Employers…Shut Up & Listen!

A funny thing happened to me about a month ago while applying for a position for employment (not ha-ha “funny” but what the ****? “funny”). Theoretically, it could have been any position but as it happened was one in the social service field, an area where I am experienced, feel very competent, and where I feel compelled to make a social difference in the lives of individuals.

During the application process, I was subjected to 2 different interviews by 2 different sets of individuals. The first 2 individuals were eager to hire me, as the organization was short-staffed and I obviously had had the experience needed to fill the job description. The second 2 individuals were harder to convince of my experience, desires, and/or abilities. For whatever reason, the opinions of the second set of interviewers—those who proved harder to persuade—won out over those who wanted me to be a part of their organization (this has happened to me on several occasions). The difference in how 2 groups of interviewers can view the same person as both a potential organizational asset and an undesired candidate is what I found to be “funny” to me, and left me thinking, What the ****?

As am American citizen, one cannot help but be thankful that we have a great many freedoms, including the freedom of employers to choose whom to hire. But as a social critic, I have to say that there’s something to be said for dictatorships; individual liberties are sacrificed for greater order and general consistency.

As I’ve witnessed firsthand, individuals routinely make questionable choices when allowed to freely choose between what makes sense and/or what is right and what simply feels right. Setting aside the fact that I obviously did not agree with my personal experience with a prospective employer of their not hiring a clearly qualified person based on impressions, I have concluded that people quite often have to be told what’s right and what makes sense, instead of putting faith on the hopes that individuals can make rational as opposed to emotional decisions. It is this level of thinking which compels me to impose my thinking on American employers, and tell them how to apply critical thinking—as opposed to blindly sticking to the old ways for continuity’s sake—to creating a constructive labor environment for all concerned (and say what other employees want to say).

1. Let’s go back to paying people weekly instead of that biweekly (or even monthly) crap…

…especially if people are earning only a subsistence level of pay. Yes, I hear that it’s expensive for companies to cut payroll checks on a weekly basis. But that was mostly during the good ol’ days when people stood in line waiting to be handed a paper check from their supervisor. Today, the majority of payroll funds are transferred electronically. What’s more, even for the few companies which still process paper checks, new federal regulations have made processing by banks near instantaneous. The bottom line is that costs have been reduced to the point where it should be no longer a concern for employers. For employees, since we know that our personal financial obligations are not tied to our biweekly pay schedules, creditors would not be forced to wait to be paid (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people tell me in one form or fashion, “my bills don’t wait, so why should I be forced to wait?”). A secondary advantage of weekly pay schedules is more frequent/weekly pay means more spending. More spending means more buying. More buying means more money put into the economy. More spending, buying, and available money means businesses will get the confidence to invest more. It’s a win-win idea.

2. Don’t hold your (potential) employees to a standard you yourself are not holding.

In the past, I’ve had the misfortune of having worked with and for institutions which simply were flying by the seats of their pants insofar as organization. But I knew good and damned-well if I (or any other non-management) employee had engaged in the same level of disorganization, we would have been given 30-second contracts. If you’re going to use the excuse “we’re only human,” then be willing to accept your employees’ humanity. Absent of out-and-out incompetence, the reality is that people are going to make mistakes. Once again, acknowledge our shared humanity. You as an employer create (and maintain) the type of work environment which is reflected in the employees who work for you. You want good employees; be good employers…it’s that simple!

3. Have some scruples…treat people with respect!

Let’s face it…in the current employers’ market, employees are treated like commodities instead of people. And it’s assumed that people will do what they’re told, no matter how unreasonable and/or questionable, just to hold onto a job…that is until they become the type of ticking time bomb who turns a job site into a crime scene. Employers, treat your employees with respect. Although this is a given, you’d be amazed—or maybe you wouldn’t—at the number of your ilk who treat their pets better than their workers. Acknowledge employees who have the fortitude (not to mention patience) to put up with long hours, hard work, and not-so-always-pleasant circumstances to stick you for years. In other words, show some loyalty to those who are loyal to you! Believe it or not, a “thank you” goes a long ways toward cementing a feeling of appreciation by your employees.

