Have you ever had red flags from an interview?

Started by dead-ced-dead, September 13, 2021, 10:03:35 PM

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Dex Sawash


icehaven

I'm helping my boss do some interviews in a few weeks but I know absolutely nothing about the job we're interviewing for. It's a newly created post and she's sending me the job description and personal specification so I can get the idea but I still feel a bit cheeky judging people's suitability for a job I didn't even know existed until a few days ago. I'll be a giant red flag if they clock that I haven't got a clue what I'm talking about.

shiftwork2

Not quite fitting the remit but here's a story.  I once attended an interview for a clerk position at some shit office up a fire escape on Munster Road, Fulham.  I hit it off with this squat little man.  It turned out he was from Otley, and I'd just spent NYE with friends in that town.  I deftly dropped the names of a couple of pubs until one really landed and he exclaimed "that used to be my LOCAL!".  Oh man I'm in here.  It just continued to build.  The ease, the palpable sense of relief on both sides when you know it's sorted for both sides.  We shook hands and he said (even though this was several decades ago, I remember this bit word for precise word) "The only way you're not going to get this is if the final candidate is a blonde bird with big tits!"

I didn't get it.  For 30 years I have imagined Barbara Windsor climbing that fire escape as the sun set.

Sonny_Jim

Went for an interview somewhere, started getting weird vibes from the interviewer as it appeared they weren't really interested in my qualifications or experience, in fact the interviewer felt more like a self-help/life guru, y'know asking me about how good it is to be successful at life, it's ok to want to have nice things like a big house.  Whatever, I needed a job.  Then they said this to me:

Quote
It's weird the way people view success.  If you see a big flashy car drive past, you instantly think 'What a prick', don't you?
It doesn't work the other way round, does it?  You don't look at a kid in a wheelchair and think 'ooh what a cool guy.  I wish I could be like him'

At this point I made my excuses and left.

Went for a "marketing" job in Newcastle and there was no interview really and I couldn't get them to tell me what they actually did. Suspecting it was door to door selling I forced it out of the lad who was supposed to show me the ropes and walked off. About 90% of their probably candidates do this.

Ignatius_S

Quote from: dead-ced-dead on September 13, 2021, 10:03:35 PM
I had an interview for a writer/editor position at an industry magazine for hospitality. I don't know anything about hospitality but I am a good writer, but there's something niggling me about the guys who interviewed me and I can't quite put my finger on it.

They seemed nice enough, but they mentioned that after their longtime editor had left after 8 years that they'd had trouble holding onto editors, and they mentioned that the sales team might be very un-PC (they had clocked me as an introvert during the interview) and asked me if that was an issue.

I'm not sure if it's old imposter rearing its head, and I shouldn't be so critical. Or if I'm just so desperate for a paid writing position that I'm ignoring something that doesn't sit right with me.

I know this is stating the obvious (but hey, that's never stopped me) but those are things you can clarify at the next round or when the job is offered - although really, it might be an idea to do it now (but see below).

Both of those things need clarifying anyway - even more so because of what you said. The second one does make me think if it's a case of 'definitely' and 'extremely' - and curious if that kind of work environment might have contributed to the turnaround for the job.

Essentially, interviews are meetings so you can make a decision whether you think the job is something you want to do and for them to see if you're the sort of person that they would like doing it. Getting this information is crucial so you can make an informed decision.

If someone has doubts about a job after the interview, I usually say they should trust their gut instinct. 

With regards, the type of writing I can readily empathise with what you said - when I started doing B2B type writing and editing, it was quite a departure for me, but glad I did it as feel it honed my skills further. You could look at this as an opportunity to try something that you'll (hopefully) get decent feedback, whether or not you get offered the job or even want it.

Ultimately, even if you get the job you don't have to take it - and from the point of view of someone who hires, there's value in when someone does that (for various reasons) and would rather have that than someone who isn't sure and might not stay long.

Oh, and congrats on getting progressing to the next stage - good going!

