is a really fast interview invitation a danger sign?

A reader writes:

I’m wondering about really quick interview invitations. I just got one today which was less than 15 minutes (!) from the time I submitted my application. Am I correct in being put off? I’m increasingly desperate for work but I have to have standards too.

I answer this question — and four others — over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

Other questions I’m answering there today include:

  • I’ve contacted a company three times and haven’t heard back
  • Employee gave four days notice and wanted to use vacation for part of it
  • Employees who constantly say, “On my old team, we did it this way”
  • Should I give feedback to an unprofessional job candidate?

{ 176 comments… read them below }

    1. Antilles*

      I dunno if there was ever an update, but the entire (mailed!) application just jumped off the page at me as “hoo boy”…
      >The boxed presentation and work samples? Straight in the trash unread – I don’t care about either.
      >Hard copies of letter and resume? I’d read it, but then straight in the trash – I don’t want hard copies of every applicant.
      >The USB drive? Straight in the trash untouched – my IT guy would cut my hands off if he found out I connected a random USB drive from a stranger to our network.

      1. Akcipitrokulo*

        She commented a LOT on the original post iirc … and it’s just that no-one understood that her industry was different..

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          No one’s industry is so different that IT is okay with you plugging in USBs from strangers. Even if the USB came attached to a basket of baby hedgehogs.

            1. Bea*

              We’d have office hedgehogs and a kickass story about how they came to be our office hedgehogs

              “This is Pooh, we got him and his family from some crazy applicant who sent them with their crappy resume and other weird stuff…isn’t he adorable?”

        2. SAS*

          When was the original post?! I’m so curious to understand what sort of job this was for- it seems so outside of any industry norms (including the creative industries I’m familiar with)!

      2. Pollygrammer*

        The USB is a really good point. My entire network has to be shut down once because someone plugged in a USB of unknown origin. And I was cool with it, because we all got to leave four hours early, but it really isn’t a thing you should do.

        1. many bells down*

          My husband said that once, in his office Slack chat, someone posted “Hey I got this email and I clicked the link and I think it’s a virus.”

          Then they posted the link.

          Then three other people clicked it.

          He works with PROGRAMMERS.

        2. JustaTech*

          My FIL once came back from an industry show all excited about this really cool business card he’d gotten from another vendor that was also a tiny USB.
          My husband (his IT guy) nearly had a fit that Dad/Boss might have plugged it into the company’s computers. Watching the idea that it could have a virus or malware on it dawn on my FIL was a sight to behold.

          Don’t do it!

          1. TardyTardis*

            That reminds me of the James Bond film (SKYFALL, maybe) where Q supposedly hooked in a compromised laptop into the entire British Intelligence network. Even my nontech husband was going, ‘Who does that?’

      3. Nay*

        Yeah this…and everything Allison says about gimmicks. I’d write them off as someone who thinks they’re too special to follow basic policies and professional norms. Huge nope.

        1. Traffic_Spiral*

          Yup. that’s a douche that’s going to be too special to work well with others and not steal their lunches.

      4. Cedrus Libani*

        Yeah, there are better ways to do that. I’m in a field where being able to show off things I made is useful, so I have a (very simple) portfolio available online. There’s a link on my resume, but that’s as far as I push it.

        And if I plugged in some random USB drive that someone mailed in, IT would have me hung up by my toes in front of the parking garage. Just no.

        1. Jadelyn*

          This, so much. Our IT would flay me alive, and rightfully so. That’s an appalling security risk.

        2. EditorInChief*

          At my last company, a big media company that experienced a number of incidents where we were sent packages/envelopes with unidentified powder, Designer’s package would have come to the recipient already opened and inspected by the mailroom, and most likely with the USB confiscated by IT. And as someone who hires creatives if I have to input your resume or try to share a physical object when an online portfolio would suffice, I would pass you up. You’re already showing yourself to be high maintenance when I have 20 other people who made my life easier by sending me links to their work that I can share and forward.

          1. Akcipitrokulo*

            I think everyone would live to have the next world’s most talented X…

            but would prefer a really pretty good X who can play nicely with others.

      5. ChaufferMeChaufferYou*

        Yes, I came here specifically to comment on the USB drive. If the company’s infosec team is any good, they’ve already trained employees never to plug in an unknown USB stick. If the employees care about their jobs and infosec, they will remember their training and either throw the stick in the trash or pass it along to IT to review (and IT will either review when they have time [read:never] or throw it in the trash).

        1. SusanIvanova*

          I worked at a tech company. At one meeting of managers, they were all given a USB flash drive that would, on plugin, detect your OS and then start acting like a USB input device to select your browser and type an URL.

          My team discovered this by connecting it to a virtual machine on a non-networked physical machine, with all the security checks possible, because writing tools to detect malicious devices was part of our jobs. It turned out the URL itself was some internal site that some non-techy part of the company thought all managers should know about – some kind of “here are tools to make managing easier!” sort of thing.

          I never heard if there was any fallout from it, but I’d hope so.

    2. WellRed*

      I remember this letter and a dusty corner of my mind thinks the OP responded in comments, but argued her point in favor of the box. Or, I could be thinking of something else entirely.

        1. Artemesia*

          Well the proof of her argument would be they contacted her and interviewed at least. She is being ignored and still arguing? It will be along winter. The physical materials might be appropriate in her industry, but probably not at the application stage. If they want samples etc, they will ask — or one can provide a web link in the cover letter to the portfolio.

          1. Akcipitrokulo*

            Ah… should have put that in inverted comments… that was her feeling.

            I disagree.

            Save the physical stuff to bring with you to the interview your impressive, emailed, application won you!

