating your firm as much as you're evaluating them.  
  5. Keep in touch. Regularly check in with temporary employees to answer questions, seek feedback and gauge how things are going with the assignment. If you want to make a full-time employment offer, alert your staffing firm to coordinate details.

The survey was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on telephone interviews with more than 2,200 CFOs from a stratified random sample of companies in more than 20 of the largest U.S. metropolitan areas.
For more on Accountemps, head to their site here.