4 ways job interviews ruin organisations

1. They encourage people to pretend to be someone they are not

“Lie to us well enough, and your in”, is the very first message a prospective employee receives. This is not a healthy way to start any type of relationship, but it is a useful way to continue one. Keep fibbing, they say, and we won’t look for it, but don’t let us catch you anyway.

2. It’s all “me, me, me” with you isn’t it?

There’s a Radio 4 Quiz programme “Just a minute“, where contestants have to speak for one minute on a random subject like bowler hats or doorknobs without repetition, hesitation or deviation. If you make it for the full 60 seconds, you win. It’s like that except the subject is always YOU illustrated by a series of semi made-up stories that always star YOU as the hero. The system does not ever get a look in, it’s always the bit-players. Imagine if an interviewer asked, “Tell me about the features of the system you worked in that created the achievements you’ve listed on your application“.

But they don’t employ the system. The system remains behind, where it was left.

3. They make failure something to hide


Nobody puts their greatest failures down on an application form, and they certainly would never dream of bringing then up in an interview. Failures are awesome. Be the person who fails the most says Seth. Ask Thomas Edison. 7,000 failures resulted in 1 lightbulb. 6,999 and the candle making industry would still be the mover and shaker it now isn’t.

4. Confident people get a leg up

Confidence makes people think your competent. This has been proved.

Confidence has virtually zero correlation
with competence. This has been proved.

Confidence is correlated with being in the majority, fitting in.
Job interviews are overwhelmingly decided on a characteristic irrelevant to job performance. May as well appoint based on gender or race. Oh…

This has repercussions all the way through the job cycle, promotions are often based on interview, with the same irrelevant characteristics rearing their white, middle aged male faces again and again. It’s very odd, but this even holds true for the good ones. Deming, Seddon, Ackoff, all that sort known by surnames, they are/were all older white and male. I am shockingly ignorant in many things, so could be in this, but where are the black and female systemsy gurus? In numbers, not just the odd Donella Meadows please. Did they get a reject letter after their interview? In this way interviews ruin all sorts of organisations, not just the ones with vacancies.

This entry was posted in command and control, John Seddon, plausible but untrue, systems thinking, thinking and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to 4 ways job interviews ruin organisations

  1. Charles Beauregard says:

    5. People who are good at job interviews get the job. That doesn’t necessarily mean they will be good at the job.


    • ThinkPurpose says:

      Ha, yes. I’m awesome at job interviews, and I’m a complete layabout when I get the job.


      • knittingfog says:

        Aw come on now, not a Complete Layabout, surely?!
        I am the opposite… which is why I’ve never got a job or made it up the ranks through being interviewed, but only through starting fairly lowly and proving myself through actually getting good work done. Which is not very popular round here. Apparently this means I am subverting the system, and the system is far more important that what it achieves. Shhh, whatever you do, don’t threaten the system!


        • ThinkPurpose says:

          Quite a complete layabout then. I can’t do dull meaningless tasks unless they are publicly acknowledged as dull and meaningless, then I can fly through them. It’s when people think they’re useful that I shut down. I’m all for dull futility AS LONG AS WE ALL KNOW IT IS


  2. If you include the Toyota management you get a whole raft of non-white systemsy folk, Ishikawa, Ohno, Shingo. And maybe if you’re having Seddon then you might also be able to include Naomi Stanford.

    It’s cutting it a little fine but you might also consider Ada Lovelace, Florence Nightingale, Grace Hopper.


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