I want you to envision that you’ve just landed (no pun intended) the high-profile client Mars One – a privately-funded space exploration foundation out of the Netherlands. They’ve entrusted you, the professional recruiter, with selecting the first four humans to colonize the Red Planet. (This is a real project scheduled to launch in 2022. Already 100,000 aspiring astronauts worldwide have applied).
Let’s assume you’ve already screened the candidates to meet all the physical minimums and “normalities” (Interestingly, no one shorter than 5’1’’ or taller than 6’2’’ need apply).
But how do you really screen people for a mission that can be summed up by "living and dying on Mars?" You must decide whether actual experience with space missions or ship maintenance trumps intangibles like mental stamina, pure passion, or being philosophically in tune with one’s actions. You must also gauge their sincerity, because these candidates won’t be returning to Earth. Death on Mars is written into the job description, and candidates must be fully aware of the permanence of their decision.
Since space travel began, different countries and cultures have tried to identify this strange mix of "practical" and "intangible" in very distinct ways. In Japan, the selection process required prospective astronauts to fold one thousand origami cranes without breaking down mentally or losing finger dexterity. In Moscow, crews lived in a mock spacecraft for 17 months to simulate the crushing boredom and social strains of long-term confinement.
That said, the organizers have given you a rather simple list of essential qualities. You must select candidates who have:
Ability to Trust
….and, above all, the capacity for self-reflection
But this ambitious startup is a bit hazy on the job description front. Indeed, Mars One admits that some problems and duties are "unforeseeable." What you do know is this: once the module lands, the ambassadors will be required to grow their own hydroponic plants for food, research and explore the geography of the planet, and build shelters under thick layers of Martian soil (to protect against radiation). So, it's like choosing contestants for a season of Survivor. Plus, everything from their training to the pioneering itself will be televised, reality-show-style.
Despite the fun format of a minute-long video, this is still the most serious job order of your career. So, who would you choose from the diverse bunch below? Any of them? None of them? Why?
Amy (age 39, from the United States)
Carl (age 36, from Sweden)
Mathew (age 33, from the United States)
Ken (age 70, from the United States)
Ann (age 62, from the United States)
See and rank more applications here.