8 Things I Want (and Don’t Want) in an Interview Process

If I’ve learned anything in the past few weeks about job searching, it’s how I want to be treated during this process. I’ve had interviews at several companies. I’ve accepted an awesome email marketing contract job that will last about a month, and that starts next week. I’m still looking for something for after that, and the process has been educational.

Some of the companies I’ve interviewed with have done the things I’m going to list here- and some haven’t.  I don’t necessarily expect any potential employer to meet every single one of these items that I want them to meet, and I’m aware that I’m in a “beggars can’t be choosers” position right now. But I’m still an adult, a professional, and above all- a human.

If employers can post their dream list of what they want in an employee on the job posting- why can’t I specify what I want in an employer during the interview process? People make lists of what they’re looking for in potential partners (which I did a very long time ago, and learned that even if someone meets everything to your list, he may not be what you actually want), and I think it can be a good way to clarify (at least to yourself) what you want.

Here’s what I want out of the interview process:

1. Give me updates/ a timeline during the interview process. Will I hear from you in a few days? A week? At all?
2. Don’t spring a surprise phone screen on me. I could be walking my dog, cooking, or doing something else that isn’t necessarily demanding enough to warrant ignoring the call, but does not put me in a position to perform as well as I might otherwise. If I see a call from a NYC area code, of course I’m going to answer it right now- I’m searching for a job! And I’m not going to feel comfortable saying it’s a bad time to talk unless I’m on the train about to go underground. Send me an email and schedule a time to talk. We’ll both be happier with how that call goes.
3. If you must require an application to be filled out (in addition to sending a cover letter and resume), at least make it online, and let me upload it and parse information from my resume.
4. Don’t ask me my salary history.  It’s not really any of your business, and shouldn’t really have anything to do with what you want to pay me for the job. Don’t REQUIRE me to put my salary range in an online application either. Make me an offer, tell me a range, or simply ask me what I’m looking for, and I’ll tell you if I’m willing to do that particular job for that particular amount of money.
5. Better yet, just put the range on the job posting. That will probably save you a ton of time, and then no one has to act coy or play guessing games.
6. Group interviews? Um, no.  Not for real jobs.  Especially not when there are 12 people applying for totally different jobs in the interview, and the interviewers don’t know anything about the specific jobs. I don’t care if you offer free yoga classes as a benefit- don’t waste my time. I don’t need to spend two hours listening to other candidates spend 5 minutes talking about themselves. This can’t possibly be an effective way to hire people. (And yes, I experienced this a few weeks ago. Oy.)
7. If you’re an HR person, and you’re interviewing someone for an email marketing job: Don’t ask a candidate “How big was your email list size/ how many emails did you send?” From an email marketer’s perspective- the answer to that question is kind of irrelevant. Whether I’m sending an email to 20 or 20,000 people, the content still has to be good. The links still need to work. The message still needs to be delivered. In my mind, I’m sending one email: the one I’m writing/building. List sizes fluctuate, and companies may target their sends to different segments of their list. If I don’t know how to answer that question, it’s because my list size changed frequently, and I often didn’t even know what it was – and you asked a stupid question.
8. Be able to answer my questions about the job, and make me want to work at your company. Yes, I’m there so that you can get to know me and decide if I’m right for your company. But that goes both ways.  Just like you’re interviewing other candidates, I’m interviewing at other places.  You’ll be comparing me to other candidates, which is totally fine. But I’ll be comparing you to other companies too.

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3 Responses to 8 Things I Want (and Don’t Want) in an Interview Process

  1. Cristella says:

    #6 is crazy! That stinks you had to go through that. That’s a set up for failure if I’ve ever heard one.

    My major issue with a lot of the interviews I’ve had in the last few years is that I feel like an interview should be a conversation and very often they weren’t. I had too many interviews where they would ask a question and just write down my answers. A lot of interviewers did not do well with this type of interaction, if you could call it that. They did not ask follow up questions, just the prescribed ones. It makes for a very stilted interview and very difficult to convey your enthusiasm for your work. A lot of HR depts must have some guidelines that they must follow, but come on, sometimes it was ridiculous. I think I got better at them because it happened quite often.

    I think I sympathize with Andy’s interview where they didn’t really interview him. I had an interview like that once. Should have been an indicator for how unprofessional that manager was.

    My list might be interesting as well. It’s weird to be out of the job searching game, but I think I feel scared, like I could lose this in a second. At least I’ve got tons of job searching and interviewing experience!

  2. Kristin says:

    Oh, there’s plenty more to the story about #6… I’ll tell you sometime. It got beyond ridiculous.

    I hate canned interviews too! My last few have luckily been more conversational (except for that group one), and that makes a huge difference. I think the interview reflects on the manager a lot, and I’m pretty sure some of the bad interviewers I’ve had would be bad managers too.

    I’d love to hear more of your interview horror stories! We should write a book about it someday. I’m sure you’re doing great at your new job! Since they already knew you, they knew exactly what they were getting when they hired you on full time, and they’re lucky to have you! 🙂 Apartment searching is much more fun than job searching, so enjoy that!

  3. Seashell says:

    I’ve experienced all but #6 in the last few weeks. No matter how much I need a job, I think I’d rather flip burgers! That seems so demeaning to me. It would have to be my dream job for me to go through that. But then again, if that is the way they interview, I don’t think I would want to work there anyway.

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