Who really gets hired off a phone interview?
February 27, 2008 8:21 AM   Subscribe

Is it becoming the norm for people to be hired without an in-person interview?

I was recently interviewed by telephone for a position in the pacific northwest (I live in Western NY). I was sent an email that said it would be a situational interview (lots of questions like, "have you had a situation in the past where there was conflict. what specific actions were taken, and what happened. etc etc"). My friend, who is in HR, said that these are "weeder" interviews, and then an in-person interview would follow.

I do well at the questions, and at the end they ask me if I have any questions. Assuming that I shouldn't ask ALL my questions before I meet them in person, I asked two questions about the job and the area. The last thing they say is, "we will decide whether to tend an offer within about two weeks". I freeze. "Thanks guys".

So it ends up that two weeks later I get an offer in the mail. I'm not sure what to do. This is a HUGE HUGE HUGE company, with good benefits...but do I take this chance? I have to quit my job, sell my house, give up my friends, and move 44 hours by car to somewhere that I haven't even met the people I'll work with. I called and asked questions to an HR person, and she said that she's HEARD of this happening before, but it is unusual. "you must be really well qualified and likeable on the phone". So they asked for my response in 5 days.

Should I call the hiring manager and ask him if I can come out? Should I tell the HR person I need an extension? I need some advice.
posted by rocket_johnny to Work & Money (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Hmm, well I work closely with the HR department where I work, and there are rules such that if you do a live interview with one candidate, you have to do a live interview with all the candidates. And in-person interviews can be expensive, they have to fly you out, put you up in a hotel, etc. If they had several qualified candidates, it could be very, very expensive to interview all of them.

If you want the job, take it. Maybe you could consider taking vacation time at your current job (if you have any) and starting to work there. That way if you don't like it, you can just go back :P. You also might be able to avoid burning bridges at your current work so that you can come back if it turns out to suck.
posted by delmoi at 8:44 AM on February 27, 2008

First thing - Congratulations! You have an opportunity in front of you, not a crisis. Second: Never forget that the interview process is a two-way street: Sure they're confident they want you as an employee, but you need to find out if you want to work there, no?

In your shoes, I would insist on meeting your new manager in person, at the location you are supposed to work, and having a chance to meet your co-workers. Also, insist on an opportunity to get to know the area and research the housing market before you are pushed into a decision. Depending on the field and the position, they may even fly you out or provide some assistance in terms of having a look around the new city, etc. Even if they do not spring for these expenses, I think it is crucial that you get to know your new company and your new city BEFORE you leap into the new job.

If they really want you, they should be prepared to be patient while you gather the knowledge you need to make the huge commitment you are considering. If you explain that you would like to see the company and the area, they should be prepared to accommodate these reasonable requests.
posted by BigLankyBastard at 8:47 AM on February 27, 2008

I recently had a similar experience although I did have an in-person interview. You could always go out on a "house-hunting" trip and "drop by" the office to say hello and meet people in person. Around lunch time. And then go for lunch!

This would work both ways - if you do want the job, a house-hunting trip would be good. And if you decide they're all trolls, well, that's probably for the best as well.
posted by GuyZero at 8:54 AM on February 27, 2008

Response by poster: Oh yeah. I guess here is the other thing I forgot to mention:
I may have jumped the gun...because of the short period they gave me to decide...and counteroffered on Monday for more $$. Haven't heard anything. More cash would make it a lot easier for me to accept the unknown....and they also said I could rotate at 4 locations for 6 months after I emailed them questions.
posted by rocket_johnny at 9:06 AM on February 27, 2008

Granted, this was in the summer of 2000, but I was hired over the phone. I was in WI, and the job was in CA. There were two phone calls; one from a recruiter (who actually did a decent job screening from his questions), and another where I talked to who would be my manager, and the guy who was handling the duties (sysadmin/build manager) until they found the full time placement. I got both calls on Friday, booked a plane last minute on the weekend and started the next Monday.

By the time I got my first check, after having fronted the flight, car rental, hotel, gotten an apartment (first, last month's rent and security deposit) I had 7 dollars and change to my name. This was a 50 person company at them time (grew to over 100 before I left).

A friend in the area had a room mate who worked *4 months* for a company that had "temporary" problems with payroll before he finally stopped working without ever getting paid once. You win some, you lose some.

As it's a big company with a good name, it looks like you won, so all you have to decide now is whether to move. If you like adventure; move. If you like your rut, keep grinding away.
posted by nobeagle at 9:16 AM on February 27, 2008

Don't take the job just for more money. You need to meet them in person and get a feel for the place. Maybe you're an awesome candidate, but maybe they're desperate or maybe there's something shady going on.
posted by randomstriker at 9:18 AM on February 27, 2008


I'd recommend contacting your new manager soon just to confirm a few things before signing your life away. Your life's really being flipped upside down and it seems they really aren't taking that into consideration.

are they paying to relocate?
when do you start?
do they have a assistance on areas to live (also help with buying/renting)

I don't think if you contacted the manager or even HR prior to accepting would be a negative thing - it shows your serious and not one who runs before walking - for 44 hours in a car :)
posted by doorsfan at 10:27 AM on February 27, 2008

Well, something like this happened to me once. I was working for a Massachusetts high tech company, and was poached by a California competitor. The new company wanted me to work at home, not move to California, though. I had six or seven phone interviews with senior technical management, and then they made me an offer. I was flattered, but it turned out that they were going out of business, and they couldn't actually afford to fly me out for an interview. They went under nine months later.

I have to say, though, that I learned a bunch from this job, so it worked for me. It may not work for everyone, though.
posted by vilcxjo_BLANKA at 10:48 AM on February 27, 2008

The last two jobs I had in the PNW were contract positions. I met my recruiter, but not the actual boss, for both. Just talked to them on the phone once, and I got the offer. I'll email you the names of the companies if you like.
posted by herbaliser at 11:07 AM on February 27, 2008


I was hired after a phone interview with the company that I work for (specifics in the profile if you're curious). I work out of Tampa Bay, and they are based in San Francisco. Perhaps it was more the norm since I'm remote, but it never gave me a moment's pause.
posted by mewithoutyou at 11:28 AM on February 27, 2008

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