should a candidate ever give a company feedback on its hiring process?

A reader writes:

I am currently job hunting and have interest from several amazing companies and consider myself very lucky.  I’ve always been a good interviewee, and have never really had a bad interview, just ones that didn’t seem like a good fit.  Well, until a few weeks ago.  I was contacted by a senior person at a company, completely unsolicited.  They asked me to submit my resume for a position they had open, and the company seemed great!  The email was very nice, and very personal.  I submitted my resume, and didn’t hear back right away.  I followed up a couple of weeks later and the senior person never wrote back to me, but the next day someone from HR got in touch to set up a phone interview.  I guess the first red flag was never hearing back from the person who initially contacted me, and the lengthy time between the first contact and the first interview.

Well, the call with HR was ridiculous. They basically demanded to know why I would apply to this company and what could I do for them?  It was clear he did not read my resume or cover letter.  Red flag number 2.  I explained that in fact I was contacted by them for this interview, and he immediately calmed down and the rest of the call went fairly OK  but I was left frustrated.  When I asked him when they were hoping to fill this position, he said “Ha!  Like, 3 months ago.” Red flag number 3.  He also mentioned that they have a SEVEN-part interview process, which is entirely out of the norm for my industry, and I assume most others as well. Red flag number 4.  I sent a thank you note to be courteous and thank him for his time, and to my surprise he wrote back a very nice note and asked if he could set up another phone interview, this time with another team member.  This call went even worse.  I was berated on the phone, asked nonsensical questions and was made to feel like an idiot when I had to ask for clarification.  The whole thing was an eye opener that it is OK to go with your gut and walk away when those red flags start popping up, and I’m glad they only wasted my time on the phone.

The sad part of this is my path will most definitely cross with these team members in the future, and I so wish I could give them an honest critique of their hiring process, which definitely needs some work.  No wonder they haven’t been able to make a hire!  Is it ever appropriate to give such feedback?

Ugh, this is one of those questions that drives me crazy because I would so, so, so want to hear this kind of feedback and in no way would hold it against the candidate (unless I was able to definitively determine that their judgment was completely off-base). But there are plenty of employers out there who would take offense to you letting them know that their interviewers were acting this way, and I have no idea which type you’re dealing with.

Now, that said, I don’t think everything you listed is a red flag. I don’t think it’s a big deal that HR followed up with you rather than the person who originally reached out (ideally, the senior person would have sent you a quick note explaining that would happen, but it’s not really a big deal that he didn’t). The “ha, we wanted to fill this job three months ago” comment isn’t necessarily a red flag either; there are lots of legitimate reasons why that could be the case, and it could be that his attempt at humor didn’t quite translate.

And even demanding questions aren’t necessarily out of line, depending entirely on the way they’re asked. I mean, if he had a contemptuous or hostile tone and bellowed, “what makes you think you could do this job?”, that’s obviously ridiculous. But nicely asking, “tell me what you think might make you a good fit for this role” is reasonable in an interview, even when they approached you first. I don’t know which was the case here, and I’m raising it only because the fact that we disagree on whether a couple of other things are red flags makes me consider the possibility that … well, that you might have read this part of it wrong.  (Sorry!)

But for the purposes of getting you an answer, let’s say that the interviewers were indeed rude. Is it appropriate to let the company know about it?  It pains me to say this, because if I were in charge over there, this is exactly the kind of thing I’d want to hear about. But you have no idea if they’re reasonable people or not (and in fact have some clues to the contrary), and there’s not really any incentive for you to go out on that limb. It’s not your responsibility to fix their hiring processes, and certainly not when it means risk to yourself. So I have to reluctantly, regretfully, mournfully say no.

However, if the person who initially reached out to you happens to get back in touch to follow up, you can absolutely say something like, “You know, I had a couple of odd interviews with John and Julie and got the sense it wouldn’t be a fit.” If she’s smart, she’ll probe around for more information, and if you get the vibe that she really wants to know what happened, you could (totally dispassionately) tell her your concerns. But that’s the limit of what I’d advise.

{ 91 comments… read them below }

  1. kristin*

    Ugh, that sounds terrible! I’ve had a lot of terrible interviews lately as well (the link from my name goes to my blog post about my most recent crazy experience with an interview process), to the point where I’m now looking into Organizational Behavior grad school programs instead. I want to help companies learn how to be better at hiring, because I’m amazed at how many are terrible at it.

