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Five Signs that an Interview Is Done

Take a few spins around the Internet and you will find a good amount of blogposts on what to do in an interview, what to do after an interview, what can sink an interview, and what questions to ask at an interview. There are a good amount of these posts online; but from my own job hunts since 2007, I collected a few experiences that serve as my own warnings for when interviews and opportunities are not as promising as what they first seemed.

Consider the following as sure-fire signs you need to find a graceful exit, stage left.

1. The job description and actual opportunity are two different things. Everyone has a job, and some recruiters are resorting to tactics that are not necessarily illegal but highly unethical. I once applied for a job advertized as a Social Media Specialist position with an emphasis on marketing. When the recruiter replied to my application, I was informed that the position involved Social Media through marketing, promising fantastic commissions depending on my enthusiasm for the position. When I asked “So this is more of a sales position instead of a Social Media position?” the recruiter responded with “Are you interested in a career change?”

This tactic is a great way of showing a recruiter’s higher up’s how well they are performing, receiving and reaching out to a wide variety of potential associates. All it costs these recruiters are copious amounts of your time.

2. The recruiter is dropping buzz words left and right. I was approached by yet another recruiter that was interested in talking with me about a Social Media opportunity. Here’s how he initially described it:

“The candidate will tap into the ROI of his or her various networks, maximizing the impressions brought about from a like, a share, a re-tweet, and what-not. The idea of this approach to promotion and marketing is to tap into the potential of networks already established — namely your friends, family, Twitter contacts, and such — are then bringing those relationships into a client’s network and cultivating those to become testimonials to our clients.”

I paused and the asked “So you want me to turn to my personal networks and promote the client to them? Basically, you want me to be a Social Media telemarketer?” He “backed up” and explained the position in a different way…through a new plethora of buzz words, doing very little to make the position appear appealing.

If you need a dictionary of buzzwords to describe a position, chances are the position in question may test the boundaries of ethics. So you might want to re-consider a job that relies on double-speak to explain its requirements and duties.

(And yes, the recruiter really used “what-not” in the job description.)

3. Wining, Dining, and Power Playing. I was thrilled when the CEO of a PR group reached out to me to arrange a lunch meeting over an opportunity for their Vice President of Social Media Strategy and Training. The meeting was at a very fashionable restaurant in downtown Washington D.C. The CEO, two additional VP’s, and I had a terrific lunch, but my warning of what was really going on came when I was told:

  • The VP currently holding this position was not on Facebook, Twitter, or any other Social Media initiatives, and did not care for Social Media on a whole.
  • The current VP had come to an agreement with his CEO and fellow executives that he could running his own business on the side, and that original arrangement apparently wasn’t working out as originally planned by the PR firm.

So what did this tell me? This told me that the current executive wasn’t performing up to snuff; so as a power play, the CEO reached out to a potential replacement, and then held the interview in open company with two executives I had not met previously.

I was a scare tactic. Trust me — this is a place you really don’t want to be.

4. You need to bring the interview back on topic. Repeatedly. It might surprise you how many times I have struggled to keep the interview on track. The first time, I was in an interview where the president of the company was more fascinated with my time as a professional actor than what I can do with social media. If you find yourself trying to steer an interview back to the topic at hand, the truth of the interview is tough to swallow: they’re just not that into you.

black_hole5. Your time is irrelevant, and therefore worthless. I was scheduled for an interview with two directors and a VP, but had no idea exactly what the pay range was for this position. In the opening twenty minutes, an interview with the hiring recruiter, I asked the pay range of the position, I was given “That’s not my place to say. That’s the VP’s.” If this was a large organization, I’d understand but I knew from the recruiter this was an organization of seven people. When the VP finally gave me an appropriate time to ask this question, over two hours had passed; and this is when I discovered the pay range was not even close to what I would be asking.

Two hours. Gone. Not including the commute in and out of D.C.

This was a detail that could have been addressed within the first half-hour, but instead I had to wait for two hours. If this is how a prospect values your time in an interview, you have a good idea how your time is valued in the workplace. It also gives a good indication of how mismanaged time is in the work environment as well. After all, this was time lost for the job prospect as well as yours.

Exactly why is this kind of shoddy treatment happening? It would be easy to say “Oh it’s the economy, and employers are calling the shots…” but a job market with a seemingly endless talent pool to draw from is no hall pass for unprofessional behavior. Your time and your talent are still worth something. After all, this is why you’re interviewing for a position in the first place, right? Never forget the interview works both ways. Make sure to ask questions and keep an eye out for details. While the interview is a chance for a job opportunity to screen you, this is your chance to get an impression of a company as well.