Having to apply for your own job is one of the worst possible things you’ll ever have to do in your working life, and fortunately a thing I’ve only had to do once. No doubt it’s not an uncommon practice, but even when I was part of the selection process when 500 white collar jobs had to go in Strip Products UK, this did not feel like the process I had to go through in Allied Steel & Wire. At Tata Steel you were part of a large population and you didn’t feel particularly targeted in the process.
At Allied Steel & Wire there were only five of us working for Tony Franks, and that number had to be reduced to four. My major mistake was that I didn’t feel especially threatened and approached the interview not fully prepared for what turned out to be a rather biased set of questions, which in hindsight appear to have been designed to make me look worse than the other candidates.
Especially when the question came “what development work have you personally been doing in your current position?” I started to get the feeling that the phrasing was such that despite the waffle I tried to produce, the answer was effectively “none”. You see, I had been doing development work when I was working at the Tremorfa Bar Mill, but since my move to the Contistretch department, the emphasis had been more on QA and running the test house. Also any development work had been part of a group effort and not to be considered as a purely personal effort.
You can then see how the insertion of the words “personal work” and “current position” restricted the scope to such an extent that it appeared to me to be designed to make me come off worse. So much for having someone from HR present to make sure that every one of the interviewees received the same set of questions. What good is this if the deck has been stacked from the start ?
Anyhow, this approach of letting people apply for their own jobs is not something new for Allied Steel & Wire. I had seen it in operation when the Reverse Twist process wound down and was due to be replaced by the Contistretch process. Instead of a wholesale transfer of the work force from one to the other, every single person had to apply for a position on the Contistretch team. Quite a good way of ridding yourself of a few people who were considered to be bad apples.
Which raises the question: when I was made redundant, was I considered a bad apple ? Makes you think, doesn’t it ?