Business Culture Talent

Have attitude? You got yourself a job

Imagine this:

You applied for a job. The prospective employer did not ask for your resumé. But they probably had some ways of shortlisting applications, because you somehow got shortlisted.

You have arrived at the interview location, but there is no interviewer. Politely invited into an enclosure with a few fellow applicants, you are asked to find a way to exit from this enclosure by following clues and solve puzzles scattered around the room. Replace “exit” with “escape” if you prefer drama.

Someone (the recruiter) would be watching you and your behaviour to arrive at a magical score rating your work ethics, attitude, and leadership aptitude.

Then the prospective employer would make a hiring decision based on this score.

Welcome to the future of job interviews.
Or rather, welcome to an interesting experiment.

The idea of figuring out someone’s character through constraining options is not new. That is why scriptwriters put their characters under duress. That is why business managers sometimes assign difficult tasks to certain team members. Hollywood has explored this path to a point it has its own sub-genre: the “escape room”.

But applying the “escape room” method as the sole (and seemingly only) criterion to recruit someone is really testing my imagination.

I have never heard of the company mentioned in this article, but when their CEO said he did not care about potential hires’ resumes, and that he put attitude clearly above skills and experience, he got my attention.

What this company is doing is, in fact, an intriguing experiment.

It is time for some constructive criticism.

When we choose to ignore people’s hard skills and experience, and only focus on building a culture of team members who fit in, we might end up in a workplace full of “people with attitude” but struggle to get the jobs done.

The idea that hard skills can be taught is valid, but only for certain skills. Complex skills take a a long time to learn and master. And then, experience can never be discounted. Only time and mistakes can provide experience. This line of thinking, if applicable at all, is only relevant to operational environments requiring simple skills.

Attitude and work ethics obviously are important, but putting these qualities above hard skills and craftsmanship is surely an over-adjustment. In fact, in most business operational situations, I would prefer a team full of specialists, who know what they are doing, over a team full of go-getters-with-attitude any time.

The “escape room” constraints, due to the nature of time and spatial limits, can only allow someone to demonstrate limited aspects of leadership. In comparison, I probably could deduce a lot more about someone’s leadership aptitude if that person’s resume shows that she has summitted Mt Everest, or that he has spent the summer teaching himself to play the cello, or that her last gig was product owner at Uber.

Fifth and Final:
One cannot lead others before one can lead oneself. In corporate speak, leadership usually means “leading others” (for more pay and higher status). On behaviour alone, I have not come across many corporate leaders who consistently demonstrate that they are capable of leading themselves. Opportunities to show how one could lead oneself would be very limited in the design of “escape room” scenarios.

I suspect there might be something lost in translation in the above article. But considering the write-up on its merit, this looks like either a publicity stunt, or an experiment about to end up in tears.

I applaud the bravery of radical experimenters, but this type of experiments probably will need many false starts before finding its mojo.

You only need to follow Zappos’ experiment with holacracy to draw analogies.

📸 RhondaK Native Florida Folk Artist