(Originally published at The Debrief)
Rather than memorizing a list of your proudest achievements or being able to recite an example of when you ‘got out of a difficult situation’, you should be deciding your favourite colour, according to a Google executive.
Peter Roper, Google’s head of mobile brand strategy, says that he prefers to ask prospective employees a whole host of random questions, rather than your typical business-y ones.
Crucially, in fact, he says he’s not even fussed about the questions themselves (which include things like ‘what’s the craziest thing you’ve done?’ and ‘what’s your favourite colour?’) but the conversations that follow.
So, essentially: everything we’ve been taught at school is bullshit. Throw away your ‘this is when I was a team player’ and get ready to tell your future boss about why you prefer orange over yellow.
Regardless of whether or not this is what the top dog is looking for, how many of us actually have the balls to follow through? For me, someone just entering the working world, being creative seems like a big risk. With so many hundreds of applicants for every single position going now, why would I ignore everything I’ve been told about how to win over employers, and chat away about my weekend instead? It’s one thing to go over the top with a colourful CV but another completely to accidentally blurt out that time you opened the door to your boyfriend’s mum in your underwear, to the person interviewing you.
More importantly, Roper’s comments suggest he’s looking for someone with charm. Someone who can confidently chat with a quip about their ‘craziest’ adventures, or smooth talk their way through an interview speaking only about how blue makes them reminisce of the sea.
It all boils down to classism.
Sure, for a selection of people who have been bought up surrounded by intellectual conversations, deep and meaningful chats over the dinner table about the political sphere, and are used to confidently expressing themselves, this can seem easy. What about everybody else?
There’s a distinct difference between those who are used to selling themselves in this manner (and they’re usually the ones who go on to run the country – and look at how well that’s going) and those who have had to consistently push themselves. Who don’t find it easy to speak up, who won’t express their own opinions until specifically asked. People who, although they may have the exact same, if not better skill set as the other side, have not been bought up in the same environment and as a result, cannot show themselves in the same manner.
It’s one thing to tell your mates about your funny memories, but another to talk with ease to a future employer. Especially in this day and age, where finding a good, well paid job is almost akin to running a marathon – it’s no surprise applicants will be nervous. And when you’re nervous, you can’t be confident – unless you’re used to these scenarios. Google suggesting they may prioritise potential employees based on their funny anecdotes and ability to tell them over generic skillset ones might be good for finding out more about the person. But, it might just push unconfident but equally educated applicants further down the pile instead.