Beagle 2

I got a creeping sense that a job might not have been what I was sold at the interview, if that counts. After I'd accepted and quit my old position I was told they'd moved offices from where I interviewed (from a big place to two small rooms in another office) but had "forgotten to mention it". Okay, weird, but whatever.

I turned up on my first day expecting the usual induction to be told I would actually be lugging boxes into a removal van. Very weird and possibly illegal, but okay.

Then they were cagey about the finances, which culminated in my boss suddenly turning up on my doorstep on Christmas Eve with a bit of paper for me to sign saying "nothing to worry about but unless I can get these bonds released today nobody will get paid next month HAHAHA anyway have a nice Christmas". Didn't know what the fuck I was signing and half expected him to see him on the news having done a canoe man.

Spent the next six months having to put in hours of extra unpaid work every night due to them not having enough staff or even the most basic of a wispy old fucking clue about anything before I found something else.

LinkedIn rating: WASTE OF TIME

Captain Poodle Basher

Quote from: dissolute ocelot on September 14, 2021, 10:13:26 AM

Working in technology I also have a lot of experience of going for interviews and immediately realising the company has no business model ("We're going to spend millions of pounds developing something you can already get for pennies!" or "This depends on persuading one of the big mobile phone manufacturers to buy our product despite us being 6 guys in an office in Yoker!") Always slightly satisfying when you hear about them having massive financial problems, even though the staff seemed nice guys.


Oh yes.

I took a contract in one such company during the Dot Com Goldrush for experience's sake if nothing else. It amused me no end that their IT version of two tins cans connected by a length of string of a webchat app was so laughably bad. Yet, to hear them tell it, the likes of Microsoft et al would take one look at this shining, futuristic, behemoth of an application and promptly shit themselves before abandoning anything like it which they might be developing. When the inevitable happened and they went bust, the app was valued at about a grand or so. Thankfully, I'd legged it months earlier.

Red Flags:
An interview I had just before I got interviewed for what turned out to be my present job. It was for an online Tech support role for an assortment of interactive gadgetry knocked out in China for fuckall but gussied up and marked up and sold to aspirational eejits with more money than sense.

A big rugger-bugger type who did all that macho posturing and preening at me from across his desk. I'd already clocked that only he and I were the only males in the building and the female employees all looked like frightened rabbits. I was soon proved right when I started asking detailed questions about the job and training etc. He didn't like my line of questioning, no matter how polite and interested I came across so he leaned over the desk and offered to "Punch you in the face."

I stared him down and politely declined his offer of a job but wished him all the best.

His feedback to the job agency was that I insulted him so brought it on myself. The agency told me that he "could be a bit difficult" and "Not everyone is a good fit in there really."

No shit.

Quote

Having a Steve Jobs biography waved in my face before being told: "I always keep a copy of this, to remind me of what's possible..."

dead-ced-dead

Quote from: icehaven on September 14, 2021, 09:28:56 AM
If they offer you the job I'd ask for some expansion on exactly what they meant by it as it does all smack of "Please don't come running to us with bullying claims if you get teased by our alpha male sales cunts."

To elaborate, they said "You come across as somewhat of an introvert and we're an office where some of our sales team are very un-PC," so that was the vibe I was getting.

Quote from: Quote on September 14, 2021, 03:33:18 PM
Having a Steve Jobs biography waved in my face before being told: "I always keep a copy of this, to remind me of what's possible..."

"So what went wrong?"

Sherman Krank

I remember getting a couple of red flags at a job interview once.
If only someone had told me what to do with them those poor surfers might still be alive today.

The Ombudsman

I had a telephone interview with the Grauniad once for a development job. General sort of interview questions but it all got weird on one question.

They asked about something that was difficult in a previous job, work or relationships sort of thing. I mentioned working for a horror of a man who owned and ran the business. My way to resolve the issues I had with him was to look for another job. They didn't like that and kept pressing what I could have done differently. I ended up saying that leaving for another job was the only way to get any resolution, given he owned the small company there was nothing there I could do. But they continued again and again to try and get me to give a different answer. One of the few times I've ever told someone I was no longer interested mid way through a interview. It was just so very strange. Almost turned into a vendetta on the interviewers part.

