Looking for a new job is always stressful, especially interviewing for one. But what happens when a normally stressful interview turns into a complete nightmare? Whether there were awful managers, fake job descriptions, or shockingly inappropriate questions, these Redditors share terrible job interviews that made them quit before work even began.
1. The Other Team
I had a three-hour interview where everyone on the interviewing team was friendly, enthusiastic, and made constant comments like “You’d fit in well here,” and “We really need someone with that experience.” Then, upper-level management came in. They feigned disinterest, had side conversations, and their comments to me were all in the line of “Maybe we’ll go with you, maybe we’ll just outsource—why don’t you convince us,” while the team cringed. It was absolutely brutal.
I cut them off, saying, “It seems like you’ve got a great team here, but I’m not interested in working for hostile management.” Then, they completely changed their tune and were trying to backtrack. It was obviously their idea of salary negotiation. They called several times afterward asking me to come back in, but I wasn’t having it.
Surprise, the company was sold not long afterward, and I hear they cleaned house.
2. Play No Games
I ran into stupid interview games. They put me at a low table with a low chair, placed water in a carafe with an empty glass—all just out of reach so that I’d have to stand and reach for it—and then interviewed me as a panel of six employees sitting at a tall table with tall chairs. The questions were all more about my character than my skills.
The whole thing was so obviously staged to make me feel uncomfortable. An interview is a conversation, not an interrogation. Treat it like an interrogation, and I’m out. It’s a clear sign of an awful workplace, and I’ve yet to see an exception to this rule.
3. Well, I’m Already Here…
Three panelists took turns reading questions, for nearly one and a half hours. Fifteen minutes into it, I had already decided to decline the offer. They didn’t make me one, because by the 50th minute I was answering with “I don’t know, what would you do in this situation?” I was too junior to just stand up and leave, since they had paid for my trip to Montreal.
On the bright side, I got a four-day trip, so it wasn’t a total waste…I had fun in Montreal!
4. Introvert Problems
I interviewed for a job that was ostensibly a tech role: updating and maintaining the company’s website. Midway through this hour-long interview, they asked me if I’m comfortable with sales, because they said half the role would be cold-calling customers and there’d be minimum monthly sales targets to meet. I am one of the most introverted people to ever introvert, so no, I would not be comfortable with that.
I wouldn’t have even applied for the job if they’d been at all explicit in the listing about it having a significant sales or customer contact component. They didn’t call me back, and I was relieved.
5. An Interrogation Room
I was expecting a panel interview of an hour tops but instead, it was a complete and total nightmare. It was six one-on-one interviews that killed an entire afternoon. I was working hourly so I was very aware I was losing money for each interview where they all asked the same questions over and over like an interrogation.
When the fourth interview ended, I asked—somewhat annoyed—how many more there were, and they said two. I deliberately tanked them, because a 30k tech role wasn’t worth this grilling. The worst part was, not once did anyone ask if I needed a restroom break or a drink of water, and after three hours of talking you need a glass of water.
6. How Much Per Hour?!
The woman interviewing me asked if I would be willing to take a three-month deferment while under a “probationary” period. If after three months, they didn’t like me, they’d let me go and give me a check for $0.10 on the dollar for every hour worked. If they kept me, I’d get a check for all my hours, plus a bonus of $500 for office supplies, but I could only buy out of their selected catalog.
I almost laughed in her face.
7. Just Gone
This was a grad school interview, but it still fully convinced me to divert my focus to other programs and interviews completely. I was asked to prepare a five-minute presentation that I would give via Zoom at the start of the interview. About a minute into the presentation, I got a serious shock. The interviewer got up and walked away from her laptop before returning about a minute later.
She missed 20% of my presentation. I kept giving my presentation because there was also a student representative on the call, but the faculty interviewer neither apologized nor acknowledged leaving during my presentation. If I am not worth five minutes of your attention as a prospective student, then your program is not worth my tens of thousands of dollars.
