You’re reading an excerpt of Ask Me This Instead: Flip the Interview to Land Your Dream Job, a book by Kendra Haberkorn. This powerful work is written by a veteran recruiter for job-seekers who want to find their dream job—not just the next job. Purchase the book to support the author and the ad-free Holloway reading experience. You get instant digital access, worksheets and a question database, commentary and future updates, and a high-quality PDF download.
Often the person writing the job description and crafting the expectations has a credible understanding of what needs to be done, the skills required, and how the role fits into the broader context or team. Perhaps they have done similar work themselves or managed a team with similar positions and goals. If this is the case for the role you’re interviewing for, it will be to your advantage. However, it is possible that the hiring manager is scoping a role that is distant from their own expertise and experience. In this scenario, there is a chance that, despite their best intentions, they miss the mark on defining the work and aligning the requirements to specific skills, capabilities, and knowledge and may not be as targeted or effective in screening candidates at every stage of the interview process.
There is a significant disconnect between the title and responsibilities. For example, they are hiring a “Director,” but the responsibilities represent those typically fulfilled by entry-level positions or use terms and descriptions that don’t quite align with what you’d expect to see in that position.
Interviewers seem unprepared in the conversations. You might encounter unprepared interviewers, which can be very frustrating when you think it could impact their ability to accurately assess your potential for the role, and especially when you’ve prepared.. The lack of preparation could be apparent with any interviewer, regardless of their level or role in the hiring process, and could be due to a lack of clarity about the role, an absence of interview structure and guidance, process fatigue (i.e. having interviewed many candidates in quick succession or as a result of a long, drawn-out process) or the reality that a busy calendar or urgent issue limited their ability to adequately prepare.
The hiring manager has followed a very different career path and is new to managing people in this discipline/domain. This can be an opportunity and a challenge depending on what you are looking for in a manager. If you want to be autonomous, it could be an advantage, if you are confident in their ability to listen, understand, and support or advocate for what you need.
The hiring manager and interview team have little to share about the onboarding process. Depending on the company stage and internal processes in place, there may be robust planning and coordination or a bare-bones approach. The most important thing is to understand if the team is thinking beyond the interviews and how much of a role you’ll have to play in structuring or supporting your own onboarding process.
Any of these warning signs, along with anything else that gives you pause, might impact your interviewing experience. You are not able to control or change the experience in many cases, which can be frustrating. If you encounter any of these warning signs, it is worthwhile to reconnect with the hiring manager or recruiter. Approach the conversation in a positive and proactive way, using exploratory questions like the ones outlined in the Ask Me This Instead question database.