how to deal with a hostile interviewer

A reader writes:

I recently had a terrible experience with a phone interview. The interviewer began with a tone of voice that was irritated and sarcatic, which escalated over the course of 30 minutes into openly aggressive and loud, bordering on bullying and browbeating. I tried my best to keep calm and politely answer everything but by the end, my voice was shaking (and so was I). It was shocking and extremely upsetting to endure but I was a loss as to what to do. I was afraid that if I said anything, even politely, he might use it as an excuse to blackball me from the company and possibly parts of the industry I work in. There was no one else on the line so there would be no “proof” either way and he’s at a more influential position than me.

Is there a way to gracefully disengage from a situation like this? Or salvage it somehow? I assume that by the time it gets this bad, one or both parties have decided it’s not the right fit anyway so losing the job isn’t a problem. I just don’t want to be trapped being someone’s verbal punching bag for as long as they see fit to keep me there. But is possibly being blackballed the price I have to pay?

I answer this question — and four others — over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

Other questions I’m answering there today include:

  • My old boss is trashing me to my new boss
  • How long should I wait for a job offer?
  • The noise of my office-mate’s breast pump is driving me crazy
  • What should I ask a former coworker who now works where I’m interviewing?

{ 154 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. paul

    For the pumping coworker…is the company not providing a room? And if they are, would it be OK to suggest she pump there instead? If not, would it be possible to point out that companies over a certain size are required to do so?

    Those things are *noisy*.

    Reply
    1. Murphy

      I assume if she’s doing it at her desk and for that amount of time that she’s still working while pumping? Maybe she doesn’t want to have to take a break and make up the time.

      Reply
    2. Former OP

      I was the OP on that question; for the record, they did not provide a room (that I was aware of), on the theory that most people vastly preferred to pump at their desks (even in shared offices) so they could either do work at the same time (letting them take longer/more frequent pumping “breaks”) or just have a computer to use while they pumped. For my coworker, it was the former; I’m sure she was worried about getting all of her work done given how long and how frequently she was pumping. That was also why I couldn’t really volunteer to go elsewhere while she pumped.

      Side note: I’m now at a new job (as is she) and my new insurance company only covers that precise (horrendously loud and annoying and not-as-effective) pump, despite advances in tech that mean better/quieter pumps are available for a comparable price. (However, after this maternity leave, I won’t be pumping in a shared space in any event.) Ugh, pumping.

      Reply
      1. Samiratou

        Ugh, pumping, indeed. My company provides a space with 4 small rooms for pumping, but it’s in another building and if I had to pump that long, there’s no way that would work. But our offices have zero privacy, so there’s no choice (even if we got offices). That said, I can’t imagine sharing an office while pumping. Just….no.

        Glad you found a new job and won’t have to pump in a shared space! (And congratulations!)

        Reply
      2. Zen Cohen

        OP #4, do you have any money to spare? As a pumping mom, I know that the sound of the insurance pump is terrible for everyone. However, there are plenty of places where you can rent a hospital-grade pump that is much quieter (think whooshing air as opposed to that mechanical hee-haw), and is much, MUCH more efficient. You can usually rent them from hospitals as well as some babies stores (including Babies-R-Us) for between $25-$75 per month. But believe me, it’s more than a fair price for the value of more efficient pumping and being able to hear yourself think over the noise.

        Could you be direct with her about the noise and offer to split or pay for the cost of a better pump? That way everybody wins!

        Reply
        1. Janelle

          Oh yes this. You can rent them for about 20-50 a month and they work much better and are quieter. Plus if she is having some issues a hospital grade pump will help a lot. You can also purchase used ones online. You buy new tubes and all so it is very sterile.

          Reply
      3. Specialk9

        Everybody’s insurance only covers that one pump, and yes it’s very loud.

        She is following a normal pumping schedule. Every 2-3 hours is normal – some do more or less depending on how old the kid is. (And you don’t skip or try to delay sessions, you’ll lose supply – lesson learned the hard way.)

        Length of time in each session is variable too – mine were usually 30 min, but others don’t express easily, and sometimes you have to do special sessions to try to get supply up.

        It’s ***really weird*** that they forced her to pump in front of a co-worker, and forced you to witness pumping. Many many women are uncomfortable pumping in front of even partners – it’s super vulnerable, and awkward to see one’s nipple going in and out in a see through cone, and the straps to hold it all in place… Just thinking of a co-worker seeing that gives me hives. And I had no problem literally sitting on my front porch, by a busy road, and breastfeeding my baby, so it’s not modesty. Pumping is really awkward and emotionally fraught in a way breastfeeding isn’t.

        Companies of a certain size (50+) are required to provide a private, secure space that’s not a bathroom. (Thanks Obama) Maybe they weren’t big enough, but boooo on them for screwing over breastfeeding moms that way.

        Also, sorry you had to be annoyed (it is annoying! And weird!), but mostly I feel for the mom.

        Reply
        1. LSP

          My father-in-law would run for the hills whenever I would be getting ready to feed my son, even if I covered myself (which I always did in front of most people). It was almost amusing how scared he seemed to be of the slightest chance of seeing too much… of me.

          I was working at a government job when I was pumping, and I had several options: 1) I could go from my office on the fifth floor to the nurses office on the ground floor, where they had a little private corner off to the side that pumping mothers sued, 2) schedule a conference room for my pumping times (and often have to interrupt people using the rooms for private calls who hadn’t even bothered to check if it was free), or 3) when my boss wasn’t using his office, he would let me use it, as it was right next to my cubicle and had a door that locked, shades on the windows, and if some emergency call came in, our admin could just knock and get me.

          Reply
          1. Laura

            I think that’s very respectful of your father-in-law. Just imagine the opposite for a moment and consider how infinitely less ‘amusing’ it would be.

            Reply
        2. Former OP

          That’s actually not true! I subsequently pumped at that job (everyone had the same insurance) and was able to buy a (slightly) better and (slightly) quieter pump through a durable medical equipment supplier (I got to pick between two or three double electrics, I think) and be reimbursed. My new insurance, however, literally only provides this one pump (the junky one). I spent a few hours on the phone with them last week trying to get an exception (my OB is willing to write me a RX for a better one) or a voucher, but no dice. Totally ridiculous.

          The only counterbalance to the inherent horror of the pumping-in-the-shared-office arrangement was that the desks were set up with the chairs back-to-back. However, the doors didn’t lock; you had to put up a sign. When I went back after my maternity leave, I ended up requesting (and getting, albeit very begrudgingly) a private office for my first three months back (as long as I had planned to pump). When my accommodation expired, though, my new office-mate was very nice about me continuing to pump for another 2-3 months. (And, as far as I know, never wrote into an advice column about it. I’m a real jerk.) I did have a big scarf I threw over my whole apparatus, though.