Lucky for me, I was accepted into my first-choice program that same day.
8. No Excuses!
I interviewed at a “no excuses” charter school. They gave a scenario where a student comes into class and doesn’t have his homework done. He says it’s because he spent the previous night in the ER because his brother was hurt badly. School policy is that unfinished homework is a mandatory detention. I could not, in good conscience, answer that question the way they wanted.
9. Unpaid Time
I went to interview for an entry-level marketing position in the film industry. Two hours in, the boss slipped in that I wouldn’t be paid for the first few months while they trained me. It was a full-time job. He also wanted me to start immediately that day…using my personal laptop. I made up an excuse and left shortly after.
I had an interview at a small law firm once, with the owner. At the 10-minute mark of sitting in a meeting room alone, I got up and started heading down the hallway to leave. I was stopped by the owner who never said sorry, just said that it was a busy day. When we talked, she explained that she wanted to upend LegalZoom.
She wanted to create the same service and expand it slightly to encompass a couple of other items. Mind you, they had no tech people, and this was a small firm, very boutique. I stood up, shook her hand, told her good luck, hope she does well, and left the office promptly. Hilariously, I got an email two days later that they were moving forward with other candidates. I laughed pretty hard reading that.
11. Try This Instead!
I showed up for a construction and trade work hiring event. I’m a plumber by trade and work was bleak in my city at the time, so I went. It all looked legit until they sat us down to speak about the scope of the work. They claimed to be one of the companies that was building Rogers Place in Edmonton. After they gave us sketchy details they said “However, if you don’t want to do that you can….”
And then started speaking about how to do door-to-door sales of mostly chocolate in the higher-end communities around the city. They talked about construction for maybe 15 minutes and the rest was door-to-door chocolate sales, UNICEF fundraising, and how we can have an income of 150k+ a year doing that. I left probably 20 minutes into their whole spiel.
I had a friend who champed it out and stayed the entire time. The stories he told me were hilarious. Ironically, 30 minutes after I left, I got a call from a company that was actually a contractor on the Rogers Place job , and ended up working for them for more than four years.
12. You Don’t Want That, Trust Me
I know an engineer who went to a head-hunter for help in finding a job. He was told first thing that he needed to shave off his beard. The head-hunter lands him a group interview with an engineering firm. He walks into the room having noticeable tan lines on his face because he’d just shaved his beard…and each one of the male engineers who were interviewing him had a beard!
13. A Vote Of Confidence
I interviewed with Radio Shack around 1990. I was a home stereo geek and was looking for my next college job. The interview goes well and he asks if I have any questions. I ask about compensation. He explained that there was a base rate, close to minimum wage, but salespeople were “expected” to exceed that with their commissions on sales made.
He went on to tell me that the vacant position was due to someone that couldn’t do this on a consistent basis. “How do you feel about that?” He asked. I had to be honest. I responded: “Well, I can’t say that I’m confident enough about your product line for that to make me very happy.” Yeah, it was over at that point.
14. The Everything Expert
I’m a vet tech, and I interviewed at a primary care, single doctor practice. The manager was over 25 minutes late to my interview. While I waited for her, the front desk staff ignored me while they talked badly about the techs, manager, and clients. The manager said they did not believe in referring to any specialists, because “Dr. A is a specialist in everything from grizzly bears to canaries.”
He was not, he hadn’t even done a rotating internship and definitely had not done any type of residency program. I had already worked in an awful clinic, but at least the doctors there were competent. When she asked if I had any questions, I knew exactly what to say. I just asked if I could have my resume back, so I didn’t waste the paper.
15. So MY Accomplishments Are…
The first 30 minutes of the interview was the woman who would have been my boss listing off her accomplishments. She was the director of a tiny museum in a small town where we had just moved to for my wife’s job. It was uncomfortable, and the two board members present looked even more uncomfortable than I was. I don’t know if she was intimidated by me, or if she just liked singing her own praise, but I immediately thought, “you couldn’t pay me enough to work for you.”
