I would like to start by saying that sometimes, there is no choice, and that is a very significant foreword.
Sometimes we take the first job we can find and that’s what we have to move forward with.
As a result of this, there are many seniors who have horror stories about the horrible treatment they experienced early in their career — I have some of these myself, and while I would not like to experience it again, I’m happy I learned what not to do (and hope I don’t act improperly towards others without even noticing it).
So, yeah, this post is mostly for the lucky few who have the privilege of saying “no” (and to those who don’t — you will, hopefully soon).
Let’s dive deep into my take on job interviews!
Conversations or interviews?
Stop referring to it as a “job interview” — until employers don’t start calling it “employee interview” or “bi-directional interview” there’s no reason to label it a job interview. I personally call it conversations.
How many interviews did I conduct? 0.
How many conversations? More.
As long as we keep calling these conversations “job interviews” we maintain and reinforce the “a job interview is mutual” cliché and we might as well be the mouse riding the elephant boasting about how much dust he’s making.
As it is a conversation, and since you really want to understand the other side — come up, in advance, with a question that matters to you.
For example: “How do you treat mistakes employees make?” or “How does the team/company maintain its analysts’ technological edge” or something related to a negative experience you had in another company.
These are all completely legitimate questions, and you are allowed to insist if you’re not satisfied with the answers — not because “it shows the employer you considered it” but because it’s not a one-way system.
This can be a helpful filter in and of itself — would you like to work with someone who wouldn’t take your questions just because he’s the boss?
Your feelings count!
Pay attention to how you feel about the conversation. I tend to listen to my gut, and while I’m obviously biased, every time I didn’t, I was sorry.
Our intuition is a sophisticated evolutionary mechanism (I think that’s what they said in that House episode) and while it should only be considered as one influencing factor — it shouldn’t be ignored.
In this round I withdrew my application from one organization because their home assignment was disrespectful of my time, and three other places because of bad chemistry with the interviewer (yes, privileged AF, but still).
If you feel the conversation was okay, you can ask to meet the team, or ask to see an example of a routine, or less routine, task.
As an interviewer, I’d respect the hell out of that request (although it does add another step to your application process, and that might be something we, as a rule, would rather avoid).
Paint me your job like one of those French girls of yours
I’m talking about job descriptions – ask what your principal duties are, and how they align with your skills.
Don’t forget to check if it conforms to what the ad says and don’t forget to check if it fits your experience and professional ambitions.
I remember a story about how Google can afford to keep hiring brilliant people which lead to tons of very talented people getting Google salaries but doing very banal work.
For me, that could be hell, just like getting a job that required me to make dashboards. I would rather quit, but more importantly, I would rather not start.
Your time is un-refundable – act like it
Times are a’ changing — I can agree that I’m particularly difficult about times, but disrespect of my (or anyone’s) time is definitely something that can make me stop a recruitment process.
And yes, it’s imperative to understand the other side. There are always surprises, but even then there’s a right way to handle things.
If I feel my time is being wasted, I’ll take my talents somewhere else, or something.
That would be true even if I didn’t have my eBay or Analysis Paralysis (not that that’s something to brag about) experience.
Which leads me to the next point.
Work with courteous people, for real
Try and pay attention to how interviewers treat their subordinates — how they talk about or to their employees (if it’s not a Zoom interview). People who are only courteous to those in power or those who need something from them are not people I would like to work with
And just now the penny dropped that this text is aimed at people who want to work with people like me — which has advantages and disadvantages — so if you hate me, that’s cool, that’s fine, just do exactly the opposite!)
Your ‘No’ is your ‘No’, and that’s okay!
And one last thing, even though I already said it in various ways — refusing a job doesn’t reflect badly on you in any way.
You should have standards, even juniors (and again, I know how things work, I’m aware this one post isn’t going to fix the world, but change starts small, or something).
And don’t be afraid. There are douches out there, small men and women who would try really hard to actively bring you down — I don’t know why, I don’t pretend to understand that — what you should remember in this context is that you escaped having to work with or around toxic people — and that’s, on the whole, a positive thing.
Administrative insight: the biggest challenge in writing this post was finding a humorous reference, but just to nitpick — when thirteen talks to Valerie she’s standing to the left of the bed (if memory serves).
Wishing you the best of luck with your home assignments!