Rant, Part 3 — The Top 10 Things Interviewers Do To Piss You Off and what YOU Can Do About It.

The following are the top 10 gripes you have all shared with me over the past several months regarding your “adventures” in job searching.

#1:  Failure to Get Back in Touch after Multiple Interviews

Hands down this is the leading complaint that I hear from candidates heavily searching for jobs.  You go in for three or four interviews, all seems to go well, and then, BAM, nobody’s returning your calls.  It could be that the company had a hiring freeze, budgets were cut, or there were layoffs. It could be that they decided to go with someone else. Either way, there’s really no excuse. Someone should have the courtesy to call you back and let you know that you didn’t get the job or that the process is on hold.  After calling three times at the very most, drop it and move on.  This happens more often than one would like, so the key is to keep interviewing until you’ve got an offer on the table.

#2:  After meeting the hiring manager, he tells you he wants you to come in again to meet with others on the management team.  You are psyched. Then, two days later, the recruiter who set it up calls back to say: “I’m sorry, but they just didn’t think you were right for the job.”

More often than not, hiring managers just don’t seem to have the balls to tell you that you’re not right for a job at the end of an interview.  So, it’s our job, as recruiters, to do the dirty work.  That’s OK, I don’t have a problem with that.  But, I do have a problem with the fact that employers seem to unnecessarily lead candidates on as the interview is winding down. ATTENTION HIRING MANAGERS!!!  If you are not interested in a candidate, either tell them the truth or simply thank them for coming in at the end of an interview and let them know that the recruiter who set up the meeting will be in touch. As the candidate, regardless of what you are told, keep your feelers out there and never “assume” that a job is in your pocket until the very end.

#3:  A recruiter tells  you that she is going to send your resume in for a job and then falls off the face of the earth.

If a recruiter says they are going to send your resume in for a position and then doesn’t call back it’s because the client most likely took a pass.  The recruiter should call you back. If she doesn’t then don’t work with her.  There are other recruiters out there who will treat you better.

#4:  You are interviewing with one person and a second person joins the meeting late and proceeds to ask the very same questions you just answered!

This is beyond rude and simply a waste of your time.  Assess who this person is and how closely you’ll have to work with him.  Remember, the interview goes both ways, so if you will be working very closely with this person, perhaps you should reevaluate if YOU want this job.

#5:  The recruiter or hiring manager keeps answering her phone and allows herself to be interrupted by staff during the interview.

Same advice applies as written above in #4.

#6:  You are interviewing or presenting to a group and one or more in the room are texting.

Perhaps, before you start presenting, you can kindly request that everyone put their phones away.  Why not for crying out loud?  Yes, I wish we didn’t have to actually ask for this kind of courtesy, but the reality is, we do.

#7:  You are asked to do a project and after pulling an all nighter, receive zero, zip feedback — not even a “thanks but no thanks.”

Honestly?  You should be thankful.  Why would you want to work for a company that would treat you that poorly?

#8: You arrive at an interview early, only to wait 30 minutes or more to be called in.

Assess how the person handles it.  Does she just saunter in like nothing happened or does she apologize profusely. Emergencies do pop up.  If she seems to care that she inconvenienced you, give her a second chance.

#9:  It becomes painfully clear that the interviewer hasn’t looked at your resume even though it was sent beforehand.

Not cool, but suck it up and take him through it. Make sure to ALWAYS carry a few extra copies with you when you go to an interview.

#10:  A recruiter changes your resume and/or tries too hard to sell you on a job that does not appeal to you.

Stick to your guns and don’t let anyone convince you to do something you know in your gut is just not right.  In terms of the resume changes, you can send a .pdf to recruiters so this is not an option. If they specifically request a Word document, make it very clear that any changes made to the resume must be approved by you.


  • Hiring Manager
    October 8, 2009

    Is this for real? Do you have any idea what the hell you’re talking about? The world changed over a year ago. Prospective employees should be grateful to get an interview. Ask a roomful of prospective employers to put their blackberries away? Come on. They actually have work to do. And if you arrive early for an interview, I would hope you are forced to wait. We are not sitting around waiting for people to show up early for interviews. If you’re thirty minutes early, expect to wait at least thirty minutes. This is the most absurd thing I have ever read. Thanks for wasting everyone’s time.