          Reply
          1. AnonToday

            This is making me appreciate my employer right now! We have dedicated “Mother’s Rooms” on each floor/building (its a big office complex) and it has a comfy chair, table, fridge, counter and sink in there, to wash out the parts if needed. I pumped for about 4 months after returning to work, and this made it so much easier- the only hard part was scheduling time in the room, as there were several nursing moms duking it out for the same few rooms.

            Reply
    3. fposte

      Though federally they’re only required to provide a room for non-exempt employees; if the OP’s officemate was exempt, the feds don’t require anything for her.

      Reply
        1. fposte

          Here too. Fortunately rooms aren’t too hard to come by. But with the way your officemate was pumping, it sounds like she would have required a space where she could keep working, so that’s a bigger challenge.

          Reply
          1. Specialk9

            She’s not pumping abnormal amounts. Every 2-3 hours, for 20 min – 1 hour, is about right. And pumping time is not normal time – it’s from _start_ of session to _start_ of the next session. So pump 1-2 pm, 2 hours later you would start pumping again at 3 pm (not 4 pm like you’d expect). It’s this delightful surprise for new moms. (Not that I’ve sobbed myself silly over pumping and breastfeeding, nooo.)

            Reply
            1. fposte

              I didn’t say anything about normal or abnormal, but the OP describes pumping 4-6 hours a day; whether it’s normal or abnormal, that would be a long time to be unable to do work.

              Reply
              1. Specialk9

                Yeah, it’s true. Pumping is a big time sink.

                But trying to work while pumping isn’t optimal – one often has to deep breathe, relax, and look at pictures and videos of the baby, before the milk flows.

                But yeah, BFing has become a first world luxury for many because it is a big time sink, and companies have to be willing to invest in you.

                Reply
            2. Former OP

              I ended up pumping for almost 6 months, so I now do have some level of familiarity with #PumpingLyfe. TBH, every two hours for one hour still strikes me as excessive. Maybe if you’ve got a newborn?

              Reply
        1. fposte

          Because of how the law came about–the ACA amended the FLSA section that covers non-exempt employees. So it’s not so much that there was a decision to differentiate as the mechanism used to create this requirement only covered non-exempt employees.

          Reply
          1. Tshirt

            It’s always felt to me that the space requirement was an afterthought. Using that mechanism for the time regulations makes sense (at least from a pragmatic regulatory perspective, given the challenges negotiating ACA. From my perspective, maternal support in the US is senseless and heartless.) I feel like the space requirement should be covered by OSHA. Besides being dehumanizing, requiring employees to pump in the bathroom increases risk of contamination to the pump parts and milk.

            Reply
            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

              I think the space requirement came from companies forcing women to pump in public restrooms (ew). Unfortunately, it’s characterized as falling within rest/break periods and leave, which is why it ended up under the FLSA (through the ACA) as opposed to falling under OSHA.

              Reply
      1. Rebecca in Dallas

        Oh, I didn’t realize that! I thought they had to provide it regardless (and I think they should).

        I was going to suggest that my first line of defense would have been to talk to my coworker directly about it and try to come up with a solution between us, before going to HR. It sounded like she was otherwise a good officemate, so I’m sure she would have been happy to try to work something out. But sounds like it’s a moot point now!

        Reply
      1. Sounds familiar

        I had to do this and this letter kind of hurt my heart a little. It is SO HARD to come back after maternity leave, it is so stressful to have to pump that much (no matter how nice the accommodations may be) on top of trying to work…
        I sympathize that it comes with some inconvenience for others, but please to those in this situation try and sympathize for that poor stressed out mom who is feeling every bit of that pressure at work and for caring for her baby as she sure there in her uncomfortable pumping bra, probably sweating, worrying: if someone is going to knock on the door, if the sound is bothering her co-workers, if her boss is mad that lining is taking so long, if she is making enough milk that day, if she sounds just switch fo Cornus c earlier than she wanted, if she should just wit her job….
        And please do what you can rather than say a word to her, in my opinion.

        Reply
        1. LSP

          For all these reasons, and many, many more, the U.S. needs actually maternity leave. Six months at least (which is the point where the benefits of breastfeeding outweigh the bottle by considerably less).

          Reply
        2. Former OP

          I’ve GOT to put in a plug for the PumpEase hands-free bra here. Relatively easy to put on, not at all uncomfortable, and I would frequently leave it strapped around my stomach because I forgot about it. (Also comes in a classy “Tuxedo” color motif.) I got mine on Amazon and it was one of my favorite back-to-work purchases. (Least favorite: several boxes of tissues for all the crying. Ugh.)

          Reply
          1. Adhyanon

            Yes! The pump ease bra! I tried a few pumping bras and for many reasons – adjustable back panel, zipper front closure, etc, that was the best one by a mile.

            Reply
    4. Amy

      Am I the only one who felt like my breast pump was talking to me? Mine often said “F you. F you.” But sometimes, it was “Good job, good job.” It is indeed a loud annoying sound.

      Reply
      1. Kelly L.

        Semi-off topic, but I’m pretty sure the office Keurig talks to me, and that it’s passive-aggressive. It goes “Ohhhh, fiiiiiine” when I tell it to brew.

        Reply
      2. Specialk9

        Oh totally. And when it sped up or slowed down, the words changed. Pumping, man, can’t say I miss that, though I do miss breastfeeding.

        Reply
    5. Happy Lurker

      Coworker should have taken a break. It usually is the lack of relaxing that leads to the long pumping sessions. I would notice that if I stopped for 15 minutes and relaxed I would get just as much as if I sat for an hour in front of my computer.

      Reply
      1. Specialk9

        Oh, you’re a lactation consultant? No? Hmm.

        Fun story, my bff IS a lactation consultant, and on her 5th kid of 6, and only the 5th kid, nothing she tried (consulting other actual experts) worked. So even being an expert didn’t mean she knew the answer.

        Reply
      2. Adhyanon

        And when I pumped in a room with no computer or wifi it was very slow, went so much better if I could do work. There isn’t a single best.

        Reply
  2. Murphy

    #1. Ugh. I had a hostile interviewer on the phone once as well. (Though not yelling or outright insulting.) It was awful. I had had a glowing recommendation from a current employee, so I was feeling really good going into it too, but it was clear in the first few minutes that it wasn’t going to work out. I answered the questions as best as I could, and then just wrote it off. (I also felt pretty terrible for a while afterwards.) I probably should have just disengaged, but I really needed the job, and I was pretty stunned in the moment.