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              If the job is to send surprise gift baskets to companies, then you can argue they should have been expecting it. (Though the USB would then be even more of a misstep, and perhaps disqualifying.)

              My work eventually takes a physical form, but the norm is to do everything before that–the writing and design phases–by exchanges of data files.

        2. CanuckCat*

          The box was appropriate but the reasoning behind it was less altruistic – the OP admitted it was because she wanted to circumvent HR and have the CEO of the company review her work because she felt HR wouldn’t understand the depth of her skills, which kind of ignores the hiring process entirely.

          1. Jadelyn*

            It also ignores the fact that, like…most HR people who do hiring either make a point of learning as much as they can about the positions they’re hiring for so that they can make good calls in their filtering of applicants, or err on the side of taking a very light hand in filtering things because they know what they don’t know.

            Like, I was assigned to support a department manager in recruiting for some commercial loan officer/underwriter positions. I know not a single damn thing about commercial lending. So I read the job descriptions through several times, asked questions about things I was unsure of, did some reading on commercial lending in general, and when talking to applicants I was very careful not to pass judgment on the specifics of experience they told me about, because I know that I don’t know enough to judge whether Project A meets the criteria of Experience Type B – so my input was more in terms of culture fit and work history in general (checking for stuff like jumping ship over weird or small things, or seeing if a job-hoppy work history was actually caused by legit reasons) rather than saying “The job description requires experience in B but they only did Project A, so we shouldn’t move them forward.” I knew damn well I didn’t know enough to make that call.

            So this attitude of “HR won’t appreciate my Genius(tm)!” ignores the fact that HR probably already knows that, and isn’t passing judgment on said Genius(tm).

          2. anon today and tomorrow*

            I actually believe that. Based on my experience, HR often has no idea what the job entails beyond the broad strokes in the job description, or send candidates in that are either overqualified, under qualified, or not at all aware of certain things relating to the job that HR should have told them in the screen.

            I think HR is good light screening, but they’ve always been pretty useless in figuring out if someone is the right fit or has the necessary skills. This has been my experience on both sides when hiring or when interviewing.

            1. anon today and tomorrow*

              That being said, the box was still not a good idea, but I can understand being wary of HR not understanding your skills, because it does happen.

          3. Observer*

            The box was not appropriate at all.

            And, regardless of whether HR is any good or not, trying to circumvent HR is rarely a winning strategy. The OP should have realized that the bet was not going to pay off.

            1. CanuckCat*

              Oh I agree. I think I was thinking the box was more appropriate for a designer than say, a lawyer. Still as someone who has occasionally sat in on hiring committees, I can understand why it would go straight in the trash. Especially since even if the head designer or CEO signed off on it, there’s a good chance it got handed straight back to HR, which defeat’s the OP’s gambit.

              1. CM*

                lol, wondering what I would put in a box… redacted contracts, my favorite type of pen, a bullet journal with copies of my favorite privacy laws, and maybe some homemade cookies? Oh, a framed picture of me at my law school graduation, of course.

            2. Specialk9*

              It’s just hysterical that they thought that a CEO would for some reason actually see and decide to read a random mailed homemade box filled with a resume and USB, and what, tell their admin to find the open position and hiring manager and demand they hire Gumption Gus? That’s just a delightfully poor understanding of how things work.

        1. Akcipitrokulo*

          Got it!

          Askamanager site then /2014/11/a-secretary-is-holding-up-my-job-offer-im-worried-how-my-peers-will-take-my-promotion-and-more (dot) html

            1. Jadelyn*

              Yeah…I actually wasn’t as bothered by their attitude in their initial response since they seemed to be accepting Alison’s “let it go, dude” advice – but then, good lord, the argumentative attitude. Anyone who would dare to hint that such an application strategy might be anything less than utter perfection is just being negative, just doesn’t understand, etc. Including saying as much to people IN CREATIVE FIELDS themselves, who had DONE HIRING for those fields. Oy.

          1. Nay*

            Thanks for posting this! Reading all the Designer comments was pretty much what I expected. Poor thing is so out of touch and clearly not looking for feedback that isn’t how amazing they are. Fun to read though.

            1. Washi*

              I hadn’t seen this letter and…yeah. It starts off pretty reasonably but by the time I got to the “it’s like Christmas!” comment I was cracking up.

              1. Akcipitrokulo*

                Yeah… my christmas pressies don’t usually get confiscated and destroyed by IT :)

                She was so enthusiastic… it was a shame.

          2. Specialk9*

            This is a gem. “This presentation was flawless. Anyone would think it was made by a robot! Not one imperfection on the packaging I made by hand. It’s very classy if I do say so myself. I have no issue with competing with “out of the box” people. I guess when you know, you know. (not to sound big headed!)”

            And Alison’s awesome answer:
            “The reason you’re getting so much push-back is because you don’t seem to be listening to anyone who isn’t telling you what you want to hear.

            Sorry you find it negative. I find it pretty damn life-affirming to understand how stuff works so that people can make decisions that will get them the best outcomes.”

            Love it.

    3. Myrin*

      That’s the letter that introduced me to AAM!
      The OP was active in the comments, which had the same tenor is the original message, but there was another comment from much later which was much more prudent and down-to-earth (although I’m not sure if I believe it’s the same person because she used another name and the writing seemed quite different to me but then again, time can change all manner of things).

    4. Foreign Octopus*

      I think I physically flinched when she wrote about the handmade box – Alison has trained me to react like that now so yay, I think?

      I hope she got a job in the end and realised that a good resume and cover letter is all she needed.

