Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Ire is annoyered.

Recruitment processes seem to suck.*

When I was shifting from uni to (hopefully) a classroom teaching job, I sent out 48 applications, got three interviews and one job offer. The job offer came from an interview that was a kick-on from the second interview. Teaching job applications are, to say the least, overwhelming - 5 to 8 questions that required a page-long response each. (Can anyone tell me what other industry does this? Having to read those is a reason I'll probably never aspire to principal-ship. )
I wondered: how on earth can you tell from these convoluted responses**, a few referees and AN interview whether I'm a good teacher, or even a teacher with potential? If I were them, I would put an awful lot of weight on the referees contribution, and hope that the applicant had used people who were not nuts. Even now, when people say "Oh, but you're a great teacher?" I think, how would you know? You've never seen me teach. Clearly, "no blood or tears" = I know what I'm doing. :
I've seen recruitment happen in an office environment, too, where resumes are pretty easy to interpret. Those gloriously overblown positions like Documentation Manager (I file stuff) and Public Liaison Officer (receptionist). Everyone knows what they mean. Really, all that's left is to find out if they're a complete odd-bod via an interview.
Strangely enough, I used to LOVE interviews. LOVE love loved them. Not sure why. I can only assume I thought I was awesome. (Was I the odd-bod?)
But then, I'm probably known as a somewhat extroverted person - not all the time, but I can be - and I did to a drama degree so I suppose I have what would be called a "flexible demeanor".

Now. My gripe.
Some of my friends are in IT - programmers, engineers, nerds. (I consider myself a nerd with pride! But its prolly only coz I like to think I know obscure, lofty, superior crap.)
These are people who are stereotypically known as 'socially challenged', especially if you consider current telly types from shows like The Big Bang Theory.
I suspect, too, that of all the careers that people with any ASD or even seem simply 'quirky' or eccentric, some sciences/IT would seem very attractive to them. (I'm basing this completely and solely on the high ratio of eccentric vs non-eccentric scientists I know.)
I know a few cases of very good scientists who aren't the greatest socialisers, or sometimes not-that-excellent at representing/promoting themselves. I know of an excellent programmer who needs specific behavioural support from his workmates, but he's one of the most effective and skilled engineers in the business. The benefits completely outweigh the challenges.

So, what I want to know is this: when you start incorporating Human Resources into recruitment processes - groups who aren't going to work with these employees, won't see them day-to-day, and don't have to manage these employees - what kind of person to they expect to see? What characteristics do they want to hire? What share do they have in these choices?

For the few people I know who are job hunting in science and IT fields, I trust their searches continue for good reasons. I trust they're missing out because genuinely better applicants were successful. But that those decisions had better be coming from the recruiting scientists, and not the freaking HR department.

* I write this as a completely biased, emotional stakeholder in a particular aspect of this process, as well as someone who's experienced it from the pointy end, and a little from the fat end.
** I have to say, I know people who blatantly copy/pasted other people's responses and for lots of reasons: a lack of time, a lack of respect for the process, being overwhelmed by the questions, and/or being unable to answer them.

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