my interviewer asked me to buy make-up from her and then rejected me for the job

A reader writes:

I have been after a position working with autistic children for four months, after researching the facility and deciding that it would be the perfect place for me. I finally got an interview, but after it was over, my interviewer walked me out to my car and gave me a whole speech about how with my previous sales experience, I might do better being a representative for a make-up company that she works for, and she asked me to sign up under her. (That would mean that anything I sold, she would get a percentage.) I told her I don’t want to sell make-up; I want to help people. Then she said that I could always just buy directly from her and that she had 3 mascaras on her right then. I was devastated and appalled, and I started crying in front of her because I knew that meant whoever buys the most make-up would get the job.

I decided not to speak out until after hearing a final decision about the job. After I was rejected for the job, I called the interviewer’s boss, which yielded no response. It wasn’t until after I contacted the president of the corporate office that her boss graced me with an email in return, which was very technical and “corporate.” There was no apology, but at the time I was just happy to have been acknowledged. He stated that I would be given a second interview through the phone by a separate location, which did happen. I gave the same answers to ensure a fair decision; however, when I called the interviewer who did my second interview, I was informed that she had not scored any of the information, but was instructed to forward my questions to my first interviewer, who was the one who attempted to sell me make-up. I am now beyond frustrated and angry as I know that I am more than qualified for this and also that I gave an amazing interview. 

Also, I later contacted the first interviewer via her personal cell (as she had given me her business card, something I did not make a secret of from her boss or the president). I told her that I was sorry for getting upset, and I turned it around to be my fault and not hers, but let her know that I had no intention of purchasing anything. There were four jobs and 12 candidates. I am self-aware enough to know that I gave an amazing interview. I also have a friend on the inside who stated that two people who were hired did not have degrees (not that there is anything wrong with that). I genuinely feel that I was discriminated against and do not know what to do. If I were to pursue this any further, what should I do from here?

This whole thing is a mess. Your interviewer certainly shouldn’t pressure you to buy make-up from her or become part of a multi-level marketing sales set-up. She absolutely was in the wrong to do that.

But you handled this pretty bizarrely too — the crying when your interviewer brought up the makeup, the assumption that candidates were being chosen based on who purchased makeup (which is possible, but far from a certainty), the certainty that you should have been hired (something that no candidate can judge from the outside), the call to the first interviewer’s personal cell, the pushing to still be considered after all of this — it’s all a ton of drama, and it’s unsurprising that it didn’t lead to a job offer. (And frankly, if it did result in an offer, I’d be wary of taking it, because at this point you’d be walking into a messy situation with a label on your back as the person who stirred up a bunch of drama. Jobs that you force your way into don’t typically go well.)

As for pursuing this further, there’s really nothing to do here, other than to move on to other employers. Even if you were rejected for not buying the makeup, which isn’t something you can know for sure, there’s nothing illegal about that. Icky and unethical, yes, but that’s not discrimination in the legal sense of the term.

Sometimes employers and jobs that look great from the outside turn out not to be places you’d want to work once you learn more. And sometimes jobs that you’re convinced you’re the perfect candidate for turn out to have other candidates who are better fits. That’s just a normal part of job-searching. All you can do is accept that, let this one go, and move on to other employers.

{ 133 comments… read them below }

  1. Hlyssande*

    I don’t think it would be at all strange or bad to let a bad interviewer’s boss (or someone higher up in the company) know that the interviewer was pushing candidates to buy from their side business after the interview, but after that notification, it’s probably best to move on and not assume anything.

    But the way the OP went about this…yeah, that’s totally a burned bridge. Right down to the pilings.

    1. some1*

      Exactly this. I would have probably notified the boss or HR to say, “I’m withdrawing from consideration, and here’s why.” and let them use that info as they see fit.

      1. Koko*

        Yes! That was what blew my mind about this. Presumably the interviewer is the hiring manager or something close to that. After the experience you had with this woman, you still want to work for her?? To the point you’re going to go over her head and try to get her bosses to make her hire you? It’s like this person WANTS to be miserable at work.

      1. Jamie*

        Totally agree. Someone in my family had a job for a whole shift and quit because their hand was slapped in training. Calling the corporate office to complain resulted in a week of calls asking her to reconsider quitting and remain employed. They seemed surprised that the notification was really and truly just an FYI and not a play for anything. They also seemed surprised that hand slapping during training is a deal breaker for some people which was eye opening.

          1. Jamie*

            Ha! Cashier in a store for following directions to punch a button on a register and the trainer thought she was going to push the wrong one.

            This cracked me up – the person in question is adorable, tiny, blonde, with the sunniest disposition and I can’t see her having a successful career as a bouncer! She wouldn’t be able to stop smiling long enough to intimidate anyone.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Hand slapped because it appeared she was going to press the wrong button???

              What happens if she has a void? Does she get flogged?

              A competent trainer does not worry about mistakes, because they either know how to fix it or they can quickly figure out how to fix it.
              I guess I have trained too many people, very seldom do trainees make large mistakes. I have never had a trainee do something that I could not fix.