After her 30 minutes of self-congratulations, there was approximately half a minute of silence. Then I looked at the two board members and said, “Right. Were there any questions for me?” I was called that night and offered the position. I turned it down. One of the board members who was present called and asked if there was anything they could do to get me to come on.
The pay was negotiable within reason for a tiny museum in a tiny town. I was candid and said I would never be able to work for that director. The board member said, “Believe me, I completely understand.”
16. Meeting The Boss
I had an interview back decades ago, in my early 20s. The interview with the hiring manager went great, I was introduced to the team, and we sat around talking for a while. The manager goes “Hey! You should meet our director!” We walk over to his office, he walks me in and introduces me, and the director turns his chair around to greet me. I never could’ve predicted what happened next.
When he turned around, he took one look at me and literally pulled his legs up into his chair and hugged them like a child trying not to be hit. I don’t know who I reminded him of or what terrible thing they did to him, but I knew instantly I wouldn’t get that job.
17. Every Name In The Book
I was interviewing for an admin position and the interview was going okay. My interviewer was kind of a jerk, but I thought to myself “Oh, I’ve worked with worse.” His assistant had knocked on the door a couple of times telling him she had something incredibly important for him and could he come outside. He yelled for her to go away because he was in an interview.
On the fifth time that she began banging on the door, he yanked it open and cussed her out. He called her every foul name you could call a woman and combined a few. She let him know that his car was being towed for non-payment and thought he should know. I got up and left. I couldn’t get out of that situation fast enough.
18. Some Interesting Dog Walkers
Back in the day I was looking for a part-time job as a dog walker, as I like walking, I like dogs, and I also like money. I showed up for the interview and asked if I could learn a little more about the company. The owner then went on a 25-minute tirade about how they were a “reactionary holistic rebellion against big dog food and the predatory animal medical industry.”
They went on and on about how they advised all of their clients to buy and have their dogs eat their house-made raw dog meals and rely purely on holistic medicine and “natural herbal treatments.” My partner is a veterinarian. I thanked them for their time, told them that it didn’t look like I would be a good match, and left.
19. I Need It More!
It was a low-paying retail job, but I’d be interviewed at the same time as someone else. The issue I had with this is that it pits two people against each other, and it becomes incredibly awkward. I was interviewing against a woman who had lost her job and was talking about supporting her kids. I felt like I had to make a stronger case saying that I didn’t know how I’d afford college without the job.
If an interviewer doesn’t have time for two separate interviews, then just walk out—because things will only get worse.
20. A Vague Description
When I was job hunting last, at one of the places I got an interview, the recruiter straight up lied to me about what the position was, and the posting on their site was vague enough that I was suspicious but didn’t catch it before the interview. It turned out that I wasn’t qualified after all, so they didn’t offer me the job and of course, it was very embarrassing.
They wanted a database admin, and my experience was essentially in desktop and below, so Qt apps, embedded, and occasional kernel hacking. Even if I had the experience though, the recruiter lying to you isn’t a good sign. Their office was super gloomy too.
21. Hours And Hours And Hours
This was during a phone screen rather than an interview. The time frame was 1997, during the height of the .com boom. I’m a programmer. The screener told me that they were a “fast-paced company” and I asked for some clarification on what exactly that meant. After some evasive answers, I asked more directly what kind of hours people worked and found out that many people were working 60+ hours a week.
I politely declined. The company did have an IPO in early 1999 that could have been lucrative for me, but I had an 18-month-old daughter and another on the way—I was changing jobs to be able to spend more time with them, not less. I feel very good about that decision.
22. A Flooded Interview
I once went to a job interview for a large welding shop, in the middle of a rainstorm. After talking to the interviewer for 30 or so minutes, he walked me out to the shop floor to take a welding test. I still can’t believe what he pulled next. The machine we went to was in decent condition but was literally sitting in a puddle of water.
