The Worst Types of Interviewers on Your Job Search: #2 The Egomaniac

A couple weeks ago we met The Downer and talked about ways to help determine if the role is as bad as the hiring manager makes it sound. Now, it’s time to meet The Egomaniac.

Have you ever had an interview that went like this?

Interviewer: Tell me about yourself!

Candidate: Sure. I’ve been a social media manager for the last five years, where I–

Interviewer: That’s great. I can read. But what have you done?

Candidate: I was just getting to that. When I started at my current employer, I developed a new social media marketing plan that increased engagement by 80% and–

Interviewer: 80%? Is that supposed to “wow” me? I’ve increased engagement rates by over 1000%. Engagement is just one piece of the puzzle, anyway. What about followers?

Candidate: We started at around five hundred and now we have almost nine thousand on Facebook. On Twitter–

Interviewer: Nine thousand? We’ve got almost forty thousand here.

Candidate: Well, you’re a much bigger brand that has been around awhile. We’re a start-up–

Interviewer: That’s my point. I’ve never heard of you. Your marketing plan must not be working that well

Candidate: Actually, if you look at the increase in followers in the last year–

Interviewer: See, if I was in your shoes, I’d be asking myself why I only have nine thousand followers. When I first started here, I doubled our followers in a month.

Candidate: That’s…very impressive.

Interviewer: It wasn’t easy. I was pulling seventy hour weeks, giving up my weekends. But that’s me. I don’t stop at good enough. I break records.

Candidate: Good for you!

Interviewer: Look, I’ve got more than two hundred applicants for this job. You’re my tenth interview today. This is a one-of-a-kind opportunity. I’ve turned around every company I’ve worked at–quadrupled their business. You will not find a better mentor. But I’ve gotta wonder–do you want this bad enough?

Candidate: Are you sure there’s enough room for me? Your ego is making it hard to breathe.

Don’t you wish you could say that last line? If your interviewer is frequently interrupting or talking over you and/or cutting down your achievements, while boasting about their own, chances are you’re dealing with what I like to call The Egomaniac. The interviewer might not be as over-the-top as the above example, but the impact is the same. You are being made to feel small. If this is your would-be supervisor, take heed. You’re getting a taste of what your daily life might feel like. Unfortunately, unless you enjoy working for an egomaniac, taking this job probably isn’t the best idea. But that doesn’t mean you have to let them get to you.

Here are ways I’ve dealt with an egomaniac in an interview, when they’ve tried to make me feel small:

  1. I don’t let them rile me up. I once had an interviewer attack my website and portfolio, piece by piece. In fact, it seemed like they’d called me in just for this purpose. I listened, mentally pasting a big, red clown nose on them while they spoke (I’m a designer, after all), and reminded myself that this wasn’t about me. Plenty of employers had complimented me on my portfolio, and I had the stats to back up the success of my work. After they were done, I remained calm and thanked them for the feedback. When they called for a second interview, I told them I wasn’t interested.
  2. If I’m on the fence (is it them or am I just having an insecure day?), I ask them what their expectations are – what do they want me to achieve within the first three months? If their expectations are unrealistic, I know this probably isn’t the right opportunity for me.
  3. I vent to trusted friends and family. Let’s face it. The interview process can be brutal, and some employers can treat you very poorly throughout the process, from ghosting you after an interview to giving you false hopes. It’s normal to feel frustrated and angry. Sometimes you just need to get it all out!
  4. Onward and upward! When I have an interview with someone who makes me feel small, I vent about it and then I move on. Life is too short to let someone like that take up any more of my time. I’ll save my energy for the hiring managers who do see what I can offer and understand the power of positive feedback and encouragement.

Have you ever had an interview like this? How did you respond? Feel free to share your story below!

Job Search #IRL: It’s Tough Being a New Grad

If you’re a new grad, you probably already know this. Getting your first job requires persistence and a serious amount of hustle. I graduated with a B.A. in Cinema Studies and a B.S. in Psychology (variety is my jam), and I wanted to find a role that directly related to my degrees. Since being the next Kathryn Bigelow wasn’t in the cards just then, I tried for counseling, HR, and executive assistant roles, given my IRL experience in the latter two. But I quickly ruled counseling out because you need even more schooling (ugh), and I’d really like to contribute to society quickly rather than be in school…again. So, I came up with a better plan. Focus on human resources and executive assistant roles and look in two locations—Seattle and San Francisco.

