There was a very interesting article in today’s NY Times Business Section entitled “Want to Work for Jaguar Land Rover: Start Playing Phone Games that caught my eye. The article stated that the carmaker would be recruiting 5,000 people people this year. To be considered for employment, prospective employees must download an app with a series of puzzles that they must solve. Those who score well on the app will be able to progress to the interview stage. While this may be somewhat unique to companies that are looking for engineers and computer personnel, I think the point here is that the ability to solve problems or puzzles is the single most important attribute that any employee must possess if they want to be hire. To that point, companies like Marriott Hotels, Axa Group, Deloitte, Xerox, The BBC and Daimler Trucks all use playing games and virtual reality to identify potentially-qualified job applicants.
Companies once relied on job fairs and advertising to court prospective applicants but they have been forced to become much more creative in order to identify the technical skills and business savvy they need. I will use my son, who graduated from college last month as a case in point.
He applied for a job with a non-profit venture firm. The first thing they asked him to supply was a picture of himself that encapsulated him as a person. After submitting a picture of him and his Cross Country college team after a big meet (and making it to the next round) he was sent a hypothetical and given several days to respond. He spent an entire day on the hypothetical, submitted it and was subsequently told he would not be considered for a face-to-face interview.
What does this all mean? Based on my years as a career development consultant, these exercises suggest that while college graduates and advanced degree professionals may have met their academic requirements, there is no guarantee that those degrees qualified them for jobs in “real life”. Although unemployment is at historic lows in the US, it does not mean that employers are not being selective about who they hire. That said, starting an app company that uses artificial intelligence and virtual reality to assess a candidate’s problem solving ability may be a great idea!
From time to time, I get asked by jobseekers about questions that interviewers are permitted to ask during a job interview. While almost everything is fair game, there are certain questions that interviewers are not legally permitted to ask. A post that recently appeared on the “Interns Over 40 blog” pretty much covers them all.
And, while interviewers are not supposed to ask most of these questions, many do. That said, you need to be on the “look-out” for them and be prepared to judiciously answer them whether or not you think they may be legally acceptable or not. After all, challenging the legality of an interviewer’s question during a face-to-face is not likely to lead to a job offer!
In any event, the post list 13 questions on the forbidden list and how interviewers may be able to garner the information that they are seeking without necessarily violating any laws in doing so.
How old are you?
What year were you born?
When did you graduate from high school?
Before hiring, asking if you are over the minimum age for the hours or working conditions.
After hiring, verifying same with a birth certificate or other ID, and asking age on insurance forms.
Inappropriate: Are you a US citizen?
If you are not a US citizen, do you have the legal right to remain permanently in the US?
What is your visa status (if no to the previous question).
Are you able to provide proof of employment eligibility upon hire?
3. Criminal Record
Have you ever been arrested?
Have you ever spent a night in jail?
Have you ever been convicted of a crime?
Do you have any disabilities?
What’s your medical history?
How does your condition affect your abilities?
Can you perform the specific duties of the job.
After hiring, ask about medical history on insurance forms.
Questions concerning spouse, or spouse’s employment, salary, arrangements, or dependents.
What kind of child care arrangements have you made?
How will your spouse feel about the amount of time you will be traveling if you get this job?
Can you work overtime?
Is there any reason you can’t start at 7:30am?
Whether an applicant can meet specified work schedules or has activities or commitments that may prevent him or her from meeting attendance requirements.
6. Marital Status
Are you married, divorced, separated, engaged, widowed, etc?
Is this your maiden or married name?
What is the name of your relative/spouse/children?
Do you live with your parents?
After hiring, marital status on tax and insurance forms.
What type or condition is your military discharge?
Can you supply your discharge papers?
What is your experience in other than US armed forces?
Describe the relevant work experience as it relates to this position that you acquired from a US armed forces.
8. National Origin
What is your nationality?
Where were you born?
Where are your parents from?
What’s your heritage?
What is your mother tongue?
How did you acquire the ability to speak, read or write a foreign language?
How did you acquire familiarity with a foreign country?
What language is spoken in your home?
Verifying legal U.S. residence or work visa status.
What languages do you speak, read or write fluently?
9. Parental Status
How many kids do you have?
Do you plan to have children?
How old are your children?
Are you pregnant?
After hiring, asking for dependent information on tax and insurance forms.
10. Race or Skin Color
What race are you?
Are you a member of a minority group?
11. Religion or Creed
What is your religious affiliation?
Which religious holidays will you be taking off from work?
Do you attend church regularly?
Can you work on Saturdays and Sundays?
Do you own or rent your home?
Do you live in town?
With whom do you live?
Inquiries about the address to facilitate contact with the applicant.
Will you be able to start work at 8:00am?
13. Sex or Sexual Orientation
Do you wish to be addressed as Mr., Mrs., Miss, or Ms.?
What are your plans to have children in the future?
Before the advent of social media, the only way job candidates could communicate to a hiring manager why they—rather than other applicants—were the right fit for a job was through a face-to-face interview. Conventional wisdom suggests that a skilled candidate who can also demonstrate a legitimate enthusiasm for a position is generally the applicant who wins out. However, the online world, specifically the social web, has changed all that.
Numerous studies suggest that over 70% of hiring managers screen prospective job applicants by trolling social networking sites like BioCrowd, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. While some hiring managers do this to make sure that a potential new hire hasn’t done anything untoward or unseemly, the plethora of blogs, forums, Facebook and LinkedIn profiles and Twitter feeds enable them to get to know job applicants better than ever before. In some cases, a well-crafted and carefully managed Facebook or LinkedIn profile or blog can make the difference between a new job and unemployment.
This is not to say that jobseekers are required to have Facebook or LinkedIn page or Twitter feed to get hired. But, if executed correctly, they can help. That said, there are certain cardinal rules that must be followed to not run afoul of prospective new employers. These include:
No swearing or use of foul language
Do not post party or sexually-explicit photos
Don’t say bad things about past employers or current co-workers
Keep posts and status updates to a minimum and make sure that they are posted before or after working hours
Avoid posting opinions about religion, sexual orientation and politics
Also, it is a good idea to Google yourself from time to time to see what the search results look like. Most employers routinely Google job applicants to acquire more information about prospective hires. As many social media gurus like to say “Google never forgets.”
According to a report yesterday, Roche is reducing headcount at San Francisco-based Genentech by merging the information technology departments of its pharmaceutical and diagnostics divisions. The company didn’t disclose how many people would be losing jobs as a result of the consolidation.
The company previously merged all of its human resources functions and roughly 20% of HR personnel lost their jobs—although most were able to find new jobs within Roche.
A Roche spokeswoman added that the company will continue unifying its communication processes in an attempt to further reduce the size of its workforce.
Expect more announcements from Roche in the coming months.