Even It Up!

Shifting the balance for jobseekers

Archive for December 2008

Interviewing the boss

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Even It Up! is concerned that job interviews are generally a one-way conversation, with the workplace tending to control the process. Candidates have little, if any, opportunity to find out what the workplace they are seeking to work in is really like. Sure, candidates can download an annual report from the internet, or visit the workplace before the interview, but none of these will give any real indication about the workplace culture.   Generally, jobseekers don’t really find out about what a place is like until they work there.  The interview process is, however, usually quite telling.

At Even It Up! we think it’s time to shift the balance and urge candidates to interview their bosses, and check their references and credentials before accepting a position. It may save heartache for everyone concerned, and save time, money and effort in the long term.

But how do you go about interviewing the boss? Clearly, you ask for the interview either in your own interview, or when the position is offered to you. If the boss is not keen, consider that they have something to hide. If they don’t want to set up another interview time, clearly they are not flexible, or forward-thinking in their approach. Would you really want to work for that sort of workplace anyway?

When the boss has agreed to the interview, come prepared with questions covering the areas you would like more information about. For example, you may be interested in:

  •  how the boss deals with conflict; 
  • what workforce planning takes place and how often; 
  • what the expectations are regarding hours worked; 
  • whether the boss is a people person; 
  • how flexible the workplace really is; 
  • how organised the workplace is; 
  • how often strategic planning occurs and who is involved; 
  • what management and leadership development programs are in place;
  • how initiative is rewarded; 
  • how team work is supported; 
  • what your operational budget 
  • whether communication follows an open or closed model.

Ask for references and actually check them. Find out whether the referee enjoys working the in business, and if they have left, if they would work for the boss again. It’s crucial to also find out why they left.

It may be confronting for the boss because of the perceived shift in power, but with more and more people unhappy with the management in Australian enterprises, it may just be the shake up our business leaders need.


Written by evenitup

December 30, 2008 at 11:30 am

Foolproof recruiting: Challenger learnings

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Even It Up!  watched with interest Foolproof Equations for a Perfect Life on SBS last night.  It was while we were watching that we made the connection between hiring  and

[the] extent…our decision-making process [is] manipulated by how choices are presented.

…from SBS program blurb

It is our contention that in the recruiting process, no one really questions what and how hiring decisions are made.  What can seem like an objective, transparent process, may very well not be, particularly when we consider human thought processes:

1. Priming

Research has consistently shown that people make decisions and choices depending on their environment (and circumstances).  People can be susceptible to manipulation and may not even know it.

In one study on priming,  individuals were given a hot drink to hold by the research leader prior to the study, and others a cold one.  Each person was then asked to have a one-on-one conversation with a member of the research team they were introduced to (it was the same man in each conversation).

After the conversation, each person was asked a number of questions about the person they had met, including whether they would give him a job or not.  And this is where it get interesting.  Every person who held the hot drink consistently said they would hire him.  Every person who had held a cold drink said they would not.  
Apparently, the warmth makes one feel more kindly disposed toward another person, and the cold lessens these feelings.

So, the question becomes: what goes on before your job interview that could be influencing the decision about whether you are hired or not?  

2. Rationalisation

In another study, participants were dealt two cards at a time, each with similar faces and they had to choose the one they liked.  The participants were then handed the cards they didn’t choose, and asked to justify their choice!

Interestingly, most people in the study did not challenge the fact that they had received the wrong card.  Instead, they justified their choice! It seems, as humans, it is easier to go along with an incorrect choice (or decision) and then rationalise it. 

Which leads us to the next point which, when taken with rationalisation, makes us question the objectivity of job interviews.

3. Groupthink

People are easily persuaded when they are in a group… they just tend to “go along” with one person, even if they know the decision or choice is incorrect.  This is because – psychologically speaking – the cohesiveness of the group becomes much more important than individual opinions, and consensus, particularly of the dominant view is maintained at all costs.

4. Job interviews are not objective

A job interview in front of a panel is, in some ways, no different to the flawed thinking (or not) behind the Challenger explosion.  What if the best and brightest candidate was interviewed after the panel chair had a cold drink?  What if the panel chair had the balance of power, or was the dominant personality?   What if the panel chair makes a bad decision and rationalises it?  How can one person who doesn’t agree with the panel’s decision ensure their opinion is heard and acted upon?

Don’t for one minute be fooled into believing that job interviews are an objective process.

Written by evenitup

December 29, 2008 at 3:24 pm

Recruitment companies: gatekeepers

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Image source: rbs-web.net/RBS/images/gatekeeper.jpg

Even It Up!  found this on Toby Marshall’s blog, discussing the benefits of internet job boards (and why the recruitment industry is so inefficient):

The recruitment agencies lose their privileged ‘gatekeeper’ status. So the blockages and inefficiencies they cause disappear – minimising the damage of their huge fees, appalling treatment of candidates and highly questionable ethics.

Glad we aren’t the only ones that feel this way!

Written by evenitup

December 27, 2008 at 4:01 pm

What do jobseekers want?

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There has to be a better way!  Why has globalisation not resulted in better, more innovative recruitment practices?

Dare we say it’s because employing staff is seen as “high risk”.  And that may be the case, but not attracting fabulous people to your organisation – and retaining them – is a greater risk!  If businesses and organisations don’t update their recruitment practices to reflect today’s fluid, flexible and values-oriented workforce – more eductaed than it ever was – then the watch for the next big economic crisis. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!

But when Even It Up! says innovative, what do we mean?  Put simply, it means making the recruitment process as painless, respectful and pleasant as possible for jobseekers.  Get rid of the selection criteria!  Throw the panel interview out the window!  Think about what happens at every step of the recruitment process – and improve it!  Your employer brand will ultimately thank you!

