What are your interviewing red flags?

I've enjoyed the new Certified User discussions and wanted to throw my hat in the ring.

Here's my question: what red flags do you look for when you're interviewing at a new company or for a new work project? What alerts you that the manager may be a terror to work with or that the work itself is advertised as one thing but is actually another?

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One quick rule of thumb is how many team members you get to meet during the interview process. For example, if you're interviewing for a post-MBA banking Associate job and they don't let you speak to or meet the Analysts during the process, that's a huge red flag to me.

Usually how happy the most junior people are in a team is reflective of the rest of the group's culture.

Be excellent to each other, and party on, dudes.

Three big ones for me:

I've had a development CEO reschedule an interview with me 5 times over the course of 6 months, only to tell me when I finally interviewed that there are no positions open because they just hired two people. If I hadn't been a desperate soon to be grad, I would have abandoned that one a long time ago. If you're not going to respect my time when we're "courting" each other, I can't even imagine how you'll respect my time when I'm employed. This applies to most anything in the interview process too. If someone's a dick, don't assume they're just "testing" you - even if they laugh about it later, they made the choice to be a dick on purpose, i.e. they're a dick.

Another thing that's a red flag to me is an unrealistic or ego-driven understanding of where the company is in the market. Back in my brokerage days, I interviewed at what, at that time, was the 3rd top shop in the market. It was a younger shop than the two ahead of it by a long shot, just recently assumed a flagship brand, and was incredibly hungry - all the things I was looking for. In my interview, when asked why I wanted to work there, I said I wanted to be a part of a young, hungry, aggressive organization on the upswing. I was immediately cut off by the partners, who told me that they were already at least 1b in the market, if not tied for top dog, when every measurable and immeasurable metric clearly showed otherwise. I didn't think much of it at the time, but after I took the job I quickly realized that assumptions not based in reality and massive egos were the norm at that organization, to its tremendous detriment.

Finally, don't fall for the "room for growth" or "you'll be this, but you'll be able to touch x, y, and z" unless there is a specific program set up for you to achieve those goals. I took a job as an acquisitions guy with a company that needed some help with property management because they just fired their property manager in my market and they needed me to pitch in. I kicked ass at the lease up, filled the building, and got ready to move to my "real" role. Almost a year later, I was still a residential property manager and I hadn't spent more than a handful of days doing anything acquisitions related, much less acquired something. Really, they needed someone with leasing experience, knew I didn't want to be a property manager, so they smothered me with upside to get me to do their dirty work.

Also, shouts out for the @, OP. I already like you better than @APAE" :)

Commercial Real Estate Developer

My pleasure; I enjoy your posts!

To add to your first point, that's very true! I also pay attention to how interviewers talk about people who were previously in the role you're going for or who just left the company. "Anthony is a dumbass" reflects worse on the person saying that than him, and mean jokes at another's expense are not a one-off.

Completely agree with your point on ego. The small/new (not always, but usually) organizations who have a chip on their shoulders when compared to the big guys are the worst and are usually dominated by politics and ego. The sad reality is that the fights are so intense because the stakes are so low.

The "room for growth" excuse is one I see wielded all the time with recent grads and is on the top of my list of pet peeves. It's usually tied in with "your responsibilities will include a little bit of everything" and a lack of specific examples when you press people on what you specifically will be doing. Usually, it's a chance for more senior people to pawn off things they have no desire to do onto young kids who don't know any better and then take the fall. If they can't articulate what you're going to be doing and how it fits into the broader structure, it probably isn't worth doing.

The small/new (not always, but usually) organizations who have a chip on their shoulders when compared to the big guys are the worst and are usually dominated by politics and ego. The sad reality is that the fights are so intense because the stakes are so low.

On that reminds me of another one. Don't fall into the habit of thinking your competition is stupid, that their work product is "the worst," etc. Essentially, don't get trapped by your own spin.

Commercial Real Estate Developer

Went to a consensus semi-target, even though I didn't go to Bschool. I absolutely hate it when my interviewer from some other slightly higher ranked semitarget puts my school/degree/education down. Only happens at firms where the MD might have a prestigious degree but all the entry-levels are non-targets and to be frank usually desperate and accept a job with low pay and no real opportunities to build skills.

