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Interview question, would you be hacked off at this?

(23 Posts)
WideWebWitch Mon 18-Jul-05 11:58:55

I had an interview last week and asked, perfectly reasonably imo 'what's your management style and do you expect the same style of your direct reports?' to which the woman interviewing me (the job reports to her) said 'ooh, who's interviewing who here?' My answer to that is "I'm interviewing you too to see if I want to work for you" ! although of course I didn't say so. Coupled with that, they have just rearranged a second interview for tomorrow and made it an evening later in the week, to see the same people I saw last time. So, my questions are:

a) why didn't they find out what they needed to know the first time? IME and O second interviews are usually to meet different people or to test on other stuff, i.e. to do psychometric testnig etc, which I wouldn't have a problem with
b) should alarm bells be ringing that they're so disorganised that they didn't find out all they needed to know the first time? Also, I think it's damn rude to change it at v short notice and to make it an evening appt
c) what do you think of her response to my question or do you think it was a too 'in yer face' question? I asked it very politely and managing people is a large part of the job so I thought it fair enough.
d) Am I being unreasonable?

As always, all views welcome! I wish I could tell them to eff off because they're too unprofessional for my liking but I need a job! TIA.

Enid Mon 18-Jul-05 12:02:11

very quickly

I think its a perfectly reasonable and intelligent question to ask. Personally, her reaction would set alarm bells ringing with me - maybe a bit chippy of her.

I would imagine the reason they have got you in to see the same people again is that there is a disagreement between them - one likes you, one prefers someone else.

Fingers crossed for you www x e

Xena Mon 18-Jul-05 12:02:24

WWW your question sounds fair, did you ask it at the end when they say is there anything you'd like to know. TBH the women who said 'ooh, who's interviewing who here?' was wrong a) because that sounds rude however you say it and b) because you need to find out whether you want the job or not.

Would you really want to work for her?

Tinker Mon 18-Jul-05 12:02:34

a)ages since had to do interviews but agree 2nd interviews are for tests etc
b)evening appointment is rubbish but may be testing your commitment?
c)nothing wrong with question but if she's a bit rubbish may feel threatened.
d)of course not!

WigWamBam Mon 18-Jul-05 12:06:45

I think your question was reasonable and intelligent, but her response wasn't. Perhaps she isn't a very experienced interviewer, but I think I would be wary in case her response is indicative of her attitude as a manager - perhaps she doesn't expect those who report to her to think and act for themselves.

I also think that changing the second interview to an evening appointment is questionable, and may be indicative of them being disorganised and unprofessional.

Blu Mon 18-Jul-05 12:22:57

I think your q was entirely reasonable, a good q, and (having intervewed LOADS of people in my time) one I would have enjoyed answering.

I have invited people back for a second interveiw lots of times - often because you have two candidates who are equally impressive in v different ways, and you want to dig deeper.

I think the fact that you have been invited back is a good sign that they are a) v interested in YOU, and b) that they are taking the interview process seriously, and not just plumping for someone on grounds they don't feel sure of. If it has been fitted in at short notice for them too, the eveniong and re-arrangement aren't THAT surprising are they? 'Fraid my attitude (in a business that is quite competetive - lots of people want to work in it) is that if someone really wnats the job, they will put themselves out a bit to attend interview!

eefs Mon 18-Jul-05 12:22:59

a) second interview could be for either reason - i.e. they are disorganised or they could have a difference of opinion of you so want to meet you again. How do you know there are no tests/other people going to be present?
b) depends on why they need to see you again. You should try not to judge them yet - it may be clearer after you meet them again. Even if she was annoying you she could have had an off-day.
c) I thought it was a good question. If she is indeed the lady you will be reporting to and if, as I suspect, you already have doubts about working for her then use the second interview to confirm to yourself that you could bear to work for her. I would have also found it reasonable for you to have actually mentioned that you were also interviewing them - makes you more desirable in that you are not afraid to speak your mind and you are not desparate for the job, any job but instead you are there because you want to be.
d) "Am I being unreasonable?" at a WWW unreasonable question. No.

