‘The Job’ creator on using reality TV to help the unemployed

02/06/2013 8:34 PM

02/06/2013 8:36 PM

Job interviews can be a nerve-wracking ordeal.

Imagine if you had to answer all of those questions in front of millions of people. That’s what happens on the new CBS reality series “The Job,” where the unemployed get to make their case to perspective bosses.

Five candidates participate in elimination challenges before a panel of executives. Along with the episode’s featured company, representatives from three guest companies, from related industries, can make an on-the-spot offer to one of the candidates. The candidates must decide if they will take or reject the offer to stay in the running for the featured job.

Michael Davies, the show’s creator and executive producer, goes through his own “Job” interview to talk about the series.

Q: Tell us a little about where you got the idea for the show.

I was producing a program with Ryan Murphy called “The Glee Project.” And on “The Glee Project,” Ryan Murphy, the executive producer of “Glee,” Robert Alrich, the casting director of “Glee,” Zach Woodlee, the choreographer of “Glee,” and the vocal producing team of “Glee” basically ran an extended job interview for a job on “Glee” over the course of a series. And as we were producing that show we kept on thinking this isn’t so much like a music competition series, it’s really more like an extended job interview.

Q: How did you go from a series about a musical job to landing work in publishing, the food industry and other major companies?

I started thinking what are other areas that I could take this very sort of authentic form of competition series and bring this to another area of television and make it work with that much emotion. At exactly that time, my eldest daughter finished her freshman year at college. She revealed to me that she had no intention of returning to college in the fall. Not a single one of her friends graduating from a frightfully expensive college in the Northeast had real jobs. The whole idea of a management training scheme, the kind of jobs that I was going for when I left college, they’d just fallen apart. They weren’t there.

Q: What did you find out about the job market?

It was pretty clear to me that after the crash, something was broken in the ecosystem of the idea that the best people were getting recruited to the best companies. It frankly became something that I just became very passionate about, and set about creating this format.

Q: How successful has the program been?

I’m proud to say over the course of eight episodes we offered more than 16 jobs to 40 candidates. I believe that the other 24 candidates, by the time this is finished airing, will all receive job offers of their own. And I think, more importantly, to a watching audience, people are going to learn about interviewing, about preparing their resumes, about the things that they need to know. And it seems simple, but nobody’s ever made a show about interviewing for a job. It’s something that every single one of you has done at some point.

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