The Interview Market – Part 1

I’d like to lay out a general premise about the current labor market: the placement process is ridiculous. It is a waste of time for everyone, and I’m not sure that we’ve made any advances given the extensive tech applied to the area. The general trend, according to HR policy, empirical evidence, as well as personal experience, points to an inefficient system riddled with deadweight loss for both parties, the employer and potential employee. For all the advances in technology and human resource capital, our professional society still hasn’t calibrated the placement process for the next generation of workers.

I wanted to start this series because I think there is a fundamental problem with the way that employers look for potential candidates, and the way that those candidates are presented with opportunity. Employers must evaluate hundreds of potential candidates due to the applicant pool for a single position. One survey showed that only 2% of applicants actually got an interview. Why hasn’t anyone asked why there are so many applicants? Everyone knows that a job seeker has to submit scores of applications even to land an interview, but why? The interview market has failed, and we should be trying to recalibrate the system which determines who can apply and when if we are going to place the best possible candidates to a given position.

Part of the problem which I hope to look into more is what I’ll call “qualification inflation”, where employers will deliberately include qualification standards that are unrealistic, or even impossible. There have been instances, in the programming world for example, where an employer will require 10+ years in a software, when said software has only been in existence for 8 years. This leads to more under-qualified candidates applying than would have otherwise, because applicants know that if an employer isn’t realistic about their qualifications, then neither does the applicant feel the need to be. This has ping-ponged upward in recent years so that more under-qualified people apply to a position, inflating the applicant pool, and in response the employer raises the qualifications again in order to narrow the pool . This is very stupid and we need a better way.

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