The Interview

A few weeks back I applied for a job as a Senior Consultant in a small local consultancy firm. They notified me that they were working with a recruitment agency and that those people would be in touch. A few days later the recruitment agency scheduled a call.

The young recruitment agent was about half my age. If I do the math he could have been my son. After polite quick introductions and the usual „run me through your resume in 45 seconds“ thing, he started asking questions. He quite literally read down a list of questions, and it became obvious by question 2 that he had either not read my resume or was unable to make the connection between my resume, my profile, and the questions he was asking me. Such as: „Do you have any experience as a consultant“... Well, not sure how to answer this you mean besides the 3 last items on my resume that say „senior consultant“?

At the end of his mandatory list of questions, he asked if I had any. I did, but when he answered the first one with „I do not really know, I do not know the consultancy industry and the company so well“, I decided to take him out of his misery. We chatted very nicely for a few more minutes, where he mentioned that this was his first ever job (at this point I did have to bite my tongue to not have my natural sarcasm make an uncalled-for appearance) and I wished him all the best. I hung up and wondered...what exactly was that? I thought back on these last 30 min. The nice young guy, following his pre-determined script, bravely and unreflectively powering through the task that had been assigned to him. Me, alternating between patience and bewilderment. In the beginning, I was slightly bemused. Then, I became a little annoyed. And then, this got me thinking.

For context, and luckily, I did not need that job (as I had landed one just a couple of days earlier). But what if I DID need that job – like I would have only a week prior. What if the financial well-being of my family depended on me getting that job, and the person that interviews me for it is utterly and absolutely unqualified to make the call if I am qualified, or not. Well, you might say, this was not representative. This is not how recruitment processes happen.

But what if he is? What if they do?

Instead of middle-aged people recruiting the next generation of aspiring contributors, as it was for a long time, now we have very young folks running the recruitment process. But I cannot help but wonder if we adapted the process enough or at all to reflect this new reality. What if that means that there is no real great resignation but the recruitment process has been aged-inversed and thus reverse-biased?

According to the U.S. Bureau of labor statistics, the median age of the workforce is about 42 years and increasing. But for a 22-year-old hiring agent, is not anyone after 40 already too old? What if there is a large amount of highly qualified, motivated Gen X lers out there, such as myself, but we get skipped in the corporate succession and progression? Is the great resignation actually a generational issue we did not account for? Are we falling through the cracks of a recruitment system where Gen Z and young Millenials follow a process through which we are already considered obsolete?

Would a 20-something-year-old be able to really understand, and/or properly value, significant life and work experience and the resulting contribution someone in their 40s can make to the company`s mid- and long-term success? Maybe- But would they even WANT to recruit someone that, like in my case, could be their mum or their dad? They might not. And if that is true...

And before you say I am barking at the wrong tree, check how old your recruitment agents are 😉

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