A reader writes:
Recently I applied online for a job as a librarian at a local career college. The college is part of a chain and this is a new local branch that just recently opened. I got a call today from the dean asking me to come in for an interview and something about the whole situation just does not feel right.
When I spoke to him, he stressed that they need someone ASAP and wanted me to interview today! I told him that was impossible and agreed to come in tomorrow after work. He then kept saying how much I would love it there, as if I had already been hired. He also asked me to bring my drivers license, social security card and college transcripts for the interview. I have never been asked this before.
I'm interested in the job but this whole thing seems incredibly rushed and weird. What do you think?
I'm a big believer in trusting your gut, at least if your gut has a good track record. So I'd go into this with some healthy skepticism.
Let's break this down:
* Same-day interview request: Unusual but not totally unheard of. Being a jerk about you not being able to come in that same day would have been over the line, but it doesn't sound like he was. (Hopefully he also gave some acknowledgment that he knew this was very last minute and appreciated that you made tomorrow work.)
* Constantly saying how much you would love it there: Odd. Yes, you want to woo the candidate a bit, but this sounds over the top for someone he hasn't even interviewed yet. Plus, what does he know about you that makes him so sure you'd love it? This would rub me the wrong way too. He's either desperate or inept at hiring, or both. I'm guessing both.
* Asking you to bring your driver's license, social security card, and college transcripts: Driver's license and social security card -- premature, and you should avoid giving out your social security number until you're actually hired, because of identity theft. It sounds like he's hoping to hire you on the spot and have you start filling out new employee paperwork right then and there. But your college transcripts? Who keeps copies of those lying around? You have to order them. This makes me think he doesn't know what he's doing and just assumes it's a normal thing to ask people to bring to their last-minute interview. I'd recommend handling that by saying, "I've never been asked for that before and don't have any copies on hand." Maybe he'll get the hint that it's not typical.
So, so far we've diagnosed him as desperate and inexperienced/inept. Those things aren't necessarily the kiss of death in this situation, but they're definitely signs that you need to do a lot of probing. At your interview, ask about the rush. ("It sounds like you're in a real hurry to fill the position. What caused the rush?") You should also find out why the last person left. And you should absolutely find out if you'll be reporting to this guy or to someone else. If someone else, this guy's oddities may be a non-issue. If he's the manager, ask a ton about his management style, expectations, how your performance will be evaluated, etc.
Please write back and let us know how the interview goes. I have a feeling it's going to be an interesting story no matter how it plays out. Good luck!