Okay, so the “better” plan wasn’t perfect. Flying myself back and forth between two cities for interviews wasn’t a cakewalk, but it ended up being worth the hassle. More locations=more opportunities. I also treated the job hunt as a full time job, devoting a set amount of time each day to researching opportunities and improving my application materials. For example, if I wasn’t getting any hits off the current version of my resume and cover letter, I asked for feedback from my network and made changes accordingly. It’s all about the hook. What can you offer that most other candidates can’t? We all have something we kick ass at—hopefully something related to the jobs we’re applying for. I’m really great at being detail-oriented (perhaps to a fault) and multi-tasking. So, I made sure my resume, cover letter, and answers during my interviews reflected that.

After a long, tough search—seriously, I thought the day would never come—I got an offer from Vittana, a non profit that allowed people to lend money to students in developing countries via peer to peer lending. Part of my job was as Kushal’s Executive Assistant, and oh my god, we couldn’t be more different. Kushal was and is a total cowboy, full of wild ideas, and I’m the one that made sure things worked logistically and didn’t fall through the cracks. I grew and accomplished so much at Vittana, allowing me to gain more responsibilities, be promoted to Development Associate, and gain the confidence I needed in my early career. I definitely have all the lovely people I worked with at Vittana to thank for giving me that first chance.

When Vittana merged with Kiva, Kushal went the extra mile and helped me get a marketing/development role at Code.org. I loved the people I worked with and gained new experiences in a company that required its people to have some incredible amounts of hustle, and to this day, it keeps hitting milestone after impressive milestone. But I got to that point where I needed to do something different—I just wasn’t quite sure what that “more” was. So, I left Code.org and entered funemployment, trying to figure out more about myself and where I wanted to go next, what I wanted to do.

If it’s financially feasible, I recommend doing this to anyone who feels like they’ve hit a wall. Let’s face it. Many of us don’t have it figured out before we’re thirty and that’s okay! There is no law on the books that says you have to stay on the path you started on when you graduated. How boring would that be? Like nearly every job you will ever hold, life is all about throwing curveballs your way. We never stop figuring out who we are and what we want, because we are always changing. 

At some point I had come up with a goal: I wanted a job where I could lead a team/manage people before I was 30. So, what came next for me? Enter Kushal, part II. Yes, that pesky Kushal called up and pitched me on TalentWorks, an idea I loved and could relate to—helping other people find jobs. I met the team, interviewed with them, and I was a fit! I mean, you should see us together on Slack. It’s a good mixture of business talk, friendly banter, and emojis and it’s great. My role started off as Lead Talent Advocate (TA) where I supported people with their job search (resume editing, 1:1s, mock interviews, etc.), and I loved every minute of it. Helping people is my passion; to empathize with people’s struggles and provide solutions and make them feel they’re not alone? That feeling is priceless. What am I doing now? Well, because of aforementioned detail-orientedness and multi-tasking abilities, earlier this year I became the Director of Operations and Project Manager for the company. I still do some TA’ing on the side when I have time, but to be honest this is the role that I was looking for when I was “soul-searching” during funemployment, and I couldn’t be more appreciative for it.

One big thing I’ve learned over the course of my career is the importance of my network. I know we hear it a lot. Network, network, network. That’s how you get the good jobs. But I really have found that to be true—I know you introverts are covering your ears right now. I get it. I had a pretty limited professional network when I graduated, mostly from my part-time job during college. If you don’t have a professional network, don’t stress. You have other networks — peers, friends, family, etc.— take advantage of those relationships you’ve already got in addition to figuring out your strengths and using those to your advantage during your job search. Like I said, there is something we all kick ass at. Once you start your first job, your professional network will grow and take note to remember the people you worked well with. These are people you can hopefully reach out to again during your future job searches. Who knows? You may even have a Kushal hidden about who will help you find opportunities for years to come.