    Reply
    1. k.k

      I had a hostile interviewer in person once. She was filling in for the person that was supposed to be interviewing, and made it clear that she was not happy about being there. She tore apart everything I said and was just so rude and aggressive. I was looking for my first job out of college so I had very little work and interview experience and really didn’t know how to handle the situation. If it were to happen today, I would have said something like Alison suggested, and just left. Having someone in your face like that is such an awful experience.

      Reply
      1. Snark

        I had something similar happen, and I just stood up, told him it was clear he had no respect for what I was bringing to the table, and said goodbye. I don’t care if it’s a test or not, you can be civil or I walk.

        Reply
          1. Snark

            I’m usually like the me that happens inside my head, but this guy was being such an asshole Heroic Badass Me emerged from the depths of my psyche.

            Reply
      2. Lison

        A friend of mine had an interview once where the interviewer started with “Oh you have a degree from X place is that a real university?” We are from a small country with like 8 universities of which this is one of the older ones and then followed up with “and you got a first class honour post graduate degree from ‘local university’ they must hand that good a grade to everyone so” She was so shocked with this beginning to an interview she didn’t know how to react. Like why am I here if you feel that way?

        Reply
        1. Anon anon anon

          I find it kind of reassuring to hear this is a common experience. I had thought I was just a horrible candidate.

          I had a hostile interview with a temp agency once. I was just trying to fill in the gap between earning my masters and finding a long term position. They really tore apart my resume. “Why did you go to school for THAT? Do people even do that anymore? What does it pay, minimum wage?” I remained professional and explained my field. “Ok so if you know all that, you must also know how to find a job doing that. Tell me how you plan on finding a job.” I had loads of technical skills and this was a region where those skills were in high demand. They threw me out after the interview because they didn’t like the name of my degree. I had worse experiences with career counselors. I concluded that if you want any kind of professional advice or help finding a job, you need to get specific. Network within your field. I think general temp agencies and career services work best for people who are looking to do things like general office support and admin work.

          Reply
    2. Seal

      I once interviewed for a job where the interviewer clearly was not interested in what I had to say. While the interviewer wasn’t outright hostile, it was obvious by the second question that she was just going through the motions and barely taking notes. When it came time for me to ask questions, she pretty much signed and seemed to be barely able to not roll her eyes. This was when I was quite young; if that were to happen now my first question would be “do you have an internal candidate” or “have you already made up your mind that I’m not getting the job”. There’s simply no excuse for being disrespectful to anyone who took the time to prepare for an interview with you and your organization.

      Reply
      1. TM

        I’m picturing Katniss Everdeen shooting an arrow at the gamemakers’ buffet and saying “Thank you for your consideration”. LMBO

        Reply
    3. Aurora

      I had a really hostile interviewer once, but it was in-person not on the phone so I just rode it out. All sorts of combative and hostile questions, responses like “well that was a stupid decision” (as to the major I chose in college). Interviewer even took a (again, very aggressive) 15-minute call in the middle of the interview and stared at me the whole time without breaking eye contact. I smiled and stared back. At the end he acted like the it was all some sort of test and told me he was surprised and impressed because I looked like someone’s little sister and he didn’t think I could handle the job but the way I conducted myself in the interview proved otherwise. I said thanks but that I was no longer interested. Later I got a call from the person the job opening was supposed to replace begging me to take the job because no one else had even gotten through the interview and making all sorts of excuses like, “he can be a tough nut to crack but he’s really a good guy once you get past it, as long as you ignore all the sexual harassment he’s just old school like that.” I again politely declined (while internally thinking f– no!).

      If nothing else, take these experiences as a chance to practice your skills in handling combative situations gracefully, and pat yourself on the back for being a better human being than the interviewer.

      Reply
      1. serenity

        Oh my! You most certainly dodged a bullet there. “He’s a great guy if you can just get past the sexual harassment”? That poor employee must been just desperate to get out of there.

        Reply
      2. GreyjoyGardens

        “as long as you ignore all the sexual harassment, he’s old school like that” YIKES. Time to saddle up the Nopetopus and head for Nopeville. He sounds like a nightmare boss. No wonder the company couldn’t find anyone to fill the position! Glad to hear you took a pass on that!

        Reply
      3. serenity

        Oh my! You clearly dodged a bullet. That poor employee must have been just desperate to get out of there if she didn’t realize that “he’s a great guy if you can get past the sexual harassment” would instantly scare people away.

        Reply
        1. Natalie

          For that matter, the employee leaving didn’t realize that they didn’t need to give a shit if the position was filled or not…

          Reply
        2. Aurora

          Yes, I felt sorry for her, I think she was very desperate! We met briefly when I interviewed, and she was very sweet. I got the impression my interviewer made a habit of having younger, weaker assistants to more easily bully. She was leaving to go back to school so I always hoped her inability to find a replacement taught him a lesson. Sadly, as many letters on this site show, some folks never feel the consequences from their actions. I’m sure he eventually found some other dupe hoping to build their resume to take her place.

          Reply
    4. Sounds familiar

      I had this happen may year, and it was so bizarre. I had interviewed there a few months prior, that hire quit, so they sought me out to reapply and have a second interview. They then asked me to a third interview with their boss and he was 20 minutes late, and was very hostile- essentially said I didn’t seem qualified etc., Then after 5-10 min of hostile questions he disappeared for another 10 minutes, at which point I told the other interviewer that I could not wait for him to return (I was late for a work appointment I had told them about when scheduling and they said it could be accommodated).
      I was really ticked they wasted my time, why interview me three times to call me in and question my credentials? I had wished I had a great way to tell them that. But, I was glad bc I wouldn’t have worked well for that boss, either.
      Later I wondered if he wanted to see me fight for the job or some garbage, but, if that was the case clearly not a good fit for me.

      Reply
    5. NotAnotherManager!

      I totally commiserate with the “stunned in the moment” thing – I once had an interview that consisted of HR, the current team with whom I’d be working, and a couple of the attorneys that the team supported (totally normal for a legal support position). The interviews with HR and one attorney went really well, and the one with the team went great – I was very excited about the position until I got to the Hostile Interviewer, who criticized my education, my current position, and several answers I gave from the topics I researched in preparation. She was borderline mean, and I have no idea what I did that set her off. Everyone I dealt with afterward – HR, my recruiter, the interview that followed her, seemed really embarrassed by her hostility – it was really uncomfortable and, despite being really interested in the job and liking everyone but her, I feel like I dodged a major bullet.

