TNT’s new reality series Inside Job attempts to make finding the right employee interesting by employing some undercover work, but the final product doesn’t work.
Show: TNT’s Inside Job, Fridays at 9pm
Premise: Four candidates compete for a job, but one of them is actually an employee of the target company trying to get the inside scoop on the potential hires. Which of the three candidates will get the job at the end of interview week?
Why is my soul crying? Truth be told, my spidey-sense was on high alert going into this program. As someone who went through a year-long jobhunting process not too long ago, I am hyper-sensitive to employment-based programming. A show like The Apprentice original recipe doesn’t bother me as the participants know what they are getting themselves into: choosing to eventually work for Donald Trump via an elimination-based process. Inside Job does not have that level of transparency. In the pilot episode, House of Blues was filling a Sales Manager vacancy, with their “insider” as someone who previously filled the role and would ultimately make the final hiring decision. None of this information was known by the candidates prior to the process.
Why is this gross? As with many reality shows of this style, it helps if the viewer projects her/himself into the situation. Not only were the candidates all competing head-to-head in team assignments during this final interview process, they were living together in the same house for a week. I ask you to consider your current employment situation. Would you want to live with your co-workers? Sharing a hotel room on a business trip is one thing, but in the already-claustrophobic environment of television production I could not imagine making a life decision as important as the state of your employment in such conditions. Also, part of a healthy work-life balance is not allowing one area to affect the other. With a mole in the house, s/he is able to text her/his boss to report on candidate behavior. How I conduct myself at home is far different from how I behave at work, as is my wont and my right.
But what troubles me the most is that the legitimate candidates do not know about the twist that one of their cohort is an insider. Each candidate has this information revealed moments before learning whether or not s/he will be offered a job. This playing of games seems like such a red flag when considering your employment options. Will the company resort to a Chopped system for promotions? Will staff have to lip sync for their lives if there’s any downsizing? Is there a slopstacle course involved when collecting your last paycheck after giving notice?
The hiring process is imperfect, which the show acknowledges. But applying reality competition standards to the process is not the solution to the problem.1