              1. Koko*

                Yeah, if your training process involves a point where the trainee can press a “destroy everything irrevocably” button, perhaps you should rethink the training process and/or the existence of that button. If you absolutely have to have a button that can screw things up in a way that can’t be easily fixed, and you have to train your brand-new employee on the system that has this button, you talk through everything before you actually do it. I’ve done this when training new employees on databases where we want to make sure they don’t overwrite good data with bad data. You walk them through a lot of scenarios: “So now we need to do X. How would we do that?” and have the trainee TELL you what button they would push, and you confirm or correct. You do this until you’re confident the new employee can handle all the typical scenarios, and then stress how important database integrity is and that you always have time and are happy to provide guidance if they encounter an edge case and aren’t sure how to handle it.

    2. AdAgencyChick*

      I completely agree. It’s entirely possible that the company is a good one, and this one interviewer happens to be a loony who thinks that it’s okay to push her products on a captive audience of unsuspecting job candidates. If that’s the case, if I were that person’s manager, or someone working in the HR/recruiting department of that company, I’d sure as hell want to know so that I could put a stop to it.

      OP has lost the chance to do that, though. A simple email to the interviewer’s manager and/or the HR/recruiting department with “Thanks for the consideration, and I just wanted to let you know that there was one part of the process that made me uncomfortable, which was when Interviewer tried to get me to buy Chocolate Tea Mascara,” and leaving it at that, would have been enough.

      1. some1*

        And to add to this: you don’t need to wait until a decision has been made to report this. In fact, you have more credibility if you tell someone before they decide so you don’t look like sour grapes if you get passed over or like you are looking to play hardball if you get an offer.

        1. Heidi*

          I know. I was so back and forth in my head about that but I thought if I said something prior it would ruin my chances of employment. The whole way through I felt that I may still have a chance of being hired based on my interview.

      2. Jazzy Red*

        Chocolate Tea Mascara. I’d buy that – it sounds like a dark brown but not harsh black color. It would be perfect!

      3. Hlyssande*

        That would’ve been the best possible way to handle it from the start, just as a heads up and thanks for the consideration sort of deal.

    3. Artemesia*

      The interviewer was so grotesquely out of line that I am glad the OP took this to the top. The fact that the company still allowed this unprofessional interviewer to be involved speaks volumes about their lack of integrity.

      Any boss who tries to sell MLM crap to their own employees should be fired. And that goes double for a manager who tries that on an interviewee.

      Sure the OP didn’t handle it professionally either but some push back was called for.

    4. INTP*

      While I certainly don’t think the interviewer was right, having worked in that field, a person who bursts into tears over a makeup sales pitch probably doesn’t have the necessary emotional resilience for the job. At the least, it was totally reasonable of them to question the OP’s fit for the job after that. It’s a job where the most together and stable individuals occasionally burst into tears or burn out emotionally.

      OP, I apologize for the harshness but it may be a bullet dodged for you.

      1. Hlyssande*

        It could be that the interviewer was really really pushing and the OP felt trapped there. After all, you’re not going to be rude to the person who says whether or not you get a job. I completely understand how it could result in tears if you feel incredibly trapped the person whose approval you need to get the job is seriously hounding you.

        I tend to react similarly when backed into a corner about things, but thankfully I’ve never had an experience quite like that.

        Either way though, I think both people here were out of line in different ways.

      2. Biff*

        I dunno, the interviewer apparently followed the OP to her car and trapped her there. After what sounds like an intense interview, I can see freaking out on some level.

        1. Jeanne*

          I can too. I would have been stunned. I don’t know if I would have cried or gotten red and mad. I doubt that I would have been all cool and calm. I know my personality. The whole thing is impossible to prepare for.

      3. Koko*

        Yes, I think the OP’s tears weren’t unreasonable, but nonetheless still might signal she wasn’t a good fit for working with an autistic population. There are lots of personality traits that are perfectly reasonable to have and within the normal range of variation, but also preclude you from certain jobs. Lots of people get squeamish/nauseated by bodily fluids or gorey injuries – perfectly reasonable, but they probably shouldn’t go into emergency medicine. Lots of people are introverted – perfectly reasonable, but they probably shouldn’t go into account relationship management. The interviewer very well could have created a situation where OP felt trapped and overwhelmed, and the tears were perfectly reasonable. But the line of work requires someone with a steelier disposition than average.

        1. LawBee*

          +1 Granted, we don’t know anything about the OP’s background, but autistic people can be really tough to work with – violent, mean, you name it (and then be total sweethearts the next minute). You have to have a really strong constitution to handle them, and someone who bursts into tears because of an assumption right after a great interview is not someone I’d want to hire, tbh.

  2. Anonsie*

    I was pretty excited by the title of this one but it was even better than I could have imagined.

    On Skull Island, interview candidates will be left unattended in a multi-level marketing company party while waiting for their interview and will be judged based on whether or not they take it upon themselves to jump in and try to sell something.

      1. A Non*

        Oh goodness, I missed that one. I’ve heard of testing tech support candidates by having the receptionist fake a minor computer problem and ask “You’re an IT person, right? Can you possibly help…” Which is still not a great idea.

