Sunday, September 27, 2009

Recruiters gone wild

For those of you keeping score at home, I have now been on 10 job interviews in the last 9 months. 10 at bats, and 10 strike outs. What's bothering me, though, is what I've observed on my last 3 interviews, all of which have occurred in the last month.

Recruiters seem to be playing some kind of weird head game where they don't ask any questions and force me, the interviewee, to ask all the questions. So the interview goes something like this:
Recruiter: (Leans back in his chair, takes a sip of coffee, and picks up a short stack of papers from the table) Ok, let me take a look at your resume. (He scans the piece of paper and hums the "Pina Colada" song. He puts the papers on the table after a moment and again leans back in his chair, smugly.) So, do you have any questions for me?
Me: (Our hero looks slightly startled. She looks down at her her pink boucle jacket with the black trim, hoping to find the answer somewhere in the fabric.) Oh, ok. (She hastily looks down at the list of 4 questions she prepared for the END of the interview.) Well, what are the challenges facing your company today, and how would I, as a product manager, work to confront those challenges?
Recruiter: Blah blah, canned corporate crap, blah, yada yada. What else?
Me: Uhhh, can you tell me more about the new XYZ product line? I saw that you mentioned it on Twitter. (Crosses fingers that her intrepid investigatory skills will be rewarded.)
Recruiter: (Does not appear impressed that our hero obviously spent 3 hours this morning preparing for this 15 minute chat). It's a new product we're working on for our younger customers. We think it's going to be huge. What else?
This bullcrap will go on for the next 10 minutes - I ask questions about the position, he gives me curt answers, and I get increasingly uncomfortable while he gets increasingly hostile. One interviewer actually told me at the beginning of an interview, in a confrontational tone of voice, that I obviously wasn't qualified for the job, and that it was a waste of time to speak to me. Uh, ok, so why did you bring me in???? I don't recall holding a gun to anyone's head just to get an interview (though maybe that's something to keep in mind for the future).

Why are recruiters playing head games with me? I feel like everyone's in on some kind of joke, and I'm the only one who doesn't get the punchline. Empirical evidence and common sense say that the best way to interview a candidate is to ask what they would do in a given scenario. Or to find out what they have done in the past, given a set of circumstances. How can you find out what kind of worker I am if you never ask me to define what kind of worker I am? And what is the purpose of bringing in a candidate, only to be hostile and unpleasant to them? What will you learn from that?

I think recruiters are mostly people who couldn't get real jobs doing valuable stuff like marketing, financing, and waxing stripper poles. So they're destined to make a lot of poor choices. And given the current glut of job candidates, recruiters are drunk with power and are abusing their positions. Well I have only one thing to say to that: Do you think they would give me a job if I promised to wash their car for a year?


  1. Sounds to me like a classic "stress interview" maneuver, testing to see how well you hold up in a potentially stressful situation. Years of teaching whiny undergrads has made me good at this stuff, but I doubt in an interview setting even I'd maintain a professional poise if a recruiter were berating my own credentials.

    Of course, the interviewer always ends up looking like a douchebag, after which honestly who'd want to work for them?


    Its time to do something about it yeah?

  3. I've had this. So annoying!

  4. Wow, you should check out this song about unemployment:

    This song expressed my feelings.