I also had an interview with Amazon Video (or whatever it was called before Prime). The chap interviewing me was essentially telling me in no so coded language that it was a shit-show and if I had anything else on the go to focus on that.

I've also interviewed people before and received some big red flags from candidates. One person at a face to face interview brought his wife along and said he would only accept the job if his wife could share the job with him. A young girl turned up for an interview with her family outside. After the interview her father wanted to meet and speak to me which I thought perhaps a cultural thing but very strange to me.

icehaven

Quote from: dead-ced-dead on September 14, 2021, 03:52:11 PM
To elaborate, they said "You come across as somewhat of an introvert and we're an office where some of our sales team are very un-PC," so that was the vibe I was getting.

I should hope "well we told you so" wouldn't cut any mustard officially but fuck knows. Doesn't sound like the most professional organisation so maybe best avoided (although I know that's a luxury rather than an option.)

dead-ced-dead

Quote from: icehaven on September 14, 2021, 08:54:59 PM
I should hope "well we told you so" wouldn't cut any mustard officially but fuck knows. Doesn't sound like the most professional organisation so maybe best avoided (although I know that's a luxury rather than an option.)

I'm also in work already, it was just nice to see a job opening in writing. So it's not like I was in desperate need to find employment which is a luxury in itself and certainly aided my decision.

Camp Tramp

I went for a job interview at B&Q and they frowned when they saw my date of birth, then mentioned my starsign.

richjj1978

About 20 years ago I had a remote interview for a job as an English teacher in South Korea. Something didn't sit right so I turned it down. I got a phone call the next day from the recruiter asking what she had done wrong. From what I could make out, the company had made her hire her own replacement before she returned home to canada. She sounded as if she was panicked. I clearly dodged a bullet.

MikeP

Quote from: buttgammon on September 14, 2021, 08:47:56 AM
PC sounds like a dated, almost quaint term these days. If they said "the sales team aren't woke" then that would've been the cue to do a runner.
So woke is on trend. It means so many different things to so many different people that it's close to being truly meaningless.
Interestingly, according to the BBC potted plants are also on trend - as a way of getting close to nature. Where is it all going to end??
People seem unable to do and think things for themselves, only being able to bleat alongside the rest of the flock. Which is fine if the rest of the flock is right and they're not all heading for tha abbatoir.

I have been happy to work with people whilst under racial, social and sexual pressure. Doesn't bother me because I don't feel inferior or insecure. I'm old fashioned enough to believe that everyone has a right to an opinion even if I disagree with them. If they're wrong why should I feel upset??

Kankurette

I interviewed for a hospital job where they mentioned a high turnover due to stress, and one of my interview questions was how I would handle office politics. I think it was a scenario about someone not being invited to a party. I am so glad I got turned down.

Also, if someone said the team were un-PC, I'd be very wary of applying because for someone like me, it would be like covering myself in honey and lying on an anthill. I don't need to be made to feel like shit because I'm not straight, I'm a minority religion and I don't have a properly functioning body. I was bullied over two of these things in my last job. I don't care if this makes me a wokescold or whatever. I just want to do my job without being shat on.

itsfredtitmus


Shaky

Quote from: Kankurette on September 15, 2021, 03:27:06 AM
one of my interview questions was how I would handle office politics. I think it was a scenario about someone not being invited to a party. I am so glad I got turned down.

Yeah, I've had a similar question in many admin interviews (some of which I've gone on to actually do, though). It's quite worrying because it almost always points towards something endemic and rotten behind the scenes, and you'd think they'd deal with that stuff at it's core rather than just endlessly ploughing through new employees. It's often clear that places can't be arsed with making some key changes or upsetting the status quo too much, and that attitude in a workplace can just get to fuck tbh.

If I were the boss etc etc.

H-O-W-L

"Could you start today? Now?"

Retail.

[comedy ricochet noise as i sprint out]

Quote from: H-O-W-L on September 15, 2021, 04:51:14 AM
"Could you start today? Now?"

Retail.

