Are Job Interviews the New Hazing?
I never joined a sorority in college, but like you, I’ve heard the horror stories about how some Greek life organizations behave themselves. For some fraternities and sororities, hazing rituals are just a fact.
You’d think this silly college tradition would stay behind when we graduate, but all too often, these rituals follow us into adulthood. In fact, hazing-like behavior can show up in the most unexpected place: the job interview.
For example, some employers put candidates through “stress interviews,” where they ask inappropriate or irrelevant questions in an effort to get a reaction from the job seeker. These employers want to see how you respond to high-stress situations. Your answers often matter less than your reaction. I recently heard from a job seeker who was cursed at during a job interview — in front of a group of people. The hiring manager was trying to get a reaction out of him.
Other employers ask candidates to do homework — lots of homework. The candidates may have to create business plans the company could use. They may have to take long, arduous tests designed to identify the most capable among them. Unfortunately, even if these are well-intentioned assessment strategies, they discount a candidate’s aggregate work experience in favor of their performance on a single task.
In other situations, employers may put candidates through physical stress, like booking back-to-back interviews with no time for bathroom breaks or rest.
The most surprising interview trend I’ve seen lately is company-wide voting. In some organizations, the entire staff will come together to vote on whether or not they like you — right after you’ve left the building! It’s one thing to ask folks to share and discuss any concerns they may have about a candidate. In some organizations, though, employees are given a simple yes or no choice. If anyone votes against a candidate, they may get kicked out of the interview process entirely.
I don’t say all this to scare you. If you have an important interview coming up, chances are you won’t have to put up with any of these brutal interview styles — unless you work in tech, that is. Tech is the industry where, in my experience, these interview tactics are most common.
What I want job seekers to understand is this: If you want the job, you have to be willing to go along with what a company asks of you during the interview process. However, if a company treats you poorly during that process, take note. That may be how the organization plans to treat you as an employee. If the job interview seems immature, the staff members just might be, too.
A version of this article originally appeared on Copeland Coaching.
Angela Copeland is a career coach and CEO at Copeland Coaching.