At a job interview there were 3 people interviewing me. At one point they asked if I could send them references and I told them I didn't have anyone's contact information (I had applied through a job posting that had since been taken down). They seemed hesitant to give me an e-mail address and said to get it on the way out. The next phase of the interview was a written test where they placed me at a computer in a room by myself. At the end of the test no one was around so I let myself out, and as I passed by the secretary I asked for some contact information and she said use whatever e-mail address I had used to apply.

Two questions:

  1. I personally prefer to have a contact and not use some general-catch all mail box. Is this a bad thing?
  2. It raised red flags to me that they seemed unwilling to give me contact information. Should this have been a concern?

A week later we played an ample amount of telephone tag. Finally I called and someone answered. I had since taken another job offer and informed the person of this and thanked them for their time. Their response was "we gave the job to someone else". I found this a bit rude as it's no longer constructive to talk about this, he could have just said "bye". He also mentioned that he didn't want to leave a voice message on my phone. I regret not asking, but can anyone see why? For example, would that be seen as unprofessional?

EDIT: I just remembered something. They did leave me one voice message asking to call them back. That led me to believe they wanted a follow-up interview, why not just say the job position had already been filled in the voice message rather than ask to phone them back?

While at times it's nice to know that I definitely won't be getting the job offer, it was more irritating playing so much telephone tag just to hear it. Would a solution be to inform them at the interview "I listen to my voice messages"? It seemed like they didn't want to use e-mail for some reason.

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    Something definitely odd, there. Seems like they went out of their way to ensure nothing was in writing or recorded. You're probably lucky to not have been caught up in this group. – Wesley Long Apr 14 '14 at 1:13
  • What does "an ample amount of telephone tag" consist of (exactly)? – Dukeling Apr 14 '14 at 1:23
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    I'm having trouble understanding what the actual question is here. You had a confusing experience, that job is gone now, and you're frustrated, but what is your question for this site? What problem are you trying to solve? – Monica Cellio Apr 14 '14 at 1:59
  • @Dukeling several phone calls over a week and a half. I had left a couple of voice messages. They left me one message that only said "call me back". – bobby Apr 14 '14 at 2:28
  • @MonicaCellio in what sense? The sentences ending in questions marks are where there are questions. – bobby Apr 14 '14 at 5:32

Interviewing is a two-way process.

It's important to remember that the individual is (or should be) examining the company just as much as the company is examining the individual.

How that company behaves during the interview/hiring process is a good indicator of how they'd behave once you're in.

If at any time during the process you start feeling uncomfortable with them, it's best to politely terminate the process.

It sounds to me that you're fortunate to be rid of them.


Not getting contact details

There's usually a lot of parties involved in the interview process. It wouldn't be uncommon that the person you interviewed with isn't the person you will be in contact with afterwards, or maybe this person just doesn't have these details on hand. They may not even know the contact details of said person, or know who that person is, for that matter (the person who normally deals with this might be on leave or going on leave, this person might be new to interviewing people, there may be a few people who may follow up on this, or some other reason).

They could just give you a general email address of the company, but this information is often publicly accessible, or it would simply be easier to have the secretary give you a business card containing this information afterwards than have someone write it down somewhere during the interview.

Let's add to this the fact that companies usually contact candidates, not the other way around.

Now the hesitance to give out some contact details doesn't seem so strange.

On the way out I passed by the secretary to ask for contact information and she said just use whatever e-mail address I had used to apply.

If you accurately described what happened, you are definitely partly to blame. During the interview, they said you should get the details on the way out. You made an attempt to do so by asking the secretary, who assumed that you already had this information - perhaps not a great assumption, given that you just asked for it (perhaps your phrasing was unclear), but you should've simply said "I don't have an e-mail address for the company, I didn't apply using e-mail", or whatever.

Not getting an email or voice message

Some people prefer phone calls over other forms of communication. Some people don't like to leave messages. That's simply the way it goes sometimes. You could perhaps see them wanting to tell you over the phone as a sign of respect, although the actual reason is anyone's guess.

Another alternative is that you were still being considered, and they wanted to find out what you thought of the interview and them (over the phone) before arranging a second interview - the inability to get hold of you may just have led them to no longer consider you.

Playing 'phone tag'

How reachable you are during office hours and when you tried to contact them may have come into play here - repeated failed attempts at getting hold of you may indicate that you're difficult to get hold of, in general, and, if you tried to call them back outside office hours, their lack of reachability could certainly make sense. Your scenario may be different though, I'm just putting this out there as a possibility. Just being out of sync with someone is also a possibility.

Getting the "we gave the job to someone else" response

You may have come across as still interested, in which case saying that they gave the job to someone else is an expected response. The person on the other side may simply prepared to say they gave the job to someone else, and didn't let the fact that you appeared to no longer be interested deter them from doing so. They may have simply wanted to make it clear, just in case. But anyway, there are enough possibilities that I wouldn't see it as particularly rude.

In closing

Everything you encountered is certainly explainable in a way that doesn't leave the interviewing company at fault.

Also remember to think of the company as a company, not an individual. There are often communication gaps, people on leave, people not acting professionally, etc. in any company that you shouldn't hold your experience during the interview process against the company as a whole (although my guess is that, more often than not, your experience during the interview process should give you a decent idea of the company).

Whether you choose to give the company the benefit of the doubt, or end up thinking they're totally unprofessional and it's definitely not a place you want to work for this reason, is completely up to you.

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    Taking the OP for granted, it seemed that the company went out of it's way to make the interviewing process rather uncomfortable for the applicant, and I've never known a company or person not to hand out an e-mail address (even if it's just a general email address) when able. I'm not going to downvote this, though, as the rest of it is correct. – panoptical Apr 14 '14 at 3:48
  • @panoptical I added a bit to that part of my answer. I tend not to make too many assumption based on only one side of the story (I'll usually give the other party the benefit of the doubt). – Dukeling Apr 14 '14 at 4:19
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    The person on the other side may simply prepared to say they gave the job to someone else That was my thought too. They may well have just been thinking, "Oh, we need to ring X to tell them we took someone else for the job." and didn't adjust that in the middle of the conversation when it became apparent that X didn't want the job either. – starsplusplus Apr 14 '14 at 13:10

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