[comedy ricochet noise as i sprint out]

I'm imagining a cloud of dust clearing to show a person-shaped hole smashed in the wall.

Kankurette

Quote from: Shaky on September 15, 2021, 04:30:32 AM
Yeah, I've had a similar question in many admin interviews (some of which I've gone on to actually do, though). It's quite worrying because it almost always points towards something endemic and rotten behind the scenes, and you'd think they'd deal with that stuff at it's core rather than just endlessly ploughing through new employees. It's often clear that places can't be arsed with making some key changes or upsetting the status quo too much, and that attitude in a workplace can just get to fuck tbh.

If I were the boss etc etc.
Not to mention that some of us just want to get on with our work and not be dragged into office politics.

icehaven

Quote from: Shaky on September 15, 2021, 04:30:32 AM
Yeah, I've had a similar question in many admin interviews (some of which I've gone on to actually do, though). It's quite worrying because it almost always points towards something endemic and rotten behind the scenes, and you'd think they'd deal with that stuff at it's core rather than just endlessly ploughing through new employees. It's often clear that places can't be arsed with making some key changes or upsetting the status quo too much, and that attitude in a workplace can just get to fuck tbh.

If I were the boss etc etc.

Several years back when I worked in a community library another much larger branch down the road closed very suddenly and unexpectedly due to some Asbestos issue so the staff were dispersed across a few other libraries, including ours. There were about 7 or 8 of them, which roughly doubled the number of staff we had so it had quite an impact on us, but the biggest issue was their infighting and toxic culture. They'd all worked there for years, a few of them had long running hostilities towards each other and had no compunction whatsoever about having stand up rows in the middle of the library in front of customers, and badmouthing each other at every opportunity. It was the total opposite to what we were used to as we all got on fine and there was usually nothing like that kind of behaviour at our place, so it was fucking irritating having it foisted on us. One of our staff members had originally worked there but had moved to our branch after being bullied, so she wasn't exactly thrilled to see her old colleagues turning up dragging all their shitty baggage behind them. It was a real education in how ostensibly the same job can be completely different depending on who your colleagues are and what the workplace culture is, and to never take a pleasant and professional one for granted.

Quote from: The Ombudsman on September 14, 2021, 05:45:13 PM
I had a telephone interview with the Grauniad once for a development job. General sort of interview questions but it all got weird on one question.

They asked about something that was difficult in a previous job, work or relationships sort of thing. I mentioned working for a horror of a man who owned and ran the business. My way to resolve the issues I had with him was to look for another job. They didn't like that and kept pressing what I could have done differently. I ended up saying that leaving for another job was the only way to get any resolution, given he owned the small company there was nothing there I could do. But they continued again and again to try and get me to give a different answer. One of the few times I've ever told someone I was no longer interested mid way through a interview. It was just so very strange. Almost turned into a vendetta on the interviewers part.

No, that's a very standard line of questioning used in competency-based interviews, designed to get the candidate to demonstrate how they've solved a problem at work. "I left the job" doesn't answer that question. It demonstrates the opposite. You encountered a problem and ran away. Justifiably, of course, but that's not what they're looking for with that question. They'd be forced to score you zero, which means you don't meet the person spec for problem solving.

He was almost certainly pushing you to give a different answer because you'd done alright up to that point and he didn't want you to fuck the whole interview up over one question.

Quote from: Shaky on September 15, 2021, 04:30:32 AM
Yeah, I've had a similar question in many admin interviews (some of which I've gone on to actually do, though). It's quite worrying because it almost always points towards something endemic and rotten behind the scenes, and you'd think they'd deal with that stuff at it's core rather than just endlessly ploughing through new employees. It's often clear that places can't be arsed with making some key changes or upsetting the status quo too much, and that attitude in a workplace can just get to fuck tbh.

If I were the boss etc etc.

No, you're reading too much into it. Again, it's a standard question designed to get the candidate to demonstrate how they'd handle working with difficult people. It doesn't point to anything toxic. If anything it does the opposite; they're trying to create an environment filled with people who've demonstrated they are able to handle personality clashes in a mature and measured way.