Keep persisting and don’t be afraid to take a chance or two. You never know where those jobs will lead you or who you will meet along the way.

Hiring Is Surging Up To 3.2x After Hurricane Irma: The Economic Chaos of Natural Disasters, Part II

In its October report, the Department of Labor showed hiring had rebounded to normal after the hurricanes. Our last post showed that this was actually wrong: not only did it rebound, hiring surged 2.9x in some cases after Hurricane Harvey in Texas.

What about Hurricane Irma? What happened in Florida?

Screenshot from 2017-11-06 11-32-06

Compared to Texas, the surges are even more dramatic in Florida: for instance, demand for architects is surging by 3.2x, food service managers by 2.6x and claims examiners by 2.3x.

What’s the difference? And why is it happening? Let’s dig in a bit more.

Nursing & Medical Assistant Jobs

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185mph winds start knocking roofs off houses and throwing fully-grown trees through the air… it’s bound to hurt people. Right after Hurricane Irma, Florida governor Rick Scott pleaded for help: Florida needed 1,000 nurses to meet special needs in shelters across the state and they needed them now.

Medical needs don’t disappear the day after a hurricane hits. Demand for nurse practitioners, medical assistants and others surged up dramatically after Hurricane Irma. Although the surge has dissipated for most medical professions by now, demand is still up 1.4x for medical assistants in South Florida.

Hotel, Food Service & Property Management Jobs

bokeh_plot (18)

The luxury and hospitality industry was hit the hardest during September, but not evenly across the board.

Although many tourists decided to cancel plans in September, nearly 7 million people need to be evacuated from their homes and await for that order to be lifted. Some stayed in shelters, but many also went to hotels. We found post-hurricane demand was 1.5x for hotel managers and a staggering 2.6x for food service managers. Demand for food service managers are stilled increased by (1.7x pre-hurricane levels).

And although there’s an ongoing seasonal downturn for property management heading in the fall, we saw a brief but significant surge for property managers after Irma passed through. (If you can’t go home after an evacuation, where do you go? An apartment.) In just a few weeks, demand for property managers surged up by 90% in late September.

If you have experience in food service and are looking for a job, you need to look in South Florida — they need you and you need them. Let us know if we can help (we’re offering our services for free to anyone displaced by Hurricane Harvey or Irma; see below).

After the calamity comes the cost.

Insurance- and Finance-Related Jobs

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As with Hurricane Harvey, right after Hurricane Irma passed through, we saw a huge 2.3x surge in demand for claims examiners. Analysts estimate $42.5-$65 billion in property damage caused by Hurricane Irma. $19 billion of this estimated damage is just in Florida.

After the claims come in and the examiners return from inspections, what happens? If you’re a big insurance firm and about to pay out $6+ billion in damages, you might need someone with the mathematical mojo to figure out how you’re going to move all that money. In recent weeks, we’re seeing a 2.0x demand surge for financial analysts.

If you’re in the Gulf Coast or South and are looking for a financial analyst job, you should consider taking a short-term role in Florida.

Construction-Related Jobs

Hurricane Irma damaged 65% of all homes in the Florida Keys. That’s a mind-boggling level of damage. Many people have written about the shortage of contractors, but what else is this impacting?

Just a week after the hiring spike of claims examiners around September 15th above, you can see below that the demand for cost estimators jump up by +23% in just a few days below.

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You can practically see people working together, figuring out what needs to get done and then making it happen step-by-step. And then:

Once the estimators finish, surveyors start getting at it. After spiking dramatically up in early October, demand for surveyors is still increasing and currently 1.5x pre-hurricane levels.

Simultaneously, you can see demand for project managers increasing to 1.6x with a pronounced spike occurring on October 7th. Although demand started dropping briefly, demand for construction project managers actually started increasing again and is currently at 1.8x pre-hurricane demand.

If you’re a construction project manager or surveyor looking for work near the Gulf Coast, you should check out South Florida.

