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Opinions of Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Columnist: Sylvester

Injustice At An Interview At Care International

Why always me?
Last year I attended an interview at a certain organization in Accra for a place and three days time I made a call and I was told I am second and once they needed two people for the job it meant I have gone through, therefore, I relaxed. I had the shock of my life when I called one week later and the same human resource manager who told me I have passed said “oh yes, although you passed we have given appointment to the first two people so unless someone refuses to report that we will give you appointment”. What could I have done? A lot but I let it go.
This time around, it is Care International. An international organization that works to ensure “hope, tolerance and social justice for all”. Ironically, the injustice and the gargantuan corruption that surrounded an interview at Care, Accra office on 2nd May 2012, which I attended, for the post of Advocacy and Governance Officer leaves much to be desired of Care International.
I saw an advertisement for a position of Advocacy and Governance Officer at Care International at According to the advert, the position was to be based in the Tamale Office of Care Ghana.
When I saw the advert for the post I was so happy to apply for it, because of the fact that not only do I have the requirements for the position but the position falls in line with my personal career objectives and therefore I put the trauma that I suffered in my last interview and went in for the post, because hitherto I thought that Care International has high integrity when it comes to recruitment of personnel.
Realizing that I meet the requirements for the job and based on the fact that the advertised position falls inline with my career objectives, I duly submitted my application and kept on waiting.
Fortunately, my dream of working at care received a boost when I received a call from the Accra office of Care International that an interview was scheduled for me on 2nd May, 2012. The time given to me to report was 12 noon but by 8:30 AM, I have already reported at the given venue waiting to take my turn for the interview.
The interview was in two components; theory and oral (face to face). I took part in both with the same level of confidence. Indeed, I prepared for the interview as though I was defending a master’s thesis.
The written component fortunately for me fell within my area of research as well as my master’s degree course so I wrote it with much ease and that boosted my confidence more for the face to face.
I equally put up my best at the face-to-face and received commendations from the four panel members. But I was never complacent with the commendations from the panel members because I know that in some instances panel members just say good words to all interviewees so as not to demoralize any of them. Therefore, I did not see the positive comments I received as sufficient condition enough for me to say I have gotten the job.
Barely two days later, I called another interviewee who I met at the interview to find out if he has received any information concerning the outcome of the interview. To my surprise he told me for their post (Disaster risk reduction and livelihood officer) nothing was heard about it but that for our position-Advocacy and Governance Officer , he told me that another interviewee has already informed him that he was the first when all the marks were compiled.
I never became discouraged upon hearing this information. My response was that this could be a psychological warfare that, the self-declared successful interviewee could be embarking upon. My comments were that until I hear an official position from Care International, there was no way I would just give up hope like that because I know what I have done at both written and oral tests, without any complacency.
But to confess, some fears started occurring in me because I have ever had a similar situation in the past where I attended an interview for a position and having been told that I was selected I only called a week later and was told “we are sorry, although you passed we have given appointment to the first two people” as if it was not the same HR who told me earlier that I was successful.
Because I suffered this fate in 2010, upon hearing that one of my colleagues was already bragging that he was the one selected, I quickly sent an email on 6th May to the HR of Care International asking to know about my performance and for that matter the outcome of the interview. There was no response. I then recalled that I could get the phone numbers of some of the Panel members by search engines or from an ex-employee of Care International that I know. I had some contact numbers from the ex-employee and humbly made some calls for the outcome. The first person I called replied that the HR was working on the recommendations and would soon communicate to us. This piece of information boosted my confidence and my conviction that Care International was of high integrity.
On 10th May my first referee called me to inform me that he thinks I am successful in the Care’s interview. When I asked him why, he told me that he received an email from Care Accra office requesting for a referee report in connection with my interview. I was so happy and started celebrating. My referee then called me to bring him a field report that he has tasked me to write for him. When I got to him and sat in his car en-route to his office, I received a call from Care Accra office (the caller identified herself as Christine with an Airtel number) and after introducing herself, she disclosed to me the long awaited good news. What was the good news? She told me that I was successful in the interview and that I have been offered the position of Advocacy and Governance Officer. She went ahead to mention the salary and other conditions and asked me whether I was okay with that to which I replied yes! She then said that with the information received from me that she was going to put the terms of reference on paper and send that together with the appointment letter. All these transpired in the presence of my referee.
If you were, the one who took it for the start that Care was having high independence and high integrity and having received this authentic information what were you to do? Of course to celebrate. My referee turned and told me “congratulations, this calls for celebrations”.
What a big relief I thought finally. Because I knew, it was a done deal. I was expecting to receive the letter on the same day Thursday or if late at all the following day, that is Friday 11th May, 2012.
I never received the document on Thursday and I was so restless. I could neither eat nor sleep. By Friday afternoon, I rang Christine to ask why I have not yet received the documents and she replied that they were still putting the documents together; the terms of reference for the job and what not. She however, asked me if I want to start immediately, to which I said yes.
My fears began to increase when I called on Monday and was told that the Tamale Office Coordinator by name Aisha Iddrisu wants to “interview” me because she was not around when the interview was conducted and that it is important because she will be the one I will be working with. This was what Christine told me.
Oh my God! My blood pressure began to increase. I lost appetite for water and food and I felt I was heavily sick.
