Thursday, January 31, 2019

Texan public library book storage facilities

Just received a copy of Diana Athill's Stet, from the excellent Better World Books. I see from the stamp on the top that it came from the Houston Public Library Service. Can't help wondering if they have a depository that also overlooks a grassy knoll, like the more infamous institution in Dallas. My dad once made a worrying admission about the events of November 1963. We were watching TV together, when a voice declaimed 'everyone remembers where they were when they heard the news of Kennedy's assassination', to which dad - whose memory was never good at the best of times - replied that he didn't. I half expected the Green Berets or CIA to come bursting through the living room door...

Saturday, January 05, 2019

Could you tell me about a time when you...?

I was enduring yet another competency-based interview recently when a thought came to me. Although these things are intended to show a potential employer how an applicant fulfils a job spec, in reality they are deeply biased against older applicants. To illustrate this, picture Candidates A and B: A has four years recent and relevant experience in the position they're applying for. Candidate B, however, has a working life extending back 40 years, with a wide range of experience culled from working in a range of different industries or workplaces. An interview panel member asks both: 'could you tell me a time when you flange wangled a spurrfler successfully?'. Candidate A did this for the second time only last week and gives a faultless answer. Candidate B, however, has flange wangled for decades but can't immediately remember a specific spurrfler related episode; she could well be able do it in her sleep, but this time-limited interview scenario doesn't operate in her favour, and she comes across as a flange wangling ignoramus. It's only on leaving the interview that a classic spurrfler wangle from 2002 floods back into her memory, but by then it is too late, and Candidate B is well on the way to receiving a generic bum's rush rejection, along the lines of '... strong field, impressive qualifications... unfortunately...' and so joins the scrap heap. I wonder if the HR gurus who come up with this torture ever have to face competency-based interview questions along the lines of 'can you describe a time when you successfully screwed over the career prospect of older job applicants and would you like to tell us about it?'