“Will you hire it, hire it, hire it?”

I have been applying for jobs on the internet. Has anyone noticed that some employers are now including rather strange surveys as part of their applications? It’s not enough to be qualified for the job, to have good references, and to not be a Meth addict. The people doing the hiring have a burning need to get deep into your psyche.

I feel like the “The Applicant” in that poem by Sylvia Plath: “First, are you our sort of person?”  Of course, the speaker in Plath’s poem is talking about marriage and how women have to be “willing/To bring teacups and roll away headaches/And do whatever you tell it” if they want to be husband-eligible. In this case, I would like to earn a paycheck.

I saw an ad for a custodial position at the College Where I Used to Adjunct. For a split second, I thought about applying for it, just for laughs. But then the thought of having to clean out the mouse poo from the office where I used to work made me change my mind. I am rather spoiled that way.

I also applied for a job as a receptionist at NYU. One of the questions on their survey was, “Why do you want to work at NYU?” There were some options to choose from. I chose “I want to work in the higher education sector” because “I just want a job, any old job will do” was not available. Another application asked me to “tell a compelling story” about myself. How about: “For some reason, ten years ago, I enrolled in a PhD program in English.” The crowd gasps, “you did what?”

Yesterday, when my head was mush from all the typing, I pulled together some of the questions (they’re actually statements that you have to agree or disagree with) from the various job application surveys and wrote this poem. These statements have not been altered. I just reordered them. Now, we’ll wait and see if that phone starts ringing. Like Sylvia, who really shouldn’t have gassed herself in that oven, all I want to know is, “Will you hire it, hire it, hire it?”

Internet Job Application Survey

To the applicant: choose a) strongly disagree, b) disagree, c) agree, or d) strongly agree in response to the following questions.

You have confidence in yourself.
You are unsure of what to say when you meet someone.
You are a fairly private person.
You keep calm when under stress.
You do not like to take orders.
Your stuff is often kind of messy.
You hate to give up if you can’t solve a hard problem.
It bothers you a long time if someone is unfair to you.
You’ve done your share of troublemaking.
You do some things that upset people.
You would rather not get involved in other people’s problems.
You are more relaxed than strict about finishing things on time.
You give direct criticism when you need to.
You rarely act without thinking.
You don’t care what people think of you.
You love to listen to people talk about themselves.
You ignore people you don’t like.
It is hard to really care about work when the job is boring.
You like to take frequent breaks when working on something difficult.
You don’t believe a lot of what people say.
You don’t work too hard because it doesn’t pay off anyway.
You could not deal with difficult people all day.
People’s feelings are sometimes hurt by what you say.
You do what you are told to do, even if it does not make sense to you.
People do a lot of annoying things.
You look back and feel bad about things you’ve done.

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One Response to “Will you hire it, hire it, hire it?”

  1. B says:

    The job application industry is a racket. I’m not going to presume to know why or how or what that says about society, but, somehow, it became that. (In other words, I read a little bit about it in an article a long time ago but I forgot where.) Companies that run drug tests and psychological screenings managed to convince employers that their screenings were statistically tied to job performance, and they’ve been doing those things by default ever since. Since anything involving a large corporation is near-impossible to undo, we’ll probably continue to see these (probably pointless and still time-consuming) surveys forever.

    I guess I prefer to think of them as another part of the dead weight of bureaucracy than to think of Sylvia Plath. Like you said, it’s easy to identify with her, but then again, she also put her head into an oven. At some point, the surveys may have had somewhat sinister intentions behind them, but now, they’re just another time-consuming corporate process that, no matter how time-consuming it is, and no matter how little ROI it brings, is too big to undo.

    Also, thanks for your link to me a while back. I really appreciate it.

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