    It sounds like the original poster was right in pulling out of that process. I know I would have been put off by that.

    I did have one time where I actually gave the negative feedback to an employer. I had interviewed with HR and had a lovely conversation about the job, but then I met with the hiring manager, and he was just awful. The first thing he asked me was if I had any questions (after I had just met with HR for an hour…), and then when we were talking about my experience, he started badgering me about how I “didn’t seem to really want this job” (even though I said NOTHING that would indicate that) and I “would probably try to climb too high, too fast,” and he was really rude. THEN he said, “Since you don’t want this job, why don’t we just stop wasting my time and end the interview now?” So I left, completely stunned.

    Yeah, I sent a thank you email to the HR person and said that we had ended the second interview early and decided it wasn’t the right fit. I told her that I was really excited about the job after meeting with her, but after the other interview, I didn’t think I’d be compatible with that hiring manager anyway. She sent a nice reply thanking me for the feedback.

  2. Andy Lester*

    They basically demanded to know why I would apply to this company and what could I do for them? It was clear he did not read my resume or cover letter.

    Based on the first sentence, you cannot conclude the second. That first part is a standard opener. It’s not a bad thing. It’s handing you the spotlight, and the chance to give your overview of yourself to the interviewer.

  3. Wilton Businessman*

    I don’t get it. Why do we feel the need to right every wrong? Can’t we just say we got a bad vibe and that was enough to sever the relationship? When I meet someone at a cocktail party and they are boisterous and superficial, I make a mental note of “AH” and move on. I don’t feel the need to tell Mr. A about it, he probably already knows.

  4. Andy Lester*

    It’s WWIC: Why Wasn’t I Consulted? Read this, it’s insightful:

    “Why wasn’t I consulted,” which I abbreviate as WWIC, is the fundamental question of the web. It is the rule from which other rules are derived. Humans have a fundamental need to be consulted, engaged, to exercise their knowledge (and thus power), and no other medium that came before has been able to tap into that as effectively.

    It’s carrying over into meatspace as well.

  5. OP*

    Thanks for answering my question! I just want to clarify, because now that I reread it wasn’t clear in my original letter: the attitude of the HR contact was completely condescending and it was very clear my phone number was just forwarded to him with no other information. I’m not even sure it was clear to him what position I was originally contacted for. It just came across as very unorganized, with frequent lengthy pauses (over 30 seconds of dead air with no sound, I thought I dropped the call several times), and several repeated questions throughout the call (about 40 minutes). Overall, it was just a frustrating experience. FWIW, I’m still seeing job ads that they are trying to fill this position, months later, and have heard through the grapevine that they are still very short handed.

    The happy ending is that every other company I met with was fantastic and I had a few offers. The company with the frustrating interviews seemed like it could be great, and the internal team I’d have been working with might be fantastic, but there’s no way to tell when you have to go through screening processes like these.

    1. Wilton Businessman*

      My #1 interviewing complaint: interviewing you on your cell phone. If the call drops, you’re done.

      1. OP*

        Agreed. Kind of hard to find a land line when you can only interview during your lunch hour and your current employer doesn’t know you’re searching. It’s sometimes a necessary evil.

        1. Wilton Businessman*

          You want to arrange an interview, fine I’ll call your cell. I am available 24×7 to talk with you because it’s that important to me. I’ve called people at home at 02:00, I’ve called them at their brother’s house, I’ve called them at the recruiter’s office. We’re talking about your career here, do you really want AT&T to be holding your fate in their hands?

          Don’t get me wrong, I will call you on your cell, but if we get dropped, I’m done.

          1. Julie*

            While you might be available 24/7, many hiring managers and HR people aren’t. Someone they’ll only do interviews (even phone interviews) during business hours. And when that happens, you do what you have to do, which often means talking on cell phones.

          2. Long Time Admin*

            You call people at 2 a.m.? I sure as heck don’t want to work for you.

            You sound like a real hot head in this post. Most of your posts seem much more rational than this one. Maybe you’re having a bad day…

            But I still wouldn’t work for you.