    • JS
      October 10, 2009

      To Hiring Manager: YOU are one of the very main reasons why my blog was created in the first place. I strongly encourage you to peruse it and I will be *glad* to answer any questions you may have.

      No prospective employee should *ever* have to tolerate pathetic attitudes from the likes of Hiring Manager.

    • WTH?
      October 10, 2009

      Talk about arrogance.

      You’re tone and your comments make are one of the reasons I simply can’t stand a lot of HR personnel and recruiters I’m forced to deal with.

      You didn’t even comprehend what she wrote. She said that the person arrives early, which means on-time, because God forbid a lowly applicant has the gall to be late for an interview. People SHOULD be on-time, and that applies to BOTH side. If you’re the applicant that means, if you’re smart, you plan to arrive a few minutes early because you never know what might happen en route.

      Jane’s point is you get there on-time, and you’re forced to wait an unreasonable amount of time. Five to ten minutes is okay. Past that and I do consider whether I want to work for whatever company that’s keeping me waiting.

      In fact, that happened to me recently. The recruiter double-booked me and another applicant. On the phone he said one time, but my email confirmation had my interview set for 30 minutes later. I let it slide and just showed up. Sure enough, I’d been double-booked by mistake and had to wait. I took it in stride because I was happy to have another interview with this company.

      However, what made it okay was my interviewer made a point to apologize, and a few people who saw me sitting there all that time stopped to ask me if I was being helped or, once they knew what was going on, if needed or wanted something to drink. One guy actually went out of his way to find the recruiter. That was a nice touch. The overall tone of the people who worked there was nice and helpful. It actually brought it home that this was a company where people are nice to each other. Clearly, you don’t work for that sort of company.

      If you can’t read what she wrote and understand, I can’t imagine how many times you’ve been just as flip and dismissive over a resume or cover letter you have misunderstood. That’s scary.

      Your tone is haughty, rude and dismissive.

      We should not feel grateful that we’ve been called in for an interview. We should be happy that the person in charge of screening took the time to read our cover letter and resume, and be happy that they agree that we might be a good fit.

      Even in this tough economy, it’s a two-way street. I assume I’m called in for interviews because I’m qualified, and there is the potential that I can contribute to the company’s bottom line. If it’s just any warm body will do, skip the interviews, flip a coin and leave it at that. At least, we’d not have to deal too much with insipid HR personnel who are misinterpreting an economic slowdown with a reason to be arrogant and rude. I really hope I never have to deal with an idiot hiring manager like you.

  • SF
    October 9, 2009

    Jane: Thanks a lot for your series of observations on the interview process. I imagine that your thoughts are very helpful to many job seekers trying to puzzle through the crazy process of interviewing with many different prospective employers in a slim job market.

    Regarding “Hiring Manager” and their opinion expressed that “Prospective employees should be grateful to get an interview”… this sounds like a reactive take on the current economic condition, and it’s plain wrong. A uniquely qualified candidate deserves no disrespect just because there are many who happen to be looking for the same job at the same time. HR managers and associates who use a bad economy as license to be haughty, officious or just plain lazy are unprofessional, period.

    For the record, I have been in the position of hiring people in my career. But when printing out stacks of resumes and trying to sort out the pretenders from the contenders, I always tried to put myself in the other person’s shoes. I’ve been there before, and I know how much a little professional courtesy can mean to someone out there trying to get their own career on track.

  • William
    October 10, 2009

    Love your blog. It’s nice to see some dare say an interviewer might be doing something wrong.

    Compared to a few of the crazy interviews I have had to suffer thru over the last couple of years, the examples you cited seem like Emily Post.

    A couple months ago I was asked to show my book at a large financial firm in downtown L.A., for some freelance design work. They brought 3 of us designers in to a tiny room at the same time for a group portfolio show and tell. The office manager who wasted our time for 30 minutes thought it was a staff job. Eventually, the project manager showed up. At the end, she announced the first project would be on spec, to see which logo redesign they liked best. I explained that as a professional, I don’t work for free and I never work without a signed Assignment Contract (which I had to do in front of the other 2 candidates.) On the way out, there were 3 more candidates on deck in the waiting room.

    Of course I never heard back from them. The wouldn’t even pay for parking.

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