Reddit AMA Overflow Q&A

Filed under: Job Search, Q&A

nick-reddit-11Thanks for joining me on today’s Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything)! The questions were great and so were your comments! (But doesn’t anybody want to know what my favorite band of 2013 is??)

For more Ask The Headhunter resources, please check the website and the bookstore. Sign up for the free weekly newsletter — and join us here to whack a mole no matter what the topic is!

If you’ve got more questions, comments, or just want to hash through the topics we discussed, please post them here.

I’ll do my best to reply, and I invite the Ask The Headhunter community to pile on, too — their insights are usually better and more incisive than mine!

: :

 

Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) – It’s ON again!

Filed under: Events, Job Search, PBS NewsHour, Q&A, Uncategorized

nick-reddit-11And now for something completely different…

Join me today, February 11, 2014 for a special Ask The Headhunter Reddit AMA — Ask Me Anything — at 1pm ET.

Here’s the direct link to the AMA: http://redd.it/1xmn3g

I’m doing this in cooperation with my good buddies at PBS NewsHour, where I produce a weekly Ask The Headhunter feature. (If you’re a marketer, don’t miss my weekly column on CMO.com.)

We’ve done “open mic” on the Blog before, where you pound me with any and all questions, and I try to pound my keyboard and tackle them all without passing out. But this is something new — I’ll be answering questions throughout the day, and I hope we’ll attract some new “regulars” to Ask The Headhunter!


If you’re new to Ask The Headhunter, here are three good introductions to what this community is all about:

Ask The Headhunter In A Nutshell: The short course

Ask The Headhunter: Introduction

And a sampling from a recent edition of the Blog: Big HR Data: Why Internet Explorer users aren’t worth hiring


So please pile onto the Reddit AMA – at 1pm ET — Ask me about jobs, recruiting, hiring, stupid HR tricks, what I had for breakfast, where I like to backpack, and what my favorite band is! (Anything!)

: :

What’s up with clueless interviewers?

Filed under: Interviewing, Job Search, Q&A

In the February 11, 2014 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, a reader gets fed up with interviewers who are unprepared:

What about interviewers who haven’t read your resume? An interviewer asked if I have done any programming, when my resume clearly states that I’m a programmer. Sometimes I’m asked if I know this software tool or that one. If I did, I would have listed them on my resume! I can learn new tools quickly, but they don’t want to hear it!

What is up with interviewers who ask questions that are answered clearly on my resume, and who want a perfect match of skills?

Nick’s Reply

cluelessIt means that the interviewer either didn’t read your resume, or is at a loss for what to ask. Just the kind of person I’d love to work for — someone unprepared!

Some managers will argue that they are very busy and don’t have time to review a resume carefully before they meet you. Yet they expect you to be well-prepared for an interview. This is a sign of a lousy manager.

Should an interviewer expect that you listed every relevant fact on your resume? Sorry, no. I can’t assume you listed everything on your resume. Or, I may be initiating a discussion about a specific detail. “Do you know this tool?” might be just another way of asking, “Tell me about your expertise with this tool,” and that is a legitimate question.

The problem of employers dismissing quick learners too readily, however, is a dirty little secret of interviewing in many companies. They aren’t interested in the fact that you can learn almost anything in a few days given some good manuals and a little peace and quiet. They’re interested in hiring someone who can do the job “yesterday.”

The fundamental problem, of course, is that many managers are not good at assessing a job applicant. Other than ticking off buzz words from your “skill set,” they have no idea how to judge whether you can ride a fast learning curve without falling off.

Why do you think there’s such a “shortage” of qualified technical people? It’s mostly nonsense. Anyone can hire an employee who can do one particular task today; that is, a person who has been doing exactly that work at his old job. But it takes a good manager to hire and coach a good employee who can master new tasks that come along.

A good question to ask interviewers is this: “How many of your team members are doing work today that exactly matches the job description they were hired to do originally?”

That will tell you a lot about whether the manager knows how to manage talent rather than just skills.

