Thursday, March 18, 2004

 
Are You Experienced?
Through no designs of my own, I've been wielding power lately. The paper is planning to expand from 12 to 16 pages at a date to be named later and suddenly the newsroom has been full of job applicants. As such, second-in-command Alex has shanghaied me twice at the last minute to help interview and evaluate them.
Having been on the receiving, but never the giving end, of more job interviews than I care to recall, it's a role I'm not completely comfortable with yet but I've given it my best shot.
I wondered, too, what these job hopefuls - all dressed in severe, starched interview attire - thought of the bleary eyed foreign authority figure clad in his finest Otto-the-bus-driver duds who asked them to explain why 8 years as an IT troubleshooter and web page designer would make them a good reporter or page editor.
All but one had no previous journalism experience. But since few, if any, staffers excepting foreign barbarian coworker Jeff and I previously worked as ink stained wretches, it isn't a big concern - at least not for managment. The exception, both Alex and I were a bit startled to see, was a nationally known TV personality based in Beijing. She hosts a weekly English language China lifestyles and travel program that I've caught a couple times. But her appearance here was a bit like Katie Couric or Connie Chung showing up at the Mountain Ear weekly in Nederland, Colorado and begging for a job, any job.
But, as she explained, she's doing it for luuuuv. Her fiance is moving here and she's following. She has the spoken English chops - and in a country where looks also count when it comes to employment (all resumes contained flattering photos) she was not unseemly to behold. Unfortunately, her written translation skills didn't match her oral abilities; but Alex and I agreed, as we picked our tongues off the floor, that she could be trained. Oh, yes.
A couple other applicants were equally candid, even too much so, about their qualifications and aspirations.
"I would not be happy writing about anything but business. And I want to become rich and powerful," said one.
Thank you. We'll be in touch. Next!
"My current job has no future and I am getting married soon," explained one guy who was asked why he wanted to work here. This IT worker and translator didn't stop there, though. He hastened to add that though he "has never read the Shenzhen Daily a former classmate who works here told me about the job and said it is a good newspaper."
I just hope he's a better husband than an interviewee.



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