Thursday, April 04, 2013

In which I attend another meeting, which makes me think thoughts...

I participated in another interesting discussion at CVP today during a committee meeting.

We were talking about extending our practice interviews to cover telephone interviews as well as in-person interviews. One of the committee members - the one who came up with the idea to do this last week, in fact - was talking about how most businesses have gone to using phone interviews as a screening technique. It is cheaper and takes less time, apparently, to call applicants up and ask them some basic questions in order to cut the number of applicants down to a manageable number rather than trying to call tens, or sometimes hundreds, of people in for in-person interviews.

And that makes sense. If you have two hundred and fifty applicants for one position - which isn't exactly unheard of these days - there is simply no manageable way to give them all in-person interviews. But you can call the ones who aren't judged unsuitable for the position based on their application or resume alone and ask them a few basic questions. What hours are they willing to work? Are they able to work weekends and holidays if necessary? What kind of wage or salary are they willing to accept? If applicable to the position, are they willing to travel? Are they willing to relocate if necessary?

And, honestly, there are advantages to phone interviews for the the job-seeker as well. The most obvious is the opportunity to make a good impression on the company without having that impression depend on visual cues: How tall or short is the applicant? Is the applicant outside the socially acceptable range of weight? How old does the applicant appear to be? How does the applicant wear their hair? There are others, and I could go on. Of course, it's really unfair that these sorts of judgments are made, but people do make them every day, and they make them as they are making hiring decisions. If an applicant has made a good impression over the phone, however, the judgements once he or she appears for an in-person interview might not be as harsh as they would be if the same person, minus the good impression, walked in for an interview.

But, what I thought about during the dicusssion today wasn't really about any of that.

I started thinking, instead, about the recent kerfluffle over programs that provide no-cost or low-cost phone service to the poor, the unemployed, and the homeless in the United States. There have been programs like this in place for years, but right around election time some Republicans decided that furnishing cell phones to those who could not otherwise afford them was just a Socialist Obama rip-off. Never mind the fact that such subsidized phone service was first introduced during Ronald Reagan's (not a Socialist) administration and was extended from just landlines to cell phones during the time George W. Bush (not a Socialist) was president. The fact that Obama is not a Socialist either is lost on them.

The thing is, the people who were complaining about this so-called "handout" to the poor and homeless un- and under-employed (because there are homeless people who are employed) were the same people who were calling the unemployed and the homeless "lazy and shiftless" and accusing them of just looking for a handout. They accuse them of not wanting a job and then try to deny them an essential tool for getting a job.

No phone, no interview. No interview, no job. This isn't a difficult equation to figure out, and it puts the people who claim they aren't in favor of creating a permanent underclass in the position of advocating policies that will certainly lead to the creation of a permanent underclass.

My question to them is this: Do you want people who are poor and/or unemployed to be able to get a job, get off the welfare rolls, and become what you consider to be a productive member of society? Or, are you so opposed to giving any sort of assistance to those whom you accuse of being lazy, stupid, and immoral, that you are willing to pretty much guarantee that those folks will not be able to do the things they need to do to get a job?

Because, you know, you can't have it both ways.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I can hear them now: "They don't want jobs anyway, so why give them the phone that they're just going to use to call up their dealer and score whatever drugs they're on." I suppose there is no hope for the people who think like that. They are so caught up in their worldview that there isn't any room for any other possibilities. But they are trying to have it both ways, whether they are able or willing to admit it or not...trying to say that people don't want to work and then turning around and closing that possibility off to them, except perhaps for a few low-paying jobs that don't lead anywhere but to frustration and continued poverty.

I don't know. I just don't understand people sometimes. They proclaim, without any hard evidence, that people who aren't working don't want jobs, but then they complain when someone proposes a way to give them something they need to get a job.

Yes. I've said this about three different ways in the course of this short post. It's because I'm trying to understand that mindset, and I'm not having much success.

Could someone explain it to me? There is no justification, but there should be an explanation of this behavior out there somewhere.

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