What all this means is that you, the job applicant, must find subtle ways to take over the interview so you can demonstrate that you’re the profitable hire. This article can help you get started: The Basics: The New Interview.

If you really want to wow the interviewer without resorting to silly tactics recommended by some of the “experts,” try this: “The Single Best Interview Question… And The Best Answer.” Caution: This is a lot of hard work. But, then again, so’s that great job you want, right?

Do interviewers behave like clueless dopes? How do you raise the bar when you interview? And, how do you avoid having your time wasted?

: :

Big HR Data: Why Internet Explorer users aren’t worth hiring

Filed under: Hiring, Job Search, Q&A, Recruiting, Stuff I worry about, Video

In the February 4, 2014 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, we’re catching up on the TV news segment I told you about recently…

Ask The Headhunter Video

This space is normally devoted to Q&A: A “live” problem faced by a reader, and my advice. But two weeks ago, in the January 20 edition, I asked for your input about how employers use “Big Data” when recruiting and hiring.

I was preparing for an appearance on Brian Lehrer’s TV news magazine. Your comments and suggestions were very helpful — many thanks! I promised I’d share the program with you after it aired, and I’m devoting this week’s edition to it.


.

In this segment, we’re joined by The Atlantic columnist Don Peck, whose article, “They’re Watching You At Work,” is a deep dive into the use of people analytics in hiring. Thanks to CUNY TV and to Brian for his pointed questions. (Brian’s main gig is on New York City’s NPR affiliate, WNYC radio. I’ve enjoyed being his guest many times.)

Corporate HR departments and recruiters have been misusing Big Data — online resumes, applicant tracking systems, job application forms — to recruit and hire for almost two decades. They solicit millions of applicants, then claim none fit the bill. Is it your fault for playing the cards they dealt you in a game they rigged?

According to Peck, it’s no surprise that now employers are doubling down on technology and Big Data, and buying oodles of information about you — so they can correlate it to their fantasy of the perfect job candidate.

For example — no kidding — the browser you use correlates to how successful you will be if you’re hired. Internet Explorer users are “less apt” — no jobs for them! In this data-rich recruiting approach, people analytics render a “decision” about whether to hire you.

What do you think of the ideas discussed in the video? Is HR just getting dumber? Check it out, and post your comments!

: :

Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything)

Filed under: Interviewing, Job Search, Q&A

nick-redditAnd now for something completely different…

[This Reddit AMA is postponed... a new date will be posted!]

Join me today, February 4, 2014 for a special Ask The Headhunter Reddit AMA — Ask Me Anything — at 1pm ET. I’m doing this in cooperation with my good buddies at PBS NewsHour, where I produce a weekly Ask The Headhunter feature.

(I will post a direct link here to Reddit when the AMA goes live about 15 minutes before “air” time.)

Will Ferrell is doing an AMA at the same time. You could skip his, but try to be polite and ask him a question, too.

We’ve done “open mic” on the Blog before, where you pound me with any and all questions, and I try to pound my keyboard and tackle them all without passing out. But this is something new — I’ll be answering questions througout the day, and I hope we’ll attract some new “regulars” to Ask The Headhunter!


If you’re new to Ask The Headhunter, here are three good introductions to what this community is all about:

Ask The Headhunter In A Nutshell: The short course

Ask The Headhunter: Introduction

And a sampling from today’s edition of the Blog: Big HR Data: Why Internet Explorer users aren’t worth hiring


So please pile onto the Reddit AMA – at 1pm ET [postponed] — Ask me about jobs, recruiting, hiring, stupid HR tricks, what I had for breakfast, where I like to backpack, and what my favorite band is! (Anything!)

: :

I’m 64: Will you hire me anyway?

