is this company’s high-pressure hiring process normal?

A reader writes:

I was laid off from my job last month, so I’ve been actively looking for a new job. I’ve spent the last two weeks interviewing for a sales position with a company that has about 1,000 employees. The interview process was a face-to-face with the hiring manager, phone interviews with two other managers separately, a field ride with a rep in Boston that they would fly me in for, an interview with their VP in Ohio that they would fly me in for, and a final interview on the phone with HR.

My first interview was the face-to-face with the manager. During the interview, he asked me if I was interviewing with anyone else and I told him yes, as I was interviewing with another company. He then asked me if he offered me the job right then and there, would I take it? I said no, as I would need to know more. This was on a Tuesday.

That same week on Thursday, I did the first of the two phone interviews with a manager and it went well. The next day (Friday), I got a call at 11 a.m. from the headhunter, asking if I could do the second phone interview that same afternoon. I said no, as I wasn’t prepared and my wife and I had plans that afternoon which she had taken time off work for. The recruiter called me back and told me that I should do the interview despite my plans since I was recently laid off and it wouldn’t look good to pass on an interview when I’m out a job. I went ahead and did it and chalked it up to a pushy recruiter.

The following week, I flew to Boston for a field ride with a rep. The company paid for my flight but told me to pay for my hotel and meals. I asked the manager how I get reimbursed and he told me, “When we hire you you can expense it.” I was taken back by this, as he knew I was recently laid off and not getting paid. The rep who took me out asked me where else I was interviewing and I told him the name of the company. He replied, “I knew someone who worked there and they hated it.” I found this to be too much of a coincidence and unprofessional. After my field ride, I was at the airport and the manager called me to see how the day went. While on that call, he again asked whether if he would offer me the job right then, would I take it? I said I would have to talk with my wife but that I was excited about it.

The next day, the recruiter called me and gave me details for a flight to Ohio that Friday to interview with their VP. At the same time, she tried to get me to go a day earlier but I had an interview with another company already. She pushed me hard and asked why I couldn’t go a day earlier, and I told her why and who the company was. She immediately bashed them and told me several lies about them. I was offended as the things she said were such obvious lies. She also tried to push me to do a phone interview at 7:30 p.m. the same Friday I would be flying to Ohio and back. I told her no, as I would be exhausted.

My meeting with the VP went okay. It was at a restaurant and went about an hour and a half. We met at noon, but he didn’t eat nor offer me the opportunity to order lunch. I found this odd. Isn’t it normal that if an interviewer wants to meet at a restaurant for an interview, they buy the interviewee lunch?

I did the final interview on the phone with HR last week at 6:15 p.m. It went fine. About an hour later (7:15), the manager called me to make me an offer. I verbally accepted it but said I would need to see it in writing. He said he would send it over that night and did. He said I had 24 hours to decide. I told him I would need to talk it over with my wife. He said okay asked me, “Based on what you know now, would you accept the offer?” I said yes but stressed I needed to see the benefits and 401K, etc. The offer letter was in a Word doc and I found a grammatical error in it.

Prior to getting this offer on Tuesday night, the other company I had also been interviewing with booked me a flight out of state to meet their VP that Friday and said that if it went well, I would get an offer.

The next day (Wednesday), I called the manager back and asked him for a week to think it over. He asked me what my concern was, and I told him I had to look at other benefits options as the health insurance plan they offered wouldn’t work for my wife and me. I also had to get an SUV for this job and had to look at cars and finance options. The manager acted surprised and said this had never happened before. He said 24 hours is their policy. I said I needed more time, and he said that decision would be up to his VP and HR. He asked me if I was interviewing with anyone else, and I told him yes and I would wrap that up by Friday. He asked me to email him my reasons for the delay and I did.

That evening, the recruiter called telling me that I had to take the job that night or it would put me at risk. She said if I waited past the 24-hour deadline, they would look at other candidates. She said I could go online and buy a car in five minutes and it shouldn’t take a week to decide. She said all companies give applicants only 24 hours to accept an offer now. She also said she was doing this for me and I should take the job right now as I was out of work. She said she would get paid either way as she would place a different candidate. I told her I needed the week to decide.

Long story short, it seems this company is not very professional. When I managed, I hired many sales reps and never hard sold or constantly asked them in every conversation whether they’d accept the job if I offered it to them. One other red flag is the previous rep had left the company after only a year and a half. Also, all the Glassdoor reviews are pretty negative.

Is this how smaller companies act normally in a hiring process? I’ve worked for a couple of Fortune 500 companies over the last 10 years and I find this situation unreal. Is it standard now to only get just 24 hours to accept a job? I’ve read 48-72 is more the norm.

None of this normal. Not the insistence on 24 hours, not the telling you to put your reasons for wanting more time in writing, not the — wait, this is going to be a really long list, so let’s bullet it out. Here’s what’s not normal from this company:

  • asking in their very first interview with you whether you’d take the job if they offered to you (particularly when they’d already set up a six-step decision-making process for themselves)
  • continuing in later conversations to ask whether you’d take the job if they offered to you — if they want to know that, they can find out by, you know, offering it to you
  • pushing you to do a same-day interview without noticing, and telling you it “wouldn’t look good” not to when you’re out of a job (which I guess they think means you can’t have any other commitments while you’re unemployed, and also that you should be feeling desperate — something we see further signs of from them later on)
  • telling you they’d reimburse you for your hotel and meal expenses after you start working there, even though neither side had agreed yet that would ever happen
  • having multiple employees badmouth other places you’re interviewing
  • inviting you to a lunch interview at a restaurant and not giving you lunch
  • pretending to be surprised that you wanted more than 24 hours to think over the offer and claiming that had never happened before, which could maybe be true if you were the third person they’d ever hired but which is absolutely a lie in a company of 1,000 employees
  • claiming that all companies only give people 24 hours to accept an offer — not true, not normal, not reasonable
  • asking you to email your reasons for wanting more time, when you’d just explained those reasons on the phone — this isn’t a case where written documentation is needed to accommodate someone
  • suggesting you should buy a car online in five minutes (what?!)
  • telling you should be okay with all of this since you’re out of work, which is an obvious and gross attempt to scare you into acting against your own interests and to imply that being currently out of work somehow means that you won’t have other options (which, by the way, you clearly do)

I laughed when I got to the part of your letter where you mention that they have terrible Glassdoor reviews, because of course they do.

This company is telling you as loudly as they possibly can that they are going to mistreat you if you work there, just like they’re mistreating you while they’re ostensibly trying to woo you!

I hope that your interview with the other company went well or that you have other job leads you’re interested in, because you should only accept a job with these people if you are in truly dire circumstances, like you have a limited amount of time to pay off gambling bills before someone will beat you senseless or you feel you have a terrible karmic debt to repay.

