The other day I went into town for a job interview, and to tell the truth it was a nice day for it. It was hot, and I felt a little dehydrated hiking up a massive hill from the train station, but at least I could ride those endorphins through their screening process.
With a handshake the guy tells me I will hear back from them by lunchtime the next day, and in typical form they avoid calling me. Instead I get this email:
- Dear Jonathan,
Thank you for your interest in our company and for the time you invested with us. At this stage your application has been unsuccessful. We would like to wish you every success in your future endeavours.
Not that it really bothers me at this stage. I have sat through so many interviews that I care little about the outcome. I have a condition called Asperger's syndrome. It is best described as a social learning disability that manifests itself in failure to read and synchronize with people properly.
Individuals like myself tend to be highly introverted, unsociable, and thus unlikely to excel in interviews. In fact, the most successful of us tend to find their place in professions that demand little interaction — like programming or accounting — which play to our overly logical brains.
Yet here I was being interviewed for a telemarketing role, and the fellow in front of me was asking what achievement I was most proud of. My answer was, put simply, that I can now feel completely at ease with sitting opposite to a person in power - something that took me years to master over the course of many sales and marketing roles (the first of which was rather traumatising).
On reflection, I probably shouldn't have said that. After all, social skills are supposed to be something you take for granted, not something you had to work your ass off to possess at all. And I bet he merely wanted a stock answer about hitting sales targets or completing my university degree. But then why wouldn't he want to know that I had the character to keep going instead of giving up?
The truth is that modern job interviews are just one symptom of a society that does not value depth. The practice has a lot in common with torture. The person in power asks the subject questions in the hope of getting particular answers and this in turn leads to the subject saying what they think they want to hear. A practice that was originally designed to judge a person's moral character has come to be a game where participants bluff about their attributes for a chance to win.