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Maybe making the 'extended interview' process more formal would be a good thing.

Formally have an internal 'contract' worker process where anyone they might want can be hired in to a trial pool, and projects can bring in the trial worker for small things quickly (maybe writing unit tests, or a fresh set of eyes, etc).

Every month review performance, make a decision to offer job as X, keep on for another month, or let go.

As a different part of this, alternating weekends might also be a more focused part of this, let someone that ALREADY has a job have a similar trial process on just some weekends, maybe with a more remote-work focus.

Why in the world would anyone be interested in doing this? Companies are competing for talent, not the other way around.

Because there are people out there looking for work. It's not trivial for all programmers to find a job. I am in particular really awful at the entire applying and interviewing process (except funny little algorithms problems, I can kill those). It's a stressful, amorphous blob of everything I hate.

What the parent of your comment describes sounds a lot like a specific kind of contract-to-hire, which if it's done well can be really effective. I get to show off that I can actually develop software well, a company gets to judge me on more than just an hour (or maybe a day) of questioning.

Unfortunately it can be pretty exploitative if done wrong. It's easy for it to become an unending period of low-paid work where you're just hoping that one day it'll turn into a real job.

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