Invasive interview question dubbed ‘atrocious’ by jobseekers

It’s not exactly standard (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Gone are the days when you could hand your CV in to the places you wanted to work and be considered for hire.

Nowadays you have to jump through all sorts of hoops, from submitting eye-catching cover letters that make you stand out to taking lengthy pre-interview tests.

What this jobseeker was asked, though, really takes the cake.

Graphic designer, Salem Pierce, shared a screenshot of the question to Twitter this week, alongside the caption: ‘New level of job application hell just dropped.’

While applying for a visual design lead role at an unnamed company, the 30-year-old was asked: ‘How do you feel life has worked out for you so far?’

The employer required ‘a short, roughly 2-5 minute video response’ from applicants, who were expected to offer up their life stories as part of the initial evaluation.

Salem, who’s based in Ohio, US, and told Buzzfeed she has been unemployed for the last two years, and the application request sparked widespread criticism online, with commenters describing it as ‘atrocious’ and a ‘literal nightmare.’

Over 2.2 million people have now viewed her tweet, but the general sentiment can be summed up in a single response: ‘This has nothing to do with a job.’

‘I would rather have a colonoscopy than do that,’ said one user, while another wrote: ‘Both the question and the requirement for a video response are causing internal screaming. If I tried to do it, it would probably be 2-5 minutes of external screaming.’

Some pointed out that the invasive question served as a helpful red flag, prompting Salem to avoid continuing with the process.

Additionally, others expressed concern over that the potential discrimination issues that could arise from such recruitment practices.

‘I could see so many ways this is an innocuous seeming way to weed out people from a protected class under the guise of “fit” or “attitude” or “charisma,”‘ said a commenter.

‘Seems like a way to weed out people who are not neurotypical or white/cishet/thin before they can even get a chance to interview,’ someone else agreed. 

Salem said that, as well as this aspect, she disliked ‘how intrusive it feels for people with past trauma or from disadvantaged backgrounds.’

‘Several folks with reported backgrounds in HR said they’ve seen questions like this used to screen for “victim mentality,” which is really gross,’ she added.

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Commenters were less than impressed by the question (Picture: Twitter)
It didn’t go down well among jobseekers (Picture: Twitter)
Would it be a dealbreaker for you? (Picture: Twitter)
The employer’s motivations came into question (Picture: Twitter)
Some speculated over whether the question amounted to discrimination (Picture: Twitter)
Others mentioned it may have been a blessing in disguise for Salem (Picture: Twitter)
There were also some ‘helpful’ suggestions (Picture: Twitter)

There were a couple of folks who felt differently, including one person who believed the ‘chance to explain circumstances that may look less than desirable and contrast them with my general attitudes towards things’ may ‘boost [their] chances of being selected.’

Here in the UK, it’s unlawful to ask candidates certain things at interview, including how many days’ sickness you had in your previous employment and whether you have (or plan to have) children.

Questions that are unrelated to the job – like those about your personal life – can lead to bias, so should be avoided to keep things fair.

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