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Bsm304 Role Play #2

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BSM304 Role Play #2
Ken Litwak
City University of Seattle

I am the chief of a fire company that has an opening for a top notch fire fighter. I am interviewing 3 candidates who are all similarly qualified. I know personally one of the candidates, his family and how the family worked to pay for his schooling. This candidate’s father has asked me to hire his son. I have asked the assistant fire chief to conduct a second interview with he and I well prepared to differentiate the similar candidates. The second interview session was telling. The candidate’s dress, attitude, community involvement, variety of experience and even additional skills made one candidate stand out above the others as excellent. All 3 would have made a good choice and I was comfortable hiring any 1 of them but the second interview revealed that a particular candidate was clearly the best. I conducted additional research about differentiating similar candidates to help make my decision.
BSM304 Role Play #2

I am the chief of a fire department. I need to hire one top notch fire fighter as soon as possible. I have three applicants who have made it through the initial screening process and into the interview stage. One of these applicant’s is known to me personally and I am acquainted with the applicant’s family who live next door to the fire station. I have personally witnessed this applicant’s parents working overtime and part-time jobs to pay for his schooling. The father has specifically asked me to hire his son, Michael. Michael’s qualifications are such that he made it through the screening process and secured an interview on his own without any compromise of my ethics or favors to his father. All three applicants interviewed well and are equally qualified. Michael, however, was 15 minutes late to his scheduled interview. The other two candidates are named Tanika and Sara. Sara is a Caucasian female. Tanika is an African-American female and Michael is a Caucasian male. Any of these applicants would be a fine choice but I can hire only one. The following is the method I used to select the best candidate to fill the role. The Interview All three candidates were interviewed on the same day. Sara and Tanika were on time. Michael was 15 minutes late. The three candidates are remarkably similar. All three are physically fit and about the same height and weight. Each of the three candidates easily passed the physical exam and requirements. The thing that separates these candidates the most is how close to the fire house they live. Sara lives on the edge of town in a suburban neighborhood. Tanika lives in an apartment complex in the middle of this city. And Michael lives next door to the fire house. It occurred to me that I could make the argument that proximity and hence ability to get to the station fastest could be a deciding factor in Michael’s favor. I could hire Michael who I know best and was asked to do by his father. But Michael was late to the interview probably negating this advantage. It also occurs to me that hiring Tanika will help fulfill my diversity goals but that it may be perceived that she was hired for this reason. Sara will also help with diversity but will be less likely to be seen as an affirmative action hire. I would be comfortable with any of these choices but I want to hire the best candidate. The Re-Interview Because these candidates are equally qualified and so similar I feel that a second look is needed. I have asked my assistant fire chief to interview these three candidates and to assist me in making this decision. This will allow my assistant to get some hiring experience, allow for clarification questions to be asked and to get responses to some of the exact same questions. Also, Michael can either redeem himself by being on time or he will be late resulting in his removal from contention for this position. If this occurs, I can comfortably explain to his father that being late to two interviews is enough to disqualify him. My assistant chief and I make a list of questions to be asked identically to each candidate and create a form for recording the answers for comparison. In addition to this, my assistant and I review the job description to be filled, we discuss the person who last filled this position and we talk about what qualities an ideal candidate would have. I did not share my notes with my assistant. I only told him that I want him to hold a second interview because these candidates are all well qualified. My assistant knows Michael but does not know that Michael’s father has asked me to “pull some strings” and hire his son. The assistant chief is also asked to provide questions of his own and has been coached on subjects to avoid and subjects to pay attention to. The assistant chief is African-American. Results of the Re-Interview The day of the second interview all candidates arrive 15 minutes early. Because of this each candidate has a chance to meet and talk with the on-duty fire house staff. Michael is dressed in work pants, boots and a t-shirt that reads, “kill them all – let God sort them out”. Tanika is professionally dressed in a business suit and heels, while Sara wore a suit with flat sensible shoes. The assistant tells me that he was disappointed that Michael was somewhat flippant with his responses and seemed too familiar. The assistant chief suggests this might be because Michael thinks his relationship with me will secure him an advantage in being hired and maybe even after he is hired. Although Michael studied firefighting in college he had never volunteered in the city where his school was located. The assistant chief tells me that he was impressed with Tanika who worked as a fire fighter in the US Army and was knowledgeable, personable and well prepared but that she was wearing far too much perfume and seemed somewhat distracted by the on-duty staff. However, the assistant chief reported that he was blown away by Sara. He said she was confident with great eye contact and a firm handshake. She had training as a fire fighter in the US Navy and as a volunteer in each of the cities where she was stationed. She was funny and fit in well with the on-duty staff. I didn’t realize that Sara was the only one who spoke more than one language. In fact, Sara is certified by the Navy as fluent in French and Korean! The assistant also noted that Sara had a leather portfolio with the logo of the fire company that had recommended her to me. He noted also that she owned a Dalmatian named sparky and drove a red sport utility vehicle. Justification While we waited for the results of her drug test, Sara sent separate hand-written thank you notes to both the assistant chief and myself. I knew from my research that the Workopolis website suggested a hiring manager must look closely at candidates when they are similarly qualified. In a survey of more than 2,000 hiring managers small things like sense of humor, appropriateness of dress, including shoes, and community involvement could mean the difference (Harris, 2013). Other forms of non-verbal communication can also differentiate candidates. Susan Heathfield suggests that eye contact, handshake, perfume and even accessories like a portfolio can send messages both positive and negative about candidates (Heathfield, 2014). I had also reviewed the University of Connecticut website where their Health Center’s Office of Diversity and Equity explained that specifics and standardization were needed to justify hiring or not (n.d.). Sara was the only candidate with extensive community involvement by working as a volunteer fire fighter and the only one to speak multiple languages. Michael came to one interview late and dressed inappropriately in printed t-shirt and work pants for the other. Tanika had no community involvement and had experience on only one type of equipment.

Harris, P. (August 28, 2013). Who gets hired: Why employers select one candidate over another. Workopolis. Retrieved from

Heathfield, S. (2014). Believe what you see: How to use nonverbal communication in hiring. About Money. Retrieved from

University of Connecticut Health Center Office of Diversity and Equity. (n.d.). Hiring manager responsibilities to ensure equal employment opportunity and non-discrimination in the hiring process. Retrieved from

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