      Reply
  3. Murphy

    #4. I can only speak to my own pumping experiences, and this is somewhat beside the point…but that seem like a lot of pumping. Not so much that many times a day (I’d do it more if I had the time) but that length of time. It just sounds uncomfortable…

    Reply
    1. fposte

      But 1) you wouldn’t know it was that hostile until you were well into the interview, and you don’t want to tape phone interviews on a regular basis just in case and 2) sending a recording of your phone interview to the HR of the company you hope to work at is so outside the norm that it’s likely to hurt you there too.

      Reply
      1. finderskeepers

        1) actually that might be a good idea , to review your own phone interviews for improvements. But more importantly, the OP description of the call indicates it occurs early on and lasted 30 mins: ” The interviewer began with a tone of voice that was irritated and sarcatic, which escalated over the course of 30 minutes into openly aggressive and loud, bordering on bullying and browbeating. ”

        2) At that point, you’re not looking to get hired but to make sure the interviewer is held accountable.

        Reply
        1. fposte

          I suppose you could, but it’s pretty creepy; I think candidates would hope nobody is doing it to them without asking, and that goes both ways. (And of course if they figure out that you’re recording, that’s going to sour an application process real fast.)

          And I don’t think it’ll hold anybody accountable; I doubt they’ll even listen to the whole thing, if they listen to any of it, because it comes from somebody who weirdly recorded an interview and it’s not a behavior that’s likely to be an institutional concern.

          Reply
          1. finderskeepers

            How is it creepy to record a phone call? With smartphones it’s just a button away. The phone conversation OP described is basically harassment, pure and simple.

            Management can and should be put on notice that their representative to potential employees is acting in such a shocking and disturbing manner.

            Reply
            1. fposte

              It’s just a button away to secretly video people, too (and that’s legal in more places); the technology doesn’t make it not creepy.

              I understand that you’re hoping there’s a way to address bad treatment of a job candidate; I don’t think that the method you’re suggesting will do that.

              Reply
            2. NotAnotherManager!

              Honestly, I would find recording your phone interviews, particularly if you were doing it without notifying the other party, to be odd and one for the “cons” column on a candidate. It assumes that things are going to go poorly from the jump and that they’re trying to collect evidence before anything bad has even happened. The technology making it easy to do doesn’t make it not creepy and out of professional norms, even if you’re in a single-party consent state.

              If someone sent me a surreptitiously-recorded audio file, I’m not sure how I’d react. I’m sure someone would, at minimum, have a conversation with the hostile interviewer, but I don’t think that candidate would proceed in the process either.

              Reply
              1. Guesty McGuest

                I’d definitely find it creepy.

                At any rate, it’s not like companies don’t know who has a reputation for being difficult. They’re difficult and/or inappropriate with current employees. People at the company are certainly aware of who is probably not the ideal face for the company in an interview, but is the hiring manager, so they get to conduct the interview anyway. Everyone outside the room is crossing their fingers and hoping that they’ll be on good behavior for the length of the interview. Even if you handed them a recording, and they weren’t creeped out by it, it’s not like it’s going to surprise anyone.

                Reply
  4. MicroManagered

    I wonder if OP1’s hostile interview was some kind of misguided test of how she does under pressure? Is this an industry where there are often high-stress phone calls with angry people? Is that a thing?

    I’m at a loss for why else an interviewer would respond this way during a phone interview.

    Reply
    1. k.k

      At an old job there was a manager that was notorious for being a harsh interviewer and I think it was a bad attempt at projecting authority. She was in her early 20’s, interviewing other recent grads, so I think she was afraid of people seeing her as too much of a peer. Or maybe she was just a mean person. I like to give the benefit of the doubt and think there is an explanation for this type of behavior.

      Reply
  5. ChelseaNH

    LW #2 — I have copies of my performance reviews at home. Helpful for updating the resume, but I can see where they could be helpful if my reputation came into question for some reason.

    Reply
  6. limenotapple

    #2 if an ex-boss called me to complain about my new hire and accuse me of poaching, I’d be much more likely to think Ex Boss is the problem and not New Hire.

    Reply
    1. Falling Diphthong

      This. How convincing is “How dare you poach Wakeen, my top performer! You are a monster! Also, Wakeen sucks! He’s a terrible employee, and you will be miserable with his many horrible qualities, and he sucks, and so do you for stealing him!”

      Reply
    2. Breda

      Agreed. “How dare you poach her away, and also, she’s the worst!” is so clearly sour grapes that I’d be like, well, no WONDER she was looking for a new job. Someone who is that mad you left obviously did not think you were a bad employee.

      Reply
    3. AdAgencyChick

      I’m pretty sure I posted the same thing when this post originally ran. I’d be thinking, “If OP sucked as much as this person says, she wouldn’t be trying so hard to sabotage her leaving.”

      Reply
  7. Hmmmmm

    One of the most awkward moments of my life was when I was on a phone screener with an HR rep who started berating me for “not doing my research” and “not reading the website before an interview” as I was looking at the website, desperately searching for what she was referring to. I realized in horror that she didn’t know the difference between Intranet and Internet. Of course I didn’t know what was on the intranet. I didn’t work there.

    Reply
  8. Temperance

    1. I’m a Penn State alumni, so I’ve had many conversations with others about how to handle hostile interviewers. My approach so far has been to say that I’m proud of my education and that it’s important to me, and also that I hate child sex abuse and that I’m glad that the wrongdoers have been prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. It’s been fine for me, but I also have had friends who were told by angry interviewers to take PSU off of their resume, they should be ashamed, etc., and it seemed more like douchebags just scheduling interviews for the sole purpose of venting and making sure that PSU alumni feel ashamed of existing.

    Reply
    1. Manders

      Yikes! It didn’t even occur to me that people would associate a giant university with the actions of a few horrible people to the point that they would be hostile to all alumni.

      Reply
    2. Lil Fidget

      That is very unfortunate. I’m sorry that’s happening to anyone. It’s not like an average student at the college was involved in that scandal.

      Reply
    3. Kathleen Adams

      Not that this excuses the misplaced hostility because it most definitely does not, but a reasonable number of PSU grads were (at least in interviews, at least for a while after the story hit the big time) far more supportive of their coach than was…well, I’m going to say “decent.” Not all, of course, and certainly not the majority, but there were enough that those of us following the story couldn’t help but think “Stop it! Stop trying to find excuses!” It was truly disquieting how, at first, so many students and alumni sounded as though they were dismissing the accusations as some sort of media plot.