      1. Robbie*

        Near the very bottom the OP writes that they were contacted by the company and had a phone conversation/interview with them, but that was the last of it. So I guess it kinda worked? But it truly doesn’t feel like the OP ever got the point that industry norms are a thing, and that it would more often than not be a red flag to be so “out of the box”.

        1. Antilles*

          FYI, for anyone following, her very final updates (pretty much right at the bottom of the page) were answered as “OP1”.

          1. SoCalHR*

            oh man, reading through the updates exhausted me. But it sounds like some wisdom was imparted to the OP, at least a little.

            “I’ve learnt a vast amount about the company, perhaps too much and I’ve become attached and obsessed because it *looks* ideal on paper.”

            1. Detective Amy Santiago*

              Wooooooow I am about halfway through the comments and am super impressed by the patience displayed by Alison and the commenters.

          2. Trout 'Waver*

            Ugh. The updates by OP1 bear no resemblance to any sane hiring process. If grandstanding, being a nuisance, and ignoring convention are viable strategies for influencing the CEO to personally get involved in a hiring decision, opt me the duck out.

            1. Akcipitrokulo*

              In a small company I can see someone saying “gonnae gie the wean a ring so she stops calling us?”

              (I heard it in my accent in head :) )

              Her tactics might have worked! But if they did… I don’t see it as being a happy place to work.

            2. BRR*

              That’s a good takeaway, this hiring process is a mess. “Call the CEO.” “Email both directors and explain your living situation.” No wonder the past two previous employees each left within a year.

              1. Trout 'Waver*

                Well, there’s another possible explanation, but it’s one that this site’s commenting policies ask us not to engage in.

    5. Jadelyn*

      I haven’t even finished reading it, but I got as far as “handmade boxed presentation” and I’m already cringing. Someone got bit by the Gumption Bug, hard.

      1. Snark*

        With a USB drive most IT departments would sooner light on fire than have you plug it into your computer. Gdah.

        1. Jadelyn*

          Ooh, yeah. Plugging in a completely unknown USB received by mail is like…public-beheading-levels of Not Okay. I don’t even want to think about the Talk I’d be getting from IT if I did that.

        2. Detective Amy Santiago*

          I’ve already know from a even younger age that I’m “different”, like I don’t even belong in this world. Perhaps I should listen to all these experts, and care less, apply to more places and forget about my dreams.

          Good day.

          Oh my.

          1. Turtle Candle*

            I feel like they’re missing that “lives on Planet Earth” is an unspoken qualification for most jobs….

          2. Jennifer Thneed*

            That’s even better than the literal “sorry/not sorry” that I replied to sometime this week.

      2. Mommy MD*

        And these days anything arriving unexpectedly to a company from a stranger in a box? No. Stupid.

      3. samiratou*

        I started cringing at “takes a little more than just emailing over a resume and cover letter” and by the end I’d cringed myself under my desk.

  1. Lil Fidget*

    I would say that being offered a position really fast is a red flag – one fifteen minute interview and you’re hired would definitely give me pause – but just being called in? Nah.

    1. Augusta Sugarbean*

      Yeah, I’m trying to think what the OP would have found off-putting about that, let alone off-putting enough to write the company off *and* write a letter about. Maybe the OP thinks the company isn’t being selective in who they interview? I mean that’s not inherently bad – better to consider a wide range of candidates rather than too narrow a range.

      1. Antilles*

        I’d guess that OP hasn’t been on ‘hiring side of the desk’ before and was worried that the reason might indicate some major issues. They responded so quickly because they have crazy high turnover and need warm bodies or because they’re hugely understaffed and so any sign of interest is “yes, please yes” or because their PM’s have no actual work to do so they can respond instantaneously because it’s the only email they get all day.
        And for the record, it’s entirely possible that the fast response COULD be an indication of any of these issues…but there are plenty of other innocent explanations so it shouldn’t be assumed to mean anything.

        1. Observer*

          Probably the least probable reason, but I wondered if it’s just possible that their ATS actually is working properly and not screening people out for stupidities.

    2. Pollygrammer*

      I submitted an application on a Monday. The hiring manager called me during the workday on Tuesday and wanted a phone interview on the spot. She was audibly annoyed when I asked to postpone for a few hours. She then asked during the phone screen what time that Thursday I was going to be able to come in for an interview.

      I’m not sure why, but I had this funny feeling she was going to be kind of demanding as a boss…

      1. rldk*

        Oof, yeah, that is telling you a LOT about how life on the job will be! Always nice when it comes out early before you’ve invested much time into it, though

      2. Trout 'Waver*

        I’ve tried to push some candidates through quickly because I knew there was potential for an impending hiring freeze. It’s not necessarily a sign the manager will be demanding by itself.

        I would never demand an on-the-spot phone interview though. I always schedule those in advance.

    3. Akcipitrokulo*

      But sometimes…

      We’d been looking for a while. Applicant had strong CV, demonstrable experience, had been through screening… in interview answered technical questions competently and seemed to be a really good fit. Last bit of interview was “so this is what we do… what would you do..?” and spitballing about approaches to upcoming projects.

      We saw them out. Manager turned to me. I said “Yes.” He nodded.

      Over a year later and it was definitely a good choice!

      So seemed quick… but we had evidence they had at least the basic requiements, and knew by that point (and other interviews) what we wanted.

    4. Artemesia*

      I would suspect that it is one of those scam jobs where everyone is invited to come in and sell knives, or insurance etc with the goal to fish out their family pond and alienate everyone they know on behalf of the company before they wash out. If it is a real job with a real company then maybe it is a stroke of luck, but I’d be thinking MLM, or knife sales or some other scammy ‘opportunity’.

