On the Evolution of Work Systems in the Digital Economy
Interviewing, Selecting, and the Lying Game
I know all there is to know about the lying game. I’ve had my share of the lying game!
That was cheesy, I know. Seriously though, from pretending to work, to pretending to like your job, to pretending to be interested in the job you’re interviewing for, appearances matter a lot within our current system. Like they say, appearances can be deceiving. As someone who’s been on both sides of the interviewing and selection process, I’ll share my thoughts on this issue and touch upon technological advances that may change the process of interviewing and candidate selection in the future.
Faking enthusiasm and interest in a job is an issue that spurs healthy debate. On the one hand people have learned that, with the job market being the way it is right now, you can’t be too picky. Many out there would agree that it’s important to “pull out all the stops” to get a job, any job, in order to put food on the table and keep a roof over your head. A friend told me that the “fake it until you make it” strategy sometimes works. He explained that an applicant might start off faking enthusiasm and interest when first interviewing for the job but then develop genuine enthusiasm and interest later down the road. “Alright,” I conceded, “However, what if you have two candidates: one is genuinely interested and the other is only acting interested. Wouldn’t you want a way to tell the the one who is genuine from the pretender?” His response was interesting. He stated that the one faking it is still attractive because people who are willing to bend and shape themselves in whatever manner to earn your approval are more easily molded.
If you’re anything like me however, you tend to resist social pressure to be untrue to yourself. Moreover, your wish to maintain your identity overrides your desire to flex your acting skills in interview situations. This is challenging in the face of loved ones trying to coerce you into saying the prescribed, correct lines in order to land that interview for the job that you don’t really want and live a life of normalcy. Somehow I just can’t bring myself to fake, “I believe in the mission and values of your organization!” with enthusiasm. The pressure to do so and the hoops you must jump in order to make a living often reminds me of this classic Star Trek scene:
My friend has a point. Longtime friends and loved ones as well as certain members of the Unification Church (who tried to recruit me during my college days) would attest to the fact that I’ve been anything but malleable. Despite my general unwillingness to bend and “put on a good show” however, there are times when I’ve wondered if someone who had more of a passion for the job I had taken would’ve been selected if I had not applied. All else being equal (e.g., knowledge, abilities, and skill-set), I can’t help but wish that the candidate who has more passion for the work is selected.
At this time, the process of interviewing and selecting the right person for the job remains largely subjective as Wendell Williams, founder and managing director of Scientific Selection, notes (in The Science of Hiring):
Although many managers who conduct numerous interviews say they are apt judges of character and abilities, “the truth is that many of them are the weak links in the hiring chain because they do not know how to conduct the kind of interviews that reveal a candidate’s suitability for a specific job,” Williams said.
Too many hiring managers rely on gut instincts to determine if a candidate is right for the job, a practice that has no place in effective recruiting and hiring,” added Williams.
There is a push to develop more scientific means of selection however. Advances in technology are promising more objective, scientifically valid selection tools. Synthetic Validity is being developed for this very purpose. Job simulations are another example. Moreover, just think about the possible applications of the following technologies:
- As mentioned in this previous post, we’ll see the emergence of technologies that can track fluctuating changes in brains and bodies with respect to emotional reactions.
- Face-reading software being developed promise to outperform people (Face-reading software to judge the mood of the masses)
Technology is a double-edged sword of course. As a strong privacy advocate, the potential for abuse of technologies that can read internal reactions is quite apparent to me. As we march forward into the future, we will have to establish the manner in which they should be used. For example, under what conditions does use of such technologies violate our notions of good discretion and responsibility? These are issues that we need to be discussing today.
P.S. This is for those who are unfamiliar with the song referenced at the beginning of this post.
Also, stay tuned for news about the upcoming Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013 video conference on enhancing collaboration of virtual teams!
These educational video conference series are geared towards organizational leaders wishing to learn more about improving collaboration and productivity through the use of online tools. Visit the Better Collaboration website or the Better Collaboration meetup page for more information!