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Cutting the Booze From Schmooze in Recruitment

October 28, 1998|KENNETH R. WEISS

Now that the economy's booming and talented college students are once again being wooed by corporate recruiters, a group of college and business officials is trying to take the wine out of wining and dining.

The National Assn. of Colleges and Employers has decided to amend its principles for professional conduct to read: "Serving alcohol should not be part of the recruitment process."

That means, no wine and cheese parties. Well, the cheese is OK, but with what? Coke? It means no open bar events to mix with corporate executives. In fact, it means no bar at all.

"The old principles said you shouldn't serve alcohol, but if you do, be careful," said Alan Goodman, director of career services at Catholic University, who leads the association's committees on principles. "It was like saying, 'So go ahead and do it if you want to.' "

And that's exactly what has been happening as labor shortages have hungry recruiters returning with all the tricks to give them an edge, make their company seem like a cool--even fun--place to work.

So what's up with this association of spoilsports? It's not that they want to ruin the party, association members say. It's just that there is plenty of reason to ban booze.

For one, some college students are still under the legal drinking age when recruiters swoop in. Also, some colleges forbid alcohol on campus or have tightened restrictions to discourage binge drinking.

Then there are the confusing and contradictory rules of the 1990s about social and business drinking. At the same time recruiters are plying prospects with liquor, most of their corporate offices have cracked down on drugs and alcohol on the job.

"Some students worry that if they are offered an alcoholic beverage, they're being tested in some way," said Marilyn Mackes, the association's executive director. They don't want to blow the interview, of course. So they fret. Should they accept a drink? What should they order? Will their decision affect the way the recruiter views them?

Don't dismiss such concerns as youthful timidity. As the association's attorney Rochelle Kaplan notes: If the happy hour goes well, the next thing most employers want is for a job candidate to pass a drug and alcohol test.

'Location, Location, Location' May Not Apply to Students

Are college students happier living in California rather than the Midwest? Apparently not, says a pair of psychologists, even though there is less complaining about the weather.

A survey of 1,993 students at UCLA, UC Irvine, the University of Michigan and Ohio State showed that they all were equally happy with their lives, said David Schkade of the University of Texas and Daniel Kahneman of Princeton.

"It appears the advantages of California are often overestimated and that some advantages are perceived even where none exist," they wrote in Psychological Science, a journal of the American Psychological Society.

"The similarity of overall life satisfaction in the two regions is remarkable because satisfaction with several aspects of life shows significant differences, all favoring California," they wrote. "In particular, students in the Midwest were less satisfied with every aspect of their climate, with the national beauty of their region, and with their opportunities for outdoor recreation."

Yet students in California thought the Midwest was prettier, with its green hills and trees.

Although the weather is much discussed, it seems to have little influence on personal satisfaction, the authors surmised. "We propose that people do not spontaneously focus their attention on the pleasures and pains of climate when attempting to work out how happy they are."

'Fatal Error' on Entry Exam Is Only a Test of Nerves

Sometimes taking a big test feels like, well, life or death.

So imagine the 400 aspiring MBA students who after completing the final question of the grueling three-hour Graduation Management Admission Test saw these words flash on their computer screen: fatal error.

The Educational Testing Service, which now only offers the test on computer, said the software glitch has not affected any scores. It has also been fixed.

But the fatal error message rattled several hundred of the 10,000 students who took the test this month. How can they be sure it didn't lower their scores? After all, these scores play an enormous role in determining where the students will be admitted to business school. Graduates of the top schools now waltz into jobs with starting salaries in the six-figures, while those from lesser schools have fewer options.

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