Interviews

I remember sitting in a room. There was an intense discussion on whether to allow someone to go to the next stage of recruitment. There were two groups. One thinks that we should give the candidate a chance, and the other thinks that we should not.

I listened intently to the arguments brought out by both sides. I do have some thoughts, but I was apprehensive, being someone junior amongst the ranks. But eventually, I spoke. I think it caught them by surprise because perhaps no one was expecting that I speak up. I wasn’t even part of the team responsible for the selection. Who do I think I am, having the audacity to speak, perhaps some might be thinking.

“I think… if we are on the fence about whether to let this candidate pass through, we should let him pass through. Then we let those in charge at the next stage determine if we should let him in. If we let him through now, we still have the next round to determine if he should be in. But if we cut him off now, we may just lose a good candidate. It is not as if he is in now if we let him in, he still has to pass through the interview. And since we know that we are not sure if he is right for the job, we should exercise more scrutiny during the interview.”

Someone senior came up to me and affirmed me for speaking up. He said that sometimes people forget where they started themselves. I don’t agree totally, because I think it is not just about remembering where we started. I can see the intention of both ends, hence I don’t think either side is wrong. One wanted to maintain a certain standard, while the other wanted to be understanding and compassionate. Rather, I think we got caught up with making the decision that we forget to question if we even have to make a decision immediately.

Are interviews an effective way to judge someone? How trained are we to conduct interviews? When I was being interviewed for my current role, someone asked me, looking at how many times I have taken a leave of absence from University, will I be able to commit for the three years service bond? If I had not been given that chance, I would not have spent these defining years in Outward Bound.

It doesn’t mean to lower standards and always give chances to people. There are high stakes involved with some roles, and we should not be careless with our decision. Rather, it is to understand that while it is always safer to say no, saying no because it is safer might not be the best thing to do. After all, I think most interviewers would reject a man that didn’t even get a job at KFC.

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