Best Response

This is an important point. There are a lot of reasons someone might not have gone to Harvard that have nothing to do with whether they got in or not. I got a full academic scholarship to a semi-target for undergrad and took it because it was free. I then went to two different top targets for graduate school on a major international scholarship. Getting asked to justify why I went to a particular school for undergrad by a person whose academic qualifications are only better than mine at the undergraduate level is beyond annoying. The question is never asked of the two targets I attended. It is essentially a dick-measuring competition where the interviewer is essentially saying, "You know I went to Harvard, right? And that all smart people who could go to Harvard would go to Harvard, right? Now convince me that you're smart despite the fact that you didn't go to Harvard."

The thing is--the people who conduct themselves this way are morons. They rely on the prestige of their alma mater to convince people they are cleverer than they really are (why Donald Trump mentions Wharton so often but never discusses his first two years at Fordham). I don't want to work with someone like that.

Aside from that, I always make a note to remember if the people with whom I am interviewing say someone works 'for' or 'with' them. I haven't met a C-suite executive at a major company who has ever said 'for.' No one works 'for' you. They work 'with' you for the advancement of the firm. The people who get satisfaction out of sitting above someone in a hierarchy are not worth spending your time around. They have a bad tendency to give you all their shit work (because 'shit rolls downhill'), not respect your time (because your time is less valuable than theirs) and take credit for your contributions (because it's 'their' team).

Unless you're working directly for the CEO/founder/majority shareholder of a company or family office, don't let anyone make you their bitch by telling others that you're their underling. If they do it to anyone, they're likely to do it to you as well.

Great question.

Some red flags:

  1. The interview process is short and hurried: You want in person interviews to be relatively lengthy (at least last the allotted time) so that both parties have sufficient time to feel each other out and to ask questions about the role, tasks, team/organizational structure, etc. If you get an offer after a very hurried interview, you should be careful. It's generally because the company's hiding something from you/didn't want you asking too many questions. In my experience, it's usually because the job description/title doesn't actually match the role or because turnover is very high and they can't find a qualified candidate for the salary offered. In this scenario, they're eager to make an offer to someone that looks good on paper so that there's no issue explaining the hire to HR (in other words, they'll take anyone).

  2. You only meet with the MD or the Director: You should always meet with at least your direct supervisor. Really, you should technically meet the entire team (excluding analysts and potentially junior level associates). A solid shop wants to be comfortable with you. They don't want an issue arising with the team they already have in place. The care enough about their existing employees not to hire someone that may potentially cause friction. The broader team will be involved in the process. If you get to a last round interview and if you only meet with the MD or with the MD and a director, it means that they either want to hide you from the team or that they want to hide the team from you. It's a bad situation in either scenario.

  3. The people interviewing you complain about their work in front of you: Pretty self-explanatory. If you go to lunch with the hiring manager and if he/she is shitting all over the team and the MD, take his/her word for it. Any negativity about the group from the people asking you to join the group is a big red flag.

  4. If you're talking to an idiot: If they guy interviewing you botches his own technical question or is just clearly an idiot than clearly you have an issue. Do you really want to work for someone that can't contribute to your professional development and may in fact impede it? Do you want to work for an organization that would hire such an idiot?

  5. They take offense when you negotiate the offer: It's completely normal to try and negotiate a higher salary if you don't believe the offer reflects your productivity and experience. They have the right to deny or to counter. Ultimately employment agreements are commercial transactions. Your employer is not doing you a favor and you're not doing them a favor. The price paid should reflect what you're worth. You should be careful if they take offense to this. It signals that they have a paternalistic mindset where employees should be "grateful." Employers that have this mentality typically overwork you, aren't generous with raises/bonuses and generally undervalue your contributions.

  6. If you're given a very short time to accept the offer once its made: I guess this is technically after the interview process, but if the company gives you less than a few days to make your decision, then they're likely trying to pressure you. Either because they know they low balled you or because they're desperate to fill that role. Again, both scenarios are bad. A firm that cares will give you at least a week. Ideally, they will tell you to "take your time" and to "reach out if you have any questions."