  3. Turanga Leela*

    Ugh, so sorry about this situation, OP. At least you don’t have to work with the mascara-hawking interviewer.

  4. A.*

    Sometimes employers and jobs that look great from the outside turn out not to be places you’d want to work once you learn more.

    Yes, yes, yes! OP, I think you dodged a bullet. What the interviewer did was extremely unprofessional and wrong. This doesn’t sound like a place you’d want to work for.

    1. BRR*

      Ha I was also going to quote that! It reminds me of the dream job. My first job was my dream job which turned out to be a toxic work environment and I was fired from it. While it sucked it was a good learning experience.

  5. Jamie*

    ITA with moving on – a company where they feel comfortable soliciting during the interview would not be somewhere I’d want to work. I can imagine they’d be passing the hat for something every other day and it’s a pet peeve of mine.

    Just wash your hands of it and look for other opportunities. Too much weirdness on both sides to salvage a good working relationship even if you could force them to hire you.

    1. The IT Manager*

      Yes. Since the higher ups did not act appalled and apologize profusely, then you have to assume that they either don’t care that this occurred or are too mild-mannered to correct problem employees like this hiring manager or some combination. You dodged a bullet; although, it may not feel like it.

    2. AnonyMouse*

      Yes, completely agreed. And this would be unbelievably inappropriate in any interview situation, but somehow the fact that it’s a position working with children with autism makes it even worse. OP definitely dodged a bullet, especially if the interviewer would have been her manager.

  6. Ted Mosby*

    OP, no matter how great the job SEEMED, your boss would have been a crazy person who had no sense of professional boundaries.

    Also, no offence, but even if you gave an amazing interview, it seems like the interviewer had already decided to hire someone else if she was pushing you to sell makeup for her instead of seriously talking about following up about the job you interviewed for. It doesn’t sound like she was interested, and the fact that you started crying probably didn’t help your case.

    But I honestly think all that is pretty irrelevant. You never want a job where you know the boss is a nut before you even start.

    1. some1*

      I agree it sounds like the interviewer was trying to steer her towards the makeup gig instead, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if she tries to recruit her employees at this job. A lot of those MLMs encourage that.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Luckily, you’ll get in lots of trouble in federal govt for that. I have a colleague who does Stella and Dot and she approached me about it once. I just said “ooh you know the inspector general forbids that, right?” And that was the last of that

      2. INTP*

        They also get a lot of people in so deep that they have to behave shamelessly just to recoup their losses. This lady may even have been normal and reasonable before Mary Kay or whoever! I don’t know anyone who sells that stuff without being pushy about it.

  7. kristinyc*

    OP – But even if you were offered the position the second time around – would you really want to work for/with this person? I can’t imagine having a positive working relationship with a manager after reporting her to her boss for sketchy interview behavior. But yikes. She sucks.

    1. LBK*

      Seriously, exactly what I wanted to say. Someone who takes a job like that ends up being the kind of OP that writes in to say “I love my company and my work but my manager is insane and making me miserable” and Alison tells them the only solution is to quit. It’s almost impossible for a great company to outweigh a terrible manager, because the latter has a lot more impact on your day-to-day activity and happiness.

  8. Bend & Snap*

    This was highly entertaining.

    The great thing about job hunting is you can just cross one off the list and move on. Do that.

  9. OhNo*

    Does anyone else think that it’s really weird that the company would A) not respond promptly to an accusation of poor ethics, even just to say “thank you for your feedback”, B) re-interview the OP, and C) pass along the response to the first interviewer (thus notifying them that OP probably complained loudly enough to get a second interview)?

    I mean, OP didn’t act ideally, but those three things together make me think that this organization is probably very messed up and doesn’t seem like a place any sane person would want to work anyway.

    1. fposte*

      Eh, I don’t know on the first–I could see the interviewer’s boss being uninterested in taking what seemed just to be a phone call from a disgruntled interviewee. But I’m with you on being surprised that they reinterviewed, and I’m head-scratching that they bothered to take the time and then just went down the same pipeline. So I think we’re not seeing a really cohesive response to the situation from the organization.

      1. OhNo*

        I guess I would expect someone in that situation to respond, even if just to say, “Thanks for letting us know, however we support our managers’ hiring decisions, so we’re not going to take another look at your application/interview/etc.”

        I mean, I wouldn’t expect them to do anything about it, since I’m sure it would sound like a cranky person who is just mad that they didn’t get the job. But at least a response right away to say “Got your email, don’t care” so that they don’t do exactly what the OP did, which is go higher on the management chain and get everyone into a big mess.

        1. fposte*

          I think the fact that it was a phone call made it a lot less likely to be responded to. I’d say an email would have had a better chance.

          But I also don’t think the move up the chain is particularly high impact here, either. It’s not a big mess, it’s just a sigh and a “handle this, would you?”

        2. LBK*

          I think that’s giving too much response that the company doesn’t owe an interviewee. It’s nice, I guess, but I don’t think it should be expected. This isn’t a disgruntled employee where they’re more entitled to a “I reviewed your objection and decided we’re proceeding anyway” response.