As you can imagine, that’s incredibly dangerous—as was the next thing I noticed. The welding table’s legs were rusty and not grounded well, and also in said puddle. Over half the shop was flooded. I turned around and said, “No thank you.” Then proceeded to walk out the door. My life is worth more than $20 an hour.
23. I Told You Twice!
I applied for a register position at Pizza Hut. I specifically told them during my two interviews that I cannot be a delivery driver due to my car being unreliable, they even acknowledged that and told me okay. Got the job, came in for training on the first day—and, surprise! The very first thing they do is sit me down in a chair and started up a training video on delivery driving.
I asked them if I could skip it since I’m only working the register and the kitchen, and the manager tells me that every position is a delivery driver. Walked out right then and there and got paid for one hour of training.
24. Word For Word
The interviewer, who was the CEO, was 25 minutes late, and right when I dropped out of the Webex, he called my cell and said “Oh you ran off so fast, you need to be more patent.” I got back on the Webex, and he didn’t apologize, and made fun of me for leaving “so quickly.” He asked me what he thought the position was, where I read him back the job description, and said I actually had questions about it.
His response was so rude, it’s unforgettable. He told me: “Everything you need to know is in the job posting, if you had paid attention, you wouldn’t have questions.” He asked me again what the role was for and didn’t accept my answer. After trying to move on, he was insistent I answer that question. I tried again to no avail, reading back the position he had posted, to which I just said “I don’t think this is a right fit, thank you for your time.”
He was a complete jerk, and I’m glad the interview went so poorly.
25. Was It Worth It?
It was my third and final interview at a tech company. The first two went well and I was told this last one just was a formality—they wanted me to join. The interview with the head of office guy seemed to start well. We walked to the cafeteria, grabbed a couple of coffees, and with some small talk we learned we knew some of the same people.
We get back to his office and sit down. He looks at my file and says, “It says here you’re looking for a certain salary.” I said yes, and explained it’s really close to the market for someone with my skills and experience. He looks at me and says, “I don’t think you’re worth it.” I said, “Excuse me?” He repeated it. I laughed, grabbed my bag, stood up, thanked him for his time, and walked out.
The company went out of business about a year later, so I feel I dodged a bullet there.
26. Suffering And Proud
I showed up and the manager practically bragged about how the job offered no breaks for an 8 to 10-hour shift, and if there was a food break it would be five minutes max at a hip-height table with no chairs. She said that you’d be fired if you sat down even for 30 seconds. I’m more than capable of doing that. I did that every day at my last job.
But when you brag about how your employees are so over-worked that they don’t get breaks or an option to rest their legs, it tells me all I need to know about how little you value your employees. I should also note that this job wasn’t paying exceptionally well. Above minimum wage, but not at a level that was even enough to live on.
27. Cleaning House
I actually interviewed and was being hired by a call center that focused on getting donations for a variety of non-profit organizations. It was on a Thursday, and I was told to show up the following Monday. When I showed up Monday morning, I got the shock of a lifetime. The entire business unit was completely empty. Like, stripped to the floor, wires hanging from the roof empty.
When I was there the week before, I saw around 20-25 cubicles of people all working diligently, a manager’s desk at the far back, and a waiting area with chairs and a table, all in one large room. To this day I have no idea what happened, I just know they got out of there quick in three days’ time.
28. The Opposite Of A Warehouse
I once showed up for a job interview in a suit and tie after answering a newspaper ad for a “warehouse worker.” Instead of a job interview at the warehouse, they had me get into some truck with one of the employees who drove me a few hours away, pulled over in some random neighborhood, and explained to me that the job was going door-to-door trying to sell cuts of meat to people, unsolicited.
I told him this was not the “warehouse worker” job that they had advertised, and if he didn’t bring me back home immediately, I was going to call the police and report a kidnapping. I was brought back to my car, but I was not paid for the several hours of my wasted time.
