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Bad Interview Turns Into “Should I Take The Job Anyway” Question

September 25, 2009. International Association of MBA 's: Amy Vander Voort

Call me paranoid, but an interview isn’t always an interview. I wish things were this straightforward. Sometimes, it’s just an exercise. I really wish employers and HR folks wouldn’t waste my time this way, but as a job seeker, I have to follow up on all leads and take all interviews seriously, right? And in a buyer’s market, employers can do what they want, can’t they?

Here are just some of my experiences to date:

Interview #1

I arrive at the HR Dept, where they tell me I am up against a good internal candidate. The interviewer calls me in and doesn’t interview me. Instead, he talks on his cell phone and shares with me whatever family news is happening that he is receiving via his phone. I was referred into this interview by the hospital CEO, by the way. What for, I wonder? I obviously was not going to get the job.

Interview #2

I am told by a recruiter that I am interviewing for a job that reports to the CEO of a medium-sized healthcare company. I arrive and HR puts me through some testing that involves reading comprehension and basic math at an elementary school level. Then I am told they are just screening candidates and they will get back to me.

The HR person has a huge stack of resumes on her desk. I’m never called for an official interview, but the job is still unfilled months later. Clearly, they are not serious about hiring anyone but the HR person is keeping busy collecting resumes and administering tests!

Interview #3

This one takes the cake. I make a cold application and get a call to interview with a consulting firm in Dallas. The  recruiter is very excited about me and tells me they are flying me to Dallas for the interview. I start getting sick, then I realize I am really sick, but decide I must attend this interview because it is a critical-needs position. I’m worried if I delay the interview they will select someone else.

I start taking antibiotics, load up on cough suppressants, and fly to Dallas. I interview like the devil. I know I nailed it beyond belief and I wait for the offer.

I call to follow up and am told the job went to an internal candidate. Why interview me, then? Because they need to show in the HR files that they thoroughly interviewed qualified internal and external candidates. Meanwhile, 12 hours of travel left me sick as a dog for two weeks after the interview. I was never a serious candidate to them.

I prepare properly for each interview—after all, any interview could result in an offer and you never know who you will meet and or what might transpire later through your new contacts. And yes, I would have taken any offers received. My search continues, but now I am wiser. I have the ability to sniff out the fakes and not get upset when I don’t land an offer.

One more word on interviews—I have received five to six “offers” to work on 100% commission for various types of companies who are looking for a cheap way to bring in business. While I have become desensitized to it, at first it was shocking to hear about “the job that pays nothing”, as I put it.

These people are not serious about growing their businesses, otherwise they would hire and train qualified marketing & sales staff, instead of approaching me (a total stranger) at networking events and saying “Hey, I have a job for you” which is them trying to get me to work for free. This is simply in poor taste and my time and talents, just like everyone else’s, have value!

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