do not do these things, ever (employer edition)

Last week we rounded up some things that job seekers should not do, ever. This week, we have a version for employers.

1. Pressure candidates to resign without notice from their current jobs.

2. Insult candidates over email (by calling them “pushy, unnuanced, unaware, and unprofessional” and saying “I wouldn’t want you coming near a donor”) and then invite them to interview.

3. Ask to look inside a candidate’s purse.

4. Make candidates go on a long, sweaty hike.

5. Reject candidates because of their neighborhood.

6. Ask for candidates’ height, weight, and marital status.

7. Schedule interviews for 3:32 exactly.

8. Get offended when asked why a job is open and refuse to answer.

9. Tell a candidate that she is high-maintenance and full of herself.

10. Make a group of 20 job candidates cook dinner for your staff and perform a choreographed dance routine.

{ 126 comments… read them below }

  1. B*

    I would like to add to this list. Repeatedly insult the person who is currently in the position you are interviewing for. We get you aren’t happy with them if you are looking to replace them, but sheesh you are not making yourself look good with this.

    1. GrumpyBoss*

      To this I say: no. Please keep doing just that. So I know during the interview phase that this organization is toxic.

      Being an ass in an interview is the biggest favor you can do for me.

      1. Anx*

        What about when someone is just such a complete jerk from the very beginning, and you can’t tell if it’s a major insight into the company or a stress test?


        1. GrumpyBoss*

          I’m not sure there is a difference to be honest. If this is the best way they can think of to measure your response to stress, then that right there is valuable insight into the person you’d be working for.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            This. I decided a while ago that I do not “do” stress tests. So both situations have the same answer. NO.

          2. Anx*

            Very true.

            But it’s still tricky when you don’t have a lot going for you and you’re still waiting to get that first full-time/regular job related to your skills or interests.

        2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          People who do stress tests are complete jerks.

          So, works out that way.

          1. JM in England*

            Imho, stress tests are a waste of time and completely unnecessary. Being under interview and on-the-job stress are two completely different animals and as such, you will react differently to each.

    2. Greg*

      That applies in general. If you’re willing to insult someone in front of me, a total stranger, I’m going to wonder what you’ll say about me to other strangers.

      Similarly, if you walk around the office trashing ex-employees, your current employees are going to assume you’ll do the same thing to them after they leave.

  2. Chloe*

    That last story about the dinner and dance routine gets me every time. It’s right up there with the job candidate who sent a framed photo.

  3. Dan*

    I was a bit worried as I was going down the list, thinking she was leaving #10 out. I was so relieved to see it there.

    1. LBK*

      That still ranks as one of the most hilarious stories I’ve read on here that I would be absolutely mortified to live through.

  4. Adam*

    #10. And if you absolutely must make them dance to get the job, at the very least extend them the courtesy of letting them choose their own music.

    1. Anx*


      I can’t tell if it’s the ‘degree’ part which makes someone pompous or the ‘zoology’ part. Good grief, it’s probably the zoology. I just took off my ‘biology’ hat and realized it might be an unfamiliar term (even though ‘zoo’ is something most people learn in early childhood). But how is it pompous?

      All I can think of now is Orin’s interview on Parks and Rec.

      1. LBK*

        I remember that one! They did tell her to just say biology. I think the implication was that zoology was kind of like when people say “UGH it’s not just punk music, it’s hyper-neo industrial pop punk jazz fusion”. Not recognizing that zoology and biology basically have nothing in common as areas of study.

        1. De (Germany)*

          Well, it’s really not that they have “basically nothing in common”, as zoology is a branch of Biology. As a Biology student I of course had to take Zoology courses, and Zoology students have a non-trivial overlap in courses with Biology students.

          1. LBK*

            Sorry – I meant more like their applications don’t have much in common. There’s a non-trivial difference with a biology degree vs a zoology degree in term of employers looking for qualifications, so an employer saying “just say biology on your resume” makes no sense. It’s like saying “just say it was in science” when that doesn’t give enough relevant info.

        1. Poofeybug*

          But it got even better when the OP started to use the handle “The Pompous Zoologist.” Best nickname EVAH.

          1. NavyLT*

            “Pompous Zoologists” would be a great name for a hyper-neo industrial pop punk jazz fusion band, though.

  5. Mallory*

    I hadn’t read the purse one before. Wow — even my husband and kids know that they do not mess around with my purse (unless I have expressly granted permission to retrieve something from it). Even then, they’re more likely to just bring me my purse and let me hand them whatever it is they want.

