Friday, 19 April 2013

Just the job

There's a cartoon doing the rounds of a man going for a job interview with Ikea. As he enters the room the interviewer points to a neat collection of pieces of wood and screws on the floor and says 'Have a seat'. On the one hand this joke is saying that Ikea means flat-pack furniture. On the other hand it's suggesting that to get a job at Ikea you have to able to assemble their products. Not quite as funny but possibly true.

It has been said (possibly by C Northcote Parkinson ... he of the famous law) that the ideal job advertisement will only solicit one applicant and they will be perfect for the job. In the case I read, but can not find at this time, an applicant for a position as security guard is obliged to attend an interview in the middle of the night at a gym and (the clincher no doubt) must bring a pair of boxing gloves.

Interactive media rarely requires boxing gloves (although we have heard stories of fisticuffs) but the challenge is the same: how do you fine-tune your job advert to get the best applicants and then how do you interview them.

Spool back almost a year to May 2011 and pity poor London agency Poke, who lost a copywriter to the White House (yes really). They needed a replacement in a hurry and crafted what Andy Headworth on the Sirona Says blog wonders might be simply the best job advert ever written. It certainly takes a while to read through but it's significant that the applicant is set a series of tasks building on the link to President Obama. Only at the end is the question posed: 'What do you think it takes to be a good copywriter at a digital agency?'. It's somewhat like Frodo Baggins fighting his way to the depths of Mordor and being asked 'What do you think makes this ring precious?'

Assuming you get more than one applicant for interview, the strategy will probably either be 'assume they can do the job because they've done one like it before', or 'they have the certificate', or 'test them to destruction'. All have their place, and we know of one person who was so good at the programming task he was set that he was hired before he left the building.

Does your company have a set strategy for recruiting and do you, like Poke, bring some fun into the process? We'd love to know. Of course, you may sometimes let staff interview potential employees.

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