      1. Lil Fidget*

        Oh, I didn’t think of that possibility. Certainly if you get the sense that it’s an auto-reply email that invites all applicants, for example, that would be an issue. But I also feel like if it was truly a scam, this probably wouldn’t be the first or biggest red flag.

    5. cyanste*

      I think it depends on the industry. I did a short stint in consulting, and it was literally one 30 minute interview and BAM I was approved by the client. Definitely my fastest position offer yet. :)

    6. DouDouPaille*

      Actually, I’ve seen quick hiring happen not infrequently in retail and food service. They often have REALLY high turnover, so they’re prone to hiring people on the spot who look and sound reasonably competent, out of desperation to have bodies in the store.

    7. La Coffee Cup*

      I’d definitely agree. I was offered a job on the spot for my previous company and was so flattered and overjoyed. (I had been in the forth month of joblessness). After I joined I realised to my horror that it was a high stress work place, where people were routinely yelled at the boss and had to constantly come back over the weekend to work. They expected me to take up a management role but had no time to train me on how to do so (I was honest about my total lack of management experience during the interview). The whole office basically ignored me for a full month, while everybody had no time to so much as tell me where the files were. I quit after my third anxiety filled month. I think somebody who had management experience and better self confidence might have aced the job, but it wasn’t for me.
      Now a days, I fully realised that an immediate hire implies a high turnover and desperation. Not a good sign.

    8. Developer Dodo*

      I suppose it depends a bit on the industry.
      As I read it, it wasn’t a 15 minute interview, but an invitation for one 15 minutes after applying.

      I work in IT (as a software developer), and it’s not unusual to be invited for an interview within 15 minutes of showing interest. (it would be unusual if you had to wait a day).

  2. AK*

    I’ve never thought to be concerned about getting a reply quickly- our HR team has always been really proud of how quickly they get back to applicants, it’s not unusual for people to get a request for a phone screen within an hour or two of an application. Their claims have always been that it’s a positive experience for applicants to get updates on the process quickly so that even if it doesn’t work out for the position they applied for, they might still have positive interactions and look for positions with us in the future.

    1. Anon today*

      Yep. Either it means HR is very efficient at screening applications or really terrible and basically doesn’t screen. There is no way to tell until the interview.

  3. Pollygrammer*

    #3–I hope somebody clued this employee in that the way she behaved is a really great way to wreck your professional reputation. No company, no matter how “desperate,” should want to hire somebody so willing to screw an employer over like that.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Yeah. The other company is desperate? If she goes to work for them she won’t have time off for months? None of that is her current employer’s problem.

      Lots of people build themselves in a week between jobs to recharge and catch up on business hours errands–she could have told them 3 weeks for a start date, given 2 weeks notice at old job, and had that week off. Or she could figure that this job had to start in one week or they’d call their next choice applicant and offer it to them, and it was worth both annoying her present employer and no down time to land it.

    2. Bea*

      My company wanted me ASAP but also knew I needed to give appropriate notice. They were willing to go without an accountant while they waited for my notice period. Prior I took a job that was vacant for six months. Bills got paid and checks cashed. Nothing else.

      Yeah. No company is that desperate and if they are…they’re terrible. Very bad. No. Good. I’ve hopped in on immediate starts for part time gigs and each one I quit because they couldn’t handle the bare basics without someone in my role. Their turnover was astronomical.

  4. Anon Today Anon Tomorrow*

    A presentation box? That would put me off. The few creative roles that I’ve been involved with hiring, almost all of the best candidates had a website with their portfolio for review. The few that didn’t, if they seemed great, we’d ask them for samples of their work. If I received a presentation box of this nature, I’d assume that the applicant was desperate.

    1. AK*

      Yeah unless you’re applying for a job handmaking small boxes, I don’t see how this would go over well with most hiring teams. Even the creative ones.

    2. Rosemary7391*

      And it must’ve cost loads to put together and mail. With a USB that’ll never see a computer if they’re security conscious.

      1. Anon Today Anon Tomorrow*

        Granted, I don’t know when the letter was written, but a usb drive is older tech anyway. Which would raise other red flags for me.

          1. Anon Today Anon Tomorrow*

            I never use a usb for anything anymore. Everything is in the cloud. For a digital portfolio of some kind I would expect it to be available online. I’d need a very good reason why I’d be provided with a usb and not a link.

            1. Rosemary7391*

              Of course – but sometimes a USB is the better tool. It’s not really a replacement so much as different.

              1. Antilles*

                Yeah, this.
                I don’t think USBs are totally outdated any more as much as they now have a *very* specific niche use – to transfer files that are too big or too numerous to be quickly or efficiently moved via the cloud.
                It no longer makes sense to use them for transferring a few Word documents or other small stuff (like people would back in the late 2000’s)…but when it comes to transferring a LOT of data all at once, the cloud is just a lot more hassle.

            2. Jesmlet*

              Because OP thought it was a good idea to mail in her info and a USB mailed is more convenient than a written out link? No one’s arguing that it’s good to mail a USB, but it’s hardly outdated.

              1. Anon Today Anon Tomorrow*

                I never see a usb used anymore. Unless the files are massive, and it’s impractical for download those files. It’s not that they aren’t used, but I do think that the way that they were used for years has been replaced by the cloud.

                And the OP in this case, put her resume, cover letter, and samples on a usb. To me that is outdated.

                1. Jesmlet*

                  I have to scan so many documents that the USB is definitely a frequent part of my day. There are probably more high-tech printer/scanners but they’re definitely not ubiquitous yet. OP was certainly misguided in her approach but if you’re bound and determined to mail something in (ignoring obvious security issues with a rando USB), that’s still probably the more practical option for getting them a digital copy since OP clearly was dead set against emailing like a normal person.

