Beware of Interview Liars: A Warning

As many of you know, I was laid off from my job about 6 weeks ago.

When I started at the company, I was promised a long-term career path full of opportunities for growth, autonomy and even shares in the company.  I would be a leader who built out a department, launched the company into new markets and eventually oversaw several managers.  The company preached its belief in work/life balance and flexibility even though I worked until 9pm most nights.  During the strange, multi-week interview process, I was told that if I was doing a great job, they wouldn’t be concerned with tracking vacation days and I could work from home on occasion. It seemed like the whole package and more, yet none of it ever happened in reality.

After less than 4 months, I was laid off along with a third of the company.  Some of the people who were laid off hadn’t even been with the company for 1 month! You can’t possibly expect me to believe that the leadership team didn’t realize times were tough before they hired people.  How irresponsible.

Some of these 3-week employees were recent grads who relocated to Chicago for the job.  Others left much higher paying gigs because they “believed in the brand” and wanted to get in on the ground floor of something.  I’m almost positive that people who’ve worked somewhere less than a month don’t qualify for unemployment benefits in Illinois.  How convenient.

I’ve been Ms. Positive “it all happened for a reason” for the last 6 weeks, but now I’m kind of pissed.  I feel the need to warn you about employer ploys like this before you accept what you think is your dream job.

Since I was let go, there’s been another round of layoffs along with execs cutting their hours in half and other leaders who supposedly left on mutual terms.  The sickest part is that this company is still hiring!  BEWARE!  In fact a whole new class is set to start in a few days.  My guess is that these newbies will be sold the “Kool Aid” like I was and terminated as soon as the company gets what it needs and/or inevitably feels the people are inadequate.

Any successful company or notable brand will tell you that its people are its greatest asset.  Studies of companies who FAIL, on the other hand, reveal a huge LACK of respect and value for their people.

Too many people go to an interview thinking they need to do or say anything to please the interviewer and land a job.

Please, please don’t do this.

It’s just like dating really: you are not a prostitute.  You have values and you will not date anyone who walks.  In a job search, you have values, career goals and bills to pay: don’t just jump ship because someone is selling you pipe dreams and vague perks.  Beware of companies who continuously sell you on their elusive “culture,” and won’t write any of their promises down on paper.

And even if they do write things down (like stock options let’s say) pay close attention to your gut feeling and to when these perks actually kick in.

I had a very weird feeling about this company even during the interview process. I felt totally disrespected and remember even being in tears about it a few times.  In hindsight, my first few weeks on the job were also very telling about the company’s integrity, the founder’s view of his people and the fate of so many of us who worked there.

Beware.  This isn’t the first time I’ve experienced one situation during an interview process only to be put into a TOTALLY different situation (my job selling sub-prime mortgages was a disaster and totally different than how it was sold to me at the interview).

If you’re a hot candidate and companies want you bad enough, they will tell you whatever you want to hear to get you in the door.



Nicole Emerick

Nicole Emerick founded Ms. Career Girl in 2008 to help other ambitious young professional women thrive in a career they love. Ironically, growing MsCareerGirl helped Nicole transition her own career from commercial banker to digital marketer. Today Nicole leads the social media team at a large advertising agency in Chicago. Nicole also served as an adjunct professor at DePaul University where she helped develop the careers of PR, Advertising and Communications students. Tweet with Nicole @_NicoleEmerick.