Fall Application Questions Explained, Part II

Most applicants describe themselves, in their resume and application, as a “hard worker.” Business owners and hiring managers tell me that most are lazy, that the youth especially are soft and don’t have the work ethic to be productive.  Someone is either lying or deluded.  Job of hiring manager is to figure out who is the real deal.

Don’t think most are lying when they describe themselves as a “hard worker.”  Some think they “work hard” because they define “working hard” subjectively, according to their own standards and sense of pressure, effort, and stress when working.  Those who think this way need to realize that nobody of importance cares about their standards, that the moment they get a job, they are evaluated based on someone else’s standards.

Others define “working hard” according to the standards of their social circle — those surrounded by people who work 40 hours a week will think working 60 hours a week is “working hard,” and thus likely feel overworked and become unproductive and depressed when they work such hours.  Those surrounded by people who work 80 hours a week are more likely to feel lazy if they work 60 hours a week.  Peer pressure.

Then there are those who define “working hard” as something abstract, as the impossible.  These people think there’s no limit to amount of productivity one can achieve in a day.

Anyway, to figure out who can adapt to our standards, we came up with questions that reveal how “hard working” (whatever that means) someone really is.

Your child comes home with a “B” on a Math test. You:
a) Congratulate him for doing a good job.
b) Berate him for not doing better because “B” is for Bitch.
c) Call teacher to ask why her tests are so hard.

All applicants picked A.  Which may reveal something about candidate’s standards and work ethic and worldview.  They’re likely satisfied with being a bit above average (which usually means they’ll be perceived by those above them as a bit below average).  I’ve had parents brag that their kid scored above the average on the SAT, not realizing that there are those who look down on any score that’s not perfect (I’m not one of those, I have low standards).  Standards vary greatly, don’t assume everyone shares your standards.

Nobody picked B, which surprises and saddens me because elsewhere applicants tell me that they want to do something extraordinary, something special. But they have no idea what it takes to do so.  And they’ll likely never appreciate the effort and dedication of those who are extraordinary.

Nobody picked C, but teachers tell me that it happens.


I’m getting the feeling that parents and teachers don’t tell their kids that they’re lazy enough.  Because when asked if they’re lazy, they all declare “NO.”  But I don’t think they recognize the connection between pointless day dreaming about becoming wealthy and famous and loved by everyone and being lazy.  Or that they’re lazy because they have few responsibilities and make a lot of excuses.  They declare “No” because they’ve been taught that that’s the right answer, not because they’ve actually reflected on what it means to be lazy or hard working.  I’m growing weary of kids telling me that they have “great social skills” (nope, they suck once they’re out of their comfort zone and encounter different standards and values), that they work hard (then why have you achieved so little in life?), that they can handle pressure (I only see low stress jobs and classes on your resume).  These kids are impossible to manage and should only be placed in low-stress jobs, limited interaction with customers.

Why are you so lazy?
a) I’m not lazy.
b) I don’t have enough responsibilities.
c) I have chronic fatigue syndrome.

Most picked A.  Usually means they’re lazy according to our standards.

A few picked B.  Means they’re self-reflective, may have a sense that there’s a world outside of themselves.

Two people picked C.  Likely low stress tolerance, may have tendency to play victim.   Hey, someone once asked me to hire her because she has Bipolar disease and is a recovering meth addict.  She was trying to make me feel sorry for her.

So we ask the question again, hoping that those who didn’t reflect on what it means to be “lazy” will do so and maybe realize that they’re asking to enter a world with vastly different standards from theirs.

Why are you so lazy?
a) I get stressed out easily.
b) I’m self-centered and self-absorbed, so I don’t like making sacrifices for others. It’s too much work.
c) I like having fun. I need rest and relaxation.

A few people picked A, the same ones who picked A for earthquake question.
Only 2 ppl picked B.  It’s troubling that so few people have realistic understanding of themselves.  Has the self-esteem movement distorted reality for so many people?  Most picked C.  Hoping they start to get the connection between one’s need for “rest and relaxation” (kids seem to need a lot of that these days) and being perceived as “lazy.”  Your employer’s perception of you is your reality.  

So we’ve finally managed to get applicants to admit that they’re lazy, at least compared to CEO of Walmart and Eminem.  Now we want to get them to think about what compels people to “work hard.”

Why do you work so hard?
a) I have a lot of responsibilities
b) I’m ambitious, I want to do something special
c) I don’t work hard, I’m lazy.

Nearly all picked B.  Good to know people are so ambitious, far more so than we are at Alive.  Very few picked A and C, what I would’ve picked.

Part III coming soon.

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