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To interview or not to interview, that is the question

At first blush this seems like a very strange and remarkably simple question to answer if you are looking for a job.

I mean, you are looking for work; the employer is looking for an employee; you interview and hope you are successful. See, simple. But what happens when it really isn't that simple? And how can you tell? And what can be the consequences?

I'm going to start with the consequences that I have come across.

Consequences by attending

Consequences by NOT attending without conditions

I'm sure we can all think of more consequences if we really spent time on it, but I hope you get the idea.

Looking at the consequences above it really doesn't seem too much of a problem; the consequences for attending seem reasonable surely; you need to put some effort in to get work, you cannot just wait for a job to arrive, can you. Of course not.

And the consequences for NOT attending are pretty serious really; and once again seem reasonable and straight-forward. And they are!

So what's the problem?

The problem is this; what happens when the position is not really there! Or not really there for you.

Pardon?

If this concept surprises you then I have some bad news for you; it happens; TOO OFTEN!

So, how can this be? I mean, the employer wouldn't bother spending the time arranging interviews, spend time in the interviews etc if they didn't really need someone would they?

Of course not. BUT (don't you just LOVE the word BUT).
BUT, too often one of the following situations is happening:

Each of these conditions will result in you attending an interview, with all the consequences listed above, without you have any chance, or in the third case only the slimmest of chances, of you obtaining the position. And that to me, as someone hoping to gain the position, is not desireable.

These don't really happen do they?

I hate to tell you this; but yes! I have conducted interviews with, or on behalf of, employers where all these have occurred at different times. And I have over my reasonably long working life attended interviews where it has become VERY obvious, VERY quickly, that one of these has been the case.

Having said that. And as bad as the reasons above sound; I can SOMETIMES have a lot of sympathy for interviewers/employers in these situations also. They are often stuck themselves in having to undertake these interviews.
e.g: they are a financially regulated employer, where the work to be undertaken requires the employee to have been employed by the employer for a certain amount of time before they are allowed to undertake the work; BUT, the internal regulations (or LEGAL regulations) require that a certain number of people must be interviewed.
Result: caught between two sets of rules.
The only solutions really are: if possible, to promote from within and replace the promoted person OR re-employ a previous employee who meets the we know who you are criteria already and can begin immediately on the required duties.
These are both fine in getting the right person for the position, but the employer must still interview x number of people for the post.

So, to interview or not to interview that is the question.

Well, as usual with most people, I have no absolute, fixed, un-shakeable rule. But my basic premise is that I will only interview if the potential employer will conduct a telephone interview or pay for my time and expenses. Having said that, I have just been to one interview and have a second coming up where this is not the case. So, it just goes to show you.

And, harking back to the consequences, I do indeed have agencies who have refused to work with me because of my position on interviewing when I have stuck to my guns.

As much as possible I look for warning signs and the more of the warning signs I see, or sometimes just a gut feeling, the more likely I am to require my time and expenses to be covered.

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