I think we all heard the news about the rejection letter to a job offer that was posted to Twitter by Olivia Bland, a graduate from Oldham, and subsequently went viral. She was given a nightmarish 2-hour interview by Craig Dean, CEO of a company called Web Applications UK, in which Olivia felt intimidated as he tore apart, line-by-line, her application, as well as things like her body language and her Spotify account, and brought her to tears. Then he offered her the job. After the outcry that followed, Dean has since thrown himself upon the mercy of public opinion but it will be interesting to see if his company can recover from this.
Abuse within interviews is something that isn’t discussed enough, I think, because there is an attitude of “Oh well you’ll get over it” or “It was only an hour of your life” or “It’ll toughen you up for the next one” but I think the mistake that is made is to treat these kinds of abuses as if they are not a signal of something that runs deeper. If someone thinks that it is acceptable to treat a person like that during an interview, do we really think that they will treat them like a human being in the job role?
We’ve heard plenty of horror stories as we have been in the recruitment game for quite a while and there is always something that will still shock us, still an interviewer in a story that will stun us with their lack of empathy. These abuses need to be stamped out.
Just a cursory look online shows up more examples.
In one lady’s story, she was asked at the interview what she had been doing for some years. When she answered “I brought up my children” the interviewer replied “Nothing, then.”
In another, the interviewer was drunk. In another, the candidate was made to admit they had stolen a toaster when they hadn’t. One in which a woman was asked to put a hat over her face during an interview so her looks wouldn’t distract the interviewer. There are many stories of candidates being forgotten about. Stories about ambushes where an interviewee is ushered into a room containing the whole board of the company. The incorrect candidate is invited and has their time wasted. Interviewees are asked demeaning or personal questions that cross a line.
There are so many bizarre and saddening stories out there and you have to wonder what is going through the mind of the interviewer. Definitely, some of them need to examine their sexist and racist attitudes. Some seem power-crazed.
And what to do if you have experienced an interview you know in your gut wasn’t right? A lot of people would give the advice to just jump back on the horse. I would say: “take some time”. The problem lies, not with the candidate, but with the hiring process or the interviewer. If the human resources side of a company is dysfunctional, the interviewer may have been fed candidates they feel are not right for the job, or perhaps their own expectations are warped and unrealistic. If a terrible interview has taken place and has knocked your confidence, take time to work out what it was that they really wanted when they conducted the interview. Talk to friends and family and understand that the failure was not within you but was within the recruiting process and maybe the interviewers themselves.
Regardless, no verbal, mental or physical abuse should take place. Ever. No interview should be an endurance test. No interview should be conducted in a way where it seems the interviewer is wishing you to fail. No interviewer should make you feel uncomfortable.
Anne Jagger Recruitment are proud to be a part of REC’s Good Recruitment Campaign.