This post, was I wrong to be put off by interviewing on Bring Your Kids to Work Day? , was written by Alison Green and published on Ask a Manager.
A reader writes:
I wanted to get your thoughts on an interview situation I was in a while ago. This experience sticks out in my memory as Not Good, but I wonder if I’m being a stick-in-the-mud.
A while ago (pre-Covid), I had an in-person interview that ended up coinciding with Bring Your Kids to work day. (They did not warn me ahead of time.) While I was waiting in the building lobby to go up to their office, I noticed lots of people and little kids wearing company t-shirts as they boisterously made their way to the elevators. When I went upstairs to their office, there was a general atmosphere of “party” and it took a bit to hunt down the receptionist person to let them know I was there. I was nervous for my interview and having so many distractions going on didn’t really help me get into a good mindset.
When it was time to do the interview, we went into an office that had a door, so that kept the noise down, and luckily my back was to the door (which had a window in it) so I couldn’t see people walking by. After the interview, they offered to show me around the office, but I politely declined, figuring that since there was so much extra activity going on, it wouldn’t really represent what the office was normally like.
Is it too much to expect to be able to attend an interview and not have a circus going on at the office where you do the interview? I understand that offices can be busy, but this was beyond the normal hustle and bustle. It really added to my anxiety about the whole process.
I did well enough in the interview and they called me to move on to the next stage of the process. However, I decided the combination of the strange style interview and a less than calm atmosphere for my interview left me not feeling great about the company.
(The interview was conducted by two people: one of them asking all the questions, the other just typing the answers on their laptop. They asked me to tell them both a positive and negative about each job AND manager I had for the past 20 years. It felt like being grilled down to minute details and like nothing I had ever before experienced in an interview, and not a two-way conversation)
It’s not that I’m against Bring Your Kids to Work Day, because I also have kids and have in the past brought them to work occasionally when it was appropriate and we had a great time. I never conducted an interview with it going on though! It just seems like it’s unnecessary to interview candidates on the same day as that. Am I a curmudgeon and this should have been totally fine? Maybe the rapid fire one-way interview made the family activities just seem that much worse. I didn’t get any info myself from my interviewers, and could only judge the company based on the general atmosphere I saw.
I think this was just an unfortunate confluence of events.
The person scheduling your interview may not have realized it would be Bring Your Kids to Work Day, or they didn’t realize how loud and disruptive it would be (it’s not like that everywhere!), or it was the only day where everyone’s schedules lined up.
But even when interviewers make every attempt to ensure a distraction-free environment for interviews, things can go wrong. I once interviewed someone with a loud protest going on right outside my window (not against my organization! this was D.C., where protests are common). I was once interviewing someone when a fire alarm went off and we had to evacuate the building. Stuff happens, and to some extent you’ve got to try to roll with it.
I don’t know that you’re a curmudgeon necessarily. It’s understandable that you felt distracted and thrown off your game, and it sucks that that happened. But the “how could they have thought this would be okay?” part of your reaction is probably a little misplaced, and you might be assuming that clearly anyone would have reacted as you did, when in fact I don’t think everyone would. It’s okay that you felt thrown off! But it’s also worth knowing that it’s not a universal reaction.
If you hadn’t been turned off by this company for other reasons, I would have encouraged you to go back and do the second interview because it probably would have been on a quieter day and you might have ended up feeling better about things. But it sounds like it wasn’t a match regardless — but not because of the Bring Your Kids to Work scheduling.