Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Without fair and transparent recruitment system, poverty is here to stay.

A colleague walked into office this morning and asked if I could help him be part of an interview panel for Management Information System's assistant position. I really didn't have time and don't particularly like interviewing. He is a nice guy so I felt bad to say no and went along. 

There were 4 candidates and the first one was so bad, I instantly regretted my decision. Shud have told him I was too busy and couldn't help, lol. The poor candidate was clueless and I don't know how he even got shortlisted to 4 out of 87 applicants! 2nd candidate walked in confidently, better. He was much better but he struggled to understand the questions in English, we had to repeat few times. When he got the question right, he gave very good answers. I thought maybe he was nervous. 

Candidate 3 was a female. I was excited she made it to the shortlist and looked forward to meet her. She walked in painfully shy and inaudibly greeted us. I thought, shit! Shy like that she might not make it to the end of the short interview without bolting out of the door. But she totally surprised me! She stayed very calm, focused and answered the questions with confidence and precision. I was like, damn! She knew her stuff, studied ICT at Hargeisa University (had no idea they had an ICT department, am going to visit), and then worked for a local NGO as their website manager. 

By the time the 4th candidate showed up, I was already sold and found it challenging to focus. I had to work hard to be fair to him and to make sure if he was better, not to miss out. He was actually good. Dressed sharp, spoke well, and gave good answers, but not a competition to the previous candidate.

At the end of each interview, the candidate is asked routine questions like when they can start, if they were selected for the job, and what was their salary expectation. To my amusement, all the male candidates, who performed worst than the girl, asked for a lot higher than she had! She was shy and asked few hundred USD lower than her pay grade! I found this very interesting and maybe a reflection of women's either low self-esteem or expectations. 

As I write this, my colleague tells me the girl got the job! Am super excited for her and even tho this is a short contract, I hope she goes as far as I think she can. 

I am excited about her win because I am constantly meeting incompetent Somalis pushed into jobs they can't perform thru clan/family or other connections. It is rare to find fair job selection process where people can compete openly and fairly and where the right candidate, despite their clan, gender, or political alliance, can make it thru the selection criteria based solely on their performance. Without a transparent, fair and open recruitment system, we are going to have key government and private sector positions filled with incompetent but well connected people who are obstacle to not only our basic development but this regions massive potential. 

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