Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Deja vu all over again

I have a friend who is looking for a job. And he has had some interesting experiences on interview. The latest was a preliminary phone interview, given by someone fairly low on the HR chain, I guess to weed out the malcontents. If you "pass" the phone interview, your resume is sent to the other recruiters.

But this large company was asking some rather large questions for a first-time interview...

Have you ever experienced flow?

My first thought was "Yes, about once a month, usually like clockwork." His first thought was, "No, but her sister was OK." We were both wrong.

What is flow?

Time seems to slow or stop when you are in flow. Hours pass by like minutes. Think of a time when you were so absorbed in conversation that you were shocked to find how much time had elapsed since the conversation began. You were likely in flow.

Another characteristic of flow is the tendency to be unaware of little other than the task at hand--You don't pay attention to background noises, and you tend to have few thoughts unrelatedto what you are doing.

I understand it better now, but I still don't understand how this helps a recruiter pick the best candidate for a position.

He was later asked if he had ever experienced deja vu.

It all reminds me of a time years ago, right out of college, when I was interviewing for a receptionist's job at a bank. (Oh how the mighty fall when they have to pay the rent.) This was in the early 90s and the bank gave me the first psychological-type employment test I had ever seen.

It was all fill in the blank. Open-ended questions like...

Traffic makes me ____________.
If someone makes me mad, I ______________.

You really shouldn't give this kind of test to someone who just finished a master's degree in English and is applying for a receptionist job. You kind of have a defeatist attitude already. So I answered away, quite strangely, I'm sure...going with the first thing that popped in my head.

But they offered me the job. I took another job, but I was always very curious to see if I had "passed" my psychological test. So what do the tests accomplish? If people as strange as me are still offered employment after taking them, what purpose do they really serve? ;)


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