So my job hunt continues. I’ve had a few close calls recently where I’ve made the interview round but not landed the role. Job hunting is a frustrating sort of endeavour, because it doesn’t matter how many occasions you are ninety five percent successful on, at the end of the week if you haven't made the extra five percent you still have absolutely nothing to show for it.

There’s nothing more disheartening than being told over the phone that, while your application was great, your interview went well and you’d absolutely be capable of filling the role, someone with 17 years’ experience in a similar role is also out of work at the moment. Or was until yesterday. Sorry about that.

Actually there is something more disheartening: being told by a computer that you don't measure up.

Recently I applied for a couple of jobs as front office tellers with two major Australian banking corporations. Both banks had very similar application pages to fill in, requiring me to show that I had the right to work in Australia, that I wasn’t a criminal and that I was sufficiently culturally diverse. As one of the most diverse individuals you’ve ever met, I obviously nailed those pages.

Both banks sent me automatically generated emails advising me that I had made it to the next stage of the application process. Both of them had me sign into an online aptitude test. Both of them were obviously too lazy to do their own HR work, because both of them sent me the same test, run by a third party HR consultant. It tested cash-handling ability with a fun game that most primary school students would be able to do. Then it gave me a multiple choice quiz on my reactions to a bunch of hypothetical customer service situations.

Once the test was complete, the computer thanked me for my time and advised me that a notice would be sent to me based on the outcome of my aptitude test.

Within two days, both banks sent me automated email letting me know that based on my results, I didn’t have enough experience in customer service. At no point during either application was I given the chance to speak to a human being, which is a shame, because there was nowhere in the multiple choice quiz test to record the fact that:

  • I have worked in a financial institution for more than two years
  • I have plenty of front-line customer service experience working as a teller in branches across the Top End.
  • For over twelve months, it was my job to train new bank tellers how to be bank tellers.
  • After that, it was my job to lead the entire front office operations team in providing good customer service and excellent banking services.

But apparently the computer knows enough about me to determine that I don’t have what it takes based on a fifteen minute internet quiz. Kind of like the ones that take eight questions to determine that if I were a Firefly character, I’d be Doctor Tam, when it’s patently obvious to anyone who knows me that I’d be Shepherd Book, however much I might want the answer to be Mal.

Two weeks later, I received a phone call from an actual human at one of the banks’ HR departments in Canberra. She was calling to see if I would be interested in a new position that had come up in my area. I happily chatted with her for about twenty minutes about my citizenship status, my criminal history and my cultural diversity. It seemed to be going well, until she finally got around to asking me if I would be comfortable with a commute to Groote Eylandt every morning. I informed the charming HR executive from Canberra that Groote Eylandt is an hour and a half away from Darwin by plane. At that point she got upset with me for wasting her time and we terminated the interview.

But apparently it’s my customer service skills that aren’t up to scratch. Make of that what you will.


Garry with 2 Rs

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