            3. Jennifer Thneed*

              I’ve been bitten before by not being able to connect to where ever a file was stored. I save things to clouds, yes, but I also have a usb drive that lives in a pocket of my backpack. (I recognize that I won’t be able to plug it in lots of places, but I’ve *got* it. It weighs so little and is decorated with my partner’s art. And it holds my files.)

        1. Akcipitrokulo*

          It was current tech at the time. But no IT department worth its salt would let anyone actually plug it into their PC.

    3. Indoor Cat*

      I honestly don’t understand why people think not following directions (if the directions were to email an application and cover letter) would make you stand out in a good way.

      By all means, be creative, but by creating an outstanding portfolio or writing an interesting cover letter. Not by refusing to follow directions.

      1. Jesmlet*

        I think from OP’s comments on the original post were that there weren’t any directions. But even in that case, you should definitely default to sending something in the standard way.

    4. La Coffee Cup*

      I agree. From what I can gather from OP’s comments and posts, his or her dream company is likely a famous one. They would likely have a solid HR process in place to deal with an influx of interested applicants (e.g. filing the applications, filtering the resume by key words…etc). I bet the HR person would have been annoyed at getting the unique application which they then would have to retype electronically again
      The USB might have not helped. I am in a company right now that has the entire office’s USB system disabled (save for a few selected computers) because of bad incidents in the past.
      If I was from HR, saw the application, and there were 50 more in the inbox, I just MIGHT nudge it earlier into the NO pile.

  5. Erin*

    I’ve heard back the same day, though never within the hour. I would just assume that LW 1’s application landed at EXACTLY the right time.

    Is LW 4 managing Phoebe from The Magic School Bus?

    1. Canadian Public Servant*

      Tuesday I literally contacted someone to schedule an interview within 10 minutes of their application hitting my inbox. I had just scheduled interviews for my top three candidates when his email arrived, and upon opening it I could see he was just as strong on paper. Didn’t even have to re-copy the message with proposed interview slots when I hit reply! He was actually the first person to respond to my request, as well.

      I am sure there are ways it could be a red flag (scams, in particular). But sometimes the timing is just good.

  6. BRR*

    I agree that the most common reason for saying this is how we used to do thinggs is people like the familiar, but I previously had a colleague who would say “At X we made tea pots this way” as a way of asking, “how do we make teapots here?” Wow did that rub everyone the wrong way.

    1. La Coffee Cup*

      Had a colleague who loved to say “In the UK we would have ABC law in place!”. While his input was valid, it was not helpful because our project was in China, where an entirely different set of laws apply.

  7. Anon today*

    #2 seems way too invested in a company that they haven’t even talked to yet. It seems similar to someone reading an online dating profile and deciding they are soulmates. You really only have enough information to determine if there is potential.

  8. loslothluin*

    Re: OP 1, my boss’s daughter had an interview (coding test) last Thursday. In 30 minutes, she had a contract job offer to start work this past Wednesday two states over. So far, she loves it, buts only been a day and a half.

  9. Akcipitrokulo*

    OP4… reminded of when Col Potter took over from Henry Blake… when he first came into his office…

    Potter: I want that filing cabinet over there over there.

    Radar: Colonel Blake tried it over there, but he found it worked better over there.
    I think you’ll find it works better for you too, sir. Over there, sir.

    Potter: Blake’s gone, son. I’m here. I’ll have it over there.

    Yeah, a bit harsh… but it is the case that new managers do things differently, and that’s OK.

    1. Nanc*

      I loved the Potter/Radar relationship. Blake annoyed me. Radar spend so much time manipulating him so shit got done. Not that he didn’t manipulate Potter, but Potter appreciated Radar’s work whereas Blake . . . Gah!

      1. Anonymosity*

        Yeah, but Henry Blake was funny in his ineptitude. And that episode. You know the one. D:

        “Lieutenant Colonel Henry Blake’s plane…was shot down…over the Sea of Japan. It spun in…there were no survivors.”


        1. Akcipitrokulo*

          Lots of tears. Just reading it in your comment and I can feel a little wetness threatening to come!

          Henry was different to Potter… and definitely not as competent at management (but was good doctor) … but I loved his relationship with Radar. In some ways was showing good management in that he knew ehat his staff could do and delegated appopriately … and trusted them to get on with it :)

          Radar was one of the only ones whose charactrr development stalled/went backwards after Henry.

  10. Burnett*

    Re: LW5…I don’t agree that public social media posts ought to be considered red flags. I’m very skeptical of this trend where someone’s personal social media activity is seen as fair game to evaluate them in a professional setting. Outside of roles where you’re requiring them to use their own social media accounts for company work (which outside of journalism, you really shouldn’t, imo), or something completely beyond the pale like overt bigotry, my opinion as both an employee and an HR rep is that it’s healthy for both sides if you simply don’t monitor that kind of thing.

    In this case, the candidate’s lack of professionalism came out in the interview, which is what the interview is for. Checking social media beforehand does nothing to help that process except maybe give you preconceived notions about candidates that may or may not be true. The LW has no idea what’s going on in that candidate’s life: is she facing foreclosure on a house, struggling to feed her kids, or experiencing other mental and financial hardship due to being unemployed? The only thing the Twitter feed says is that she’s stressed about it.

    People should be allowed their own lives and opinions outside of work. Expecting them to be perfect, professional angels at all times, even when they’re not on the clock (and especially when they don’t even work for you yet!) is weird to me. Venting on Twitter isn’t unprofessional, but evaluating someone’s demeanor and ability to do a job based on their Twitter feed certainly might be.

