Be Wary of Interview Warts

Written by on January 20, 2014 in Blog, Interviews with 2 Comments

It’s Not All About Them Anymore

Much of the advice you’ll find in books and on the Internet warns candidates that the interview process is all about the company. I disagree. The resume process is about the company, and everything else is until you get the interview. Once you have an interview arranged, the process becomes a two-way street. You owe it to yourself to interview the company as much as they interview you. One of the more subtle ways to do this is to be mindful of how they treat you during the interview process.

Imagine Yourself on Interview Day

You’ve introduced yourself to the receptionist, handed her a business card—and I’m sure you smiled at her—and now you’re waiting for someone to take you to the first meeting. After learning what you did about smiles in my previous post—you read that didn’t you?—I know you won’t forget to use that weapon, but don’t forget to look out for yourself also.

What Do I Mean by That?

Remember, this is now a two-way street. While you’re treating everyone nicely, greeting them with a smile, and acting professionally, also pay attention to how they’re treating you. The company should be on its best behavior today, so if they treat you as if you don’t matter now, what do you think it’ll be like later?

It reminds me of an old HR joke.

Heaven Or Hell

A high-level executive died in her sleep. When she woke in the morning, she found herself in heaven, being greeted by God.

“Since you achieved such high status in life, you get a choice,” God said. “You get to spend one day in heaven and one in hell. After that you decide where you want to spend eternity.”

The choice seemed easy to her, but she went along with it. She spent the first day in heaven, lounging around, sleeping, playing the harp. No worries. It confirmed what she had envisioned heaven to be.

The next morning God sent her to hell. She arrived on a beautiful white-sand beach, with perfect weather, and wearing a bikini. An old friend of hers handed her a piña colada, and said, “You look fantastic!”

She glanced down at her body and realized it was the best she’d looked in years. Before long a few other friends joined them, and for the rest of the day they swam, sunbathed, and drank, enjoying every minute of it. At the end of the day, Satan took them to a fine restaurant where they feasted on lobster and steak. Afterwards, they spent the night dancing and didn’t stop until just before dawn. Before she could say goodbye she was whisked back to heaven.

“What’s your decision?” God asked.

It didn’t take long to decide. “Heaven was nice,” she said, “but hell…was wonderful. I think I’ll go to hell.”

“No problem,” God said, and she disappeared.

The woman landed barefoot, standing on burning rocks and surrounded by a barren landscape. The friend who had greeted her yesterday was cleaning up shit. Blisters and sores covered his body. The devil came up to her and draped his arm over her shoulder.
“Welcome back.”

She stared, eyes agape. “I don’t understand. What happened? Where’s the beach? Where are the piña coladas? What about the dancing?”

The devil laughed. “Yesterday we were recruiting you; today you’re staff.”

Bottom Line

You have got to remember when you’re interviewing that the company you’re evaluating is not showing their warts. The company you’re thinking of leaving has them all exposed. I’m not trying to scare you off. Real life isn’t quite as bad as the heaven or hell joke but, like all good jokes, the ones with a ring of truth are the best. And there is more than a bit of truth in this one. So keep your eyes open and your senses alert. Look at how everyone is treated, not just you. It might give you insight into the company. Here are a few tips for interview day.

  • Pay close attention to how others are treated. You know they’ll be treating you great.
  • Look at people as you walk the halls.
    • Are they smiling?
    • Do they seem happy?
  • If you eat lunch in the cafeteria, watch the people. Are they friendly or do they seem stressed? If they can’t be happy at lunch, something’s wrong.
  • Watch for signs from the interview team. Ask them why they like working there and pay attention to their answers. Do they seem sincere?

None of this is a substitute for good research into the company, but you might pick up a few signals that are worth checking out. Let’s face it, the last thing you want to do is make a bad career move.

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photo credit: Mark Morgan Trinidad A via photopin cc

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About the Author

About the Author: When I’m not headhunting, or writing, I help my wife take care of our animal sanctuary. At last count we had 45 animals—11 dogs, 1 horse, 6 cats, and 26 pigs. Oh, and one crazy—and very large—wild boar named Dennis who takes walks with me every day and happens to also be my best buddy. For information on my mystery/suspense books, go to .

2 Reader Comments

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  1. Great tips! I am planning to apply for a job and this article helped me a lot. Thank you for sharing.

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