{ 251 comments… read them below }

  1. AD*

    Alison, I LOL’ed at the last sentence of your reply.
    Such an odd way to treat prospective hires. OP, please run FAR away from the company…..there are a zillion red flags, and AAM listed the major ones.

    1. Stranger than fiction*

      Me too! And I’d be so tempted to send the bulleted list to everyone I had spoken to there.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        I saw the long bullet list and I immediately thought “Oh SNAP! Alison’s going to break it down for them!”

        1. RVA Cat*

          This sounds like kind of company that’s as blase’ about people walking around bleeding as the folks in a certain city in Game of Thrones….

      1. AMG*

        “Why did you leave your last job?”
        “I paid my Karmic debt, so I was free to pursue other positions.”

        1. Three Thousand*

          “I paid off all my gambling debts, so there was no longer an imminent threat of bodily injury.”

        1. Observer*

          Which is exactly what they were worried about, I’d bet.

          I’m glad you didn’t get sucked in.

    2. LJL*

      Oh, I laughed out loud too and got some weird looks. That’s going into the AAM canon.

  2. neverjaunty*

    Your instincts were absolutely correct, LW, for all the reasons Alison mentions here.

    When somebody refuses to give you time to think about a big decision, it’s because they know the sensible decision is to say no.

    1. MillersSpring*

      They also know that as soon as you do a bit of googling, you’ll learn that they’re a sub-par employer.

    2. calonkat*

      “When somebody refuses to give you time to think about a big decision, it’s because they know the sensible decision is to say no.”

      These may be some of the truest words ever written.

  3. Jaguar*

    I’ve never worked in sales and I know it can be a totally different beast, but this is all red flags, everywhere, constantly. A blind, crippled, dying bull could find these red flags. I know being out of work can drastically change the circumstances surrounding “run,” but run.

    1. rock'n'roll circus*

      I work in sales, and all of those things are huge red flags for me too. I wouldn’t even think about working for this place. Although, it does suck OP spent money on hotels etc with this company that he wont get paid back.

        1. Laura*

          I doubt it, since OP agreed to take those expenses on himself. The company never formally guaranteed that they’d pay him back.

      1. OlympiasEpiriot*

        Off-topic…I obviously have had too scrambled a day. I thought your user name was “rock’n’roll citrus”.

        I am using that the next time I need a user name.

    2. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

      I’m fascinated by the multiple old-school-sales tactic points in this tale. It’s a case study.

      What puzzles me is

      1) trying to pull old school sales tactics on a sales person?
      2) old school in a company of 1000? Unless they are running boiler rooms, old school is very old school and just “not done anymore”, but clearly, the culture is steeped in the old school?
      3) is the company HQ anywhere near Sunnydale/Hellsmouth perchance? Or a rip in space/time?

      Sales is my world, the world of my friends, the world of my business associates. Even the old school people left aren’t this old school! (And why on a job candidate anyway? Makes no sense!)

        1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

          Ok. This makes some sense.

          Alec Baldwin as a high pressure vampire, beating new recruits into complete submission before converted. In Cleveland.

          Other than that, I got nothing.

      1. TS*

        Yes the pulling the old school sales tactics on a sales guy is funny. What’s even more funny is I was a sales Manager for a large company for 6 years and hired reps. That position and the details came up in my interview so the Manager knew that. I also did HR consulting for 8 years and have my SPHR certification. All this is on my resume but I guess the Manger didn’t realize I know my stuff.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

          It’s gotta be that the whole company is steeped in that and they don’t know the difference.

          Weird to me because I’m close to 30 years in the sales world now and I haven’t run into this stuff (much) in so many years. Sure you still “create a sense of urgency”, for instance, but you don’t do it with artificial deadlines and high pressure and…shame? Was shame ever a sales technique? (Maybe it was, the whole your thing isn’t as good as the Jones’ next door). You don’t even *create* a sense of urgency, you point out actual urgency that exists, in order to move them along the sales funnel and not lose the sale because they didn’t understand urgency that actually exists.

      2. Lindsay J*

        I’ve gotten the hard sell before. It was for a job at a timeshare company.

        I was in sales at the time and it was kind of interesting because they pulled out all the textbook tricks. It was like being sold a car by a caricature of a pushy cars saleman.

        They pulled out a piece of scrap paper and scribbled numbers down to explain the commission structure, crossed things out, rewrote them, etc.

        Asked me if I had interviewed elsewhere and then badmouthed them.

        Appealed to my emotions in various ways (kept on calling it “my new job”, encouraged me to think how much better my life would be making that kind of commission, asked me what I would buy with my first paycheck). And told me how talented and smart I obviously was and how I would fit right in there.

        Chained a bunch of “yes” questions together.

        Asked me to rate how enthusiastic I was about the job on a scale of 1-10.

        Then asked me if I would accept the job right then if they offered it. When I said no I got the, “Well you just said you were an 8 on enthusiasm, so what’s holding you back?” Then had clearly scripted responses to my objections.

        Then I got told that if I didn’t accept the job right then, she couldn’t guarantee it would be available because she was interviewing a couple other people right after me and if any of them were offered and accepted the position on the spot then the opportunity would be gone.

        I took these all as huge red flags because if they had to sell the job this hard, something really wrong must have really been going on there.

      3. Annonymouse*

        Sounds like they’re following their ABCs

        A always
        B be
        C closing

        Always be closing.

        Especially to a prospective employee. Really show them what they’ll be doing on the job that way….. ;)

  4. Adonday Veeah*

    “She also said she was doing this for me and I should take the job right now as I was out of work. She said she would get paid either way as she would place a different candidate.”


      1. SusanIvanova*

        Because pretending to not care is part of the con – “grab the job now, because otherwise someone else will get it.”

    1. TS*

      Yes this recruiter was the worst one I’ve ever dealt with. It was so obvious to me all she cares about was getting paid for placing me.

  5. K.*

    This is nothing but red flags! Run like your house is on fire. I’d also be tempted to add to their collection of negative Glassdoor reviews about the whole process.

    1. Courtney*

      I think it would be a good idea especially before other candidates invest a significant portion of time with interviewing.

    2. Ann Cognito*

      Including the part about only getting the meals and hotel reimbursed if you’re hired!

  6. Francis J. Dillon*

    Make sure you follow up on getting your money reimbursed from the Boston trip. I really hope it’s painless, but I’m betting you’re going to have to fight tooth and nail for every penny.

    1. TS*

      I emailed the hiring Manager this morning letting know I took an offer elsewhere. In the same email I asked how I would be reimbursed.

      I have the HR directors email so if the hiring doesn’t get back to me, which so far he hasn’t responded, I’ll run this by him.

  7. baseballfan*

    Wow, it’s kind of amazing actually that they managed to make *all* these things happen where there’s no doubt that it’s a place that NO ONE would want to work.

