A Weekly Q&A Column About Professionalism, Etiquette and Problems in the Workplace
by Sue Morem
Rude Interview Experience
Dear Sue: I recently had a sales job interview scheduled for
5:30 PM with a woman Iíll call Sandy.
I arrived at the company a few minutes early and announced myself to
the receptionist. She didnít seem to be aware of the meeting, but told me
to take a seat and wait. While waiting, I could see that the receptionist
was trying to send an electronic message to Sandy regarding my presence.
At approximately 5:35, the person I assume was Sandy walked by me saying
that it would be a few minutes. There was no formal introduction or
explanation. Sandy went into another office to get an employee and walked
by me again, headed to her office. There seemed to be a lot of tension in
the air but I wrote it off to my being a little nervous.
At approximately 5:50, the employee who went into the meeting, walked
by me again, visibly upset at how the meeting had turned out, went to her
desk, shut down her computer and left the building.
As a salesperson, I am used to having to wait in the lobby for
meetings. This is nothing new to me, but I am usually given a brief
apology for the delay and an acknowledgement that the person will be with
me as soon as they can.
At 6:00, with no other acknowledgment from anyone, I told the
receptionist that I was leaving. I explained that it appeared that Sandy
was not aware of our meeting and was pre-occupied with whatever was going
on with this employee. I said that I would call the next day to reschedule
our meeting. Needless to say, I was quite upset. Having to wait that long
without even a handshake or introduction was downright rude to me. The
least I feel I deserved was an acknowledgment of who I was and why I was
there. A glass of water or directions to a restroom would have been
I understand that Sandy might have expected her meeting with the
employee to only last a few minutes and it went longer then anticipated.
But she could have relayed a message to the receptionist that she was
running longer than expected and that she knew I was waiting. I believe
that waiting the 10 minutes after the employee left the meeting was
sufficient time for Sandy to have recovered from the meeting and contact
me. I sensed that she might have forgotten that I was even in the lobby
My opinion was that they didn't show enough respect to me as a
potential employee (a company's most important asset) that this may be the
attitude with which they treat their prospects and customers. And since I
was applying for a sales position, this did not sit well with me. I would
appreciate your thoughts on this situation. - Rick
Sue Says: If you are looking for validation, you have come to
the right place. You did exactly what I would have done, and what most
anyone in a similar situation would have done. I am sure that if given the
chance, Sandy would have what she believes is a reasonable explanation,
but she didnít have the courtesy of providing it to you. You are fortunate
to have witnessed what you did; an interview isnít and shouldnít be
one-sided. Perhaps Sandy felt no need to impress you; after all you are
the one looking for work. But that is a mistake, because she failed to
realize that you are interviewing and sizing up the company as well. While
what you witnessed may have been an anomaly, it was enough to show you
that it probably isnít the healthiest environment to work in and that
Sandy wouldn't be the best person to work for.
Whether for an interview or any other meeting, when someone is running
more than five-ten minutes late, an explanation and apology should be
given. You should have been given an expected time frame in which Sandy
would be free or the option to reschedule. Although no one showed respect
for you, you showed respect for yourself and your time by leaving after
waiting for over 30 minutes. Considering the amount of time you could have
wasted only to determine the company wasnít for you, you are lucky you
discovered what you did in only 30 minutes.
Dear Sue: I am trying to figure out why my coworkers feel so
free to comment on my looks and moods. Yesterday a coworker I am friendly
with came up to me and said, ďDidnít you sleep well last night? You look
so tired today.Ē I wasnít really tired and thought I looked like I
normally do. Another day someone asked me what was wrong and said I seemed
upset. I donít comment on others unless it is a positive comment. I am not
sure how to take these comments and not sure why I get them so often. Ė
Sue Says: I donít know you or the people commenting so can only
guess at why you are receiving such comments. Sometimes people make such
comments in an effort to make conversation and break the ice. I realize it
isnít the most positive way to do so, but I wonder if in some way you shut
down, and people simply are trying to connect with you.
Are you at all moody? Because if you are friendly and talkative one
day, and real quiet the next, it may leave your coworkers wondering what
is wrong, thus approaching you inquisitively. The next time you receive a
comment you donít know how to take, take a quick inventory of yourself to
try to determine the reason for the remark and then ask the person why it
appears as though you are tired, mad, etc. Because you are receiving
comments frequently and from more than one person, you want to become more
aware of the way you are at work, and work at being consistent in your
moods and actions.
Sue Morem is a professional speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. She
is author of the newly released
101 Tips for Graduates and
How to Gain the Professional Edge, Second Edition. You can contact her by email at
firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her web site at
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