Sometime between now and election day, when Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney sits down for an interview, one critically important question should be put to him.
Whether the interviewer is a reporter for a small-town weekly, a big-city daily’s editorial board or a talk-show host, this question should be asked.
Here is that all-important question and how it should be asked.
Interviewer: Gov. Romney, I’m going to ask you something that’s on the minds of many as they decide whom to vote for, but first I’m going to present a scenario, a context if you will, for the question. So, please bear with me until I get to the question itself. Will that be all right?.
Romney: Uh . . . sure, why not? Heh, heh, heh, heh.
Interviewer: Very well then. You’re still CEO of Bain Capital. You’ve established a tradition that when a new executive is being hired, before a final decision is made, you will study the top prospect’s application and resumé, then personally interview him or her. Are you with me so far?
Romney: Yes. Go ahead.
Interviewer: Good. Now, your HR chief has just given you the paper work of a seemingly exceptional man. This applicant is a graduate of Choate, the prestigious boys’ school John F. Kennedy attended. He earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from an Ivy League college, finishing in the top 10 percent of his class. He later earned an MBA from another Ivy League school. He interned at one of Wall Street’s biggest financial institutions, earning a glowing recommendation.
You notice this man took five years to get his bachelor’s and that three years passed before he entered graduate school. His resumé only notes that he worked at part-time and full-time jobs as an undergraduate and while seeking his MBA — no specifics.
You then notice your HR chief has put a Post-It note on the third page. It says, in red ink, “Applicant unwilling to provide work history beyond past two years.” Bain job applications request all work history.
During the interview, you ask this job seeker about his past employment, beyond two years. He says he had several jobs, did his work well and left each one on good terms. He tells you that going back beyond two years only leads to more questions about details he feels no longer matter.
Now, Gov. Romney, unlike every presidential candidate for the past several decades, you refuse to divulge your tax records beyond two years. Your wife has said providing more tax records will only raise more questions. You insist you’ve paid all the taxes required by law, expecting the public to take your word for it.
So, my question for you is, would you take that job applicant’s word for it and hire him? Or, would you suspect that because he, unlike any job candidate you ever interviewed, refused to share his full work history, he must be hiding something disqualifying?