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I had a phone interview yesterday. From the beginning of the call I sensed the interviewer was unhappy or in a bad mood or something. The only real question she asked me was "tell me about how you got to where you are now?". At the end of the interview she mentioned she will pass my application on to the hiring manager.

I asked her what her position was and she deflected the question. Why would someone not want to answer? I take it as a sign of a bad work environment if people automatically deflect questions. I asked her again and she said she was the "district corporate recruiter".

Part of why I asked was I was wondering if she was non-technical and that's why she didn't ask many questions. The other part is I was wondering if I'd be working with her (I did ask this more directly but she deflected it too).

Is it rude to ask the position of the person interviewing you?

I didn't ask her what her position was immediately after she said she would pass the application on to her manager. I asked her when I did as it was the end of the interview and she asked if I had any questions.

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    I think a lot depends on how you phrased the question. It could come off as "How important are you and should I be talking to someone else?", or it could come off as "What's your role in the company and will we ever be working together?" – David K Apr 13 '17 at 18:41
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    I cleaned up a lot of comments here (and on answers) that are no longer relevant given the current version of the question. Comments are not intended for arguments or a sounding board for opinions or grandstanding, they are intended to help clarify the post. – enderland Apr 14 '17 at 12:57
  • I think it's very strange that the interviewer didn't volunteer her position in the company right off the bat. It should be "Hi, I'm X. I'm the blah-blah director of blah-blah." You should actually have that information even before the call. – JoelFan Oct 7 at 17:52
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Well, if immediately beforehand she said that she would pass your info to the hiring manager, your question of her position within the workplace hierarchy sort of implies that you view her as someone without power within the hierarchy itself and therefore they're sort of under qualified to conduct the interview or make hiring decisions.

So, in general, no it's not. But in this instance it might've come across negatively.

As DavidK says, it's not about the question itself, it's about your motivation for asking the question, or really, what it appears your motivation is. If it sounded like you were asking me my position because you think you need to talk to someone more important, then yes, I will be offended

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The fact that there were no technical questions asked, that would pertain to how you would do this job, were you to be given it, means this was most likely just an introductory interview. An interview to ask those generalized questions like "where do you see yourself in 5 years", or "name a time where you were in charge and had to make a difficult decision".

In this instance, the position of the interviewer is irrelevant. Since she was just conducting the introductory interview, there was simply no reason to question her position with the company. It may not have been meant as an insult or meant to offend, but that's probably how it came off, especially after she said "I will send your application to the hiring manager", it's clear she wasn't the one making the hiring decision, she was just getting those common questions out of the way.

In my experience, the phone interview is generally just an "introductory" interview, kind of see how you may fit into the workplace, a few generalized questions that they ask to get them out of the way so the next interview can focus solely on the technical side.

Next time, just worry about answering the questions(and no it doesn't mean you can't ASK questions), and let them decide who is going to interview you. If they're interviewing you with unqualified people, maybe that's not a company you want to work for anyway.

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No its not rude, although some people may take offence and you cannot stop that - you are entitled to know with whom you are discussing the position with, as you can tailor your demeanor and depth of response to the level that the other person is at.

While I would be doing the same job either way, the way I sell myself to a senior manager would be entirely different to how I would sell myself to an immediate team lead - the senior manager may be less interested in intimate technical knowledge and be more focused on deliverables, while the team lead may be more focused on technical knowledge and whether I would fit into the team.

Remember also that an interview goes both ways - while they are interviewing you, you are also interviewing the company, and you should ask the questions you want to ask in order to decide whether you want to work there.

For example in your case, the demeanor of that person may have a bearing on whether you ultimately decide to pursue the position - asking what their position within the company is allows you to determine whether they are someone you would be working with day to day, which may tip the decision one way or another.

  • Why the down vote? How can you expect an answer to be improved if you down vote without explaining why the answer deserves a down vote...? – Moo Apr 14 '17 at 11:00
  • It is true that the interviewer's position should affect how you conduct the interview, which is why it may seem odd to ask towards the end of the interview. A better time to ask this question would be when arranging the phone interview ("Can I ask who will I be speaking to on the call, and what sort of subject matter will be covered?") or at the beginning of the call when introductions are made. – mike_dowler Apr 15 '17 at 10:30
  • @mike_dowler but the question asked was "Is it rude to ask the position of the person interviewing you?" - the question does expand the specific circumstances of the asker, but the question is pretty generic. – Moo Apr 15 '17 at 10:33
  • i know, which is why i commented on your answer instead of submitting a separate one. 😉 I generally agree with you, but wanted to make the point that the timing of the question can affect whether the question is perceived as rude. – mike_dowler Apr 15 '17 at 14:59
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Going to turn my comment into an answer.

Depending on how you asked the question, yes, it can be considered rude. Firstly, there isn't really a need for you to know this information as it will not be relevant to your job. Second, because it's not relevant to your job and probably won't help you interview better, it's easy for them to assume that you're asking because you intend to question their competence or capability. This is especially the case if you asked it at the end of the interview. It's even more so the case if the person you're asking is a woman, who tend to have their credibility constantly questioned in ways that simply don't happen to men; she was probably bracing herself for a condescending follow-up question.

Often times when I'm doing a technical interview, the person conducting the interview will volunteer their position on their own. I would say that you should probably let them volunteer the information if they want you to know it, or think that you should know it, and leave it at that. Otherwise, they are just "the person currently interviewing you". That's all you need to know.

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    I wouldn't tell a person not to ask a question just because you think it's irrelevant. – SomeCallMeSam Apr 13 '17 at 19:37
  • It's not just because I think it's irrelevant. The fact that it is irrelevant contributes to the impression that someone would be asking for unsavory reasons, for lack of a better term. – TheSoundDefense Apr 13 '17 at 19:38

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