Why do HR people play God with people's lives?

I applied for a job in a QC government agency. I used to work in a certain field (let's call it field A), then left it and went back to school for a career change in field B. The job description was about someone with a bachelor in Field A OR Field B. I have a postgraduate degree +more than 5 years of work experience under the belt in field A and recently graduated with high honours with a bachelor in field B.

When I went to the interview, the manager of the position told me I did very well in the technical test related to the field A but wanted to know why I skipped some questions. I told the truth: "Hadn't worked/studied or did anything related to that field for 3.5 years so I was just digging in my memories to answer the questions. So I left out some questions because I didn't remember the right answer."

We started the interview and I could see that the manager was very pleased with my answers and both my background. The HR's head woman who was there was frowning whenever I had a "bad" answer, as per her criteria, I guess. I swear her face was like an open book, quite distracting actually on top of the fact that she was moving in her chair, every 10 mn, as if she was bored or poked by a mean little devil.

At one point, the manager asked me what I meant on my CV by having a Canadian government security clearance and before I answered, the HR woman jumped in saying: "Oh, it's the same thing as we have here with the reliability thing. It doesn't matter anyway because we have different norms here in QC (Yeah right!!! Like the QC government has way more resources than the federal government to investigate someone). Btw, you'll need a security clearance for the job you're applying for. We'll send someone at your place to interview you." "Okay, whatever floats your boat!" but I could see the manager being puzzled by what she was saying.

Then, the manager was asking me questions about my availability, some professional examinations I was planning to take and which have no bearing on the job. Here was HR woman again: "Yeah but you can't start right away with us because you have to do this and that required by your professional order". I was like: "Uh, (sorry to burst your bubble but) you're wrong." She even started doubting my qualifications; luckily for me, I went to the interview with copies of all my degrees, transcripts, professional accreditation.

So the interview ended and I had this guts feeling about the HR woman not liking me at all. I was also wondering about that necessary security screening crap she pulled out. So I called the QC public service commission and l learned that I was right: HR woman was BS'ing. There is no advanced security screening for the position I was applying for. I received today a rejection letter for that position. Part of me doesn't care because I think that if the head of HR is a b..ch, there are high chances that the culture of the organization is as crappy as her. On the other side, I could rip her head out since I am absolutely sure I didn't get the job because she couldn't stand my guts and she's the person in charge of the assessment of the employees' integrity, like I was told by their HR department.

So I know a lot of HR people and recruiters pride themselves on passing (quick) judgments on people because "it's part of the job". I call BS on that: they play God with people's lives. No way a human being can make accurate judgments about someone's personality in a 1hr interview; what about psychological tests or whatever OBJECTIVE tools out there instead of having a self-conceited person in your face who treats you like a criminal? Seriously, what's the point of HR people?

Update:

She wasn't ill-informed about my legal qualifications: she deliberately lied about that additional security clearance step. She's the head of the HR so she does know what are the provincial laws requirements in terms of recruitment. Bear in mind that what I'm describing happened in CANADA and not in the USA and I am talking about a government agency.

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  • 9 years ago
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    Okay, so you ran across an HR person who you didn't connect with. Who according to you is ill informed about what legal qualifications you need for a particular job. Please don't lump all HR the same bucket or you might find yourself projecting "I hate you" to recruiters in future interviews without even realizing it. We read the non-verbal communication as well - just like you did in this situation.

    Very broadly speaking, the point of HR is compliance. Followed by growth, stability and retention of employees. We're charged with growing what is likely one of the top 3 expenses for a company: payroll. So yeah, we can be pretty picky. With regard to recruiting, HR acts as a screen. We're an objective set of eyes that are charged with matching the right skills, backgrounds, training and culture fit to an organization.

    Here's some good, real world advice moving forward, and it doesn't apply specifically to HR.

    In the interview process, you have to connect with not only the hiring manager, but anyone else who is part of the process. If you fail to do so, any one of those people can end your process. This includes the receptionist. Yes. The receptionist. I've witnessed interviews ending before they start because a candidate said something "off color" or was rude to the receptionist.

    Everyone is passing judgment on you when you interview. And you should be passing judgment (as you did in this case) on the company. If it's not a match, don't walk away mad. Just walk away - and take from the experience what you can to be successful in the future.

    If you know "a lot of HR people and recruiters pride themselves on passing (quick) judgments on people because it's "part of the job", then you know some awful people. Good recruiters want to be impressed, they are looking for reasons to say yes, this is a candidate that should be part of this organization. To approach it from any other direction is counterproductive to the goal: grow a profitable, healthy company!

    So don't hate on HR, recruiters, or anyone who you don't connect with in an interview. As you said, they gave you a glimpse inside the company that there is a high chance that the culture is crappy.

    Source(s): I'm in HR, am a hiring manager and a recruiter.
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