Real-world hiring is getting more like the academic job marker.  Or so the Wall Street Journal suggested this morning, in a piece titled “The Six-Month Job Interview.”

“Replacing . . . [a new hire who fails] can wreck a tight budget.  Finding the best candidates requires assembling a large, diverse pool. . . . Group interviews of candidates by multiple insiders are more common . . . .”

Yeah, we know.  Oh, we know.

The do’s and don’ts sound familiar, too:

“Hurdle: Long silences between interviews are making you crazy. . . . Don’t call HR and demand to know the status.

“Hurdle: You’re invited to a 12-hour visit at headquarters to meet and dine with hiring managers. . . . Don’t relax when dinner finally arrives, have a few drinks, let down your guard and crack some jokes.

“Hurdle: A prospective employer asks you to research and present a full-blown business plan.  Do target your presentation to demonstrate the specific skills and abilities the employer wants to see.

“Hurdle: Your No. 2 employer is ready to make you an offer but your No. 1 choice is moving more slowly.  Do e-mail No. 1, explain that other options are advancing fast and ask politely if there’s anything you can do to expedite the process.  Don’t say nothing and settle for the job at No. 2.”

It sounds to me like proof that ex-academics have skills that can be applied outside academia.  We know all about long intervals between initial applications and actually starting the job.  Anyone who has made it even to the conference-interview round has faced multi-person hiring committees.  If you get to campus, you will probably have a 36-48 hour “visit at headquarters.”  For “business plan,” substitute “job talk and teaching presentation” and you’ve done that, too.

As a life-long academic (apart from some temp work and similar, in college and before grad school), I thought the odd part was the intimation that this process was Not Normal.  I can’t imagine just talking to one person and suddenly having a job that would start right away, but this article appears to be addressed to people who think that that’s how hiring works.  Maybe this shift in corporate culture will make it easier to explain to our non-academic families how things work in the Ivory Tower.

And we can brag that we originated the obstacle-course, long-slog interview.


One thought on “Plus ça change

  1. I’ve had several jobs outside of academia — none were “career” jobs, but nonetheless, I’m very familiar with the one-on-one interview with a job offer at the end. It’s normal for low-paying jobs to go that route. For better jobs — like the ones that hubby applied for last fall, there was more of a process, but not much more. Maybe an initial phone screen with HR, then face to face and that was that. Of course, he didn’t get any of those jobs and decided to start his own company, but he had more than a dozen interviews and they were pretty much all the same.

    I guess a lot of this has to do with how high up the job is. No one would suffer this BS for a retail job, but for a senior VP, probably.

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