Persuasion has always been a fundamental skill set in building corporate rapport. However, just as easily, the lines of persuasion can blur into exaggeration. Is the romanticised representation of your accomplishments ethical or is it a necessary aptitude to survive against corporate homogeneity?
All’s fair in love and war.
This famous proverb, attributed to John Lyly’s Eupheus, dubiously justifies our moral transgressions. In some sense, every one of us experiences a situation resembling a battleground. The perpetual stress and restlessness over the outcome? Check. The constant side glances towards your opponents and likewise updating your strategy and standing? Check. The continuum of sleepless nights and anticipated phone calls from anxious families desperately praying for pleasant news? Unfortunately, college does not spare us the opportunity of escaping from the wrath of war. The student force is compelled to practice the tactics of war in the context of their respective careers and aspirations.
Perhaps, there is no greater battleground in college than the society elections and placement season. The stealthy rivalry consumes every student, regardless of how desperately we wish to maintain symbiotic relations. The tedious application process and the proceeding interviews determine who will continue the legacy and the golden crown of a sparking CV. However, in such an academically rigorous space, the preliminary process that constitutes these selections is eliminative rather than selective. Therefore, a huge emphasis is placed on the interview rounds. A selective verbatim is already memorised by the students appearing for these interviews.
“I am an incredibly passionate and detail-oriented individual…”
“I am a good candidate for this position because…”
“I align myself to the vision of the company and I want to…”
The use of these saturated phrases is often used to project an overenthusiastic zeal for the position. Whether the students are genuinely passionate about the position or if it is just a persuasive mechanism to imitate the idea of interest is where the art of lying takes place. Do interviewers see through this fallacy? In the United States, the Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988 (EPPA) prohibits private employers from conducting lie detector tests. Unfortunately, such a law does not exist in the Indian constitution and let us hope interviewers remain blissfully ignorant of this provision.
The interviewers are also acquainted with this verbatim. They have also developed a skill set to truly extract students who have considerable respect and passion for the position. However, a wide grey area exists where the interviewers may genuinely not have enough understanding to filter out overtly convincing students.
However, the exaggerated interests expressed by the students can be sympathised with. The rat race is an intrinsic part of the culture that dominates interview season and any opportunity to distinguish yourself is far too precious to let go of. To an experienced eye, the repeated exaggerations may appear tedious but the desperation of the students to crack an interview is far too painful to ignore.
People do tend to stretch it a bit when they are interviewing for any position or organisation. The world is so competitive right now. You go on LinkedIn and you see people doing this and doing that and you think ‘What am I doing at this moment?’ So, you want that position at any cost and in order to achieve that, you just end up selling yourself in front of the interviewer. People also do end up lying about a lot of things. I remember this individual didn’t complete an internship and they said that they were a part of that organisation for a month or two, which I think is not ethical enough considering the fact that you need to get an internship certificate for completion. Quantity nowadays is much more valuable than quality. The more and more projects you have under your CV, the more and more chances are there for getting selected for a position
-recounting her experiences of interviewing students, Himasweeta Sarma, the ex-editor-in-chief of DU Beat said
Interviews are an unusual predicament for most students. In Gen Z’s flair of self-deprecating humour, suddenly the opportunity of presenting yourself as a desirable candidate is a humongous challenge. Striking the right balance between self-doubt and arrogance is an incredibly delicate skill set to master. However, in an environment competing with the best of the best, how do you even distinguish yourself and make a difference? Your CV only plays a minimal role in the interview process because various other candidates have credible accomplishments backing up their positions. This is exactly where the idea of presenting yourself as an ideal candidate comes forward. The interview process, in a sense, is a facade of the accomplishments you employed and they are only deemed to be valuable if you present them as so. Persuasion, or glorified manipulation in certain cases, is truly an art form that needs to be mastered to dictate your success. However, in the process of persuasion, the boundaries of accuracy are blurred. Your accomplishments are heavily overestimated in the process, conveying a false sense of capability.
In our college, there is a formula most seniors preach. ‘It doesn’t matter if you don’t have experience or expertise or if you think someone deserves this more than you. Tell us why you are the superior candidate and the position is yours,’
Bhavya Nayak, a first-year student from SRCC observed.
On the flip side, the success of your accomplishments may sometimes need to be compromised. Specifically for college societies, interviewers place extremely stringent conditions that are often extremely demanding and strenuous for the candidates. Students often need to underestimate their accomplishments or blatantly disregard their leadership positions during interviews in order to falsely exhibit a commitment towards the position.
In a sense, the interview process may seem futile since the outcome is so heavily influenced by factors beyond our control. It may also raise the question of the validity of such a demanding process. Can you really determine if a candidate is capable of performing the job through a 10-minute, carefully fabricated process? However, an even greater question needs to be addressed. Does it even matter who gets the position if the work is getting done?
The quality of the recruitment process greatly determines how societies will function for the upcoming tenure. In this regard, there are greater implications that arise in terms of how the interviews are carried out. Oftentimes, there exists a wide gap between the expectations held by seniors and the actual result delivered by the newly recruited students.
Especially in societies like the Entrepreneurship Cell and the Placement Cell, they have a big recruitment process with several steps so they try to sift as much as possible. But even through that, something that depends upon college to college, crowd to crowd is that they have a mindset that they need to get more people on board than the quality of the people they are hiring. Because of this reason, the quality of work received by the placement cell, especially in my department, social media content writing, was not up to the mark,”
remarked Aayat Farooqui, a second-year student from Deshbandu College.
On the moral high ground, there are ethical considerations that need to be understood. The recruitment process is often incredibly taxing to both the student and the interviewer. Interviewers have no definite way of knowing the intentions of the interviewers. A student may appear to be enthusiastic about the position because of the spark it lends to their CV. However, the responsibility that comes with these positions are incredibly demanding and students are expected to fulfil their responsibilities in promised ways. If a student is apathetic towards the work, it derails the morale of the workplace and leads to dissatisfaction.
As Benjamin Franklin once famously stated, “Would you persuade, you must appeal to interest rather than intellect.” The romanticisation of interviews is inherently connected to this notion of persuasion. In a sense, the art of exaggerating is a requisite in surviving today’s competitiveness. However, the illusion of passion should not later become a liability to the ethos of the organisation. The balance needs to be struck. So while you’re nervously shaking for your next interview, just remember to be proud of your accomplishments and grateful for this opportunity, regardless of the outcome.
Image Credits: Sakshi Education
Sri Sidhvi Dindi