I wrote this quite a while ago, both to vent my frustrations and also to sincerely urge HR folks and interviewers to improve their practices. I’ve had pleasurable experiences with most of the companies I’ve interviewed with in the past, but there has still often been quite a bit of room for improvement. Also, I figured my rant below might make for a useful counterpoint to the plethora of interviewee-advice pages out there :-D.
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Dear HR folks and interviewers:
Write or call back when you say you will. If you don’t, apologize.
Don’t ask us about our salary history. That’s rude and completely irrelevant. Perhaps we were working for the Peace Corp. Maybe we were wildly underpaid at our last job. Or crazily overpaid. Instead, tell us (at least a range of) how much your position is paying and we’ll let you know if that’s aligned with our expectations.
Make job descriptions descriptive… complete with some day-to-day details. Cut the jargon and market’y crap. When your Craigslist ad contains verbiage about “best of breed solutions” and “every customer is #1” and “we offer GENAROUS [sic] benefits! [ahem, such as?]” we don’t know whether to laugh hysterically or run screaming.
Make the interview day pleasant. Let us know the names and positions of each person we’ll be interviewing with. Don’t have us sitting in a room alone for 45 minutes wondering what’s going on. Maybe even take us out for coffee or lunch with a potential colleague or a group of colleagues if we’re one of the finalists for a particular position.
Consider starting off with at least a brief bit about your background to help establish a friendly rapport. Help us see you as a (real, well-rounded) person we’d like to work with, not an adversary or mere interrogator.
Be respectful of us and our time. Don’t manage your scheduled phone interview call time on a “+/- 20 minute” basis. Don’t be on a speakerphone. Both of those behaviors scream to the candidate “You’re not very important and I really don’t want to be interviewing you.”
Don’t be cheap-ass about reimbursements. Reimburse us (promptly, please) for our transportation from the airport, for crying out loud, and the sandwich we grabbed in the terminal so we wouldn’t be starving when we sat down with you at the office.
Make sure you have our latest resume, not one that you got from the recruiter 6 months ago.
Remember that interviewing is a two way street. You’re not just there for grilling us, you’re there to make us excited about your company and the position we’ve applied for (or you’ve recruited us for!)
Cut it out with the stupid “strengths and weaknesses” questions. Ask us to tell you about a favorite project or least favorite project, talk to former managers about us, anything where you’re bound to get more interesting and less fake commentary (e.g., “My weakness is that I tend to get too into my work and forget to eat lunch sometimes…”)
Do share some of our key answers and info with future interviewers at your firm so we’re not asked the same question 5 times in one day.
If someone at your company is consistently an unpopular or lousy interviewer, don’t have them interview people!
Ask what we like in a job and work environment. Ask what makes us happy. Ask what stresses us out. This is the sort of thing that’ll help determine if your job is a good match for us (and visa versa).
And, for the love of God, if at all possible… please don’t make us fill out an application—by hand!—after we’ve already given you a detailed resume and other documentation with all the same info on it. At least let us type it… please? We’ll all be much happier 😀