Finally on a side note, acknowledge people who take the time to apply for a position with you. Yes, I know you may receive 500 applications and resumes for a single position. But as people take the time to apply, take the time to thank them instead of ritualizing the rudeness of no reply or response (after all, time is such a precious commodity for everyone)! It takes very little time to set up an e-mail account to give an automatic response to resumes. Use your human resources personnel…have them e-mail acknowledges to faxes or other inquiries.


4. The “Job Interview” is a joke…find a real way of assessing potential employees’ skills!

Question…if you wanted to buy a car, do you simply ask the seller questions about it, or do you get in and take it for a test drive? What about buying a pair of shoes? Do you ask the salesperson about the shoes, or do you try them on before making the purchase? Would you marry someone after a one hour “interview?” If you take the application process to its irrational conclusion, that’s the logic you face.

The truth of the matter is that “job interviews”—as I found out last month—are nothing more than personality assessments…how else could anyone think asking questions and evaluating answers is indicative of (potential) job performance? Think about it. Job seekers send their resumes to prospective employers, who then compile a pool of candidates with similar skills and experiences for a particular position (or two). And the only questions routinely asked during “interviews” (for the most part) are those related to hypothetical scenarios and/or those about previous jobs held. What does any of that have to do with the position being sought? The outdated interview process focuses on abstractions, and has nothing to do with assessing skills; inexplicably, it’s about answers, which never quite seemed to make sense to me. Sure, falling asleep, talking about how one despises his/her mother-in-law, or wearing plaid pants and checkered shirts are signs that one may not quite fit into an employers’ team-building efforts, but what about the individual who fails to pass mustard simply because of some perceived slight or idiosyncrasy which an employer cannot even articulate, but is ruled out for employment out-of-hand anyway? Irrelevant assessments like those by “interviewers” seem to run counter to what should be occurring…hiring someone who’s skills are what the employer needs, and not based on whether two (or more) people can strike up a rapport. As an example, I cite a personal instance a few years back when I was told during one job interview, “I see you’ve had three years of experience doing this same exact (emphasis mine) type of work when you were in college. Well, this job requires more than experience.” What the ****? Experience is not the most important factor in a potential employee? The answer I wanted to give her was, “What more does the job requires then? Kissing your a**?” Again, personality/impression assessment, not skills assessments.

Some interviewers seem to think that they have infallible powers of observations. Reality check…you’re not The Oracle of Delphi, nor are you Jean Grey from the X-Men…you cannot read minds! Just because you’ve had training doesn’t mean that you have superhuman powers of observation. Just because a perspective employee could not form a rapport with you doesn’t mean that he/she could not make another individual fall in love with them. In essence, your personalities are not representative of those of everyone in the world. Nor are they even representative of those of everyone in your organization.

Whether or not a potential applicant for a janitor’s position can give you “great answers” or is personable is no indication that he/she will not leave streaks on your windows or sweep dirt up underneath the carpet instead of throwing it in the waste can. Would not an actual demonstration of their abilities to clean be more relevant? Granted, it would not be the most practical given that currently, there are anywhere between 3-6 applicants for each open position in America, but it certainly makes more sense than “answers” being your primary determinant factor as to whether or not you are truly getting the best (wo)man for the job. Consider tours for perspective employees of your facilities’ physical plant, while prompting in-depth conversations and/or exchanges about particular aspects of the job to see if someone truly knows the job they are applying for? Though not as accurate an assessment as a real demonstration of skills and abilities, it makes more sense than seating someone in a room, asking them indirect and irrelevant questions, creating an atmosphere of artificially-generated nervousness, while someone who’s in all likelihood ill-equipped to “read” someone tries to play Hannibal Lecter, trying to instantly psychoanalyze them and connect how the small, barely noticeable run in her stocking is a positive indication that they will likely lead their company to potential financial ruin (a-la Enron).