    1. Akcipitrokulo*

      Agreed… my company specifically prohibits looking applicants up on social media (linkedin excepted) for exactly those reasons.

      1. Burnett*

        Yeah, LinkedIn I’m okay with, since it’s specifically a professional networking site. But someone’s personal Twitter or Facebook isn’t intended for you (the general you, not you specifically) as an employer. And that’s okay! Not every part of your employees/prospective employees lives are about you, nor should they be.

        1. Amber T*

          I’m realizing after I wrote this that this is semi off topic to the original post, but – there are times where what an employees posts could legally (as in, with the government) get the company in trouble. So while I 100% don’t care if someone posts they would rather be in their pajamas watching sports (because really, I’d rather be in my pajamas watching something too), there are certain times where what you put on Facebook/Twitter/other social media can be your company’s business.

          OP – I wonder if you had *not* googled her beforehand, if you would have seen all the unprofessionalism she showed? Given her quote, probably, but it still probably tainted your perception of her. What would have been your reaction if she came in professional and interviewed well? (I still agree with the above – that you shouldn’t take her Twitter/social media into consideration.)

          1. Akcipitrokulo*

            If someone’s posting Britain First posts or something, I don’t see how that would fail to come out at some point in the process… but in any event, if it’s something for which they’re prosecuted, you can take appropriate measures. Otherwise, it’s private and shouldn’t have an impact (outside of very specific roles that involve social media).

            1. Amber T*

              It’s more of if they’re using their Facebook/Twitter/personal social media to benefit the business in an illegal way that could get the company in trouble. Something like how Elon Musk used his Twitter to announce he “secured funding” for the privatization of Tesla, and now Tesla is being subpoenaed by the SEC. If a junior employee of a lesser known company announced the same thing, there could still be a big headache for the company.

          2. Burnett*

            This is why I put in the caveats of jobs wherein your personal social media is expected to be used for company work, and things like overt bigotry and harassment. Neither was the case here – it seems as though the candidate was just expressing her frustration about not landing a job too much for OP’s taste.

            I also think those caveat instances are fairly few and far between. If a candidate likes to yell at their elected officials on Twitter, or calls their local team’s quarterback a bum on Monday mornings on Facebook, I don’t see what that has to do with their work…like at all.

        2. Antilles*

          Agreed. LinkedIn is different because it’s specifically intended for professional networking, so I don’t think it’s out of bounds for checking in the same way as Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/etc are…though my opinion is that it’s not particularly useful as an interviewer:
          For time reasons, I’m not going to check candidates’ LinkedIn pages until after I’ve already narrowed my list down pretty tightly, so it’s not helping you in the early stages. And *by definition* anything you put on LinkedIn but not your resume isn’t likely to be too important – if it mattered, you’d have already put it in your resume!

    2. rldk*

      Part of the question is how easily do your personal social media accounts come up on a simple search? If you have a unique name (like me) or are otherwise fill the early results with your accounts, it’s not like employers have to go out of their way to find them. Given how much liability a company can take on if your conduct happens to affect business, I don’t think it’s particularly invasive to do a cursory search of a candidate’s name.

      1. Akcipitrokulo*

        So you look at facebook and find out, for example, that they are active in a trade union? You have just laid foundation for a discrimination case (in UK law).

        It’s legally not worth the exposure, and I agree with my company it’s ethically not ok either.

      2. Burnett*

        This assumes that reading any person’s social media gives you a good indication of how likely they are to put your company in legal jeopardy. I would say it’s a pretty terrible one, myself. And it also opens you up to discrimination allegations if you’re not careful. Read someone’s Twitter feed and find out they’re pro-union, pregnant, or a member of the LBGT community and then refuse to hire them? Yikes.

        It’s just not worth the hassle for what very little information you usually glean from it.

    3. Jesmlet*

      Agree and disagree. I believe you should never look up social media before meeting them in person. But especially if they’re in a client facing role, their social media needs to be checked.

      1. Burnett*

        Nah. What someone posts on their personal social media won’t matter to the job they’re doing 99% of the time, regardless of how much client interaction they have. Separation should and does exist between personal and professional roles in people’s lives, and it ought to stay that way.

        1. Jesmlet*

          If a client looks up who they’re dealing with, I wouldn’t want them to find anything offensive. It should be checked for anything extreme because it could reflect badly on the company in the future. I’m not saying refuse to hire someone who posts their frustrations or pictures of them drinking, but there’s a line for what’s appropriate and what isn’t and it’s neglectful to not make sure someone hasn’t crossed that line in a public forum.

    4. MassMatt*

      I completely disagree. It is understandable that an employer would want to find out public info about a candidate, really it seems naive not to. Applicants need to understand that their online persona can be visible, and either keep it professional or take steps to keep things private. Too many people seem blithely unaware that they are spewing tons of material onto the internet that reflects badly on them, and that it is difficult if not impossible for it to be erased.

    5. HRM*

      As an HR Manager who frequently hires, I totally agree with you. I have never and will never look up a candidate’s FB or Insta before I hire. I’m careful about what I put on social media and who I add, etc. because I know other companies do it, but I think it’s a huge violation of privacy and refuse to perpetuate it myself.

      1. MassMatt*

        To me this is almost like someone wearing a sandwich board sign saying “the end is nigh” and reacting with indignation when an employer reads it. “What! That’s PRIVATE! Meant for my several hundred close friends and family, and everyone on the subway! How dare you violate my privacy!?” People have a strange sense of privacy when they post things in a public forum and expect them to remain private.

