Yesterday, I shared an interview horror story from the employer’s perspective, and today, it’s the job seeker’s turn. Read on for a scary job seeker story and add your own to the comments!
Today, thanks to Susan P. for some tidbits from her job searches:
Where do I start? I have had so many weird job interviews. I have had two that both lasted 8 hours where I was interviewed by everyone in the department and students too. Both of these were at universities. I can’t say that I was scared but it was intimidating. For one position, I started at the University, was driven to another location, then over to another place and back to the original place. And they did not even give me lunch or ask if I wanted a break for lunch. The questions I was asked were pretty typical. I did not get the job.
The other 8-hour interview had me speaking with professors, admin. assistants, students, and staff. I was given lunch, but was interviewed during the meal. I got this job but walked out (not my finest moment) after 4 months due to an extremely abusive supervisor.
But probably the strangest interview was for a temporary admin. assistant position at yet another university. The job involved being the admin. support for 11 student organizations and the entire programs department, plus filling in as front desk receptionist and answering the phone. The first interview took place in a conference room with 6 people asking me questions. One guy asked me what I had made in my last several jobs. I was also given a written problem to solve during the interview. I was called back in a week later for another interview with 4 more people in the department.
One asked what I thought one of my references would say about me in a recommendation. Another question was if the department head was told by someone in the department that I was overqualified for the job (which I was), how should she respond to this type of question. And on and on it went. All this for a $16/hour temporary position. The next day I called them to withdraw my name.
Horror story or par for the course? Having worked at a university myself, I am not surprised by the, ummm “in depth” nature of the interviews, even for a very entry-level type of job.
One good point to remember – if you are scheduling an interview – be sure to ask what to expect. Will it be an all-day affair? A half-hour meeting? Do you need to (literally) pack a lunch – or at least a snack – in your briefcase or purse? Asking what to expect makes you look like a planner and a detail-driven candidate.
If you are in an extremely long (all-day) interview process, it is important to request breaks as you need them, even if it means a long restroom break. If you need a drink of water, for example, be sure to ask for one. It’s also a good idea to use the breaks to jot down some notes you may use when you write thank you notes. It may be difficult to keep track of everyone’s name and what you discussed, so having some reminders is helpful.
How about the question about salary? Best to start out by avoiding stating a figure. “I am looking for a career opportunity, and salary is not my primary consideration.” If pushed, “I am sure you have a budget in mind for this position that would suitably compensate me for my skills and what I will contribute.” You get the picture!