I’ve been job hunting in NYC for almost two months now with some close calls but no offer yet. I thought I would take some time to highlight some of my more frustrating experiences.
“So do you think you’re better than other people because you have a Masters degree?”
How do you answer a question like this properly? If you say no, you sound unconfident and insecure about your achievements. If you say yes, you sound arrogant. I did answer no, and explained that Masters degrees are quite common in Europe (good luck job hunting with only a BA!) and discussed some aspects of my education that have benefitted the way I work.
This is an example of poor interviewing on the employer’s side. A more appropriate question would have been, “How do you think your Masters degree has enhanced your experience/knowledge/insight/etc” and waited to see if I would imply arrogance over it.
This one was actually at my first job interview in NYC, so I’ve since learned that this attitude is not universal in the city.
The disappearing HR lady who doesn’t know how email works
I received an email from a nice HR lady asking to schedule a phone interview. I replied within two hours, but it was a Friday afternoon, so I understood when I didn’t hear back straight away. I was more confused when I didn’t hear back for two weeks….with barely an apology acknowledging the delay. I thought the opportunity sounded interesting and I was well-suited for it, so I brushed it off and took her up on one of the times she suggested. Four days later, a day or so past the time I suggested, I heard back. “Oops sorry!”
Again, the opportunity was good enough that I did not give up, plus, I don’t work in HR so I would never work with this woman.
I proceeded through the interview process and she continued to be difficult to communicate with. Finally, I had made it to the final round! I received the email letting me know this fact….and it was addressed to all of us in the final round for the position!
In the end I didn’t get the job…not that I was informed of this fact, of course. I never heard from anyone again after the final interview and they ended up hiring internally. I guess this could explain the lack of urgency in scheduling.
“But will you get upset not writing for an international audience?”
I had a phone interview with a top employee in a company, for a position I thought was very relevant to my experience. I mentioned that I had written for an international audience in my last position – not a vital fact but one that I always kind of feel makes me more interesting. I was not expecting that response, however.
Are we really so entitled these days that we’re expected to get “upset” when a factor of our jobs doesn’t match our ideals?? I don’t expect every aspect of a job to be perfect or ideal – if it is part of the job then I will do it.
I obviously answered, “of course not” but I never heard from the company again.
“This is not part of the interview, I’m just taking ideas from you”
I should have seen this disaster coming. This was a second interview at an online company and the first the guy said to me was “So-and-so really likes you and your background, but I’m not sure I’m impressed.”
This man was the Head of PR at an ONLINE COMPANY and flat-out told me he knew nothing about online media. “I’m old school,” he said, “I like newspapers and such.” Righto.
As the conversation moved forward, he asked if I had any ideas for the company’s future. I can be a bit of an idea factory so I started going on and on about some things I had thought about. He was taking notes furiously and had to stop me to slow down when he said “This is not part of the interview, I’m just taking ideas from you.” Uh huh. Okay. So have a bunch of people come in and interview that you don’t intend to hire, and just use them for free ideas.
The job listing was still open 6 months later. (spoiler: This was in Copenhagen awhile ago but it always kind of bothered me)
In general, I don’t support giving ideas away too soon in the interview process. If you want my detailed plans and ideas, you do not get them for free.
The HR girl who loved the sound of her own voice
This one isn’t too scandalous, but it is something I’ve noticed can happen in phone interviews when the person on the other end in inexperienced. The HR girl who called me went on and one for about 20 minutes talking about the company. I had obviously done my research so she didn’t tell me anything new, but I was polite and listened.
Finally, the only question she asked me was “Tell me about your background.”
I kind of hate this question because it makes me wonder if they even read my resume.
And that was the end of the interview. Everyone in this company had over-inflated job titles, so I think there is a lot of narcissism brewing there.