by Liz Ryan
I know you hear a lot of interviewing horror stories. Here’s mine:
I was scheduled to meet with a company recruiter (“Jill”) and my hiring manager (“Rob”) on Thursday at ten a.m., three weeks ago.
I got to the facility and no one was expecting me. Jill was out of the office and no one knew where she was. Rob was in an all-day meeting. I was just about to leave when somebody said “Wait, Jill says you should meet her at the coffee shop near her house.”
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Nobody in the company’s office viewed this change in plans as an inconvenience to me, even though the coffee shop near Jill’s house is half an hour away from the office.
I went into the coffee shop. There was no one there except the coffee shop employees. I called the company again and they said “Okay, Jill will head down to the coffee shop now. She didn’t want to leave her house until you arrived.”
I was already ready to leave in disgust but I stayed. Jill showed up twenty minutes later, and we talked. She didn’t apologize for forgetting the interview she had scheduled herself. I guess I did okay at that interview. I went home.
A week later I was invited to come back to the company’s office and meet Rob.
I showed up and Rob was in another meeting. I waited half an hour.
Rob came out of his meeting full of smiles and said “Why don’t you join me for the last half hour of the meeting? Then we can talk one-on-one.”
Like an idiot I said “Okay.” I went into the meeting. Rob didn’t introduce me to anyone. They had their meeting. I tried to follow the conversation but I had no idea what they were talking about.
Finally the other meeting participants left. Rob asked me “What makes you a good fit for our company?”
I was so ticked off and exhausted that I answered honestly. I said “Anybody who could make it this far through your company’s recruiting process is definitely more flexible than the average job seeker.”
Rob laughed but he didn’t seem to understand what I meant. I don’t think anybody ever told him that he had already missed his first interview with me.
Rob and I talked for an hour. Liz, I realized in that hour that Rob doesn’t deserve me.
He’s a happy-go-lucky guy who thinks that he and everyone in his company sit on a higher plane than the rest of humanity. I didn’t see how I could learn anything from him. He liked my experience but he asked me exactly zero questions about how I do my job, how I could help him, what I want from my career or anything at all about me. He just talked about himself.
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I could hardly get a word in edgewise. I finally stopped trying. Rob wasn’t in the mood to listen. He wanted to talk.
When I left, Rob said “This was a great conversation!” and I said “It was great to meet you.”
I had a feeling Rob would want to keep me in the interview pipeline because I’m a good listener.
When I got home there was a message from Jill on my voicemail. She wanted me to come back in for another interview. I waited a day and then left her a voicemail message to say “Thanks anyway but I’m close to another offer” which isn’t true but it seemed more polite than saying “I wouldn’t work for you people if this was the last job on earth.”
Thanks for reminding us we have power, Liz! I have two more interviews with other companies now. I could have gone to work for Rob out of desperation but I didn’t. That’s a victory in my book.
I’m thrilled for you! It is so empowering to walk away from a bad situation the way you did.
A job search is a mojo-sucking exercise in the best of times. You showed a lot of courage walking away from a mojo-sucking organization that made it clear they didn’t deserve your talents.
Here are ten common, despicable hiring practices that drive great candidates like you away from organizations every day:
1. Obnoxious job ads that focus on the Essential Requirements the Selected Candidate must possess – but don’t waste two words trying to sell candidates on the opportunity. You deserve to work for people who think you are just as smart and talented as they are (if not more so).
2. Recruiting systems that make you fill out six to ten pages on an online application form (warning you at every step that you falsify anything, leave any field unfilled or fudge even the smallest detail you’ll be banished from the kingdom) and then never respond — or respond with a generic message like “If we want to call you, we will, but don’t hold your breath.”
3. Keyword-searching algorithms in place of human eyes, hearts and brains screening resumes. There is a special place in hell for people who call themselves recruiters or hiring managers but only use technical means to screen resumes in or out of the pile (because they are too busy)!
4. Recruiting processes that require a candidate to hand over highly personal information like their past and current salary details, list of references with contact information or college transcripts, without any human communication or live conversation in the mix.
5. Interview practices that consist of a list of scripted questions (and a hidden list of “acceptable” and “unacceptable” answers). You don’t have time to work for a company that recruits that way!
6. Recruiters who call you and talk to you, promise to call you back and then never do.
7. Interviews that use up a half-day of your time or more and then leave you waiting in Radio Silence Land for weeks.
8. Recruiters who bring you in for an interview only for you to find out that you dry-cleaned your suit and took time off work for nothing because no one was expecting you, or the people you were supposed to meet aren’t there.
9. Interviews that are all about trying to suck information out of your brain without paying you for it. Some loathsome organizations run job ads when they don’t have a real job opening, just so they can get free advice from candidates.
10. Companies that make it crystal clear at every step of the recruiting process that you are nothing to them — an ant, a flea or a cog in their machinery. Run away from companies like that!
Every time you slam the door on the wrong opportunity, your muscles grow. Every time you tell the wrong manager or recruiter to go fly a kite, you invite a higher level of hiring manager or recruiter into your sphere.
Keep slamming doors, Carleen. The universe is listening!