  8. Natalie*

    Jebus Tapdancing Christ, I’m exhausted just reading that. Something is wrong with that company and you’re right to run far far away.

    1. Mander*

      That is definitely the funniest exclamation I’ve heard for a while! I’m going to adopt it into my vocabulary.

  9. Mander*

    I think you may dodge not a mere bullet but a gigantic cannonball. This company sounds totally bonkers!

    1. Jadelyn*

      Right? The OP didn’t just dodge a bullet, they dodged a nuclear missile of crazy.

  10. Joseph*

    “She said I could go online and buy a car in five minutes and it shouldn’t take a week to decide.”
    I…don’t even know that means. Like, is she using this to argue that you should make major life decisions as snap choices? Is this an analogy meant to make you think the decision to accept a brand new job is relatively small and shouldn’t require thought? Or does she really think that you can buy a new SUV instantly, so committing five years of your life to a car loan shouldn’t have any impact on your employment decision?

    Quite frankly, I’m not even sure how it’s possible to get a car in five minutes. Maybe I’m not using the right bank, but I’m 100% certain it would take longer than five minutes just to *fill out the bank paperwork* for a major vehicle purchase/loan.

    1. Natalie*

      Simpler than that, I think. The OP gave car shopping as one reason they needed a week to consider the offer, and the recruiter is countering the objection. Like they teach retail employees to do when they’re trying to sell you an extended warranty.

    2. literateliz*

      This whole thing is ridiculous, but that was the point at which my eyes fell out of my head and my brain died. Just buy a car in five minutes. Just five minutes. It’s nbd. What.

      1. alter_ego*

        I recently spent time picking out a car. I test drove a bunch, decided on the exact model that I wanted, and since it’s very popular, I had to find a dealership that had one in stock. I found one, called them, confirmed they had it, and went in that afternoon to buy it. It was 5 days from that phone call before I could actually have my car, and I went in knowing the exact model that I wanted. 5 minutes is a hilarious understatement.

        If you include the research process, and selling my current car, add another 2 weeks to that.

        1. LQ*

          Last time my mom decided to buy a car it was 2 years of looking for The One. I swear she spent more time looking for a car than a spouse. (And she did a better job on the spouse than the car!)

        2. Violet Fox*

          I bought a new car a few years ago — order it the end of July, took delivery early October. This was after spending all of the time picking out what I actually wanted.

        3. Cactus*

          Yeah, the one time I have ever bought a car (I’m fairly young, this is the car I’m still driving now), I only looked at one dealership and only test-drove three used cars, but it still took roughly a week to get everything squared away. Not five minutes.

      1. Jadelyn*

        Seriously. I had found the car of my dreams (well…my more modest dreams, anyway) a few months ago, and made an appointment with the sales guy to come in and look at it. I went to the dealership, drove it, fell in love, and immediately started doing paperwork. It still took most of the day between running back and forth to the bank and getting their approval on various terms.

      2. Elizabeth*

        I bought a new car in March…I had a quote from the dealer for their best price, a TrueCar price, (through USAA), no trade in, paid cash, and it still took 4 hours. And the car I bought was the only one I test drove.

    3. The Rat-Catcher*

      I’m sure there’s someone out there who would front the money…if you neglect to consider details such as interest rates and minimum payments.

      1. So Very Anonymous*

        OTOH, if you find that person, you may be putting yourself in a position where someone’s going to come beat you senseless if you don’t pay crazy interest right away OH WAIT THAT’S THE ONLY LEGIT REASON TO TAKE THIS JOB! hmm….

    4. OfficePrincess*

      It even takes longer than that to get a money order to buy a junker on Craigslist!

      1. ElCee*

        Or to pull out cash for an awesome old Craigslist junker in a creepy used car lot on the outskirts of town! I mean it took me at LEAST 45 min to do that.

    5. Dangerously Cheezy*

      I took a different perspective on this. To me his reason was more that he needed to look at financing options for purchasing an SUV, not needing to pick and arrange for the purchase. Most people can easily use the internet to estimate the cost of an SUV for their area and then look at the financing options they could use to pay for it… that would take me an hour at most. So I am assuming that she was trying to express that it doesn’t take you a week to look at financing options (even though 5 minutes is ridiculous, but could boil down to their frustration/impatience).

      1. Aurion*

        But even before you get to the financing options, you need to pick a car. And the process of picking a car often involves going to various dealerships and test driving the car. So a person would have to research brands, likely models, go for test drives. And maybe the OP would discover in the middle of the test drive that they really didn’t need option A, but option B is necessary, which would change what they’re willing to pay. I mean, the sports vs regular edition of the same car comes with a price difference of several thousand dollars, and that’s editions of the same car. It’s pretty hard to nail down prices (and hence, estimate financing options) without test drives and deciding on a few possible models. The actual paperwork, of course, takes longer.

  11. insert pun here*

    Sometimes when I’m on a really long flight, I like to play The Skymall Game, which is where you pull out the Skymall catalogue and go through and pick the most ridiculous thing on each page (or spread.) Anyways, if this company were the Skymall catalogue, I’d probably pick “going to a restaurant for lunch and not eating,” though “buy a car online in five minutes” is also a strong contender.

    1. Paige Turner*

      Yes, exactly! How did this work…did the VP eat before you got there? So many questions…

      1. fposte*

        And why did the restaurant let them stay otherwise?

        In my head I was the OP and defiantly ordered lunch. That would sooo teach them.

        1. Former Usher*

          A rare occasion when an Internet poster types “defiantly” and actually means “defiantly” and not “definitely”!

          1. UE*

            I…I see it spelled wrong so often that I actually converted it in my head. I actually had to go back and reread it in its original intent to see what you meant.

          2. fposte*

            Yup. “Turkey club, please, and hold the pickle.” By God, I will not be cowed.

        2. SusanIvanova*

          Yeah, there’s some really annoyed waitstaff there, and one of the cardinal rules of any kind of relationship is to watch how they treat service people.

        3. Pwyll*

          I actually had an interview in a restaurant once where we didn’t get to eat, but it was one of those ritzy hotel restaurants and the first thing Interviewer said to the waitress was that we were just going to have coffee. Then I ordered a coffee. Then he ordered nothing, and I was thrown by that.

          Come to find out he eats there 4-5 times per week and doesn’t drink coffee, and this was just a convenient place. I can’t imagine a server being okay with taking up her table without ordering anything in another scenario.

          1. MK*

            “we are here for coffee” doesn’t mean you absolutely have to order and consume coffee specifically; order juice or soda or something, order anything and don’t drink it. Occupying a table without an order was unfair to the business and rude to you.

          2. TootsNYC*

            well, maybe he tipped relatively nicely. especially if it’s the kind of place that is never completely full, it was better than nothing from that table.