    2. LBK*

      I don’t think it would be normal for a company to respond to feedback from someone that doesn’t work with them and who they don’t really know or have any reason to trust. But B) and C) are definitely super weird to me.

      1. MRO*

        Really? I always agree w your thoughts, but I can’t imagine getting a call saying my employee had tried to sell an interviewee makeup/get them into a pyramid scheme and not be pretty upset about it, unless I thought the claim was totally bogus .

        1. LBK*

          I can certainly see looking into it if you think there’s any merit, but I don’t think that requires circling back to the person who reported it. At that point it becomes an internal issue with an employee. At the most I’d just give a completely neutral “Thank you,” no details at all about how or if it was being addressed unless for some reason that involved the tipper (i.e. because we decided the claim was true and wanted to run that person through another interview with someone we trusted more).

    3. Ted Mosby*

      I do think it’s weird that the boss didn’t follow up in any way, and then later didn’t apologize, but DID offer to re-interview her, but STILL allowed Ms Mascara to interview people. The whole thing seems like a cluster.

      I wonder if she might have answered if OP had said something before she was rejected. I think the right time to speak up would have been directly after the interview. It makes it seem like OP was just upset she didn’t get the job.

    4. Liz*

      The first two I can kind of understand; they’re both bad moves that I certainly don’t agree with, but I can see a certain kind of employer seeing them as CYA measures. But telling the first interviewer? Why in the world would they do that? And why would they tell the candidate that they did it?! That is mind-boggling to me.

    5. A.*

      I think the re-interviewing was a precautionary CYA on the company’s part. I don’t think it was needed, but that’s the most likely explanation.

      1. OhNo*

        If it was a CYA deal, though, why did they send the results to the same manager? I would assume that they would have a different manager look at it to confirm or deny the first interviewer’s decision, so if they got sued they could say that impartial manager B agreed with manager A’s assessment of the candidate.

        1. fposte*

          I don’t think it was a CYA in that sense, certainly not an attempt to prevent them from being sued (there’s no cause for suit anyway). I think it was just “here’s a complaint, deal with it,” and the boss decided that a second phone interview counted as dealing with it and didn’t care what happened with it after that.

    6. AnonyMouse*

      Yep, I think this situation is just a little weird from all angles – the interviewer was extremely inappropriate, the organisation’s response was a bit weird, and like Alison said even the way the OP handled it got slightly over the top. No one comes off looking perfect here and it’s probably for the best that the OP can just move on and try to shrug it off rather than having to work with these people now!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This. I think OP really likes this company. But this is a heavy dose of reality regarding what is actually going on inside the company, OP.

        Can you just see it? The average work day goes like this, “OP, the Smith report is due at 10 am, you have a meeting at 11 that will last until 3, and then tonight you need to sell five more lipsticks.”

        There is not enough alcohol in this world to deal with this scenario, OP.

    7. MK*

      I am not so sure about that. It sounds like the OP was not really reporting bad interviewer behavior, she was trying to “correct” the “discrimination” she felt was happening against her by taking all the way up to the president of corporate. It’s possible that said president got an call from someone claiming discrimination and decided the easiest solution was to give the OP a second interview. Then the president refers the whole thing back to the interviewer’s boss, who obviously has no interest to pursue this and has a random person do a fake interview to get the OP of their back. Not good professional tactics, but it makes sense.

      Frankly, it’s not just that the OP didn’t react ideally, it’s that she may have sounded clueless herself. Getting a call from a rejected candidate saying “I was the perfect fit for the job! I am absolutely qualified! I have a degree! I interviewd amazingly! The hiring manager is giving the job to whoever buys maky up from her! The only reason I didn’t get the job is because I didn’t buy make up!” does not sound like a reliable sourse for a company to question their employees, however true.

  10. JMegan*

    This is another situation where the dating analogy works. Maybe you see someone who looks great in their ad – good job, good salary, loves kids and dogs and long walks on the beach, and you agree to go on a date with him. Then you get there and discover that he hasn’t showered in a week, he actually has ten dogs in a basement apartment, was rude to the wait staff, and spent your whole date on Tindr before trying to get you in on his MLM.

    Would you pursue him, because he looked so great on paper? Would you look past all the obvious clues from his actual behaviour, and keep chasing the guy in the ad? You would not. You would high-tail it out of there, block his email, and try very hard not to ever think of him again.

    Same with this job. It looked great on paper, but when you got more information, it became clear that this is really not going to be a good place to work. It’s hugely disappointing, for sure. But you need to deal with what *is* – this place sucks – rather than what you thought it was or what you wish it could be.

    1. CheeryO*

      LOVE this analogy. There’s a huge difference between identifying what could be a great opportunity and building something up to Dream Job status before you’ve even interviewed, and it’s one that I’ve learned the hard way. I hope the OP can chalk this one up to a learning experience and move on.

  11. Liz T*

    Interesting–I would’ve taken the sales pitch as an indication that I wasn’t getting the job, not that getting the job was contingent on buying.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      I agree. Or that none if it was done in good faith – there was never a job and the interviewer is trying to recruit other salespeople for her pyramid scheme.

