If you’ve ever had a job, chances are that you’ve had to go through a job interview to get it and if you’re like most people it’s one of your least favorite things to do ranking right up there with going to the dentist. Additionally, most people are frustrated by it, and let me tell you there are certain ugly truths about the interviewing process most commonly unknown to the new interviewees which shows how ruthless the HR management can be. In this article, we are going to peel back the scenes and understand the ugly truth about job interview processes.
The Double Standard
The first ugly truth of job interviews is, unfortunately, there’s a double standard. What’s that double standard? Well, basically it’s across the entirety of the interviewing process, from the time you start to engage with an employer to the time you land an offer, the entirety of it is a double standard. I hate to admit it but it’s kind of true. For example, you can cancel or reschedule your interview and it’s frowned upon by the employer.
So, if you go to try to reschedule your job interview for another date something comes up, and you can be looked at as somebody who is potentially flaky or not truly engaged in the job.
However, the employer can do that to you without any real repercussions. Something more important comes up on their calendar, they have a conflict or for whatever reason, they can’t make it to the job interview. They can push it back, they can reschedule, and you as a job seeker just have to suck it up. So, that indeed is a double standard and a frustrating one at that.
And you shouldn’t want to show up late at the job interview because that’s going to be an indicator that you’re a late person and you don’t manage your time properly. However, the employer can show up late to that interview and it’s no big deal the candidate just sits there and graciously smiles because they have no other choice and if you’re video interviewing for a remote job hopefully there are no distractions, nobody barges into your office or there’s no dog barking in the background that shows the employer that you can’t work effectively in a remote environment.
However, if they do it, you have to laugh at off as no big deal and the worry goes on to you as a candidate on whether or not you’re going to be overdressed or underdressed because dress matters and you want to make that best first impression so here you are showing up with the formal attire and the entirety of the job interview team shows up in jeans and t-shirts and there’s no real negative reflection on them.
Don’t get me started on the salary expectation question because inevitably you’re going to be asked that in the job interview process and you have to give an answer. However, if you put the question back onto the employer they don’t have to share that salary information with you it’s a one-way street there and it’s very one-sided.
So the double standard is real, it is an unfortunate part of the job interview process. It would be good to put an asterisk here and say me as a recruiter, I don’t care about a lot of stuff that I just mentioned, I don’t care about your dress code and all that stuff I won’t hold that against you but there are recruiters there are hiring managers out there that unfortunately will and again the double standard is a thing.
The Best Qualified Get Hired?
The next ugly truth of job interviews can be a tough pill to swallow, that is, the best person doesn’t always get the job. What I mean by that is on paper you may be the best-credentialed person they’re interviewing however maybe you’re not great at selling yourself, the physical act of talking about yourself in a job interview doesn’t come naturally to you yet somebody who is less skilled on paper is much more gifted at the gab and they end up landing the job offer because they connect better with the hiring manager and somehow convince them that they’re the best fit for the role.
So, it does behoove you how to sell yourself effectively and establish a good rapport with your hiring manager because being the best fit on paper doesn’t guarantee that you’re going to get the job.
The Biggest Mistake
The next ugly truth of job interview is that what you say in an interview can and will be held against you just like in the legal system anything you say in an interview is going to be graded and judged and like it or not if you say the wrong thing inadvertently and you might not even realize you’re saying the wrong thing at the time you can actually end up moving into the no pile without even realizing it.
Everything that you say from the time you walk in the door until the time you leave and even in your email communications afterward is being used to judge how well you would be fit for that role. So be careful what you say and just remember that sometimes less is more in a job interview process, you don’t want to overshare.
Job Interviews Aren’t Real Life
The next ugly truth of job interviews is that interviewing is not always a realistic reflection of what the job is actually going to be like and this is especially true in certain technical roles like in software development you can see very detailed assessments of very high-level things and if you made one wrong move, you are in the no pile and then in the real life in the actual work setting people are making mistakes left and right the pace is a lot slower it’s really nothing like the interview process and I sometimes look around the room and I’d say gosh how did anybody get hired in this room if this is what the bar is.
