Lesser of two risks?
December 5, 2012 8:23 PM   Subscribe

I have an interview for an office job that I don't recall applying to. Do I call and ask what it is or should I wing the interview? Details inside attempting to justify why I can't remember.

I've been applying to law firm receptionist and document assistant jobs left and right (via Craiglist and my university's career services website). Many of these job postings do not list the firm's name, number or address; just job requirements and a description. Tuesday mid-morning, I received a call to come in for a interview and I set one up for the following week. After googling the address, I can't recall applying here. Their website has been helpful regarding their mission and areas of practice, but their online job postings pages are blank, both on their website and on LinkedIn.

I've had no luck in searching the hiring manager's name, the "Jobs Applied To" section on my school's career site, and sifting through my inbox and sent box (many of Craigslist postings I applied to are expired).

Though I have relevant experience for both receptionist and document assistant positions, how can I be confident in the interview when I can't figure out what I'm interviewing for? Can I call and ask what position it is, or would preparing for both be a better risk?

Thanks in advance to all answers and insights!
posted by Helleaven to Work & Money (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have no experience in this field so I didn't know places operated like this with job postings! A couple ideas...

-Call the receptionist or scheduling coordinator to confirm the appointment the day before? Maybe say "Hi this is Helleaven, I'm calling to confirm my appointment with Hiring Manager Name tomorrow...?" and hope he/she might say "Oh, yes, the document assistant job!" or something?

-Stay general during the interview and see what you can suss out in the first few minutes. Ask things like "what's an average day like?" "what are the most important responsibilities?" etc

-Ask ahead of time if they need any work examples---I would assume they might like one for document asst, but not receptionist?

I know honesty is supposed to be the way to go but if I were hiring and the person didn't know what job they were coming in for I would send them right home...
posted by manicure12 at 8:34 PM on December 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Call and ask if a position description is available.
posted by embrangled at 8:42 PM on December 5, 2012 [6 favorites]

Prepare for both. Definitely don't ask what position you're interviewing for. Hopefully it'll become obvious at the beginning of the interview.
posted by Autumn at 8:47 PM on December 5, 2012

Keep your eyes open. Some people troll Craigslist and the like to look for people to interview for "jobs" that turn out to be unpaid positions. Don't be afraid to ask questions and get as many details as possible.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:49 PM on December 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've run into this a couple of times recently - I am currently applying for two different types of jobs, and I am applying like crazy, so every now and then I get a call and honestly don't recall which job it was for. I work in the IT field, so it may be different, but during the first phone call I just ask for the job title - "Which position was this regarding?" I've also done initial phone screening when I've been on the other side of the hiring process, and have been asked questions along those lines and it never seemed weird or anything. I think most people understand that when you're looking, you may cast a wide net. They key is to be very eager when they tell you which it is.

If you are working with HR, sometimes they will have a job description they can email, as well.

But if you didn't ask during those first calls, and this cant be done gracefully...prepare for both and start with some questions about the type of role it will be.

Good luck!
posted by routergirl at 8:51 PM on December 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If I was hiring at my organization and someone called to confirm the job description before the interview, I would not think it is weird.

However, I would think it was unprofessional if someone came in for an interview and wasn't sure what position they were interviewing for--it would seem to me that they are unprepared for something that should not be hard to prepare for.

You could call up to confirm what time your interview is, let them know you're preparing for the interview and wanted to get another copy of the job announcement or job description.
posted by dottiechang at 9:00 PM on December 5, 2012 [6 favorites]

Well I guess hindsight is 20/20, but telling you that you should keep better track of the jobs you apply for (I use a Google Docs spreadsheet, and I save the job descriptions as text files), or that you should have tried to ask when you were on the phone, is probably not helpful.

Honestly I think the best thing do to is call or email and say "I can't seem to find the job description, I must have forgotten to save it, can you send it over to me please?"
posted by radioamy at 9:01 PM on December 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Call to confirm and ask if there is anything specific you need to bring or prepare. I would call two days in advance in case there is something you need to prepare or gather. You should be able to glean the answer from that discussion.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:43 PM on December 5, 2012

Response by poster: Woo, lots of gold from all this advice! (Cheesy to say, but as a long time lurker and first time asker) I read and really appreciate each response.

Also, radioamy, I like the GoogleDoc idea to track job applications & job descriptions. Definitely doing that from now on.

I'm feeling pumped for this interview; thanks again all!
posted by Helleaven at 11:03 PM on December 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

And a small piece of advice about the "position description" - keep a copy on file because you will be using it as part of your resume when you apply for another job. I've found it almost impossible to accurately describe what I do after being employed for a few years because what you do is not necessarily what you started out as. The employer's description gives you working outline for the next challenge.
posted by ptm at 11:49 AM on December 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

How did the interview go?
posted by Autumn at 9:28 AM on December 9, 2012

Response by poster: Autumn, just saw this. It went well - I've been with them for about 3 months now!
posted by Helleaven at 7:32 AM on March 2, 2013

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