A good interviewing process takes time. Typically, there's a phone prescreen and then a phone competency interview. After you get through both phone phases, you're brought in to meet the team. You should sit down with the associates/senior associates, managers/VPs, directors and MDs. The interviews should last between 30 mins to an hour with each interviewer. You may be brought in for another in-person interview with some key people if they weren't in that day. The offer made should reflect your competency and experience and the employer should give you ample time to consider it. They should be open to questions and should not resent the negotiation side of the process.

One other note before the interviewing process: You should look into group turnover always. Look at the average duration of the junior and mid-level employees. If its short but a few key senior level people have been with the team for a long time that typically signals that senior management churns through analysts/managers. In other words, there's an "alliance" on top and all others are expendable.

“Elections are a futures market for stolen property”

This is fantastic advice, Esuric. Thanks for sharing -- I hope these aren't all from personal experience!

To add to #4, I'd be wary of managers who aren't able to do what they ask of the juniors. If they want "exceptional verbal and written communication skills," for instance, they better be on par with George Packer or someone similar, not "wirting like dis on their linkedIn profi le."

Related to the comments on ego, always a red flag for me when a group portrays being extremely busy but has no closed deals to show for it. It's pretty easy in IB/PE to see who is getting deals done. Every group will experience ebbs and flows with deal flow, but I've worked with and interviewed at groups that love to tell everyone how busy they are and think terrible hours are a badge of honor, but somehow always end up with very little to show for it. Avoid these groups.

Look for the groups/firms that let their impressive track records do the talking. If you join a group like this and you end up working really long hours, you will be much happier than the young guy putting together endless pitches and meaningless analyses for deals that will never get done.

I second this sentiment, and would like to add something to it. A lot of the 'work' done at most firms is not productive. If you're in investment banking, you don't want to be in a group that spends all of its time pitching for business but never winning any. That's true in consulting as well. Crafting pitchbooks feels like work, but if you don't win business from it, that 'work' was largely wasted.

If you move to the buy-side, the work becomes more interesting precisely because there is less wasted effort. That's not to say there is no wasted effort, though. I have worked in a venture fund and a corporate development/corporate venture team, and I'd say there is far more time-wasting on the corporate side of things. The amount of nonsense meetings people plan for no apparent reason is just nuts. While I was in the corporate role, I would often just not respond to invitations or whole e-mail chains because I didn't want to get dragged into the internal bullshit that someone in HR or legal wanted to discuss.

I'm interviewing for a new role now to be the deputy head of a corporate venture fund, and my biggest concern is the amount of inward-facing hand-holding I will have to do. I really feel that should be the responsibility of the Chief Investment Officer. I also feel that corporate venture funds should be separately capitalized with a partial ownership of the general partnership remaining in the hands of the partners. Any other structure eventually fails through a death by a thousand cuts. Too much oversight kills corporate VCs when they're forced to operate on quarterly or annual bases. The more independent they are, and the more they are run like traditional VCs, the better they tend to work.

As such, in this particular role, I care about the legal and capital structure more than I would elsewhere because it directly impacts the long-run viability of the job. At more junior levels, this is perhaps less of a concern, but you can't remain a 'junior' forever. I think this is important for anyone considering joining a smaller fund (

Only one I've really seen is when they make you an offer that is off-market, either in terms of comp or level, but caveat it with the promise that you'll move up quickly once you prove yourself. Sure this can work sometimes but, in general, if they don't value you now they're unlikely to fully value you going forwards.

I can definitely echo a lot of the comments made here. The only things I can add are make sure that everything they say is put into writing (also known as reading the offer with a fine tooth comb), and if something seems off, it usually is. I know it's more general advice than anything, but it is something important to consider for any new job or project.