So it is kind of level at times that we are assessing people at a level that they’re probably not going to realistically reflect in their actual day-to-day job and that being said you have to know your stuff to get a good job so I’m not saying that that part invalid but just know that the actual day to day job is not going to be nearly as intimidating as the job interview process that you went through
Quirky Hiring Managers
The next ugly truth of job interviews is that hiring managers tend to be quirky and they often have biases about how they operate. I’m not necessarily talking about a bias for a certain gender, race, color, creed, etc. I’m talking about the type of worker they want in their workplace. So they might want somebody that looks at a problem a certain way versus another way where they might have a specific quirky thing that they are assessing whether it’s a certain type of technology that you’ve worked with or maybe they have got a bias for or against a particular school or a company that you work for.
Then they associate you with that saying well if they work for this company they’re not going to be a good fit because that company tends to do things this way and we want to do it this way or alternatively this bias could actually help you if you have a hiring manager that’s particularly fond of the company that you work for.
It could actually give you an advantage and the same thing goes for school they talk about alumni networks and all that kind of stuff and I will say I probably have a little bit of a soft spot for Penn Staters in my job interview processes but you still have to bring the goods and I’m not going to just pass you on because you’re a Penn Stater but if you’re a Penn Stater and all things being equal I might take a close look at your profile and of course we hired the best possible person for the job but know that there are certain biases in the workplace.
The Silver Medalist
The next ugly truth of job interviews about interviewing is that employers will sometimes string you along as a silver medalist, to me that term is cringeworthy. However, you’ll see talent acquisition departments using that terminology to identify a person who is a second-place candidate, in other words, we’ve got our gold medalist which is the best possible fit, and then we’ve got somebody that we like enough to hire if the gold medalist doesn’t work out.
So, what they’ll typically do is they’ll Fastrack the gold medalist candidate and then the silver medalist candidate will be strung along or they’ll be kept warm so to speak in a sign that you might be a silver medalist that you’ve moved very quickly through the process the interview team has the very positive things to say about you, they’re encouraging you might think you’re going to get an offer, however, things seem to slow down near the end and you’re just waiting and waiting and the company is just putting it off and putting it off.
Typically, what’s happening is they’re finishing their job interview process with the gold medalist. And if they go through an offer process and the gold medalist doesn’t accept the job then they want to fall back to you as a silver medalist. At the end of the day a silver medalist still could end up with a job offer if something happens with the gold medalist and for whatever reason, the company can’t get the offer done. Now whether or not you want to accept the offer as a silver medalist is another story and that’s up to you to decide.
The last ugly truth about job interviews I want to share with you in this article is that, it is not a fair exchange of time, energy, and resources when you look at the kind of commitment a candidate has to make in the interview process versus what an employer does, it just doesn’t make sense from an equity perspective. Because you are going to be asked to go through round after round, hoop after hoop, assessment after assessment, application after application, etc. and there’s no guaranteed payout at the end and each one of those things costs the most valuable resource that you have which is time.
Not to mention, there could be some costs associated with it. If you’re making trips back and forth, now granted companies will reimburse those expenses but nonetheless, you’re still making that investment, you’re putting wear and tear on your car, you’re doing all those types of things in hopes of landing a job opportunity and the company doesn’t look at it the same way. They’re interviewing various persons and trying to find the best possible fit. So all these people are going through the same job interview process as you and only one person is going to end up with that offer in the end.
So there are going to be lots of disappointed people unfortunately and it’s just not a good exchange of value especially when you’re not being compensated for your time. So the moral of that story is to make sure that you vet out the opportunities that you’re interviewing for very carefully and sometimes it’s okay to say no to an opportunity that doesn’t really align well with what your career goals are.
Especially, if they don’t have a good reputation, especially if they seem like they’re going to be wasting your time, and if their candidate experience is not very focused on you. And you know the type, those long applications, all of those long assessments, hoop after hoop you have to determine at some point whether if this job is worth the amount of effort that they’re going to put in when the guaranteed payout is not necessarily there. So something to think about as you put out lots of applications
Alright! So I know that this article can be discouraging for those of you who are in active job-seeking processes. It’s probably going to bring up some emotions with some folks and I totally get it. The interview process is not an easy one and the purpose of this article is just to demystify some of the stuff so that you can make the best possible steps ultimately to get to the point of an offer.