Recruiting Season

Sandy thought back on her first exposure to GreatBig Industries. It was almost five years ago. She quickly made Regional Manager and recently promoted to VP. It began with her walking brightly into the GreatBig Industries employment office in 1999. She had been called two weeks earlier to arrange an interview. Not that it was so easy. First she sent a resume that outlined her qualifications. It was a normal resume. Nothing special, just the basics of her work experience and education. She laughed when she recalled how she thought GreatBig might be a nice place to work, but was really more committed to finding a job. That was before she spoke with Nancy. Nancy, the recruiter, was different from all the other people she had spoken with. After a few minutes of chatting and getting acquainted, Nancy began to ask extremely thorough and probing questions. Each question was structured around a format that seemed to discover her basic skills. It wasn’t the “tell me about yourself” kind of question. It began with open-ended questions like “Give me an example of a time when you…” Then followed up with probing questions to pin down details like, “What did you do?,” and, “What was the result?” Every time Sandy used the term “we,” Nancy probed to discover “who.” It was extremely difficult to fake any answers, because Nancy used some really professional techniques to get examples. It was the thoroughness and professionalism of the interview that set GreatBig apart from the other interviews she had. When she arrived at the corporate office, everyone seemed helpful and friendly – even the people in the elevator. “This is a nice change,” she thought, “These people seem professional without being stuffy.” She was warmly greeted by the receptionist who invited her to have a seat. “Everything here is electronic,” the receptionist explained, “Here is a laptop computer for you to use while you are waiting to meet with Mr. Resource. It contains an application and some questionnaires that will help us learn more about your skills in the short time we have together. It’s our way of giving everyone the best chance to present his or her skills for the job. Just take a seat in any one of those study areas, turn the computer on and it does the rest. Most folks take about 45 to 55 minutes. I’ll be at the desk if you need help.” “This is interesting,” thought Sandy as she walked over to one of the soft chairs, plugged in the laptop and turned it on. After a few seconds of whirring and beeping, the screen lit up with the GreatBig logo and the words, “Good Morning. Welcome to GreatBig. Please use the keyboard to enter your name. Press ‘Enter’ when you are done.” Sandy typed in her name and pressed Enter. The disk whirred and the screen refreshed. “Hello, Sandy. According to my information, you are applying for the Account Executive position. If this is correct, press Enter. If this is not correct please return to the receptionist.” “Whoa! Will you look at this!” Sandy, thought as she pressed Enter. The disk whirred. The screen refreshed. “Welcome to the GreatBig recruitment center, Sandy. We are pleased to welcome you as our guest today. Before we begin, our founder has a few words for you.” The words faded and the image appeared of a professional, caring person with a warm friendly face. “Welcome to our company. GreatBig was founded ……,” Sandy listened to the short introduction which outlined some basic information about GreatBig, it’s mission, and the vision of its founder. She also heard about its benefits, the GreatBig environment and the kind of work she would be doing. The founder ended with, “and so, we have prepared some questions that will help us get to know you better….” The screen faded and an application blank appeared. Sandy’s resume information was already filled in. “Sandy, please review this information for accuracy, change it where necessary and complete the remaining questions. Thank You.” “Even the computer is polite and professional,” she chuckled. Sandy checked the information and made a few minor edits, but it was the rest of the application form that intrigued her. There were questions about her problem solving competencies, her planning ability, her skills with people, and a list of things she liked and disliked in a job. “Brother, this is thorough ,” she thought. None of the questions were the least bit personal or invasive, just job related and skill-based. “I wonder what they are looking for,” she thought, “It seems like they want to measure every aspect of my ability. I could have never covered this much information in an interview.” Completing the application blank took ten minutes. Sandy spent another ten minutes completing some open-ended questions, ten minutes completing a test of motivations, interests and attitudes and fifteen minutes completing a short problem-solving test. What Sandy did not know was that the application form was much more sophisticated than she ever could have imagined. Under each carefully prepared question was data gathered from hundreds of people employed in GreatBig’s current workforce. To arrive at the questions, data from both high and low performers were examined to determine patterns of job trends, motivations, interests, and attitudes, as well as depth and breadth of critical skill sets – all scored using extremely sophisticated artificial intelligence algorithms. There was nothing “personal” involved, or any illegal questions, just a thorough and impartial evaluation of Sandy’s skills for the position. Sandy returned the laptop to the receptionist. “Whew, that was thorough!” she said. “Yes, I thought so too, when I took it. You know the program is different for each position.” “Really? There are five thousand people in GreatBig! ‘You have five thousand separate tests?” “No,” the receptionist laughed, “We organize all our job titles into ‘families’ that require similar competencies. Can you believe it? Five thousand jobs can be reduced to only about twelve different families. You should see the ones for senior management positions! They are really tough!” “I’ll bet! If they were anything like the ones I completed…..” The receptionist pressed a few keys, the laptop computed Sandy’s results and saved it to a disk. She removed the disk just as Hume Resource opened his door. “Sandy? I’m Hume Resource. It’s so nice to meet you. I hope we have been treating you well. Would you like to take a break before we move on the to next round?” Hume reminded Sandy of a game show host. “No, thanks. I’m ready! And, I’d like to buy a vowel for $100, Pat!” Sandy quipped. They both laughed as Sandy and Hume went into his office and closed the door. (To Be Continued)

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