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Safety in Interviews

You probably think about safety in a lot of situations, but is it really something you need to think about in your job search? It can be.

Interviews take place in many places, so consider these precautions about your interview location and situation:

Location: When an employer schedules a meeting or interview with you, make sure it's in a public place. The lobby of a hotel is fine, but meeting in an individual hotel room is not. Restaurants are an acceptable location (avoiding the bar), but if an employer asks you to meet in a parking lot or car, ask yourself why. That's just not appropriate (or professional).

Private homes: Some employers work out of their homes.  However, a private home is a questionable location for an interview unless other employees are working there too. The employer can arrange another location for the interview — like an appropriate restaurant or a meeting room in a library.

Identity: If you are at all unsure about an employer's or interviewer's identity or actual business affiliation, ask for a business card. Look at it carefully. A person may claim affiliation with a well-known organization, yet not actually work for that organization. The person might instead be a contractor or otherwise have a business relationship with the organization. Make sure you know — and ask if it's unclear — the person's true relationship to the organization with which s/he claims affiliation.

Alcohol: If an employer / interviewer is encouraging you to drink, ask yourself why. Does s/he want you to relax your inhibitions? An interview is not the place to do that. It is perfectly appropriate, and the best choice, to politely decline the offer of a drink. If you choose to accept a drink, accept only one, and make that one drink last throughout the meal or event. 

Why is all this an issue?

An employer or interviewer is in a role having more power than you have in your role as job candidate. An interviewer should never take advantage of you, make sexual advances, or suggest a relationship or activity that is unprofessional. There's greater risk — and greater appearance of potential unprofessionalism on the part of the employer — when you meet alone in locations that are not public or are not strictly professional, such as hotel rooms and bars.

Dealing with a request that makes you uncomfortable:

An employer should never put you in such a situation, and you should not hesitate to say, "I would not be comfortable meeting in that location." You can blame it on your career office if you want: Just say, "My Career Officer recommends against meeting for interviews in that type of location." If the employer pressures you or gets upset with you, consider whether you really want to work for that employer. It's perfectly okay to say, "Thank you, but I'm not able to accept your offer of an interview."

What if something uncomfortable happens to you?

If you ever find yourself in a difficult or confusing situation with an employer, and/or you believe an employer or interviewer behaved inappropriately, we strongly encourage you to discuss the situation with the Career Officers.