Deja Vu

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http://blogs.hrhero.com/thatswhatshesaid/wp-content/blogs.dir/2/files/userphoto/jaclynwest.jpgLitigation Value: Nothing for Pam, but I’m sure the Philly real estate employees have plenty of gripes.

Last night’s episode of “The Office” was a repeat of “Move On: Part I,” which we covered in our post “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do.” There were plenty of shenanigans in Scranton during that episode, so we didn’t even get around to talking about Pam’s disastrous job interview in Philly. With Jim spending more and more time in Philadelphia working on developing his new company, Athlead, Pam is looking for employment opportunities in the area too. And hoo, boy, does she find one.

“Marky Mark, the horrible boss around here,” welcomes Pam for her interview with a tour around the office, complete with incoherent ramblings and bad jokes. He pokes fun at his employees, who have all so clearly heard the same jokes before – so many times – that they appear to have had their senses of humor beaten out of them. The interview then moves into Mark’s office, where he strums his guitar and serenades Pam with a spontaneous song – about her – under an “Odd Life of Timothy Green” poster. Pam, amused and intrigued, puts up with the interview until she discovers that what Mark is really looking for is a receptionist, not the office manager for whom he advertised.

Having worked under Michael Scott for many years, Pam immediately recognizes Mark as Michael’s Philly real estate twin – and if Pam wanted to be a receptionist again, her long experience of dealing with a boss who fancies himself much funnier than he actually is would have stood her in good stead. Still, we can’t blame Pam for walking out on this potential nightmare job, can we?

Pam’s experience got me thinking about some best practices for interviewing and hiring, for any employer who is looking to avoid being compared to Michael Scott. Here are a few tips:

  • Be honest about the position you’re looking to fill and your expectations for the incumbent.  Mark advertised for an office manager, and Pam came in expecting to be interviewed as a potential office manager.  Most employers wouldn’t advertise for a higher-skilled, higher-paid position than the one they really plan to fill – but if applicants come in without an understanding of the position for which they are interviewing, awkward moments abound when they finally discover the truth.
  • In that light, have a job description prepared, and evaluate applicants based on the needed skills for the position – not on their ability to appreciate spur-of-the-moment song composition (unless that’s a skill they need… and in Mark’s world, maybe it is).
  • Avoid any questions that even come close to touching on discriminatory topics.  For instance, Mark, unless Pam volunteers information about her kids, don’t ask her about them!  If you elicit information about her family life, or plans for future kiddos, and then you decide not to hire her, you’ve handed her a pregnancy discrimination claim – or a claim for marital status or family responsibility discrimination, if you’re in one of the jurisdictions that recognizes those claims.
  • Avoid poking fun at your current employees.  You may not give the applicant any fodder for discrimination claims, but you’re certainly going to raise questions about how much they really want to work for you.

We ended the storyline with Pam finally communicating to Jim that she really doesn’t want to leave Scranton.  Which is, of course, a problem now that Jim has started a business in Philadelphia.  I love those two, so I hope they can get through this new challenge together – and I think they will.  At the very least, Pam has to have a better option than going to work for Michael Scott Redux.  What are the odds that Athlead needs an office manager?

Topics:  Discrimination, Hiring & Firing, Interviews, Job Applicants

Published In: Labor & Employment Updates

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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