Are You Really Hiring, or Are You Just Going Through the Motions



“I am looking for a job” That is what the young couple I observed at a local national restaurant said. I was sitting near the entrance eating lunch when they came in. Neatly dressed but also young; dressed as young people do. Nothing provocative but certainly young.

The Hostess and Host told them that the restaurant was hiring but no one would talk to them. They asked why and were told, “We don’t interview this time of day, come back later.” Try as they might they were not able to get anyone to talk to them about a job or tell them when exactly they could.  When they left the Host and Hostess made fun of them.

I had walked past this couple when I went to the restaurant. I overheard their conversation before going inside. They were desperate for work and had walked all over looking.  This young couple was not looking for anything other than a job. I made eye contact with them twice. Once when I walked in and again when they left and looked at me at my table. You could see the pain in their eyes. This particular restaurant needed wait staff, people to clean tables and a dishwasher. This was even confirmed by the Host and Hostess. Yet, no one would talk to them. The place was not overly busy and the manager was there (I know because I asked for him). He came over and asked me how he could help me. I told him what I had observed, explained what I did for a living and also that I could not understand why they would not interview two people who obviously wanted to work at a place that obviously needed help. He shared with me that he never interviewed people during lunch and that people needed to understand that.  He tried to sound polite but his demeanor and body language suggested differently.

Now I don’t know if this was public knowledge, a part of their job posting or what. He said that he might be needed if things got busy. Consequently, he never interviewed anyone from 11:00 am until after 1:30 pm. There were maybe 10 people in the restaurant and it could have easily held 75 based upon all the empty seats.


The story above isn’t much different than that of a friend of mine, age 64 with a long history of successful executive experience.  He can articulate his value added well.  He is current in his business knowledge, uses technology well and accepts feedback too.  His salary requirements are within the market for what he is seeking as well.   He was a senior Global VP.  He doesn’t want to do that anymore.  He would be very happy with a Director level position.  He has interviews and has been told he did well; is impressive.  Yet he can’t get hired.  Some have been honest with him – he has more experience than some of the executive team, his knowledge and experience is intimidating to the younger employees who want to move up.  My favorite was one told him by the VP who would be his boss if he were hired, “You have more experience and success than I do, I will not bring someone into this company to work for me who could push me out of my job.”  He can’t get hired either no matter how hard he tries.  He shared, “I can’t even get hired as a door greeter at Walmart.”

Right now in this country, we have people looking for work who want to work. They try and are even willing to move away to where the jobs are. Some of us, myself included, complain about people who don’t want to work but will take government assistance.  We have thousands and perhaps more, people who want to work but are pushed away for no reason other than they are too good or they didn’t show up at the right time for “on the spot interviews.”

Perhaps as I get older I am getting soft about things like this. Perhaps in the first case, I saw something that was just wrong and tried to say something about it. Regardless, we as employers, hiring officials or anyone involved in the process need to take another hard look at what we are doing.

When I left that restaurant they were nowhere to be seen. Until I drove by them, just a bit down the road and saw them walking into the parking lot of a fast food restaurant. Maybe they were treated better there.

I hope so.