The Recruitment Process Is Just Like The X Factor…

Guilty! – I’ve been watching The X Factor this year and I’m hooked. As I’ve watched the auditions progress to live shows it’s got me thinking how each of the rounds the contestants go through reflect the different stages of the recruitment process.

Ultimately, The X Factor is one big interview for the ‘dream job’! So here are the characteristics of the TV talent competition that I think are similar to the stages of the recruitment process that I see every day:

The Room Auditions (The Job Application)

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The X Factor advertises that it’s holding auditions, just like an employer or recruiter will advertise a job vacancy. Hundreds of people turn up to the auditions in the hope that they will have something that the judges like; similarly, hundreds of people might apply for the same job advert that they’ve seen on an online job board, on social media or in the newspaper.

Some auditions will be terrible; to me this is the same as someone applying for a job but actually has absolutely none of the relevant experience or skills that the job advert states it’s looking for. Some of the contestants will, in the famous words of Louis Walsh ‘look like a pop star and sound like a pop star’, and others will still make it through but won’t necessarily tick all the boxes. The not good enough auditions (or applicants) will get rejected from the process, and the good ones will get a ‘yes’ and will go through to the next stage…

Bootcamp (CV Shortlisting)

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The bootcamp stage of The X Factor is when the contestants who made it through the first auditions are asked to perform again in front of the judges, often in a group with other contestants. This round is similar to the CV shortlisting process in recruitment terms.

CV shortlisting is when the recruiter will look through each good applicant, or candidate that they have sourced themselves, and speak with them about the role in detail. They will decipher whether the candidate actually has the right skills and experience to match what the client is looking for, they might ask the candidate pre-screening questions, and will often meet with the candidate face to face or via video call to get an idea of personality fit. The shortlist of people who are successful after this will have their CV, covering letter and any additional information sent over to the hiring manager to review.

The Six Chair Challenge (Interview Selection)

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This is when the contestants who were successful at boot camp have to fight for one of just six chairs, and their place at judges’ houses. (This is also the part of The X Factor process that involves Louis Walsh being frustratingly indecisive, and Simon Cowell’s producers staging drama for TV ratings – but we still watch it anyway!)

In recruitment terms, this is when the employer has received the recruitment consultant’s CV shortlist, and will then review the candidates and decide who they actually want to see for interviews. The recruiter will then contact their successful candidates, organise a time and date, and help the candidate to prepare for the interview!

Dermot O’Leary (The Recruitment Consultant)

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Dermot is by the contestants’ sides throughout the entire X Factor process. Offering support, advice, and the famous Dermot-hug. He’s also there as a good middle ground between the judges and the contestants; just as a recruitment consultant is between the employer and the candidate. And whilst your recruitment consultant (probably) isn’t going to give you a cuddle at the end of your interview, they will be there for you throughout the entire process, cheering you on from the side lines, and will able to offer advice and support when you need it, just like Dermot O’Leary.

Judges’ Houses (The First Interview)

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On The X Factor, the judges’ houses stage is when the six top contestants from each category jet off to LA, Ibiza, Miami and the south of France to join the judges at their homes. To me, this is the first interview stage. It’s the first time you will be invited to your potential new work place. You might meet your potential boss (or mentor), along with a couple of their colleagues/advisors – sadly it probably won’t be anyone as exciting as Mel B, Emma Bunton or Calvin Harris. But if you make it through this round you’ll be in the live shows – or progressed to second interview stage!

Live Shows (The Final Interview Stages)

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The second/third/fourth interviews (I’ve even heard of there being more stages than that before too!). The live shows represent the rest of interview process. As part of your final stage interview you might be asked to give a presentation, meet with different members of the team, come in for a trial day, or complete a test or task – thus being asked to prove yourself, and showcase your talent and skills; much like the final 12 contestants are on The X Factor live shows.

The Winner and the Runner Ups (The Successful and Unsuccessful Candidates)

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In the end there can only be one winner, or one successful candidate.

However, just because you don’t get the job it’s not always a bad thing. The entire interview/job search process will help you gain experience, skills and make you a bit stronger as a person. And from this you may even feel clearer on exactly what it is you want from your next career move. The same applies for the contestants on the X Factor who don’t actually win – just look at One Direction and Olly Murs, they’ve both gone on to have massively successful careers without actually ‘getting the job’.

Simon Cowell (?)

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So finally, who is Simon Cowell aka Mr Mean in all of this? Probably depending on who you are in the process (the recruiter, the candidate, or the employer) you’ll see the Simon Cowell as someone different – I’ll let you decide…!

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