      That’s no excuse to being rude to someone in an interview, of course.

      Reply
      1. Temperance

        I haven’t come into contact with a single person who supported Jerry Sandusky. That would just come off of as really awkward (and supporting a pedo!).

        Reply
      2. Anon for This.

        And this is exactly what Temperance was talking about. Thanks for painting all Penn State alum with that brush.

        As a note, I had to rewrite this response about five times before I finally settled on the above. I get really tired of this line generalizing PSU alum. Add your caveats all you want, but at the end of the day, you’re still essentially attributing the actions of a handful of monsters to the thousands of alumni that just went there because it was a solid state school in Pennsylvania. It’s always some form of: well, not YOU, of course, but … everyone else said/did [blah thing implying that I’m somehow complicit in covering up child molestation because that’s where I got my degree and refuse to wear a hair shirt for being proud of working my ass off for four years to get a solid education]

        /rant

        Reply
        1. Temperance

          No, this is pretty accurate. I was once at a happy hour with some other alumni, and the general consensus was that there are people out there who honestly think that we were sending victims directly to Sandusky just by being on campus at any given moment.

          Reply
        2. Kathleen Adams

          Just to be clear, I certainly don’t feel that way about Penn State alums. I haven’t painted anybody with any brush at all.

          Reply
      3. NotAnotherManager!

        When the media does interviews, they’re going to offer a few soundbites from each side, and the not-our-team people were better for outrage-driven clickbait headlines. I can only speak for the Penn State alumni that I know, but they are universally mortified, feel awful for the victims, and support removing all traces of both Paterno and Sandusky from campus.

        My favorite bit from John Oliver’s piece on climate change was talking about how 97% of scientists believe that the data supports it, but you always see 1-2 for and against, so it’s difficult to see the actual ratio of climate-change deniers the way it’s typically presented in the news media. (And then proceeded to bring out 100 scientists, 97 for/3 against, to better illustrate how few scientists remain unconvinced there is a problem.) I would not rely on media reports to accurately reflect the ratio of Penn State alumni who support those involved in the abuse.

        Reply
    4. Artemesia

      That is just weird; I am stunned that anyone would do that. What on earth does the behavior of the football industry have to do with the garden variety grad from a university?

      Reply
    5. NotAnotherManager!

      That’s insane. Penn State is an enormous school with what? Millions of alumni?

      I went to a school that had a prominent athlete run into high-profile legal trouble, and I’d probably have a hard time not laughing at someone who suggested that I take my university name off my resume for the actions of a single person that I didn’t know personally and in whose crime I did not participate. It’s relevance to my candidacy was zero, and I’m not sure I’d want to work for someone who felt otherwise.

      Reply
    6. Charlie Bradbury's Girlfriend

      That’s completely bizarre! Penn State is still a good school with a good reputation, and you shouldn’t be shamed for putting it on your resume. I’m from one of PSU’s rival schools, but it wouldn’t ever occur to me to conflate random alums with sex offenders. Jeez…

      Reply
    7. Lora

      Holy smokes, PSU is HUUUUGE! It’s one thing if they list a job as assistant sportsball coach at PSU on their resume, but everyone else?

      I mean, there ARE certain school departments who get a lot of side-eye from me if that’s where you went to grad school: UC-Berkeley astronomy, Caltech astrophysics, Rochester neuroscience, Yale neuroscience, even one of my own alma maters if you went there during a certain time period when it was run by, apparently, completely debauched perverts (the debauched perverts have since retired). Those are notorious for being sickening cesspits of sexism and abuse, which the faculty has gone all out to normalize. I’d be very concerned that people who stayed more than a couple of years there would come away with some extremely bad habits. But they are small groups of people, in the pressure cooker of academia, not the whole school of 30,000+ students, most of whom are haplessly trying to pass sophomore year language requirements.

      Reply
    8. Recruit-o-rama

      Also a PSU alumni and I encountered that to a certain degree, but more of a joke, like “are you sure your degree is still good? Haha!” kind of way.

      Reply
    9. Laura

      Just to say, you’re not an alumni. That’s the (male) plural. You are an alumna if you’re female and an alumnus if you’re male. Using the right word is bound to help you in impressing interviewers and avoiding a very unfair stigma, which is the only reason I mention it.

      Reply
      1. NotAnotherManager!

        Knowledge of Latin plurals/possessives is only going to impress a certain group of employers. I have used “alumna” before outside the law firm world, and the reaction has more been that I’m a pedant and trying to show off rather than super smart and trying to be being exact. Though I did delight in telling the guy who smugly criticized our car sticker that it was, in fact, correct because both my spouse and I had graduated from the university in question, hence the plural and default to male for mixed company.

        Reply
    10. Anon anon anon

      Wait. What? Since when were all students and faculty responsible for the actions of a few people? Penn State has a bad reputation now? That’s not good. It’s going to add to the incentive to sweep that kind of thing under the rug. Penn State has handled the situation (I don’t know enough to say how well, but at least it was brought to light and dealt with). People need to move on.

      Reply
  9. BRR

    I had a hostile interviewer in person. I still don’t understand what happened. I come in and she is extremely rude to me from the start and begins the interview with do you have any questions (which I’m not a fan of). She then asks me one question and after I answer she says unless I have any questions she’s good. At this point I had been there 5 minutes. Unsurprisingly I didn’t get an offer but I’m counting this as a bullet dodged.

    Reply
    1. Janelle

      I had a very hostile in person interview. But not from the interviewer. His assistant called me and scheduled my time. When I arrived she said I wasn’t on the schedule. I reminded her (politely) of our conversation and she begrudgingly said she would fit me in. The interview was amazing. Possibly the best I’ve ever had. He nearly hired me on the spot. Never heard from them after. I am quite sure it was her being annoyed by my showing up. I even knew her name when I walked in. How would I know her name if we didn’t speak? She wasn’t the one I emailed my resume to, it was a generic address. While I really would have loved this opportunity and was frustrated for a while, it probably was better to not work with her. She clearly couldn’t handle being wrong. I truly was as polite as anyone could be when the issue came up. Things happen, people forget to write something down. Frankly I left feeling like something was between her and the boss and she saw a young woman and didn’t like it (competition perhaps) so it was better in the end.

      Reply
    2. Specialk9

      I WAS a hostile interviewer once. I hated that a-hole with every fibre of my being. He was so inappropriate, sexist, and unprofessional. The PM didn’t seem to notice and the interview dragged extra long. As soon as he left, I had some choice comments and he didn’t get the job, but I sometimes imagine questions I could have asked him directly to express my displeasure, instead of sitting folded armed.

