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This Woman Went Viral On Twitter For Sharing The Completely Out-Of-Line Question She Was Asked On A Job Application, And It Just Shows How Expectations For Job Seekers Have Gotten Way, Way, Way, Way Out Of Control

The job application question asked: "How do you feel life has worked out for your so far? Please record a short, roughly 2-5 minute video response and paste the link here."

If you've ever had to search for a job — maybe you're even on the job hunt right now! — then you know it's a special kind of hell that's always more terrible than it needs to be.

Salem Pierce, a 30-year-old graphic designer, recently reminded us just how much job hunters are expected to stick their necks out for prospective employers when she tweeted this super-inappropriate question she encountered on a job application:

new level of job application hell just dropped

Twitter: @aWildSalem

The question asked: "How do you feel life has worked out for your so far? Please record a short, roughly 2-5 minute video response and paste the link here."

Salem's tweet quickly went viral, and lots of people replied with their thoughts, particularly on how out-of-line the question is:

@aWildSalem This has nothing to do with a job. This just screams to me that the founder wants to start another corporate cult.

Twitter: @masonltompkins

@aWildSalem Idk where in the interview process this is from, but do not like this. I could see so many ways this is an innocuous seeming way to weed out people from a protected class under the guise of “fit” or “attitude” or “charisma”

Twitter: @NotDearAbi

@aWildSalem @LindseyBoylan Unfortunately sometimes the job app process is itself a red flag saying "do not proceed this will not be a good place to work"

Twitter: @ChristoSilvia

Some chimed in with suggestions on how to "respond":

@aWildSalem I'd just drop my therapist's email and tell them she will give them the Reader's Digest version.

Twitter: @itsbethbooker

@aWildSalem I would have coffee and a cigarette, no shower, showing off my leopard print house shoes and my flannel jammie pants that I got on clearance

Twitter: @TheKnitHick

And others shared their own ridiculous experiences applying for jobs:

Twitter: @rylantrash

@aWildSalem I once applied for a job at Target, one of the questions was what percentage of politicians do I think are honest. I didn't get the job.

Twitter: @KazePhantom

BuzzFeed reached out to Salem, who called the video response question the "most absurd thing" she's seen on a job application so far. "The question itself is rather invasive, but not really shocking. US corporate culture loves to stick its nose where it doesn't belong."

Salem smiling

Salem ultimately did not send a video or complete the application. "There were several minor red flags earlier in the process, so when I hit this, I stepped away to decide if I wanted to continue. After the tweet went viral, I decided that ship had sailed."

As for why she decided to share the question on Twitter, Salem said, "I have been unemployed for nearly two years since I quit a toxic job that burned me out. Once I recovered (and after some self-discovery), I started talking about my job search on Twitter. I try to be transparent about the frustrations I face during the process, and this was one of them."

A closeup of Salem. Salem, who has a short curly bob, is wearing a shirt and cardigan

She continued, "Many people are concerned about the [question's] possibility of discrimination based on race, gender, or ability. Others, myself included, don’t like how intrusive it feels for people with past trauma or from disadvantaged backgrounds. Several folks with reported backgrounds in HR said they’ve seen questions like this used to screen for 'victim mentality,' which is really gross."

The bottom line is the expectations that potential employers have of job seekers have gotten completely out of control, and Salem agrees: "I have yet to see a job listing that I think has reasonable expectations. It gets repeated so much that it sounds rote, but most companies really do seem to expect candidates to be willing to do the work of five people for half the pay of one."

A blank application form zoomed into the Personal Information section. A pen has been placed on top

When asked what she thinks should change in the job hunting world, Salem cited a 2021 study conducted by Harvard Business School, which concluded that nearly 27 million "hidden workers" in the US are consistently being filtered out of the job market due to current hiring practices (like automated recruiting systems that can reject your resume simply due to a lack of keywords or a gap in employment). She told BuzzFeed, "The authors of the Harvard study recommend updating job descriptions to be more accurate and less broad, while shifting the applicant filtering from negative (cut people with X attribute) to positive filters (include people with Y attribute)."

I couldn't agree more, and I'd also like to remind employers that the names they're seeing on job applications are actual people with lives, families, and a million other things happening on top of their job hunt. Maybe consider that in the future and give your candidates a call/interview based on their resume alone (no cover letter or "2-5 minute video" required).

If you're interested in hiring Salem for your next graphic design project, check out her portfolio!