This article first appeared on Apploi Observer on September 19, 2o13.
My daughter, 15, brought home a job application from Starbucks.
“Don’t worry, I’m not applying. It’s for a life skills class,” she said when she saw my face.
“There’s nothing wrong with applying. I’m just not sure there are any 15 year old baristas,” I said.
I took a closer look at the application and was a little bit shocked. For a company that probably acquires hundreds of employees a week, the application seemed to do a terrible job giving candidates a chance to answer authentically.
The questions were leading, with only two lines after them to answer. And in two lines, how could anyone demonstrate their abilities in customer service? I thought, what if I just need a job, and don’t care for the brand (yet)? Liking the brand isn’t an effective way to demonstrate someone’s ability to do the work.
After all, wouldn’t they prefer to have an amazing barista then a just a Starbucks groupie?
This caused me to question the point of many job application questions and their ability to really vet quality candidates. Taking the point of view of a busy manager who just needs to hire someone who can learn fast and be available on weekday early mornings, none of these questions would help me make a decision.
Seeing as though Starbucks doesn’t really want authentic answers on their job application, here’s what might happen if they got them…from an amazing barista, who’s not a Starbucks fan. Do you think this person should get the job?
Have you ever visited a Starbucks Coffee location? Where? Describe your experience.
My mom first brought me to Starbucks when I was five. On the way to kindergarten, she liked to get her tall skinny latte at 140 degrees. This is how I learned to love coffee. These days, I often use the bathroom at Starbucks locations when I have to pee. They’re always clean. Thanks for that! Since I make my own lattes at home, I don’t visit Starbucks.
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What do you like about coffee?
I love a good cup of coffee. I have an espresso machine at home that cost me over $1,000 so I can have quality coffee every day. I change the water temperature and water pressure based on where I’ve sourced the espresso beans in order to bring out their unique flavor characteristics. Coffee brings people together and stimulates the mind.
Why would you like to work for Starbucks Coffee Company?
I need a job, and I heard the benefits here are really great. Plus, I already know how to make lattes, so I won’t be that hard to train. I’m an early morning person and can be available during morning rush.
Describe a specific situation where you have provided excellent customer service in your most recent position. Why was this effective?
Well, I’m only 20 so I don’t have that much work experience. However, when my parents have dinner parties, I really like greeting people at the door and making sure everyone has something to drink. I find that being nice to people is really effective.
We, the potential candidates for your store, have a hard time taking these sorts of questions seriously. Does my first experience with your brand really need to be trying to BS my way into an interview in two lines or less?
Back to my daughter’s assignment. As I read through her real answers, not my ironic ones, it occurred to me that by the time she might actually apply to Starbucks, the whole concept of a paper application might be ancient history. She’ll look back at this assignment and laugh at the anachronism.