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Standing on Principles

Posted by Peter Post  July 7, 2011 07:00 AM

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I went for a job interview this morning that was set up by a contract agency; I even showed up ten minutes early. They were interviewing another candidate. I waited until 25 minutes AFTER my scheduled time (a total of 35 minutes). I emailed the contract agency to advise them of the situation and then left. They called me when I got home to find out what was going on; but they really only seemed to be interested in the fact that their guy walked out and did not seem to understand or be interested in the principle behind my actions.

I feel that the interviewer could’ve at least come out to offer a time frame that I would be seen or an opportunity to reschedule. I felt that the employer had no regard for my time, and this was only an interview…what if I actually was hired by the company?

Is there a better way to handle such a situation? I feel that if I tolerate any degree of disrespect in an interview, either from a contract agency or an employer, then it will be an open door for it to continue.

R. K. H., Richmond, VA

How frustrating! Interviewers have a responsibility to manage their schedules and be on time. In spite of the interviewer’s breach of etiquette, and assuming you didn’t have another appointment that would be affected by the delay, by choosing to wait you would’ve learned a lot about this company from the way they handled their error. In the meantime, you could’ve asked the receptionist or administrative assistant who greeted you:

  • if you had the right time for your appointment
  • if the interviewer was aware of your arrival
  • what the delay was
  • if you were expected to wait or reschedule

If you absolutely had to leave, you could’ve communicated that, politely, to the receptionist. Despite the poor first impression this company’s staff has made on you, while you were still in the interview process, you had a chance to be a successful candidate. As you’ve discovered, by up and leaving it became all about your perceived lack of professionalism rather than about their lack of respect. Unfortunately, that’s how the contract agency sees the situation as well, and it may affect your success with landing future interviews. The better move may have been to stay and complete the interview and then pass along your dissatisfaction to the contract agency. Your case would’ve been much stronger if you made sure that you did all the things expected of you.

I am a believer that the job interview is a two-way street: you’re interviewing the company to see if it’s a place you want to work just as much as the company is interviewing you. There’s no question that the way a company treats a potential employee in the interview process says a lot about the culture of that company and how you can expect to be treated if you accept a job offer.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.

Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.

Cindy Atoji Keene is a freelance journalist with more than 25 years experience. E-mail her directly here.

Peter Post is the author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business." Email questions about business etiquette to him directly here.

Stu Coleman, a partner and general manager at WinterWyman, manages the firm's Financial Contracting division, and provides strategic staffing services to Boston-area organizations needing Accounting and Finance workforce solutions and contract talent.

Tracy Cashman is Senior Vice President and Partner of the Information Technology search division at WinterWyman. She has 20 years of experience partnering with clients in the Boston area to conduct technology searches in a wide variety of industries and technology.

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