Regarding the first bit of advice, get everything in writing, I was doing some consulting work for a company where the boss was a complete piece of work. When I first started working with his company, I was brought in to improve operational and financial health. There were multiple instances where he would say one thing and then go ahead and deny ever saying it, or times where he would go and do things that violated company policy and say that he could do it despite it being written. When he did that, I might add, I got screamed at by one of his clients who I had happened to have a good relationship for letting it even though there was nothing I could do. I have two stories about getting everything in writing from this that I want to share. The first involved him rehiring an employee who left as a result of staffing issues. The employee left on good terms but a few days later, 3-4 employees quit, creating high turnover in a short term. He asked her to come back, offered the employee a slightly higher salary and full health insurance. The employee took him at his word, accepted the job, and once the first paycheck came in less than it should have been, lo and behold, he didn't keep his word. When the employee brought this up with the boss, He told the employee that he never agreed to anything and asked the employee to prove it. He said that if it wasn't produced in writing, then it doesn't matter because no one will believe it. The second story involves the office manager who was fired. The office manager basically did everything and was a fantastic person who did more to keep the company running than the owner could ever do. The office manager sent the boss an email saying that she wanted to discuss her issues with the company and that she contemplated leaving. Having seen the email, there was nothing in it that remotely indicated that she was quitting. The language was clear as day. The email was sent Sunday, and on Monday, he fired her. Upon filing for unemployment, she got denied because he decided to fight it. At the unemployment hearing, he made a big stink about everything and said she quit. When she presented the email, the unemployment board read the email and decided in her favor. I bring those two stories up because handshake promises are great, but people will try to take advantage of you and screw you. The employee who came back got screwed by not getting the boss' promises in writing, while the boss got screwed when the office manager put her issues in writing. Whatever you agree upon, make sure it's written down, and if there are issues, don't sign on the line until they are resolved. This way, if agreements are made, they can be honored. It's something that everyone should consider making sure is proper, especially for smaller companies.

Speaking of red flags, turnover can be a huge red flag. High turnover can be signs of group dysfunction. If the group is hiring for multiple replacements, be wary that something is wrong with the group dynamic. As others have said, if you cant meet other employees in the group and get a sense of who your working with and the culture, it is something you should keep an eye out for.

The second piece of advice, trust your gut instinct, should go without saying, but it needs to be said. If something seems off, it probably is. This could be in anything, such as bringing up religion, politics or comes off shady in an interview (without it being done in an appropriate manner such as talking the effects of a political decision like the ACA or the Trump tax plan with respect to working healthcare or credit), meeting or inappropriate settings, it should be a red flag. I've had project discussions where there is literally no information to go on and registered something in the back of my mind that this was shady, I turned them down because something about the project didn't seem right. The client I mentioned that I worked with, he had a habit of making inappropriate political and religious comments in front of his clients and I felt ashamed knowing that I was consulting on a project for his company because clients would comment to me about working with him. When I spoke with my manager about this, he said that he should have trusted his gut when the guy made a political comment about something going on at the time unrelated to everything the meeting was about instead of brushing it off. I've interviewed for positions where something just seemed off and I knew that even if I got the offer, I wasn't going to take it because of it. That voice in the back of your head that goes off as a warning, think of it as a red flag. This is the one where you have to really sit and think about your decision before going forward, especially with projects. If you have the opportunity to ask questions, think of it as a yellow flag, otherwise call it a red flag because they don't want you asking questions up front.

Regarding what CRE said, I wholeheartedly agree. Any employer that jerks you around, wastes your time, is all about the ego, or gives you the "room to grow line" should raise red flags. The only way to prevent the last thing is to get it in writing, this way you can bring up the issue when the time is right.

brotherbear , spot on. I agree with your assessment of asking about schooling. I have a friend who interviewed with a major bank and the interviewer basically said if they didn't go to their school, they weren't worth squat. In the real world, those biases actually make it harder to hire qualified candidates.

This has only happened once, but there was an IB firm which called up references (they asked for 6) after multiple interviews and basically grilled the references for an hour each. Then they got back to me saying they want an associate not analyst hire. Incredibly poor form imo

Someone mentioned trusting your gut instinct, which I cannot stress enough. Your gut is usually right.

Most of my red flags have already been touched on, and several uses have given some additional ones that I think are worth considering. What I really think it comes down to is respect. The interview process should be a two-way street with the candidate interviewing the firm just as much as (maybe more so than) the firm is interviewing him/her. This means that firms should respect your time (no constant rescheduling or interviewers forgetting), be open to probing questions about the group and supervisor you will be working with, and when the offer comes, be open to a genuine discussion about compensation. Anything less is unacceptable.

You can tell a lot about the place you are interviewing at and the people you would be working for simply by observing how they treat you throughout the interviewing process. If they expect you to interview on a moment's notice or reschedule the interview a million times or show late to the interview, you can pretty much expect then to be disrespectful of your time when you join full time. If the interviewer is condescending or a dick during the interview, you can expect that person to be a dick when you join full time. I have never met anyone who was a dick to people during the interviews and then turned out to be a really nice guy. If the the firm tries to pressure you into a decision through an unreasonable exploding offer, like giving you 24 hours to decide, or low balls you on comp, it is a sign that they don't value you and never will. The bottom line is...if the firm treats the people it is trying to RECRUIT badly, why would you expect them to treat you better when you join full time. These were all hard lessons I learned myself and hope that others can avoid the same mistakes. Life is too short to work for bad people.

Thank a ton to everyone who posted! As hominem said, a lot of good advice has already been dispensed, which I hope has been helpful to the younger monkeys reading this (I've definitely learned a lot from the previous posters). I'll also add my observations (as opposed to simply commenting on those others wrote in):

  • Lack of respect for personal space If the person touches your laptop without asking, grabs your things just because or isn't mindful of their Ps and Qs, it won't be easy working for them. If they can't respect basic boundaries in a short meeting, then they won't respect work boundaries. Heading out at your normal time? "Oh, oops, here's some work that I needed done 4 hours ago. I need it NOW." (That's another sign, BTW: everything is urgent, even the non urgent stuff). Need to discuss work product differences? They'll make it personal, again, due to lack of manners.

  • Being endlessly (and needlessly) overwhelmed I get it, life gets tough as you get older because the responsibilities pile on. But you also have more experience handling work as you get older, and hopefully more experience in delegating tasks, being efficient, and carving out time to do your work. Running around like a chicken with its head cut off as a hiring manager isn't good. Telltale signs include being told, "I don't have time to train you," "I'm just so busy! I'm always busy!" and "Why doesn't anyone have any common sense in this office?" If they can't get their own people in order, you'll probably be stuck cleaning up their mess.

  • Lack of knowledge about general procedures Before you get hired (and in the first few days/weeks on the job), there's usually paperwork to fill out, training to complete, and other bureaucratic tasks to do within a specified timeframe. Some stuff is company-specific, some is mandated by law. If your manager can't clearly communicate what these tasks are to you, what you need to do to accomplish them, and when they need to be turned in, this is the equivalent of an ambulance wailing down 5th Ave with its lights flashing, telling you to get out, lest you want to get into some deep corporate hole over a completely avoidable scenario.

Great thread, @dcrowoar", I love it. Also happy to see our boy CRE weigh in.

I haven't interviewed for a job in a long time, but I do very often screen people as a potential fit to spend time, energy, and/or money together. I'll offer something very simple.

Make sure everyone has the same motive.

Yes, you could easily think that in interviewing for an associate role at a bigger bank, a pre-MBA associate role in private equity, a junior role in real estate development, a hedge fund analyst role, or any other, you have asymmetric interests to the person on the other side of the table that could potentially be your boss.

That's false. Sure, you want to get paid more and he wants you to get paid less, but that's a microcosm that applies solely to the interview stage. You both should have the same motivation: to advance the firm's interests as far as possible to drive its (and the team's and its individual members') success also as far as possible.

Any deviation from this unanimity in purpose is going add more squeaks to the wheel of your experience at that firm.

If you have a Bob at your private equity fund, you may find yourself frustrated at some point trying to get a deal through Investment Committee. A healthy culture is one where investment team members care about everyone's contributions, regardless of who the individual contributor may be, because it improves overall performance fee income. Duh, but you'd be surprised how political things can get.

If your banking MD cares only about making himself look good and is known to actively deflect blame, criticism, or responsibility to other members of the team, you're going to expose yourself to reputational harm if you get caught holding the bag and someone on the client team or the other side of the deal now thinks you're the reason the documents weren't delivered on time, the deck was wrong, the financing was calculated off the wrong numbers, or the deal failed to close in time. A healthy culture is one where praise flows down and criticism flows up. The leader shares the credit and owns the blame.

Today, my 'interviews' are much higher-level conversations. On a deal I'm running, I may meet potential co-investors, lenders, service providers, consultants, or operators. For a board I get asked to join, it's the other board members, the junior board (if one exists), and executive staff of the organization. For personal capital investments, it's the person (and it always boils down to one) who I know the whole business hinges on.

