Labor · Saul

Opportunity Cost of Interviewing

Jimmy is invited for an interview regarding a copier salesman position with Neff Copiers. During the interview, it is noted that Jimmy’s resumé shows his previous but recent employment as a lawyer and the interviewers are curious why he would want to switch into sales. From their standpoint, going from a legal career into copiers’ sales seems like a demotion.

Upon making his case, Jimmy takes the chance to analyze his decision from a cost-benefit analysis standpoint. He admits that he doesn’t have traditional sales experience, which would definitely be a significant cost to Neff copiers, if he gets employed by them. The tradeoff is that his skills as a lawyer are transferable to a sales job because it still involves “selling” to different people. His argument is essentially that the skills he gained as a lawyer are general, human capital, which can be transferred to a more traditional sales role.

Before leaving, he decides to come back and make his case using the foundational economic concept of opportunity cost. While they wait to interview more candidates, they are giving up that opportunity to see if he can really do it. When hiring candidates, there are a variety of quasi-fixed costs, and many students don’t recognize that the cost of hiring a worker goes beyond their wage. The second half of this scene provides and excellent chance to explore the opportunity cost of not only the missing salesman, but also the two managers who could be doing other things with their time. Jimmy’s story about his experience with copiers is an attempt to make the opportunity cost of waiting seem more real to the two managers.

Once Jimmy gets the job he highlights how dumb the two are because they know nothing about him. He argues that there they haven’t done their due diligence in hiring because he could be a crazy person. This level of asymmetric information in labor markets is why the search process can take longer than traditional competitive models suggest.

Looking to emphasize jus the human capital aspect and transferability of skills? Check out the clip that includes only the beginning of this scene.

See more: Asymmetric information, Better Call Saul, cost benefit analysis, general human capital, hiring costs, human capital, interviewing, labor, opportunity cost, search costs, skill transferability, specific human capital

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