    And a porn community based on purse contents? That’s . . . odd. I wonder if it’s just the act of looking into a woman’s private belongings, or if there are certain specific contents that make the experience more . . . pleasurable.

    1. Artemesia*

      Exactly. My husband of over 40 years would not think of getting into my purse. If he wants something he asks me or hands it to me — one of the ways you live happily for 40 plus years with someone is by not intruding into all their personal space.

      1. KJR*

        I have the opposite problem! When I’m driving, I may ask my 15 year old son to get something out of my purse for me, and he moans and groans about how he HATES going into my purse! (He doesn’t seem to mind some much when it’s for money or a credit card however…)

      2. De Minimis*

        I hate when my wife asks me to retrieve something from her purse…I cannot understand how women find ANYTHING in them…

      3. Kat*

        My boyfriend is a former marine and he is terrified of my purses. He calls them body bags. Asking to grab my wallet is a whole spiel how I’m putting him in danger.

      1. Poohbear McGriddles*

        Makes for a heck of a party game. Come up with three random words and find the fetish site devoted to it.

        I never knew about the purse fetish. That explains the creepy guy at the Coach outlet.

    2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      I so want to ask the next candidate if I can look in her purse just to see what happens next.

      What would that look like???

      All of the things I want to do in life that are denied due to manners and sanity and stuff.

      1. Carpe Librarium*

        Your comment reminded me of a t-shirt I saw once that read, “If it wasn’t for physics and law enforcement, I’d be unstoppable.”

      2. Jessa*

        The issue with my purse for instance is that I have a pouch that has medicines for both me and my husband. This strays uncomfortably into issues an interviewer has no right to know about.

            1. Vancouver Reader*

              Just remember to take it out before you have to go through a security check point. ;)

              1. Stephanie*

                I’ve forgotten to take pepper spray out my purse twice before going to security.

                First time was at Houston Intercontinental. TSA didn’t care as long as I tossed it. They did file a report.

                Second time was at Amsterdam Schipol (it somehow made it through Dulles without issue…). I learned then that pepper spray is illegal in the Netherlands. I got detained and had to explained why I had it, of it was legal in my home country, where I was going, etc. Eventually, they let me go catch my connection, but after I gave a statement. They wrote it in Dutch, so I have no clue what I confessed to. I may be on a no-fly list at Schipol for all I know.

  6. en pointe*

    Number two could probably also work by just stopping at “Insult candidates”. (At least, intentionally.)

  7. Stephanie*

    #5: Ugh, this has come up before. I lived in a transitional neighborhood in DC and then a kind of notoriously bad one (although it wasn’t really that bad in actuality). I got comments on both (“Oh wow, uh, is it safe?” “You live there?”).

    In Phoenix, issue has been less the neighborhood itself and more people questioning the commute. The city of Phoenix itself is 500+ sq mi and some of the suburbs are really big as well. Traffic isn’t bad, but commuting distances can be long. So more than once, I’ve had an interviewer ask “Oh, you live in [exurb]? You’re ok making the commute?” It’s annoying.

    #7: The 3:32 one…wow. Ex-military interviewer? I try to get to an interview a few minutes early, so then when I fail that interview aspect?

    1. PizzaSquared*

      I get people questioning my commute. I also get people assuming I’m rich (and either taking that to mean that I’ll want to high of a salary, or that I don’t need money so will take an abnormally large salary). I try to keep my neighborhood vague unless asked directly about it.

      1. GrumpyBoss*

        Yeah I’ve had some valid concerns about neighborhood and commute with interviewees that have turned out to be right. But I handle that by making sure we schedule the interview at the peak time of traffic, so they will have a bad commute coming in. Then I make sure they are OK with the commute they just had and ask how they would feel about doing it every day. I don’t think it’s discrimination. I think it’s being careful that we don’t get someone that gets frustrated by the commute after 6-8 weeks.

        1. OhNo*

          I tend to think that’s fair. I’ve had one or two interviewers question me on my commute (notably one which was completely on the opposite side of the city from where I live – I was noncommittal in my answer, and they were right not to hire me, because the ride would have gotten old fast).

          As long as you really accept it when they say “Yes, I’m fine with it”, then no problem. If you still have some subconscious doubt, though, that’s when things might get iffy.

        2. Jessa*

          I think peak time is okay, but better to be “the time they would actually be travelling to work.” Because really that’s the important commute. Also shows whether or not they can gauge the traffic and be on time.

