French job centres drop The Voice-style interviews

File pic of man entering Pôle emploi agency in FranceImage copyrightGetty Images
Image caption An estimated three million people are out of work in France

It seemed like a good idea at the time. In an attempt to shake up its interviews, several French job centres took inspiration from TV talent show The Voice.

Three recruitment officials would turn their back on a candidate beside a screen with the English slogan: “This is The Job”.

Out went the CVs, in came interviewers with hands on buzzers.

As criticism intensified, the job agency decided to drop the idea.

How did it work?

The interview technique, first exposed by French website StreetPress, involved a candidate standing in the centre of a room answering questions fired by three recruiters whose backs were turned.

Among the positions applied for were abattoir worker, builder, electrician and welder. The interviews took place at the government’s Pôle emploi job agency in northern towns such as Liévin and Chauny as well as six other offices, reports said.

Candidates and interviewers were separated by a table on which lay three buzzers. The idea was a clear imitation of prime-time talent show The Voice, with the aim being that the recruiters would act as a jury and hear only the candidate’s voice.

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Any recruiter impressed by the candidate would press their buzzer and turn round to look at them.

While the idea was certainly unconventional, candidates had apparently been warned in advance and agreed to it.

Union official Jean-Manuel Gomes wondered if the next idea would be to copy Roman circuses and bring out lions, handing the job to the last candidate standing in the arena. “Is that the kind of society we want?” he told French TV.

The job agency admitted that “borrowing ideas from the world of entertainment is clumsy” but said the local recruitment drive had been well-intentioned.

It had been trying to develop the skills of jobseekers and come up with alternative approaches to CVs, tackling stereotypes that were “obstacles to hiring”.

An estimated three million people are out of work in France and unemployment in France is stubbornly high at 9.3%, above the European average. When President Emmanuel Macron came to power he promised radical reforms to reduce the rate to 7% by 2022.

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