Acting for hire

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Acting for hire


Applicants for civil servant positions check their interview schedule on July 16 at Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corporation.

In 2006, Professor Robert Feldman’s team at the University of Massachusetts conducted an experiment in which they interviewed 59 college students to be psychology teaching assistants. The experiment was to see how interviewees behave. The recorded interviews were shown to the candidates afterwards to check for lies.

The result was perhaps not all that surprising: 81 percent told an average of 2.19 lies and 90 percent of the lies were intended to make a good impression.

They lied to look better. The tendency was more evident among outgoing applicants.

In general, applicants with eloquent speech do better in interviews. Interviewers have to evaluate candidates in a short time, and they are more attracted to these applicants.

However, they need to be wary of judging people by their appearances and words. It is a concern for many HR managers.

More and more new hires turn out to be different from the people they seemed to be in the interview.

Why do they pretend? As one corporate executive said, “Because the competition is so fierce, candidates make up personalities. They learn how to talk, put on expressions and how to act. It’s hard to distinguish genuine character from acting unless you’re a veteran interviewer.”

This year, the psychological tension between interviewers and candidates will be more intense. The government has launched “blind” recruiting at public corporations and agencies. The war to control first impressions has begun.

Interview prep classes are thriving. They offer interview classes for public corporations, civil servants and the private sector.

Tactics include vocal lessons, projection of cheerfulness and confidence, model answers to expected and unexpected questions and how to talk about their educational backgrounds.

A two-hour, one-on-one lesson can cost 360,000 won ($322).

It is disheartening that young people, who are exhausted by private education, now have to learn to fake who they are.

One’s academic background has long been a stigma in Korean society.

Blind recruiting is an experiment to treat the illness. In the process, we cannot allow polarization.

If the cost of lessons for facial expressions is more important than the pure passion of applicants who cannot afford such lessons, the system is broken.

Blind hiring should not be an acting audition.

JoongAng Ilbo, July 31, Page 27

*The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

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