People who are eloquent and have poise often have a competitive edge in a job interview, particularly if they are seeking a career in which a pleasant appearance is widely expected, as with flight attendants or TV news anchors.
But lawmakers yesterday wanted to know why eloquence and poise should be a concern for a clerk working in the postal service.
People First Party legislators Liu Wen-hsiung (劉文雄) and Chao Liang-yen (趙良燕) posed that question to officials from the state-run Chunghwa Post Co in a press conference yesterday.
They alleged that this year's Special Examination for Postal Service Employees, scheduled to be held next month, gives too much weight to the face-to-face interview portion of an individual's application.
While the applicant's score on the written test accounts for 70 percent of the overall test score, another score is also assigned to evaluate the performance of a candidate in the interview.
The interview score makes up the remaining 30 percent of the overall score.
The applicant's interview is evaluated based on the following criteria: poise, eloquence, professional knowledge and ability to properly react to various situations.
"How are you going to test someone's poise? By asking them to walk on a catwalk?" Chao asked, "Are you also going to quiz the candidates, like they quiz the contestants in the Miss China beauty pageant?"
Chao said the fact that the interview accounts for 30 percent of the total score has given some candidates the opportunity to "manipulate" test results.
She added that the company uses the written exam to decide which candidates qualify for an interview, a number three times more than the available positions.
Liu requested that Chunghwa Post cancel the interview portion of the application process immediately, threatening to slash its budget for the next fiscal year if it did not comply.
Yen Yung-teng (嚴永燈), the director of the personnel department at the Chunghwa Post, said there is no way that the company could change the rules now, since it would be unfair for everyone who has already registered to take the test.
What Chunghwa Post might consider doing is lowering the percentage of the interview in the final score, Yen said, adding that it would make a final decision within a few days.
Yen added that this is the second year that the company has held a written test as well as an interview to recruit new employees. The format was first adopted in 2004.
Yen said the criteria for the interview were set based on the guidelines established by the Ministry of Examinations. Only clerks who need to assistant customers at the windows are required to be interviewed by the examiners.
Those who are hired to provide delivery services are exempt, he said.
According to the company, a total of 26,952 people have applied to take the test this year. The company plans to hire 728 employees, of which 303 need to be interviewed.