French job agency panned for TV-type interview contest

French employment agency Pôle Emploi has been criticised after footage emerged of it asking job-seekers to take part in a reality TV-style contest instead of traditional job interviews.

21 October 2018
By Connexion journalist

Reports show photos and videos revealing an organised contest in the style of television singing contest The Voice.

In this show, the judges begin the audition with their backs turned to the contestant, and only turn around to face them - by pressing a “yes” buzzer button - if they like what they hear.

Pôle Emploi has admitted to holding interviews similar in style, with interviewers having their backs turned to interviewees at the beginning of the interview.

Photos also reveal buzzers that are available for the “judges” to press on the table, and there is even a screen showing a specially-designed logo for the contest named “This is The Job - Be the best candidate; Experience the adventure of selection by a jury of employers”.

Tables, chairs, buzzers and the logo itself also appear to have been carefully designed or decorated to be in the black and red colours of the original television show.

At least eight Pôle Emploi agencies held interviews in such a style - according to website StreetPress - and included interviews for roles that appear to have little to do with entertainment or performance, such as welding, construction, or slaughterhouse positions.

Unemployment associations have heavily criticised the practice, saying that it is humiliating for jobseekers to be put through such a staged event.

Jean-Manuel Gomes, manager of the CFDT Union at Pôle Emploi, said: “What’s next? Will they organise a circus event tomorrow? Will they make us fight lions and whoever wins gets the job?

“Is this really the society that we want? Is this how we’re doing it? One job for 15 people, and this is what is offered? No, this is not at all acceptable.”

In a statement, the management of Pôle Emploi admitted that “taking tools from the world of entertainment was clumsy”, but said that all interviewees were told about the event beforehand, and voluntarily agreed to take part.

It said the event was the latest in a series of “non-harmful” attempts to make job-hunting more enticing for the unemployed, with other similar “recruitment innovations” having taken inspiration from sport or immersive adventure games.

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