            1. Wilton Businessman*

              When someone says that they are working the night shift and the best time they can talk to me for a phone interview is 2am, then yes, I call them at their convenience at 2am.

      2. Dean*

        You do realize that cell phones are the norm these days, right? Would you rather I use my current employer’s land-line? I might as well do the interview on company time too.

        1. Wilton Businessman*

          Don’t get me wrong, I will call you on your cell, but if we get dropped, I’m done.

          1. Dean*

            It’s a cute line, and clearly you’re fond of it. My point is with >25% of households going without landlines, a dropped call is a capricious reason to eliminate a person for consideration. You’re going to miss out on some great candidates. (Unless the position depends on having a reliable home phone connection)

            1. Wilton Businessman*

              I’ve bent over backwards to talk to you at your convenience, give me the same considerations.

              1. Heather B*

                I do not own a landline. Period. Never have, never will. I certainly couldn’t conduct a phone interview for another position on my desk phone at work. So what do you want me to do? Call you from a payphone? (An even worse option to my mind, given the public location of most payphones, which ensures distraction and background noise — not to mention the possibility of running out of change.) Buy a phone and pay to have it hooked up, just for the maybe one or two phone interviews I will ever have to participate in during my job search?

                There’s a point at which “bending over backwards” becomes “breaking one’s spine in half”.

            2. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I really struggle with this these days. I used to have a very hard line on this issue and firmly advised against using cell phones for an interview — but it’s true that these days some people really would have to go through some contortions to get themselves to a land line to use.

              1. Jamie*

                I think the land line requirements need to take into considerations the changes in technology.

                After all – 10 years ago a fax machine was necessary. Now it’s quaint and either irritatingly or adorably backward, depending on your p.o.v.

                Maybe what replaces the land line will be making sure you’re in a strong signal area for your phone interview. I agree it should be quiet and efforts should be taken to avoid places where you know service is spotty. Testing it ahead of time is not a bad idea. I can tell you four places within a mile radius of my work with exceptional signal and 200 where I wouldn’t make a call on a bet.

                Then again, not everyone tests dataconnect cards for fun…but if you scout out as quiet spot with a solid connection that speaks well to how seriously you’re taking the phone interview.

            3. Liz in a library*

              Just anecdotal, but when I look at friends and family who are in my age group, I cannot think of a single person who actually has a home telephone line.

              We haven’t had one in 6 years.

          2. Anonymous*

            I’m glad I haven’t applied to where you work, where accidents outside of a normal person’s control are totally held against them.

            Real professional.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I think Wilton Businessman is saying that if you take the interview seriously, you’d use a land line — so he’s holding the lack of planning against them, not the accidental fact of a dropped call. Similar to how if you did a phone interview while you were driving, it would be reasonable for the interviewer to have a problem with not being able to hear you over background noise or whatever.

              Where I’m struggling with this is that while I think this was true a few years ago, it probably isn’t still true these days, when many people legitimately don’t have access to land lines.

            2. Anonymous*

              @AAM I agree, but in the 21st century you can’t hold an antiquated landline as the end-all-be-all communications tool. Landlines do get dropped/crossed/messed up, albeit less frequently than mobile phones(I studied telecommunications in college :) ), but as a previous poster said, I haven’t even had a landline since I was in late-grade school…

            3. Wilton Businessman*

              Look, I understand the complexities of real life. Being on a land line does not guarantee you the job, nor does being on a cell phone automatically disqualify you. But the point is don’t be in an area with bad coverage if I am calling you (I’m not even going to address driving).

              All I am saying is that when I call you for a job interview, it’s not a personal call. I expect clear communications and thoughtful answers that may require concentration to answer. I don’t expect to be dropped off, I don’t expect the TV to be going in the background, and I don’t expect you to be clacking away at the keyboard when I am talking to you. I am considering this call serious business, I want you to do the same. After all, it’s your future…

              1. Kat*

                All of this you just mentioned, was not clear in your two sentence rant about dropped cell calls.

                If I’m taking the time to interview with you, I’d like the consideration of you being up front with what you’re really saying instead of beating around the bush and making comments that would rub me the wrong way like your past two comments did. What you just mentioned is what I believe most normal cell phone interviewees make sure to do. :)

              2. Anonymous*

                A dropped call is not a fault of the person with whom you are talking. You don’t seem to get that.

