November 27, 2016

This week in the workplace: coworkers and more

Most coworkers have tons of things in common but sometimes you find yourself wondering how a coworker you dislike even became a coworker.

Two coworkers, black and white, trace their parallel paths in this meditation on race. One of the most vivid areas where life has differed for Mike and George is work. Mike tells a truth rarely spoken,

“As a 6-foot muscular white guy, it’s easy for me to sell potential over actual ability in job interviews. It’s rare for me to go through a face-to-face interview and not receive an offer. At one time, I would have told you I was the world’s best interview candidate. Where most candidates are evaluated on their current abilities, I mirrored back what my interviewers wanted to see. I work hard, but the reality is that I received far better opportunities than others for positions I was less than qualified for.”

Are you biased against that coworker you don’t like? Say you’re in a meeting and you have a young, female colleague who keeps interrupting to share her ideas. The ideas aren’t bad, but her delivery is setting your teeth on edge. You think to yourself, “Susan should be more deferential. These young people are always so full of themselves!” This might be a conscious bias against Millennials, and perhaps an unconscious bias against women.

The traditional form of interview questioning doesn’t seem to have a significant positive impact on improving interview results. Those weird, off the wall questions that once seemed so clever like

  • “If you could have all the ice cream in the world, how many different flavors would you take to make a sundae and how many toppings would you pick?”
  • “What kind of animal would you be?”
  • “Where do you see yourself in the future?.”

have been deemed a complete waste of time. Anyone with even an ounce of initiative can discover the right way to answer them just by Googling “interview questions and answers.” Maybe in the days before the Internet, these questions had merit. But no more.

And just one more thing…

Your next job interview may not even be with a human being. In automated interviews, candidates answer a series of automated, preloaded questions, and their video responses are scored by recruiters. “Scheduling interviews and going back and forth about availability takes up a lot of time. Video interviewing is extremely flexible and convenient for the candidate. In fact, most responses came after 5 p.m. or on the weekends” says Rick Jordan, head of talent acquisition at Zappos.