Jewish World Review Nov. 30, 2000 / 3 Kislev, 5761
If two men applying for a job were
treated like this . . .
IF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA were a
corporation, it would be under federal
investigation by now.
Any company that treated job applicants the way
the United States has treated George W. Bush
and Al Gore would find federal regulators
banging on its front door -- and would undoubtedly end up defending its
workplace procedures in a U.S. district courtroom.
Think about it:
Two would-be employees apply for a job opening. They are informed that
they must go through a solid year of job interviews.
Early in the interviewing process, they are told by their potential employers
that they will have to disclose personal information about their finances, about
their health, about their families. Then -- after they have turned this highly
private information over to the people they want to work for -- those people
turn right around and let everyone else in the community take a look at it.
The personnel department -- and make no mistake about it, when people run
for the presidency the personnel department consists of the news media, who
are in charge of all pre-hiring screening -- tells the job applicants that teams of
personnel officers will literally live with them for the next year. Everywhere the
job applicants go, the personnel officers will go; everything the job applicants
say, the personnel officers will write down and save on audiotape and
videotape. The personnel officers also inform the job applicants that during
this time, they expect to be fed three meals a day.
The two men hoping to get the job are told that their three most important job
interviews will not be one-on-one. Instead, the applicants are told, they must
appear together . . . at night . . . in front of strangers. Each applicant must
answer not only the questions put to him, but the questions put to the other
man who wants the job.
While they are waiting to see if they are offered the job, they will be made fun
of at bedtime on national television on a nightly basis. The people laughing at
their discomfort are their potential employers -- the people who will ultimately
hire one of them and pay his salary.
Their spouses and children will be photographed and asked questions. If the
job applicants complain that this is an invasion of their families' privacy -- that
they, not their families, are applying -- they will be told that if they don't like
the application process, they should consider working elsewhere.
On the night when the hiring decision is at last scheduled to be announced, the
people from the personnel department tell the entire world which man has
won the job -- even before the man himself is told. Then, within hours, the
personnel department says that maybe the other man is going to get the job --
the personnel department isn't certain any longer. Then, after that, the
personnel department says that it has changed its mind -- it doesn't know
who is going to be offered the job.
In the meantime, one of the job applicants -- confused by all of this -- calls
the other applicant to congratulate him on getting the job. Then -- trying to
sort out the personnel department's mistakes -- he calls the other applicant
back to say he guesses he shouldn't be offering his congratulations after all.
Humiliated, the two applicants try to maintain their dignity, but begin to turn
on each other. The company -- the potential employer -- does nothing to
ease the situation.
One job applicant says he knows in his heart that he has been offered the
position. The other applicant says he is just as certain that he has been offered
the position. The company says that the applicants will just have to wait a little
Finally one of the applicants simply announces that he has been given the job.
The other applicant -- not knowing what else he can do -- goes to court to
find out if he has really lost the job.
If this were to happen in the business world -- if a company were to treat its
job applicants like this -- the federal government would be so outraged on
behalf of the applicants that it would do everything in its power to make things
right for the poorly treated would-be employees. The federal government
would try to bring such a callous and sloppily run company to its knees.
But the United States is not a company. It will face no sanctions for how it
has treated the men applying for the job.
In fact, four years from now, it will do the same thing
JWR contributor Bob Greene is a novelist and columnist. Send your comments to him by clicking here.
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©1999, Tribune Media Services