Paul DeCamp, Member of the Firm in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the firm’s Washington, DC office, was mentioned in HR Dive, in “Resource Actions: Would You Pay a Candidate for Time Spent Interviewing?” by Ryan Golden and Kathryn Moody.

Following is an excerpt:

Ryan Golden: As an employer, you (hopefully) know about your obligations to pay employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act and applicable state and local laws. After all, it’s common sense to pay employees for the time they spend at your worksite doing work for your business, right?

Yet, the application process also involves a great deal of work on the part of candidates, from putting together a resume to contacting old colleagues for references to travel on the day of the interview, and everything in between. Should that work be compensable?

Kathryn Moody: The notion of fairness at the heart of that question is one reason why Racquel Coral’s tweet and subsequent blog post went viral at the end of September. Coral was paid $150 for her time spent on her application and the interview process, including a “final project,” for a job she ultimately did not land.

It’s one of those moves that makes you think “oh wait, yeah … it would be nice to be paid for that, wouldn’t it?” Because interviews (at least in the pre-COVID market) have only gotten longer, with zero guarantee of the outcome — and sometimes with zero guarantee you’ll even know your status with the company at the end of it, as Coral wrote in her blog post.

“As I went through the retweets and comments, I saw where some people stated that they have gone through 6, 7, 8, all the way up to 12 rounds,” she wrote. “Can you imagine the investment that was put into constantly showing up and putting their best foot forward, to impress different groups of people, for one job, only to not even receive a simple thank you?”

Ryan Golden: The “final stage project” Coral mentioned touches on another subject: interview homework. I still remember the moment when, in my junior year of college, a hiring manager asked me to complete a “homework assignment” in the middle of an on-site interview for a summer internship. “Wait, they can do that?,” I thought.

Indeed, such take-home assignments have become a common practice, particularly in industries like software development, according to a 2018 article from the Society for Human Resource Management. Similarly, “working interviews,” in which candidates perform the same duties they would do on the job, are relatively common in fields like fine dining and dentistry.

Depending on their nature, however, these assignments might also cause some wage-and-hour compliance headaches, particularly if they contain some form of economic benefit for the employer, Paul DeCamp, partner at Epstein Becker Green, told HR Dive last year. DeCamp also explored a variety of options in such situations, including: hiring candidates for a probationary period; asking them to complete hypothetical tasks; or simply paying them for their time spent participating in a task-related interview.

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