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‘The Job’ Puts Employee Hopefuls Through Their Paces

By Kathy Gurchiek  2/8/2013
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In the premiere episode of the reality TV show “The Job,” which debuted Feb. 8, 2013, Anthony Hollinrake deftly handled a wine bottle while on duty at the renowned Palm Restaurant in New York City, but his failure to dress properly while working at the front desk may have cost him his dream job as an assistant manager there.

Likewise, Ryan Pickett’s clumsy work as sommelier may have cast him in a poor light as he, Hollinrake and three others vied for the assistant manager’s position at the flagship location of the fine-dining steakhouse. 

The show is the latest twist on how employers put job candidates through a trial by fire. Contestants tackle job-related elimination challenges and verbally answer quizzes about the industry and the employer. In one episode job candidates are asked to identify by name and title three employees they worked with during a shift rotation.

A three-member panel of executives, which changes with each episode, evaluates the candidates. For the job at the Palm, the judges were Wally Ganzi, restaurant co-chairman and co-owner; Bruce Bozzi Jr., Palm executive vice president; and Janice Sheil, general manager of Palm Too, a nearby sister restaurant.

The show “takes the job interview to a really unique level while giving job seekers some really good, practical advice on what to do and what to avoid when trying to find a job,” CBS Entertainment’s director of publicity, Kimberly Izzo-Emmet, told SHRM Online in an e-mail.

The expectation is that viewers will tune in to see “who cracks under pressure … [and] who’s a work in progress,” she said.

Additionally, three guest judges from other companies in the same industry secretly observe the candidates and may make their own job offer. The candidate must decide whether to continue with the competition or accept the offer.

Future episodes will include contestants competing for positions at Cosmopolitan magazine, Major League Soccer, Epic Records, Live Nation, social-gaming service provider Zynga, online shopping site Gilt and the Viceroy Hotel Group.

Interviewing Ideas for Employers

The program shares interview tips that could apply to any job hopeful, but employers, too, may learn interview techniques they can use to hone their own hiring process.

The Palm, for example, may adopt some of those used in the premiere episode, according to Bozzi.

Typically, new hires at the posh eatery go through a four- to six-week training program.

“Our takeaway [from the show] was there’s an opportunity in the interview process to put someone to work for the night” to test their skill set during a busy Friday night, Bozzi told SHRM Online.

“Not with the expectation that you’re going to be perfect,” he added. “I’m not worried about mistakes; that’s how we learn.” Rather, Bozzi wants to see whether the candidates exhibits poise under pressure.

On the show, candidates were asked to identify three of the Palm employees with whom they worked during the shift rotations. In a workplace culture such as that of the fourth-generation Palm, where a feeling of family is emphasized, a candidate who remembered the names and titles of staffers would stand out, Bozzi noted.

While the program involves a more rigorous interview process than most employers have the resources and time for, Bozzi stressed the importance of the interviewer getting to know the person behind the resume.

One candidate closed his restaurant when he was diagnosed with cancer. Now cancer-free for two years, he is ready to rejoin the workforce. However,  an employer unaware of the reason behind the gap in employment might toss the resume aside and miss out on a potential good hire.

“Sometimes in the interview process you’re thinking about the skill set” without knowing the person behind it, Bozzi pointed out. “Really learn about people, not just from a skill set but who they are.

“The whole experience opened my eyes to the potential change we’re able to make in people’s lives.”

Kathy Gurchiek is an associate editor for HR News.

Related resource:

Tips On Getting #TheJob from Real HR Pros!, SHRM Blog, Feb. 7, 2013

Related Articles:

Some Companies Go Nontraditional to Find Right Fit, HR News, March 2012

Job Candidates Do the Darndest Things, HR News, January 2011




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