    2. Steve G*

      In NYC and this comes up alot. There is alot of guessing how long it takes to commute from certain places, assuming someone is cheap because they live in the Bronx or Brooklyn (which may have been true 20 years ago but not now anyway)………and the dumb part of this, is that it can take an hour and 15 to get to work in Manhattan from south Brooklyn or the eastern part of Queens, an it can take an hour and a half to get here from the suburbs. So when hiring managers act like certain candidates have vastly different commutes, they are really talking about 20 or 30 minutes in some instances, which is really the candidates’ choice on whether they want to do it or not.

      that being said, we have had candidates from 50+ miles away say they are fine with the commute and in some cases it has been BS because they were really not.

      1. voluptuousfire*

        The average commute in NYC is 45 minutes. On a good day. If PT is being tricky (traffic if you take the x bus, subways running absurdly–G train, anyone?), it can easily be more.

        Every so often I’ll see an ad for a job for a position in Manhattan that says they will not consider candidates who have more than a half an hour commute to their office. I usually have a hearty laugh at that because those companies are probably horrible to work for. If you’re going to be picky about someone’s commuting time, what else are you going to be unreasonable about?

        1. Tomato Frog*

          Maybe they’re screening for really rich people?

          I live in a big city and have a commute that is pretty reliably between 30 and 40 minutes. I was pleased with that. When I tell people who live in places like Chicago, New York, and Boston, they say, “That’s good!” When I tell people who live in towns and low-density Midwestern cities, they make a pitying, “I’m so sorry” face.

    3. Mints*

      I think questioning the commute is pretty fair though. Not that they should be pestering or disbelieving, but “I see you live in Oakland, would the commute be manageable for you, or do you have plans to move?”
      VS. The neighborhood (or city) itself, which reeks of classism and/or racism. “You live in Oakland? Really, you? Do you feel safe? Isn’t it scary?” Asshats

      1. De Minimis*

        I agree, questions about an applicant living in another city that is a pretty good distance away can be legitimate. Disqualifying someone for living in a “bad” neighborhood or zip code is something else…but I could easily see it happening here where I live.

        One thing that did irk me once…there was a position open in a smaller town about 45-60 minutes away from the nearest bigger city. The ads specified that people had to live nearby, and that living in the bigger city would not be acceptable. The job was located in a smaller farming community, but it was for a professional job, and it was obvious they were having difficulty finding local candidates, yet they continued to disqualify people who were from the largest pool of potential employees.

  8. Ann Furthermore*

    My personal favorite has to be #10. I read the comments on the original post in #2, and now I’m going to go take a shower. Eek!

  9. Kara*

    I’d also like to add to the list. This happened at my fiancee’s company a couple of weeks ago:

    Do not fire an employee in front of their children. Especially when their children are 12 years old and can understand what’s happening.

    (You also shouldn’t fire employees in front of customers. That also happened at his company. It wasn’t even on a job site – it was at a restaurant during an informal meeting with a customer, the manager, and the fired employee. Yeah, his company could really use some management training…)

    1. Anx*

      Ever have to finish serving a table because the owner screamed at the server in the middle of the dining room. Awkward.

      1. Lia*

        My ex and I once went out to eat, and right after we got our food, overheard the manager fire our waitress.

        1. Anx*

          Did it make you uncomfortable, if you don’t mine me asking?

          I was always very uncomfortable during these moments, and I thought that customers would be, too. But I thought maybe I was just awkward about it because I knew one wrong move could mean I was next.

  10. Artemesia*

    The long sweaty hike thing sounds more like major cluelessness but it could be aimed at making women uncomfortable.

    I was once a luncheon keynote speaker for a group developing volunteer programs for young people. They had this creative idea of having all the participants engage in a volunteer activity in the morning and then workshops in the afternoon. In my keynote I planned to make good use of their experiences with various interactives. Some of the activities were in nursing homes or day care centers; some were out weeding non native plants from parks. It was humid and in the 90s and I was assigned to be with the group weeding — in my presentation clothing and shoes — and then come back and give a speech and lead a discussion.

    The person setting it up was young and had not given any thought to the logistics of this, especially for someone not young. I managed to weasle onto the nursing home team and was able to give the speech without smelling like a goat, having sodden clothing, or being on the verge of passing out from head exhaustion. The team leader of the weeders was of course disappointed.

