Part 2 – Always Trust Your Instincts
What’s a woman to do when she discovers that she’s on the Interview From Hell? Run? Laugh? Lament? No, just be aware and beware. Some interview questions should tip you off that something is seriously wrong.
Two questions on the top of my “beware” list: “How do you react to being yelled at?” and “Are you okay with cursing and swearing in the office?” (I didn’t tell the woman interviewing me that I generally react by leaving, because the person is obviously irrational and might be better suited to working in the monkey house at the zoo – he’d blend right in.)
If you’re on an interview and anything sets off warning bells in your head, don’t second guess yourself. Always trust your instincts. Take heed if you see people complaining loudly, bosses screaming at employees, managers throwing things, or the interviewer says (while you’re waiting outside her office): “Let me just get rid of this person and I can go to lunch.” (Yes, that's a real quote!)
Take these signs to heart. You won’t be happy there.
And always, always take a tour of the building on an interview. If they don’t offer one, ask and see what happens, but don’t accept any job without one. If the interview went well and you like the place, ask to use the bathroom before you leave and nose around.
I know, it sounds silly, but the state of the office will tell you volumes about the employer. Maybe you should be concerned if the bathroom has overflowing toilets and they tell you: “Oh that happens all the time.” And if there is one bathroom the size of a closet for both men and women that reeks to high heaven – run don’t walk – to the nearest exit.
While you’re investigating, try to check out the kitchen area. A refrigerator, a microwave, and a sink with hot and cold running water are not unheard of office luxuries.
If there’s no place to sit and eat your lunch (if you bring it every day instead of going out) what will you do? I once was told: “Everyone sits at their desks and eats – but you still have to answer the phones.”
Thanks! Did I tell you I’m on the raw carrots and celery diet? Crunch, crunch, crunch!
Remember, every interview is a two-way street. You’re interviewing them as much as they’re interviewing you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and be wary if they balk at answering a “normal question” or seem uncomfortable with you asking any questions. Watch out for seemingly innocent phrases sprinkled into the interview, like: “It’ll be nice to have a pretty young woman at the front desk.” (Yes, it’s a real quote again!) “How old are you? You don’t look old enough to be…”
Ask yourself if the place is somewhere you want to be every day for eight hours. What perks (if any) apply? If the best (or only) good thing you can say about them is that “They’re close to home.” or “It’s a paycheck.” – it might not be a good move.
Of course, if you want the job, by all means do your best to get it. But don’t settle. You don’t want to trade your peace of mind (or your whole mind) for a paycheck. You can afford to be at least a little bit choosy. After all, it’s your life and you decide how and where to spend your time. Do you want to be in a positive environment where you’ll be happy, or suffering in a hell-hole because you were afraid to say no?
So what happens if you take the job from hell like I did (Actually, I took three, but they were short-lived and gave me these great stories to tell!), and after three days find yourself crying at your desk wondering what the heck happened? Do you blame yourself for making a bad choice?
The answer is complicated. Sometimes the job is not what it seems. Maybe you didn’t realize it would be this bad, or they outright lied to get you to work there because nobody else wanted to. (That happened at all 3 of those jobs from hell - another sign that the inmates are running the office!)
In my case, the truth started to leak out after a few days. I found out from the office gossip that the position I took wasn’t open for two weeks because a woman left to have her baby and never came back. The real story was that six people were in the position over the last six months. They all left after three or four weeks because they couldn’t stand it.
All-too-soon I found out first-hand why people left. After being screamed at by the boss for putting someone into his voicemail when he was on his three-hour lunch, I was told by a female secretary: “Don’t worry. He yells at all of us all the time. You’ll get used to it. You’re new here. If you like your job, you won’t make waves. This is how we do things here. You have to obey him.”
Oh really? That was all I needed to hear.
I have more to say on this topic - and I know you won’t want to miss the conclusion of this blog next week!
Until next time!