Movement vs progress

So today was the first day of the new call center’s job expo.

As expected, it was packed.

Their “1 1/2 to 2 hour” estimated time it would take was a joke. Even excluding time spent in line, I was over 3 1/2 hours.

But it was sort of an interesting experience.

First, they created three lines. Not because they went three different places, but just to make it easier for them to take groups of 6 by taking 2 from each. (They can’t separate by 6 without 3 different lines?)

Then, the groups of 6 were taken upstairs by a staff member and lead into a single line, where you waited a bit and then gave your name, date of birth, and whether or not you were a vet.

You were then sent into one of three new lines… which this time lead to three different tables doing the same thing… in this case, checking to make sure you had filled out the application online, and sending you off to another area if you hadn’t.

Then, you were given a card with your name on it, which you handed to a person who would then escort you to a folding chair in one area to wait for a while.

After a while, the row of people were then lead into new chairs in an area in front of a tv playing a video about the different locations this company has. Nothing important to know offhand… mainly pictures actually… where we sat while the video cycled repeatedly.

Then names were called, in groups of 6 again but not the same 6, and not in the same order we had been seated out of the lines.

You then followed yet another staff member back down two levels of stairs into the basement, to stand in line to get parking validated.

And then you were taken by another staff member into another room, to sit in more folding chairs in front of another video… this one about their frequent customer program, and clearly designed to be played for customers to recruit them into signing up, not for employment stuff.

Names were called again, into another holding area.

At this point, yet another staff member greeted us, and apologized for the craziness and the wait.

Several members of the group told him it was fine, it wasn’t crazy at all, and how wonderful they had things set up, and how smoothly everything was running… etc etc.

Which was true. They had lots of staff, and clearly had them trained to each cover their very specific task.

Until you really stopped to think about it.

Yes, things had been smooth.

But, the fact remained…. it had been 2 hours, and we had actually yet to make any progress towards anything at all other than checking that we had applied… a task that took roughly 30 seconds.

Had we left at that point, we would have been absolutely no closer to being hired than the moment we walked in the door.

Yes, they had moved us all over in an organized way… and kept us busy following various people and moving here and there and watching random videos….

But it was basically all just stalling.

Had we stood in a single line for 2 hours, or sat in a folding chair for 2 hours, lots of people probably would have left.

But with all of the shuffling and division… it felt like we were getting somewhere… like progress was being made.

Even when it was still just waiting. In different ways, in different places, but just waiting.

The actual more important parts did start from that point. We were sent into rooms to be interviewed… then back into more folding chairs to wait for names to be called again…. more following the leader… then another waiting area… and then to finally take the computerized tests that will probably play more of a factor in their hiring decision than anything else.

I’m really not sure what to think about this.

On one hand… I feel a bit manipulated.

But on the other… it actually was incredibly effective. Instead of people complaining about crazy long wait times, they had people telling them not to even apologize and complimenting them.

Even after waiting 2 hours for a 5 minute interview.

Do I want to work for people who I feel like are manipulative?

If the manipulation is making me feel much better about something I have to tolerate either way, do I really have much of a reason to complain about it?


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