One Way to Look at Interviews

From SayUncle:

A thing hiring people tend to forget is that not only are they interviewing you, you’re interviewing them.

I worked very briefly for a company the last month of 2011, where the company failed the interview (from my point of view) but being unemployed, and against my better judgement, I took the job, hoping it wouldn’t be that bad. The company was complete chaos. Executive management berated employees, and whipped them to work longer hours, and weekends. They blamed employees for their own failings. I started getting drawn up into the dysfunctional vortex after a few weeks, and facing the threat of unexpectedly losing a weekend for which I had made plans which cost me money already, I drew up and turned in my resignation, and walked out. Surprised I wouldn’t give notice, I pointed out we were still in the “probationary period” of the employment relationship, and I did not feel notice would be mutually beneficial. The “probationary agreement” I signed recognized I would not get full full benefits for 90 days, and could be terminated at any point without notice. Surely they didn’t think that probationary period only worked one way?

I saved my weekend, got to take the trip I paid for. I had been talking to a friend whose company I had invested in years ago, who had suddenly developed a need for my skills. He had agreed to bring me on the day before, whenever I wanted. I never got so much as a call from an HR person at the company I left, telling me this was not an uncommon occurrence. I never thought I’d just walk out on a job, but having spend the better part of 5 of the 10 years at my last job putting up with abuse from a sadistic CEO, I wasn’t about to go through that again.

There’s a lot of etiquette out there that suggests you don’t do this or that, but I think that depends on a mutual respect, which is often absent among many employers. One bit of advice I give young people starting out in their careers, especially if they are particularly skilled or talented, is don’t take shit from employers, and don’t pretend courtesy is a one way street, where you have to be courteous to them, but they can abuse the hell out of you.

Fortunately, that part of my life is behind me. One of the reasons I invested in the I work for now company was because of the philosophy on how to treat employees, and how to build a company without selling your soul. I’ve known the CEO here for a long time, and if he gets uppity, I think I’m still like the 3rd largest shareholder of the company :) But we’re a small outfit, with ambitions to grow bigger. Speaking of which, I’m currently shopping for commercial real-estate, particularly a kind of industrial or warehouse space. If anyone knows about that process and can offer advice, I’d be grateful. Especially gotchas, or things to watch out for.

20 thoughts on “One Way to Look at Interviews”

  1. “Surely they didn’t think that probationary period only worked one way?”

    The “equal dignities” rule! One of the principles for interpreting agreements that I learned in Corporations class in Law School.

    It doesn’t work one way, even in contracts that call for attorneys fees only for one side.

  2. “One bit of advice I give young people. . .”

    I know your statement is justified, and that such things are relative, but it still somewhat amuses me personally, because as we’ve discussed in another venue, you’re almost exactly the same age as my son.

    My approach, when I was only a few years older than you are now, was to into business form myself. I can’t fault anything you are saying. One qualifier though is, to make sure you are in an economic position to display such independence.

    What I want to comment is, that it’s striking to me how the stories I hear from your generation consistently outline working conditions that have declined substantially from my day. Not that things ever were perfect, but I feel I was lucky in falling into a time when professional employees were independent enough that management could no longer use fear as their primary management tool. It appeared that not long before my time, they could, since that was all many of them knew. Now it seems those times have returned.

  3. This is something that bothers me about about being on unemployment: if someone offers me a job, I need to accept it, or I lose benefits. That requirement doesn’t seem to leave any wiggle-room for turning down work that’s going to be bad for you!

    I wish I could give you advice on finding real estate. Three best I can do is wish you luck!

    1. A couple more “generational” comments:

      I understand perfectly, yet is astounds me how benefits have become such a compelling concern for everyone since my early days in the workforce. Not that they weren’t always appreciated as part of the compensation equation, but they almost never were a compelling reason for taking a job. (I don’t want to digress to another issue, but I was almost 25 before I ever had any kind of medical coverage, and while those who had it appreciated it, it wasn’t something thought about a great deal.) (I’m not counting the two years I was in the service.)

      On the other hand, if there is something I envy today’s generation, it is that there is no compelling reason (pensions, etc.) to have any loyalty to one company.

