How to Spot a Bad Interview
I am a very picky person when it comes to interviews. You can follow my directions below and deny the job based on these pointers, or you can take the job. Either way, you might learn something.
Here’s an example of a bad interview where I took the job:
I’ve talked about this job before, but this is about the Law Internship I had in Boston. Let me describe the setting:
My uber pulls up to… apartment buildings? Is this really it? I double-checked the address and this was it. I’m going to get murdered. The West End of Boston can be a sketchy place… and being killed probably isn’t what you want to think about when it comes to your workplace.
I find the front desk. It’s a small, dingy, apartment lobby. The rug is fraying in the corners from lack of care during installation, and the walls look cheap. The desk looks cheap. The three chairs next to the desk (which I assumed were for people waiting) looked like someone stole them from a high school choir room. I told them I was looking for Mr. ******.
Someone from the office came to get me. They lead me down some stairs, past a laundry room, down a dark hallway, through a parking garage, through another dark hallway, up some sketchy stairs, into another hallway that was being reconstructed, to a somewhat beaten apartment door. This was it.
It was a one-bedroom apartment. Interns sat at the kitchen counter. There were desks with stacks of papers in the living room. There was one crappy couch for clients to sit on while they wait. I sat on the couch. I was called in.
The first thing I noticed was the carpet. Hair, paper, ripped paper, trash, and just little things were embedded in the carpet. I didn’t even want to put my $20 shoes on it. Mr. ****** told me he was a “no B.S.” kinda guy, and that he was “honorable” and “truthful”. He told me about the business he built for himself and I listened. I took the job because I was interested and wanted to learn something. I don’t regret taking the job, and I in fact did learn a lot––even more than I thought.
Here’s an example of a bad interview where I am not going to take the job:
Yes, you read that correctly. I haven’t responded to the employer yet. After an interview I had more recently, for some reason I found myself laughing under my mask as I was walking away from the building!
I applied to bartend/serve at a local pub in Salt Lake. The next afternoon, I get a call from the manager/owner, who tells me my resumé really sticks out and I “seem like a really good person.” He wants me to interview that very evening. I’m not doing anything else, so I go for it.
I pull up to the pub and realize I had never been there before. I drove by it all the time, but I never actually noticed it my whole life. I never had a drunken night with friends where someone said, “Hey, let’s go to this pub!” I walked in a couple of minutes before the pub opened, where I heard a familiar voice talking to a girl at one of the tables. I approached one of the friendly bartenders, a very pretty woman, telling her I was there for Billy (yes, changed name) as I looked at whom I was assuming was him, interviewing this girl. The bartender said I could take a seat.
My interview was supposed to start at 6:00 pm, but ended up starting around 6:10 pm. This wasn’t a very big deal to me, but I did know that Billy saw me walk in.
My interview lasted 30 minutes. Billy talked the entire time. All about making mistakes, learning from mistakes, what it’s like to start at a new job, etc. My ears were bleeding. He had a weird energy to him. His phone rang. He answered, and told them he’d call them back. This made him a hypocrite, since Billy earlier stated he likes to create an environment where everyone is treated fairly, with respect, and with kindness. He said it was great to meet me, shook my hand, and stood up. “Do you have any questions for me?” I asked. “No, I can just tell you’re a really great person,” he replied. Smh.
Here are the red flags that tell you the workplace is not for you (or for anyone):
- They don’t actually interview you. They spend most of their time telling you who they are instead of trying to get to know you. This should tell you that they’re trying to sell you on the job. Now ask yourself, why would someone try and talk me into a job? If someone’s trying to do so, you shouldn’t probably take the job.
- The place isn’t clean. You might think to yourself that it just looks bad when you got there, but that’s incorrect. If it doesn’t look clean, it’s always going to look that way. Sure, you might be able to suggest something if you work there, but if the owner/manager or whoever’s in charge cared, they would’ve kept it clean in the first place. Even if it looks clean, if you can see that there has been a lack of care put into the place of work, it may reflect on the amount of care they put into their actual work.
- If whoever’s interviewing you has a weird vibe, trust your gut. They probably have a weird vibe for a reason. Mr. ****** and Billy both had weird vibes, but what’s interesting is that while interviewing for both of them, I found myself trying to talk myself into going with it. Don’t do that. Trust your gut.
- Whoever’s interviewing you should not have their ringer on. Period. Billy’s phone rang during my interview and he had the nerve to answer it. The interview was almost over and this man could not wait two minutes to call this person back. Here’s what he should’ve done: immediately rejected the call and apologized for the disturbance. I don’t care if it’s an informal interview. You should have the respect and decency to devote the allotted time to whom you’re interviewing.
- They curse. I was talking to my boyfriend about this one, and he suggested that it’s because it’s a relaxed environment––it’s a pub. The place doesn’t matter. Interviewers should uphold a level of professionalism. Billy surrounded every word with f***. Do you speak to your customers that way? Do you speak to your bartenders that way in front of your customers? Unprofessional.
- They base you off your resumé. Billy told me over the phone, before meeting me, that he could tell I just have a really good personality. Really? Based on my resumé? Ted Bundy went to law school and he was a serial killer; let’s think about that. He didn’t bother to get to know me, and always tells me that he hires really good people. Yet, all over Yelp, it says bartenders come and go like clouds.
Remember, doing an interview isn’t just about them interviewing you, you’re interviewing them too. I find myself trying to talk myself into the place because I’m ambitious and I want a job, but it’s important to remember that you’re going to want a job with people who give off good first impressions (it means they care). They should be looking for the same thing in you, which is why interview etiquette is etched on our brains. But I think people fail to acknowledge that the other side should have just about the same etiquette.