Design, Architecture & Engineering Jobs

Just as we need good people rebuilding on the ground, we also need people developing plans for destroyed buildings, testing structural integrity and drafting blueprints.

bokeh_plot (23).png

The #1 surge in post-hurricane demand? Architects, surging 3.2x over pre-hurricane levels. Although the surge peaked on October 7th, demand for architects is still up 1.6x over pre-hurricane levels. Similarly, demand for drafters surged dramatically (1.8x pre-hurricane levels) and is still at all-time highs (1.5x pre-hurricane demand).

Demand for architects spiked in Houston after Hurricane Harvey as our last article displayed, but not nearly as surging as in the after mass of Hurricane Irma. Why?

Hurricane Harvey damaged over 200,000 homes, but only 800 were completely destroyed (still a horrifying number). In contrast, Hurricane Irma destroyed 25% of the 53,000 homes in the Florida Keys. That’s 13,250 homes that are just gone.

It’s the difference between flood damage vs. wind damage. And it’s also the difference in demand for architects between Florida and Texas.

If you’re an architect or drafter and you want to design (hurricane-proof) buildings, you should search in Florida — they need you. These are rare, specialized skills and they’re hurting. Let us know or try ApplicationAssistant.


(If you don’t care about the math-y details, just skip ahead to the next section. If you want to nerd out with us, feel free. We’re all nerds at heart here at TalentWorks.)

Our Methodology

We performed a timeseries analysis of a random subsample of 52,866 job postings from the past 5 months in South Florida, covering 103 distinct industries and roles. For each role, we then regressed the number of job postings per day using a blended linear kernel and computed p-values using the Kolmogorov-Smirnov test, comparing post-hurricane samples to a 90-day pre-hurricane baseline period. The above is a selection of  jobs that had p-values less than 0.100.

Although the above graphs don’t explicitly control for seasonality, we cross-checked seasonality separately and found that they can’t explain the surges above. We also did an initial perturbation analysis and verified the above surges are robust to noise.


Next Steps: What Can You Do?

“That’s cute and all, but what am I supposed to do with all of that?” (You might be thinking…) Here are two things you can do today:

  1. Are you looking for a job? If you’ve been displaced by Hurricane Irma or Harvey, I’m making the executive decision today (perks of being CEO…) that TalentWorks will offer all of our help to you for free, including our Interview Guarantee. (We have an 88% success rate.) [*]
  2. Do you want personalized alerts about hiring surges near you? (So you can be first-in-line for job applications! Applying quickly matters, a lot.) To get real-time personalized alerts, upload your resume to TalentWorks.

[*] To make this happen, sign up for ApplicationAssistant normally and just email your TalentAdvocate proof that you lived near Florida or coastal Texas. It’ll ask for a credit card but we’ll update your plan immediately and you won’t get charged.


This is an ongoing series about the economic chaos of natural disasters. Next week, we’ll write about the effects of Hurricane Irma on hiring in South Florida. Want to stay up-to-date on all things about your job search? Sign up for our blog!



P.S. We’ll never spam you. We send at most one email a week.

10 Signs That Say–You Probably Don’t Want to Work Here

We’ve all been on interviews that don’t feel right. Maybe we can’t quite put our finger on it. Maybe the hiring manager had glowing red eyes, but your rent is overdue and you stuck it out. No job is perfect. So, how do you know if you should proceed with caution or run away screaming?

Well, only you can decide what you’re willing to put up with—we all have different boundaries. But there are signs that should make you think long and hard before taking that job. In fact, you may be better off having the manager with the glowing red eyes.

1. They only give you one day and time to interview. If you can’t make it, too bad.

I’ve had employers call and invite me for an interview that day. Well, “invite” is too polite of a word. It was more like—here’s when we can meet with you. Take it or leave it. If an employer refuses to work with you to find a good interview time, especially if you’re currently employed, that may be the first of many unreasonable demands. Do they want to interview you or are they just going down a list? In my experience, employers who were truly excited about talking to me asked when I was available and did their best to find a time that worked for both of us.

2. Your potential hiring manager and/or coworkers are rude or seem indifferent to you.

I once had an “interview” where the hiring manager looked me up and down (from head to toe), gave me a terse greeting, and then sat me in front of a computer and told me to take a test. Only the directions were contradictory and confusing. When I asked for clarification, the hiring manager snapped at me. I walked out and didn’t look back.

