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BWW Interviews: Michael Davies & Lisa Ling of CBS's New Reality Series THE JOB
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LL - It is!
Lisa, do you find yourself rooting for one contestant over the others or do you try your best to remain impartial?
LL - (laughing) I try very hard to remain impartial. I mean certainly, there were personalities that really stood out, and I think that it became sort of obvious, the people who were going to progress further because I think that you can tell when someone is really being themselves and being authentic and it was certainly those people who, in all likelihood, ended up getting offered the job. But I tried to remain neutral to the extent that I could.
Which leads me to my next question, how much do you think personality plays a role in the decision making process versus knowledge of the industry and experience?
MD - Well that's actually a great question. I would say, that obviously experience, knowledge qualifications they're all really important. But ultimately, the determiner for me usually came down to character. How much time these candidates really been at the companies, they got to see the candidates next to each other as opposed to isolated from each other in interviews. And usually what the companies said to us afterwards was, 'you know we came in here looking for someone with this, but in the end, someone has blown us away because of their character, because of who they are deep down.'
So it's not so much about personality, because personality only takes you so far, but character, actually who you are, what your work ethic is, how you're actually going to behave on the job, how you're going to work with others, you know all those other character things usually determine whether people are successful or not successful. I think those are the things that this format managed to illuminate and this process managed to reveal to these companies who are looking for their next great person.
I love the twist you throw in where guest employers can jump in and make an offer to one of the candidates before the featured company has a chance to do so. What inspired that element of the format?
MD - Well in my original idea, that was something that happened right at the end of the show, right at the point where there was a final offer and another company could come in and offer you a job that would compete against that. But when I started working with Mark Burnett, on this idea, when CBS paired me up with Mark, which I was delighted to do, Mark really was a big advocate for having that twist play more in The Middle of the show and less right at the end.
I think the interesting thing about that, many of us have been faced with that issue in our careers; do we take the job we were definitely offered, or do we hold out to try to get the job that we might want a little more. Usually though we have weeks to make that decision, we can talk to our family and our friends, and really get some genuine advice on it. And I think here we are asking our candidates to make that decision really over a commercial break
LL - Yeah, I think it was extra excrutiating given how challenged this economy is and the fact that so many of the candidates were jobless at the time. So that part of it was a pretty nerve-wracking experience.
Do the companies decide which challenges the candidates will face or do you have a hand in that as well?
MD - Oh yeah, we do very much. That was something that we worked very hand in hand with the companies. We figured out what they were looking for and we would throw out a bunch of ideas. Once they told us the characteristics or the character, what the things they really wanted to test for, we usually devised challenges. But then the companies gave us a lot of feedback on them and we amended them. And I think those challenges were really, really effective in separating out the weak from figuring out who the best people were. It wasn't exactly what you did. Very often it was how you did it.
And I feel that all the time as an employer. Especially when I'm working with younger producers. They're not always going to have success but I want to see that the effort they make and the way they go about it is right. And that was really instructive for us again and again.
THE JOB airs Fridays at 8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT on the CBS network.
Photo credit: David M. Russell/CBS