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Career Corner: Interviewing is Not Hazing

If a company treats you badly in the interview process that may be how they plan to treat you as an employee. – Courtesy photo

By Angela Copeland

When I was in college, I never joined a sorority. But, like you, I’ve heard some of the horror stories about what it can sometimes be like to become part of Greek life. For some (but not all) student led organizations hazing rituals are just a part of life. Looking back, it seems like they’re a silly college-aged tradition that have been left in the past. Somehow, these rituals are following us into adulthood. They’re showing up in the most unexpected place: the job interview.

Some employers put candidates through stress interviews. They ask inappropriate or irrelevant questions in an effort to get a reaction from the job seeker. They’re interested to see how you might react under stress. The answer often matters less than the reaction. I recently heard from a job seeker who was cursed at during a job interview in a confrontational way – in front of a group. The hiring manager was trying to get a reaction out of him.

Other employers are asking candidates to do homework, lots of homework. It may come in the form of creating plans that the company may use. It may involve taking tests. Many of these tools are meant to help identify the most capable candidates but it often discounts the work experience a candidate has in favor of how well they perform under pressure on a particular day.

In other situations, employers may put the candidate through physical stress. Perhaps they’re booked with back to back travel and interviews with no time for bathroom breaks or rest.

The most surprising interview trend I’ve seen lately that falls into this category is company-wide voting. Did you know that if you interview at a company, there’s a chance that the company’s employees will vote on whether or not they liked you, just after you leave the building? It might be one thing to ask folks if they have concerns with a candidate, and if they do what those concerns are, but in some organizations employees are given a simple yes or no choice. If anyone votes against a candidate, there’s a decent chance they will be kicked out of the process.

With all of this comes a note. I’ve heard of these practices more within the tech world than anywhere else. So, if you have an important corporate interview coming up, don’t fear. There’s a decent chance that you will not be exposed to most of these tactics.

On the flip side, I do understand that when you’re the job seeker, you should be willing to go along with most of the things a company asks of you – especially if you want the job. But, if a company treats you badly in the interview process, don’t forget it. That may be how they plan to treat you as an employee. If the job interview process seems immature, it’s possible the staff may be too.

Angela Copeland, a career coach and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at

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