bad interviewee behavior: more tales

My friend writes:

I call a lot of people to interview them for various positions. I could have an admin person set up these interviews, but I prefer to do it myself. Lately, I’ve noticed a rash of bad behavior — applicants think that because I’m the one calling, I have nothing to do with the hiring process.

In one recent incident the applicant (married mid-30ish male) flirted with me of the phone, flirted with me during the interview (despite ring and mention of Wife and Kid), then asked half-way through about the organizational structure. When he realized I was in a position directly above the position he was applying for, you should have seen the look of horror on his face. So much so that my supervisor (who was in the interview with me) said after he left “what is wrong with men these days that they still can’t fathom that women could be anything but secretaries. society has failed.”


If you are an applicant and I call to set up an interview, don’t ask, “why has it taken you so long to call me?”

If I say the location of the position is X, please don’t ask if you the job is REALLY in X, can work from another office, or if you can work from home. Nor should you show up at our office surprised about the location. You applied for the job –the location is stated on the application.

If you have multiple questions about the position, that’s fantastic. Do not call me 7 times in 4 hours. That is what the interview is for.

If I repeat the question during the interview, it means you didn’t answer the question. Just answer the question.

Ok. I feel better now.


Thank you.

Since we’re complaining, I’m going to chime in:

I had an applicant this week who was extremely hard to set up a phone interview with — none of the days or times I suggested worked, despite repeated tries. Since I have tons of strong candidates for the job, I finally asked if she had any flexibility at all, since otherwise I’d need to just focus on the other candidates. She agreed to make a time work today (after telling me in detail how hard it might be for her). Then, once we finally got on the phone, she told me that she knew the position was in D.C. but she didn’t see any reason why it couldn’t be done from her city, many, many states away. I explained that in fact this was not a position that could telecommute, and explained why. She then proceeded to lecture me about how there was no reason for that, and how she was quite sure she could do it as a telecommuter, while I repeated over and over, “It’s really not possible.” I finally cut her off and told her we were going to need to end the call.

Now. First of all, she could have mentioned this up front and we could have avoided all the scheduling drama. Second, during the scheduling drama, she at one point suggested we do the call at 8 p.m. If I’d made time to do it during my evening, only to discover she wasn’t even willing to meet the clearly stated location requirement of the job and hadn’t bothered to say that earlier, I would have been quite annoyed. And thirdly, I did 20 phone interviews this week. That’s a lot, and it’s my absolute limit — and she took one of those slots from a candidate who might have gotten an interview otherwise.

This is bad behavior.

{ 4 comments… read them below }

  1. Deirdre HR Maven*

    Oh, I'll add. Had a candidate lecture me on how the salary for a position was not within appropriate survey ranges.

    When I explained to him that 1) I don't use for surveys 2) we are a non-profit and don't always pay what businesses pay 3)that's what we have determined the salary to be; he STILL argued with me.

    He told me that he couldn't pursue the position unless the salary was more acceptable.


  2. Anonymous*

    I know at least one manager who likes to sit at the front desk when interviewees show up at the office for their interviews. She's said that applicants will snap at her, practically throw paperwork at her and generally behave in a ridiculously haughty manner simply because they assume that she's the receptionist.

    When the interviewees are done filling out their paperwork, she'll then stand up and introduce herself as the manager that they're actually interviewing with. Apparently the looks on some people's faces are priceless when that happens!

    A word to the wise: When you are interviewing for a position, always assume that every person you interact with at that company could have the final say in whether or not you are hired.

  3. Anonymous*

    I love the manager sitting at the front desk. Classic.

    When we hire in my office, we make sure to ask the receptionist (ours is very insightful and observant) and any others who came in contact with the candidate their feedback. And I know our company isn't alone! No one wants to hire a jerk. Period.

    It's also just good manners to treat everyone you encounter with respect no matter their station.

  4. Anonymous*

    What is a good response for when a candidate does ask you why it has taken so long for you to call? In addidtion to that sort of comment, I also get calls daily from applicants wanting to know why no one has called them yet.

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