Jun. 10, 2021 1:53 pm

Generocity community responds to Vu Le post on paying interview-stage job applicants

According to the founder of Nonprofit AF, to increase equity, we need to start paying job candidates for their time. The readers who shared their experiences with us agree.

How many hours did you spend on that presentation for your last interview?

(Photo by Surface on Unsplash)

Nonprofit AF‘s Vu Le often writes thoughtfully provocative pieces looking at  practices and workplace culture in the nonprofit world. His latest post is a great example.

In it, Le writes that practices like putting job applicants through numerous rounds of interviews, conducting hours-long interviews for which candidates are asked to create PowerPoint presentations or prepare marketing or development plans for the hiring organization, are disrespectful of an applicants’ time and expertise — and perpetuate inequity.

Instead, Le proposes that nonprofits pay the candidates that make it to the interview stage — for each round of interviews and for any special assignments they are asked to fulfill for the interview.

According to Caroline Imhoff, the recruiting director at Artisan Talent who is quoted in a The Cut article on the topic of paying interviewees, only about 20% of companies pay candidates for the work they do as part of an interview, even though she tries to push companies to pay them

The article goes on to report that Lucy Marino Thomas, a recruiter for the  human-resources consulting firm Robert Half, “has a policy of paying candidates for test projects out of her own budget when she’s trying to recruit them for a client.”

Ryan Golden and Kathryn Moody, writing for HRDive (which Le cites), say that while take-home assignments and “working interviews” have become common practices in some industries, “there may be worries on the candidate side that all the work put into such projects may end up being used by the employer despite it passing on the candidate.”

From our Partners

That is how it seemed to one of the members of Generocity‘s community who shared their response to Le’s column.

“I was reminded that I applied for an executive director position with Habitat for Humanity in Montco in 2013. As a finalist, the board asked me to prepare a fundraising plan and to bring enough copies of the document for the interviewing board members. They wanted unique solutions,” the community member (who asked for their name to be withheld) wrote in an email. “I wanted the job and complied. I felt that I was being used to help advance the organization without compensation and without my consent.”

And the time required by these interview assignments can impact an organization’s reputation. According to the HRHive article, “employers can’t afford to create a bad candidate experience, even in strange times like these. Bad experiences drive candidates away, surveys have shown. And negative recruiting experiences, according to an Indeed survey from March 2019, include a lack of respect for a candidate’s time.”

Another of our community members spoke to just that in her response to the topic.

“Five years ago, I was asked to prepare a presentation for a second job interview. I spent hours researching and even purchased a book for my presentation. I had to make the presentation in front of about seven or eight of the organization’s employees and had to supply materials for them all,” Janice Tosto told us via email. “I got the job, but felt that the process was unfair and frankly, a waste.”

Tosto’s interview experience since then has been much better.

“In my current position, I had two interviews with no presentation needed. My program is thriving.”

“I agree with Vu Le,” she added.

At the end of his post, Le writes, “It’s time for change. Let’s stop treating people like puppets. Let’s make gratitude a two-way street. And let’s make compensating job candidates a common equity practice.”


Want to see your opinions and responses quoted in Generocity stories? Join our active newsletter community where these discussions originate. Subscribe here (it’s free).


From our Partners

A Generocity update, and our 2023 editorial calendar

What to do when your nonprofit’s rep is taking a beating

By sunsetting, the Douty Foundation makes a strong case for limited-life philanthropy



Meet Kim Andrews, new executive director for The Fund for Women and Girls

hybrid / Philadelphia


Community Narrative Journalist and Engagement Specialist

Apply Now
2771 Ruth Street, Suite 1 Philadelphia, PA 19134

New Kensington Community Development Corporation (NKCDC)

Housing Advisor

Apply Now
2771 Ruth Street, Suite 1 Philadelphia, PA 19134

New Kensington Community Development Corporation (NKCDC)

Director of Housing Services

Apply Now

6 things we know about you

Adult learners need digital literacy, too

How to create a CSR initiative built to last



Be the leader to bring a 26-year mission into the future in Chester County

Hamilton, NJ

Grounds For Sculpture

Graphic Designer

Apply Now

Pennsylvania Horticultural Society

Director, LandCare

Apply Now

Community Legal Services

Chief Equity & Inclusion Officer

Apply Now

Subscribe to Generocity

* indicates required