Granted, interview workshops and/or classes may improve interviewing skills, that’s about all they do. They do not improve a prospective employee’s sense of responsibility, level of competency, their honesty, ability to be punctual, or their ability to endure managers without diplomatic skills. Nor do interview improving courses change gender, ethnicity, eye color, height, or anything else of substance; they only change the perception of the employer. This seems to indicate that how an employer sees a perspective employee is more important than the actual skills and abilities people bring to a job. Talk about making bad decisions…

And on a final note, please stop expecting people to travel hundreds of miles for an "interview" for a position that they may or may not get. That takes too much time, effort, and money. With gasoline being at upwards of 4 dollars a gallon, that's money that desperate job seekers must chance taking out of their limited household budgets...money which is no doubt earmarked for bills or other (necessary) household expenses. In the current job market, using household funds to travel to distant locales for an "interview" for a position which one may or my not get is tantamount to going to a nearby casino and indulging in games of chance; its a gamble either way. Just as employees must adapt to the new harsh economic realities, so too must (or rather, should) employers. Be willing to consider a telephone interview. After all, you're getting the same person, regardless of whether you imagine them in a Brooks Brothers three-piece suit, a Versace business dress, or a rain barrel (in other words, stop making interviews about image rather than substance. Ted Bundy had charisma. So did Hitler. See the logic?).

The bottom line is that there are no universally personable people in this world. In fact, my father used to tell me that the only universally personable people in the world are usually con artists. And it’s their job to get everyone to “like” them. That’s how they manage to successfully to do their jobs, which is take from you, instead of give to you. As I often tell the at-risk children I work with, decisions should be based on facts, not feelings. If I were an employer trying to choose the best person for the job, what do I care if you don’t like your mother? Are you competent enough to actually do your job, not cause trouble among your fellow employees, educated enough to engage different types of individuals from different backgrounds, and keep my company productive without costing more money? That’s all I’m concerned with, and that’s all you should be concerned with!


See also: "A Criticism of Employers in America")

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Comments 19 comments

delmer47 profile image

delmer47 5 years ago from Nebraska

Wow, great perspective, esp. the idea of being paid weekly, and the job interview. I have heard that discussed before, and I have to say it makes sense. Collaborative work is much better than one having more power than another.


Beyond-Politics profile image

Beyond-Politics 5 years ago from The Known Universe (beyond.the.spectrum@gmail.com) Author

Thank you. Even more so, men and women have very different interview/communication styles. Men communicate to give information/answers or communicate facts. We talk less, as research bears out. Women do so in order to bond or to "get to know someone." They talk more (again, the research bears this out). Why are the majority of human resources personnel women when our communication styles are so differently...which then creates friction in trying to establish an immediate rapport? I know I will receive flack for this, but perhaps men should interview men and women should interview women as a potential solution


KeithTax profile image

KeithTax 5 years ago from Wisconsin

Here is the perspective from an employer's viewpoint:

1.) Biweekly payroll saves money. Employers do not hire to create more busy work. If an employee can't budget their money over a two week period you are not employee material for my company that I built over three decades of late nights, weekends, sweat, and more than one scare that the whole thing would crumble. Employers take risks, but work hard to limit risks. Employees are one of the biggest risks employers take.

2.) Employees are always held to a higher standard. I hire people smarter than me that can do things I don't have time, knowledge, or experience to do. I, as employer, manage the operations of the company. Employees need to do the work required. If an employee does not like this arrangement they can always do what I did, start their own business. Nothing hones one's skills like a few years working for nothing to get the business off the ground. Then you get the pleasure of hearing employees tell you how to run the place never having paid the price to build it in the first place.

3.) Respect is a must both ways. I agree 100% with you on this point. I want my employees happy and comfortable with their job. It increases productivity, profits, and wages for all, including the boss. An employer must show all employees respect at all times regardless of what the employee did or did not do. I personally compliment my employees every day and talk them up with clients. Employees are the life-blood of an organization. They can make it or break it.