      Reply
  10. Hc600

    I had a screener interview during on campus interviewing in law school with an attorney who HATED google docs because his son’s teacher had required them to use it to turn in an essay but google “deleted it” and he failed the assignment. On my resume under my experience as a HS teacher I talked about how i introduced the use of google docs at the school as an instructional tool and trained other teachers how to use it. In other interviews people asked about it and it was a good way to brag on how I found a solution to a lot of problems etc. (it’s free and the school couldn’t afford Word so the kids didn’t know any word processing, they can share it with you at the beginning so you can bug the kids who are falling behind since writing your first research paper is overwhelming, and you can go through the document history to catch plagiarism and they can’t claim you lost it).

    Well, this dude wanted to litigate the whole thing with me. For 35 minutes when the interview was only scheduled for 20. And I wish I had just said “sir your son is a liar and parents like you are why I started using it in the first place.”

    Reply
  11. Traffic_Spiral

    Hostile phone guy: I think if possible, you could even try calling it out in the middle. “I can’t help but feel that you’re angry at me – have I offended you somehow?” or something like that to see how it goes. Some people just have big voices and don’t do well on phones. Some people are jerks. If it’s the former, he’ll tone it down, and if it’s the latter, he’ll at least be clear enough about his hostility to give you a reason to end the interview.

    Reply
    1. Traffic_Spiral

      Oh, and for the Old Boss being angry, I wouldn’t be too worried. No one gets angry about a bad employee leaving. If I hire someone and their old boss screams at me for poaching them and goes on a rant about how I’ll be sorry, that tells me 1.) this boss is very sorry to lose this employee, and 2.) this employee had a good reason for wanting to leave. As for your coworkers, if they bring something up, just nod and say “Yeah, boss really isn’t taking it well.”

      Reply
    2. Kate

      I was thinking something like this too, since that way you aren’t entirely throwing away the job opportunity if you don’t want to. Sometimes the anger could be something totally unrelated to the interviewer (maybe they are just having a bad day?) Something like, “It seems like I caught you at a bad time. Would you like to reschedule?” might be disarming enough for the interviewer to realize how they are coming across. Or maybe they are just a buttface, in which case, Alison’s scripts work great.

      Reply
      1. Laura

        Absolutely agree. “You sound very angry – is it something I said? Or is this a bad time for you?” It’s really hard for someone to angrily say that they’re not angry in response to that.

        Reply
  12. Science!

    #4 At my institution our pumping room is in a converted reading nook in the library. It’s not so bad, there’s a lockable door, so it’s private, and there’s a sink and comfy chair and table. Someone brought in magazines (although I’m desperate for something new, so I might bring in my own) and there’s even a little recipe stack for recipes that help with milk production. The problem is that I now know it’s not very sound proof, because right next to it is another reading nook with a door that people sometimes use for phone calls and, in one case, someone was apparently recording a video describing her research to put on her website, and I guess her office was not private so she used the library. The lack of soundproofing makes me feel a little weird, my pump is pretty quiet and I can’t hear people from outside the nook, but I can hear people in the other nook really well so I assume they can hear me. But I don’t have much of a choice of when/where I can pump and other people do have a choice of where (and sometimes when) they have phone calls/do video recordings.

    I’m not sure how this helps you, but I would say that as a pumping mom, I would not be offended or upset if you needed a quieter office or different space.

    Reply
    1. Lilo

      I don’t know if my coworker has a quiet pump but she apologized to me for the noise once (she is next door) and I couldn’t hear it. I can hear when she is on the phone but the pump noise never stood out to me.

      Reply
  13. GreyjoyGardens

    LW #1: I like Alison’s advice to politely disengage with something like “I have a feeling that this job isn’t the right fit for me, but thank you so much for your time.” Depending on how high up on the food chain Hostile Interviewer is, he might get you blackballed at the *company* – but to be blackballed in your entire *field*, I think only a combination of a tight-knit and very competitive industry (or small town) plus Hostile Interviewer being a Big Cheese with the pull to make a blacklisting stick, would result in you not getting a job in your whole field.

    Reply
  14. Horrified

    Re Hostile phone interviewer.
    My take would be on whether he was a screener/interviewer (ie. maybe in HR and not a potential future coworker) vs. whether he was going to be a potential colleague.
    If he was a screener, then I would just think WOW! what an awful interview and see if I make it to the next level with different people. If he was a potential colleague, then write it off and don’t look back.

    I have had a couple of (in person) hostile interviewers. One was “testing” me, one was a potential colleague who I think was threatened by my experience and qualifications. I also observed one once: Interviewee was incredibly attractive and interviewer (her potential colleague) was just about as rude to her as can be. Interviewer was great with all the average looking applicants……..

    Reply
  15. Kc

    Depending on the location you live and the laws there, don’t be too scared to record a phone conversation. My roommate had a really bad ex boyfriend who went very stalkerish and controlling, so when he called me I would record the conversation. I would just put the phone on speaker and use the record option on my phone. Thst way we would have proof if had ever tried anything worse.

    Reply
  16. Janelle

    I may be off but isn’t the company required to provide a space. If it was her private office that would be fine. I am totally fine with women breastfeeding/pumping in front of me but all day would start to be weird. Even if it was my best friend. She really should have a dedicated space, alone. Although you are fine with the act in general it seems odd to have that happening in a shared space. What if you didn’t bunk together and it was a male coworker in her office. I’m quite sure she’d be asking for a separate space. I totally get the fact that she is having some difficulties and needs to pump more often but it does sound excessive for a shared space. Even if she did half of that in a private room it could help a lot.

    Reply
    1. fposte

      The OP has stated the co-worker was exempt, so unless she’s in a state with stronger protections, there’s no requirement to provide a space.

      Reply
  17. MassMatt

    I’m fortunate never to have had a hostile interview, my experience ranges from great to good to some mediocre or poor where the interviewer was unprepared, or too nervous, or disinterested.

    It might be that this interviewer is just like this all the time, or uses this as an interview technique to keep candidates off-balance. Or maybe he’s just a jerk who lashes out because he can, maybe he kicks his dog to. Polite disengagement seems to be the way to go.

    If memory serves, didn’t someone comment here that she cut a bad interview short and the hiring manager got angry and tried to stop her from leaving?

    Reply
  18. jv

    Agh… I’ve had to deal with hostile interviewers twice in the last 1 1/2 years. I take it as they are having a really bad day. I have started to think about how to react to those kinds of people though in the future and seriously considering one of your suggested responses now.

