In a dessert-like condition, where it is tremendously difficult to even find a job, let alone get hired and the minute a follow up from a CV submission comes through, it almost feels like water to a very parched throat, and walking into an air conditioned room after walking in 35 degree Sahara sun, and suddenly there are even prayers coming from an atheist.

News just in, temperatures in the interview seat are even hotter. Companies in America have been asking interview candidates & potential employees to provide them with their Facebook profile details. In certain cases, they are asked to login to their accounts on the spot of their interview. In the worst case, they are asked for their login details to have an accurate view of what the candidate is really like. Some people describe it as a gross violation of privacy and say “it is like someone asking for the keys to your house.” Note that if they are not asked for the above, they are in one way or another coerced into giving up the information which they require.

A more acceptable means of what I call “The Social Media Interview” is when the human resource department of the respectable company requests the candidate’s friendship and the candidate accepts as a form of allowing a review of the Facebook account.

The question is what would you do? Many people are faced with the dilemma between maintaining their dignity and the fact that they are sweating from not having a job and having no means to live. Some people “have no choice” because jobs are scarce. Even if you have got nothing to hide, there is still something violating about an outsider prying around in your private life. Whatever even happened to keeping your business and private life away from each other?

The companies mainly seek to protect the company by making sure that the right person is hired so that the chances of nasty surprises in the future are dampened.

Over and above many interesting elements to this case, it reveals the classic Cold War tendency. Trust is absent. Even when there is no reason for suspicion, there is immediate assumption of the worst. Rather be safe than sorry perhaps? Or as the publication of David T Lindgren goes, “Trust but verify”? That is exactly what the Cold War amounted to and often broke out into hot wars in certain zones due to broken trust. Without going into too much historical detail, the relevant aspect is the lack of trust and the need to ascertain security no matter the expense.

Even though the job seeker will consent to have his or her private life invaded, and even if there is nothing wrong with the Facebook profile in the eyes of the employer, the job seeker will still have a deep settled root of injustice and harm which is not a healthy foundation for any kind of relationship.

On the other hand, the company will be investing in a resource and they do deserve to know what they are investing in. It is disturbing to be referring to somebody as a commodity, but it’s for the purposes of keeping the illustration simple. However, this is where the problem lies. People have become likened to commodities. Therefore they can minimised; and ironically we have the Human Resource department managing these matters. Being a resource is a wonderful thing. It means that you are useful, not to be abused in any way. It is concealed bullying.

A lot of what we have overcome in history is repeating itself or simply carrying on subliminally in the present day. The future of our job interviews is a mini depiction of the slave and the master in a sense that the job seeker (slave) will do anything to get the job and the employer (master) assumes the position to request what he or she will.

I predict that our future auditors, accountants, actuaries, economists, and opinion leaders of all kinds will find a way to pin a definite and suitable value (based on a certain criteria of course) on what the value of a person should be. Oh but wait, is that not what remuneration is? Or is it purely a reward? Even better, the year 2017 will see a book published on what you should be like if you want to be worth a certain amount of money, from your looks to your brains. And it will be in the offices of every single human resource department. I am almost certain about this one. 

This opinion column was specifically written following my reading an article in The Star newspaper of 22 March 2012. 

-Thato Choma|@tweetingthato