“Working interviews” may be common — in food service, trucking, dentistry and elsewhere — but that doesn’t make them legal.
Bryan Lazarski was quoted in an HR Dive article on the practice of “working interviews:”
So if a prospective chef prepares a customer’s meal, he or she is providing a free service to the company, Bryan Lazarski, partner at Lazarski Law Practice, explained. “What it boils down to is you can’t use someone to do work for the company and not pay them,” he told HR Dive in an interview.
Still, not every request to demonstrate a task without pay creates problems for employers, Lazarski said. Some exceptions exist.
For jobs like a paramedic’s that requires a training period for general licensure before working, that training doesn’t benefit a singular company, so an employer might have more wiggle room. But contrast that to training that is specific to the needs of a particular company, and an employer may easily cross the line. If the interview tasks are indistinguishable from what the employer does, they should be compensated, Lazarski said.