On Tuesday, 15th May I received a call from one Ayisha Iddrisu from Care Tamale Office at about 8:00 AM. She introduced herself and told me that she was not around and “bla bla” when the interview was conducted whilst I was on my farm with high pride that I have gotten a job. She asked me several questions, which in any case were not above my ability although she might have selected them on her own biases.
At the end, she told me they would soon get back to me. This raised more suspicion because I have heard several things about Care and did not believe them until this second interview with Aisha. I quickly called Accra Care office to complain and reported the incidence to my referee. Christine in my complaint to her, asked me why I should be having doubts, because that Care has never told me I will not get the job again since Aisha was only to interact with me.
I made some calls again and got to know that the other candidate for DRR has been served appointment letter to report on June 1st but as for me Aisha was now to decide my fate. Many will try to cook their own stories to explain the unexplainable.
Lo and behold, 18th May, Christine calls to say it has turned out that I am suitable for ALP but not Governance. I told her that the information communicated to me earlier on was categorical there was no but…………. so why now and why always me?
You see why I have been sick since ever I did not get the letter. The argument will be that after all we have not written to this guy yet! Therefore, we can twist the recommendation of the panel.
I am a true vandal and shall live and die by the motor of my Hall-Commonwealth Hall that the “truth stands”. The truth in this case is that I passed, was recommended for appointment, decision was communicated to me and Aisha returned from her trip to realize that I was not her favorite and for that matter fought hard to ensure that my appointment was terminated on dubious grounds.
Look at how funny this our world has become. We think it is government institutions that are corrupt but now what about………………..
Ironically, we all either go to church or mosque to pretend that we are praying.
My reservations
In philosophy and politics, it is common knowledge that the decision of majority should and must be upheld in place of the decision of one person (minority) just that the decision of the minority ought to be respected. However, it cannot and must not override the decision of the majority. In situations where minority decides for the majority then we have a Banana Republic where totalitarian decisions are made with catastrophic consequences.
Therefore, if Care International is a democratic organization that works to promote social equity, it therefore stands that the decision of a panel of four (4) interviewers that recommended me for appointment which was communicated to me by a phone call in the presence of my First Referee cannot and must not be cancelled my the decision of an individual who has her own egoistic and parochial interest.
The interview was duly concluded, that was why a decision was communicated to me with the conditions of the offer mentioned to me. So for my supposed supervisor to argue that she was not present at the time of the interview and that she was not satisfied with the work of the panel is neither here nor there. It raises critical issues. Is it that the panel was incompetent? Is it that my supposed supervisor had her favorite dropped out? Is she afraid of me, to the extent that I may be a threat to her position in Care? I can go on and on.
Again, it has never been the practice that when one goes through an interview, his would be supervisor must also hold another interview to be satisfied before appointments are made. The common practice is that if the supervisor fails to make inputs at the interview session, then he/she has the opportunity of evaluating the performance of the candidate during the probation period. So that when the successful candidate fails to make it, then the supervisor does not recommend for extension of the contract but for a project supervisor to also impromptuly and suspiciously if not nicodemously subject me to her own “interview” in order to have a say in my appointment is unlawful and has the potential of destroying the reputation of Care International which was founded on the principle of social justice.
So if Aisha Iddrisu had the supreme authority to have the final say in my appointment, why were we invited to Accra for an interview? Was it to deceive the whole world that recruitment was being done in a fair manner? The argument that she travelled at the time of the interview is a serious indictment on the operation of Care International to the effect that it means in Care International, recruitments are not done in a fair manner. In other words, it means the panel of four is indicted.
The whole decision looks so absurd that a project manager would come out with her own biased questions after an interview has been concluded, which in any case I know I answered her questions which I can repeat today as well as my responses to them although in the first place it was an illegality in entirety.
Now the rumour I heard before the interview has been confirmed. Before the interview, I was told that someone after having attended an interview at Care had his offer terminated unceremoniously and hinted that even Ayisha Iddrisu in the Tamale Office has her own favorite and that he doubts if the procedure we are going through is not a mere formality. I brushed this aside and still mastered courage and took my interview with confidence but now it has turned true that I am not Ayisha’s favorite and she has done everything possible to have my appointment terminated.
If she travelled to Ethiopia during the interview and so what? Why couldn’t the interview be postponed. Why would people have to travel long distances risking their lives to attend interview for only one person to nullify the due process?
Can Care International repair the psychological and mental torture that I have been subjected through? Is it that some staff of Care International are promoting their individual egoistic and parochial interest through cronyism, nepotism, gargantuan corruption that in the end will work against the very thing that Care International seeks to promote- human dignity and justice? Is there any dignity and justice in this case? Do the likes of Aisha think the good donors of Care International put in their money for her to pack the organization with perhaps some ill-trained personnel so that they can share the “booty”.
I am not going personal, but if I am to do, the argument that I am not a suitable candidate for Governance and Advocacy is untenable. If nothing at all my First Class in Political Science at Legon that won me a DFID Scholarship to pursue a master’s degree in sustainable development in the UK was not for nothing. In any case, my case is not like others who by accident of history had their certificates or positions. Why was it in the first place communicated to me that I have gotten the job, my salary mentioned, a question asked if I wanted to start immediately to which I said yes, was told they were sending me the terms and the letter only for Aisha to return to stop the writing of the letter and has the whole process turned down.
This upward decision has the effect of affecting the vision and mission of Care International and for that matter the lives of hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people.
One may ask what will I achieve? Absolutely nothing. But letting others know what is happening will perhaps heal me from the mental agony and other people may have the right thing done to them.

Sylvester (cheated interviewee)