4.) The job interview is a fact gathering meeting. Would you hire someone at a cost of $50,000 or more a year (wage/salary, unemployment insurance federal and state, payroll taxes, worker's compensation insurance, training, and benefits?) I am not sure about the two stage interview process, but I ask my head CPA to sit in on all job interviews. I want his input into who I hire because he needs to work with and supervise this new hire. Without the job interview the only thing I have left is the background check. And there is always something in there to deny a job offer for.

Don't let my comments fool you. You have an excellent hub here. The point you make should get people thinking and maybe that new job.


Beyond-Politics profile image

Beyond-Politics 5 years ago from The Known Universe (beyond.the.spectrum@gmail.com) Author

Thank you. And I appreciate an employer's perspective. I could tell you personal war stories insofar as the "interview" process, so I will agree to disagree with you on this one. And you're right. As I've told the kids I work with, reading should be done as a means to gather information, inform, or entertain (and not "escape"). If one reads without at least having his/her thoughts and beliefs challenged (and/or possibly changed), then the writer has done his job, and the reader isn't using an open mind.


Former HR Woman. 5 years ago

I used to work in human resources, and I hate to admit that you have valid points. Many of the professionals I worked alongside excluded potentially good people simply because of some feeling or hunch about the person that they got they was in all probability unfounded. Other times, it was focusing on things like clearing the throat one time too many. "Testing" all applicants is not practical or realistic but there has to be a better way of testing an applicants skills. Thank you.


dmc010409 profile image

dmc010409 5 years ago from NJ

Great hub! I especially love your perspectives on job interviews, so true. I've thought this about interviews and even resumes. Sure you need both of them - but there should definitely be more. Is there a reason why they can't have an hour on the floor or in the office? My former employer did this. As part of my second interview, I was brought to the office I would be working in if I got the job, and was left to talk with and observe one of the employees. It gave the interviewers a different perspective of me - and gave me a clearer idea of job expectations.


Beyond-Politics profile image

Beyond-Politics 5 years ago from The Known Universe (beyond.the.spectrum@gmail.com) Author

Thank you DMC. It's nice to know that there are some Americans out here who can see/think beyond blind adherence to the "traditional" way of doing things.


BusinessTime profile image

BusinessTime 5 years ago from Twin Cities

Amazing, amazing resource. Sometimes people in positions of authority just need a gentle reminder of what their parents told them when they were children: respect others and be responsible!


Beyond-Politics profile image

Beyond-Politics 5 years ago from The Known Universe (beyond.the.spectrum@gmail.com) Author

Thank you Business Time. Not only that, but they need to be reminded that there is a level of reality outside of HR-thinking.


Joebo Ona Comia profile image

Joebo Ona Comia 5 years ago from Saudi Arabia

its quite nice that I read your article, I personally had experiences from job interviews, I had a job interview in the city and its about 150 km away from my home but I managed to go their hoping to have the job because I am well equipped with technical knowledge and experience but to my amazement, the interviewer based the acceptance criteria for private schools and university only, I am shocked because I graduated from a Polytechnic Public College. The thing that really reaches my nerve was asking me the location of our school. I just asked for a piece of white paper sketched the future international port and shown that it was 2 kms away from my alma mater.

From that experienced, it made me stronger to faced those kind of interviewers.


Cube Jesters profile image

Cube Jesters 4 years ago from United States

Excellent Hub! Enjoyed reading about the interview process and couldn't agree with you more... it's completely outdated and mostly doesn't work all that well. (Then again, we've been thankful we weren't offered some jobs we've interviewed for in the past.) :)


Beyond-Politics profile image

Beyond-Politics 4 years ago from The Known Universe (beyond.the.spectrum@gmail.com) Author

Thank you Cube. Job "interviews" are the biggest crock? of sh** in the world; they're nothing more than personality assessments. There is no earthly reason that anyone with half a brain cannot look at your resume & determine whether or not you have the skills to do a job...answering irrelevant questions determines nothing other than how well you answer questions. If I were being looked at as a candidate for window washer, how does answering question let one know that I wont leave streaks on the windows.


