I've been an avid watcher of "American Idol" since season one - no judgment, please - and although I mostly harken back for seasons past (I greatly miss ex-bully Brit judge Simon Cowell, and my favorite winner is original champ Kelly Clarkson), I'll be watching regardless when the show crowns its 10th winner later this month.
I especially like AI's Hollywood Week, where the judges weed out the contenders from the pretenders. Although there have been seasons where I've disagreed with who won, I generally think the Hollywood Week process produces a sound crop of finalists.
But, should employers recruit and hire using the "American Idol" model of putting candidates through an audition process to win a job? One blogger says yes.
Linda Robertson, a senior financial planner at Financial Finesse, recently put a post on the FF blog titled, "What HR can learn from 'American Idol.'"
The post details how Robertson had to audition for her Financial Finesse position by conducting in-person financial planning workshops on-the-fly. "At almost every step in the seven-step recruiting process, I was sure I was toast," she writes. "Somehow, I made it through. I found out later that only 2% of planners who apply for the position are hired, but that the vast majority of those planners thrived in Financial Finesse's environment, and the company had very little planner turnover."
Employees that thrive and don't leave? Maybe it's time to line up your company's Ryan Seacrest and get the auditions started.
Would your company consider auditioning job candidates in lieu of the traditional interview process? Recently, I posed the question to readers on EBN's blog, the Daily Diversion.
Commenter 5711 came out staunchly against auditioning applicants, writing: "When did the interviewing rules change to the point where everyone has to be humiliated in order to have a job? And who in their right mind would want to work for someone who showed disdain for applicants? Isn't this counterproductive? I would think so."
Granted, part of the "American Idol" audition process involves the judges alternately laughing at and dispensing tough love to the more delusional and vocally challenged contestants. But surely, a corporate audition could be more appropriately tailored to solely assessing how well applicants match the core requirements of a given job. After all, employers are just looking to get the right fit, not juice up ratings.
Along those lines, commenter Bizzy took a more tempered view, saying it isn't "unreasonable to expect an applicant to prove himself/herself prior to being offered employment. If the individual will be expected to perform the function once hired, why not ask for an example of his/her work beforehand? It's like looking an artist's portfolio.
"The ultimate goal is to ensure that the applicant is a good fit for the employer, which is beneficial for everyone involved."
I agree with Bizzy, and indeed have been asked in several instances to audition for a job by taking a writing or editing test. The "audition" always followed a traditional interview. And far from feeling humiliated, I preferred the test portion of the process, believing that sussing out grammatical errors and structural problems in an editing test was a better way to show my talents than answering, "What would you say are your biggest strengths/weaknesses?" and "Where do you see yourself in 10 years?" for the bazillionth time.
Further, as a manager, I'd never hire someone based on their resume and interview performance alone. For me, if you can't write, you're not right. While I'd certainly say my critiquing style is a happy medium between Steven and Simon, the only way for me to find out if an applicant has got the goods is to have them write something - in other words, you need to audition.
But that's just me. I'm sure other employers and applicants have different opinions. So, let's hear them. Email your comments to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Send letters, queries and story ideas to Editor-in-Chief Kelley M. Butler at Kelley.email@example.com.
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