The worst interview of my life taught me a valuable lesson about respect

Desiree Peralta

You should consider these points before deciding to change your job.

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Photo: bruce mars/Unsplash

Last year I received a call from the company of my dreams. They had an open position and said that I could be a good candidate for them.

I had high expectations because they are one the biggest bank in my country and had a good reputation on reviews companies as “the best place to work.

Working there felt like securing your life. That you will have the opportunity to grow professionally, develop your skills, and belong to a successful company that gives you prestige just by mentioning its name.

However, the experience I got was terrible, and the only positive thing this left me was the lessons I’m going to tell you in this article.

While a toxic workplace or a micromanaging boss isn’t exactly inspiring while you are on the interview, they can offer valuable lessons for acting as a leader in your future organization and what you really expect from a company. In fact, there is nothing like a bad experience to show you what not to do.

Someone who doesn’t respect your time doesn’t deserve your services

In the first interview, I filled a form with my current salary and what my expectations were. They called me to continue the process, so I assumed that they accepted that offer I wrote there.

In the end, they offered me a salary 40% below my initial offer and 20% less than my current salary because they had “other benefits.”

When I told them that I could not lower my monthly salary for “benefits,” they told me that I should consider it because working there would be the opportunity of a lifetime.

For me, that was disrespectful. They made me take 3 interviews that cost me days off from my plans, gas, and time. And then did not care what I said initially because they thought they could “convince me.”

There are times when lowering your salary for another job is worth it:

When you are in a toxic environment, you lost your job or are going to be fired, when you want to change to your professional area and want to learn another skill, and when you will work for your own startup, and you know that you’ll grow.

But none of those was my case. And changing jobs for a lower salary just because “working in a bank gives me prestige” from a company that doesn't care about your time and word did not seem like a lifetime opportunity.

What you can do to avoid this

When a recruiter calls you for an initial interview, tell them that you are currently seeking professional and financial growth and clearly specify your current salary and expectations before going.

You probably think that this can scare a company from trying to continue a process with you, but I have good experiences after doing that. It has saved me from wasting a lot of time later, and I have only continued interviews with people who have told me that they can pay me the amount I want.

When a company lists basic rights as “benefits,” they have nothing good to offer

“We offer 401k, health insurance, and 10 vacation days as benefits.”

If these things sound like “the ultimate benefits” to you, then you have been working for the wrong companies.

To me, that’s the minimum a company can offer to have people willing to work there. But it is nothing out of the box. Some countries have those same benefits as mandatory requirements for all companies.

This company tried to sell me these basic rights as the best I could get there. And there I understood that they have nothing good apart from saying that I would work there in elegant clothes and maybe a good loan eventually to buy a new car.

Google, for example, has the best benefits for employees. They offer free food, a gym, a maternity plan, and even massage for people stressed.

What companies can do to have competitive benefits

I know that not all companies can pay big benefits to employees, but there are cheap things that can make a difference, and the employee can feel good:

  • Pay a monthly gym plan. That only costs between $10-$20, and the employee may feel that the company cares about their health.
  • 1–2 remote days a week. Nowadays, many people want to work from home, and that a company allows them to do it feels like a benefit.
  • An online course of their choice. Pages like Udemy offer many different courses from $10. The employee may feel that he cares about his education.
  • Flexible schedule to study. I moved from a company because they didn’t want to give me 1 hour a week to take math at the university.

Working under pressure and perfectionism are not skills

“We need someone who can work under pressure and is a perfectionist.”

Many people say these two words so much that they have become normalized as “skills” when talking about your strengths. Some companies even force their employees to stay after their contract hours to “keep working on assignments” and denounce those who do not are irresponsible.

But to be honest, I don’t want to work for a company that is constantly pushing its employees to work under pressure. That only means that they do not know how to organize themselves correctly or know the real workload that each area requires.

When they said that it was necessary for me to work even with stress and be able to stay overtime if necessary, I realized that there was a great lack of administration.

It is not healthy that a company always demands work overtime because they do not know how to schedule their assignments well.

What you can do to change that mindset

Instead of telling your employer that you can work under pressure, tell them that you are organized enough they won’t need you to work overtime.

Also, instead of perfectionism, tell them that you understand that a job completed that can be improved over time is better than never delivering anything for lack of personal approval.

They’ll do whatever it takes to drag you down

Even if you have a way of thinking different from the company's policies, they will look for a way that you end up thinking like them, and you will end lowering the quality of your work just to fit them.

I talked to some employees there after the interview, and they told me that it is a good place because they do not force you to think outside the box since they will be happy if you only do what they told you to do.

Although many people see this as an advantage, a company that does not let you develop and contribute to its growth will make you lose the opportunity to learn and develop in other areas, such as creativity, leadership, and initiative.

In the end, they don’t care about you, and you are just a number.

A good company motivates you to grow and contributes to it. They let you make your own ideas and develop them, and help you to be better.

What you can do to avoid this

In the interview, ask if you can contribute new ideas for the growth of the company and how they will see if you decide to change areas to learn new skills. If you don’t care about any of this, then it’s not a place to help you develop.

Going to work “just” to work is a wasteful activity

Finally, they made me fill out a psychological test to see if my thoughts were the same as the company's laws.

The questions were basically “What is more important to you, friendship or doing your job,” and “if you had to expose your partner to get a better position, would you do it?

They basically made it clear that they did not want any friendship between employees and that they always put the company as a top priority. Although in some cases it sounds logical, like a robbery or fraud, the girl from human resources specifies that they do not tolerate employees socializing outside the company.

In addition, I had to leave all personal objects out of my work area, so there would not be any distractions or accidents since they worked with “sensitive data,” and I would not have access to the internet directly from my computer.

As I was studying at the time, this request was going to be difficult for me.

I always tried to use my free time to study or prepare for my classes, but there it will be practically impossible.

Although it is the dream of many employers and managers, the reality is that going to work “just” to work is a wasteful activity. Many people currently work just to pay the bills, pay the rent, and that’s it. There’s nothing else they’re working for.

They have no goals, no aspirations, no ambition, no passion, nothing. They are as empty as a figure.

When you work just to fulfill an assignment, you are conformist. And if you do not prepare or do something beyond what you have to do, you will end up living off pensions and boring and uninteresting life.

What you can do to change this mindset

In an interview or with your manager, ask if there is a possibility to improve the activities, projects, or structure of the company. Tell him that you want to participate in the improvement of the product and the services offered there. If they give you the facility to work on it and develop yourself, then it is worth working there.

Final thoughts

This experience taught me an essential thing:

I must respect and value myself.

If not, people will try to take advantage of me. When you know your worth, you won't accept anything just for the status to represent you or the money.

Companies like that care more about their reputation than the well-being of their employees.

Also, when a company is more interested in reducing costs than in the quality of their work, they usually do not care about your opinion as long as they earn more money.

Even if you work hard, they will not value the results; it will be “part of your job.” So there I understood that the only hard work that will be really valuable is when you work for yourself.

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Turning ideas into reality. Programmer by profession, Writer by passion. Writing, productivity, and self-development advice.

Yonkers, NY
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