Case 6-1 A Kink in Links of London’s Selection Process
- What determines if a question is acceptable in a pre-employment inquiry, and what questions might have been deemed unacceptable on Links’s job application?
When one thinks about the spirit of Britain, especially London, Links of London is hoping that their charm, elegance, and world-renowned reputation makes them the firm that immediately comes to the discerning consumer’s mind. Driven by quality and designing fine jewelry and watches with a British motif, the firm prides itself on creating unique experiences for their global customers.(1) Links of London is a subsidiary of the publicly traded Folli Follie Holdings S.A., selling 18K gold and 925 sterling silver jewelry in Europe, Asia, the Americas, and the Caribbean. With its 650 employees worldwide, it is considered to be the English equivalent of New York’s Tiffany’s & Co.(2) It was the summer, and Krissy was perusing LinkedIn when she noticed an advertisement for the Assistant Store Manager position at Links of London for their Madison Avenue, New York, flagship location. She was very excited about the position and working for Links of London for several reasons: She had a “passion for fashion” and wanted to work in the “luxury fashion center” of Manhattan—near Saint Laurent, Chanel, and Louis Vuitton. She had recently been accepted to a MBA program in fashion merchandising and felt that with this additional education she could work her way up into corporate headquarters, and apply her acquired knowledge to the firm’s best advantage. She went to their website, read about their culture and values, and wanted to work for a firm that wanted employees who were accountable and proactive, passionate and innovative, ambitious and driven, knowledgeable and engaging, and respectful and honest.(3) Krissy continued to surf Links’s website and read about their benefits and career development. She was most impressed with their statement that: Our objective is to match the needs of the Company with those who work for us. We believe in training and developing our people and teams to deliver high performance to achieve the Company objectives and demonstrate our People Values, which maximizes job satisfaction for our teams. We are often looking for bright and enthusiastic new people to join our team, whether it is assisting our customers in one of our stores or behind the scenes at one of our offices. Links of London is a great place to work and we are immensely proud of our brand and our people, so if you are interested in joining a Company that rewards talent and invests in people, then we would love to hear from you.(4) Krissy immediately hit the “check out our vacancies” tab, but hit a small road block—the link took her to a website on LinkedIn that said, “oops, try again.” She tried several more times but to no avail. Undaunted, she contacted the Links of London Madison Avenue store directly and was told that there was an opening for an assistant store manager and that she could apply online. Krissy explained the problem with the website and was told that they would send her a job application blank via email. She completed the application, attached her résumé, but was surprised that they asked for a head shot photo as well as her date of birth. They also specifically instructed her not to include a cover letter. She found this curious but nonetheless applied. Part of the application did include a checkoff allowing the firm to conduct employment verification, examine her personal websites, as well as a credit check. The following day, Krissy was directed to a website where she was asked to take what seemed to be a personality test as well as a test of her integrity. She was again a bit surprised that she was not asked to take a cognitive test relative to the job. A few days later, Krissy received a phone call from the personnel office describing the job to her in more detail and advising her that, if she were still interested in the job, she could interview with the manager of the store the following week. Krissy immediately took the first available time slot and went online to see if she could research more about the firm and their Madison Avenue store. Krissy’s interview with the store manager seemed like a tale of two cities (it was the best of times; it was the worst of times). She came early to the meeting so she could walk around the store and get a feeling for what Links of London was all about. She was intrigued as to the store layout and the staging of the jewelry and was very impressed with how the sales associates were able to, after a question or two, size her up as a “window shopper” and not a buyer. When she actually asked for the store manager, she was sold on the store—it seemed like everything she could have hoped for, and she was primed for her interview. She waited for fifteen minutes after the allocated interview time and was then informed that the manager was in a conference call with corporate and was unavailable. One of the staff members was in fact confirming that personnel had set up the appointment. When Krissy suggested to the staffer that she might come back at a better time, the manager insisted that Krissy wait and that the interview continue. In the interim, Krissy handed the staffer a copy of her résumé in both hard copy and electronic form so that the store manager could look it over while Krissy waited outside her office. A half an hour later, the manager came out of her office to greet Krissy and escorted her into her office. The interview lasted no more than fifteen minutes with the manager, list in hand, asking some very common interview questions, while not going into any details of the job responsibilities or even some background about the firm. Most answers to the manager’s questions required a yes/no response. She did not receive a tour of the store, nor did she meet any of the store employees including those she dealt with earlier. Krissy tried to ask several of her prepared questions in order to develop a relationship with the manager, yet each was answered in a very curt, perfunctory manner. Krissy walked out of the store feeling that she had the worst interview in the history of job interviews. Two days later, Krissy was astonished when she was asked to have a Skype interview with the Regional District Manager (RDM) at Links. This manager was quite positive, emphasizing the importance of the NY store as the “showcase” for Links of London products and services; service had to be “of the highest quality,” with the customer always coming first. The RDM was supportive of her efforts to obtain a graduate degree and indicated the financial support she would receive from the firm for her continued education. When the job offer came “out of the blue” three weeks later, to start immediately, Krissy didn’t know what to do or what to think. No one had contacted her references throughout the process to verify her abilities. There seemed to be several loose links in the chain of command at Links of London that tarnished their golden image.