I recently got a great e-mail from a bright, talented, well-qualified job seeker who shared some of his oh-so-honest thoughts and feelings based on four long months of looking for a job. And let me tell you…he’s NOT a happy camper. He’s had it beyond up-to-here with employers, interviewers and the entire hiring / job interview process!
He feels frustrated, angry and fed up with the way he sees job candidates – including himself – being treated during the hiring process by employers or employer representatives. And I know he’s not the only one out there feeling this anger!
Why are job seekers so angry at interviewers & interviews?
I have a feeling each and every one of you has at least one answer to that question – and no doubt the list of answers would go on and on page after page after page! It’s unbelievably hard to have almost no control over something so critically important to our lives – something that can affect our entire future – as well as such basic stuff as paying rent and eating.
Matthew, the reader who wrote me, has been lucky since he’s actually getting interviews. (I think category one for our Anger List would have to be all the folks who never even get in the door to show how talented they are!) But Matthew does get interviews – and it’s not that he screws up or blows his interviews…instead, it’s the interviewers who are driving him nuts.
Here to start off our Anger List are some of his “I wish they would just listen to me and change their wicked ways” points for employers (with a bit of editing from me). I think you’ll get a kick out of his sense of humor and perspective – but remember, when he wrote this…well…grrrrr!
1. Our Time is Just as Valuable as Yours
“I finally landed a decent interview with a state employer who seemed eager to interview me. I arrived at the site 10 minutes early, and was ushered back into the “waiting room” to be left in peace to compose myself. I had a lot of composure time. Forty five minutes, to be exact.
I waited. And waited. Employers: don’t think that sending a harried staff member into what I now was calling the “Holding Pen” to note that “we need X here to interview you, and she is dealing with a crisis right now” is good enough. At least offer me a damn cup of coffee! Or better yet, use this as an opportunity to show me an interesting facet of the work. I don’t mind. If crisis intervention is part of the job, seeing some action along those lines would be more stimulating than figuring out how much of the peeling paint in the “Holding Pen” I would have to eat before I keeled over from lead poisoning and got some attention.
LESSON: We show up on time ready to roll. Is it too much to ask that you do the same?”
2. Please Don’t Bait and Switch
“Despite my urge to eat paint chips and claw out the eyes of the next person who approached me with any words other than “We’re ready now”, I made it through the interview. Two very similar jobs were posted, one with a lower salary that did not require a Master’s degree (which I have), and one which did. The job description I was handed was for the Master’s level position. I reiterated this during the interview, and yes, I was told I was interviewing for the latter position. We all smiled and went our separate ways.
Two days later I was offered a job – at the bottom of the pay scale for the non-Master’s position. I questioned the HR person, and she insisted that there was just ONE position, and the salary ranged over a $14,000 span. Hey nice lady…I have both job postings in front of me! $8,000.00 less than my last position, for doing much the same duties, and relocating 700 miles. FYI: I attempted to negotiate, but the offer was firm, and I ended up declining the offer.
LESSON: Employers, please don’t assume that potential workers will “take anything” to be employed. We can read, and know full well when you are going beyond “thrifty” and “reasonable”, and are marching stubbornly into “cheap” and “insulting”. STICK TO THE JOB DESCRIPTION AND ADVERTISED SALARY RANGE. AND PLEASE DON’T TRY TO BAIT AND SWITCH.
BONUS LESSON: I drove three hours to give a drug urine sample. If I have to pee in a cup for you, then I’d like to have a bit more respect and honesty.”
3. Do Keep a Scheduled Promise to Call
“We job seekers get very, VERY excited when we hear from you. But that excitement can quickly go sour if there is any unexplained broken “promise”. For example…
I scored a phone interview, and boy, was I excited. I was by the phone, ready to knock ‘em dead long distance. Cue crickets, chirping loudly in the silence that was not broken by the phone ringing. I waited two hours past the appointed time, and even sent a tactful email inquiring if I had “misunderstood” the date or time. (Hell no, I had it burned into my brain). No reply.
The next morning there was an email from the potential employer apologizing and wanting another interview that day. I promptly replied, thanked her, and gave her a four hour window of time when I was available during the day. Again, no reply…but I waited by the phone for, well… five hours. Another round of emails, and this time she was not so nice: “I will be out of the office for three days, and will contact you next week.” I ended the torture via e-mail by declining to be interviewed by them after all. If this is how they handle their business, then it’s not the place for me.
LESSON: Schedules were created for a reason, and the employer made the appointment. As job seekers, we know you HR folk are busy people. But here’s the scoop: SO ARE WE. You would be pissed as hell if you had arranged your day around a vital phone call that never came. Please show us you respect us as you expect us to respect you.”
4. Don’t Air Your Dirty Laundry
“A certain well known human services agency was fairly persistent in wanting me to interview with them. I was called by one person, and told to call another person to set up an interview. I did so, and immediately was asked why I was calling her. I explained why, and gave the name of the referrer.
Well, I don’t care if you got yourselves a little feud going on, but don’t drag me into it, sister girl. She was fairly indignant that this other person had handled this the way he had, as she did not seem to know that she was the ultimate contact person for job seekers. Did I need to hear all this?
LESSON: The title of this section says it all.”
5. Have Some Idea of Who We Are and What We Applied For!
“Nothing, and I mean nothing, is more demeaning or frustrating than speaking with a representative of your organization who has no idea who we are. You contacted ME!! I fully expect that it might take a minute, but for god sakes, DON’T LET ON YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW WHO WE ARE OR ANYTHING ABOUT OUR QUALIFICATIONS.
Upon returning a call from a potential employer, it was obvious she had no clue as to who I was. She said my name “sounded familiar”- oh…there I was…in her “pile”. (Thanks but no thanks.) She then proceeded to do an impromptu interview over the phone. OK. I started getting excited. We were back in my comfort zone, so I fired off bright answers to her questions. The questions began to stray from the job description I had and then asked for my “RN license number”.
Excuse me? I told her that might be a bit difficult, since I’m not a registered nurse; I’m a social worker. Her response? “Social worker? Oh, I didn’t know we were hiring for those. We may have a few positions, oh no, they’re filled. I guess we have nothing for you at the moment?”
Lady, you answered your own question. I applied for the SOCIAL WORK JOB YOUR COMPANY ADVERTISED. If you are only hiring RNs right now, I’ll just go spend another four-to-six years and get THAT degree.
LESSON: It’s OK to ask our names, and what position we applied for. It’s even better if you take a moment, put us on hold, and find us in your “pile”. Just scan the resume and job application if you need a refresher. But DON’T TRY AND STUMBLE YOUR WAY THROUGH. It only makes you and your organization look bad.”
I hadn’t intended to publish this much of Matthew’s e-mail, but it’s just so good. I think his words are something every employer should read. And I know it’s something a lot of you can relate to!
FINAL NOTE: On the other hand, it’s a buyer’s market and basically a job seeker has to brace himself or herself for unexpected emergencies – or even sheer incompetence – on the employer end. I’ve been on the other side as a phone screener, resume screener and interviewer, and although I really did try my best to consider the candidate’s needs, I’m sure there were times when candidates were not feeling the love.
I know the system is imperfect, but when I’m on the job seeker side, my attitude is I’m here for me and I’m not going to let their stuff keep me from getting what I need and want.
Then again, if it’s Bozo City over there, forewarned is forearmed!
What are your thoughts? Do you have any job interview stories to add to the list? We’d love to hear them!