              3. Ask a Manager* Post author

                I think WB’s point is that you should plan in advance for the fact that cells sometimes drop calls and thus choose to use a landline instead — and that if you don’t plan in that way, it reflects on your level of forethought and care. (Whether that’s a realistic option anymore is a different question; I think most people are saying that it’s not, since many people don’t even have access to landlines anymore.)

              4. Anonymous*

                @AAM I think we all get what WB’s point is, but the fact is that a dropped call, loss of call quality, etc. is 99% OUT of the interviewee’s control. I am skimming through your newest post about this thread, and it’s pretty clear that many people don’t even have landlines anymore.

                To call a dropped call unprofessional or unprepared is pretty unrealistic, imo. It is nowhere near the same as, say, eating dinner while on the phone, or at a movie or a show.

                It just shows how some interviewers STILL have hard expectations of interviewees, while many don’t even bother giving the same courtesy back.

              5. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Oh yeah, I know what you’re saying, but I think WB is working from the assumption that candidates DO have a choice. To me, that’s the core of the disconnect. I think if WB really believed that many people don’t have a land line option, his take would be different (and the comments in the newer post on this may be eye-opening!).

                WB, am I right?

              6. Anonymous*

                @AAM: I’m glad we all could have this back and forth, even though we don’t all have the same opinion! I need to read up on the rest of the comments on the new post. Love the blog, keep ’em coming! :)

              7. Anonymous*

                @AAM – If someone like WB calls out of the blue, let’s say, to schedule an interview or a phone interview/screen, you don’t exactly have forethought. Also, as explained here, some people don’t have landlines or have access to one. Therefore, he has to learn to deal with the occasional dropped call. However, if he is courteous enough, he’d discuss in the very beginning with the candidate about a phone he/she can call WB back right away when such an occasion occurs. He’s way too harsh and ultimately hurting his own company if he declares a candidate disqualified because of a technological error. You talk about red flags!

              8. Wilton Businessman*

                I’m not assuming everyone has access to a land line. I am assuming everyone treats this as a business conversation and not a casual “lets meet at 5 guys for lunch” type conversation.

              9. Anonymous*

                I don’t know if you’re not following or are sticking to your “drop my call and we’re done” rule like glue. But we are talking about a professional call. Life happens, technology screws up, and calls drop. It neither makes your candidate less professional nor like a meeting of friends than with business people. So refrain from assuming a dropped call is a bad mark on a candidate.

                Let me give you an example. An employee is supposed to message x amount of people regarding a particular message within the company. For whatever reason, her email messes up – it doesn’t deliver, it doesn’t deliver the message in a timely message, etc. Do you fire her on the spot? I wouldn’t think so. It’s obvious technology has its flaws still. Now if this happened time and time again, then you’d take a look at the employee. If you noticed someone going through the interviewing process constantly experiencing dropped calls, then even I would wonder if they were hitting the end call button. However, if it’s just once, and the person calls back and apologizes profusely, then why so harsh?

              10. Wilton Businessman*

                I hear you, I just disagree. We’re not talking about an employee that’s already hired and I’m calling at off hours. We’re not talking about Timmy Big Thumbs that doesn’t know how to operate a cell phone. I am trying to sell you on my company, you are trying to sell me on you. We’re just going to have to agree to disagree on this one.

          3. Anonymous*

            That’s a bit harsh. Cell phones, while more and more popular each year, are still not 100% perfect. Do you think it’s always the person’s fault if a call gets dropped? What would you do if the person calls back your number and apologizes profusely? It’s utterly ridiculous you determine a person’s candidacy on their cell phone’s behavior. Like what Dean wrote, you will miss on great people you really want for your company. Your ridiculous cutesy statement will only hurt yourself and your company in the long run.

            1. Susan*

              Wilton, I have to say, since experiencing a layoff, I had to cut all necessary costs, and that included an expensive landline (when cell plans are much cheaper). The alternative would be to use a pay phone (not that I could find one…perhaps at the police station? I can’t remember the last time I have actually seen one.) at which there would of course be excessive background noise and disruptions. Cell-phone wise, I take interview calls in my closed car in the garage to avoid any household or background noise. For those who are currently working and job-seeking, obviously they could not take the call during work hours on a company phone, so their alternatives are quite limited. Perhaps there should be a return of enclosed phone booths.