    1. bridget*

      It sounded from the description that it would have made anyone uncomfortable – long walk on a hot, humid day in an interview suit. Heels wouldn’t help, but I doubt most men would arrive dry and smelling like roses, either.

      Before I clicked through, I actually assumed it was a hike hike – like mountains, trails, etc. Which I (a woman) would actually love as some sort of work activity (provided that anybody who didn’t like that sort of thing felt comfortable sitting it out, I knew ahead of time and came prepared, etc.).

  11. Seal*

    #4 – And if you absolutely must make a candidate walk outside in the heat, even for a short period to time, make sure you offer them water. Several years ago I had an day-long interview in Florida in mid-July that involved going to several buildings on a university campus while wearing a suit and heels. Not once was I offered water. I was not the slighted bit upset that I didn’t get the job.

  12. Jamie*

    When I saw the title I kind of cringed wondering how many of the horrible things that I do (although I’m not an employer – but I read it as manager since I’m very tired.)

    I am happy to say that I don’t do any of these things. Except require the choreographed dance routines. I need some way to vet people for my project teams.

      1. KarenT*

        And what sort of a person would work somewhere where employees weren’t encouraged to break out into a synchronous dance?

    1. ClaireS*

      I have been trying to convince people that Interpretive Dance is appropriate for presentations in meetings and no ones taken me seriously! Clearly I need to join your team.

  13. Purr purr purr*

    I wish OP#3 had come back to give an update with the full email he was sent and his reply!

  14. Bend & Snap*

    Hire someone for a “marketing role” after explicitly NOT stating that 75% of the job involves reception duties.

    First job, I lasted 6 months. I should have walked out when they sat me at the front desk.

    1. Clever Name*

      That’s way lame. Wouldn’t a marketer make more than a receptionist anyway? Sounds like they want an overpaid receptionist/part-time marketer.

    2. Rachel*

      3+ years in to this scenario. At least I’m not quite at the reception desk… Because there was a receptionist when I started.

    3. TheExchequer*

      I always seem to have the opposite happen to me! To potential employers: quit saying you want a receptionist when what you really want is someone to cold call people all day.

  15. Sascha*

    Tell candidates confidential information during the interview in an effort to impress them. How many times has my boss said “I shouldn’t be saying this, but…” and then goes on to tell them things in front of the rest of us, who are hearing it for the first time. So much awkwardness.

  16. Tina*

    I’d add don’t make sexist remarks and swear like a sailor. I once interviewed with a business lawyer who a)called his female clients stupid and said they only had their businesses because they inherited them due to death or divorce b)insulted his professional colleagues and called them vulgar names and c)criticized the majorly-cool humanitarian project that the person vacating the position was going on to do.

  17. University Allison*

    I have one to add: Don’t offer a job in front of other interested parties. In undergrad, my research advisor came into the shared office and offered me a position for the fall. I hadn’t requested it — this was out of the blue, but I was aware that Wakeen, who was sitting next to me, WAS interested and HAD asked. I actually indicated that Wakeen was interested, which I think made my advisor realize he should have had this conversation in private.

    I ultimately accepted the offer, but even the memory of it makes me shudder!

    1. Emma the Strange*

      I had similar experience once, when doing an unpaid software development internship at a small start up that clearly only survived by exploiting unpaid intern labor. At one point, one of the interns was showing our boss an app he was working on, and we all witnessed the following conversation:

      Boss: This is cool, how did you do [graphics thing]?
      Unpaid Intern: Oh, a friend did it for me. He’s good at that stuff.
      Boss: Does he want to intern with us?
      Unpaid Intern: I doubt it. He’s already got a paying job.
      Boss: What if we paid him?
      All Interns (silently): so you’ll pay that guy you know virtually nothing about, but not us?

      Never seemed to cross his mind that this is kind of a tone-deaf thing to say in front of your unpaid interns. This, plus a lot of other stuff I won’t get into, contributed to a general feeling of resentment towards this place.

    2. Various Assumed Names*

      A contact was allowing me to come observe her office in a field I’d never worked in, so both of us could get a feel for how I might fit in there. Their intern was in and, since nobody formally introduced us, I explained that I had interviewed for the open position and was now there observing. I immediately realized from his expression that he was hoping he’d get that position. The boss later confided in me that the intern is not very good (also inappropriate but our relationship was kind of murky by this point) but still, maybe introduce me in a way that won’t be awkward, or warn him ahead of time, or something.
      Epilogue: it didn’t work out because she needed someone with experience and I concluded that even if I got the offer the salary would be too low.