Written by evenitup

December 27, 2008 at 3:44 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Bunyon Recruiting… what the?!

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A supporter of  Even It up! has been fascinated by the recruitment practices of Bunyon Recruitment.  The Director (?) sent her a number of emails about being unsuccessful in winning a position (check The Lowdown for further information).  Our friend forwarded a number of emails (which are reproduced here) which really makes one wonder what the..?!

Email No 1:

Hi Jobseeker,

Thank you so much for your application with Bunyon Recruitment for the position.

We always endeavour to provide you a prompt, professional and caring service and this process has taken a much longer process than usual.

Please accept our apologies for this delay but due to circumstances that were beyond our control, we were unable to update you in the normal time frame.

Your application has unfortunately been unsuccessful but we shall keep you in mind for a future position should you be still available and interested.

Thank you for taking the time and effort to submit your application to Bunyon Recruitment and we wish you all the best in your future endeavours!

If there is anything we can assist you with, please do not hesitate to give me a call.

We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Email No 2 (Sent a couple of seconds after Email No 1):

Dear Jobseeker

You would have just received a delayed job notification of the above position but I just remembered that I did call you to discuss the BDM role and the position was too far away for you.

So I don’t want you to think that I have forgotten you or our conversation.

We just heard that there may be a BDM role coming up next year and I’m not sure of your status whether you have secured a sales position already but if you haven’t and may still be available next year, I will be in touch with you then if you could be interested.

Thanks so much for taking the time and effort to put forward your application to us and unfortunately the distance is too far for you.

Do have an excellent Christmas and New Year break and I look forward to your response!


At this point our jobseeker informed the consultant that she had the wrong person.  Not only was she never called to chat about the position, our jobseeker friend had to call the company to find out what was going on.

Email No 3 (Sent the next day):

Thanks very much for your response and I realise that I had offended you which I need to apologize and I have started an email in response to what you had openly shared which is greatly appreciated. Thank you.

If we never hear back from you openly, we can’t improve on our service and explain or correct any unintended disappointments.

You should get my response email tomorrow. I’m glad you have secured another position, that’s great to hear.

Our friend is still waiting for that next email!  Clearly, the consultant also needs to check the Even It Up! website!

Written by evenitup

December 21, 2008 at 3:27 pm

Are all jobseekers liars?

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Sunrise certainly seems to think so!  In the second spot in as many weeks about jobseeker dishonesty, Even It Up! is concerned with the basic premise of the normally pro-jobseeker Kochie!


While we do acknowledge that some jobseekers behave with a less than desirable amount of integrity, it is worthwhile thinking about why someone feels forced to lie about their experience, qualifications or previous employment history in order to gain employment:  

  1. Pressure to succeed
  2. Pressure to have an income
  3. Status received from the job
  4. Unrealistic expectations among employers (see previous posts on credentials inflation)
  5. Pressure or expectations from family
  6. Fear of failure
  7. Fear of not being able to find a job
  8. Personal identity defined by job.

This list is by no means exhaustive… what have we missed?  And do you agree?

By the way, Sunrise, we’ve told you about Even It Up! and we are still waiting for an invitation to appear on your program!

Written by evenitup

December 19, 2008 at 8:58 am

Posted in job interviews

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The good ole jobseeking days

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My, how times have changed!  Jobseeking used to be way simpler in ‘the good ole days’.  We at Even It Up! are feeling a bit nostalgic, and here are a few things we wish were still around:

Bring back the CES!

Before job network providers, recruitment companies and Centrelink, we  had the Commonwealth Employment Service.   The CES was an Australian Government department that was there specifically for jobseekers. What we miss are the job boards, where cardboard cards  that listed all available jobs were pinned on partitions.  Thes jobs included temp jobs, and both state and government departments as well as private industry listed vacancies. No dealing with middlemen – you just called the organisation direct expressing an interest in the role.  In fact, the CES had a specialist department dealing specifically with temp government roles: Templine.  There were some agencies, but these were few and far between and seemed to be relatively easy to deal with (What ever to Kelly?).

Bring back aptitude testing!

 We know you are probably recoiling in horror and calling us politically incorrect, but given the subjective and arbitrary recruitment decisions that many employers make, we think it’s a good idea.  When so many employers talk about wanting to employ the best and brightest – and the don’t – then surely aptitude testing is a way of actually levelling the playing field.   Employers then have a pool of jobseekers they can call on for vacancies.  In the old days, often there wouldn’t even be an interview! You’d get a phone call telling you to start work!

Qualifications actually meant something!

Qualifications now seem to act as a screening device where “where in order to secure a job which is itself unchanged, a person must secure higher educational credentials than were required earlier” (source:  Tom Morris, 1992 Joint Conference of the AARE and NZARE at Deakin Uni).

What we are finding is that qualifications, because they are not used as an indication of the jobseekers ability, tenacity and smarts, are now not valued by employers.  They are not seen by employers as really adding anything  to the jobseeker’s repertoire; they merely indicate that the jobseeker has reached the benchmark of what is deemed necessary to even be considered for a role.  So much for best and brightest!

A fried of ours, who has more degrees than a thermometer,  is often pipped at the jobs post by people who don’t have his qualifications (and this is in middle management).  How does he know?  Because when the employer contacts him to tell him he is unsuccessful, he always asks: “Do they have my qualifications?”.  The answer is invariably no.  (We acknowledge that there may be other factors at play!)

So one has to ask the question: who is benefiting from credentials inflation – we don’t think it’s the jobseeker!

We’d love your thoughts!  Do you agree? What do you miss about the good ole jobseeking days?


Written by evenitup

December 12, 2008 at 8:16 am