Why What We Know Should Be Given Equal Status To Who We Know

I have been reading about the difficulties of getting permanent employment in teaching (a job which I am definitely the wrong type of person to apply for) because schools apparently have a habit of employing people who the Management know personally instead of going for the most qualified people.

This got me thinking.  Applying for jobs can be a soulcrushing exercise in futility.  Apparently there is a list of “buzzwords” which have to appear on CVs these days before you even get on the “possibilities” pile.  This is before you realise that there are certain companies who you can almost put money on having someone in mind for the job you are applying for.

There are certain questions which I have come to hate in job interviews (as well as a couple which I have been asked but it would be illegal to ask me now – I almost laughed when I heard them).

“Are you adaptable?” – Try not to ask me this.  You have just left yourself open to an explanation of exactly how adaptable I have had to be in order to arrive at your premises.  This is especially dangerous if I have had to travel in bright sunshine (for the record – bright lights make me mentally tired very quickly – if I was a plant my label would read “Keep Out Of Direct Sunshine Unless Absolutely Necessary”).

“What are your strengths and weaknesses?”  Hmm – what I would consider to be my biggest strength is the exact thing you would consider to be my biggest weakness.  My sight problem ensures that I am non-judgemental, adaptable, self-contained, etc.

And the two questions which would be illegal now?

(In a factory with bright yellow lines on the floor the approximate width of a car tyre) – interviewer points to line on floor – “Can you see that line?”

(In an interview in an office on the first floor of a building) “How will you get downstairs?” Well – I have two options.  I can either throw myself out of the window or I can go the same way as I came up them – if a little slower.  (Before you ask – no I didn’t say that although I was extremely tempted to.)

Forget asking about films, biscuits, and other obscure “trendy” questions.  What can I bring to your Company????  A “Sideways” view of life, Creativity, Sideways thinking, Openmindedness.

There is one question I wish interviewers would ask – “What do you think this job will give you?”

It is all very well asking what the applicant can give to the employer but surely it should be a two way street???  I am not talking about the financial rewards, etc.  I am talking about the difference between how a job applicant can read a job description and the actual job itself.  I have been in job interviews where I have applied for one job and felt like I have been interviewed for a totally different one.

One final thing – if you insist on using an “Unequal Opportunities” Questionnaire please ensure that you treat the “Do you consider yourself Disabled?” question with the respect it deserves.  This is not supposed to be a way of weeding out the “undesireables” from the Application process.  As for the question about what sort of “reasonable adjustments” I may need to do the job???  Sorry, I do not have a crystal ball handy – nor do I have prior knowledge of the layout of your premises.  Besides which – your definition of “reasonable adjustments” and my definition may be two completely different things.

(“Do you have practical knowledge of the Disability Discrimination – or Equalities – Act?” – Yes thanks – Not only that but I have probably found at least two examples of your Company breaking it without you realising it.  However, seeing as we are in an interview situation I cannot tell you about them.)

The Disabled person you interview for your vacancy may not be the most highly qualified candidate but they will probably be the most useful member of your staff if you have the courage to let them ply to their strengths.

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