For years, social scientists have been arguing that a job interview does not work. In fact, they claim that as a tool for picking the best candidates, it’s almost entirely useless. Despite this, companies continue the trend — and job seekers are forced to play along. Over the years, I’ve been through several interviews, but these three are forever locked in my memory.
Too Young To Know Better
In my first significant job interview after high school, I aced the interview, in large part because my cousin already worked there, so I was offered a job. The problem, for me though, was it started on Monday just five days away. During the interview, I had already exposed the fact I was not working anywhere, but I still explained that I would like to start a week from Monday since I had planned a trip out west to visit a girlfriend.
“Feel free to visit her,” the man offering the job said, “but I can’t promise the job will be here when you get back.”
I retracted my request and took the position.
Poor Judge of Character
During my mid-30s, I decided to leave a newspaper job and dive into technical writing. Even though I had made it to the second round of interviews for a technical writing position, I was not able to land the position because the interviewer felt I was a ”quitter.”
He noticed on my resume that 10 years earlier, I had been a youth minister at a local church, and in the course of conversation he inquired about why I left the ministry. When I explained that my beliefs had changed and that the only honest thing to do was quit, he wasn’t satisfied.
So after the failed interview, I revised my resume so I would not have to deal with any religious-themed questions again.
It’s All Politics
Some companies work best, it seems, under a veneer of honesty by following the letter of the law and not its intent. One company where I worked seemed to draft job openings this way — by writing job descriptions with an individual in mind and then skirting around moral and ethical issues by encouraging everyone to apply.
Knowing all this, I still ventured out, applying for a role that for all intents and purposes had been promised to someone else. I did not get the position, but I walked away with one of the greatest lines I’ve ever heard in an interview. When all the various changes for the role that had occurred In the month between the job posting and my interview were explained to me, I was told,
“The job has evolved since it was posted.”
After I walked out of the interview, I had barely sat down at my desk when the email went out announcing who had been hired for the role. With it came a life-changing lesson, in a political environment aligning yourself with those in power is all that matters.