May 25, 2020

The worst job interview I had and what I learnt from

[Sharing on times before the pandemic and lockdown happened]

The office where I am in has a few companies based around it. Usually, interview applicants are screened by me before I pass them along to the relevant companies / departments for the second and / or third interviews. I don't decide how many interviews the applicants have to go through. I would vet through the specifications of the companies on who they are looking for and the key qualities that would be important to them. The rest of the details would be in the case files I had compiled at least a week prior to the interviews happening.

The bosses are quite particular and one of them is a highly functioning autistic man in his fifties. Needless to say, the standards were kept quite high and while there were others who could do the screening, I was usually tasked to do it since everyone agreed it would be the more merciful thing to do for the applicants (an old lady was less threatening and I was articulate enough to sieve out vital information without making them nervous... 😞)

Alright. Applicant 1, Ms Peas. Ms Peas applied for an entrepreneurial internship, specialising in business development. After asking her the standard battery of questions, it came up in our conversation on women entrepreneurs and women being ostracized and oppressed for thousands of years, thereby leading them not to be bosses where they should be. She voiced out that had equal rights been granted to women, there would be a higher number of women bosses in modern times.

I took a sip of my coffee calmly. The lady was very passionate on being a woman boss and it was one of her main reasons for applying in this position even though she was already the owner of two businesses and the CEO of one of the businesses (first red flag actually. She said both businesses were doing well but I really had doubts on this one). I decided not to open the can of worms on her agenda-driven motivations and asked her more questions relating to what she wrote in her resume. Lots of buzz words were used. Call me silly or old-fashioned, but if you cannot explain or write in plain speak what you're all about, it just shows that you don't really have anything on your end that is substantial enough to pull around some weight.

What happened to her in the end was that midway, the highly functioning autistic boss was actually listening in and decided to join in the interview session (we have an open office concept. Everyone is like a family here). I took the cue to top up more coffee for all of us, and when I came back, I could hear snippets of it, namely he challenging her point on the oppression of women for thousands of years while she being indignant on a lot more other matters but unable to hold her stand with supporting facts. It sounds like my boss was being a monster but I have to let you guys know something about autistic people: they aren't malicious by nature, are lacking in most emotions that we are used to and work better with facts and routines. They can't be in the "in-between" of emotions, so if they do feel something, I would describe it as a childlike, unabashed response.

A couple months later, both her businesses did not make it through (it ended long before the pandemic had began), and she went back to a normal job. I was a little sad for the young lady, but I was glad she did not come on board with us.

You cannot help someone who already has very fixed preconceptions on what the world is all about.

I've only written on one applicant and I will be stopping here for now. More next time.

Written by Seraphim

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