  6. Anonymous*

    I don’t think I’ll ever understand how people would rather go without a paycheck and starve than suck it up and work a crappy job.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I don’t think most people would make that trade-off. But not infrequently, people are in a situation where they have options — significant savings, a spouse who can support them, multiple offers, a strong enough reputation or skill set that they can confidently assume there will be other offers, etc.

      1. Anonymous*

        A job vs. still job hunting. Sound like an easy choice to me. If you don’t like the current one keep looking. Especially in this economy.

        1. B*

          what makes you think someone having 2 interviews is equivalent to turning down an offer? A bad interview will probably not result in an offer.

        2. kristin*

          I’m job hunting right now, but I’ve turned down a few jobs at companies that had sketchy interview behavior. I’m able to support myself through temping and freelancing right now.

          The reason I’m not accepting any of the jobs I don’t want is because I don’t want to have to do a job search again in a few months. I’ve had enough jobs that I HATED to know that I’d rather have to be a little more frugal for a while than suffer at an awful company.

          I really hate the mentality that job seekers should just “take what they can get, no matter what the job is like.” We’re people too.

        3. Wilton Businessman*

          I disagree. When I accept an offer, I am committing myself for two years to that job.

          1. kristin*

            Disagree? I was saying that I’d rather wait and accept a job that I know I’ll want to stay at for a long time, rather than accept a job I’ll hate because it seems like the only option. I think we’re saying the same thing. :)

            1. Wilton Businessman*

              @kristin: My reply was to the same person you replied to, just happened to be below yours….

      1. Wilton Businessman*

        Who knows, Obama might even pay off your mortgage if you become unemployed.

        1. violet*

          Really? Wow. I’d heard of government programs that provide assistance to families in danger of forclosure, but I didn’t realize that Barack Obama himself was personally paying off underwater mortgages. That’s really commendable.

    2. Mike C.*

      And I’ll never understand why people like you simply take it rather than standing up for yourself and your fellow coworkers.

      1. Marie*

        Agreed! The masochistic attitude of “sucking it up” is detrimental to one’s self-respect. Would you advise a woman who is constantly being brutally beaten up by her physically violent husband to “suck it up”?

        1. Cruella*

          Marie…telling someone to “suck it up” and take a job to pay the bills is only “detrimental to one’s self-respect” if they think they are too good to be responsible for themselves!

          The “abused woman” scenario does not correlate here.

        2. Anonymous*

          It’s called a job for a reason. When I was young I had that attitude-if they treat me bad or don’t accept me as I am screw them, I’m not working there. When I learned my lesson from working low paying jobs and being unemployed and accepted that I’d have to put up with a bunch of crap, guess what, my bank account grew. I’ve learned you can make a lot more money and enjoy your increased income at home if youre willing to put up with a bunch of crap at the office. It’s amazing how many assholes run highly profitable companies. Sure there are nice bosses at nice jobs with nice salaries, but they are definitely the exception to the rule. To clarify I’m not talking about doing illegal things, but who cares if somebody you work with is rude or an asshole.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            And if you have options, why wouldn’t you take the option without the A-hole boss, assuming other factors are roughly equal? There’s an assumption here that people don’t have options, when in fact many people do.

            1. Anonymous*

              Sure but most people don’t have many options or rather good options. I’m just saying are you going to let an asshole (or a crappy HR person) prevent you from considering a good paying option? If living a better lifestyle isn’t important to you be my guest.

              1. Heather B*

                “Living a better lifestyle” doesn’t just encompass financial stability, it also includes emotional (and physical) health, ability to enjoy life, etc. — things on which a really crappy job can have a detrimental effect.

            2. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Living a better lifestyle IS important to me, AND I have options. I agree that not everyone does, but I’d caution against assuming that no one does!

              1. Anonymous*

                For anyone who states the “just suck it up and shut up”, you’ve never worked at your local/state unemployment office. After that, if you still agree with that comment, I’ll buy you a movie ticket. Believe me when I say it changes your personality and not for the better.