If they’re looking at their phone while you’re talking, being demeaning, asking inappropriate personal questions, or making you feel uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to say—see ya! As candidates, we’re expected to bring our A-game to every interview. Why should it be any different for an employer wanting to attract the best candidates?

3. They keep mentioning how many other candidates they have over and over…

We get it. A gazillion other people applied for this job, and you have your pick. Yay you! If a hiring manager sifts through a stack of resumes in front of you, mentions how many interviews they have today, tomorrow, and next week, and generally can’t stop talking about how many GRRREAT candidates they have, you have to question the motivation behind it. It’s not like we don’t know we are competing against other candidates. I don’t know anyone who has gone into an interview thinking—I must be the only one they’re talking to. I’m just THAT fabulous.

So, why would any good employer need to constantly remind you how many options they have? If they’re a great place to work, it’s generally assumed they get a lot of applicants.

4. They put down other candidates or former employees

I’ve heard it all in interviews. We got 200 applicants, but half their resumes went in the trash. Another candidate did this or said that. One time a hiring manager even said—the person who used to be in this role could be a total b***! But you seem chill.

This is just straight up unprofessional behavior. And you know what they say. If they’re doing it to others….

5. They try to sell you on the benefits of working in a closet…with the copier and 4 other people.

Ah, lack of space in the office. That’s right up there with IT being overwhelmed and really bad coffee. Does playing musical cubicles sound familiar? It’s common to feel the squeeze, especially if you’re working with start-ups or smaller businesses.

But this is also a place where we have to spend 8-10 hours of our day…5 days a week. It matters. We can’t all expect the corner office with an ocean view, but you should have a space that is comfortable, sanitary, and your own. It should be a space you can be productive in, even if it’s not ideal. If they can’t provide you with that, ask if you can work remotely. If they say no, well…how badly do you want the job?

 6. Everyone acts like they’re stuck at a timeshare presentation.

An interview is a great time to scope out the culture and environment. You can actually tell a lot about a place in a short amount of time, if you’re paying attention. Are people talking to each other and laughing or are they all at their desks staring at their computers with zombie eyes? Do they look at your hiring manager in fear? Do they smile at you or stare at you with suspicion?

One question I always ask is—what do you love about working here? If they fumble with the answer or the best thing they can come up with is “I like the challenge of getting a lot done with little to no resources”, I know I’m probably looking at a not so great environment. You can tell when people love where they work. Their passion and energy is infectious and obvious.

7. They leave you waiting for fifteen minutes or more, and they don’t apologize.

Shit happens. Sometimes your dog eats your thumb drive, which has the only copy of the presentation you need to give in an hour. Sometimes your client’s website has crashed, and it’s all your fault. You knew you shouldn’t have installed that plugin.

But a candidate’s time is valuable too. We have places to be—like back at our current jobs. If a hiring manager leaves you waiting and doesn’t apologize or acknowledge the wait, don’t ignore that behavior. It might not be deal breaker the first time, but it’s concerning if it happens more than once.

8. They have bad reviews that point out the same issues. 

Isn’t it great that employers and toasters have reviews these days? Pay a visit to Glassdoor, Indeed, or other employer review sites before going on your interview. If you see multiple bad reviews that all point out similar or the same issues, take heed and ask questions that hit on some of those issues. For example, if people are complaining about micromanagement, ask the hiring manager what their management style is like or how projects get approved. If you don’t like their answers, that makes your decision pretty easy!

9. This role has been restructured.

I hate it when this happens. You think you’re interviewing for your dream job, and they sheepishly giggle and say – well, the role has shifted. You’ll actually be doing (something not even close to the original job). At best, they didn’t think the role through well enough. At worst, they have no clue who they need or what direction they want to go in next. Either way, they’ve wasted your time and that’s really not cool.

10. They pressure you into accepting the job offer immediately.

If an employer doesn’t want to give you time to think an offer over, which is in their best interest as well, consider that a huge red flag. Asking for a couple days is perfectly reasonable, especially if you have other offers to consider. You have to do what’s best for you, and if an employer doesn’t understand that, is that really someone you want to work for?

