Who coined "the job interview"?

Job Interview

Have you ever wondered who coined, “the job interview?”

How did an entire industry come about qualifying people to perform a service?


I set out to do some digging.


As I was looking for the origin of “the job interview”, I came across a comedy sketch that was performed on BBC’s, The Armstrong and Miller Show that I thought was worth watching!




But on a serious note, how did this come about?


From the beginning of time, “jobs” were something you did for survival. You wanted to eat, that was your “job”. You did what was necessary to feed yourself and your family. Once humans moved away from survival mode, they now entering the era of “trained apprentices” in ancient Egypt, Rome, and Greece. Fast forward the “trained apprentices” did not go away. During the 1700s - 1800s, jobs were passed down in families. For example, if your father was a blacksmith, you most likely would become a blacksmith. Occasionally, job openings would open up, if no one in the family was there to learn the craft. These trained apprenticeships were an opportunity for someone to learn a new craft. However, this agreement was looked at as a binding contract. Thus the era of indentured servants.  


As the 1800s approached, the industrial revolution was born and began to change the way of work. The jobs that made up the workforce were low skilled jobs, therefore not much education or skills were required.


In the 1920s higher education was on the rise and the economy was seeing highly educated individuals entering the workforce.


It is said, Thomas Edison established the first written test to gauge an individual’s knowledge on a subject. He was also known to have questions and test that seemed mysterious. Such as, “where do we import cork from?”  or his famous soup test. He greeted his candidates with a soup. If the candidates would add salt to the soup without tasting the soup he would nix them.


He didn’t want anyone on his team who assumed, rightfully so. After this, word got out of his methods and the rest is history. Key players in the other industry adopted his practice.


So here we are now, with a process that has evolved and become an important element of the work industry today.


To Thomas Edison, thank you!