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Totally Unconscionable: Getting Way Too Personal in a Job Application

What happens when a company asks you too much in the job application process today. Well, the Internet responded - and how!

By David WyldPublished 4 months ago Updated 4 months ago 4 min read
Totally Unconscionable: Getting Way Too Personal in a Job Application
Photo by Zulmaury Saavedra on Unsplash

The “Ask” Too Far in a Job Application

File this one under the just when you think that you’ve seen and heard everything when it comes to the job hunting process. Well, hold my beer!

Because there I was, just innocently and aimlessly scrolling Instagram as a break while “working” the other day when I ran across this post:

Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/C3Ix6DLO2bo/

This post got over 2 million views in just over 24 hours, as yes, people of the Internet had the same reaction that I, as a management professor and consultant, had to the post. Basically, it was “WTF!”

Now, you know what the anonymous company here was doing. It was hopping on the bandwagon of using today’s “technology in our pocket world” to its best advantage in the job application process by asking applicants to do a short video about themselves. Now, that is certainly becoming rather common today. However, the question that they chose to use got a whole lot of people’s attention - including mine!

No, the company was asking its applicants to address a question that seems much more appropriate for a therapy session with a psychologist or even a psychiatrist. As you can imagine, many folks - over 800 in just the first 24 hours - commented on what the company was asking of its applicants. And after scrolling through all of the comments made to date on the post, I can say that no one - not a single person - really took the side of the company. And the comments about the company’s “ask” of its applicants were brutal, with commenters saying:

  • “It'll be ‘NCD’ for me. No Can Do.”
  • "How can we ‘secretly’ get away with discrimination before the first interview and save us all some time"
  • It’s going to weed out anyone over 35 real fast, unfortunately!
  • “45 minutes of me crying.”
  • “This makes a cover letter not seem so bad.”
  • “This has to be against the Geneva Convention.”
  • “Seriously why has this recording idea become a thing???? I have seen crazier questions, but why am I auditioning for these companies as if it was a movie role?”
  • “This should be a hate crime what they are doing!”
  • “Boycott this level of intrusive interviewing”
  • “I'd turn to a life of crime before I'd do this dumb shit.”
  • “Life was going fine until I reached this application, thanks for asking.”
  • “I will respond to any and all such questions with an interpretive dance.”
  • “I'd rather eat a tire.”
  • “I’d start the video with ‘I wasn’t aware free entertainment during the interview process was a thing nowadays, but here we are.’”
  • “The employer should be posted on this so they can be publicly shamed. That's how you stop it.”
  • Naw, I would stop applying right there, Clearly they don't respect your time.

About the best thing a commenter said about the whole situation is that, from the company’s perspective, the question might actually enable them to help out disadvantaged applicants by affording them the opportunity to tell their story, analogizing that:

Let’s say you have two employees with the same qualifications same background. One is from a poor background and one is from a rich sheltered background. The poor person comes in and says “well life has been rough at times but it’s given me the tools to deal with high stress situations and keep cool”. The rich person talks about how they’ve been blessed and have everything handed to them so life is wonderful!” Who are you going to hire?

By Isaac Smith on Unsplash

Analysis

Okay, now, as a management professor and consultant, I am typically on “team management.” However, in this instance, I cannot find any logical reason why a company would ask such an intrusive question of its applicants today. Is this a “PR Bomb” waiting to explode if the company is named on social media, rather than being anonymous as the situation currently stands? Yes, definitely! Is this a lawsuit waiting to happen? Yes, definitely!

This is one of those instances where someone tried to get “cute” - a bit too cute - with their word choices. In all likelihood, this question was developed by a low mid-range employee in the organization’s human resource area who simply wanted to find a novel way to ask applicants the “lay-up” (easy) question, “So, tell me about yourself and how you came to apply for this position with our company?” But no, the staffer came up with “How do you feel life has worked out for you been going so far?” Of course, one would assume (and I know that’s dangerous to do…) that the firm’s Human Resources management signed off on the entire application process - including that highly intrusive, highly personal “ask” of their applicants before it went “live” into actual use. But if they did know that the question was there and asked in the form that it was, then the level of managerial malpractice here is really, really high!

This is one instance where the wisdom of the crowd on the Internet was indeed right, as it is unconscionable for a company to ask this of its applicants today - no matter the industry or the kind of job in question! And yes, if the name of the company where this happened does come out, I will update the article to reflect that - and yes, to roast them! Totally unconscionable!

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Professor David C. Wyld

About David Wyld

David C. Wyld is a Professor of Strategic Management at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, Louisiana. He is a management consultant, researcher/writer, publisher, executive educator, and experienced expert witness. You can view all of his work at https://authory.com/DavidWyld. You can subscribe to his Medium article feed at: https://davidwyld.medium.com/subscribe.

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About the Creator

David Wyld

Professor, Consultant, Doer. Founder/Publisher of The IDEA Publishing (http://www.theideapublishing.com/) & Modern Business Press (http://www.modernbusinesspress.com)

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Comments (1)

  • Babs Iverson4 months ago

    Unbelievable!!! Fantastic article!!!

David WyldWritten by David Wyld

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