Interviewee thrown off by interviewer's first question

Interviewee thrown off by interviewer's first question

Interviewee thrown off by interviewer's first question

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by Rozanne "Roze" Worrell

WVEC.com

Posted on March 15, 2011 at 3:54 PM

Updated Wednesday, Mar 16 at 1:00 PM

Dear Roze:

I’m dumbfounded!  This was the first question a male interviewer in a three-person job interview panel asked me, “What would “Al” have to say about you if I called him up right now?”  This question threw me for a loop for two reasons.  One, “Al” is a high-ranking official in my company, and I haven’t told anyone at my work that I’m looking for another job.  And two, I’ll admit I’ve had a close relationship with “Al,” but I don’t report to him and he’s in a different division in the company.  We’ve never been physical but we do have an emotional tie.  I’m single and he has gone through a divorce since I’ve known him.  I couldn’t tell if the interviewer knew how close I have been to “Al” and if he was looking to see how I would react, or if that was a typical question for him to ask a job candidate.  I haven’t been in touch with “Al” for awhile, so he doesn’t know (from me) about this job interview.  If in fact, this interviewer reached out to “Al,” I’m mad that “Al” didn’t let me know.  I’m not ashamed of my ties to “Al” because I haven’t done anything improper, but the interviewer’s question makes me wonder his intentions with the question and if he was trying to get a reaction out of me.  Despite all of this, I think the interview went well.  How do you think I should have handled that question?

Thrown off by interviewer’s question

Dear Thrown off by interviewer’s question:

You should have stayed calm and told the panel that you hope that “Al” would only have good things to say about you, but because you have not told anyone in your company that you are seeking other employment, you would strongly request that neither “Al” nor anyone else in the company be contacted until a job offer is made. 

Do not lose sight of the fact that due diligence goes both ways in the interview process.  I remind my individual clients to research not only the organizations they are interviewing with, but the interviewers as well.  Similarly, it is not unusual for interviewers to look into job candidates’ backgrounds beyond their references and immediate supervisors.

Your situation brings to mind a pithy piece of advice given to me by a seasoned co-worker, “Don’t dip your brush into company paint.

Dear Roze:

My boss was promoted, so a woman from another department is our acting supervisor until a permanent one is selected.  Everything seemed fine at first, but this woman has turned into an arrogant tyrant.  Her micro-managing, along with lots of other things, is unbearable.  The thing I’d like your input on has to do with her paperwork demands.  She requires all documents addressed to someone outside our company be reviewed by her or her boss before they go out; and all documents that require her boss’s signature must get her approval before they’re sent to her boss.  We understand why some documents should go through her first, but there are many she should trust us on.  It’s hard to stomach, especially since she’s only acting.  We’re praying she doesn’t apply for the permanent slot.  Any suggestions? 

Hard to stomach acting supervisor:

Dear Hard to stomach acting supervisor:

Although I sympathize with you and believe there is no place for arrogance, I can see a couple of reasons why the acting supervisor may be handling the paperwork in this manner.  She may have gotten burned by having not reviewed some documents that went out with errors, or she may be overzealous in her supervisory duties because she wants to be the permanent supervisor. 

Regardless of the acting supervisor’s motivation, after making sure that documents are being submitted to her without errors, you and a co-worker could meet with her and respectfully request that she consider allowing some documents to go out without her review/approval.  Follow-up your meeting with a memorandum documenting what was discussed, including identification of the specific documents you requested less oversight on.  If your request is dismissed, then consider taking your concerns to her immediate supervisor.

© 2011 Rozanne R. Worrell
 

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