The Not-So-Funny Hoax

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“this is not an interview? I didn’t come all the way around the beltway for this” — a disgruntled applicant

It was almost noon, when I was crammed with more than 40 applicants into a conference room meant to hold only 24. I had arrived early for what was supposed to be a job interview, and didn’t think much of the other applicants slowly filing in – also dressed in their business attire and also carrying large envelopes with extra copies of their resumes.

At one point, I thought, “Why did they schedule so many people at one time?” A table had to be removed to squeeze more folks into the room (the extra chairs crowding the doorway was also a fire hazard). Even still, I figured we were sitting in some waiting area, and would be called individually into an office. But to our surprise, Michael Fontan — unit sales manager in the Rockville (Maryland) office of Bankers Life & Casualty Company, a life insurance firm — made it clear that we had all been duped.

While this was not as extreme as other unfair job recruitment practices, the damage done could be just as severe; it not only causes the loss of potential employees for an organization but also damages its employer brand. “That brand is the full physical, intellectual, and emotional experience of employees who work there, and the anticipated experience of candidates who might work there,” according to, an online service for human resource agencies. “It is both the vision and the reality of what it means to be employed there.”

The site also stated: “It is both the promise and the fulfillment of that promise. The employer brand radiating out of your organization’s name inspires loyalty, productivity, and a sense of pride . . . or it doesn’t.”

Recent statistics showed that one in four jobseekers had experienced unfair job recruitment practices. And more than half of the jobseekers stopped supporting goods or services from companies with poor recruitment practices, according to a survey conducted by Capital Consulting (the former leading RPO player operating in Europe and Asia Pacific was acquired by Alexander Mann Solutions in February 2008)., an online human resources news organization, reported in 2007 that disgruntled applicants were likely to further tarnish the name of an organization by spreading their message far and wide. The survey found that 55 percent of disgruntled applicants were likely to tell more than three others of their bad experiences.

My experience involved me listening to Fontan drone for an hour about what brought him to the organization – a journey that started with him in the construction field as a laborer, after graduating high school in 1993. From there, he began a career in the aviation industry in Manhattan, after leaving the construction field in 1998.

Fontan hit a glass ceiling after working his way up to supervisor of operations, managing and maintaining 50 pilots and 15 helicopters. He informed us there were no glass ceilings at Bankers Life, just opportunities for us to reach for the limits. But that speech fell on deaf ears while irritated applicants checked their watches, twiddled their thumbs and shifted in their seats.

Marisa Kacary, marketing director at the former Capital Consulting, elaborated on the damage of poor recruitment practices to “With the war for talent raging more fiercely than ever, a good employer brand is increasingly critical to an organisation’s commercial success,” Kacary said. “As our research shows, if you treat people poorly during the recruitment process, you could lose them as customers, and they would be only too happy to tell others about their bad experience with your organisation, too.”

Majority of the applicants were from the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV metropolitan division (including Calvert, Charles, and Prince George’s counties). The unemployment average in that division rose to 38,224 this year, compared to 24,641 in 2008, according to Maryland’s Department of Labor, Licensing & Regulation.

Add that to rising gas prices, and it becomes clear that making people drive around the beltway for what appeared to be a hoax is no laughing matter, as one applicant demonstrated. When a guy found out he was attending a group briefing instead of a job interview, he went berserk.

“I didn’t come all the way around the beltway for a group briefing,” the guy said, shooting up from his seat. “I don’t need you guys playing with my time like that.” Before walking out the door, he made the obvious observation. “The rest of you need to ask yourself, ‘Why there aren’t any White people here?’ I’m not staying to find out what they’re selling.”
Arts & Humanities Directory


2 thoughts on “The Not-So-Funny Hoax

  1. The applicant’s “obvious question” seemed out of place given that unemployment is a plague on all racial and ethnic communities in the US. The critical question would have been *If employment, business stability, and people’s time are equally so fragile, why would a company flagrantly abuse each of these?* It smacks of self-sabotage and poor management.

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