Career: Professionalism and the Job Interview Process

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We are hearing frequent reports from a variety of sources about iSchool students who have received AND accepted internship or full-time job offers, and who are still actively submitting applications for other positions.

The reasons mentioned for students doing this are many. Some students think that there may be a better opportunity, better fit, better salary, etc. in another position. Other students are continuing to apply because they want the practice in interviewing. Others are likely second-guessing their decision to accept the position they have already accepted.

While we understand that there are a number of reasons you may choose to do this, please consider the ramifications of choosing to continue to apply to other positions.

  1. You may damage your professional reputation.
    For many of you this is your first job in the field of information science. With that comes a desire to get that first job right. We get that. This is a big decision, and you want to find the company or organization that will provide you the best footing for your career.It is important to consider that how you handle your internship or job search also establishes your reputation as a professional.  From the perspective of an employer, accepting a job and continuing to interview is considered unprofessional.  Accepting a job, continuing to interview and then reneging on a position you already accepted is considered very

    Technology is a smaller industry than one might think.  Recruiters and hiring managers move between companies frequently and often share information on candidates. If you have accepted a position, and continued to interview, or have accepted a position and later decline it, recruiters and hiring managers will remember you (and not in a good way). In a tight-knit industry, you don’t know where you may cross paths again in your professional future.

  2. You may be damaging the reputation of the iSchool
    Last year both Janet Matta, our former Career Adviser, and the UW Career Center received a number of calls from employers raising issues about iSchool students’ behavior in the recruiting process. Their concerns included students not responding to job offers in a timely fashion or accepting offers and later declining the offer. This behavior damages the iSchool’s relationships with employers and may impact their desire to recruit future iSchool students.  It also puts a strain on the collaborations the iSchool faculty and administration have with our partner companies.
  3. You’re taking opportunities from other students
    One of the reasons given for students continuing to apply for internships is that they want to practice interviewing. The problem with this is that if you aren’t really interested in the job, you are wasting the recruiter’s time, and you are taking an interview spot a way from a student who may really want the job.  When employers hire, they usually identify how many interview slots they will have. For example, if they are hiring one intern, they may interview three to five people. They don’t interview every qualified candidate, but rather just the ones they are most interested in from the applicant pool.  So if you apply for a position that you aren’t interested in, and accept an interview, that means there is one less interview spot for a student who may actually want the job. If two or three of you are doing this, that is two or three less spots for students who are actually still looking for a position.If you really want to “practice” your interview skills, we strongly encourage you to consider doing mock interviews. While this isn’t exactly the same as a job interview, seeing a video tape of yourself being interviewed provides a lot more feedback about how you come across in an interview than you’ll get from a company recruiter.

The UW Career Center has a formal code of conduct for UW students and will block your access to HuskyJobs if they feel your behavior is unethical or unprofessional. The iSchool hasn’t taken that step in relation to iCareers, and we are hoping that you will monitor your own actions so that we don’t have to take that step in the future.

It would be nice if finding a job was a bit more like shopping where you could go to the store, see all your options and walk out with the best fit. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way because job hunting is more about building relationships. You need to make a decision with the opportunities that are open to you at the time they happen. If you accept a position, you need to STOP LOOKING. If you aren’t comfortable with the positon you were offered, if you think there’s a better opportunity out there for you, you need to take the risk and decline the offer and keep looking. There are always exceptions, but those are exceptions and should only happen on rare occasions.  If you think you have found one of those exceptions, please schedule a career appointment and talk it over with a Career Adviser BEFORE you take any actions.

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