            But interviews do run long…

      2. Laura*

        I’m sure the VP used it as an intimidation tactic. So manipulative and inappropriate. Also, terrible form, because when you go to a restaurant, you’re expected to actually order something.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Yeah, really. Some friends and I spent over three hours in a doughnut place on Saturday, playing Cards Against Humanity in the corner, and we kept running back and forth buying doughnuts and drinks. It would have been very rude to take up the space otherwise.

      3. Tony*


        After I left the restaurant, which was in the airport I flew into, I went to check into my flight home and get a boarding pass. After that I went back to that same restaurant and sat at the bar where the VP couldn’t see me. I saw him eating by himself. It was funny as he said he had to get going right after our interview.

        As far as not offering me lunch I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one that found that odd. The interview was an hour and a half and my flight back didn’t take off for 3 hours so it wasn’t like I was pressed for time and eating would’ve slowed me down and made me miss my flight.

        1. John*

          Such a shifty employer. And as to the car thing, I suspect they’d like you to make bad financial decisions figuring you’d work harder and have less freedom to walk away if/when you were miserable.

          (I found myself in a terrible job and, when I purchased a car that was more expensive than I should have, my employer expressed glee, saying it would make me more hungry…and, I guess, more willing to tolerate the 6 a.m. meetings he had with me! Needless to say, I was out of there in a few months….)

          1. Jadelyn*

            I swear I have an involuntary rage reaction to the word “hungry” when it’s applied to employees. It’s 110% just code for “desperate enough to take whatever we want to do to you”. Never, ever, EVER work for an employer that wants their employees “hungry”!!

            1. Cactus*

              Double-agreed. I once had a job where there was no regularity to the lunch break schedule, some days I got one and others I didn’t, and I didn’t really care as long as I had five minutes here or there to snack on something, and for a while that was all fine.
              Then we got a new manager, and she would walk around and snipe at people (well, certain people, she did have her favorites who she excused) for eating, when she knew that no one had gotten a break, that the schedule was ridiculous, and that we were all dying on our feet.
              So, literally or metaphorically: never trust an employer who wants hungry employees!

        2. Lily in NYC*

          What! This entire thing is just crazypants. I am so glad you received a better offer.

        3. Elizabeth West*

          He didn’t want to buy YOU lunch. That’s why. They didn’t want to spend the money on you–which is super, super weird.

          Unless he was paying for it himself and he knew they probably wouldn’t reimburse him, either!

    2. Adonday Veeah*

      I think “She also said she was doing this for me…” would be my top pick.

      1. Amber T*

        Right?! Listen, there are wonderful recruiters out there who do go above and beyond the call of duty. But she wasn’t doing this out of the goodness of her heart. The company has a role to fill and will pay her when she fills it. It’s a job.

    3. Lily Rowan*

      Going to a restaurant for lunch and not eating!!!! I can’t even decide where I want to put the italics in that sentence.

      That would really be the end of me.

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        Seriously, I feel so bad for the sever whose table they took up for an hour and a half.

        1. Rebecca in Dallas*

          I can just imagine a waiter stopping by every 5 minutes. “Are you ready to order? Need a few more minutes? Any questions about the menu?”

          1. ginger ale for all*

            I have had two acquaintances who are even weirder at restaurants. One brings her own food and gets demanding about service (needs another fork, etc.) and another who would go to a Tex-Mex place and order water on their busiest nights and just eat the ‘free’ chips and salsa. He expressed amazement that the waitresses wouldn’t go out with him. He was finally banned from there and was shocked about that as well.

            1. Charlotte Collins*

              Shades of “As Good as It Gets”…

              The number of people who seem unaware that restaurants are actual businesses sometimes baffles me…

            2. Artemesia*

              When I was in college we often gathered at restaurant across from campus. On one occasion one of the group ordered coffee and then pulled out his bagged lunch planning to eat it there. The owner came over, picked up the coffee, poured it out and handed the money back to the guy and asked him to leave and not return and told him he was not paying his high rent and overhead to provide him with a free picnic site.

              I cannot imagine a restaurant that would allow someone to bring and eat their own food (except perhaps a small child who is part of a large party or perhaps someone with a medical condition who actually cleared it with the manager so he could eat with a large group of people ordering). As a manager, such a person would be thrown out immediately.

              I did a lot of the planning work with a co-author in a restaurant near our office. We usually worked mornings when it was deserted and always ordered a steady stream of food including lunch when noon rolled around.

      2. Emilia Bedelia*

        Honestly, it makes a lot of sense to me.

        Clearly, these are extraterrestrial beings who have no need to consume Earth food. They’re still learning human behavior so they aren’t quite in step with our workplace norms yet. This is the only reasonable explanation that exists, in my opinion

      3. Mags*

        This happened to me last month! It was really uncomfortable. I arrived before the interviewer and ordered a water. Then she arrived….and just ordered a water.

    4. LBK*

      This is a total tangent but in the vein of The Skymall Game, you should look up “The Hater’s Guide to Williams-Sonoma,” which is an annual article on Deadspin where Drew Magary goes through the Williams-Sonoma Christmas catalogue and reviews the most absurd items. I would not recommend reading it at work because it’s stuff-your-fist-in-your-mouth-to-stay-silent hilarious.

      1. OlympiasEpiriot*

        Right. Thank you for that title. I, unlike some weak-willed people, OBVIOUSLY, can actually control myself at this.

        I think.

        I will let you know if my cubicle neighbors lob crap from their desks at me.

        1. LBK*

          If you make it through those, read the one about his daughter’s crazy Christmas wishlist too. I was crying laughing.

      2. Koko*

        My favorite line remains, from the first year he did it, when he’s reviewing an ungodly expensive table and says, “It’s just a table. The surface of it isn’t even a giant iPad!”

        That has since become my go-to complaint about overpriced things. “These sheets are $500 and they don’t even have a giant iPad built into them!”

    5. mazzy*

      I know the whole lunch must have been tense because the OP was expecting a “go ahead order something” any minute, and if there was waitstaff they were probably annoyed at them taking up a table at a peak time. OP probably also took the not ordering food thing as a sign it was going to be quick. But then it wasnt.

    6. Artemesia*

      Go to a restaurant at noon and not be invited to have a meal is the point at which I walk out the door on this one. The pushy stuff might be dismissed as ‘salesy’ but this was just nasty. If you want to interview at a restaurant and not provide food then you make the interview at 3 pm and get coffee. This is about bullying the applicant.

        1. esra*

          Right? I am a cranky, tantrumy, bitchy toddler when I’m hungry. I know this. So I don’t skip meals. This would have been the worst interview because they would have had to sit there and watch me eat.

          1. fposte*

            And in a place where there’s food and people are eating! It’d be like running the canopener over and over in front of cats at dinner time and putting down their bowl with nothing in it.

