Wednesday, January 6, 2016

I'm Online Though Not Necessarily On Board

Interviewing.  It’s not the same process it was ten years ago.
I would venture to say it’s not even the same process it was a year ago. From my recollections, I think we’re somewhere around the sixth iteration in overall methods, which reflection merits a trip in the “Remember When” Machine. 
Sit back, kids, and let me provide you with an ever-so-brief overview of … the interview.
Remember When…
You stopped by a business where you, or your parents, knew the owner, and you filled out a job application so brief it looked more like a W-2? Version 1.0.
This application was just a formality because your folks had already begged the owner to give you a job/income as you were closing in on your eighteenth birthday which was tantamount to a ticking clock, or time bomb. Then you were interviewed and hired on the spot.
Alas, babyboomers, if-not-the-greatest-generation-then-certainly-the-largest, moved out of their hometowns.
Those crazy kids couldn’t wait to:
  1. a) go out and find their bliss b) apply for those newfangled credit cards; and c) get away from their parents.
Because Then…Remember When…
Version 2.0. You looked for a job in the newspaper and made a multitude of appointments with business owners to talk about why they should hire you? This created situations where you showed up ready to speak with total strangers about prospective jobs you didn’t have the foggiest idea how to do, much less get. Fortunately, bravado was very much a valued commodity back in the day, so you were hired on the spot.
(I’m sure you’ve seen these newspapers of which I speak, displayed in the streetside Smithsonian Institute that is a newspaper stand. It’s the American version of the British red telephone box.)
Computers made their way out of military facilities and onto the open market by virtue of a couple of wild-haired, brainy entrepreneurs who may not have gotten the girls, but they did get the last laugh.
Because then…Remember When…
Version 3.0. You created a document known as a résumé touting your sundry skills and life-changing accomplishments, so business owners would call you to make an appointment?
These were mailed via the good ‘ole U.S. mail which ensured employment of at least half of the 307,490 mail carriers out there, if not your own.   
This résumé (curriculum vitae in fancy talk) was a one-page fabrication turning activities like mowing the lawn into colorfully scripted terms such as “self-employed landscape artist.”  It was considered cutting edge, employment-seeking technology back in the eighties resulting in several scheduled interviews. After saying they would get back to you, at least one employer nearly always did.
Then the crazy computer fad caught on with a vengeance and now every employer expected that slick homage to creative writing.
As it turns out, a multitude of people who might not have been stellar employees were stellar writers ensuring a mega volume of material, so the multi-tiered interview process skidded onto the scene.
Because Then…Remember When…
Version 4.0. You sent out your résumé, got a call from the prospective employer who scheduled your first interview, you were interviewed, and then if they liked you, really liked you, the callback resulted in the second interview?
This was so successful that a small, but powerful group of prospective employers decided if candidates were willing to be interviewed twice, perhaps being interviewed by twice as many people would also go over. Thus, the interview by committee was born. In this version you were hired at the end of your second interview.
Change Was a Comin’…
Version 5.0.  You were contacted by a Human Resources Specialist of some flavor who scheduled your phone/in-person interview. Usually there were two people calling/interviewing you, and then for your second interview the interviewing team would have doubled in size again.
Version 5.0 features this group interview scenario requiring a preponderance of qualification from the interviewee. While the résumé provided the golden ticket for entry the parallel to Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory doesn’t end there. You were expected to “tour the factory” and watch out for the hot chocolate river...metaphorically speaking.
At the outset it was a bit of a sticky wicket because you were being interviewed by multiple people rendering eye contact challenging. In fact, keeping up with the multiple questioners made you look as though you had a stigmatism, or something to hide. Additionally, your body language became challenging as your attempts to turn toward the interrogating party turned into an aerobic interlude.
You were rewarded for tenacity because after your battery of interviews you were invited to join the team.
And this brings us to modern-day interviewing. Every prospective employer knows we will comply with just about any request to score that all-important interview. (Three hundred and fifty words about why you feel you’re perfect for the job, anyone?)
Because Now…
Version 6.0. Duhn-Duhn-Duhn: You have the advent of online job listings, applications, assessments, and communications.
We are firmly in the eye of the perfect storm that represents the online component-ness of everything. Consequently, I’m not sure at what point in the process you’ll get hired, but do interview up.
It is de rigueur to fill-out online applications mirroring the concise master’s thesis that is your aesthetically pleasing résumé.   
However, you are also likely to be asked to complete a cognitive assessment, a personality assessment, a response to possible workplace scenarios, and/or an essay responding to a prompt that is a variation of that English class standard “What did you do over your summer vacation?“ which is “Why do you want to work for our company?”
They are all online and you must be quick-thinking, quick-typing, unique, collaborative, and genuine, often at the same time, all within approximately 15 minutes.
May your sessions not time out before you're finished.
Vaya con résumé.

Diane Dean-Epps lives and works in northern California, teaching English to Generation Y-ME?! in real time and writing books in her spare time, to wit:  Maternal Meanderings (Humor), Last Call (Humorous Mystery), KILL-TV (Humorous Mystery), Quiet Boundaries (Poetry), and I’ll Always Be There For You…Unless I’m Somewhere Else?!  (Humor). Her numerous essays have appeared in a variety of publications, including MORE magazine, NPR’s This I Believe, The San Francisco ChronicleThe Sacramento Business Journal, and Sacramento magazine. Her blog may be found at:

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