Tag Archives: workplace politics

Job Applications and Interviews

8 Mar

courtesy of samplewords.com

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.

Rude Hiring Managers

2 Nov

**Video courtesy of URSession**

Out of all the in-person interviews I’ve had, a general positive feeling lingered post interview.  The interviews generally went so well that I figured I was probably in the running out of many candidates – don’t we all. Unfortunately our economy has upped the ante for rude hiring managers.

Then comes the moment when you send a follow-up e-mail. My rule of thumb is to do this twice. If things go silent, that’s the hiring manager’s way of saying thanks, but no thanks. Technology makes it very convenient to ignore people. Once communications go silent, a flood of  worrying thoughts pour into your head because you’re starting to become tired of your extended Groundhog’s Day.

It’s always good to reality check interviews because sometimes seekers get caught up in the haze of being the lucky chosen. It’s an honor to get an interview these days. You are lucky if a hiring manager pulls your resume from a stack of thousands.

Last week, I mentioned my interview with a creative agency in DTLA. It’s interesting that HR e-mailed me to interview and continued to be responsive until after I had the interview. I even e-mailed the main boss for a status update and he hasn’t responded either. It’s only been a week, but it’s easy to shoot back an e-mail no matter “how busy” one may be.

You have to be honest with yourself after a job interview. There is career advice galore about doing research before you interview with a company. One piece of advice I found is to reach out to former employees to get their POV.  You can take that info for what it’s worth because some formers could be disgruntled or they were just ready to move on. I think it’s a good idea to reach out because formers have a history. They know the pros and cons.

Knowing that I should not send anymore follow ups, I reached out to one of their past employees and we’ve set up a call for Thursday to discuss his former role there.

When asked about my interview,  all I could say was, “it was good, but….”.  The “but” means I saw red flags. I was gung ho about the position because the job duties were exactly what I did at Company X and the location was perfect. I was all about the location.

However, I later analyzed how my interview with the hiring manager was handled. My Stress Test Interview post touched upon his CIA interrogation questioning. I was interrupted many times – at least 10 or more times.

Part of me wants to believe that he was trying to push my buttons with his hostile questioning.  Did he want to see how I handled stress?  Now I don’t believe that was the case. His style of questioning was very abrupt and in your face.  He kept repeating the same questions various ways. Does he want me to argue or walk out? I’m not sure what point he was trying to make, but it made me slightly uncomfortable.  I also did not appreciate that he tried to get me to say negative things about my previous employers.  The moment he began writing all over my resume, I realized that I was experiencing a rude hiring manager.

Two of my peers interviewed with the same company, but didn’t receive the hostile questioning. One of the two met with the same boss, but everything went smooth. He told me my situation was perhaps a case of I’m a guy and you’re a female. My other peer didn’t meet the main boss.  She was told that the last person in the position was let go because they were an asshole. This wasn’t implied, it was said. Wow, very professional for an interview setting. Imagine what is said about prospective candidates.  She was well aware of who the hiring manager was.  She saw him peek through the glass conference room several times.  He later told the HR rep that he didn’t need to speak with my friend and that she could leave.  My friend now believes that age was an issue.

Other incidents during the interview involved one employee reviewing my resume for the first time during the interview – this happens a lot and the other one took a phone call in the middle of the interview. I know that I interviewed longer than needed – 2.5 hours.  After a few e-mails to get an update, no one had the courtesy to respond.  That’s how it goes these days.

In hindsight, I wish I had found out who the former employee was pre-interview in order to have an idea of what to expect. Maybe I’ll get an earful tomorrow. He seemed really eager to speak me. In the meantime my interest in the position has definitely waned, but hey I got an interview.

Take note of those red flags, no matter how perfect the location or job description may sound. Be honest with yourself and happy job hunting!

Politics of the Workplace – Blog Talk Radio

1 Nov

courtesy of cynicalreview.wordpress.com

After a strange incident with a Los Angeles recruitment agency, I went to the  web to see if there were any articles about workplace sabotage. I came across a site called Politics of The Workplace that features articles and podcasts by writer/consultant Ji Hyun Lee and others. I reached out to Ji after my incident to get her advice and she was very helpful. She will be mentioned in my next recruiter horror story.

I hope that she will write and podcast more of her experiences about being unemployed and the inane incidents that have happened during her interviews. She has very interesting stories!

My favorites are Why Do Hiring Managers Lead You On and Women Bullies On The Job. If you have time, take a listen to both because there are so many seekers that can probably relate or have a similar story to hers. What’s interesting is that she posted a question on LinkedIn (mentioned in the podcast) and her bully found her question and went on the defensive about what went down between the too. I’m still searching for an archive post to that one! Scroll to the bottom of the page for her podcasts.

Check it out, enjoy and happy job hunting!

Ji’s Article: Being a Woman on the Job: Why Can’t We All Just Get Along? | http://bit.ly/hV675v


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