  18. Anx*

    I think the most disappointing thing I encountered in person was being called for an interview at a company I worked for (unpaid). I had more education (semi-related) than necessary but just 1-2 years related experience. There was a 6 month ‘related experience’ requirement.

    1) If you’re a huge organization, could you please offer entry level positions?

    2) If you have volunteers replace low-level employees, could you allow that to count as experience? Or perhaps count as partial experience?

    3) If you simply must have paid experience, could you not interview people that you will reject automatically? I know that it was an internal referral and you didn’t seek me out, but just don’t offer the interview at all.

    4) Of course, that means read my resume! Before I pay for a haircut, gas, dry cleaning, turn down free birthday meal. Please.

    5) If you really would have considered me without experience, please don’t blame it on a technical requirement.

    I really think that interview went well (and I heard from other people that the team I spoke with was really impressed). So I don’t think it was a soft rejection. I really think they interviewed me when i didn’t mean their most basic requirement (I was referred to this position, I didn’t apply. Also, even if I had applied, I think it’s reasonable to assume a unpaid experience counts enough to apply, even if you know it’s not what they really want?) It was very frustrating.

  19. Sara*

    One of hte comments in #6 (by Anonymous-defending the idiot recruiter) just left me….blargh.

  20. dawbs*

    Years ago, at an interview w/ a temp agency in my field, I had ‘my’ contact go over my resume with me and then promptly ask “ooooh, did you know X? do you have any dirt on it?” about my college.

    Without spilling all of the revealing details, it was a somewhat small school and it had been rocked by scandal/tragedy shortly before I graduated. It wasn’t dissimilar to the recent tragedy at Seattle Pacific. I floundered around badly while managing not to say what I had a strong impulse to say. I’m not sure why anyone would think it was appropriate to bring up a very VERY recent wound in that sort of professional environment.

    1. CJ*

      “I’m not sure why anyone would think it was appropriate to bring up a very VERY recent wound in that sort of professional environment.”

      Ugh. Several years ago, a colleague of mine died after an unusual and well-publicized (for a small area) workplace accident. In the ensuing poisonous environment, I applied for a job at a different company in a nearby city, and received an interview.

      I wasn’t five minutes into the process when the interviewer picked up my resume and said, “So, Company X, eh? Isn’t that where that guy died? We have all the newspaper articles on our safety board in the lunchroom.”

      I was floored, and so upset that I could only hiss through gritted teeth, “He wasn’t ‘some guy’, he was my friend, and his name was .”

      She muttered an, “Oh, sorry.” and continued on, but I was so angry I wanted to stand up and leave the interview right then and there. Needless to say, I wasn’t offered the job.

      1. CJ*

        “… and his name was (so-and-so).”

        The comment box apparently doesn’t like angle brackets!

        1. dawbs*

          I rather wish I had thought that fast on my feet–I was on friendly terms with someone who died and another whose life was ruined and fled from press/the internet/etc.

          I actually had a chance to apply to something that employed this company as a headhunter and decided not to because of the entire crapola

  21. KarenT*

    I just went back and re-read the comments from the Operation Smile debacle. I truly love that one of our commenters spoke to the COO!

  22. Tasha*

    It’s funny to look at those old threads and see how few comments they generated compared with recent comment threads.

  23. Sigrid*

    I love these posts! There’s always a few completely crazypants ones I haven’t read.

  24. Angora*

    I have to respond to these:
    1. Pressure candidates to resign without notice from their current jobs. . . I have ran into this a quite a few times. Sometimes I think it’s test. One time I got the impression that the hiring manager and put off interviewing for so long; that they were hurting … someone was in trouble. It does shock me when it’s an internal job interview for a promotion. I interviewed for positions at another division; same employer; but a nearby town … they really pushed. I think they felt their division was “more important” and had a strong “sense of entitlement.” I told them I was interested but I had to give two weeks notice. When working as a contractor; recruiters from other companies would really push it; we need you tomorrow and would get ugly. One time I was I had done that; they paid more; and my position ended two weeks early. I wasn’t going leave for one; they had called me twice for the same job within a month … something was off. If I wasn’t working I would jump at the chance. But not leave a good paying temp job for something that didn’t sound that promising. If you need someone now … use the temp agencies; don’t bully.

