“The Job,” a new reality-competition series that debuts tonight on CBS, attempts to take a serious part of life that everyone has been through–the job interview–and turn it into compelling television.
Of course, with unemployment still high, and reports of layoffs at large companies nearly every week, it is not a subject to take lightly.
“All of us have been in competition for a job at some stage of our lives, and we have just taken that real competition that people are in, and present that opportunity to candidates who would not otherwise get the opportunity,” the show’s executive producer Michael Davies tells me. “We were very responsible, and we are very aware of how serious this is, and how much it meant to our candidates.”
Each week the show features a different business; for the first episode it is The Palm steakhouse, and for the second (as we reported a few weeks ago) Cosmopolitan magazine is the featured company. During the show, which is hosted by Lisa Ling, five candidates engage in a variety of tasks under the watchful eye of executives from the featured company, from field training to a quiz show-esque grilling. The grand prize is not a fake job with a big salary, but a real, normal, middle-class gig. At The Palm it is an assistant manager job, at Cosmo it is an editorial assistant position.
Davies says that of the 40 contestants that appeared on the program, 16 landed jobs.
“These applicants had no intention of becoming reality stars, their only objective was to try and secure their dream job,” Ling tells me. “They were all incredibly qualified, and in fact vetted by the various companies HR departments as well. These were all very qualified people, who have been working toward pursuing a job at this company or in the industry being featured.”