Frustratedvetguy profile image

Frustratedvetguy 4 years ago from St. Louis

Good article. I share many of the same agitations you do about job hunting in regards to what I think employer's should do differently. A resume' and a short interview I think should be enough to determine whether or not someone is qualified or not qualified for that job. Not even 2 or more interviews should be needed either. If a HR person is interviewing someone and the actual person who makes the decision to hire is out of town, wait until he is back into town and do the interview together. Not make the candidate come back for a 2nd interview (if they even get one) and waste more time and resources to potentially NOT get that job. That person maybe well qualified with a good outlook on life but not get the job because of some perceived inappropriate attitude or look imagined up by the interviewer. HR personnel in general are like robots anyways and are HORRIBLE people for making hiring decisions on any level.


Beyond-Politics profile image

Beyond-Politics 4 years ago from The Known Universe (beyond.the.spectrum@gmail.com) Author

Thank you so much for reading.


MasculistFeminist profile image

MasculistFeminist 3 years ago from Australia

Great article. Particularly agree with points two and three. I love how employers harp on about loyalty and how they complain about how gen Y workers are so quick to jump ship. Seriously! Perhaps they should take a look in the mirror. The only difference between gen Y and the older generations is we have seen companies time and time again screw over our honest hardworking parents to cut costs. The message is clear, the psychological contract no longer exists. So young people are acting accordingly. If companies want loyalty, how about treating us like human beings rather commodities that can simply be replaced. I watched a movie not longer called "The Corporation" (which can be found on YouTube). I highly recommend people watch it. We treat companies like they are people under the law and yet they are immortal entities that have no moral compass whatsoever. Under the DSM-IV (now V) if companies really were people, they would be sociopaths. The rationale is that if something has no dollar value, it has no value at all. Of course what all these neoliberal profit seekers forget, is that the free market cannot factor in all the information to properly value goods, services, people and so forth. We have an information gap. Friedman's philosophy simply does not work in the real world, because in the real world markets are not perfect.


monas1418 3 years ago

Again, another home run, this hub is on it! I work for a major Non- for profit organization, they are sooo stuck in the box, they will never move towards the 21st century, the reason being they would rather hire incompentcy than, any type of diversity or anyone who has different ideas, they dont know how to manage within or cultivate what they already have. They will hire thier friends, or as they say its not what you know but who!! really this is a major problem across the board wih companies and organizations.. I would love to read a hub by you on affirmative action and so called quotas. I look forward to your next piece of genuis.


Beyond-Politics profile image

Beyond-Politics 3 years ago from The Known Universe (beyond.the.spectrum@gmail.com) Author

Thank you. I remember some years ago I was living in an area of the country where the potential employee pool was dry to say the least...and I knew that my background placed me at a premium insofar as potential employees. I applied for a job at a well-known nationwide home improvement chain store. I had already had one interview, and was called back for a second. I just knew I had the low-level position in the bag. I was an African-American with a highly-educated background (although I watered this down to indicate that I only had an associates degree). I possessed a spotless Commercial Drivers License (Class A), no criminal record, could pass any drug test (a non-drinker/smoker/drug-user), and I knew my nearest potential competition was nowhere NEAR me in being such an articulate complete package. After the 2nd interview, I wasn't given the position. The next time I walked into the store, I saw 70 & 80 year-old women, and teenage boys with their pants sagging working there. THAT'S why I think job interviews are BS...and there is no excuse, justification, or explanation that anyone can give me that can explain away that insanity!


monas1418 3 years ago

they are big time, when it's all said and done it's about expierence and work ethic, alot of are not going to do no more than we have to and that's how these companies like it..medicore!!


Mr-Man 3 years ago

Since when did it become more important to judge a job applicant by "how they look" rather than what they can actually do? I'm sure resumes and appearances aren't that important for these same American companies who hire offshore or relocate overseas. Only Americans are put under such scrutiny as an applicant.

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