  11. Red Lines with Wine*

    #5 – I have an acquaintance who was job searching recently and wrote several times on his public LinkedIn profile about how hard it was to find a job. One of his rants was along the lines of: “How do you land a full time permanent job? There seems to be a code that I haven’t cracked. How do I get the secret decoder ring?”

    It just seems like whining to me.

    1. Akcipitrokulo*

      It’s also nit great on linkedin as you’re basically advertising “no-one wants me!”

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Right? It’s like the poor OP whose mom wanted to write a letter to the editor about her daughter’s poor crushed dreams, which would cause someone to offer the daughter a great job.

    2. Queen of the File*

      This seems similar to the dating world when people put things like “women don’t want nice guys I guess since I’m still single after being on here for months” on their profiles. It’s a warning flag for sure.

    3. Delphine*

      It shouldn’t be on LinkedIn (have people started using that like any other social media site?), but otherwise there’s nothing particularly objectionable about that type of venting. Finding a job can be difficult. People get frustrated. For the most part, those types of posts wouldn’t be something I’d take into consideration when hiring someone.

      1. CM*

        Venting to your family and friends is fine.
        Venting on social media that’s limited to a group of people you know is probably fine.
        Venting publicly where a potential employer is likely to see it shows a lack of judgment.
        Venting on a job searching site about how nobody will hire you shows an astounding lack of judgment.

      2. Akcipitrokulo*

        Agreed. On your personal social media… none of their business. But linkedin is meant to be used for business purposes and is setting up your stall for prospective employers. So “the last X people I spoke to said they weren’t interested…” says to a lot of interviewers “oh good, the last X people have done the legwork of sorting them out for me, don’t need to waste time interviewing.”

  12. Goya de la Mancha*

    I was just on an interview panel earlier this week. Our first candidate (and one of our top picks) was less than 15 minutes. There just wasn’t a whole lot of chit-chat and they were succinct with their answers. Almost every question each of us (panel and interviewee) had was answered during other questions.

    I have had my own interviews that have been short and I never felt like it was a good thing. So I think it’s situational.

    1. Mommy MD*

      It wasn’t the interview length if I’m reading correctly. It was how fast they contacted her after application was sent.

      1. Akcipitrokulo*

        Which xan easily happen if it’s “let’s screen everyone with reasonable application that ticks these boxes”.

  13. Bea*

    I always get interview requests quickly, most places are looking to hire ASAP for the roles I fill. So they’re not dillydallying when they are filling the spot. So that’s not a flag to me but I’m assuming is dependent on industry and position. I know a lot of folks are used to multiple interviews and hoops, I’m not.

    I’m pissed someone gives 4 days notice and has the stones to expect their time off not to be changed. Hell no. She strained the bridge without short notice, the tantrum would be scorched. I would have ended the employment effective immediately in that case.

  14. Mommy MD*

    Homemade box with resume = straight into the trash for me. No to gimmicks. Just stand on your laurels not ridiculous presentations.

  15. Jaydee*

    Fifteen minutes between clicking “submit” and the call or email to schedule an interview is really fast! But there could be good reasons for it like the ones Alison outlined.

    I would say it’s an orangeish flag. I’m not going to turn down the interview, but I’m going to be looking for other signs that they might be desperate or impulsive or that their culture involves being really rushed in a bad way.

    Being in a hurry to fill the spot is not inherently a bad thing. There might be some deadline coming up or a busy season and they want the new person to have enough time to learn stuff related to that. If they seem to be asking the right questions (and responding to yours) to make sure it’s a good fit, it doesn’t NEED to take months to screen applications or do multiple rounds of interviews to make a hiring decision.

  16. Jesmlet*

    If I review applications once a day or every other day for a particular position, I don’t see a legitimate reason to wait a while if one just came in to contact them. Also, depending on what ATS or applying method you use, there might not be a time stamp beyond the date of submission so they may just be reviewing the batch for that day and calling who seems to meet the requirements. I don’t think it indicates any sort of internal dysfunction, it’s more just a matter of timing.

  17. E. Jennings*

    OP #1, oh, gosh, no, it is not! I am hiring for a crucial open position on my team (the person who left was the only person in that role, and while others are doing their best to cover, it’s an immediate need for us) and so I’m doing a rolling process — if I see an application I like, I try to get on the phone ASAP to get that person to the next stage of our multistep process. I go through applications a couple of times a day, so it’s not out of the question that one would come in while I’m reviewing.

    (A cold call within 15 minutes expecting a phone interview on the spot would put me off a bit, because I like to give people a heads up so they can find a space to talk, compose themselves, etc. So it’s more likely you’d get a note saying “Hi — I’m the Teapot Spout Support Supervisor, and I’m hiring for the Holiday Teapot Spout Support Specialist job you applied for. I’m interested in talking to you more about the role and moving you forward in our application process. Do you have 30 minutes or so later today or first thing tomorrow?” than a cold call. But I’m also a millennial who hates cold-calling :) )

    1. Jennifer Thneed*

      It’s not about your generation: it’s incredibly rude to expect someone who answers their phone to be ready for a long important phone call with no previous notice. At the very least, the caller should start by asking if this is a good time to talk, but even that is less-than-good, because most people will not feel able to say No.

      Honestly, if someone did that to me, it would be a red mark against the company when I’m evaluating them as a potential employer. And the way you do it? That would impress me and suggest that the company (and its employees) have reasonable expectations of other human beings. (I wish you were hiring but I have no spout-making background.)

