If you’ve ever left a job interview thinking to yourself, “What just happened?” then you know that it’s not always easy to decide on your next steps during a job search.
In some situations—whether it’s because of something that happened during the interview itself, a clear lack of fit that you feel when talking to the hiring team, or the feeling that you’re being asked unreasonable demands before the job even starts—you may understandably decide that it’s smarter to back out of a job interview process rather than move forward.
While you may assume that saying no to a job opportunity happens only rarely, some new research on active job seekers commissioned by Montage suggests that this occurs more often than you might think. The data shows nearly one in three candidates—32%—have rejected a job offer because of the hiring and interview process.
But even though a considerable number of job seekers turn down positions based on the hiring experience itself, when it comes to making a decision of this magnitude, you don’t want to take it lightly. Below you will find guidance to help you evaluate whether a job interview may have been unreasonable, and identify cases in which it may make sense to take a pass on what you hoped would be a good opportunity.
When to Back Out of a Job Interview Process
Was your job interview challenging—or over the line?
Many tech companies today are known for their tough interview questions. Google’s hiring process in particular has become identified with difficult and somewhat quirky questioning during interviews, but they aren’t the only company that takes this approach—Salesforce, Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, and more are among those that have been called out as at least sometimes selecting candidates based partly on how well people can answer off-beat questions.
If you’re interviewing for a tech job, then some of this may come with the territory. But there’s a limit to how far such questions can be taken, particularly in fields outside of technology.
Regardless of industry, anything asked must be professional and appropriate, avoiding stereotypes and negativity toward certain people or groups. If you’re made to feel uncomfortable by the types of interview questions that you’re asked—if they are overly personal; racist, homophobic, or misogynistic; and/or completely unrelated to your professional background or problem-solving style—then you may not want to work for this company.
Were there only “oddball” questions in your job interview?
The tech industry aside, most of the interview questions that companies ask should be designed to help the hiring team understand how you as a job candidate would perform in a particular role. If you find yourself fielding a list of only oddball questions—the kind that make you describe, for example, what you might wish for on a desert island, or what kind of animal you identify yourself as—be alert.
As Montage explains on its blog, “Why” questions that probe why you might make certain decisions or act certain ways are more relevant, and should be present during the interview to indicate interest in a candidate: “Questions like, ‘If you were stuck on an island and could only have three things, what would you wish for?’ have little relevance for most jobs, and send a signal to candidates that your hiring team isn’t all that serious,” writes the Montage Talent team. “‘Why’ questions are more appropriate and always valuable, since they can reveal insight into candidates’ thought process and decision-making in real-life situations.”
Are you still interested in the role?
Feelings change, and that’s perfectly understandable. Perhaps there was misalignment between the job description and the details you’ve collected through your interviews, or the original role you applied had a shift in focus. This happens, and important, long-term decisions like this shouldn’t come down to settling on something that will lead to unhappiness or lack of career satisfaction. If you’re not fully invested in a role – though you may have been originally – it’s best to back out of the job interview process and reset.
Were red flags present during your interview process?
Sometimes, it may be hard to put a finger on exactly what feels off about your interview experience. Keep an eye out for a few other red flag situations that may suggest that you don’t want this job:
- The hiring manager or interview team is unprepared or arrives late to the interview.
- The hiring team is unresponsive and/or fails to communicate with you in a timely, professional manner about position status and next steps.
- The social media presence of the hiring manager, team, or department is unprofessional or offensive.
Remember, job interviews go two ways—you should use this time with a prospective employer to help you decide whether you want to work with a particular organization and team, just as they are deciding whether or not you’re the right fit for their group.
As Montage writes: “Candidates are selecting their next boss as well as the company and the role, and they’re researching the hiring manager’s reputation as a good leader and mentor. The same applies to colleagues in the department or division.”So do your due diligence, and make sure that what you experience during the hiring process bodes well for your next job and future career.
If you’re looking to make a career change, FlexJobs might be able to help! We offer flexible careers to job seekers in more than 50 categories, and partner with more than 5,000 companies.
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Tags: interview tips
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