Interview speak

A friend of mine recently landed a good job after a long couple of months interviewing. Hearing her stories made me think back to some of my past job interviews – things the interviewer has said and what they really meant. For example:

“Our work week varies greatly – you may work 40 hours one week and 65 hours the next.”

Translation: You’ll be working 65-hour weeks every week.

Any reference to “our corporate culture”

Translation: This is a miserable place to work, and everyone here is consumed by office politics. Good companies don’t think in terms of having a corporate culture; only bad ones do. At good companies, people just show up and do their jobs.

“Now, if you tell me you can have a project done in four days, I’m going to hold you to that”

Translation: If you tell me you can have a project done in four days, I’m going to tell you to have it done in three and hold you to that.

Multiple references to “our drug-free workplace” or a drug-testing policy

Translation, if said by a lower-level manager or non-manager: A lot of people at this company smoke weed.

Translation, if said by an upper-level manager: A lot of people at this company do cocaine.

“Saturday is a great day to come in and get caught up on work”

If you’re a normal human being, no translation should be necessary for this one.

“I get a tear in my eye when we sing the company song at the annual convention”

Translation: I am insane, and so is everyone else in this company.

“We work hard, we play hard”

Translation: If you aren’t sick enough of seeing your co-workers by the time the workday wraps up around nine P.M., you’ll then be expected to go grab a beer with them and “unwind” at the local bar.

If you hear more than one of these during an interview process, my recommendation is that you get up immediately and RUN out the door. Don’t worry about closing pleasantries or what people will think of you; just get out as fast as you can.