          2. Marie*

            “…who cares if somebody you work with is rude or an asshole?”

            I would care – very much. True, if you’re in dire financial straights, you do have to think it through very carefully before quitting a job populated by a-holes. That said, working for a-holes is detrimental to your self-respect and self-esteem. For me, quality of life includes a courteous work atmosphere. I could never work for abusive jerks for an extended period of time – my self-respect comes first.

    3. Samie*

      As someone who’s gone without a paycheck multiple times, I’ve always had options and I’d much rather got without a paycheck and feel like I’ve kept my self-respect intact than keeping at a crappy job. Then again, I also have severe depression. Crappy jobs make it worse, while money doesn’t make it any better.

      I’d rather be starving and happy than miserable and rich.

      1. fposte*

        However, I think most people aren’t comfortable with starving their kids in a similar scenario. If your paycheck is feeding and housing people who can’t work their own jobs, it really does make a difference to how you feel about losing that income even temporarily.

        1. Samie*

          That’s true, and I’m young enough to have the luxury of being able to worry about only myself when it comes to a paycheck, if I had kids, it would be a different story.

  7. jennie*

    As a recruiter I’d love to say I’d welcome the feedback, but one time I did get negative feedback and it made me defensive. The complaints were about processes I had no control over – basically that the assessment and interview were too long and arduous (2 hours total) and professionals shouldn’t be subjected to them.

    I disagree, but even if I agreed I couldn’t have done anything about it because we follow the same process for each applicant and have audit requirements for our processes. Also, I knew for a fact the feedback-giver had exaggerated the timelines they were subjected to so that’s probably what bothered me most.

    As AAM noted above, candidate expectations aren’t always alligned with HR practices, so if the candidate strongly or rudely objects to following process, it may indicate how they’d behave in the workplace.

    I still like to think I would welcome honest feedback on the recruiting process, even if it was negative, especially now that I AM in a position to change processes that aren’t working. But I agree it is probably not in the candidate’s best interest to complain unless they have a personal relationship with someone at the company.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      They had a problem with 2 hours? It’s hard for me to imagine being ready to hire someone with less than 2 hours of contact. That’s crazy.

  8. FrauTech*

    I think this is more indicative of organizational problems rather than hiring procedures or problems with HR. The HR person is probably dealing with a bunch of different managers who don’t get along and want different things and keeps getting forwarded sketchy and lacking information from some of them and trying to play middle man to them all. He did give you an opportunity to see if the attitude of the place bothered you or slowed you at all and it sounds like it did. Sounds like you did not project confidence and an understanding of why you were perfect for the position and how you could help the business. I kind of hate all that marketing bs but it sounds like whatever your career is you were expected to do that (Ask a Headhunter is ALWAYS making this argument clear about how/why you need to SELL YOURSELF).

    I also agree with Wilton (and thanks to Andy Lester for the interesting link) that there’s too much emphasis in this society on our own opinions and our own feedback. That HR guy probably knows his hiring system is messed up. He doesn’t need to hear that from you. He doesn’t have control over it likely (or no one person who wants to see it improved does) or it wouldn’t be that way. I can’t get over how many people I work with who want to write letters to the executives about how “bad” things have gotten on the ground level, as if they don’t know and as if they are all selfless angels who will swoop in and make things better. Sometimes your manager is awesome like AAM but more often he’s probably a jerk who’s just doing his job and doesn’t give a rat’s ass about your opinion or how uncomfortable it is for you at the lower levels. Once the economy picks up I suspect we’ll see a lot of people jumping ship at a lot of places.

  9. De Minimis*

    For me it’s a catch-22 situation–the hiring processes I’ve been a part of that could have used my feedback were of course the ones that did not seek it.

  10. Bohdan Rohbock*

    Giving unsought advice is for your own benefit, not the benefit of person you’re advising. If they haven’t asked for it, in some way, they won’t be ready to make use of it.

    1. Kathy*

      No one replied to this comment, but I think this is the most salient point made on this subject yet. It’s totally true – someone who doesn’t ask for feedback is not ready to or interested in hearing it. No matter how awesome and true the feedback is….it will fall on deaf ears.