  18. A username for this site*

    LW 2: Let’s rephrase this:

    I [asked out someone] for a [date] that I’m very confident [could be a great relationship]. [This person is] in a creative field, and I believe that [courtship] in this [playing] field takes a little more than just [saying hey, let’s hang out sometime]. My [date request] was sent by post — a handmade boxed presentation containing [flowers, balloons, cookies], [love letter], printed [photos of me], and a USB drive with [a mix playlist.]

    Three weeks after sending the [gift], I emailed [my crush] to ask if the [gift] was received and reiterated my interest in [going on a date.] Two weeks passed with no answer, and I called the [person] and got [their roommate.] After a quick call where [their roommate] didn’t seem to understand what was going on, she said she’d figure out who was dealing with this and pass it on. It’s been three days since that call. Should I call [my crush’s private cell phone number], which I found from extensive research? I honestly think [our possible relationship] is tailored to me, and it’s remarkable how similar [my crush] and I are. Their [Tinder profile is still active]- it’s been eight weeks so far.

    See how crazy this sounds? If you change all the “job” specific actions to “relationship” specific actions, this is a change the locks, deactivate social media, call the police and report a stalker situation.

    No one dates their stalker and no one hires one either. Dial it WAY back.

    1. MassMatt*

      …and if THAT doesn’t work, stand outside their office window holding aloft a boom box blasting 80’s love songs!

  19. MassMatt*

    For the person asking should I tell the applicant she’s unprofessional—in my experience this rarely goes well. I get that you want to help her (though I wonder why you are wanting to go to this extent) but she is likely to get angry. Someone who says during an interview that her goal is to get paid for sitting in their pajamas watching TV is not likely to have the professionalism or maturity to take feedback well. It’s not your responsibility to help someone be a better candidate or person.

  20. Wendy Ann*

    I once applied for a job about 9pm Sunday, woke up Monday about 9am to a voicemail asking me to come in at 10 that morning. Called them back and said I could make it at 11. I got there, met the owner’s wife/office manager who asked me all sorts of inappropriate questions – but I was young and desperate! I agreed to come in Wednesday afternoon/evening to shadow their daughter who was going back to school so I could get a feel for the job.

    The owner called me on the Tuesday (before I’d even been in to shadow!), didn’t even introduce himself and said “so are you taking the job?”.

    Length from interview to me quitting? 10 days. Yes, I needed a job, but that place was just so toxic. I never even filled in any tax forms or anything like that. The only trace that I was even employed there was that they added my name to the staff contact list.

  21. Sue Ellen Mischkey*

    Would have taken the delivered box directly to the trash after taking to my supervisor to discuss how bizarre. Wouldn’t have even taken the USB to IT to see if it were safe. That would have been straight to trash. I would have probably called the recipient and notified them to submit the resume/CV via email (because I’m nice).

    But judging by her/his responses to the original feedback I really think it would have lead to a strange debate. The responses on the original post seemed out of touch with professional norms and combative. It makes me wonder what else would LW be passionate about once hired and feel that their way was better than the instruction given by a supervisor.

  22. Anonymosity*

    Hmm I applied for a job yesterday and later the same day, I got an email requesting a phone interview. I’ve also gotten replies that quickly, within an hour or two. I just figured I caught the recruiter or hiring manager when they were checking emails, or else mine happened to land on top (most recent).

    Like someone said upthread, I’d be more leery of a super-fast offer, especially if they pushed me to accept it fast as well.

    1. WalkedInYourShoes*

      My interview process was slow in the beginning and quick in the end.

      I was introduced to Big Boss 2nd week of July. I followed up last week of July. Then, I had a phone interview the following week. The 2nd phone interview happened 3rd week of Aug. My onsite interview was this past week. 4 hours after meeting with them, I received an email stating that they would like to extend an offer to join them. I scheduled a call next day to go over the verbal offer. Negotiated it for a better package and asked more questions around flex hours, WFH policies, etc. Yesterday, I accepted and signed an amazing offer that I could not turn down. Personally, it was “quick”, but I “knew” that this was the company and role were for me.

      But, I do agree with other readers, if a company or hiring manager is pressuring a candidate to interview and/or accept an offer right away, it’s a red flag. It indicates desperation, reflects his/her management style, and masks other issues. I had encountered one BigBoss that pressured TeaPot Sales candidates to accept offers within an hour. As everyone already knew what the outcome was except BigBoss, the candidates kept turning down the offers.

      So, if it is too good to be true, it most likely is.

  23. Bookworm*

    If a company is shady or you have reasons to believe they aren’t legitimate then sure. But you could be someone they’re looking for, they know you by reputation, etc. I was excited to get an interview via a friend and when I was hired I was under the impression the hiring manager actually felt like she had to wait so she wouldn’t seem too eager to have me.

    I do get the hesitation. But I’d say that unless you have some reason to feel it’s not legitimate from Glassdoor, word of mouth, stuff in the news, etc., then give it a shot! I hope something pops up for you soon! Good luck!

  24. londonedit*

    I’ve had some fairly quick responses to job applications. Often I’ve been applying to smaller companies, which usually don’t have big HR departments or lengthy hiring processes where applications are formally reviewed – you’ll often be emailing the person making the hiring decisions when you send your application. 15 minutes is quick, but I’ve had responses within half an hour or an hour before. I don’t think it’s necessarily a red flag – in my experience it’s just meant that someone’s looked at my CV and cover letter, decided I might fit the bill, and offered me an interview.

  25. Violaine*

    I am absolutely guilty of statements such as “At my last lab, we…” or the like. I try to make it clear, though, that I’m re-writing my brain with new information, as I have an outdated basis for comparison. It does not mean that I am not receptive to change, or that I thought the old ways were better. Most people I’ve worked with have been receptive to that explanation.

Comments are closed.