          2. Joseph*

            Yeah, when I read that, I was totally wondering: What would the VP interviewer have done if, after a few minutes (i.e., when it was clear that the VP wasn’t going to toss out “let’s get food”), OP had flagged down a server and asked for a menu?

            Like, would the VP have said straight up said “Oh no, this isn’t for lunch”? Would the VP have stayed silent and just awkwardly continued while OP was eating in front of him? Would VP have not said anything until the check came and then they’d both sort of pretend to ignore the check on the table in a game of chicken? So many ways that could have gone…all of them crazy weird.

        2. ElCee*

          So much this. I would have ogled other people’s plates lustfully and, at some point, probably snatched food off them like a feral rabbit so I doubt I would have excelled in that interview situation.

      1. The Butcher of Luverne*

        Plus the guy has just flown in and been offered nothing but peanuts and you invite him to a restaurant and DON’T ORDER, wot?

  12. pope suburban*

    Lord have mercy. That “accept now, don’t think” reminds me of nothing more than those predatory car-sales ads. Run, don’t walk, don’t hesitate, don’t think it over! Because if you thought it over, you’d probably come up with a better plan, or notice some stuff you might not want to be trifling with. I’ve certainly been desperate enough to take such a job, but I’ve also seen enough shenanigans that it wouldn’t interrupt my job search off the clock. Places like that tend to have high turnover, because they’re such miserable and irrational places to work.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      Yeah, when someone tells you not to think it over, it’s because they DON’T WANT YOU TO THINK IT OVER.

      1. neverjaunty*

        My favorite is “oh, you don’t need to read the whole thing before you sign, it’s standard.”

  13. AFT123*

    I’ve worked in sales before and there are seemingly very few sales orgs that operate in a way that wouldn’t be cringe-inducing to most people… I don’t think this behavior is super uncommon, but it is ABSOLUTELY red flags all over. Don’t go if you don’t absolutely have to.

    1. Stranger than fiction*

      I’ve worked in sales too and never seen anything like this and am counting my lucky stars.

    2. mazzy*

      Depends on company. Sales reps at my company make 30k – 80k base. I certainly wouldn’t discourage someone from a sales career, I’ve known enough sales people who make a lot of money and who were treated with the same respect as other corporate employees.

      1. AFT123*

        Oh absolutely. I would agree, and I am in one of those types of positions where we are respected and paid well, but it hasn’t always been the case. it really seems to me like there are a lot of stinker sales orgs out there, but sometimes you need to start at those places to be able to get a good feel for what environment you will thrive in, fail in, and to get experience under your belt to be able to get into an org you determine would be a good fit. I just wanted to make the point that IME, that interviewer behavior isn’t unusual but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worrisome.

    3. Laura*

      Also a former salesperson… and I can say this stuff is absolutely insane. Any good, well-established company wouldn’t even dream of doing things like that.

  14. Tau*

    My eyebrows went up so far I don’t think they’re on my face anymore. This is the Red Sea of flags, and I shudder to imagine what they’ll be like once someone is actually working there. If you can, run!

    1. Kyrielle*

      This comment is awesome.

      And I think I’m also a member of the missing-eyebrow club.

        1. Kyrielle*

          Oh MAN. *sighs* I’m directly under a fluorescent light, that can’t be good for my eyebrow…well, at least it isn’t a halogen or the like.

    2. JM in England*

      I, too, am of the school of how an employer treats applicants is a reflection on how they treat employees…………

    3. Aurion*

      Yeah, my eyebrows went up so fast I think I sprained my face. Glad to hear the OP ran far, far away.

  15. Random Lurker*

    I wouldn’t only run far away from the company, but that recruiter too. Since OP mentioned “head hunter”, it sounds like this is an external recruiter who is also engaging in high pressure tactics. I would not use her in the future to look at other job prospects.

    1. PolarBearGirl*

      Yes, absolutely. While recruiters certainly have their own angle, this sounded extremely disturbing to me. Not a keeper at all.

  16. Blue Dog*

    Sounds like they are trying to get you to close on a timeshare before you change your mind — especially the whole “if the money works would you accept now” stuff.

    1. Florida*

      Oh God, I used to work for a timeshare resort. There would be 100 sales reps in the room each with a family. Loud dance music is playing over the PA, so you have to yell to be heard. (They said it created excitement.)
      “Is there anything holding you back from purchasing today other than the money? Great. If I can make the money work for you, will you become our newest owner today? Great. Let me go get my manager and see what we can do.”
      What’s crazy is that it works! People who absolutely could not afford to buy a timeshare unit would waste $10-$20k on the silly product.

      1. Lindsay J*

        I worked for a timeshare company briefly.

        I felt like a bad person after every day I worked because I was trying to get people who did not have that kind of money to throw around buy something I knew was a shit deal.

        It scares me how much stupid sales techniques work. I worked for an Old Time Photo company for a couple years. I was the worst salesperson there. I still managed to average $100 a sale and got people to drop over $500 on photos probably on a monthly basis. My biggest sale was around $760. Nobody. Nobody. Nobody needs that many old time photos. I don’t even know what you would do with that many old time photos. But sometimes you get someone on the hook…

  17. LBK*

    Hell to the no. Not much else to say about this one. Everything about this is terrible.

  18. sjw*

    So this sounds like you’d be selling RED FLAGS!! Seriously, this must be the suckiest job interview process ever! Run, LW. You sound like a really smart and nice person. Run — hopefully straight to your new job with someone else! (and that recruiter was a tool, also.)

    1. TS*

      Thankyou. Yes I do pride myself on being really smart. I did run and got a much better offer from a class organization last Friday.

      I don’t think the Manager realized my IQ or experience even though my experience is on the resume he reviewed.

  19. Tuxedo Cat*

    Wow. I had a position essentially created for me and they were happy to give me a week to think about the offer.

  20. Bend & Snap*

    Too bad Glassdoor doesn’t have a check box for “run by assholes.”

    They’re supposed to be wooing you during the hiring process. Imagine the behavior once they’ve won you.

    1. Adonday Veeah*

      Right? It’s like dating. If they can’t manage to treat you respectfully when they’re trying to win your heart, what chance do you stand once you give them your hand in marriage?

      1. Gandalf the Nude*

        Hah! And think of it that way. If someone asked on the second date whether you would marry them if they proposed, I sure hope you’d run for the hills.

        1. Adonday Veeah*

          And ask you who else you’re dating, and bad-mouth them. And tell you they’ll reimburse you for your part of the check after the wedding. And tell you if you don’t accept their proposal RIGHTTHISMINUTE they’ll date someone else. And insist that you put your reasons for asking to think about it in writing.

          1. Gandalf the Nude*

            And taking you on a lunch date where no one eats. And telling you to blow off your friend to come on a last minute date with them. The recruiter is definitely the overbearing, desperate-for-grandchildren parent. I’m sure the OP is just toying with the company, like all those other girls. They thought you were different, OP! Oh, this has the makings of a great thriller!