Of course, that doesn't mean that the workplace isn't actually toxic because all it takes is one or two bullying shitheads and incompetent management to bring the whole thing down, but the question itself isn't loaded.

bgmnts

"Just to make you aware that a department that represents our company is sexist, racist and homophobic but for some reason we just allow because bants, is that going to be okay with you?"

H-O-W-L

Quote from: Phoenix Lazarus on September 15, 2021, 05:39:40 AM
I'm imagining a cloud of dust clearing to show a person-shaped hole smashed in the wall.

Yes, very much how it was like.

JaDanketies

Quote from: Huxleys Babkins on September 15, 2021, 10:35:23 AM
sense

agree with this but I think it again shows why interviews are just an incredibly flawed way for anyone to figure out if the candidate is right for the role or if the role is right for the candidate. Really you should come on-site, meet a few people and sit around in the main workplace for a short period of time, maybe shadow someone. I think interviews are a whole 'nother skillset that nobody teaches you. And it's all bollocks if you consider it as anything other than "a way for a candidate to convince a company to hire them." It's not really a good way to get the best person for the role, or for a candidate to be honest about what they're looking for and how they'll act on-site.

The 'I quit my job because my boss was terrible,' in a non-structured visit to the office, could be a way to discuss what the management is like in the new place so the candidate and employer can find out if they're actually likely to stick at the new job, but instead it was just a way for someone to fail their job interview because they were being asked to say something that wasn't explicitly in the question. If someone says "why are you looking for a new job," then the right answer is probably "because I don't like my old one for x and y reasons, do these apply here?" and not the lie they're looking for, "because I've always been really enthusiastic about [insert employer's product or service here]."

tldr job interviews just find out if you're good at job interviews. I would say that though because I am shit at them

The Mollusk

I had a doozy a few years back. Met a guy in Costa for an informal interview, he looked like he hadn't slept in days. Straight out of the gate he goes to the counter to order drinks - there's two staff on, one is serving the customer in front of us and the other is off wiping tables. He waits literally about 15 seconds before he turns to me and, addressing the fact he hasn't yet been served, says "See, this is why so many businesses fail. They don't recognise the demand of their client base". I was thinking, mate I don't think Costa is a struggling business. They seem to be doing quite well for themselves. He then leans round the other customer, speaks his order at the barista and then walks off and sits at a table. Mortified, I follow him.

As we're sat there the barista makes the drinks and he loudly says "I bet they don't even bring the drinks over to the table here" so they hear him, and they bring the drinks over. I was fucking appalled.

It gets better.

Across the interview he's asking me who my biggest heroes are and getting suddenly feverish about my admission of wanting to get into managing a team of people by brainstorming a weekend trip to some fucking hotel in Kent with a us and a load of trainees where we hardcore drum up a business plan - presumably with little to no sleep based on his "bullet holes in a raw sausage" eyes - and at one point he tells me his staff are "the type who don't conform to the 9 to 5" which basically means they're worked to fucking death. I keep my polite professional decorum whilst really wishing this would end immediately.

The best bit of all - and this is not a joke - is when he felt he'd got to know me on a friendly personal basis and... honestly, no word of a lie, he asked me what drugs I was into. I was astonished. I'm not a big drugs guy at all and at that point in my life I'd never taken any class A stuff. I was honest about this and he said "What, not even coke?" No. "Speed?" No. "MDMA?" At this point I told him to stop listing drugs at me and I was quite noticeably pissed off. Outstanding stuff.

I took a job with another place, obviously, and he stayed on badgering me for a good few days trying to find out who I'd chosen to work for. I told him it was very rude of him to ask and I was not obliged to tell him anything. After this he tried calling me off two different numbers which I eventually had no choice but to block.

What's mental about this is that they were a legit and well established business with a team of about 20 people under this guy. I couldn't believe someone like this isn't just living the life of Homer Simpson's deadbeat sweaty accountant hacking his guts over the umpteenth cheap cigar in an office surrounded by boxes of rotting paperwork, but here he was, at this point in time, successful. Terrifying.