My checkered past

Who am I?

I was once in an employment interview with a recruiter from one of Sweden’s largest recruiting companies. She asked a question that made me speechless; “recount everything you’ve done since you left high school.”

My first thought was: How can I possibly sum up everything? I don’t even remember everything? Is she serious?

I asked why. She replied that she wanted to make sure I hadn’t been in prison.

I didn’t think to ask if they had the habit of discriminating against people who may have been in prison. Perhaps you’re allowed to do that when you hire people. I don’t even know what company the interview was about, so maybe the job involved work with “sensitive stuff.”

The next job interview I went on, I had prepared a whole binder where I compiled my entire past, so when I got the exact same question, I pulled out the binder and started reading.

To me, the whole question represented an excellent exercise in meaninglessness. What does it matter what I was doing ten or fifteen years ago? Especially as this had nothing to do with the job I was applying for? I didn’t get into the IT-industry, which was the industry of the job offer, until 1996 and by then I had already done a lot of exciting things.

Apparently, the interviewer felt that I was sitting and raffling off dates and events. He stopped me about a year after high school and the interview went on to other things.

I suspect that this question is mostly asked to check that the applicant has cared to compile the information and nothing else.

I’ve never gotten a job when this question was asked, and, know what? Good riddance!

My past

So what have I been up to since I finished high school? I don’t intend to read the list in the binder, but here are a few highlights:

  • Theater – I studied theater science at Stockholm University and read theater and actor programs at a “folkskola.”
  • Art History – or actually, not really at all. I don’t think I’ve taken a single college credit in that discipline.
  • Computer Science – which is what I’m currently working with, and I have almost a degree in it.
  • I’ve had summer jobs since I was fifteen, worked in supermarkets, on airline companies (in fact two different — I live just outside Stockholm-Arlanda Airport so we do a bunch of that out here), and since ’96, I’ve worked as an IT consultant, although I did actually study computer science from ’03 to ’05 — to get a degree in what I already had taught myself 😛
  • I’ve been unemployed too… and I’ve never been in prison! (Although my writing career might get a boost from a prison stint… hmmm… OK, perhaps I’ll limit that to a field trip…)

Header image: by Chris Brown – Norman CastleCC BY 2.0Link

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