27 August 2004

Hole in the Resume.

You are sitting at the desk, conducting an interview. Nobody likes job interviews. They are tedious and awkward, for all parties involved. Yet they are the best method we have evolved to try and elicit some measure of the abilities, talent and character of those seeking a position. It is stressful for the applicant by design.

Back to our interview. You are the interviewer, you have a terribly important position to fill. The future of your company actually depends on the right person filling this job. You have already interviewed one candidate who has experience at this position and has demonstrated competency, and now you are looking at the next candidate. This candidate makes a good first impression. Attractive, well groomed, nice smile. What's not to like?

As you complete the introductions and sit down to begin some informal chit-chat, you begin going over his resume. You see; this candidate was picked for you by a committee, elsewhere in the company. As you are going over his resume a few things stand out.

First thing you notice is the interviewee is a vet, right out of college. Good, a Navy guy, served overseas for four months. As the idle chatter glides along, you do the math in your head, 16 weeks. Not a long time by workaday standards, but certainly impressive if it was combat related duty. The candidate has listed on his resume an impressive current position. A rather exclusive position he has held for almost 20 years.

The interview begins in earnest and right away the candidate swings into action. As you begin a series of questions you notice an odd pattern developing. Everytime you ask a question of the applicant about the vexing and complex issues that your company faces in an increasingly hostile environment, he answers with a war story. Gosh, you look at the resume and confirm that his military service was rather brief, and it was a long time ago.

Odd, so you ask the candidate more pointed questions regarding his current position and how he has addressed various issues. Now it gets interesting.

When you can get an answer out of him at all, that is not a war story from 30 years ago, the answers are all over the board. You're an experienced interviewer and you have a few tools at your disposal.

You pull one these out. It is a standard interview technique that virtually everyone who has been to an interview has had to look-out for. You ask a question about the same issue in a significantly different way. You are looking for consistency here. You are looking to see if there is a set cognitive schemata this individual uses to analyze and approach problems.

Now we have a problem; the candidate starts misfiring on these questions. Answers that should be consistent on pretty basic issues, aren't. If they aren't war stories from 30 years ago, they are completely inconsistent. Flat-out contradictory. You try to help the guy out a little, because you really need to fill this position. It is terribly important. You begin asking the questions in a more similar fashion to one another when you are looking for consistency in approach. No luck. Again with the war stories.

This is really perplexing, as the candidate has a pretty decent position now, but it is starting to look more and more like the guy is a chair warmer.

If you haven't caught on by now; I'll spill the beans for you. The job applicant across the desk from you is none other than one John Kerry. And you are the interviewer. This political process we go through before an election is like an interview, tedious and awkward. It is designed to be that way. To elicit what we can about abilities, talent, and character of the applicants.

In our daily lives, most of us find ourselves on the interviewee side of the desk, but our unique system of government puts us on the interviewer side of the desk every four years. It is an awesome responsibility, remember the future of the country is riding on who fills this position.

Frankly, it looks like Kerry has a huge hole in his resume, a gap that begs explanation. But when you ask him to explain some of his accomplishments, he won't. He can't.

If you were being interviewed for a job , don't you think it would be a fair question to ask? What you have been doing for the last 20 years? Would you be surprised if- when you didn't answer this question -the interviewer assumes the worst. Out of the country? Working for the CIA? Prison? Or worse, France?!!

John Kerry will not answer questions about his record in the US Senate, because he can't. He hasn't done anything of legislative significance in almost 20 years in the Senate. The best predictor of future behavior, is past behavior. Hence the nature of questions at job interviews, and political campaigns.

So, should we expect John Kerry to suddenly explode into a fury of accomplishment in the next four years if he begins warming seat in the oval office? It's not going to happen. John Kerry is not going to single-handedly defy all models of predicting human behavior. Kerry has been droning on and on about health care recently, in an attempt to divert attention away from the Swift-Vet scandal, but he has had nearly 20 years in the Senate to do something about it.

He has had 20 years in the Senate to address job creation.

He has had 20 years in the Senate to address terrorism. He even sits on the Senate intelligence committee, 24 percent of the time. http://www.factcheck.org/article.aspx?docID=241

He has had 20 years in the Senate to address the environment.

20 years in the Senate and not a single piece of legislation with his name on it. He recently had eight years with a Democratic President in office and didn't do anything about health care or any of these other issues. Nope, the guy is a seat warmer and he's just looking for a different seat to warm.

So now you're sitting on the interviewer side of the desk, and you have a decision to make. A terribly important decision. You have a candidate for the position who steadfastly refuses to answer questions about his positions in anything resembling a consistent manner. As such, he has a huge hole in his resume. Do you hire him? Would you expect to get hired under such circumstances?