Filed under: Getting in the door, Job Search, Q&A

In the January 28, 2014 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, a reader decides to ‘fess up that he’s old… in the cover letter:

You’d never know it looking at me or talking to me, but… I’m 64! I learned a while ago to take any reference to my age off my resume, but as I list all my relevant positions and achievements, the reader has to figure, “This guy’s gotta be, like, over 60!” and boom, I’m done. The achievements, the relevant jobs, the references… buh-bye! I don’t know how to overcome this age discrimination without any opportunity for me to respond to it.

when-im-64I recently applied to a position I really want, and in the cover letter to the headhunter I wrote this:

Perhaps the only negative in my candidacy, which I feel I must address here so that it’s out in the open, is my age. I am 64 years old, which I’m sure will strike many as too old. I can assure you that in my case it is not. I’m in excellent health, I still walk 36 holes [of golf] several times a season, I play singles tennis three times a week, I write my columns and blogs in my spare time, and my clients never even think about my age. Other than continually losing arguments with my wife, I show no signs of slowing down, and fully intend to keep working full-time for at least another decade. There you go. It would be unfortunate if chronology worked against me, for no valid reason.

I figure, well, at least I’m open about it, and either it kills my chances or they actually think, “Hey, good for this guy to nip this in the bud.”

What’s your view? Ignore my age and hope they don’t notice or care? Raise it and hope they appreciate the strong position? Or deliberately hide it from all submitted material and let them reject me when they find out?

Nick’s Reply

I think your age is not the determining factor in getting a job. I think it’s a mistake to hide or emphasize age or to be defensive about it.

Consider the baseline probabilities that any given job hunter will get a job offer. They are tiny. The cynic will say, “Well, if you add in age, the odds get even smaller!” No, my view is different.

The odds are always small. But what triggers a hire is something distinctive in a candidate that suggests he or she can do an exceptional job. Such qualities are rare — in any candidate, at any age. For that reason, my advice is to forget about your age altogether. Don’t hide it or rationalize it — but leave it alone. Let them think what they want to think about age — but control the agenda. Give them something else more important to think about.

Your job is to influence an employer to believe you can make a significant material difference in the business. Show them the green, and they’re more likely to forget about the grey.


Three of the Fearless Job Hunting Books will take you on a deep dive into the topics that surround this challenge:


If an employer is going to discriminate over age, about all you can do is sue them. Or, you can hit them so hard with a value proposition that they realize they cannot afford not to hire you.

That’s the challenge. I think most of a hiring decision rides on a person’s ability to deliver profit. Age can pose additional challenges, but I think only the profit angle can overcome that.

By the way — I hate your paragraph about your age. If I were an employer reading that, I’d toss your resume. Why? Because you’re so worried about your age that your concern about it is likely to adversely affect your work and how you relate to others. My advice (but use your own judgment first) is to lose it and stop talking about it unless someone asks.

That’s my two bits. Find the right organization, do your homework (like you would if you were on the job) and hand them a brief business plan for the job — just enough to make them call you.

This isn’t the first time we’ve discussed age discrimination, and it won’t be the last. Should you disclose your age up front?

: :

TheLadders Update: Still sliming its customers

Filed under: Heads up, Job scams, Stuff I worry about

I’ve covered the sad story of TheLadders in many columns on this blog over the years. So, what’s up with this poster child of bad behavior in the career space?

  • The company’s $2,500 “We guarantee you a job” offer is long gone.
  • The front-and-center resume writing offers have disappeared.
  • Of course, a class-action suit about TheLadders’ misrepresentations about “ONLY $100K+ JOBS! ONLY $100K CANDIDATES” eliminated that ad campaign.

ladders3TheLadders’ home page used to feature links to all sorts of assets for job hunters and employers. Good, free content is how any online business succeeds today. There’s nothing on TheLadders home page to suggest there’s anything of value for anyone.

TheLadders website is now a dismal collection of five links that drive you straight to a data collection form and a subscription page. TheLadders doesn’t even pretend any more. It’s site is 100% carny-barker sales pitch, and that’s an insult to carny barkers.

There’s been nothing worth reporting or writing about TheLadders.

