Interviews can truly be the worst. Doesn't the hiring manager realize that you have a job, a life, a spouse, children, and other existing commitments?
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You spend months trying to get your foot in the door for an interview. You spend all your time filling out applications and updating your resume. You call your references and update your LinkedIn and Facebook accounts.
Then you wait, and wait, and wait.
Until one afternoon, a recruiter calls you. They came across your resume, and they have a few questions that they'd like to ask you – today. Suddenly, you're in a whirlwind of interviews. It's like interview hell.
Not only do you already have plans, but now you have to cancel those plans and secretly make new plans to sneak out of work. You have to figure out how to wear a suit to your job without anyone noticing that you're dressed up.
The hiring manager often wants to speak with you on the phone first – almost immediately. Then they want you to come meet them in person a few days later, for hours. They're in a hurry, after all.
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What can you do? Well, you can try to push back the interview a few days. Many hiring managers will agree to this, and it will certainly be more convenient for you. Unfortunately, this strategy can cause unforeseen problems in the long run.
The hiring manager's expectations may be unreasonable, but they are the decision maker. They will pick the first good person who shows up, rather than wait around for the best person. Even if you are the best, they may assume you aren't really interested if you aren't ready to drop everything at a moment's notice to come interview with them.
I once had a job interview that included building an entire website to showcase my programming skills. At the same time, I was scheduled to be an extra in a movie. I politely asked the hiring manager if I could turn in the website just a few days later, which would allow me to do both the site and the movie. He was completely understanding.
Well, I built the website and turned it in on time. I worked hard on it and was very proud of my accomplishment. The hiring manager responded with something along the lines of, "Thanks! This is really great. It's even better than the website made by the person we gave the job offer to."
Holy cow! Can you believe it? After agreeing to let me finish building a website from scratch just a few days later, the hiring manager hired someone else!
I could go on about how unreasonable hiring managers are, but the truth is they are your customer. And the customer is always right – even when they're not. You just have to decide what's more important to you: getting the job or keeping your plans.
A version of this article originally appeared in the Memphis Daily News.
Angela Copeland is a career coach and CEO at her firm, Copeland Coaching.