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I interviewed with a software company 10 days ago. It is not a very big company and has around 40-50 employees. There were 3 rounds, out of which 2 were technical and last one was a 15 minute chat with VP of the company.

I did great in the technical rounds and cleared them. The technical leads who interviewed me looked impressed with my answers, projects, etc. However, when I interviewed with the VP, the chat was going well, and towards the end, he asked me if I had any questions.

Now here is where things started turning weird. I asked him this exact question: "What are your expectations from the prospective employee in terms of work pressure?".

Now like most senior managers, he started with usual senior managerial rut like "In any job, there is always some pressure to deliver good quality work, and one should be willing to work hard in early stages of career." and so on. He also went on to ask me why specifically I asked this question. To which I told him that my current job has too much work pressure and we have to regularly work 50+ hours a week to keep up with the deadlines. Then he said something which sounded like doing extra work to compensate for missed deadlines is not a bad thing and employees are expected to do that. The interview ended here.

2 days after the interview, I got a ping from HR saying "unfortunately you are not selected for this role". Now since I knew I did quite well in the technical rounds, the only reason for me getting rejected was the final interview with VP where I asked him uncomfortable questions about work pressure and work life balance.

Now again 10 days later, the same HR pinged me again, now saying that they want to hire me. The obvious reason which I can think of is that they didn't find any other candidate who had required technical skills like me. So they are again approaching me. How should I handle this? I don't have any other job as of now in hand, and still I wouldn't want to walk into a workplace having senior VPs who get insecure about employees demanding decent work life balance. What should I do? Are there some specific questions which I should ask them to clear things up?

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  • We can't tell you what to do. If you're happy with the job, take it. If you're not happy with the job, don't. If you want more discussion with senior management, ask to have more discussion with senior management. May 11 at 10:43
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    ` the only reason for me getting rejected was the final interview with VP where I asked him uncomfortable questions about work pressure` - This is a false assumption. Given the timing described, you were likely against a candidate they preferred over you, and that candidate did not accept an offer. It may have been this question that separated you, and it may not have been. Either way: Are you ok with being the second choice? Do you feel the response to your question was a red flag? May 11 at 14:22
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    @JoeStrazzere OP mentions in a previous paragraph that he currently has a job.
    – zmike
    May 11 at 17:13
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    Nah, you were their 2nd or 3rd choice, their 1st or 2nd choice didn't work out. Probably salary or background issues.
    – Issel
    May 11 at 22:03
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    You don't want to work the hours they said they expect. How can anyone but you make a choice about whether to accept that offer or not ? It's a personal choice. May 12 at 9:59

5 Answers 5

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The interview process is a two-way street. It is an opportunity for both parties to learn about each other.

If you were uncomfortable with the VP's answers to your questions then you should take that into consideration when deciding whether or not to accept the offer. Mentioning "missed deadlines" implies that this is a common occurrence at this company. If work/life balance is a high priority for you then the VP's answers sound like a red flag.

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Now since I knew I did quite well in the technical rounds, the only reason for me getting rejected was the final interview with VP where I asked him uncomfortable questions about work pressure and work life balance.

Unless you somehow know that you were the only applicant, the most likely explanation is that they offered the job to someone they felt was more qualified or a better fit. This may or may not have anything to do with your "work pressure and work life balance" question.

Most likely, that other candidate declined, so they are going down their ordered list of acceptable candidates.

I don't have any other job as of now in hand, and still I wouldn't want to walk into a workplace having senior VPs who get insecure about employees demanding decent work life balance. What should I do?

Since you clearly indicate you don't want to work there, you should thank them for the opportunity and decline the offer.

Find a job that meets your "work pressure" requirements.

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    @Cris In a company that small, it's entirely possible that their HR person is inexperienced or incompetent enough to send the rejection notices out at the same time as the hiring offer...without waiting to see if the offer is accepted.
    – tbrookside
    May 11 at 19:36
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    A colleague of mine at a previous place received a rejection email from HR, while sitting at his desk, weeks after joining that company. HR do make mistakes, like everyone! May 11 at 20:52
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    Would have been my answer. "the only reason for me getting rejected" is a very strong assumption. There may have been one or more other candidates that did very well, or perhaps OP did not fare as well as thought. May 11 at 21:31
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    @EmileBergeron I once got a call about a job offer 10+ YEARS after I had applied. It was for some pizza job when I was in college. I was a software developer and had been for many years by that point so I uh, declined.
    – Joe Smentz
    May 12 at 1:37
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    @JoeSmentz that's not an error though, they're just desperate! :P May 12 at 1:39
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Since you are uncertain about whether you want to take this job, the best way forward is to make further investigations. I would be uncertain in your situation too. In the VPs position I might give a similar answer, even in companies where extra work has always been strictly voluntary, but it could also be pointing at a pattern of compulsory overtime.

In a software company there are always going to be times when deadline needs to be met, and employees are asked to do extra work. The important questions are: how often does it happen, how 'mandatory' it is, and whether you are compensated in some way.

Request another interview with the VP. Ask him specific questions about the workload.

  • How often are employees asked to work more hours than a normal week? How many times in the last six months has it happened? What were the reasons?
  • What happens if an employee is asked to work more than their normal hours and they are unable to on a specific week?
  • If an employee works extra time to make sure a critical deadline is hit, do they get offered something like extra time off in lieu?

You should also (or instead) ask for another interview with the person you will be reporting to, and ask them similar questions.

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    It might also be useful to ask to talk to the people who'd become your colleagues if you accepted the offer, to ask them about the workload and work/life balance, as they may be in the best position to help you understand the actual practices of the company rather than their ideals. May 12 at 1:51
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The most likely reason for this is that they offered to another candidate who then rejected their offer. Rather clumsy of HR to put themselves in this position but not unheard of. It is rather unlikely that they rejected you then found they had no candidates with the required skills.

In my opinion since you do not "don't have any other job as of now in hand" (which I take as meaning you are unemployed) you should accept the job and set boundaries regarding overtime as it comes up. You may well find that you are able to do so without much difficulty, if not - well - they're unlikely to fire an employee who is otherwise performing over it, it's more likely to limit your longer term prospects for promotion and payrises. Since it is much easier to apply for a new job when you have a job and the only thing giving you pause is a questionable answer from the VP accepting an otherwise interesting job and seeing how it goes is a significantly better outcome than chasing the job in the bush.

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    This would normally be the right answer, but as the OP is (per previous questions) on approximately their 4th job in 1.5 years, taking another job with a high probability of leaving quickly is maybe not a good long-term strategy. May 11 at 21:24
  • @user3067860: If that is the case then I agree they should only take the position if they believe they will stick with the job for a longer time. May 12 at 7:31
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IMHO, it depends how much you want this particular position and your employment situation.

If you see it as a an opportunity to upgrade your salary and working conditions, request more money and better working conditions.

As a safety, you can put working hours and OT compensation in to your employment contract

At most they can decline your requests and rescind the offer

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