Many years ago, I came up with the title to this post, “I Can’t Drive to the Interview; Can You Skype?” Skype was new and I was not familiar with it when a job applicant asked this question. Back then, the idea of not meeting an applicant in person was foreign. I realize how things have changed, but I still can’t imagine hiring someone who has only been “seen” in the 2 dimensional world of a video screen. But, that’s not really my point. Hiring someone is a big decision. We’ve been through the process many times and that process has evolved. In our most recent hiring iteration, virtual interviews replaced my prior use of telephone interviews, but they did not replace the in person part of an interview. I don’t see how it is possible to hire someone for a meaningful job, which requires working in a small team environment on high stakes, high pressure matters, all the while providing excellent customer service, can be done virtually. Perhaps there are jobs for which “Skype” or a more modern equivalent such as Zoom will suffice, but not for me or my types of jobs. But, that is still not my point. What I found most off putting in this person’s question was his/her unwillingness to make a personal effort to show up for a job interview. Geography was not an issue. And, I don’t recall that there was any difficulty scheduling the interview because this person was not working elsewhere. My perception of the request was that it was just too much the trouble to show up for an interview. Another part of me wondered, “Does the person not drive?” Or, can the other person not legally drive?” That is, I was forced to wonder why this person was asking an “abnormal” question and I wondered what else was at play. I guess we’ll never know. The little I recall about this applicant is that there were other red flags that made hiring unlikely. It stuck with me though, that in trying to make a good impression, one way to do so is to put in a little effort along the way. Asking for an exception before getting off the starting line is not going to cut it!
In the almost 30 years David and I have co-owned Magnus, we have had some “doozies” concerning employees, potential employees, and former employees. I could almost write a book about these people! On this last round of interviewing, which was as painful as ever for me, it was humorous to observe the number of job candidates who asked if they could work remotely. I know remote working is the new normal for many people, but when the job posting clearly says “frequent travel is a job requirement,” it should be obvious that no one who works for Magnus will be permitted to sit at home wearing pajamas and eating bon bons during work hours. We work where the clients tell us to work. We travel where the trial is being held. So far, even with all of the work changes necessitated by the pandemic, I have never heard of a trial that is to be held in, for example, Peoria, Illinois that would permit Magnus’ employees to perform their work anyplace except Peoria. (Yes, I have worked in Peoria!) While it is certainly possible to conduct online mock trials, select a jury via Zoom, etc., for the most part, we jury consultants are still hands on and that means we go where we are required to go. Any job applicant who would attempt to change the parameters of an interview from an in person meeting to anything else provides an easy way for David to interview a more suitable candidate to work for us. First impressions really do matter!
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