        2. Annonymouse*

          I’ve had something similar happen.
          You smile politely, nod a lot all while backing slowly to the exit.

          No sudden movements. Might attack or try to try and trap you.

  21. Former Retail Manager*

    Run to the hills my friend! Alison and you were right to believe something is off. These place sounds awful.

    1. TS*

      I ran for the hills for sure. I got a much better offer from a much better company last Friday. I feel like I dodged a huge bullet here.

    1. A Non*

      I dunno, most cults start out super friendly and kind and helpful when they’re trying to suck people in. The high-pressure stuff doesn’t start until you’re already entangled.

    2. The Strand*

      Yeah, if they were going to love bomb him, I’m sure the meal would have been thrown in.

      Full on love bomb, they would have invited the guy to eat off their plates… “Oh, this caviar is so good, you’ve got to try this!”

  22. Chickaletta*

    I can’t think of a reason TO take this job. Like Alison said, unless you’re in dire desperation for a paycheck this instant, turning them down is a no-brainer.

      1. RVA Cat*

        LOL yes as the parent of a toddler I know it well!

        I’m considering changing my username to Bobgoblin….

  23. Ell like L*

    I worked for a nonprofit that used similar tactics to get people to commit early and often (I hired people in my role, and was specifically trained how to do this). The organization was awful and had super high turnover. I’m ashamed that I pressured people into interviewing or working, but I wasn’t in a great position at the time either.

    They’re using these tactics because they’re afraid if you think about it they won’t get you in the door. Run.

  24. 2 Cents*

    I admittedly skimmed the letter (OK, just scrolled past) for Alison’s advice, but when I got to “inviting you to a lunch interview at a restaurant and not giving you lunch,” WHA!?

    Run, OP, run as far away as you can! And incidentally, Glassdoor lets people who’ve only interviewed with a company leave reviews, if you can do so anonymously.

    Good luck on your job search, and I hope some place less abusive comes calling quickly!

    1. Observer*

      Or a CEO like the guy who likes to interview at 6:30 to see how you handle challenges, or the other one who tells people they aren’t getting the job to see if they will beg.

  25. TootsNYC*

    This reminds me of my friend’s story of an interview at Bloomberg.

    He was warned, “if you meet with Mike Bloomberg, he’s going to ask, ‘If I offered you this job now, what would you say?’ Say yes, enthusiastically. Don’t tell him you’d want to consider it overnight, or consult w/ your spouse, or anything. Say yes. Or you won’t get the offer we’re planning to extend. It doesn’t matter if you’re lying–just say ‘yes!’ So he did. And he got the offer. And he decided to take it.(But of course, he could have turned it down, and the people he’d been dealing w/ before that knew it.)”

  26. Linda Lou*

    The hiring tactics of this company makes me wonder if the individual, once hired, is expected to deploy the same hurry-up-and-make-a-decision-before-this-too-good-to-be-true offer expires with clients.


  27. Grey*

    Did you interview with Mitch & Murray from Glengarry Glen Ross? If you take this job, I hope you at least get the steak knives.

  28. INFJ*

    Maybe the VP didn’t eat lunch because 20 other job candidates were scheduled to cook the meal for him and the rest of management at his home ;-)

  29. Loose Seal*

    I feel so bad for the waitstaff for the table the VP took up at lunchtime. If the VP knew they weren’t going to eat, why not meet somewhere else?

    OP, run, don’t walk, away from these people. They have shown you their best side and it’s pretty bad.

    (Oh, my husband who is reading over my shoulder wants to know what the grammatical error was in the offer letter. Like was it something rushed and sloppy like they used the wrong there/their/they’re or was it an error that fundamentally changed the offer.)

    1. Tony*


      The grammatical error was small but noticeable. They used the word “you” instead of your.

      It was also in an editable word doc. I could’ve changed all the salary and commission numbers to much higher ones printed it and signed it and emailed it back to see if it would’ve got noticed. Then held them to a signed document.

      My Mom raised me well so I would never do this but it just shows how unprofessional they are.

      1. TootsNYC*

        That wouldn’t have actually worked, though. Because they’d have an email in their ‘sent’ folder that would show what they’d sent. And they’d have just fired you. Those offer letters don’t have the force of an unbreakable contract.

  30. Sunshine*

    This stuff gives me anxiety, and it’s not my life. God help me if I ever have to job search again.

  31. SusanIvanova*

    I’m in the middle of interviewing and also dealing with my upstairs neighbor’s plumbing leaking into my place; when I told the company I had to reschedule because getting everything dry before mold set in was a priority, they said “no problem, sorry to hear that!” But then this is the sort of job that’s mutually beneficial to both sides; the OP’s sounds like the kind of place to screw you out of your commissions.

  32. bob*

    I MUST know the name of this company!!!

    In addition to the cost of the hotels, etc. the OP had to eat he also went on rides with another rep so they basically got free work out him also.

    Oh my.

    1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

      I want to know the industry.

      I’m betting on home construction. It can’t be business to business, can it? (Although, I had some otherwise polished D&B sales reps doing serious old school tactics on me a few years back, like cringeworthy level old school. )

      (re ride alongs, that’s not work. if anything, it’s a drag on the work/productivity of the rep with whom they are riding along)

      1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

        mmm, advertising sales. A lot of smaller scale advertising sales still runs old school, Groupon/Val Pack like places.

      2. TS*

        The industry is medical device sales. Capital equipment laser technology to be exact.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*


          Well I don’t know from that. So, Doctor, what does it take for me to put you in a laser machine today? And I’ll sign you up right now for the rust coating. (My friend who runs a higher end car dealership stopped behaving like that more than a decade ago.)

      3. TS*

        The industry is medical device sales. Capital equipment laser technology to be exact.

  33. Pwyll*

    You should absolutely 100% TAKE THIS JOB!

    Take it, don’t sign a NDA, relay to us weekly stories of how outrageous they are, then leave in a year and write a book about it, because these people are wacko.

  34. Slippy*

    It sounds like this company is a real stinker and probably churns through people. Also it seems that the recruiter is more interested in getting paid that filling the position well. That they want you to run headfirst into a multi-thousand dollar bill and make a decision on them in less than a day should indicate this is a bad employer. Don’t just politely back out, eject!

    1. Sunshine*

      If we’re being honest, high turnover means more work for the recruiter. So, no, she probably doesn’t care about filling it well.

      1. CrazyCatLady*

        Which is why good recruiters often offer to find a replacement for free if their new hire leaves after less than six months. She doesn’t seem to be one of them.

