Ever had one of those job interviews where you suspect the job is already taken by another person and they are just having you in to give the appearances of having held a competition? The entire interview is about 10 minutes long and just when you start to settle in and focus on all the things you want to stress the other person stands up, shakes your hand and tells you they’ll be in touch!
The above is not how any organization should conduct themselves, nor is how they should treat prospective employees; although in fairness to them, they might smugly state you were never a potential employee because they had already made a decision before you even showed up. When this happens, and it does occasionally; all you can really do is move on and leave your indignation behind. The energy, frustration and outrage you might feel isn’t going to make the job suddenly available, so it’s best to take the high road and leave with your pride in place and focus on other opportunities.
What I personally find frustrating about this practice is the total lack of respect for the people being used by the company to justify their decision. I think most applicants would rather be contacted before they travel to the site of the interview and be told the job is no longer available. However, the likelihood of this happening is low if the company feels they need to go through the charade of conducting interviews. It could be the Hiring Manager already has their pick made, but they have to satisfy someone in Human Resources who wants to go by the book; and this is just one scenario.
What’s frustrating for the people being used – and abused – in this process is the investment of time, energy and hope that this job interview will culminate with a hiring offer made to them, concluding their unemployment and their job search together. There’s an investment in several things preparing and going to an interview. The most obvious investment is the cost of travel to and from the interview. When you’re out of work many of course batten down the hatches; they spend what they have to spend only and there is no discretionary spending. That public transit fare or gas money was precious.
There’s an investment in preparation time too. Researching what the company stands for (this being subsequently re-evaluated after being mistreated so poorly), looking seriously into the job responsibilities and qualifications; preparing proof stories for all the potential questions one may have been asked in a legitimate interview. There’s time getting the clothing ready, cleaned and laid out, hygiene matters attended to, including perhaps a haircut, some new clothing or accessories – all on a tight budget.
Coming out of a false interview can also leave a person feeling jaded; and let’s face it folks, an unemployed person probably has a shaky self-confidence to some degree so being mistreated isn’t helpful. A job seeker can’t afford to be negative and has to do their best to keep any negative feelings reserved for times they are alone.
Now some of you might disagree and feel that were it you, you’d give that company via their interviewer a piece of your mind. No doubt some would say that they wouldn’t want to work for a company with so few scruples and calling them out on using you and people like you is much better than meekly walking away. There is an argument to be made for taking this approach, and part of me certainly agrees that it could strengthen your own feeling of self-worth to do so. The problem I have with this approach however is that life seems to find ways of having us move in circles and sooner or later in the future, you may find yourself wanting to apply for a legitimate job with this company, or perhaps running into the interviewer again but at a different firm. Odder things have happened. Then you may wish you had bit your tongue and risen above the experience so you’re name isn’t on some black list of people to avoid.
As hard as it is at the time, I suggest moving on. Laugh it off, punch the steering wheel (when you first get it not on the road), tell your best friend how lousy that was of them; do anything that gets rid of your emotional response to the bad situation but do move on. There are other opportunities that may be better suited to you and with better companies which, if you are wallowing in self-pity or going on an anger outrage fit, you may miss altogether. Remind yourself your goal is employment and get back into the job search mode without giving yourself a poorly timed gift like a week off of job searching to lick your wounds.
There are other poor practices that some companies engage in; advertising a job that doesn’t really exist in order to collect resumes of those who otherwise might be good candidates in an effort to see what’s out there. Never liked this practice either myself; few companies would even admit to this practice either because of the poor ethics connected to it.
You can however state in your exit that you were previously under the assumption that the job was legitimately open and you had looked forward to competing on a level field for it. Then walk out with your head up.