Think About Your Safety When You Prepare for an Interview
July 22, 2009
Most students don’t think about the dangers potentially associated with the interview process. Understanding what’s “normal” and what’s not is an important part of interview preparation. Although an employer or interviewer is in a position of authority and power, it DOES NOT give them the right to manipulate, harass, coerce, or take advantage of you in any way.
When interviewing for a position off campus, or for something that you found outside of the ECS system…
- Make sure it’s a legitimate company and job! Know what company you are interviewing with! Some companies may post jobs that aren’t what they advertise to be. For example, a company may advertise that they want “high-energy, responsible mechanical engineers for an exciting opportunity”, but the job is really a sales position and they display the same job description but change the field to draw in as many unsuspecting college students as they can. To be sure that the company you are interviewing with is legitimate and reputable, with legitimate job postings, check out their website or other public information. You can also talk to ECS about it! We know many companies, large and small, so we’ll be able to help you recognize employers and opportunities.
- Consider the location of the interview! Use common sense to avoid unsafe situations. Interviews should be conducted during normal business hours at company locations or at a designated public location, such as the ECS office. An interview may be conducted in a restaurant or hotel conference center. Never agree to meet in an area where you might be completely alone with an interviewer, such as a hotel room, parking lot, or other inappropriate location. If an employer works out of a private location, such as a home office, be sure that you won’t be alone in that office. If you feel uncomfortable, ask to meet at a nearby coffee shop instead. If the situation seems strange, it probably is.
- Know who is interviewing you! Ask for a business card and look them up on a company website or directory. Employers should not hesitate to provide you with their contact information, if they are legitimately interested in a business association.
- Tell someone where and when your interview is taking place so that someone knows where you are. Interviewers should never try to take you to a place that wasn’t previously discussed prior to the interview. For example, changing from the conference center to a hotel room, or from an office complex to a bar is a definite red flag.
- Avoid drinking alcohol in interview situations. Instead, order a soft drink, water, or iced tea. Occasionally interviews or information sessions take place in restaurants or hotel conference centers; however, consuming alcohol is not a good idea! If an employer is encouraging you to drink, this should be a red flag. Think about it: what kind of job or employer would try to encourage you to drink in order to get a job? Also, don’t assume that it’s appropriate to order an alcoholic beverage, even at a restaurant. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) Principles Committee (1998), “alcohol should not be a part of the recruiting process on or off campus. This includes receptions, dinners, company tours, etc. … “
- Speak up! Let an employer know if a situation is uncomfortable for you. Talk to ECS about ANY questionable situation, whether in an interview on or off campus, over the phone, or even on the job. Your safety is a priority for us!
"It is better to be safe than sorry."
- The National Association of Colleges and Employers. Does alcohol have a place in recruiting [Data file]. Retrieved from http://www.naceweb.org/
- Career Services @ Virginia Tech. Safety in interviews: We’re not kidding! [Data file]. Retrieved from career.vt.edu/jobsearc/Safety
Authored by Rachel Ligman.