  35. Science!*

    I had a situation when I was applying for jobs 2 years ago that reminded me of this post. I was graduating and looking for a post-doc position. I actually had had a couple interviews, one of which I was expecting a response from any day when someone sent me a post for a lab that was looking to hire a new post-doc. I applied and heard a response really quickly that they wanted me to come interview. It was a relatively local position (the next big city south of me) so I was able to arrange my schedule to go down for an interview on a Tuesday. The interview went alright. I wouldn’t say the best but also not the worst. I was left with the impression that they were uncertain of me, just as I was uncertain of them. Before I left I asked the person I was interviewing with (who was also the boss of the lab) when I might hear from and he said he had another interview later that week but he hoped to get back to me by the end of the week.

    That Thursday I had to take a half day for a doctors appointment and later in the afternoon I saw that I had missed a call on my cell phone. But I didn’t recognize the number and they didn’t leave a message. The next morning I walked the dog and came back to see another missed call (at around 7am) but still no message. About 5 minutes later I get a text message from that same number, identifying himself as the lab head and offering me the job, saying he’d sent me an email. Since it was pretty early in the morning I decided to drive into work and read the email and respond. I know I probably should have responded immediately by text just to confirm that I saw the text but at the time I thought it best to read the email first. Especially since it was so early and it was a short drive to work. By the time I got to work I had received another text informing me that I had 24 hours to respond. At work I saw that he’d sent 2 emails, one offering me the job and another (which I felt was rather terse sounding, although I acknowledge that is a very qualitative statement) saying again that he needed a response by 5pm that night or he would offer the position to someone else. I felt very rushed and pressured to commit to the position without having the time to think it through. Luckily two days before (the day after I interviewed at the iffy place) I had gotten an offer from the other position. So I declined the offer from the iffy position and accepted the other offer. I’m not sure what I would have done if the lab boss hadn’t pressured me so much. The job was intriguing and the location was great. I thought there was great potential for taking on different roles within the lab than I was used to, but I had some red flags that worried me, and I would have liked some time to think through them before making a decision. At the very least, since he offered the position on a Friday I think courtesy suggests giving me till Monday to accept.

  36. Amadeo*

    Geeze, did you interview with the car salesman I talked to about a truck a couple of weeks ago? Yikes!

  37. Jean*

    >Don’t just politely back out, eject!

    I think this just displaced “my eyebrows aren’t even on my face any more” as my favorite comment.
    Had I had this interview (heaven forbid!) I would have set an Olympic record in getting outta there. As in screeching tires, corners on two wheels, etc…

    Instead of reporting them on Glassdoor, you could mail them a poop sample with an anonymous note, “Please insert in the nearest potted plant.”

    OP, you have dodged not a bullet, nor a cannon ball, but an entire twenty-one gun salute. Keep on running. You deserve something far, far better and far, far, far away from this horrible enterprise.

    1. Audiophile*

      Now I’m curious who said “my eyebrows aren’t even on my face any more”.

  38. Troutwaxer*

    “They’re gonna send you home to mother in a cardboard box!
    You better run!”

  39. jaxon*

    It boggles my mind that this kind of thing happens in recruiting processes. The notion that you would tell a recruiter you aren’t free tomorrow for a last-second interview, only to have the recruiter demand to know what else you have planned – and then, when you tell her that you have another interview planned, to have the recruiter demand to know where – and then, when you tell her where, to have the recruiter start badmouthing the other company unprompted, and lie about them to boot – this notion is very, very confusing to me.

    1. TS*

      Yes. I was blown away by it. That behavior really turned me off to the job. I guess she didn’t realize I’m not desperate or gullible either.

  40. BeetsBearsBattlestargallactica*

    What’s a bad glass door rating? I’m curious what OP saw…. And how my company ranks (3.1).

    1. KarenD*

      For glassdoor in particular, I would never consider any numerical rating to be defacto “bad.” It’s not like an eBay feedback score where you have thousands of people completing low-stakes transactions with a very defined and narrow set of criteria (“I got/did not get the thing. It got here fast/slow. Thing is good/bad/the wrong color/fine except it’s infested with maggots.”)\

      I read glassdoor reviews very carefully and try to tease out patterns of bad (or good!) things that will give me important clues about corporate culture. The only thing I refuse to believe is a company with consistently, utterly glowing reviews.

      1. FD*

        “Instead of office chair, contained live bobcat.”

        Anyway, I definitely agree with KarenD. Any company that has lots of reviews, and all of them are glowing? They’re fakes, and the company should be avoided. But even good companies often have mixed reviews, depending on who took the time to write them.

        But it can be helpful to identify trends. For example, if a lot of people say it’s a high speed, high pressure environment, it probably is! Whether you’ll like that or not really depends on you.

        1. Anonish*

          Even then, a grain of salt is a good idea. My company is by no means perfect, but our Glassdoor reviews are super skewed because sometimes a disgruntled former employee will go on and leave three or four bad reviews all saying the same thing. We can generally tell internally because they all come in within a day or two of someone being fired, but of course someone just reading the reviews externally wouldn’t be able to tell.

    2. TS*

      There were many negative comments about how the company does things. I don’t look at scores but comments from sales people in particular.

      All the comments were negative.

  41. Rmric0*

    Wait? If you have hu of sales staff you require to own SUVs, wouldn’t you try and set up fleet pricing?

  42. Milton Waddams*

    Sound s like standard small business stuff, at least from my experience, especially if the owner is working class. Despite the threats, you usually have pretty good bargaining power with companies like that, because they are small enough that they actually need you as much as you need them.

    Compare this to larger companies where the branch office could be literally on fire and you the only person with any water for miles, but not a single person needs to care — the whole thing could burn to the ground and it won’t even be a blip on a large multi-national’s bottom line. :-)

    Taking a breezy blasé attitude to hiring usually seems to be done by either:

    a) huge companies that find it impossible to move quickly (a key hallmark being stiffly bureaucratic language and process) and have the deep pockets to eat the financial cost of even multi-year delays, or

    b) those companies where a core component of the culture is taking on the upper-class custom of always avoiding the impression that you are expending any effort, or that anything is ever serious; as though you and everyone else at the company were just rich guys doing this business as a hobby, and who certainly don’t *need* anything. :-) Sometimes businesses take this culture on because those rich guys are their target clients, other times it’s just a neurosis of the C-level staff, who maybe learned the habit in the Ivy League, where “duck work” (i.e., always looking like you are effortlessly gliding across the surface of the water while underneath you are secretly paddling furiously) is a very common social norm.

    That said, generally the more luxury you have to say “no”, the smaller the difference in elasticity between your demand for a job and an employer’s demand for your labor; if you are one of the fortunate folks with the means, turning your default answer to “no unless clearly yes” rather than “yes unless clearly no” usually improves your financial returns.

  43. Audiophile*

    Wow. I’ve had interviewers ask if I’m interviewing with other companies but usually only ONE time
    (not multiple times) and usually that’s during the second interview.

