Monday, June 28, 2010

The Brain Trainers

I had an interview with a company looking for "Brain Trainers" -- improving cognitive function through exercises.  Their ad said they were looking for smart people.  Some people think I'm smart.  I think I'm smart, except for the numerous ways in which I am not.  But I thought I was smart in a Brain Trainer sort of way.

I was told there would be a video and short interview.  There was a video, but then came a battery of tests.  Had I been told this, I would have showed up prepared.  As it was, I was kind of tired but saw that as no reason to cancel an appointment for a "video and short interview."  Still, I seemed to do very well on their tests and was surprised to find out I didn't make the cut.  When I inquired as to why they were not interested, I was told that hiring criteria are not shared.

Now, there were twenty people at that interview.  As far as I know, none of them were hired, as a new ad came out days after my interview.  That means twenty people wasted an hour of their lives, plus getting to the interview and back.

I realize that hiring decisions can be based, not trivially, on "vibes" which can only be picked up in person.   But was this one of those times?   Or did it all have to do with the tests, which for some reason need to be administered as a surprise?  

Or was it all about The Secret Criteria?

What could possibly be the point of secret hiring criteria?   Isn't it better for people to know as much as possible what is expected beforehand, so they don't waste their time on something they don't have a chance of getting?  And if the idea is not to share your idea with competitors for free, wouldn't it be better to patent your marvelous Criteria, maybe sell it?

This is why job hunting in America is usually ridiculous -- full of rudeness and silly games.  And there is something vaguely unsettling about this instance, in a Talosian sort of way.  There were no aliens involved, as far as I know, but the Brain Trainers' methods are based in academic psychology.  Looking back on the experience,  I definately felt a culture of narcissistic disregard.


  1. They may not share the 'hiring criteria' because it could be interpreted as biased.

  2. If it wasn't biased, how could it be a criteria?