Remember: Interviews are a two-way street. They should be selling you on the job and company as much as you’re selling them on your skills. Listen to your gut, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

 

The Worst Types of Interviewers on Your Job Search: #1 The Downer

I’ve had some incredible interviews, and I’ve also had some real doozies. Sometimes I think back and say, man, I wish I could’ve said… A bad interview can leave you feeling disappointed and frustrated. You might even blame yourself, wondering if you left the wrong impression. I’ve blurted things out that had me reaching for the invisible delete key. One time a hiring manager looked at me with a grin and said “You’re not a morning person, are you?” To which I’d answered, “No, not at all.” It was instinct. They’d been talking to me like we were old friends, and I’d let my guard down. They stopped grinning. At that moment, even though I’d tried to reassure them I could start at 8 instead of 9 (I’d done it for years), I could tell they’d made up their mind about me. In hindsight, the role wouldn’t have been a good fit for me. I do best with employers who are more about my results than what hours I come in, and I’m definitely more productive when I can start at 9.

But there are interviewers out there who just aren’t great at interviewing. Maybe they’re socially awkward or they’ve never interviewed anyone in their life. I can deal with that. But sometimes their behavior sends up a huge red flag, whether they are unprofessional or just a huge downer.

Have you ever had an interview that went like this?

Interviewer: Sorry for the mess. We don’t have much time to clean up around here.

Candidate: No worries. How’s your day going?

Interviewer: Well, I’ve got more projects than I can handle and my phone won’t stop ringing. My assistant just quit on me, so I have no help.

Candidate: Oh no. That sounds really stressful.

Interviewer: (sighs) It’s crazy, but that’s how it is around here. Don’t go looking for anyone to hold your hand. You’re not the type who needs your hand held, are you?

Candidate: No, I’m pretty used to teaching myself anything I don’t know. Plus, I prefer more autonomy.

Interviewer: (chuckles) Well, I didn’t say anything about autonomy. We’d like you to be a self-starter and figure things out, but any decisions need to be run by upper management. And they need a lot of convincing.

Candidate: Ah, ok. Good to know.

Interviewer: So, I was reading through your resume, and I’m wondering if this is the right fit for you. It seems like you have a big creative streak, and there isn’t a lot of room for creativity in this role.

Candidate: Can you be more specific?

Interviewer: We’re not like one of those fun, hip agencies with ping pong tables. We don’t come to work to play. It’s a tight ship around here and it’s a very high stress environment. Upper management wants things done a certain way and we have to stick to that.

Candidate: Got it. So, what would a typical day look like?

Interviewer: Chaotic. If you like to take breaks, it’s probably not the right environment for you.

Candidate: I see. Um… What are some things you really love about working here?

Interviewer: Uh… Hmm… Well… (eyes roll up toward the ceiling) Since we have too much to do, very little resources, and some very unrealistic expectations to manage, every day is a new challenge. There are some days my heart is beating out of my chest, you know?

Candidate: Huh. Let me rephrase that question a little. Why on earth should I work here?

Okay, maybe don’t say that (it’s so tempting, though, isn’t it?) I like to call this interviewer type The Downer. Instead of selling you on the role and the company, they seem to be saying—run and don’t look back! Even when pressed to say something positive about the company, they can only come up with more negatives. Is the employer really that awful to work for or is the interviewer just a “the glass is always half empty” kind of person?  Sometimes it’s hard to know! So, when I find myself in this situation, here are some ways I try to figure it out:

  1. I look up the company on Glassdoor and other employer review sites before I go on the interview. Are there several negative reviews that mirror what this hiring manager is saying?
  2. If there are other people in the interview, I ask them what they love about working there and what they wish they could improve. If their answers are similar, that tells me what I need to know.
  3. I ask for a tour and the chance to meet any potential coworkers. Body language and the general vibe of the office can tell me a lot.
  4. I reach out to my network to see if anyone knows anyone who has worked for the company. Then I write that person and ask for the scoop.

If The Downer is your would-be supervisor, you also have to ask yourself—can I work with someone who seems this unhappy, regardless of the reason? Never underestimate the importance of your relationship with your manager.

Have you ever had an interview like this? How did you respond? Feel free to share your story below!