    I can’t imagine a scenario where someone would say “yes, I’d accept the job if you offered it to me right now.”

    And while most people will respond to a job offer within 48 hours, I definitely couldn’t do it if I was being pressured like that. Anytime I’ve asked for more time, I’ve been told I could have it and there was no pressure. The company make ask for time frame of when I’ll get back to them but that’s it.

  44. V.V.*

    While I enjoyed hearing how all this played out (read: aghast but not surprised), I doubt I would have played this out all the way to the end of the line the way you did OP.

    In fact, I would have conseidered bolting the second time that the recruiter got nasty. Had they been able to change their tune and surmount that, I would have refused to do the second in – person – have – to – fly – there interview with the VP until I had a concrete plan for the reimbursement (or better yet money in hand) for the first trip. That was a nasty surprise, and I feel there is a special place in hell for those that would be so cavelier with a candidate’s wallet. If they are going to be this laissez – faire with your money now when things are tight, would you really be able to count on them to be better on the ball once you are working for them?

    Any guilt tripping or hammering that resulted from that, I say, gives anyone the perfect excuse to close the door on people like these. They are not going to learn their lesson until people start walking away from their ‘awesome’ job opportunities or until they have dug themselves completely into the ground.

    There are better companies and nicer people where one wouldn’t have to deal with any of this. And next time you speak with them OP (from your new much better job), I hope you will tell them so.

  45. CH*

    TS – great updates, you made the right choice. Congratulations on the new job.

    Just out of curiosity what was the recruiters reaction when you told her you weren’t accepting the postion.

    1. TS*

      I emailed the manager on Monday and told him I took another offer. I never heard from the recruiter. If she would’ve called me I wouldn’t have answered it anyway.

  46. Fifty and Forward*

    I hope one of your other job prospects works out. These people and this company sound awful. Alison’s feedback is spot on (as always).

    Had a taste of this several years ago when I moved to Oregon without a job . I interviewed with two people at a small company and it seemed to go well. They set up a second interview with them and their CEO. He showed the telltale signs of a bully and, long story short, concluded the interview by telling me to think hard about the lowest salary I would accept to get the job!

    Amazingly, when I checked my email after the interview I had received a job offer from the only other company that had interviewed me two days earlier. Otherwise, I would have had no choice but to work for the bully. It would have been horrible, stressful, and resulted in major PTSD.

  47. pixelwhipped*


    What TV show am I thinking of where a character tried to bully others into agreeing to bad decisions by counting down from 5 in their face while they were trying to reason? ‘Cause that’s what this reminded me of.

  48. Greg*

    Alison lists all the reasons why, empirically, the OP should be wary of this company, but I think the most compelling reason was suffused throughout his letter: His spidey sense was tingling. AAM has featured plenty of examples of job seekers blowing minor things out of proportion (“The HR rep said she’d call me with an answer by Monday, but didn’t call until Tuesday. Is that a sign that the company is unprofessional?”) but in this case, it sounds like every single interaction you had with this company, at multiple meetings with multiple people, was setting off major alarm bells. Listen to your instincts.

    Also, although it probably won’t make a difference, I would give these guys feedback on exactly why you’re turning them down. Be polite and professional, but get the point across: “I’ve decided to decline the offer because the way I was treated throughout the hiring process suggested I wouldn’t be a good fit here.” Maybe if enough people tell them that, at least someone in the company will start to figure out that it’s not a sustainable approach to hiring.

  49. MightyK*

    I’m assuming you’ve hit eject – but if not, PAY ATTENTION to the red flags that are whipping in the wind during the interview process. I took a job a year wgo with a shaky start up that showed some red flags during the interview process. Flags I should not have ignored. But the start up looks fun from the outside. So I thought eh I’ll give them a chance. I’m now trying to extricate from their nda/noncompete grasp. Of course they are giving me a hard time, of course they over promise and under deliver, of course they wanted me to sell customers on features that they aren’t even close to being able to do. RUN.

  50. Khal E. Eessi*

    After all those giant red flags, the one that made me laugh out loud was meeting you at a restaurant, not eating, and not offering to buy you lunch. How awkward would that be. Ugh.

    1. TS*

      It was awkward. I kept waiting for a server to come take our order and no one did. The best part was after I got my boarding pass I went to the bar at that restaurant and the VP was still at the same table eating lunch. During our interview he said he had to leave and tend to something with a local rep rift after the interview.

      The interview was an hour and a half so it wasn’t like he held off on getting lunch in as I had a tight timeframe for my return flight home.

  51. Dan G*

    There’s an age-old adage in sales and in purchasing of all kinds, whether it’s real estate, a car or a used washing machine: “People that want you to hurry are either people that want you to miss warning signs or people that want you to make an emotional impulse decision against your better judgement”

    Any of these events alone would make me nervous, all of them together would make me stop returning phone calls.

    There MAY be an exception to this, if you have a rare skillset or something else that makes you an absolute must-acquire for the business, from the personal involvement of VP-level executives you might be really high up in their structure, I also don’t know the norm in your industry but from the way you laid it out it sounds like this much is unusual but not totally unreasonable.

    That begs the question, this is a lot of effort to go through for anyone! We’re talking hours of time from important and busy people, and to get a salesman to bring you along takes a certain amount of arm-twisting depending (most of the salesmen I’ve worked with dislike job-shadowing, because it distracts from their sales presentation and conversation)… Why can’t this company get qualified people without such a substantial outlay?

    On top of that there’s a few hidden danger signs here: They appear to be trying to cut costs, sticking you with things that are normal business expenses (hotel and travel per diem or at least meals), even their own executive wouldn’t put a meal on his corporate credit card! That is a HUGE warning that you have a company that is penny wise and pound foolish, or experiencing a lot of pressure to control costs, even at the expense of appearing rude and, frankly, bizarre.

    I’ve done sales myself, and I see a few classic sales tactics being used here: “would you take this job right now?” as a repeated question. They are setting you into a mindset of a job-offer-accepter, just like a car salesman tries to put you into “driver mode” and an insurance salesman says things like “I’m sure you’re a very responsible person that plans ahead” to put you into “planner mode” where you want to fulfill your self-image as a responsible person by taking planning-ahead actions (like buying life insurance). This is a psychological ploy as old as time.

    All their time pressure tactics, and normative tactics (all places do this now) are also a classical pressure-sales tactic.

    Then you have them creating false obligations (all that “expense report” malarkey), also a dirty high-pressure sales tactic.

    And capping it off with a subtle negative assertion (you’re out of work) that seeks to devalue your self-worth (because so much of our self-opinion is tied to our working life), hoping to make you take the job offer to relieve the stress, pressure, and anxiety they just created, or prove your self-worth to them. A trick well-known to sleazy pickup artists but applicable to any situation where you want someone to jump into a relationship without thinking about it too hard.

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