Analysis of ArgumentThe following appeared in a magazine article on trends and lifestyles:
“In general, people are not as concerned as they were a decade ago about regulating their intake of red meat and fatty cheeses. Walk into the Heart’s Delight, a store that started selling organic fruits and vegetables and whole-grain flours in the 1960’s, and you will also find a wide selection of cheeses made with high butterfat content. Next door, the owners of the Good Earth Café, an old vegetarian restaurant, are still making a modest living, but the owners of the new House of Beef across the street are millionaires.”
Discuss how well reasoned . . . etc.
The author concludes that people are less concerned today about limiting their intake of red meat and fatty cheese than they were a ten years ago. This argument is unconvincing and suffers from several flaws. One, an individual example is given and extrapolated to apply to all cases. Second, the argument makes illogical assumptions that a certain observation implies reduced concern about unhealthy intake rather than recognizing that other factors could be at play. Third, the argument fails to support its thesis as it does not compare current observations to those from a decade ago.
Firstly, in both the examples, the evidence only refers to a particular case – one health food store that serves a variety of fatty cheese and one particular vegetarian restaurant that is modestly profitable. These examples do little to prove a state of affairs across the board. For example, there may be other health food stores that do not sell any fatty cheese and there may be several other vegetarian restaurants that are very profitable. In order to improve his argument, the author should give evidence that is broad enough to cover the region he is talking about – whether it is city X, country X or the world.
Secondly, the author makes the assumption that the existence of a wide variety of fatty cheese indicates that people are less concerned about their intake. This is not necessarily the case. In order to prove his point, the author should compare the demand for the organic food versus the demand for fatty cheese. A similar flaw underlies the example of the vegetarian restaurant. Simply the fact that the vegetarian restaurant is only modestly profitable but the owners of the House of Beef are millionaires does little to prove consumer tastes. The author fails to specify whether the owners of the House of Beef are millionaires through an inheritance or whether it is as a result of the restaurant being hugely profitable. Even if it were the latter case, the modest profitability of the vegetarian restaurant could be a result of a variety of different factors – one of which could be an inefficient management that runs the restaurant at high costs. It does not necessary imply that there is lesser demand for vegetarian food.
Lastly, but most importantly, the argument fails to provide any evidence about the state of affairs a decade ago. This is a critical element as the conclusion seeks to compare today’s level of concern to that ten years ago. For all we know, while the organic store sells a wide variety of cheese, there might have been more variety in the past. Similarly, while the vegetarian restaurant is only modestly profitable today, it might have been running at a loss ten years ago!
In summary, the argument suffers from several flaws, which include the using narrow examples, making questionable assumptions, and failing to provide critical evidence to prove the point. The author needs to provide better examples and points of clarification in order to improve the argument. Analysis of IssueRather than using traditional question-and-answer interviews to evaluate job candidates, employers should observe job candidates as they observe some of the job’s actual tasks.
Companies are continually trying to improve the way in which they conduct job interviews in order to be better able to select the right candidates. While there are considerable advantages to having candidates perform the job function as a part of an interview, it is not very practical. Observing the candidate used as an interview technique overlooks the need for training, requires a huge time commitment and suffers from problems of confidentiality. Thus while observation may be used in select cases as an addition to the traditional Q&A, it should not and cannot replace the traditional interview.
Firstly, most new hires require some on-the-job training before they are fully up to speed on their job duties. While the time period required depends on the level of the job, the average recent college graduate takes three to six months to rise up the learning curve and work at his or her peak. Simply because a candidate may not be as good as others at performing a job today, does not mean they will not be as good after having gone through the initial training period. Thus, observing a job candidate who has had no opportunity to go through this learning curve does not provide much assistance in selecting the right candidate for the job.
Secondly, observing the candidate on the job could be a considerable time sink depending on the time period over which they are observed. For most job roles, a half an hour observation might prove very little about the candidate’s ability. Sure, a candidate for the job of a typist can type up a paragraph in a few minutes and prove their eligibility. However, a candidate for the role of a manager would likely need to be observed over a period of months before their worth is realized! Even in the case where an observation over a day is useful, it would take up a lot of time for the company to observe the hundreds of candidates it interviews. Similarly, if candidates have to spend a whole day with every company they interview with, they would only be able to interview at a handful of places!
Lastly, when the candidate works on the job, he or she will come across a lot of information about the company. This creates problems for companies because they will be hard pressed to keep information confidential. For example, if a candidate is applying for the role of an accountant, in the job demonstration he or she will probably have to work with the financials of the firm. It is highly unlikely that the firm will want all their interview candidates to be knowledgeable about the company’s profitability and cost structures.
Thus, while the observation of an interview candidate as he or she performs the job may be useful in a few select cases, there are several problems associated with it and it would be unwise to support the claim that companies should switch from the traditional Q&A interview to the observation interview.
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