As human culture advanced beyond the basic hunter-gatherer stage individuals began to take on non-survival roles within their communities. At first it was normal for these roles to pass from generation to generation, but as the world changed employers found they needed more people and that they had the ability to be more choosy in who they hired. As a result, “job interviews” emerged.
The role of pprenticeships
It was occasionally the case that craftsmen in the medieval period, for example, would have no family members to pass their role down to, and in these cases they would take on an apprentice to whom they could pass on their knowledge. This was not a job, per se, however, as much as it was indentured servitude with the promise of future reward.
First job vacancies open to all
When the industrial revolution changed the world and large factories began opening across America and Europe job openings became plentiful. At this time, however, there was no such thing as job security and people would simply have to line up outside the factories each day hoping to be employed.
Thomas Edison invented the job interview
It wasn’t until the 1920s that there were enough college educated people to give employers the opportunity to be more selective, but the origins of job interviews may surprise you!
In fact, the creator of the light bulb, Thomas Edison, is also credited with the advent of modern job interviews as we know it today. As it goes, Edison found that whenever he sought to add to his workforce he gained hundreds of applicants. Soon he became frustrated by the gaps in knowledge that some of the candidates had; he solved this issue by setting them a series of questions which tested their general knowledge. It is estimated that less than 7% of candidates would have passed his test.
The newspapers of Edison’s day picked up on his tests and soon after captains of industry, perhaps wishing to emulate him, began to employ their own employment questions. This is where the modern day interview began; when you go for your next one be thankful you’re not dealing with Edison!
Take a look at the orginal article History of Job and Job Interview: Who Invented the Process?