How to Design a System to Frustrate Job Seekers

The behind-the-scenes decision-making that yields fake job requirements and lousy interviews.


“Listen up, team. Our task is to create a system that will frustrate and perhaps even anger a large number of our organization’s employees, customers, and potential customers. What can we do?”

“Well, we might affect them when they are most vulnerable; say, when they are looking for a job or a promotion.”

[See when HR fails to do its job.]

“That’s very good, Mary. What would you suggest?”

"Inflating the job requirements would be easy. For example, we can put “Three years of experience required,” in all of our recruitment notices for entry-level positions. We can also require degrees when they aren’t really needed.”

“That’s great! Frank, do you have a comment?”

[See 10 rules of E-mail etiquette.]

“Yes, I just want to piggyback on Mary’s ideas and suggest that we use some tests that don’t closely relate to the actual performance of the job. Many people find it hard to challenge a test because exams seem, well, you know, so official. It’s as if we really thought this thing out.”

“I like the way you think, Frank. Let me check this side of the room. Jason, did you have a thought?”

“Just a couple of things. We can fail to train our interviewers and, even better, we can make sure that applicants who clearly deserve an interview don’t get one.”

“Wow! That happened to me when I applied for that spot in operations. The guy who got the job wasn’t even close to me on education and experience. I never even got an interview. Still drives me up the wall. Ellen, did you have something to offer?”

[See why the boss's presence matters.]

“Yes. It’s pretty passive. We recruit and mention stuff in our ad about what a great and caring place we are, but after someone applies, they never hear from us again.”

“Not even an email or a postcard?”

“Nope. Nothing. They’ll be left wondering if they are still a contender or if the job has been filled. You might call it our anti-public relations effort.”

“You all have given me a lot to work with. I think my only problem will be convincing upper management that we should knowingly do all of these things. I know our task was to create a system that frustrates, but if we were to run with this entire package they might think we’re a little crazy.”

Michael Wade writes, an eclectic combination of management advice, observations, and links. A partner with the Phoenix firm of Sanders Wade Rodarte Consulting Inc., he has advised private and public-sector organizations for more than 30 years.


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