How long is the contract?

Catbert Mon 18-Jul-05 12:55:04

Make sure you have lots more such questions for her, and make her squirm a bit... So many people are appalling at conducting an interview. Also, if they are keen on offering you the job, sometimes second interviews are coupled with a tour of your work environment and a bit of a meet and greet, so perhaps you will be talking to other folks.

But seriously, I hope it works out for the best

Earlybird Mon 18-Jul-05 13:03:40

I think you're right to hear alarm bells ringing. Her response is a combination of defensiveness, put down and aggression. If she responds like that to a reasonable question asked in a non-threatening way, then imagine what she'll be like when the pressure is on.

I think a second interview is not necessarily a sign of disorganisation, etc., but more a chance to get to know each other a bit more. However, I'd be uneasy at the time of day they've requested. Do they know you're a mum? Your home life shouldn't interfere with job performance if possible (obviously), but you do want to work for people who are basically considerate.

I think you should try to keep an open mind, but instinctively think you're right to have reservations. If they're like this while they're "wooing" you, what will it be like once you're there?

bossykate Mon 18-Jul-05 13:10:08

a) why didn't they find out what they needed to know the first time? IME and O second interviews are usually to meet different people or to test on other stuff, i.e. to do psychometric testnig etc, which I wouldn't have a problem with

yes, imo & e, 2nd interviews are as you describe. but having said that, i wouldn't say that it should inevitably be the case. it may be that it's down to you and one other candidate. i think it's actually better to meet more rather than less.

b) should alarm bells be ringing that they're so disorganised that they didn't find out all they needed to know the first time? Also, I think it's damn rude to change it at v short notice and to make it an evening appt

not necessarily - see whether they tread over old ground or want to discuss other things. re the timing and short notice - par for the course i think.

c) what do you think of her response to my question or do you think it was a too 'in yer face' question? I asked it very politely and managing people is a large part of the job so I thought it fair enough.

BIG RED FLAG! This is what should be setting off the alarm bells imo - this smacks of insecurity to me - i would use the 2nd interview to observe her very closely and see if you could work for her. imo, your question was a good one, and not unreasonable at all.

d) Am I being unreasonable?

it sounds to me as though your concerns over her response to your question - well founded concerns imo - are colouring your judgement of the other issues, e.g. 2nd interview, late notice etc.

hth and good luck.

bossykate Mon 18-Jul-05 13:11:32

btw - i got exactly the same thing in a job interview last week, again, imo, for a perfectly reasonable question.

ScummyMummy Mon 18-Jul-05 13:20:10

Well done for getting the interview, oh clever one.
a) Cos they're inviting the people they liked to a 2nd interview? I think that can happen, especially if there are a couple of good candidates and the panel can't decide.
b) I'd be peeved at the change of appt to the evening if it wasn't accompanied by lots of apologies!
c) I think tone of voice is crucial to interpret her response. I do think it's the sort of question that could be misinterpreted as 'in yer face' if it came out a bit wrong but as it didn't I'd be surprised and slightly bemused at someone taking umbrage at it. On the contrary, I think many people would be very pleased to be asked it. Could she have been responding lightheartedly or was it a definite mild reproof?
d) no. Hope you get it and it turns out to be a fab job

handlemecarefully Mon 18-Jul-05 13:23:36

Was her response tongue in cheek ?

WideWebWitch Mon 18-Jul-05 13:27:49

Thank you for all your responses. Bk, you're absolutely right - her response to my management style question is a big red flag and is making me feel negative and stoppy about the other items, which wouldn't necessarily bother me otherwise: it's the whole picture that feels slightly wrong here.

I think late morning Monday is quite late to cancel a Tues meeting but ok, I take everyone's point that that's life and tough, basically!