29. The Middleman
I went for a job interview and aced it; I knew I would get it as soon as I left. A few days later, I got called by the recruitment agency that advertised the job online and told me to go to their office to sign a contract. I head up there and get this 10-page contract telling me that they will hold my pay and only pay me after they take a percentage every month.
They may or may not also hold my pay for some other reason should they deem fit. For instance, if you were to take sick leave during probation. They said that the company I’m working for will hand my cheque to them and then they will pay me. I read it, said I need to go downstairs for a drink, and never came back. They called me for months and I just ignored them.
To think, that there were people out there who signed these dumb things.
30. A Language Barrier
I made a joke about being multilingual, but that Japanese wouldn’t be useful for this job, because there were almost no Japanese speakers where the job was. The interviewer insisted I speak Japanese to this Chinese woman who was in the building, to prove I could speak it. Then, when I refused because the lady was CHINESE, not Japanese, he laughed and said he knew I was lying. I walked out.
31. Lunch With The Boss
After two panel interviews, was invited for a lunch with the team—I pretty much knew I had the job, and the lunch was just a formality by that point. I went to a random buffet restaurant at a forgettable hotel that was miles from the job site. Carpooled with the team, but it was a very weird vibe during the ride and getting to the table.
Everyone was walking on eggshells around the manager and laughing too loudly at her jokes. As soon as we sat down, the manager went up to get her food, and the rest of the team stayed at the table—when her phone started ringing. They were panicking to be the first one to get it before the second ring. They were so deferential, almost comically so, and so worried about what might happen if the manager got upset.
I just couldn’t see myself working there. I turned down the offer when it did come in the next day. Saw the job advertised again a few months later, and wasn’t surprised. Always trust your gut.
32. Not What I Had In Mind…
When I finished University, I didn’t have a sensible job to go to immediately. I went to a job agency and said I was looking for a temporary job for experience working in my chosen field—I didn’t mind exactly what it was, or really how much it paid. We talked about my existing qualifications and experience. At the end of the interview, they said they had the perfect job for me.
They told me someone would pick me up the following morning. I said that I could drive, but no… they would pick me up. Fine. As I said, didn’t really care where it was or exactly what I was doing as long as it met my requests, and they assured me that it did. The following day a minibus came to get me. So where did they take me to work?
A salad packing factory, to spend the day literally packing salad. I was getting paid, so what did it matter for one day? The worst was finding out over lunch was that if I had literally just turned up at the factory, they would have probably given me work. That is what happened for most of the staff there, who were largely seasonal workers from eastern Europe.
Those folk were also paid more than me, not because I was new, but anybody who just turned up would likely get work and get paid more than I was. Obviously, they took us there by minibus so we wouldn’t just leave once we’d been tricked into going. So I packed salad, finished my lunch, and then walked home.
33. We Can’t Afford You
I moved to a new city and tried finding a job in my preferred area. I went to an interview where I sat down with two well-polished ladies, who were the company owners. One of the women said, “Glad you could make it! Now, before we really begin, I see that you were being paid a certain amount per hour at your last job. I’m sorry, we can’t afford to pay you that much.”
I knew exactly what to do. I immediately smiled, stood right back up, and said, “Thank you for not further wasting my time.” The shocked look on both their faces was priceless as I skedaddled out of there. They were probably expecting negotiations, but honestly, any person who opens an interview with THAT kind of statement deserves a walkout.
34. Work Zombies
I once had an interview where I spent the majority of the day there. They took me around and introduced me to everyone and had a group lunch. While everyone was very nice and the work seemed interesting, I noticed everyone looked very tired. At one point during the day, I was making small talk with a manager and the topic of travel came up.
He then mentioned it had been years since he last took a vacation. After some questioning, I soon gathered that not taking vacations was pretty common there. I happened to run into the same manager about a year later and he was happy to report that while he hadn’t taken a vacation yet, he actually had one booked. He still looked exhausted.
