Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Is It Unethical To Interview A Job Candidate When They Have No Chance?

I was reading the website of the Chronicle of Higher Education today and I noticed a story in the careers section: "On Hiring: To Interview or Not to Interview," which asked if it was ethical to go through the motions of a job interview if you already know as a candidate that you won't accept the job.

But with journalism jobs less and less numerous with each passing day, this article prompts this question for the media world: is it really ethical for big-J recruiters to interview people if they don't have any positions to offer?

Or: Is towing the company line at a job fair by telling hungry journalists that "we accept freelance!" truly ethical?

I recently attended a job fair in a major media center and many of the recruiters I spoke with relied heavily on the prospects of freelancing. "Sure, we can take freelance," many would say. "Feel free to pitch stories."

But many of the people at the job fair weren't looking for freelance opportunities. They were looking to be hired.

Now, there's nothing wrong with freelancing -- I do it all the time. The problem, of course, is that all the background work to craft a worthy pitch is not paid for unless the pitch is accepted. And there might not even be space for an outside freelancer if the publication has a steady stable of writers.

Of course, returning to the original problem: as an attendee of the job fair, you are clearly looking for that elusive job. Apparently, to no avail.

No one's actually advertising any "freelance fairs," are they?

So here we are, at another ethical crossroads, and I'm not sure where to place the blame (corporate? HR? Surely it can't be whoever showed up to the thing). It seems to be a recruiter's duty to be fairly transparent about such a situation, and not lead a potential (but not really) hire on. But it still happens -- and general journalist morale about these types of situations isn't getting any better.

No comments: