interview scheduling woes
October 12, 2011 3:49 PM   Subscribe

Is this reasonable? I'm currently employed but job hunting. A small startup invited me to go to an interview. However, the way they're trying to schedule interviews is giving me a bad feeling.

I receive a call at 4:30 pm on a Friday (which I am unable to answer, as I was at work and my phone was in my locker).  I call them back on Tuesday (because Monday was a holiday and no one was there) and it turns out they were hoping to schedule me in for Tuesday, when they called me at 4:30 on the Friday.  Ookay.  And they can't tell me when they can alternatively schedule me in, because the CEO is the one that interviews so they have to figure out when he has time.

This happened again today.  They called me, hoping to schedule for tomorrow afternoon, the only period they have time.  Apparently scheduling on less-than-a-day's-notice is their MO.  I was at work again and couldn't answer the phone (no personal calls at work unless it happens to be on my breaks).  So of course I missed this again and will have to try again later.

I got hired at my current job on a similarly tightly-scheduled thing, but I was unemployed at the time so I could accomodate the scheduling.  That was my exception, not theirs.  Is interviewing on a less-than-a-day's notice typical?  I normally expect people doing hiring are understanding of the fact that interviewees are people with jobs and appointments and aren't so rigid in "this is when we are interviewing; are you available?  If not, I will inform you when we are next available and hope you can fit that time".  Am I paranoid, or is this a red flag?

I was already biased against the company (it was vague in my particular job's duties, even though that particular job seems to be reasonably up-and-up on scientific rigor.  The company focuses on natural health products a lot and the heads of the company has a lot of emphasis on traditional chinese medicine which is something I really dislike),  but this makes me consider withdrawing my application.  Am I overreacting?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (19 answers total)
If you're not feeling it, move on. Something similar happened to me a few years ago -- I was actually asked to reschedule a third time when I called them at the appointed hour. If they don't have time for an interview, they won't have time for you as an employee.
posted by mochapickle at 3:53 PM on October 12, 2011 [3 favorites]

If you're already not crazy about the company, why bother jumping through hoops like this? It sounds like you don't really want the job, or you'd do what you need to so an interview will happen.
posted by chrisfromthelc at 3:54 PM on October 12, 2011

Yeah, it's a red flag. It's possible that the CEO's schedule really is busy enough that he doesn't have the time to interview you except as a last-minute filler of unused space in his schedule, but if that's the case then he shouldn't be micromanaging the hiring decisions.

I wouldn't withdraw your application. Just tell them that it will be hard to schedule you on one day's notice. Consider this more when you're deciding whether to take the job or not.
posted by grouse at 3:57 PM on October 12, 2011

You don't need a "polished recruiting program" to schedule an appointment with someone you want to see and who wants to see you. All you need is to be able to find your ass with both hands.

I'd ask for an email address and set up a Google Doodle to sort out a time. If they are too dumb to figure out a Google Doodle, write them off.
posted by tel3path at 3:58 PM on October 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

Meh, it doesn't strike me as too abnormal at a startup. People are busy, particularly at startups, and you're unemployed.

The real question is whether you want to go work for that CEO or in an environment that is as busy and as loosey-goosey as this place. And the only way you'll know is to go on that interview.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 4:00 PM on October 12, 2011

Anonymous is currently employed.
posted by grouse at 4:02 PM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

I don't know, sounds to me like the CEO is the kind of boss who wants to do it all, and thinks he can and should do it all, without realizing that it's physically impossible and unnecessary, so he makes everyone else trip over themselves to accommodate his psychotic micro-management. I would give them one more shot to get their act together but it doesn't bode well for a great place to work.
posted by bleep at 4:20 PM on October 12, 2011

This has happened to me at every start-up, and every entertainment company, for which I have ever worked. Some of them were insane, and some of them were totally great -- what this says to me is that it's a place without an HR department, is all. I've also worked at places that were totally organized about my interview and turned out to be soul-sucking, disorganized backwards hellholes. You never know.

But it also already sounds like you don't really want to work for them regardless.
posted by Countess Sandwich at 4:29 PM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

and the heads of the company has a lot of emphasis on traditional chinese medicine

I'd guess that the CEO not only emphasizes Chinese medicine, but is in fact a practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine, and that they are trying to fit your interview in when the CEO has a cancellation from a patient.

Doesn't sound like terribly secure employment to me.
posted by jamjam at 4:39 PM on October 12, 2011

Several government / library / admin-type jobs have had set dates for interviews, though none with only a day's notice. Like "this date a week+ from now is when we're interviewing; these are the time slots left; if you can't make it to bad." I've managed the scheduling so far, though it felt awkward to take work time off to interview at another job.
posted by nicebookrack at 7:20 PM on October 12, 2011

*jobs I've applied for
posted by nicebookrack at 7:21 PM on October 12, 2011

I'd call it a sort-of red flag, and there's nothing wrong with bailing if it gives you a bad feeling. But, in fairness, you could be doing more to be checking your phone during the day -- federal law requires breaks and lunches, and I'm sure I'm not the only person who has "gone to the bathroom" to check my voicemail. Some employers just don't work on long time horizons, and that's the way they are; being able to keep an eye on your voicemail might be a smart thing while on the job hunt.
posted by Forktine at 7:27 PM on October 12, 2011

If you're not feeling it, you're not - is there a particular impetus towards getting a new job right now?

You can always continue following this up and decide later not to take it; withdrawing your application will cut off that option.

On a practical note, do you have email access at work? I'd recommend signing yourself up for a Google Voice account and have it forward transcriptions of your messages to your inbox. Then, at least, you could get messages without having to take personal calls. You can set up GVoice to replace your cell phone's voicemail system without changing your number.
posted by bookdragoness at 7:31 PM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Depends on how small they are... if its just the "CEO" and 2-3 others doing all the work it really may be that difficult to arrange something with more notice... Maybe let them know when your days off are, or what days you might be able to get out early and have them let you know if they can arrange something for then?

However, if you're looking to replace your current job with something more reliable... you should probably consider the risk that even if you get hired on they'll continue to be as flaky as they appear right now... which could mean delayed/missing paychecks or, if things don't get off the ground, looking for another new job in a few months time...

Personally I'd try an interview and see how you feel once you see their space and talk to them, maybe get a better explanation of the position. If it still feels off, stick with the current one for now and keep looking.
posted by myShanon at 8:07 PM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

federal law requires breaks and lunches

Apologies for the derail, but this isn't the case at all. States will often mandate breaks and lunches, but not the feds.
posted by ndfine at 6:26 AM on October 13, 2011

I'd ask for an email address and set up a Google Doodle to sort out a time. If they are too dumb to figure out a Google Doodle, write them off., not Google Doodle, surely?
posted by Lexica at 2:15 PM on October 13, 2011

FYI: some organizations are just this inconsiderate and inwardly focused. The large international trade union I'm considering joining has this bizarre expectation that I quit my existing full time jig giving only 24 hours notice to take a temporary position with them; if/whenever they happen to get around to offering me that position.
posted by Mitheral at 5:02 PM on October 14, 2011

Mod note: From the OP:
So I took y'all's advice, dialed back my knee jerk response, and sent off a polite but firm email saying that it's really hard for me to schedule an interview on such little notice, and hey, would Monday or Tuesday morning work for you?

We finally firmed up plans to interview this morning (Monday).

I got there and waited an hour (15 minutes early arrival, as is standard, + 45 minutes in the meeting room) for this CEO boss that never showed up. (The receptionist informed me 15 minutes after the interview was supposed to have started that he was 'running late', but otherwise I hadn't heard anything.)

By the time I walked out (because otherwise I'd be late for my current job), it was fully 45 minutes after when the interview was supposed to start and the receptionist said "he should be just coming in the door any minute now, he was stuck in traffic". He wasn't even IN THE BUILDING.

I told her I'd be in touch via email to maybe reschedule. I don't want to though. 45 minutes of waiting? Not counting the early arrival waiting? Is this typical of startups too? Or am I justified to bail?

Damn, I'm pissed. And burned way too much gas for this trip...
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:10 AM on October 17, 2011

I think I would not bother to reschedule at this point.
posted by grouse at 11:16 AM on October 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

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