  12. LizNYC*

    OP, this sounds like you had a horrible interview experience — I’m sorry you cried when she offered you the makeup (I think I would have laughed or given her the most quizzical expression I could muster).

    On the other hand, even if this awkward circumstance hadn’t happened, you could still given two “amazing” interviews and not get a job. Those hiring for jobs are looking for skills other than being able to answer interview questions, such as personality, fit with culture, etc., and the degrees (or lack thereof) of the current employees may have no bearing on whom they are searching for at the current time. It would help your sanity to remember that a good interview doesn’t equal a job offer, nor does all the qualifications on paper (or more than the necessary qualifications on paper) equal a job offer.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I think the tears came from OP having her heart set on the job. OP, please read through Alison’s advice about not getting attached to one job/company. I have found it very helpful.

  13. Katie the Fed*

    Wow – what a train wreck!

    OP – it really, really sucks your interviewer’s been drinking the MLM snake oil, because they’re pretty insufferable (I’ve removed friends from Facebook for that stuff).

    BUT, even if your interviewer is loonier than Lindsay Lohan on quaaludes, you’re not entitled to the job. It was fine to report the interviewer’s bad behavior to her leadership, but then you’ve got to move on. You really don’t know if you aced the interview, if you were the best candidate, etc.

    I know that sucks. I didn’t get my dream job a few years ago because it went to the hiring manager’s buddy and I was ridiculously perfect for it. It still hurts, years later, if I’m honest. But, it’s not my decision. I can’t change it. I have no choice but to move on and never do the same thing to anyone else.

    1. Jax*

      I wasn’t picked for a job I know I was perfect for. (Just last week, actually.) The interview was fantastic, the director and I hit it off… She even responded to my thank you note.

      And then they picked someone else. I concocted a fabulous conspiracy theory to explain it–my husband worked for the corporation in 2006 and left on bad terms–so I linked it all to that. After a few days I remembered that my initial contact to schedule the interview left a bored voicemail for me and it took two days to track her down and schedule it. I had a feeling at the time that I was the “extra interview”.

      My fabulous interview probably was fabulous, and I think I bumped myself up in the competition, but I still didn’t land the job. Great interviews aren’t always a sure sign of an offer. Who knows what goes on behind the scenes?

  14. Language Lover*

    I think you were right to be shocked and appalled at the interviewer’s behavior. I also think reporting her to the higher ups was appropriate. The way everything was handled indicates a potentially dysfunctional environment that you may have been lucky to escape.

    However, as an outside observer, I don’t think that it’s an obvious conclusion that she hired the people who bought makeup from her, regardless of their qualifications. Even though she was inappropriate, I still think you have to consider that you weren’t a right fit for the job.

    I understand that people have different emotional levels. Some people cry easily. Others are stones who don’t ever shed tears, even at funerals, unless they accidentally hear that treacly Christmas Shoes song on the radio (me–and it makes no sense.) Dealing with autistic kids can be rewarding and it’s wonderful you want to do it, but it’ll be a lot harder emotionally than an inappropriate interviewer trying to sell you makeup.

    Again, kudos for wanting to help people but if you are super sensitive, working in this kind of environment may end up chewing you up and spitting you out in six months.

    1. Judy*

      I change the radio station when I hear that song. It came out the year that one of my childhood friends was in hospice. She has a daughter 3 months older than my son, and she died on December 26.

      1. Judy*

        OK, so it was a few years earlier than I thought, but I don’t think I had heard it before 2010, and it seemed like it was on all the time that year.

    2. Snarkus Ariellius*

      Here’s my issue with the way the OP handled it.  She waited until after she got a rejection to say something when she should have objected to the inappropriate behavior after the interview.

      Waiting for a rejection makes her sound like a disgruntled job candidate.  It also implies that she would be okay with this inappropriate behavior if she’d gotten the job.  

      Nowhere in this letter does the interviewer’s pushy sales tactics stand on their own.  The OP’s feelings and subsequent complaints were contingent on a job offer.  That’s problematic.

      1. fposte*

        I think people could interpret it like that, but it’s hardly something that can be stated as a fact; it’s overloaded with confirmation bias because we don’t have the OP’s actions when she did get hired to compare it to. It’s not hugely uncommon for people to note problems in the hiring process when they do get hired too, and honestly, I think it’s okay for a job hunter not to mention a concern while they’re afraid it could negatively influence their application.

        1. MRO*

          Agree that we don’t know either way, but also agree that it probably LOOKED bad regardless of her true reasons.

  15. Joey*

    I just don’t get it. why would you still want to work for her? It’s nuts.

    And I’m not picking on you particularly because you’re definitely not the only one who is willing to walk into a crapstorm.

    1. fposte*

      She doesn’t want to work for her–she wants the job working with kids in a field she’s interested in rather than the job she can’t stand. I think you’re right that working for this person would sour that job in a hurry as well, but the OP’s seeing the field difference as the big thing.

      1. Joey*

        Obviously people don’t realize that in reality you work for the person supervising you first and foremost. That is the person who has arguably the biggest impact on how much you like or dislike your job.

      2. Ann O'Nemity*

        Do we know that the interviewer was actually the manager for the position? I didn’t think it was clear from the letter.

