It could get you booted out of their office, but my approach would be simple: “Sorry, I don’t fill out applications until after I meet with the manager and it’s clear we have a mutual interest.” – Nick Corcordilos
Why do prospective employers insist that candidates fill out a job application before the interview? This is quite common in my experience.
Last week, I was invited to interview with a company in Culver City. Their HR manager found my profile on LinkedIn and e-mailed an introduction. Would I be interested in a phone screening? Sure. A day after our e-mail exchange, I had a scheduled phone interview. She was impressed and thought that my background was a great fit. Two days later, I was invited to interview in house.
I played web detective to find out more about the company and the interviewing managers. First I went through the LinkedIn filters for a manager search. I couldn’t find their profiles. Then I hit the Googs to see if they would appear. Nada. Next, I researched the company products. Okay, it’s a gender-based product. Not sure if I’m feeling what they are selling. The more research, the more unsure I became. The product reviews were mediocre. I started to notice that the company did not have much of a social presence as well. It hit me. I really don’t want to interview with this company. The vibe isn’t right.
Interview day arrived and I made it to the location with plenty of time. I sat in the car going over my resume and questions. When the clock struck 12:45 pm, I made my way to the office where I was greeted with a I-Can’t-Be-Bothered admin assistant.
“Can I help you?”, she asked with a confused look on her face. I replied that I was scheduled for an interview. She called the managers and gave me an application to fill out. Here we go again. Strike 1, I’m getting uncomfortable.
As I filled out my application, I began people watching to get a feel for the office. My discomfort level rose to a 5 when I read the questions, Are You Willing to Work Overtime? and Are You Willing to Work on Weekends? Honestly, no, especially if this position is salaried. I check “Yes”.
Then came the section where I had to initial my name by the background check, piss test and credit check questions. I’m starting to find some of this stuff very invasive. Especially when you haven’t decided if a company is the right fit for you. I initial.
The last portion was a request for two references. I mark “References Available Upon Request”. I’ve filled out enough applications with my references and the companies never sent a rejection letter, e-mail or call.
When I went to the bathroom, I got more of a feel for the office. Very tight call center room with employees hawking products. I’m pretty sure I’m not interested in this gig.
Returning to the lobby, the admin assistant asked if I had any references. “Yes, I do. I put that on the application because I like to give my references a heads up,”. She wasn’t having it. I could not do that. I had to put down some references. “Can you call them?”, she asked. WTF is running through my mind. Discomfort level is at a 6.5.
I also believe I witnessed a dismissal. While I begrudgingly named my references, I could hear a heated conversation between an employee and his managers. When tones rose, I could see the admin assistant and managers looking at me from the conference room. Uh-oh, something must be going down. I really don’t want to be here; maybe I should politely cancel. Once that ended, my time had come.
The managers arrived, we shook hands and headed towards the conference room. The main manager admitted to just reviewing my resume and the other manager just stared at the table. The questions and answers flew by, but I realized that manager #2 was not interested. The irony of it is that the night before, I read an article written by Alison Green called, When An Interviewer Just Isn’t In To You. He displayed a few signs on her list. “Do you have any questions for her?”, asked #1. Number 2 glanced at me, stared at the table and replied that no, he didn’t have any questions. Rude. Rude. Rude. Number 1 continued with our discussion. Discomfort level has reached 9.5.
Within 10 minutes of our interview I had checked out. I answered scenario questions to the best of my ability but the vibe was off. After a touch of rudeness, it was official I wasn’t interested in working there. I would be miserable driving here everyday. My gut was telling me, “Oh. Hell. Naw”.
Post-interview, I made a lunch stop for pancakes at IHOP. With every bite, I decided to withdraw my application. The realization of what I was feeling could not be ignored. I sent a thank you for considering me e-mail along with polite request to withdraw my application.
A few things went wrong from my angle:
- Filling out an application before the interview.
- Being told that I must submit references.
- Approving intrusive checks.
- A manager that couldn’t be bothered to ask one question. Why were you at the interview?
- No faith in the product, lack of online business presence.
I’m in the belief that candidates should not fill out applications until interest and fit have been decided. I don’t like the fact that companies are asking for personal information before they welcome you aboard or kick you off the island. Is this lazy HR management? Does this process make their jobs easier when it comes to eliminating candidates?
The next time around, I want to avoid filling out an application first. Searching for some tips, I reached out to Headhunter blogger Nick Corcodilos. If you haven’t checked out his blog Ask A Headhunter you should. It’s a great resource and he’s all about companies being responsible and efficient with their hiring practices.
He sent this response:
It could get you booted out of their office, but my approach would be simple: “Sorry, I don’t fill out applications until after I meet with the manager and it’s clear we have a mutual interest.”
You read this right from the start. Trust your judgment.
I’m glad I did.