Yes, it is between me and 1 other so yes, that's the reason for second interviews and fair enough if they want to probe more, if they're not sure they should see us both again although clearly I am much better . Fine by me, I'm well prepared. Xena, I did ask it at the end as part of my questions to them and you're right, I'm not sure whether I want to work for her. Enid, agree, her response sounds chippy but she's quite quiet and unprepossessing and so maybe, and it's a big maybe, she's not a skilled interviewer and the question really threw her. Hmm, I'm not sure she's earned the benefit of the doubt tbh.

Thanks Tinker, WWB, eefs and everyone who said I am not being unreasonable! Blu, thanks for another not unreasonable vote and yes, agree re putting myself out but see above, bk is right about my feelings on this I think. Earlybird, yes, quite re your take on her reaction and that is in no pressure situation, quite. Eefs, it's not a contract, it's a perm job so this would be a long term relationship.

Hmm, I'll definitely use Thursday to find out more about her I think. Thank you everyone and for the good wishes, really helpful views. I'll let you know how I get on.

bk, what waas your reasonable question and the response? (don't tell me if you don't want to, just being nosy!)

edam Mon 18-Jul-05 13:30:17

I've recruited a few people and always hold second interviews with candidates I shortlist from first interview. It's amazing how people change from first to second. Plus to distinguish between the best candidates (if you are lucky enough to have two or three very strong ones).

I always give tests at end of first interview, so I can discuss anything that comes up at second. Also helps to rule out people who interview well but don't actually have the right skills.

Your question was entirely reasonable and would have been happy to answer it - her response is a bit odd. But maybe second interview will be reassuring. We all have our off moments.

WideWebWitch Mon 18-Jul-05 13:33:51

Ah Scummy, your post wasn't there when I started typing my enormous one! Hmm, her tone of voice, well, hard to say really. She's very quiet, no charisma or apparent energy, I think she was thrown by it, definitely. She wasn't aggressive, hers was just such an odd reponse, I really don't expect people to find questions like that unsettling or inappropriate but she clearly did, it was sort of 'oh, I didn't expect you to ask me anything about me' kind of thing. And she laughed as she said it and looked at HR woman for ? dunno, guidance? Who knows? So maybe she isn't horrible, maybe she just doesn't know how to describe her style and isn't an experienced interviewer (she really, really ought to be imo given her role)? Will interview her again on Thursday and see what I think!

WideWebWitch Mon 18-Jul-05 13:35:55

Thanks edam. I think this is partly a case of expectation management too: the agent told me they would make a decision last week (because they'd told him so) and it turned out they couldn't without seeing us again.

Skribble Mon 18-Jul-05 13:41:35

It sounds like you just caught her with a question she wasn't prepaired for. I think second interveiws can take on many forms and for many reasons, changing it at last minute a bit unprofessional but perhaps difficult to get all the people together for it.

ks Mon 18-Jul-05 13:47:58

Message withdrawn

Prufrock Mon 18-Jul-05 15:32:28

Yes - I agree with bk too www.

(Mini hijack - interview bk, what interview?)

SenoraPostrophe Mon 18-Jul-05 15:33:56

www - I would take it to mean that she is a very inexperienced interviewer. I bet that's why they're having the second interview, in fact.

(good luck by the way!)

ScummyMummy Mon 18-Jul-05 15:37:02

Good point Pru. Interview, bk?

Miaou Mon 18-Jul-05 15:58:53

www, nothing to add in terms of advice, but I had a similar experience when I turned the tables at a job interview for PA to a Managing Director. When asked if I had any questions, I asked the MD, "what qualities do you think are the most important in your PA?". He couldn't answer the question.

11 months later I left the job because he was so inconsistent in his expectations of me (one day telling me to set up a new office at the other end of the country, the next day yelling at me in an open plan office that I was "only his secretary" because I dared to order signage for said office without checking with him - can you tell it still rankles 6 years on? ).

I wish I had listened to my "red flag" ....

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