  16. Heidi*

    Thank you all for giving me some clarification on the things that I did wrong in this process. I truly appreciate it. I never felt as though I deserved the job more than anyone else, I just wanted a fair chance going into it. I had spoken to this recruiter for months prior to getting an interview at the company. I have been currently working in title loans and have been miserable wanting to get somewgere to utilize my psychology degree so that I can help people. I was so thrilled about the entire process and had felt that I had a good chance based on things that 3 of my friends who work there had told me. I would never be so vein to think that I am the be all end all. I did cry because I was extremely caught off guard and was so unsure of what she was trying to tell me, I can’t take that back it is what it is. I appreciate everyone’s advise on leaving it be. I do think that is the best thing to do from here. I live in a smaller city in Alabama so the use of my psychology degree is limited and I was extremely excited for the opportunity to work with autistic children. I would still like to pursue a career at this place but am just unsure how to go about it now. Once again, thank you for your feed back. God Bless

    1. Magda*

      I really feel for you OP. I completely understand wanting to escape a field that isn’t meaningful to you.

    2. A.*

      I’m in similar shoes as you. I’ve been working in one field for the past three years and desperately want to get into a field that will utilize my degree. I also understand what it’s like to be frustrated to tears. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Sending you lots of positive energy and good thoughts!

    3. OriginalYup*

      It sounds like you were really invested in getting the job, which made this whole experience extremely emotional. I can sympathize (and goodness knows that job searching is probably never easy) but it might help you for future interviews to take a different mental perspective.

      Interviews are a two way street — you’re assessing them, they’re assessing you, and then you’re both deciding whether it’s a good fit. If you walk in thinking “this place is perfect for me,” then stakes are already high and anything that goes wrong is infinitely more upsetting. But if you walk in thinking “they’re making a good first impression, let’s see how this goes,” then you’re alert and less vulnerable to weird situations. The stress of trying to get out of a bad job while also changing careers can really amp up the stress, so treat this as a practice run for the better opportunities that are hopefully coming your way. Good luck!

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Good luck, OP. I am sure you will find something that you will be very happy about. Let us know how you are doing.

    5. Waiting Patiently*

      Have you looked into BCaBA certification or BCBA? That will definitely give you edge because pretty soon, 2015, this will be a requirement for working with kids with autism. And with your psych degree you can do the bcaba. Of course you may have to take some classes.

      Sidenote: This year our district outsourced the 1:1 jobs to an outside company and it has been a hellish nightmare. So much turnover–we have a steady stream of temps and subs in our building because turnover is so high. And hearing how some have been hired without proper background checks is terrifying…but they saved 250k. They not only are getting paid half of what the district was paying last year, but they are hired as contractors and have to deduct their own taxes. Add to that the challenging nature of the work–and its a recipe for diaster.
      My advice is get your certs up! And volunteer if you can. Good luck!

    6. KerryOwl*

      Heidi, are you saying you still want a job at that same company? Is there literally no other place in the area at which you can make use of your psychology degree? I think that maybe you are over-invested in the idea of getting a job at this one company. It’s time to move on.

    7. Vanishing Girl*

      de-lurking to say:

      Your experience is totally messed up and I might have cried at the end of it, too. I have had a LOT of bad interviews (some where it did feel like my dreams died, right there), and they have actually given me something.

      When going into later interviews that go badly or just not how I want it, I can at least say “Well, it wasn’t as bad as [X] interview. I’ll be ok in time.” I’m not saying just look on the bright side, because bad interviews can be soul-shattering and dream-crushing in the moment. But this one will have set a bar so low that (hopefully) none others can surpass it in suckiness.

      Try to think of this interview when going forward and remind yourself the next one has to be an improvement. My bad interviews have, strangely enough, made me feel more confident. If I got through those crapfests, then I am doing ok even at a ho-hum interview, and will do ok in the future. It’s like a low bar to measure things up against.

      This is not the end: let yourself grieve for this position and then turn to look for other avenues. Good luck!

  17. long time reader first time poster*

    I dunno. I wouldn’t have hired any candidate that burst into tears at the end of the interview. And as an interviewee I would have mentally let that one go the minute I started crying.

    Sometimes you gotta know when you’re not going to get it, and if you cry that’s pretty much a guarantee you won’t be asked back.

    1. Snarkus Ariellius*

      I came here to say the same thing.  It’s one thing for the interviewer to act inappropriately; it’s quite another for you to respond to her by acting inappropriate yourself.

      I also work in the mental health field, and I can assure you that if you’re so quick to cry at a pushy salesperson/interviewer, then you’re not going to do much better when you’re faced with something much, much more critical.  Believe me, the autism field is chock full of critical, sensitive, negative, and personal stuff.

      You’re certainly entitled to your feelings, but you have to be able to harness them and let go when the time is more appropriate.

      1. some1*

        Not to pile on, because the crying has been addressed and I think the LW knows it probably really hurt her, but I think Snarkus makes a really good point.

        It’s really noble of the LW to want to work with autistic children but I wonder if she has a realistic view of how stressful that can be. And maybe she handles stress wonderfully 99% of the time — the problem is, her interview is one of the only pieces of live communication her interviewer had to go on.