    3. Ask to look inside a candidate’s purse.
    I would have told him where to go and walk out. Normally I am extremely polite but in that chance I would have done that. Than turn around and call their HR dept and inform them of it. They may not know about his fetish. It would be a blunt “Not happening.” Pick up my purse and walk out.

    5. Reject candidates because of their neighborhood.
    Reminds me of when banks used to “red-line.” where they will not give loans to individuals from particular neighborhoods … so illegal.

    8. Get offended when asked why a job is open and refuse to answer.
    Run, run, run. Also watch their expression. My current job gave me one answer and I have found out since getting hired that they have hd four people within two years in it. I can see the why now; but I was unemployed and I have worked there before; but different division. Happy to be working, happy to be back there but keeping my eyes out for opening that might interest me. No rush to jump ship. I know what I have to put up with where I may walk into a worse situation elsewhere.

  25. Beth Anne*

    I once heard on the radio about weird things employers were doing and one of them was that after you went into the interview room the company would send out another employee to your car and have them LOOK INSIDE of it and see if it was messy/clean. This just seemed like a HUGE invasion of privacy!! There are so many factors that go with this – maybe they borrowed a friends messy car, maybe they share a car, etc. Also oddly enough ppl aren’t always the same at work and home at home i have stuff everywhere but at work i always keep a neat desk/area.

    #10 omg that was the BEST POST EVER!!

    1. Russian Blue*

      I wonder how they even went about figuring out which car belongs to the candidate? And what if you took public transportation to the interview? Employers that place too much weight on unrelated details are just…out of touch.

  26. James M*

    I’m going to contradict AAM and tell all employers: Go ahead and do stuff like this if you’re so inclined.

    Really, as a job seeker I would truly appreciate having all the cards on the table so I can know whether or not your company is a dysfunctional looney-bin, before I’m offered the job.

  27. Sandrine (France)*

    In France here as far as commute goes, I know for example that Disney won’t hire you if you have a “more than 1 hour” potential commute. Mostly because of the way transportation is set up, if you potential job starts at 7 AM, it could be hard to get there. It’s infuriating when you have an hour and a half and calculate and *know* you can make it…

    But right now it’s a moot point anyway since we’re having huge strikes that make me go bonkers. Oh well.

  28. Nina*

    I still laugh at #10. That one really exploded, didn’t it?

    I have a question about #6. On an application, I was asked about my marital status (particularly if I had been divorced) as well as my religious affiliation, where I went to church, etc. I was applying for a receptionist position to a school with strong Christian ties. Why is it OK for them to ask (and possibly reject candidates) since they’re a religious institution? Isn’t that still a form of discrimination?

    1. fposte*

      It is; it’s just not an illegal form of discrimination. (Remember, most discrimination is legal.) Per the EEOC: “Religious corporations, associations, educational institutions, or societies are exempt from the federal laws that EEOC enforces when it comes to the employment of individuals based on their particular religion.”

      Marital status is not federally protected, so unless your state or municipality treat that as a protected characteristic (or they only ask one gender/race/federally protected category), that doesn’t even require the religious organization exemption.

      1. Nina*

        Thanks for the clarification. The marital stuff didn’t really bother me, I just remember them saying “We reserve the right to inquire about the details of your divorce.” I’m not even married, but that just felt so creepy. Good thing I wasn’t particularly excited about that job.

        1. Ruffingit*

          I knew someone who was fired from a rather large church because he was living with his girlfriend (as opposed to being married to her).

          1. De Minimis*

            I’ve seen some pretty stringent requirements for employees of churches and religious schools….they often require some type of church affiliation and sometimes even make employees adhere to a conduct code similar to those of the students.

  29. Juli G.*

    Can I throw out a caveat about #1?

    Sometimes hiring managers don’t mean no notice time when they say immediate so always ask for clarification. I’ll often work on an offer with a HM and say, “Okay when do we want to ask them to start?” and they say “Immediately.” Then I say, “We need two weeks for all the paperwork, screens, etc.” and HM says “Well yeah! I meant like the first of the month!” – which is 3 weeks away. Immediate is similar to “a few” in that sense – it can mean different things to different people.

    (This is not to refute OP1 – I totally believe them! Just general advice.)

  30. Arbynka*

    If I can add one – happened to me while back in Europe looking for a first job after graduation – do not ask the candidate to conduct the interview sitting on your lap. Yep, first he just kind of signaled, slapped his thigh and when I said excuse me, he said “common and sit, don’t be shy”. I just turned around and left. Mind you, it was the time when companies were allowed to advertise position such as “assistant needed, 18-20 years old, good looking and thin, some typing required”

    1. Clever Name*

      Heh. I wouldn’t be surprised if my last boss would have done that if he thought he could get away with it.

