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I believe asking this question to the hiring manager led to my rejection

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Mid-Level Software Engineer at Taro Community24 days ago

In the middle of the hiring process I decided to review the company I had applied to in Glassdoor.

The reviews were very demotivating because they all mentioned multiple waves of layoffs in the last year.

By the time I read the company reviews in Glassdoor I had already had 3 interviews: phone screen, technical interview (leetcode) and system design interview. I performed excellently in all of them. The feedback from the interviewers and the recruiter was really good.

In my last interview with the hiring manager, everything went perfectly until it was my turn to ask questions. I could almost tell he was about to offer me the position. This was the question I asked him:

"When was the last wave of layoffs at <company>?"

He was surprised; I could tell by his facial reaction.

One week later, the recruiter sent me an email with an absurd reason for why they decided not to extend me an offer.

Do you think that the question I asked was the sole reason for my rejection?

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Discussion

(2 comments)
  • 0
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    Team Lead (people manager) at Mistplay
    22 days ago

    It is possible. But at the same time there have been interviews where I was very confident afterwards but failed and vice versa. There are other factors that can play a role that are outside your control like how other candidates performed and how their prior knowledge compares to yours. In this market you can pass all the interviews but still not get the offer.

  • 6
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    22 days ago

    Sorry to hear about the rejection. Since you got good feedback, I'm sure you did well but keep in mind that if interviewers are good, they'll make you feel like you're doing better than you actually are as I talk about here: https://www.jointaro.com/course/ace-your-tech-interview-and-get-a-job-as-a-software-engineer/temper-your-expectations/

    If they did reject you due to this question (it's feasible), that's an overreaction IMHO. However, that question is definitely one of the worst you can possibly ask in a hiring manager round:

    1. Layoffs are painful. By asking that question, you are dredging up awful memories. Good managers hate losing their people, so it will hurt in particular for them.
    2. It doesn't show any positive signal on your behalf. In an interview, your goal is to show that you have a growth mentality and are excited to add value to their company. You want to add energy to the room, not suck it out, which is what this question will do.
    3. The information isn't useful to you. Just because a company has done recent layoffs doesn't mean they can't do another one. Even if a company has never done layoffs before, it's possible there's a wave coming. Layoffs are always carefully coordinated to be a surprise.

    For the future, you can use Glassdoor/Reddit/Blind to find out this information on your own, so you don't need to ask anyone at the company. If you're interviewing with a company in the US, you can look at WARN act records: https://www.warntracker.com/

    For better questions to ask in an interview, check this out: "What questions to ask a CTO of a startup?"

    Rejection hurts, but it's all a part of the process to improve yourself as a candidate. Learn what you can from this experience and come back stronger than ever before. I believe in you, and best of luck with your future interviews!