        1. fposte*

          My guess is that it’s tied to what she was saying in her post here–she’s really trying to get out of a job that she hates and into a field that’s meaningful, so she saw that hope going up in smoke in that moment. It could indicate something about responses to stress generally, but it’s also one of those conceptual moments that can make even the stoic weep.

          1. some1*

            I guess what makes me pause re: the crying is that on initial reading I thought the LW was conceding why she may have been rejected for the job, but now I am wondering if she included as, “Look how mean this lady was for trying to get me to buy make-up; she made me cry!” — there didn’t seem to be any awareness that the crying alone (even when someone is justifiably upset) could kill your interview and chance at getting hired.l

            1. fposte*

              That’s possible too. I do sometimes see people describing times they cried as if it were a measure of the situation, thinking it proves just how bad they were being treated rather just something they did in response.

      2. Anx*

        I cannot believe someone in the mental health field could be so ignorant about the diversity of our reactions to stress and negative emotions.

        I have never cried at work (including sexual assault incidents, being berated, being sexually harassed, during tests [while other servers did break down in the back room], while overwhelmed, watching kids go to the ER) , but I have had to fight back the crying urge when being laid off. I haven’t cried at receiving bad grades or losing a scholarship, but I did cry when I couldn’t get an online paper submitted. I didn’t cry when my dog died, but I cannot watch the Fox and Hound without bawling.

        And when I have felt the precursors to crying at work (hot cheeks, lumpy throat), it’s never been because of serious emotional issues like the assaults, medical emergencies, mental breakdowns, etc.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      While I can see your point, our OP has a degree in psychology. This puts her in a good spot for figuring what happened and why, then taking steps to lessen the pressures that triggered the emotions.

      1. Bea W*

        LOL not really. There is little if any education on that in undergrad psych. It’s mostly theory and research focus.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I agree, and I’m a crier. Once that happened, I thought the LW would have moved on. I feel for her, and I hope she sees this as something to work on– emotions are good to have but not always appropriate to express.

  18. JournalistWife*

    I’m not sure exactly what the funding nature of this place is — OP described it as a “facility” that helps autistic children — but I am a state employee and I can tell you any organization that receives any state funds or grants (at least in the state where I work) is prohibited every which way from engaging in something like this. Like, that hiring manager could go to prison. And I would not be surprised if there was some amount of government funding involved in a facility that helps the mentally disabled. If that *is* the case, OP could certainly be a whistleblower (involves contacting the state ethics commission or office of inspector general, etc.) instead of the company itself. There are often monetary benefits to that, and if OP already isn’t working at this organization, the impact of being a whistleblower could be minimal in terms of hireability elsewhere.

    1. fposte*

      I work for a state government myself, and while this is definitely a no-no, I can’t imagine anybody here being sent to jail for inappropriate makeup pushing. Mostly this would be just termination.

      1. JournalistWife*

        Yeah, my state always threatens the “up-to-prison-time” thing but in reality it’s more like fines/terminations. We’re too busy sending all of our governors to the prison, one-after-another, though. No room for makeup pushers. Haha. The important point, though, is that perceived conflict of interest IS conflict of interest if the state is involved in any way, so whether or not she was a competitive candidate for the position, the act of this hiring manager was unethical, and if the organization gets any sort of government funding, this becomes far more big a deal than if it were just a private company. Hiring Manager probably did that to all 12 candidates to see how many would fall for this quid pro quo stunt, figuring it wouldn’t hurt to pad her mascara and/or pyramid-marketing revenue while on the clock at the other job.

        1. fposte*

          Oh, we’re in the same state, I think. Maybe you’ve even received the same exciting ethics training I have that tells you who you’d have to call in a case like this.

          And I bet you’re right that the HM tried this on everybody. MLM warps the brain.

          1. JournalistWife*

            Yep, sounds like we’re from the same neck of the woods. At least they finally stopped timing us on how long each question took to answer to make sure we were reading it. That was so annoying. If you’re a fast reader, you had to stop and take coffee/bathroom breaks while the timer was running to make sure it “took long enough” to finish the test.

  19. Gene*

    I have a go-to response to all MLM folks. “I’m sorry, I buy all my $product from my friend X. But thanks for the offer.”

    But in this case, bullet dodged.

    1. Jamie*

      OMG cats ice dancing! Cutest avatar ever. I made a audible squee when I saw this.

      And nice tip about dodging MLM bullets when you care about not offending them. I never get asked because they always start out with “have you heard of …” and I reply with a comment about it being an MLM scheme. Kills the conversation right there – but then it’s never been anyone where I cared about retaining good will.

  20. Episkey*

    There are some awful nonprofits out there. I would not have much confidence in this one not being one of them.

    When I first graduated with my masters in psych I interviewed at a similar org that worked with adults with developmental disabilities. They put me through 3 long interviews, and the last one was with the ED. It was clear from the very beginning of the interview she thought I didn’t have enough experience (I didn’t, I had just graduated, but it was an entry-level position), and she was fairly condescending to me. They also wanted me to spend some time with the current caseworkers, with the idea being that I would get to talk to them and gather more info about the job. When the HR person walked me in the room, one caseworker angrily muttered, “I don’t have time for this!” and promptly left the room. No one else would talk to me.

