I started working at 16 years old at local swimming pools and sports centres. My Dad was the manager of another sports centre so I did not have to do much work to get the job. I had swum a lot growing up so I gained my lifeguard qualification and walked into a job easily. There was no interview process.
Fast forward a few years to my 20th birthday. I had finished my Mathematics degree and was applying for jobs. Proper jobs! It was an eye-opening experience. To this day, I think the interview process for the jobs I went on during that time were completely pointless.
I recall a second interview with a large international manufacturing company based in central Scotland. The first interview had gone well. In the second interview, I sat in front of two professional looking men. One was asking the majority of questions. He would ask me those vague questions that many companies do such as “How do you see yourself fitting in with this company?”, “Where do you see yourself in five years time?” and “Tell us about a time where you helped your team”. I was twenty years old. I had no work experience and very little life experience. Still, I was confident and answered all questions as best as I could. It was not the questions I had issues with. It was the way the man responded to me. Or didn’t. You see, I would talk for a few minutes and at the end, he would just sit and stare at me. Then he would say something along the lines of “Mmmm ok” and write something down. The whole procedure was set up to make me feel comfortable.
What benefit was there in them doing this? It still baffles me. I walked out of the interview being ready to turn down the job if I got offered it because the guy was such an asshole. I have no doubt that they did this with every applicant in order to empower their egos. Oh…and I did not get the job.
A few months later I travelled to a small place just south of Birmingham for an interview with Codemasters. Codemasters are one of the most famous games developers in the UK with a long history going back to the Spectrum and Commodore days (remember Dizzy!), so it would have been amazing to have worked there. The job I was going for was a games tester. The job entailed playing unfinished games and then reporting bugs and feedback to the development team.
It was not a high paying job. It only paid around £13,000 a year. And after paying rent, I would not have been making much money. I didn’t care as it would have been a step into the gaming industry…which I had always dreamed of. The interview process was very friendly and relaxed and I got to see how a modern games company operated. The number of tests I had to do was insane. I had to sit all of these IQ, word, mathematical and psychometric based tests. It was like sitting a three-hour exam at university. I am not sure why these were required (though I assume there was some reason for it). It had taken almost ten hours to drive down so we had set off from Scotland very early (i.e. 2am). So the tests were even harder because I was so exhausted from travelling.
Over the years I went on more interviews. Some good, some not so good. What continued to surprise me was the techniques that interviewers used to interview people. Pointless questions were always asked. Questions that had no relation to the job in question.
Why Do Website Owners Make Bloggers Jump Through Pointless Hoops?
Making interviewees jump through hoops happens frequently online too. It is a technique that many website owners use in order to improve the quality of applications. It only takes a minute to send an email to someone enquiring about a job, but completing an online form can take 30 minutes to an hour. If a company has received hundreds of applicants for a position and the quality of applicants are low, it makes sense to weed out those that are not suitable.
Last week I spoke about the quality of jobs being posted on the ProBlogger job board dropping. Making bloggers jump through hoops is another issue that frustrates me. A job advertisement published by marketing company Higher Click on Tuesday caught my attention. It did not state the rates they pay and it pointed everyone towards an application form for freelance writers.
As part of the application, freelance writers have to write a few small articles. This is something I generally do not agree with. That is, after all, what a resume is for. If I have thousands of articles published online, should I really spend my time submitting articles for free in job applications? I believe that it is relevant to ask people without a resume to submit an article, but not those that have a long resume that highlights their qualities and experience.
My specific issue with the Higher Click was not with asking for articles to be submitted. It was the nature of those articles. Here is a run down of all the questions in the form. I have highlighted the questions I have issues with:
- How did you hear about us?
- If available, give us 3-5 links to stuff you wrote and you’re proud of
- Link us to your most active social profile
- Please give us an estimate of how much you would normally charge for a 550-750 word article (US Dollars)
- What is your weekly capacity? (550-750 words articles per week)
- In 400 words, please take a stance in the classic debate about whether scissors or fingernail clippers are preferable for nail cutting, and explain to us your position.
- In 600 words, write a fun and engaging article about Organic Rice production in Vietnam!
- Why do you want to work for Higher Click (tell us in 150 words or less)?
- Preferred topics (if you have any)
- Upload Resume
The classic debate between scissors and fingernail clippers….Organic rice production in Vietnam….Who the hell wrote these questions? And what benefit is there to Higher Click in having applicants jump through these hoops.
As I noted in my article about job boards, it is frustrating that website owners are not publishing the rate that a job pays. It is not much of an issue if a job can be applied for by email as it only takes a few minutes to send an email about the job. An application like the one above is different. Do bloggers really want to be spending an hour filling in this stupid application form; only for them to get a reply from the company stating that they only pay $5 an article?
I have no idea what rate Higher Click pays, though it is clear to me that the majority of the companies that pay terrible rates are the ones that are hiding their rates from public view.
Should You Jump Through Hoops in Order to Land a Job?
I appreciate that when it comes to blogging jobs, aspiring bloggers cannot afford to be as picky as me. When you do not have many published articles under your belt, it can be difficult to persuade someone to take a chance on you. Does that mean you should jump through hoops?
As a blog owner, I came across a lot of time wasters. The majority of people who apply for a blogging job with me would then not do the job or fail to do jobs on time. Once I started freelancing myself, it became apparent that there are a lot of website owners who are time wasters too. I have taken writing jobs on before, only for the owner to change their mind a few days later and advise that they no longer have the budget. Or they decide to sell the website rather than develop it. Decisions that should have been made before they advertised for writers.
Bear this in mind when you are applying for jobs: Not everyone is as professional as they make out to be. In my opinion, an experienced website owner will be able to spot a talented writer based on his application email and resume alone. They do not need to make you jump through hoops for the sake of it. I am not suggesting that it is not worth your time applying for jobs through application forms. Just be mindful of application forms that ask you to write long articles on stupid subjects.
You will find jobs that require you to submit a long application form but do not confirm the rate the job pays. In those situations, it may be worth sending a quick email to the company asking them for a rough idea of how much they pay. If they give you a vague reply about experience and point you towards the application form, you need to decide whether completing the application form is worth your time; as there is a chance that you will spend an hour of your time completing a form for a job that pays terribly.
Additionally, in my experience, websites that require you to submit application forms are very poor at responding to applicants. Some will only reply to those that are successful and not reply to those that were not. This is in part due to the fact that websites that use applicant forms are trying to reduce the number of applicants as more applications usually means they have less time to reply to applicants.
Applying for jobs is a time-consuming process though it is a necessary part of freelancing. The steps that many website owners ask you to do are important, however for others the steps are a complete waste of time. Over time you should realise which is which.