    I’m 36 and I shouldn’t be chastised or tutted at by a phone interviewer for having a ‘generalist’ career path vs. the ‘specialist’ they are looking for. Hey genius, read my cover letter and resume so you know who you are speaking to. I’m prepared, why aren’t you?

    There’s a lot to be said about the tone of voice also. I had one interviewer snap at me from the start of the call to the end of the call. If you’re having a bad day, let’s end the call here and now. Don’t just go through the motions for the sake of it. Let’s not waste our time.

    These people don’t realize that this is my opportunity to interview them, it’s not a one-way street. I’ve taken note of these organizations and I’ll never apply there again or recommend them to my peers. Their loss!

    Reply
  19. nnn

    The weird thing about hostile interviews is why are they interviewing you in the first place if they don’t want to be? They could just not call you for an interview.

    More than once in my life I’ve had interviewers who seemed hostile or resentful that they’re interviewing me or that I’m applying (and, weirdly, there’s a strong correlation with recruiters being involved), and I’ve never understood why they put me on the list of people to interview if they didn’t want to interview me. I think if this ever happens again in the future I’ll ask them outright, but I didn’t have the confidence to do so when I was younger.

    Reply
    1. Nolan

      During my last job search I had a weird one where I’d already done two rounds with local staff and both went well. So they had me in for a third interview with the big boss, who then spent most of it asking if I’d considered working at a large apple store that had just opened. Sure, I was coming from a retail tech support role, but she seemed to think “retail” was it’s own class of non-transferable skills. She was so dismissive, it was awful, I knew I had no chance within minutes. Left their office feeling pretty bad about myself and my qualifications. Thankfully, the process for the job I ended up getting started off on such a positive note that it gave me the boost I needed to get past that bad one, but I definitely felt kind of hopeless for a couple days there

      Reply
    2. Susan K

      I think some companies are really rigid in their hiring processes, and may require the hiring manager to interview a minimum number of candidates even if she already has someone in mind (e.g., an internal candidate) for the job. I can see how someone might be annoyed about having to waste her time interviewing people she has no intention of hiring, but still, why take it out on the candidate? That is just bizarre.

      Reply
      1. Erin

        I hate that. I think I lost out on a really great job for an internal candidate. No sore feelings to anyone. I sort of think the company decided to hire that person before I interviewed. Please don’t waste candidates time if you’ve already come to a decision and have the person you want for the job. It’s like looking for a lost key when you’ve already found it.

        Reply
    3. Recruit-o-rama

      I do a lot of interview training in my role at my company. A LOT of people are under the impression that interviews are supposed to be almost adversarial.

      I have a whole section in my training that deals with helping my candidates feel at ease, giving them a lot of information about the company and being an ambassador for our brand.

      The bottom line is though, some people really can’t handle any kind of power over other people. Those people should manage or interview other people.

      Reply
    4. anathema

      A company used hostile interviews as a way to get female/people of color candidates to withdraw from the hiring process. That way they could count it as a diverse process and meet their contractual obligation to their customer, and then hire who they wanted to anyway. “We didn’t reject Jane, we wanted to make her an offer. She didn’t want the job.”

      Fortunatly, this only worked for a couple of years before their main customer wised up.

      Reply
  20. Cinnabar (LW #1 here)

    Oh my goodness! How long ago that was and how much I’ve grown (both professionally and in my personal confidence and internal fortitude) since then – thanks in no small part to Alison’s fantastic blog of course.

    I still remember that awful interview, though the years have diminished the sting. It especially shook me up because it was the first time something like that had happened to me and I was really down on myself then, feeling hopeless and stuck in a dead-end career path, scared I would never get anything better because I just wasn’t good enough and never would be. And along came Douchebag Interviewer to gleefully pummel my self-esteem to bits for fun.

    I am doing so much better now, I can hardly believe how far I’ve come! It wasn’t an easy or straight-forward journey but I now have a much better paid position with more responsibilities and opportunity to grow and be appreciated for my work.

    Every interview I had since then (and there were many!) was with people who were unfailingly polite, warm, and friendly. Even though I didn’t get those jobs, it boosted my confidence each time to have those positive experiences and I learnt a little more about how to better talk about myself and my work, what kind of questions I’d likely be asked, etc.

    I’ve also learnt more about Douchebag Dude himself. He’s something of a “big name” in the local industry, friends with important people, gets called as an expert panelist and judge at conventions and such – and a gleefully arrogant, sexist a-hole to anyone he pleases and who can’t fight back. You know the type.

    A female friend who’s also an industry veteran and a regular attendee and organizer at a lot of the same professional conventions has reams of stories – one of which is the time he interviewed her for a technical position she was extremely qualified for. He looked over her test materials and asked her to her face who had really prepared them because “women only take notes” and obviously some man had done the actual work.

    Yeah.

    Glad I didn’t get that job!

    Reply
    1. Nolan

      Woooooooooooow…
      I hope the universe finds a way to repay that guy for all the misery he’s visited on others.

      But yay, congrats on your successes since your terrible interview with him!

      Reply
    2. Gazebo Slayer

      I have a sneaking suspicion that Douchebag Dude accused your friend of representing someone else’s work as her own because he’s a plagiarist himself (in addition to being a sexist scumbag). People like that tend to project their own bad behavior on others.

      Reply
    3. CM

      That is a great story.
      I’ve been there too. 20-year old me: omg, what did I do wrong?? why is she treating me like this?? what should I do???? 40-year old me: “I don’t think this will be a good fit. Thanks for your time. Goodbye.”

      Reply
  21. Consultant

    OP #1

    This happens to me so often I’m shocked. Not sure whether it’s a question of culture (I’m based in Germany) or industry (hardly any women). But I frequently leave the interview feeling I would never want to work at the company because of its employees.

    Reply
  22. bohtie

    I have BEEN there. The person doing the phone screenings/interviews at my job was BEYOND hostile. It got to the point where I had to very calmly inform her that she needed to either pass me along to someone else or her supervisor, and she hung up on me. Luckily, it was a big company, so after I puked (I have really terrible anxiety but in a crunch, a pretty good game face until the crisis is over), I called the general HR number, explained what had happened, and asked to speak to someone else. I can only assume I wasn’t the first, because they didn’t bat an eyelash.