35. Review Bombers
Back in 2008, I saw a posting on Craigslist for a writing job. During the interview, it became clear to me that the actual job was to create and maintain hundreds of fake email accounts and post fake reviews for products I never used. I hadn’t heard of this concept before, so I just chuckled at one point and blurted out, “Isn’t that illegal though?” Thankfully, I never heard back from them.
36. Don’t Want You, But…
I was interviewing at a nationally-known survey company back in the early 90s. I was a database administrator, and they were planning on migrating their data from flat files to a database. The last guy I interviewed with would have been my direct supervisor. One of the things he said in the interview was that he didn’t think they really needed a database.
Database administrators were in short supply back then and you could essentially write your own ticket. There was no way I was going to waste time trying to work with someone who would fight the very concept of my job description.
37. The Mean Old Lady
I got through the interview and a day of training for a sales associate job in the handbag department of a big department store and was shadowing an employee before I got on the schedule. It was going pretty well, I liked everyone I met and the person I was shadowing was very sweet and helpful…but then I met the only other employee from that department.
She was an older woman who, before I could even introduce myself, immediately started criticizing what I was wearing, how I was standing, and how I was smiling. Apparently, my eyes were blank, my smile was dull, and I looked “simple.” Then she just walked away. I was a little too shocked by her abruptness to respond right away and just stood there.
The sweet co-worker apologized up and down for the other one’s attitude, but the damage was done. I had a moment of pristine clarity and knew if I didn’t leave now, I’d be stuck with that awful woman in a terrible job for years. I called the HR office the following day to explain the situation and all they said was “If you quit over the phone you’ll be blacklisted and can never work at one of our stores again.”
Well, the joke was on them. I told them I was perfectly comfortable with that and hung up. It was a blessing in disguise, really. About two months later I had a very nice, well-paying office job and heard that the department store was laying off half its workforce.
38. Don’t Tell Me About Yourself
This was for a management position, running a mailroom. Something I’d done twice before. All the standard questions were asked. I felt like it was going well. Then he suddenly says to me, “I’m hearing a lot of “I” from you. I’m concerned, because we are about the team, and not the individual, here.” The heck? It’s a job interview and you’re concerned that I am answering questions you have asked specifically about me, with answers that address your questions about me.
It was utterly nonsensical. I don’t even remember how I responded, but I knew I didn’t want to deal with his stupid semantic word and mind games, which I was sure I’d only seen the surface of, so I steered us right into concluding the interview, and I left. I also made a subtle show of taking back the copies of my resume that I’d brought with me.
39. Parking Spaces
A jumped-up security guard made me walk away before I even got in the building for an interview. I followed the instructions I was sent by the hiring manager which was to park in the designated guest spaces. That’s when my nightmare began. The security guard came charging out of the building yelling at me when I was barely out of the car about how I couldn’t park there.
Then when I raised my voice just to try and get him to listen, he started yelling at me for yelling at him. Eventually, when I got to tell him that I was told to park there, he called the hiring manager and started yelling at them about how I’d been yelling at him. Partway through that phone call, I thought “Nah,” got back in the car, and drove off.
The hiring manager called me to apologize and asked if I’d come back. I politely declined, saying I wanted nothing to do with that security guard again.
40. Mold To My Stereotype!
I was 19, and pretty crafty—arts and crafty. I thought it would be cool to work at a store that fit my interests. So, Jo-Ann Fabric, here I come. I get to the interview, and something seemed off. I show up dressed nice, for an interview and just got the stink eye from the manager. I am led back to the office, all the while the manager is trying to get me to tell her something.
I didn’t catch on until later in the interview. It was going well, and she seemed like she liked me and my experience. That is, until the little hints didn’t work. She straight up asked me if I was gay, and if my partner knew I was here. I am a straight man. I was in shock, until I realized she was being serious, and I wasn’t getting further in the interview if I didn’t tell her I was gay.