But a comment today on an early-2013 story I published, TheLadders sued for multiple scams in U.S. District Court class action, reveals that consumers should stay worried, and so should the courts. Nothing has really changed with this company’s M.O.

TheLadders is still all about parting you from your money by advertising non-existent jobs. I’ll let reader Steve C tell it:

I subscribed to TheLadders.com in mid June 2013 to apply for a single job which I was led to believe was exclusive to TheLadders. I found a marketing job posted on TheLadders. Although I was able to figure out that the job was with Husky due to some of the language in the posting. However I could not find that job on Husky’s website to apply directly. When I clicked on apply from TheLadders.com, it took me to their payment page. Since I was really interested in that job I decided to sign up for their best deal, a 3 month plan. After subscribing I clicked the apply link and the fraudsters at TheLadders redirect me to Husky’s website, where, you guessed it, job was long ago expired. I emailed TheLadders my concerns and basically it was an “eat crow” moment. Although their subscribe page led me to believe that this was an exclusive job, their agent “Timmothy S.” said that it was not exclusive and that it must have just expired. I promptly turned off the subscription auto renewal.

I will say that generally their email advice is OK but it is free anyway. At the time TheLadders were no longer promising that all jobs were above $100k, but they were still claiming exclusive high paying jobs. They are a scam and I would not recommend them. Use their free subscription and the google the job description to find the job. You can also look to see who the recruiters are that pull your profile and the connect with the recruiter via LinkedIn.

[Click here for Steve C's entire comment.]

I have one piece of advice for Steve C: Don’t just turn off auto-renewal. Contact your credit card company to make sure TheLadders does not keep dinging your account for the subscription fee. You wouldn’t be the first “member” who cancelled and found — months later — that fees will still being charged to your card. “Oops,” says TheLadders.

What’s most telling about this story is the statement of the customer service rep: He admitted that the job posting “was not exclusive” and that “it must have just expired.”

It seems TheLadders customer service reps are still sliming their customers, reading from the same script that TheLadders’ customer Alishia reported in TheLadders: Job-board salary fraud? In essence, “Whoops!” and “Not our fault.”

Give us all a break, Marc Cenedalla. Pack it in.

: :

 

Big Data, Big Problems for Job Seekers?

Filed under: Employment Tests, Heads up, Hiring, Q&A, Stuff I worry about, Stupid HR Tricks

In the January 21, 2014 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, Nick asks readers for help with an upcoming TV news interview:

There’s no question from a reader this week. Instead, I’m asking all of you readers a question. May I have your help?

I’ve been asked to appear on a TV news show to discuss how HR is using Big Data to watch you at work — and to process your job application without interviewing you. I’d like your input on the topic so I can frame my comments with your interests in mind. I’ll share a link to the program after it airs, and we can discuss it further then.

Nick’s Question for You

Big-Data-KittyAre you frustrated because employers reject your job application out of hand without even talking to you? Tired of online application forms kicking you out of consideration because you took too long to answer questions, or because you failed to disclose your salary history?

Wait — America’s employment system is getting even more automated and algorithm-ized. According to a new report in The Atlantic, the vice president of recruiting at Xerox Services warns that:

“We’re getting to the point where some of our hiring managers don’t even want to interview anymore.” According to the article, “they just want to hire the people with the highest scores.”

The subtitle of that Atlantic column (They’re Watching You At Work by Don Peck) reads: “The emerging practice of ‘people analytics’ is already transforming how employers hire, fire, and promote.”

Does that worry you?

If all goes according to plan (hey, this is TV — all schedules are subject to change), Atlantic columnist Don Peck and I will talk about the rise of Big Data in the service of HR — and I want your input in advance, because I’m worried about the conclusions Peck draws in his article. It’s a very long one (8,600+ words), but it illuminates some of the technology that’s frustrating your job search. Please have a look at it, and post your suggestions to help me frame my comments for this TV program.

Here are the Big Problems I see with this Big Data approach to assessing people for jobs and on the job:

The metrics are indirect.

