This is a sanity check

So, it’s been a little while since I’ve blogged. But I’m back to it!

This post is to point out something I’ve recently learned, and am still thoroughly confused about.

A couple of weeks ago I had a phone screening for a job where at the beginning of the conversation the hiring manager did his best to reassure me the screening would be painless.

“This is the easy part,” he said. “Think of this as a sanity check.”

My name also starts with "C". Coincidence?

I don’t know about you, but I interpreted his words as meaning he’s checking to see if I’m insane. If I’m not, then I land a real interview, and if I am, then I don’t get the interview.

Well that actually did put me at ease somewhat. And I thought I answered the majority of the questions decently (though there were a couple of answers I recognize could have been significantly better).

Well, the next day I received an email saying the company was going to pass on me. That’s all I learned. All of a sudden I started questioning my mental health.

“Hmmm, if the interview was to check my sanity, and I didn’t succeed at it, that must mean I’m insane, right?”

The rest of the week I felt horrible.

Well last weekend I was at a birthday dinner where I met a guy whose job is to recruit leaders for nonprofits. I told him about my phone screening experience, and asked him his thoughts.

“Oh.” he said. “Hiring managers give the sanity line all the time.”

“What?” I asked. “Why? And more importantly, if the screening doesn’t lead to anything does it mean you’re insane?”

“Well, basically they say that to put you ease,” he said. “But at the same time they are sort of fooling you.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, they tell you it’s a sanity check to calm you down. It works for a lot of people. The problem is that the interviewees get so relaxed it turns off the interviewers. In other words, the interviewees become so laid-back and “normal,” that they appear bland.

“OK, so why would the hiring manager try to get them this way by telling them it’s a sanity check?”

“Well, basically he is playing a trick on the candidate. He is trying to weed out the boring Joes from the interesting ones. He wants to find someone who’s willing to display his true personality despite the sanity comment. Someone who doesn’t change based on outside factors. It looks like you succumbed to his trick.”

While this is a semblance of an answer, it still did not satisfy me. It seems like too complex a procedure for a hiring manager to undertake. It seems too twisted, too calculated, too illogical. Maybe I need a second opinion about the sanity check line.

Either way, I’m starting to think that the “sanity check” line is more insane than any line I delivered during my interview.

Image from www.flickr.com/photos/kuppkake/2539621918

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