(P)review of @CBS "The Job"

by Matthew Stollak on Monday, January 28, 2013

Are you ready for a HR gameshow?

With unemployment hovering above 7%, and millions of people looking for a new opportunity, it was inevitable that someone would create a show focusing on the job search.  Premiering on CBS on Friday, February 8 at 8/7 Central,, Mark Burnett of "Survivor" fame and Michael Davies, the Executive Producer of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" have created "The Job," which centers on five qualified applicants who compete to land their dream job.

In the first episode, five individuals with varied restaurant experience vie for the Assistant Manager position at a legendary Palm Restaurant.  With a panel of three high-ranking Palm employees observing the candidates, a number of selection exercises are employed to cull the field:

  • A work sample test - At a Palm Restaurant, the candidates are asked to carry several of the tasks that an Assistant Manager would be expected to perform
  • A knowledge test - candidates are quizzed by the panel of three on their knowledge of the restaurant and the type of food served (for example, "Littleneck and Cherrystone are types of what food item?")
  • Co-worker familiarity - Given the Palm's emphasis on a family work environment, 7-8 employees from the Palm are brought forward and the candidates are asked to give the name of three of the employees as well as their position at the Palm
  • Final Interview - the panel asks the candidates typical questions about their fit for the job
After each exercise, a candidate is eliminated from consideration

And, there's a twist?

There are three other employers observing the selection process who have the opportunity to buzz in and offer a job to one of the candidates.  The candidate is then given a difficult choice - take the guaranteed job from the guest company or remain in the running for the dream job.  However, the main employer (in this case, the Palm) does have an opportunity to "protect" their leading candidate by writing down the name of that person and sealing it in an envelope.  Once a candidate is chosen by the guest company, the main employer can open the envelope and let that candidate know he or she is in the lead.

Besides giving insight into the selection process, one of the commendable aspects of "The Job" is that as the show goes to commercial break, a short interstitial appears with one of the panelists offering job search advice (see an example here: #jobtips) for those looking for work.

It was also not hard to fall back on one's own selection biases.  I found myself trying to predict who would eventually end up winning based on the short introduction of each of the candidates at the top of the show (my choice did win...huzzah).

Lisa Ling does a pedestrian job as host of the show; she keeps the process moving along.  I could have done without any speeches from the losing candidates.  HR folk may also blanch at one of the interview questions (a single mother of 6 kids is asked whether she is willing to relocate her family to New York for the job...it could have been phrased differently).  It'll also be interesting to see if they change some of the tasks the candidates are expecting to perform, such as running the knowledge test Jeopardy-style, instead of each candidate getting their own set of questions.  Similarly, could they make the distinction between the dream job and the one offered by a guest company clearer - is there a difference in compensation, for example, that might make the choice even more difficult?

Nonetheless, the show appears to be a win-win for all involved.  As with CBS' other workplace reality show "Undercover Boss," companies get an hour of free publicity to highlight the great things they do, as well as what a wonderful opportunity it is to work for them.  Similarly, qualified candidates get a national stage to show their knowledge, skills, and abilities.

So, check out "The Job" on CBS on Friday, February 8 at 8/7 Central. 



I'm a total geek about such shows. I wrote a term paper on the original Appreciate back in the day when it premiered. I can't wait to see this show too. I hope they don't over dramatize it too much. Thanks for the review, I'm glad you found some value in the show's process.

by Chris aka new_resource on January 28, 2013 at 8:22 AM. #

Thanks Chris....hope you check it out next Friday and share your thoughts.

by Matthew Stollak on January 28, 2013 at 8:24 AM. #

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