STRENGTH OF CHARACTER

Photo credit: Getty images

Photo credit: Getty images

There were six of them. Six of them vying for the same position.

Getting to this stage had not been easy. It had taken not just a high dose of intelligence but a lot of grit, which was a proof that this was not the usual business.

The company had a unique style that sought to determine intelligence, confidence, determination and efficiency in its employment assessment.

The company was a fortune 500 company.

It started as an idea of a young graduate who had hit rock bottom trying to find an organization that would give an inexperienced graduate a chance. He had built it out of desperation some thirty years ago; today it was a multi-billion conglomerate.

The founder decided to turn the tide and do something different. He resolved to give fresh graduates a chance to prove themselves by employing two graduates every year to an envied position with a mouth-watering salary.

This year, the six – who were picked from thousands of applicants after several tests and interviews – posed to be a problem. They were equally well-qualified and sifting them was a matter of necessity, the company only needed two.

On the said day of the final interview, the six of them, consisting of four males and two females walked into the venue at different times.

There was a gateman at the gate as usual, who wasn’t particularly young. A woman who was neatly but somewhat cheaply dressed was mopping the tiled floor of the veranda of the building.

When Mr. A got to the gate, he completely ignored the gateman and almost hit him with the gate in his hurry to get in. He went in and saw the cleaner vigorously cleaning but she was also ignored as he stepped his foot on the part she had just mopped, staining the floor with his muddy shoes.

Mr. B was not much different. The gateman kept him a minute longer, which he felt was longer than normal. He therefore told the man not too kindly to face the job he was paid to do and stop leaving people standing at the gate, even after the gateman apologized for keeping him waiting. The woman wasn’t treated any differently by him.

Miss C said, “good morning” with a smile to the gateman and mouthed a thank you to him when he let her in. When she got to the cleaner, she said, “I’m sorry, may I? I don’t want to spoil your work”. “Oh”, the woman replied, “please pass my daughter”.

Mr. D said nothing to the gateman but regarded him snobbishly, wondering why the man was staring at him. He passed the cleaner, mistakenly hit her bucket and splashed water. He looked at his shoes, cleaned it, turned to the woman and said, “Sorry, I guess you will have to do that again” and continued on his way.

When Miss E came in, she told the gateman when she noticed him looking at her that she wasn’t giving him any money, opening the gate was his duty and he was paid for it. She was however nicer to the cleaner who she gave a smile before stepping on the tiled veranda.

Mr. F, on his own part took a cue from Miss C and told the gateman “thank you”. He also greeted and asked for permission before he passed by the lowly cleaner moping the floor.

The six graduates were eventually marched into a conference room after waiting for about an hour. They met five people already seated, three of whom they were conversant with.

At the head of the table and sitting directly to his right were two people that they hadn’t met earlier but somehow looked familiar. Only, they were now better spruced up.

The HR consultant they had been dealing with stood up and after the usual pleasantries, introduced the two new familiar faces. “At the head of the table is the CEO and President of this organisation, the man that opened the gate to you, Mr. … and to his right is Mrs. …, the Vice-President, you also saw her earlier cleaning the floors.

A week later, they each got a mail. Miss C and Mr. F were both employed while a rejection letter was sent to the rest.

It read:

“Dear Mr/Miss,

We appreciate your interest to be a part of our staff but we regret that at this time, we will have to reject your appointment. While we are a company that places priority just like every other on qualifications and effectiveness, we also require strength of character from every member of our staff. We believe that while qualifications can be easily acquired, it takes a lot of strength to imbibe admirable character. We are therefore looking for people with that extra efficacy, for which we believe you are still lacking. We however wish you the best in your future endeavours.”
Character will take you where skills, qualifications or money cannot.

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