  31. Ruffingit*

    On the topic of do not do this ever employers, I’d like to advocate for eliminating the “fake” interview. The interview they do because they need to meet a quota of people, but they already know who they’re hiring. Please, please, please for the love of all that is good and holy, can we all work to stop that practice?! It’s just so awful for the person who is hoping against hope that this job will work out and preparing for the interview and maybe spending the last bit of UI money for the month on some shoes that don’t look worn out so they can make a good impression. And all the while, they don’t even have a chance. They’re just there to be counted in the interview numbers quota. UGH. This just needs to stop.

      1. JM in England*

        This happened to a friend of mine. He went to the interview and demonstrated that he was exactly what they were looking for plus some additional skills to boot. Was then told that the job had ben filled via internal transfer. Like Ruffingit says, he had spent the last of his unemployment (he had been out of work over a year at the time) getting to the interview and he was understandably incensed! So much so that he got his girlfriend to drive him back to the place where he managed to tear a strip off of the HM………….

  32. Former Professional Computer Geek*

    I think I just realized why someone would ask to look in a purse — to look for medicine. You cannot ask about health issues, but if you just happen to see something…

    If you were to look in my bag – a backpack, not a purse – you would see a zippered clear bag with medical supplies. Inside you would find mostly over-the-counter things like ibuprofen and benedryl, but you’ll also find a couple of prescription bottles, a bottle of insulin, and syringes.

    A potential employer who saw the syringes without seeing the insulin might conclude I’m an illegal drug user, and one who spotted the insulin might decide not to hire me due to a perceived increase in health care costs.

    On the other hand, I once had a surprise blood sugar crash during an interview that took longer than expected, and in my confused state [low blood sugar makes thinking difficult] said so out loud, and then dug into my emergency sugar stash. I did wind up getting that job.

  33. Tina*

    Wasn’t there also one about an employer that faked a fire alarm to “test” the candidate in some way, then got mad at the candidate for calling 911? I think that should go on the list too!

    1. Graciosa*

      Definitely should have made the list – however the best part was someone getting fired over that particular stunt.

  34. Poohbear McGriddles*

    Here’s one…

    I was interviewing at a facility and the interviewer wanted to take me to an area where visitors normally aren’t allowed. There wasn’t any security or anything, but his plan was to tell anyone who asked that I was from a regulatory agency. Well, nobody asked, but he still volunteered that (untrue) information to a couple of people we came across. It seemed really shady. I didn’t accept the job, and wasn’t surprised when I found out he had been fired.

  35. OddJobb*

    I’ve been interviewing recently and a hiring manager keep referring to other applicant’s resumes as “garbage”, which was shocking to hear.

  36. Phideaux*

    As a corollary to #2, don’t ridicule, mock, or outwardly show disdain for my supposed lack of skills and experience when YOU called ME for the interview. The typical “Why do you think you can do this job” type of interview questions are fine, but something like, “Incredible! You honestly believe you can do this job with only 2 years of contract negotiation experience?!?!” make me think that you saw my lack of experience and decided to call me in anyway just to give me a hard time. If that is some kind of tough love stress test, I’m not interested.


    My question to potential employer: Why is this position is open?
    Employer answers: Because the previous lady ran out crying. (prefaced with the job is really stressful and it lacks support from staff)

    Needless to say, I didn’t take the position and it was offered to me.

  38. Motley*

    I find this topic pretty fascinating. Thankfully I’ve only ever encountered minorly bad interviewer behavior, but it’s comforting to know that I’m not the only one in this job seeking boat.

    I recently reapplied to a company that I interviewed with in March. I contacted the recruiter who previously arranged the first interview and who was among those I met with as part of the first interview process as well. She quickly responded to let me know that she thought they were just about ready to make an offer to someone. I thanked her for letting me know and said if anything changed on their end, I’d love to be considered. I thought that was the end of it and I didn’t expect to hear back again. Then a week later I got an email from another recruiter who is new to the company. Her email was a standard and polite thank you for applying, the position has been filled but we’ll keep your information on file for future positions response.

