How do you communicate to an interviewer that his company sounds shady?

Today (well, yesterday now, technically), I had an interview for an email marketing position. I found the job on LinkedIn, and it happened quickly: I applied in the morning on Monday, received a phone call about it Monday afternoon, and had the interview Tuesday.

The interview started out with just the HR person. The company was a tech startup, which means way more men than women (ugh..), and everyone was wearing jeans. That’s okay. I’ve dealt with that before. And we all know how I feel about business casual (well, okay, you may not. Hint: I don’t like it.)

The interview went well, and the only part where I felt awkward was when she commented on how I “have a lot of experience for someone with so little experience.” (in the context of other things she said, she meant that she felt like I job hopped and had a surprising amount of legit experience despite that. Or something.) She instant messaged the hiring manager for the job to see if he was available to meet with me. He apparently didn’t even know she was interviewing me. He was available, and before I left to meet him, she warned me that he was “really intense.” She never gave me an opportunity to ask any questions about the job or the company.

I met with him, and we talked about the job and my experience. And it seemed to go well. He told me that I’d be a great candidate for this particular job, but an AMAZING candidate for another job (which is NOT posted on LinkedIn, or the company’s website). I was definitely open to either option. Until….

When we were talking about email marketing, it became clear that we had a lot of philosophical differences in our approaches. I’m more of a “provide useful content, target the right audiences, don’t send emails without a reason” kind of person. I’m also very much an “if this person hasn’t opted in to receive this email, I’m not going to send it to this person.” Essentially, I believe in treating my subscribers like I would want to be treated with email. I explained that to this manager, and gave an example of a time when I took an extra step to explain changes that were going on with our email campaigns to subscribers to provide continuity to them (when my company was acquired, I recommended that we add some branding/messaging to the first few emails sent from the new company so that our subscribers would know it was from us, and that we were part of the new company, and that we hadn’t sold our list to another company).

I told this story to the hiring manager, and he responded with:

“Well, not everyone is as knowledgable about the CAN SPAM Act as marketers are. I find that if we give the subscribers too much information, it just confuses them. Most of our audiences aren’t in New York. They’re housewives in places like rural Alabama or Mississippi, and they’re not going to know if they subscribed to our lists or not. They get paranoid if they realize we have their name and contact information.”

Um, what? Really? Housewives who live in rural areas are idiots, therefore it is our right to spam them? UGH. We finished the interview (and he also didn’t give me an opportunity to ask any questions about either job or the company, and didn’t offer up a business card or job description of the other job he had mentioned), and I left, feeling a bit perplexed.

I went home, and tried to learn more about the company. For a “leading marketing firm,” its website totally sucks and gives pretty much no information about the company. The company’s either terrible at SEO, non-existent, or has something else fishy going on, because I couldn’t find any other information of substance about it on the internet.

Incidentally, if an offer is made, I’m going to decline it. Even though I need a job, and I want to do email marketing, and HR didn’t flinch at my perfectly reasonable salary requirements like other companies I’ve interviewed with. But I want to do it for a reputable company that has better standards. Is that too much to ask?

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6 Responses to How do you communicate to an interviewer that his company sounds shady?

  1. melsar93 says:

    Truly, you are wise beyond your years. Good for you for realizing that you a reasonable salary isn’t worth compromising for.

  2. gstans3606 says:

    Yes, good decision. You would probably end up frustrated for all the professional and personal moral differences you two have. People like that give marketers a bad name. 😦

  3. Seashell says:

    Good decisions Kristin. Never go against your values!

  4. Kristin says:

    Thanks for the support, everyone! 🙂

  5. Karl Sakas says:

    Kristin, it sounds like their business (or at least the hiring manager) operates on the assumption that it’s OK to take advantage of consumers’ naivete. Sure, not everyone knows CAN-SPAM… but as marketers, it’s our obligation to comply.

    I’m surprised the HR rep didn’t give you an opportunity to ask questions. When I’m interviewing people to work at my marketing agency, I give candidates many, many opportunities to ask questions. It’s part of my screening — if someone doesn’t have any questions, I’m not likely to move them forward, because they don’t seem to care if we’re a fit for them.

    All in all, turning them down sounds like a smart move. Good luck!

  6. Pingback: 30-day trials are for infomercials, not jobs | The Settlers Give it Passion

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