Flabbergasted, I got up, told her I thought her preconceptions were going to hurt her, and left. It was the weirdest thing I have experienced in an interview. After talking to others that worked there, the guys straight up lied to get the job. She only hired gay guys, because she thought straight guys wouldn’t know anything about crafts, and were only trying to hook up with women who shopped there.
41. Time All Over the Place
The interview was for a dental assistant job. The doctor conducting my interview kept talking and talking without giving me a chance to get a word in, and every sentence out of her mouth made the true state of the job worse. She admitted some disturbing stuff. For one, she signed up with dental assistant schools to get unpaid interns, specifically because she wanted free labor.
She hired on a couple of them, but when they found better jobs, she coerced them into staying on longer. Despite advertising a full-time position, which is 32 hours+ in dentistry, she said this was three days a week with odd hours. For instance, some weeks are two days a week, and some days they open at 10 AM. Some days she will just leave early to do whatever…and I would be expected to go home.
Once it was clear she wasn’t going to give me a chance to say anything, I just interrupted her, thanked her for her time, said I needed a full-time position, and walked out. This lady followed me! She followed me out of her office, through her dental practice, and to the door. She was basically begging me to reconsider, saying it will become full-time. I noped out.
42. Different Education
I interviewed for a typical IT admin job. The job posting said “bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience.” I applied because I had 12 years of experience working on their specified infrastructure. Interviewer, who would also be my manager, asked where I got my degree. I said that I went to school for a few years, but never finished because I was already working in the field and had life problems to deal with.
I intended to finish, but it wasn’t currently in the cards. “I always insist that anyone I hire has a degree,” the interviewer told me. I responded: “Then I know everything I need to know about your management style. I’d like to remove myself from consideration for this position. Thank you for your time.” There was no need for me to be rude. Besides, you never know what kind of damage you can do to your reputation.
I went back to the contact house and asked why they submitted me for a job if the boss required a degree. It was a waste of time for everyone involved.
43. Degrees Of Responsibility
After I got my bachelor’s degree in engineering, I interviewed for a position in a reliability lab. As part of the interview, one of the people I met was a woman with a master’s degree in the same field who I would be working alongside. By talking with her, I got to see what she was doing, and between what I saw and what she told me, it was clear that the job they had her doing was way below her capability.
For context, I had worked as a technician in the field while I was in college, and my tech job was more challenging and had also provided me a much greater amount of responsibility than what this woman—who was clearly very capable and had a master’s degree—was doing. I certainly hadn’t gotten my degree to take a downgrade in responsibility.
The field I’m in is pretty small and I later ended up working with some other people who had been at that company, and they all told me I made the right call.
44. A Hit Of Reality…TV
I was hanging out with friends in a diner in Los Angeles one night way back in the early 90s when I was approached by a producer for MTV’s The Real World. She said they were casting for the second season and invited me to audition. It sounded like it might be fun, so I said sure why not, and proceeded to make it far into the process, through like four rounds of interviews, and meeting the executives.
At first, all the questions were about my interests, my aspirations, my background, that sort of thing, but as it went along, ALL they wanted to know about was what sort of people I hated, who I could see myself in conflict with, what personality traits were most likely to make me angry. That’s when I made a chilling realization.
It didn’t sound like a fun time anymore; it sounded like a psychology experiment, and not in a fun way. So, I said thanks but no thanks and left. It sounds naive in hindsight—it’s reality TV, what did I expect?!—but this was early days.
45. Repeated Delays
On the day of my interview, I don’t get a call at the time I’m expecting. Okay, no big deal, maybe something happened and they’re running a little late. After about 10 minutes I decided to give them a call and the office manager that scheduled the meeting said she didn’t know what was wrong and why he hasn’t called. So, she asked if would be around a bit so she could figure it out.
