are really fast interview invitations off-putting?

A reader writes:

I’m job hunting, and a few times now I have received a request to come in for an interview within a day or, in today’s case, within hours of applying. Is this a red flag?

The last company that I interviewed with who did this turned out to pay hourly minimum wage in an industry that pays way better than that, which is why they had a high enough turnover that they were interviewing anyone who sent in a resume. But today I received an email and a phone call from a company I applied to within hours of sending in my resume, and they want me to come in tomorrow for an interview! Part of me says this is a red flag, but I wonder if this might just be bad hiring practices on their part and not an indication that it’s a bad company to work for. Should I tell them that this quick response is a little off putting? Maybe it’s just me.

I’m not sure if you’re asking about a quick response to your resume, or a request that you interview that same day or the next. So I’ll answer both.

A quick response to your resume:  This shouldn’t be a red flag. Some employers are efficient. I often respond to a strong applicant within a day or two of receiving their materials, because I’m reviewing applications as they come in, and if I see someone I know I’d like to talk with, it seems silly to sit on it for a week.

(That said, I will wait longer to reject people — generally a week — even if I know immediately that I’m going to reject them, simply because it feels rude to me otherwise — like saying “you’re such a deficient candidate that I didn’t even need to think about it.”)

Now, what about requests that you come in to interview the same day they contact you or the next? A request to interview in-person that same day would be off-putting to me — as if they didn’t understand that people have schedules and commitments.

Even a request to interview in person the next day would feel a little strange to me — unless it was accompanied by an acknowledgement that it was short notice. Acknowledging that something is unusual can go a long way toward canceling out its weirdness — it says “this isn’t standard practice for us and we know it might be an imposition,” as opposed to “we always fly by the seat of our pants and see nothing odd about that.”

A request for a same-day phone interview wouldn’t bother me, though, because that’s easier to accommodate … again, as long as it was clear they realized it might be too short notice and they were offering other times as well. (For instance: “Do you by chance have time for a 20-minute phone call later this afternoon? If not, here are two other times that would work later this week.”)

But in response to your last question, no, don’t tell them last-minute requests are off-putting. However, you can hold firm about needing more notice, and you can take it as a signal to watch for other signs of chaos.

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