    However, I scrolled down the email and noticed an email chain between her and reccuiter #1 with some feedback about me as a candidate. Recruiter #1 told #2 they already interviewed me for this position in March and didn’t find me to be focused enough or ambitious enough for the role. Yikes. I don’t think I was supposed to see this and it stung. But it also bothered me because for the sake of accuracy I didn’t apply or interview for the job yet. The first job was a consultant position, the second was a proposal writer position. I understand that recruiters meet and interview many people throughout the day but it definitely seemed like she was disregarding me as a candidate for future jobs. After getting over the initial sting of hearing that I lacked focus and motivation (for this job anyway), I also couldn’t help but feel that forwarding a chain email to a candidate (or anyone external to the company) is a really lame mistake to make. People make mistakes, but this is the kind of thing that is avoidable with common sense proof reading.

    Also not to go overboard or pile on here, since obviously this isn’t a huge mistake, but this position was for a proposal writer, so they were looking for someone to produce written responses to public RFPs including content, proofing and editing. In the bigger picture a proposal writer is responsible for creating responses that reflect the capabilities of the company so that agencies want to hire them versus someone else. I think this is what they mean when they say excellent written and verbal communication skills required in the job description. I couldn’t help but note the irony of their error here. And, I’m just not impressed.

    In hindsight too, my interaction with Recruiter #1 during the interview in March, while polite wasn’t super smooth. She was slightly defensive when I asked why the position was open. She also met me at the reception desk at the end when I went to get my parking validated. And I remember noting at the time, um why are you looking in my purse when I was digging for my wallet to put the ticket in. It was one of those, I’m sizing up your status (wallet, purse, car keys) moves that again left me a bit unimpressed. I thought little of it until seeing this list though.

    So, I guess I’d add proof read all correspondence to your job applicants to your list as well too! Also, make sure you practice what you preach and demonstrate those excellent communication skills you so rightly seek in your candidates.

    P.S. I’ve posted on this site once before as sarasoba, but I noticed there are a lot of variations of Sara here already so I’m going with Motley now.

    1. Russian Blue*

      Oh wow, that was a terrible oversight on their end. I know it must have stung to get feedback that way, but maybe you can use the information to strengthen your candidacy in future interviews for other jobs? That’s not to say that what the first recruiter disclosed to the other recruiter can’t be taken with a grain of salt, but you are in the rare situation where you have more insight into their hiring decision (that is, the decision not to hire you) than most job seekers will ever have in the process.

      1. Motley*

        Thanks. This kind of feedback is rare, so I guess I’m sort of fortunate to have some insight into why I wasn’t hired. I don’t entirely agree, but it’s worth rethinking how I frame my experience. I think the focus/ambition thing has to do with periods of job hopping and unemployment, which wasn’t planned, but came about after a company layoff at the beginning of the recession and then a couple not so perfect choices by me for follow-up jobs. I’m also currently underemployed (working retail), but it would be discouraging to think that this would exclude me from jobs that I’m qualified for.

  39. Kathlynn*

    Very similar to number one but,
    Don’t expect a potential employee to either quit their full time job, or get switch shifts (like going from starting at 5am to 3pm) when the job is on call, and you make it sound like they aren’t going to get a lot of hours. (I would have accepted the job, and quit my current one, if they hadn’t made it seem like they wouldn’t call me frequently.) Could have been the interviewer’s attempt to steer me away from the job, after such an impromptu interview though.(went there to drop off my resume, and ended up having an interview)

  40. Various Assumed Names*

    #4 – when I interviewed for my current position, I had to walk from one building to another about 7 blocks away (in NYC, no big deal). But I interviewed in a blizzard. After the first interview, I went to the lobby, changed into my snow boots, walked 7 blocks through a foot of snow slowly and carefully, then changed back into my heels in the lobby of the next building. When I finally got to my second interview, he said that he had called my first interviewiers and they’d all had no idea where I could’ve gone. The whole thing took maybe 20 minutes but he acted like I went AWOL. I just stuttered “I don’t know… I didn’t get lost or anything, it just took that long in the snow.” Should have maybe given me a clue that these people are a bit strange but it didn’t and this job is horrible.

  41. Amy K.*

    I had a phone interview for an admin job for an online retailer. I was totally shocked when the interviewer point-blank asked me if I was married and had children, because “Well, it will affect whether or not you can do the job.” I was really shocked. I ended the interview after getting her name and title. Ugh.

  42. ann*

    Id like to add to the list

    1/. dont presume or assume
    2/. mind your manners
    3/. shut the hell up in the interview
    4/. prepare for the interview (the five standards off google will put you STREAKS ahead of the competitio)

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