I said sure and 30 minutes later I get a call from the guy saying sorry but there was an emergency and if we could reschedule for 5 pm. I said that was fine, but 5 pm comes and passes and I don’t get a call. The next morning at around 9 am, he called back, apologized again, and asked if we could do our interview now or if I wanted to reschedule.
I didn’t have anything going on, so I said now was okay. As we’re doing the interview he’s eating his breakfast, so I have to listen to that, and then on top of that, because I was on speakerphone, I could also hear his phone vibrating constantly with alerts. The whole thing was such a bad experience that even if they had offered me a job, I would not want to work there.
46. Who’s A Child?
When I was interviewing for engineering internships in college, I had an interview with a city department that handled road repair projects. One of the interviewers asked if I knew Spanish, which I know a little, and then in the next breath asked me a question so disgusting, I’ve never forgotten it. He said: “Would you feel comfortable giving instructions and keeping the field crews in line? They’re like managing children.”
Whether or not he intended to equate Hispanic construction workers as children, I can’t really say. But the question definitely rubbed me the wrong way, and I declined the position a week later when they offered it to me.
48. I Got It!… Right?
Years back, I got flown out twice to Minnesota for two interviews. After the first interview, I was asked to do a case study and a project plan. I did it as if it was a real-world problem and how I would actually solve it. After I submitted it to them, they called me within a day and said they wanted me to come back and meet the EVP who ran the department I would be in charge of.
At that point, it seemed almost like a formality and as though they were going to offer me the position. I could not have been more wrong. Still, the Vice President of HR picked me up personally at the airport, and on the 30-minute drive to the building and the 30 minutes waiting in the building, all we talked about was real estate opportunities, what the best places to buy a house would be, schools for our children, the people my family would get to meet, and how great they are.
She was pretty much telling me I got the job without telling me I got the job. I meet with the EVP. He’s very friendly, he’s open. We talk about the job, his expectations, and we go around the building. They even show me my office. I spend probably two hours with this guy. At the end of the meeting, he even tells me I’ll receive additional information in the next few days. Well, nothing could’ve been further from the truth.
I leave and go home. Hear nothing. After a week I call. They say they’ll get back to me. Two weeks, still nothing. Totally bizarre. Finally, after three weeks, I get an email from the VP of HR advising me they were going to go in a different direction with the role. I respond and press her for a more detailed explanation.
I’m told that my case study was “too extreme” for them. One of the things I said in the case study was that I would do a full audit of the portfolio to make sure the specific error, if found, would be corrected. They told me that was unrealistic, and they would never take that approach as it was too time-consuming and too costly.
However, based on the violations we’re talking about, it would be millions of dollars in fines if it were real. Guess who was fined millions of dollars years later for the exact problem outlined in my case study?
49. Pulling At The Heartstrings
I tried getting a job as a telemarketer once. The interviewer had me go into another room and call her, and she would pretend to be a person I’m trying to get money from. I started into the script, and she said, “Oh, but I’m just a poor college student with no money!” Even though I knew she was just pretending, I still felt terrible.
I knew that I could never do that work in real life. I told her that my coming there was a bad idea and I had to leave.
50. Then Why Am I Here…?
Years ago, I went to an interview and sat down with the man who was supposed to interview me. I sat in silence while he read something on his computer for a few minutes, then waited for a minute or so while he looked over my resume. I couldn’t believe what he said next. He finally looked up at me and said, “Well, I’m not sure why you applied for this job; you really don’t have any of the skills or experience I’m looking for.”
He was just so arrogant, and I felt like he was trying to make a power move to make a lowball offer. I didn’t apply to any job that I wasn’t qualified for. I was just instantly annoyed that he was playing games. I calmly said, “Then I’m not sure why you‘re wasting my time,” and I stood and walked to the door. He said something like, “Oh, no, let’s talk,” and I told him I wasn’t interested in working for him.