    I didn’t get the job, and wasn’t surprised. I saw the position advertised again after a couple months. Bullet dodged. Be grateful, lol.

  21. A*

    Would the OP have been happy with the abysmal pay? If your interviewer brings up her side gig right after the end of the interview and tries to sell stuff to you, clearly the organization isn’t paying enough for the position or the interviewer’s position. The difficulty of the job plus the low pay would have resulted in burnout that much sooner.

    1. JournalistWife*

      +1. Great point about the pay if even the boss is having to pull stunt like this to make ends meet. Of course, it sounds like OP wanted the job for the opportunity to help people and wasn’t overly concerned about the pay range, but still a great point for others to consider if they discover their would-be boss has to work multiple jobs.

  22. Stop crying*

    “I was devastated and appalled, and I started crying in front of her because I knew that meant whoever buys the most make-up would get the job.”

    That escalated quickly.

    1. CoffeeLover*

      That’s my favorite part. My second favorite is the line about being self-aware. Oh the irony.

  23. Interviewer*

    “I genuinely feel that I was discriminated against and do not know what to do. If I were to pursue this any further, what should I do from here?”

    Discrimination is a very specific legal term that refers to different treatment based on a protected class (age, race, sex, religion, etc.). With the info you provided here, your treatment during the interview was certainly not discrimination. If you think you have a right under some law to further consideration as a candidate, there are no laws to provide that.

    Consider when she walked you out to the car and tried to sell you mascara – that was an extended part of the interview. Your reaction gave the company additional info they needed to make a decision between several candidates. So, what would happen if you had to deal with a particularly difficult child? The expectation might be that their employees are made of a bit stronger stuff.

    From what I can see in your post and your follow up comments, you have a degree, work experience in an unrelated field, and great interview skills. There are likely many candidates who have actual experience working with children, which you did not mention having. So they may have been a much better fit for the role, no matter how good your answers were.

    I think you need to decide to move on to another organization. Likely this experience will be remembered by everyone if you apply again. And good luck to you in your job search.

    1. Snarkus Ariellius*

      Yeah I think I would feel a lot better about the OP if she acknowledged that the crying wasn’t okay and she learned from it.

    2. Zillah*

      This. Experience working with kids, especially special needs kids, is often going to trump a degree. That’s especially true if the OP’s degree is undergrad rather than grad and/or if there was no particular emphasis on child psychology/autism. I have lots of sympathy for the OP, but as someone with an undergrad in general psych, the degree didn’t prepare me to work with special needs kids. At all. And when I got a job doing it pt, I lasted six months.

  24. Purr purr purr*

    I kind of see this a little differently with the crying but perhaps I’m projecting my own experiences onto OP. I’m just wondering if she was really desperate for that job, like she had been unemployed for a while with bills mounting up and/or savings dwindling and she realised that a job offer might rest on whether or not she purchased makeup. Combine disbelief and shock with the stress of an interview and I can see how tears might start. In any case, I think the OP was lucky to get away. Imagine working for a woman who pushes her rubbish MLMs on an interviewee – she must be waaaay worse to employees!

    1. Anx*

      I wouldn’t expect to get a job when I cried at an interview, but I can certainly imagine the frustration and hopeless of remaining unemployed when perhaps having had more cash would have eliminated an obstacle.

      It’s easy to trivialize this as crying over a MLM push, but getting hired can literally be the difference between life and death. I wouldn’t assume someone that cried in an interview at that point was emotionally fragile or unprofessional in general. On the contrary, they could be an incredibly resilient person that continues to get out of bed in the morning and is trying their best to survive.

  25. Katriona*

    It’s obvious that OP dodged a bullet here, but I also see her engaging in some serious leaps of logic that are likely to continue hurting her job search going forward. When you have your heart set on a certain job, it’s easy to picture yourself as already there and then for any obstacles to snowball in your mind into a big conspiracy against you, but I would strongly urge the OP to take Alison’s advice about dream jobs.

  26. Lisa*

    I prob would have called HR too, but not sure if I would have done it before or after they picked the hire. Prob after just in case I did get it and only if I knew this person wouldn’t be my manager. If I didn’t get it and was sure I would never want to work for this company again, then I would have HR and made a formal complaint. If I felt like I was being brushed off, I prob would have left a review on Glassdoor rather than track down someone else. Again, prob only if I never expected to work there ever. If I thought I would apply in a few years, then I would let it go cause people leave companies all the time and this bad interviewer probably wouldn’t be there in a few years.

  27. Realist 2041*

    After reading this and then the comments I must say she used your own degree against you. With the you have you should have saw through her sales pitch but she saw you as a mark and sold her products like a good sales representative would. So how can you now be upset? You allowed yourself to be bambozzled. Their are millions of polite ways to say no to a sales person. It seems you feel this was a quid pro quo situation. Had she hired you would you be offended or would you be selling lipstick in company meetings?

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