The vendors behind these “tools” don’t directly assess whether a person can do a job. Instead, they look at other things — indirect assessments of a person’s fit to a job. For example, they have you play a game and they measure your response times. From this, they try to predict success on the job. That determines whether you get interviewed.

The problem is that we’ve known for decades that this approach doesn’t work. Wharton researcher Peter Cappelli throws cold water on indirect assessments:

“Nothing in the science of prediction and selection beats observing actual performance in an equivalent role.”

All that’s being thrown into the mix by these “assessment” vendors is Big Data. But more data doesn’t change anything. In fact, it makes things worse if the data are not valid predictors of success. It’s worse because indirect assessment leads to false negatives (employers reject potentially good candidates) and to false positives (they hire the wrong people for the wrong reasons).

The conclusions are based on correlations.

These tools predict success based on whether certain characteristics of a person are similar to characteristics of a target sample of people. For example, Peck’s article says that “one solid predictor of strong coding [programming] is an affinity for a particular Japanese manga site.” (Manga are Japanese comics.)

Gild, the company behind this claim, says it’s just one correlation of many. But Gild admits there’s “no causal relationship” between all the Big Data it gathers about you and how you perform on the job.

In what can only be called a scientific non sequitur, Gild’s “chief scientist” says “the correlation, even if inexplicable, is quite clear.”

The problem: A basic tenet of empirical research is that a correlation does not imply causality, or even an explanation of anything. Data tell us that people die in hospitals, and that correlates highly with the presence of doctors in hospitals. All jokes aside, that correlation doesn’t mean doctors kill people. Except, perhaps, in the world of Big HR Data: If you’re selling “people analytics,” then playing a game a certain way means you’ll work a certain way.

When we pile specious correlations on top of indirect assessments (What animal would you be if you could be any animal?), we wind up with no good reasons to make hiring decisions, and with no basis for judgments of employees.


INTERMISSION: There’s a hidden lesson for recruiters in Big Data.

Hanging out at a manga site doesn’t improve anyone’s ability to write good code — nor does it predict their success at work. But, it might mean that a recruiter can find some good coders on that manga site — the one reasonable conclusion and recruiting tactic that none of the people Peck interviewed seem to have thought of!


I don’t think Peck wrote this article to promote “people analytics” as the solution to the challenges that American companies face when hiring, but he does seem to think the Kool-Aid tastes pretty good. I think Peck over-reaches when he confuses useful data that employers collect about employee behavior to improve that behavior, with predictions based on silly Big Data assumptions.

To entice you to read the article and post your comments, I’ll share a couple of highlights in the article that kinda blinded me. Well, the assumptions behind them were blinding, anyway:

Spying tells us a lot.

In further support of indirect assessments of employees and job applicants, Peck cites the work of MIT researcher Sandy Pentland, who’s been putting electronic badges on employees to gather data about their daily interactions. In other words, Pentland follows them around electronically to see what they do.

“The badges capture all sorts of information about formal and informal conversations: their length; the tone of voice and gestures of the people involved; how much those people talk, listen, and interrupt; the degree to which they demonstrate empathy and extroversion; and more. Each badge generates about 100 data points a minute.”

Peck notes that these badges are not in routine use at any company.

It’s just a game.

A lot of the “breakthroughs” Peck writes about come from start-up test vendors like an outfit called Knack, which creates games “to suss out human potential.” Knack continues to seek venture funding, and the only Knack client mentioned in the article is Palo Alto High School, which is using Knack games to help students think about careers.

“Play one of [Knack’s games] for just 20 minutes, says Guy Halfteck, Knack’s founder, and you’ll generate several megabytes of data, exponentially more than what’s collected by the SAT or a personality test.”

The big dbig-dataata gathered, writes Peck,

“are used to analyze your creativity, your persistence, your capacity to learn quickly from mistakes, your ability to prioritize, and even your social intelligence and personality. The end result, Halfteck says, is a high-resolution portrait of your psyche and intellect, and an assessment of your potential as a leader or an innovator.”

