A Lesson From a Job Interview

Few months ago, I saw a job ad that looks like tailor-made for me! Since my profession is not that common in Sweden, it’s really rare to see exact matches. However, there was one tiny problem: even if the ad published in Stockholm, somewhere in the description they said they wanted that person to work in Malta. So why they didn’t publish the ad in Malta then? Still, since the situation was not that clear, I decided to take the shot and apply for the job.

Few weeks later I got an email from the HR manager. She invited me to a Skype interview. First interview in Sweden, yay! Plus, it’s an exact match job which even increases my chance.

Before Interview

But I was still thinking about the job location. It was obvious in my application that I moved to Sweden recently, so they probably realized it and maybe thought it was ok. And also I checked the HR manager’s profile on LinkedIn and saw she’s also located in Stockholm.

Clue Nr.1 – When I saw HR Manager’s location, the question popped in my head. The Learning and Development department is part of HR, so why they want new person in Malta while the department itself is in Stockholm? I checked if there is different HRs or L&D professions for every offices in the world. Nope, there isn’t. So the only rational deduction was they want to go cheap! Probably cost of employees is way cheaper in Malta than Sweden. And I don’t like companies with these little tricks. Generally, those are the signs of poor workplaces (and I am not talking about low salaries here but the approach of employers to the employees about working conditions or management mindset)

But of course I couldn’t be sure so I decided to keep being positive, and not assuming anything before the interview. Still, these thoughts reminded me something I should have done before applying: Checking the company online!

If you don’t want to feel disappointed at the end, check the company first! You can read employee reviews – try glassdoor to check reviews – or some customer reviews to give you an idea about your possible employer. After you got the main picture, you still may apply even if the employer doesn’t seem promising. But then you would know what you’re gonna face beforehand and set your expectations accordingly.

Honestly, I would’ve applied that job even I would’ve seen the reviews first. Because I’m new in Sweden and I’m trying to find a job in more of a niche profession. So I think, at least I should apply every perfect match and try to see whether the reviews are true or not on the way.  But of course, knowing the company in advance would’ve help me to set my expectations better.

Clue Nr.2 – The reviews of that company turned out really depressing. It was a small but 15 years company. You cannot say it was a start-up at the beginning of their way. So you can assume that their company mindset and management approach is already well-established which probably won’t change in near future. To be honest, I lost my attention and appetite after seeing the reviews, but also I still knew I need that job.


Anyway, I prepared for the interview and sat in front of my computer on a Wednesday night. HR Manager called me on time (which was a good sign) and we talked approximately half an hour. She said they’re looking for someone for Malta but if they cannot find him there, then they’ll get someone for Stockholm (bad sign, which kind of proves my former assumption of cheap-mindset). She also mentioned how hard to find someone in my experience in Malta or Stockholm (good for me) and there were only 4 candidates including me right now. She said they would probably decide next week and let us know.

Clue Nr. 3 – As I said the interview was short and she said there won’t be other interviews, except if they could not decide on a certain candidate. Since she is both HR and the future manager of the candidate, one interview may make sense. However, then it shouldn’t be that short! She didn’t ask too many questions, basically we just overviewed my resume. Of course, it is good to not having those cliche questions like “what are your weaknesses” but not having any question at all is also not good. 

After the interview, I re-played it in my mind. And I felt like she didn’t act like an experienced interviewer. She was a little bit unsure of herself and it was just me speaking without any direction. I also realized that I did bad too, of course 🙂 Even without the questions, I should have sell my experience much better. And I should’ve ask more questions to understand what they need in this role. Instead, I just told a little more details on what she already knew from my resume. That was it. At least, I still got something good from this interview, a improvement area for me – I should more work on how to present my experience in an impressive way!

After the Interview

She said she will let me know next week however she never did. This may seem like a common attitude of HR these days but it shouldn’t mean this is the way how things work in job hunting adventure. It’s just rude.

Clue Nr. 4 – After a week and no-hearing any news, I decided to sent her an email to keep up with the situation. Guess what? She never answered my mail and it has been two months! And I also didn’t get any automated rejection mail. Even these tiny details tell a lot about a company and its approach to employees. 

At the end, obviously I didn’t get the job. But of course I am not blaming them why they didn’t hire a perfect talent like me 🙂 I know I wasn’t so perfect in the interview even I was very confident about my work experience.

However, whole point of this post is something different. It’s not me getting the job or not, or not an argument of who was worse in the interview – me or the interviewer. The whole point is, there are tiny little clues in every step of your experience. You shouldn’t ignore them! You should keep your eye open and analyze what you see. Of course not every single bad thing mean you should run away from that opportunity. But believe me, if there’s a bad employer, there will definitely be more than one signs. And you shouldn’t settle down with a bad employer because sooner or later you’ll regret your decision.

Observation – Interestingly, I wasn’t sad not getting the job or not even getting an answer to my email. In past, earlier in my career adventure, I always felt depressed when I didn’t get any positive or negative answers. It was a weird feeling that deep down I thought I was not even worth for an answer – yeah I was a little bit emotional at that time 🙂 But both my HR experience over the years and the changing balance of employee-employer relations in business world make me look the interview process from another window. Interviews are also best ways to evaluate employers, not just job candidates. These days, instead of feeling sorry to not getting an answer, I am feeling relieved to avoid a bad work experience. 



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