        1. Kathy*

          Andy – that’s good! I personally have struggled with giving unsolicited advice — particularly to my younger brother who makes mistake after mistake. I kept trying to interject my opinions and it just made a huge mess. I had to hurt some people before I realized what I was doing. After he went through some treatment, my brother told me one thing he learned in his sessions was to ask someone, “May I give you some advice?” If they say no, then shut your trap. But if they say yes, proceed. Just don’t assume they want your input. It was pretty convicting for me.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I don’t know that that’s true across the board. I can think of a lot of people, myself included, who are very open to feedback even when it hasn’t been specifically requested, and I would hate it if someone didn’t give me useful feedback simply because I hadn’t asked for it. And of course, I can think of a lot of people who are incredibly defensive and not open at all. I think it’s a case of “know your audience.”

      1. Kathy*

        Boo. Way to be all smart and objective, AAM. :) :) :) Of course you have good points. Just goes to show that very little is black and white when dealing with people!

  11. Anonymous*

    As a professional seeking any type of work to make ends meet, I applied at Starbucks for a part-time counter position. I was required to fill out a lengthy application (no resumes, please) and then take an online 1 hour personality profile test. This was just during the application process. IMO, this was a rather over the top before a candidate has even been vetted. For my 2+ hour time investment for a PART TIME position, I didn’t even get the courtesy of a generic “thanks but no thanks” letter or email.

    1. Anonymous*

      That IS them vetting you. Many employers, especially high volume ones, put the automated processes up front so they don’t have to waste valuable time talking personally to candidates who aren’t qualified. It may seem cold, but it is much more efficient.

  12. Helen*

    The good thing about going via a specialist recruiter (which is the usual thing in my industry) is that you can feed back to them instead.

    A friend of mine recently had what the company she was interviewing with styled a ‘deliberately hostile interview’, which sounds a bit like what the OP had. Apparently she aced it, since she received an offer and feedback from the interviewer that they really liked her and looked forward to having her on the team. However, *she* had formed the opinion that HR and her prospective colleagues were rude, abrasive, obnoxious and, fromthe number of questions they repeated or tried to ask in different ways, either rather dense or suffering from short-term memory loss. So she declined and told the recruiter why.

    1. Long Time Admin*

      Helen, your friend was wise to reject the job offer. I used to pride myself on being able to work with/for just about any personality type. I took a job with a woman the HR guy told me was “difficult”. I was sure I could work for her, but within 3 days I knew this woman was crazy. After that, I decided to never knowingly subject myself to an environment that had people like that in authority. I’ve never regretted that decision.

  13. Andy Lester*

    All of this discussion of unsolicited advice reminds me of what Miss Manners has to say on the topic:

    It is rude to call people’s attention to their shortcomings, no matter how much you have their welfare at heart. It is rude to assume that anyone other than minors in your custody is less capable than you are of making minor and major decisions about how to live.

    I suggest this holds true if you change “how to live” to “how to run their business”.

    1. Jamie*

      Brilliant advice – and not just because it makes me squee with happiness to see a Miss Manners reference.

      I would argue extending it beyond minors in your custody to include kids of college age still living at home if mom and dad are paying tuition…but that’s an irrelevant point :).

  14. Anonymous*

    If you are working with a recruiter, I say that depending on the situation, it’s in the best interest of both parties to hear feedback. I personally think constructive criticism can only help improve certain situation. I recently wrote an e-mail to a recruiter that was helping a major company find new talent. Unfortunately there wasn’t any clear objectives on what the position was about.

    To the original poster, just chalk it up to a bad experience, use it to your advantage the next time around & trust your gut whenever you encounter situations like this.

    Something must be in the water, because I also had a “weird” phone interview – long silences, calling me late and then asking if it was a good time to call. I believe the person never read my resume because the feedback that I was given was that I didn’t have “strategy” experience. The strategy part was a part of my former job title. Go figure.. Keep searching is all you can do and then the right job will come along!

  15. Bala*

    I will like share my experience with a company called Transaltus.
    Someone named saravana kumar called and scheduled for the interview for a role in SAP BODS,the first interview was telephonic and taken by two persons mr.kumar and his colleague.
    The interviewer was very rude,it seemed below standard and i felt like teaching them some manners.No work ethics!!
    friends ,please avoid that company.

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