Let’s draw a comparison in the world of medicine; it’s an easy and apt one: If more megabytes of game data can be used to generate more correlations, could doctors diagnose patients more effectively by collecting bigger urine samples? Because that’s the logic.

No sale.

I don’t buy it. I want to know, can you do the job?

Some Big Data about employee behavior can be analyzed to good effect. For example, Peck reports that Microsoft employees with mentors are less likely to leave their jobs, so Microsoft gets mentors for them. But he seems to easily confuse legitimate metrics with goofy games of correlation. And the start-up companies he profiles don’t seem to be on any leading edge — they’re mostly trying to sell the idea that Big Data in the service of questionable correlations makes those correlations worth money.

(To learn the ins and outs of legitimate employment testing, see Erica Klein’s excellent book, Employment Tests: Get The Edge.)

Big Deal.

We know that what Peter Cappelli says about the science of prediction is correct. But I think Arnold Glass, a leading researcher in cognitive psychology at Rutgers University, says it best:

“It has been known since Alfred Binet and Victor Henri constructed the original IQ test in 1905 that the best predictor of job (or academic) performance is a test composed of the tasks that will be performed on the job. Therefore, the idea that collecting tons of extraneous facts about a person (Big Data!) and including them in some monster regression equation will improve its predictive value is laughable.”

It seems to me that HR should be putting its money into teaching HR workers and hiring managers to hang out where the people they want to hire hang out, and into teaching them how to get to know these people — and how good they are at their work.

In the meantime, is it any surprise to any job seeker today that employers mostly suck at recruiting the right people and at conducting effective interviews?

If you have questions or thoughts you’d like me to raise in this forthcoming TV program, please post them. I’ll try to use the best of the bunch. I wish I could tell you that hanging out on my blog causes employers to hire you. Thanks!

: :

Fired for my ethics!

Filed under: Changing jobs, Fearless Job Hunting, Interviewing, Job Search, Q&A

In the January 14, 2014 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, a reader gets fired for not cutting corners:

I am about to be “removed” from my present position. The background reason is because I do my work by the book and will not take shortcuts that are unethical. Management says I’m not a team player. In 15 years, I have never been fired or had this kind of problem before. My question is, how do I handle this in interviewing for a job? And can I leave this company off my resume? The situation has me very depressed. I’m not dealing with it well, but need to get on and find a job. How will a prospective employer view this? Thanks for your time and help.

Nick’s Reply

Don’t ever apologize for your integrity. Don’t complain about anyone else’s lack of it when you interview. Those two rules will stand you well.

youre-firedIf you’ve been with the company more than six months, it will be hard to leave it off your resume. When asked why you left your employer, it’s perfectly honest to say, “I want to work for a better company.”

If you’re asked what specifically made you leave your job, tell the truth, but keep it very brief and unemotional. Don’t dwell on it in an interview, but don’t be defensive about it, either. Decide what you’re comfortable saying, and stick to it. The employer’s reaction will depend a lot on how your attitude comes across. (Learn to use one and only one brief, business-like explanation no matter who you’re discussing this with — family, friends, or new people you meet.) The key in the interview is this: Turn your discussion back to the topic that really matters — how you are going to bring added success to the manager you’re meeting with.

This is where your good references come in. You need to provide an employer with compelling proof of your abilities. You’re going to need to be selective about what references you use from your last employer — but you should definitely have references from people there who know you well. This includes co-workers and managers in other departments that know you. (You don’t have any such references? Tell me who your friends are.)

Remember that your old company’s customers, vendors, and professional consultants (lawyers, bankers, accountants) can also be powerful references, if you had such contacts in your last job.