The primary thing I'm studying is the symmetry of intent.

Is this potential equity partner really going to add value by leveraging their industry relationships? I've seen times where the lead guys at the two (once it was actually three) funds doing the deal bristled at each other and it just turned into this king of the jungle phenomenon where neither wanted to ever let the other look good, so the company stalled because no one was willing to put a trinket on the table that the other guy could've taken credit for at the end of the day. On the other hand, if everyone has the same goal ("let's make money") and a similar lack of ego, that's a great sign.

It doesn't even have to be about a simple directional good/bad assessment. It can be more nuanced, like a 'this good'/'that good' decision.

The executive director of this nonprofit is passionate about improving results dramatically for the same small number of disadvantaged children it currently serves. The constituent group has remained the same size for six years. Does the board feel the same way, or is there a majority actively discussing how to scale the organization and double the size of the constituency? Neither is inherently better than the other (stronger outcomes for a small group versus any marginal lift for the largest group size possible), but misalignment in vision is going to result in a lot of frustration for everyone involved and tragically, poorer outcomes for the kids actually at the center of it all.

I've learned that the biggest red flags that could interrupt my quality of life are when it becomes clear people aren't going to pull in the same direction.

Just like a simple 5-degree misalignment on your tires is going to cause problems to your suspension, challenge your steering, and lead to more fuel consumption ... even a small misalignment of intent in a group setting is going to make everyone's experience more bumpy, harder to control, and require more effort.

If you're in a ten-year-old Ford clunker (working on a small project in your first job out of school), you'll probably notice it less. If you're in a Ferrari at a track day (leading a deal), you're really going to feel it.

I am permanently behind on PMs, it's not personal.

Some good points in here. I'll speak from experience:

1) I had left my job, was about to start an MBA in 3 months and had a bit of time and wanted to work in the new field I was interested to transition in post MBA. This was a job at a startup (red flag number 1) - they had money and raised a bit, interview was 30 minutes (not in their office). He told me how they only hired H/W/S people, only top investment bankers from GS and top consultants from MacKensie (or however the fuck you spell it). Only top people worked for him, he was a stud etc... I came from a top bank in trading and was heading for a H/W/S school, so happy days - profile match...

I was made the offer same day - and was going to be sent a contract. Show up the first day at work, it was not in their office but in a meeting room in one of their investors office (had to bring my own laptop, fine). London office was new so didn't think much about it. Work was shit, he expected people to work all night. There was only one other poor fucker in that office (young guy who thought all jobs were like that and who was clearly exploited). I spent 5 days there, they sent a contract that was complete horse shit. I left the company and have kept it away from my resume (surprisingly they are a large company in Asia, went on glassdoor on my fourth day, the company was absolutely trashed by previous hires, this should have been my first point of call).

Long story short: my gut instinct was that the guy was a sleeze ball bull shitter (I was right). Hired too fast, told me how work culture was intense like banking and prided himself on working people really hard. He tried calling me at 11PM one day to talk to me about my work. I picked up and told him this could wait and he should call me during working hours as this was not urgent or a live deal (he just felt he was a big swinging dick at a bank...)

This is more for bankers who are pissed off at their job - this fucker was praying on them by promising them the moon. I didn't care as I was only going to do this for 3 months (ended up being one week). They tried not to pay me until I had my lawyer brother lawyer them up for those ass holes to pay up.

Moral of the story: if you are pissed off at your job be VERY VERY VERY careful before jumping somewhere else. I didn't really have anything to worry about so took the job, but had I been in another situation this could have been catastrophic.

I have so many other examples of interviews etc... I could write a book about this. Team at Merrill who promised me a guaranteed bonus on a hand shake - that was a fucking joke, I had a mentor at the time who I trusted who told me to shit on them (I did and refused the offer). They were willing to match my base at my current BB and hand shake a guarantee... I was pissed off at all the people I worked with at the time, and just wanted to jump ship. Very glad I didn't.

Another time: The offer of a guy who realised I was quite desperate who was wiling to pay me probably lower than minimum wage for the opportunity to "learn" - fuck him.

Ha man, I am getting just pissed off thinking of all those interviews offers and fuckers. Be weary everyone that's all I can say. So many people will try to fuck you, underpay you, and make you feel like they are doing you a favour.

