The charade of interviews and resumes

Paul Graham is a programmer, writer, and famous investor and this blog on Start Up Ideas was a terrific read. Here is a quote from it worth repeating here : “One of my tricks for generating startup ideas is to imagine the ways in which we’ll seem backward to future generations.”

“Ways in which we’ll seem backward to future generations”

If you ever wanted to get into business you could spend a whole summer mind-mapping ideas just from that phrase.

How about we modify it to be more contemporary in the here and now ? Like how about “Ways in which this X practice will seem backward to people from that Y Country ?”

Example : In London, if you have an Oyster Card you can travel on any public train, tube, bus, tram within city limits. Idea is self obviously smart and logical. But if you went to Delhi you cannot use the Metro Card anywhere else in the city. Seems so backward once one has used the former. This situation additionally embodies that famous quote by scifi writer Gibson : THE FUTURE IS ALREADY HERE. IT’S JUST NOT VERY EVENLY DISTRIBUTED.

Now take Resumes and Interviews. I am going to take a wager that we’ll seem backward to future generations about this inane, needlessly convoluted and very artificial process.

A resume is a piece of paper, composed by the author, with information cherry picked by the author, given to a future employer who cannot ever verify ALL the data in this piece of paper, with the purpose of getting employment by the author who cherry picked the information. Anyone see a bias here ? It’s like someone asking you to buy a Car/TV using only and only the brochure for information about the object. No peeking anywhere else for data!

An interview is a short 1 hour, tightly controlled, unnaturally stressed process to find out if the interviewee can perform certain tasks over the next 2000 to 10000 to 20000 hours with the employer/interviewer.

This is how the majority get selected into white collar desk jobs even today in most parts of the world. I cannot be the only guy who finds this whole thing in massive need of re-engineering or even outright elimination. I am going to wager these two twentieth century practices will not survive the end of this progressive century.

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