Q: I was excited for an upcoming interview; it was the perfect job, and I had many years of experience in the field. But the minute the interviewer entered the room, I knew it would be a no-go. She behaved like an unprepared child, though she introduced herself as having 10 years of experience in the workplace. Yeah, but as what? She had recently been promoted to manager over employees in a profession in which she had never practiced. That was shock number one.
Shock number two: She had no notes with questions to ask me. I could see the questions forming in her head as she suddenly spurted them out. Shock number three was that she took no notes on any of my answers. Of course she didn't; she had no paper or notebook with her to keep a record. I also saw the surprise on her face as she listened to my answers, which were filled with information she had never heard before. I felt like an experienced medical doctor being interviewed by an undergraduate student who was thinking about political science. I'm a visual thinker, so I saw the image of a 5-year old girl curling the edge of her dress around her hand as she meekly asked for a piece of candy.
I've been on many interviews in my life, but this experience was unique. She told me she had many interviews that week, along with meetings to attend. There wasn't a chance she would remember a thing I said during the interview, and all the information I presented was new to her.
I smiled politely and answered spontaneously so she would not see any shock on my face. I'm good at covering my expressions, but I know my eyes widened from the whole experience. I considered writing the vice president of human resources, or maybe the company president, but I don't know what I would say that would wake them up to the situation. The interview was an absurd waste of time.
A: What you'd really like to do is to tell the company about its poor decision-making in managerial choices and management style, but that would not advance your cause, nor would the company change. The series of interview events showed you how unprofessionally the company is managed. You could provide a detailed list to the head of human resources about how to improve, but your time is better spent on moving ahead.
Most department managers and HR interviewers would have a list of standard questions to ask all who were invited for interviews. They certainly would have taken notes on answers so they could apply their thoughts to the correct candidates, especially considering she had a week of interviews.
Regardless of her appearance reminding you of a child, her lack of preparation was your first warning that nothing you said was going to make a difference. Her approach to interviewing was like a student reading several books for a research paper without taking notes to attribute the knowledge to the correct source. She either didn't know how an interview procedure should be handled or she didn't care enough to ask or learn. Perhaps she knew she didn't belong in that position but accepted it for the money.
Rule No. 1: Job titles can be meaningless. You heard the word "manager" and you assigned certain expectations to the position. As you discovered, actions are far more important than titles. Some companies use titles as a way to categorize salary levels. A manager in a small company may oversee a few employees, while a manager in a larger one may have numerous direct reports.
Rule No. 2: Research the company. It sounds like you may not have had time to check the company's years in business, culture, management style and the educational background or experience level of employees. If the company is new and comprised of predominantly centennials and younger millennials, you would have found it hard to fit in no matter how easily you could have mastered the position.
Email career and life coach: [email protected] with your workplace problems and issues. Ms. Novak responds to all emails. For more information, visit www.lindseynovak.com and for past columns, see www.creators.com/read/At-Work-Lindsey-Novak.