The last point here is the most important in my opinion. If the person hiring you thinks they're doing you a favor, walk away. They're never going to value you. They think you owe them just for talking to you about (maybe) hiring you. They're going to be an awful coworker or boss. These sorts of people are psychopaths who think they GAVE you an opportunity. That's bullshit. You EARNED it. Don't let anyone else take credit for 'making' you. This isn't the mafia, and you're not beholden to some guy who thinks he's Don Corleone.



This is exactly what I thought. Were you expecting to get a call from the MD? This is the opposite of a bad sign. In my experience, everyone on the team may have some amount of say on who gets hired. Considering this is just an initial phone call, they're not gonnna have anyone high up the ladder take the time out of their schedules. Chances are they trust this analyst and he/she knows what they're doing and what the team is looking for. I shouldn't have to say this, but I severely hope you don't plan on talking to that analyst as if they're beneath you.

No, we didn't talk about the basics of the company and he seemed bored from the start. We had about 15 min of behaviorals. I didn't troll him in that I made sarcastic remarks, I just didn't try as hard when we got to the case study. Maybe troll wasn't the right word.

Anyways, I got another job in big data that I'm happier with. I just wanted to know if this was normal and if there might be ramifications in the future if I interview with this company again for just not trying at the case study.

Sounds like they had a fire drill before your interview, rescheduled because they were busy. The guy was wiped from the 3 days he spent on the project, probably was still wrapping it up so he had some stuff to check and decided to look at his phone more when you gave up because you didn't like his demeanor.

Also, director is junior to principal, which is junior to partner. Big 4 promotions don't have the same names as banking. associate consultant - senior consultant - consulting manager - senior consulting/engagement manager - director of consulting - principal - partner - senior/managing/whatever partner etc. Some places might use similar titles to MBB but either way.

I've been in interviews (consulting and other) where the interviewer spend the entire time texting or checking emails.

Maybe they're testing your patience and composure. Maybe they're busy and have to multitask. Maybe they already know they're not giving you the offer, and so they don't really care anymore.

Regardless, you shouldn't have done what you did.

"Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt." --Abraham Lincoln

I've been in interviews (consulting and other) where the interviewer spend the entire time texting or checking emails.

Maybe they're testing your patience and composure. Maybe they're busy and have to multitask. Maybe they already know they're not giving you the offer, and so they don't really care anymore.

Regardless, you shouldn't have done what you did.

"Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt." --Abraham Lincoln

I am past 30, and call me old-fashioned, but I don't ask for "common courtesy" or "respect" when I go into an interview.

Will I take 30 minutes of abuse for a job that would pay me good money and excel my career? YES, since I am spending 30 minutes of my life there and might as well get something out of it.

Will my grumbling about the lack of courtesy and respect change anything? Nope.

World isn't fair, OP. You will see copious amounts of backstabbing, throwing-under-the-bus, etc. An interviewer not listening to you is very benign compared to those.

You're thrown off your game by that? Clients can be worse. And whose side will the Partner be on if you troll a client for something like that? Hint - not yours.

If it was a test, you failed. If it wasn't a test and he was rude, you still failed.

Stop getting defensive by telling us how you maybe weren't trolling then how you got two other job offers. Take this for what it is - a lesson you were fortunate to learn early.

There's got to be some geographical/cultural variation on this topic, because where I'm at it would be considered deeply unprofessional to treat a prospective hire the way OP describes. Top talent always has alternatives and treating interviewees disrespectfully is the best way to make sure all you get is the leftovers (which applies to both the interviewee and his/her network).

Now, doesn't seem like OP handled the situation in the best way either, but is it a red flag when your future managers are disrespectful? YES (... but it obviously only matters in the context of what your alternatives are)

It's good that this is a red flag to you, but you shouldn't panic. Just do the same thing you did the last time you didn't hear from them. If they offered you an interview, unless you put something on the company application that looked bad, there's no reason to believe that they've rescinded that invitation.

What kind of firm is this? If it's a boutique, this kind of shit happens all the time, because HR is one overwhelmed person and they forget shit. If it's a big firm, oversights happen, too - like you noted, it's the holiday season and they might be doing any actual interviews until after the holidays.