      In my time there was at least some vestige of the idea of loyalty to an employer, for its own sake. But there also were vestiges of loyalty to employees. But, there was an ethic of taking a job, and if it was at all decent, holding on to it with tooth and nail. My father was shocked when I voluntarily left my job with a major corporation to go into business for myself. It just wasn’t done, unless you were being laid off anyway.

      1. Another comment on the idea of loyalty and employer/employee relations.
        Back in the mid 90’s before I became disabled, I was working for a company in Renovo PA, when I was offered a job by another company that was offering me slightly more pay and was a much shorter commute I turned in my 2 week notice which I always assumed was standard practice. My boss was shocked, not that I was leaving, but that I gave notice! Seems most of the people he had leave simply stopped showing up!

        The guy was a good boss too, easy to get along with, almost never demanded you stay late, but would let you work overtime just about anytime you wanted to. Gave a paid lunch time, something I never had at any other place before or after. No clue why people would be so disrespectful of an employer to just walk out and not come back.

  4. I never give more notice than the company has promised to give me.


    It is hilarious that a company that had promised you no notice for 90 days is surprised to be treated the same way.

    1. I think that ordinarily it’s polite to give notice, even when you’re leaving because you don’t like the job, or are moving to greener pastures. The only time I’d ever leave a job with no notice if it’s chaos and abuse.

      1. I’d also say that regardless of the subject (jobs, friendships, love relationships) it is probably not a good idea in life to burn too many bridges unnecessarily.

      2. Why would I provide something to the company that the company had explicitly refused to provide to me?

  5. If you see a property you think you like, hire your own building inspector. As a rule they don’t cost much but can save you a bundle.

    1. Look into areas that have a CO requirement first, and be very careful where a CO is not required, as a city official will certify that a building is up to code before issuing a CO certificate. So you at least have some assurance that a building is not going to need major repairs just to make it safe to be in.

      It’s amazing how many places in PA do not have a CO requirement.

  6. I worked for many start up company’s that would expect the unbelievable from their employees. How about the non union On Call week. An employee would be On Call 24-7 after standard business hours to handle all issues. I remember it being once a month for me. So one week a month, I could not have a cocktail, or could not truly make any solid plans due to the possibility of having to leave and go to work. All for the “bonus” of an additional 50 bucks on call pay. My wife and family hated it. I left bowling alleys, movie theaters, birthday party’s, BBQs and any other get together to go to work.
    Nope, now today, I demand my time be my time. I ask during the interview questions that pertain to family and vacation.

    1. What business were you in? Repairmen, doctors, nurses, municipal workers firemen and police are usually “on-call” professions, can’t really think of anything else that can’t wait until office hours…..

      And I don’t blame you for demanding your time be just that.

  7. I was a draftsman for about 40 years. At one of the jobs a manager came into the office where myself and another guy were working and told us that when we were through with the drawings we were on that we were fired. You can guess the rest, if you can’t then I told the sob that I was finished at that moment.

  8. Many years ago I was a field serviceman for a large computer company. One of my clients was a hospital that had just been ought up by a larger one. Management waltzed into the computer room of the small hospital and told the 4 people who worked there that they were going to be fired as soon as their system had been integrated into the larger hospital’s. The next day the sysadmin didn’t come to work. When management called her at home she informed them that she wasn’t going to come to work any more. So they said, no problem just give us the system passwords. She hung up on them. It cost the hospital big money for me to come in and break security on their system for them. Several years later I ran into the sysadmin at another company and we has a good laugh over it. Sometimes it doesn’t pay to screw with the little people.

  9. I had an interview a couple of months ago (I am employed and not looking very hard). The first guy ran through a list of questions from Human Resources that had nothing to do with the job. After a wasted hour of this nonsense, I was ushered in his boss’ office. I thought “now I can have a conversation about this job and my qualifications”. Then she pulled out the same HR question list, apologized and explained it was required.

    FAIL. I don’t want to work for a company that stiflingly bureaucratic.


    Gives you a map. I think you can search fr commercial properties. But the part that really nice is being able to look in just specific areas.

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