    Double lucky, she had NOTHING to do with the rest of the interview process – the phone interview was a very general data-collecting sort of thing. I took the job, made sure to tell my new bosses exactly what happened and that they almost lost their candidate because of that behavior, and I couldn’t even tell you if she still works here 10 years later. But I’ll never forget that. I have a short fuse, and I’ve had really bad days (once I caught myself being super snippy to a patron and felt so bad that I called him back to apologize afterwards), but I’ve still never been that mean to anybody who didn’t deserve it. It’s mind-boggling.

    Reply
  23. whistle

    Hostile interviews happen all the time in academia. I had a phone interview once where the four people on the other end just took turns abusing me for using Theoretical Framework A in my dissertation (because apparently the preference is for Theoretical Framework B in that department). They clearly just interviewed me to express their concerns with Theoretical Framework A, which would have been pretty funny it I wasn’t about to be unemployed. I mean really, all you tenured professors are so threatened by this theory that you are using your precious time to grill a postdoc about it?

    I love Alison’s advice here and wish I would have said something like this in that interview.

    Reply
  24. Jam Today

    I terminated an interview process just before the company was going to make me an offer (I found out later) because of how rude 3 out of the 6 phone interviewers were (the interviewers were in another state). One guy had the audacity to tell me I’d misspelled my own name. In a million years I don’t think it would occur to me to look at a name spelled in an unfamiliar (to me) way, and tell the person *whose name it was* that they spelled it incorrectly

    Reply
    1. nonegiven

      When MIL had BIL, she said the nurses tried to make her spell FIL’s name differently on the birth certificate, they said she was spelling it wrong.

      Reply
  25. Augusta Sugarbean

    I do have a happy story about a hostile interviewer. Back when I was still trying to be a police officer, I went through a board interview for a department and there was one guy who was seriously needling me. He didn’t yell or anything but definitely came across as very tense and angry with me and kept what-about-this-ing me. Push, push, push. I’m in the freeze-up-and-anxiety-ridden-and-nauseous-before-interviews camp but by some amazing chance but somehow a part of my brain said “Pay attention! This is a test!!” I was cool as a cucumber. I was so proud! It’s funny too because it wasn’t like that had happened and I was prepared for it. Just total good luck and I passed with flying colors. (Well, passed that portion at least. The rest, not so much. Ha.)

    Reply
  26. O'Bunny

    Quite a few years ago, I was interviewed by a panel for a position. One of the folks on the panel, who would have been a dotted-line supervisor, was difficult, rude, and not particularly helpful. I didn’t get that spot, bullet dodged.

    Fast forward a while, I’m in a quasi-managerial position in a different company, and guess who appears as a dotted-line report to me? He obviously recognized me (I’m pretty distinctive and memorable visually), and went ‘way out of his way to be respectful (to the point of subservient) to me. I didn’t ever mention the interview, and did my level best to treat him exactly the same as everybody else. Living well *is* the best revenge…

    Reply
  27. ..Kat..

    Can you suggest that your breast pumping coworker consult a lactation nurse? She should not be pumping this long! If she is having low output, this is counterproductive. She should pump about 20 minutes – definitely no more than 30.

    I say this as a nurse who has just completed her mandatory 8 hour breastfeeding education!

    Reply
  28. PunkrockPM

    My worst / hostile interview ever was with a very well known statistical analytics software company. The initial phone screen with the manager went very well. After being selected to proceed to the face to face interview, I was given an extremely ambiguous assignment to 1. create an email to a client 2. a slide deck / presentation on the project describing security issues 3. and a meeting agenda for the client.

    Honestly, it was the WORST interview experience I ever had in my career. I met with 2 managers, M1 and M2 ( M2 called in). The meeting began with barely any introductions and M2 proceeded to tear apart the “homework” in a very insulting and berating manner. M2 was very hostile and M1 was nice. It felt like a game of “good manager / bad manager”. During the “interview” M2 informed me that he was on PTO that day and called in for the meeting, to which I responded with empathy (honestly, having someone do that sucks, but it wasn’t me).

    I understand the ‘stress interview’ format and thought I handled M2 hostility quite well. M2 was angry he didn’t understand a basic security issue – which surprised me since that was the assignment I was given. I explained it to him and then he was angry I used that example for my deck.

    M2 dropped off at one point and M1 and I thought that the call had been dropped; however, he just…vanished. Nothing was said at any point that he had a hard stop or that he had to leave. It surprised M1, who attempted to cover the rudeness. I continued to speak with M1, who was quite pleasant. Then I discovered that it would be M2 was the actual hiring manager – I had already made up my mind “oh hell no”.

    I left the interview feeling as if I was bleeding from every orifice and my gut was telling me to run, run, run….and definitely dodged a bullet. If this was typical example of behavior of the company, then no way did I want to work for them, although they do have great PR about working there. I sent the Thank You’s and such to all parties and never had any follow up.

    Reply
  29. Yvaine

    I have a few hostile interview experiences but one in particular stands out and, even though it was awful, it gave me good experience at standing up for myself (I was 25 and hadn’t been very good at that before then).
    When I showed up to the interview I found out that the position I had applied for (tea party planner) had never actually existed and that I was actually interviewing for a completely different position (tea maker). That should have been enough of a clue but I’d driven 30 minutes and was already there so I went through with it. The interviewer never even introduced himself or have me his title, just jumped into the company’s history followed by a series of bizarre questions (including things like what year did I graduate high school, did I have kids, what was my favorite candy, etc) and over the next 20 minutes the job morphed from being a standard 8 hour workday with occasional overtime to being frequent 18 hour overnight shifts on your feet the entire time (“good thing you don’t have kids cuz you’d never see them hahaha”). I was horrified and confused but I just went along with it as if it were normal and I realized pretty quickly that I’d rather be unemployed than work for (or with? Who was he?) him. I spent the next few days absolutely furious so when someone (not my interviewer, thankfully) called to schedule a second interview I laughed and told her that I was not interested because that was most unprofessional interview I’d ever experienced in my life and explained exactly how he’d treated me. She was appropriately horrified and apologetic but I got the sense that my interviewer was related to the owners so I doubt anything’s changed in the 3 years since.
    At least now I’m not afraid to end a hostile interview before it escalates.

    Reply
  30. Michael Schoeff

    You should be glad that you’ve spotted a potentially bad investment for your career. It’s good that you’ve found out before you got the chance to actually be hired and spend a month or so before finding out that you don’t want to work in an asshole-environment (if the person conducting the interview is rude, odds are that that is the company norm).

    Reply
  31. Noah

    Boss isn’t made because OP #2 is leaving. He’s mad because OP #2 told him why. Unless you really love the place you’re leaving, I don’t get why people put themselves on the line to tell their former employer what was wrong with them.

    Reply

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