But take this extra step: Ask your references to call a prospective employer before he calls them. (I discuss this and other powerful reference techniques in Fearless Job Hunting, Book 5: Get The Right Employer’s Full Attention, especially in the section titled “How do I deal with an undeserved nasty reference?”, pp. 19-21.) A good reference won’t have a problem doing that for you, as long as you don’t ask too often. An employer will see this as a very powerful recommendation.

Don’t be depressed. Moving on is the right thing. When you wake up in the morning and look in the mirror, you’ll be looking at someone with integrity. Your previous employer may find an image in his own mirror that isn’t so pleasing. There are lots of companies that want ethical workers. To find them, keep your standards high.

Ever get fired because you didn’t “fit?” How did you handle it? What did you do for references?

: :

The Stress Interview: How employers abuse job applicants

Filed under: Fearless Job Hunting, Interviewing, Q&A, Readers' Forum

In the January 7, 2014 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, a reader takes on employers who play games in job interviews:

You have an awesome newsletter and I am glad that I have subscribed to it. I wish more people (especially companies that hire) would read it. Have you ever heard of an interview process where there is more than one interviewer, and the second or third interviewer just sits there and acts bored or is rude the whole time (yawning, etc.)? How would you recommend dealing with it? What is this type of interview ? I have found no information on the web about it.

I have never personally had this happen to me but I have had friends tell me these things have happened to them. One interviewer will ask a question and, when the interviewee attempts to answer, the second or third interviewer will start talking to another interviewer or yawn in what seems like an obvious attempt to throw the interviewee off guard.

I was in the Army some time ago and I heard that this was frequently done during oral board interviews for promotion. The military I get, but not a company that is supposed to be professional.

Nick’s Reply

Thanks for your kind words about the newsletter — glad you enjoy it. Believe it or not, there are lots of HR folks who subscribe. They tell me they’re not the “personnel jockeys” I write about. I figure if they keep reading, maybe they’re not!

rude-interviewThe situation your friends are experiencing is a variation on the “stress interview,” where an employer will introduce something to stress out the job candidate. The classic move is for the interviewer to start yelling at the applicant, just to see what he’ll do. (Of course, your friends might just be visiting employers that have actual, rude employees or managers in those interviews!)

But it doesn’t matter to me whether we’re talking about rude interviewers, or about interviewers who intentionally abuse applicants to test them. My advice is the same: Stop the interview.

Calmly but firmly explain that you’re there to talk shop — to demonstrate how you’ll do the job profitably for the employer.

“But I don’t work for jerks, or tolerate bad behavior in any business environment, including this interview.”

Then I’d walk out calmly, without raising my voice or being rude in any way. Because you’re dealing with jerks.

If you really want to drive home the point to those interviewers,explain it to them this way:

“If you worked in sales and treated a prospective customer like this, would you be surprised if the prospect got up and walked out? Of course not. You wouldn’t be surprised, either, if your VP of Sales fired you. Now, what do you think I’m going to tell people in our professional community about my experience here?”

Honest — that’s what I’d do. People who behave like that are either naturally jerks, or they’re “manufactured” jerks who behave that way because someone told them it was a cool way to interview people, by abusing them. None of it is acceptable.

The minute you convince yourself that it’s acceptable, and try to appease your abuser, you become a sucker for an employer that (1) has no idea what it’s doing, or (2) has just revealed what life will be like if you take a job there. I’ve walked out of meetings like that, and I’ve felt great. I couldn’t care less what “opportunity” I might have missed, because dealing with people like that is no opportunity.


This isn’t the only way employers will abuse you.
Learn how to Overcome Human Resources Obstacles, and find out how to Play Hardball With Employers.


A company that tests you to see how you will deal with jerks is risking its reputation. I believe such “techniques” are invented by failed human resources managers who are clueless about how to judge people, so they start “HR consulting practices” and invent goofy tricks that they then “sell” to their clients. And it goes around like an infection.

If the Army uses this technique, I’m surprised. What kind of salary would you expect an employer to pay you to go to boot camp and be a full-time soldier for them?

Have you ever been abused in a job interview? What did you do? How would you advise this reader?

: :