update: company offered me a job, then yanked the offer, then re-listed the position

It’s “where are you now?” month at Ask a Manager, and all December I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past.

Remember the letter-writer who received a job offer, then had it yanked, then saw the position re-listed? Here’s the update.

First, here’s a detail I didn’t think was relevant to include in the first email: When they originally offered me the job, it was through email. I responded that day thanking them for the offer and asking when they needed my firm decision by. They said the end of the week. I emailed them the next day officially accepting. It was a week later that they emailed again rescinding the offer.

Against my better judgement (and the advice of the commenters) I emailed the company and said I was happy to see they had sorted out the restructure and if they were still hiring, I wanted to throw my hat back in the ring. I fully expected to never hear from them again, but a few days later they responded saying they were happy to hear from me and asking if I wanted to meet in the upcoming week.

I was honestly shocked they wanted to meet and a little unsure of if I even wanted to meet with them, but my curiosity got the better of me and I set an appointment.

This time I met the company owner (the husband of the woman I interviewed with previously) They kind of danced around the fact that I had been there before, almost trying to refer to it as if it had been a first interview. He asked me some questions about my qualifications and told me a bit about the company and then asked if I had any questions. As politely as I could, I asked him what had happened to the last offer.

Apparently the owner took it as a huge red flag that I didn’t immediately accept the position. He said it showed him that I wasn’t serious about working with them and he made the decision to move forward with someone else at that time. (I chose not to remind him that after I accepted, they set a start date and didn’t actually tell me that they were going in a different direction until a week later.) Instead I stammered something about tying up loose ends from other interviews and thanking him for his honesty.

Then he starts saying something about maybe being to hasty the first time since the girl they hired instead wasn’t really working out and that I should “Let them know” if I truly wanted the job this time.

So I sent him an email thanking them for the opportunity but I don’t see our personalities as a match for a long term working relationship. Its pretty clear they’re looking for someone they can push around who accepts whatever’s given and doesn’t think too hard about offers. Can you imagine trying to negotiate a raise with someone like this??

Also, I don’t know how to include this detail naturally, but the man was getting his shoes shined during the whole interview. When it started he winked at me and said “Gotta keep the economy going.” Everything about him was gross and so weird that I didn’t meet him the first time before getting an offer.

It’s been about 7 months now since that whole thing went down, bringing my job search to just under 12 months and counting. At least I’ve been steadily employed during that time, but I would be lying if I hadn’t thought wistfully about what this job should have been a few times. I’m taking a holiday search break currently and hoping to start refreshed in January.

Thanks for all the advice and commiseration in the comments. It was so reassuring and cathartic to read.

Happy holidays!

{ 111 comments… read them below }

  1. Mimi Me

    He was having his shoes shined while you were there interviewing with him? It reminds me of something Boss Hogg would’ve done in The Dukes of Hazard. So gross.

    1. Jenny Next

      My mind went to Lyndon Johnson, who allegedly conducted business while, erm, “conducting his business”.

      This is a total dominance play, and you did *not* want to work there, OP!

      1. CaribouInIgloo

        Or randomly whipping it out as an intimidation tactic.
        OP’s interviewer doesn’t seem too far off.

      2. Phrunicus

        Makes the times(*) when LBJ would mess with people by taking them out in an Amphicar and then just driving straight into the lake, looking to see if they start panicking, seem tame by comparison.

        *At least once, anyway, according to “Mysteries at the Museum”

  2. BadWolf

    I know people are busy, but multi tasking during an interview is rude. But getting your shoes shined?

    Now you have a crazy dinner party story, at least!

  3. Rainy

    Oh man. I think you dodged a bullet of Brobdingnagian proportions here, OP. I’m sure it’s tough and awful to be continuing with a job search after this experience, but I think you were absolutely right about the red flags, and this workplace would be a nightmare.

    1. Jerry

      I have heard lilliputian, but that is the first time I’ve ever read/heard brobdingnagian outside of the book. Interesting.

  4. Peridot

    Wow, as frustrating an experience as that must have been, it sounds like it ultimately worked out for the best. That dude would not be a good boss.

    1. EddieSherbert

      Absolutely agree! I think you made the right call turning this one down. Everything about him just raises a ton of red flags.

  5. irene adler

    RE: “the owner took it as a huge red flag that I didn’t immediately accept the position”

    Yet you accepted the job one day later. One day. And this is the conclusion the owner makes?

    It just amazes me what assumptions folks make about others – and without anything concrete to substantiate said assumptions.

    I think you made the right move by staying away from this place.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch

      And the person who did accept, apparently immediately is not working out…after how long? It seems very fast to relist!

      1. datamuse

        I can’t help but wonder if the person who “isn’t working out” is realizing what a bad deal they accepted and trying to extricate themselves.

    2. The New Wanderer

      Pretty sure that employers ditching YOU for wanting time to think things through first is always going to work out in your favor.

      Mostly I love that OP asked how long she had to decide, they said end of the week, and immediately thought after a few hours that nope, she’s not desperate enough, on to the next person!

    3. Hannah Solo

      I’ve known places with that mindset, and on the contrary, I’ve always considered it a red flag about the company. A friend was once offered a position she never officially applied for (she had interned with the company but hadn’t yet officially applied, as she was still considering whether she even wanted the position and really hoping to be offered a position at a different company she’d applied for), and asked for time to think it over. She was given 24 hours, and within half that time was called back and essentially reprimanded over her lack of enthusiasm, told she should have been grateful and jumped at the chance to work for them, etc. and the offer was rescinded. She knew I’ was considering applying there, and immediately called to warn me. Bullet dodged for both of us!

    1. Cary

      So humiliating for the person doing the shoe shining. The owner sounds like a clueless jerk, and I’d expect to be similarly humiliated if I worked for him.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch

        He’s a POS, he’s not clueless. He is all about the class system and rank from all the OP has shared.

  6. Could be Anyone

    It sounds to me like you are very lucky you didn’t end up working there the first time. Best of luck in the new year!

  7. Tiara Wearing Princess

    Holy Hanukkah balls! Bullet dodged.

    What’s that saying? When someone tells you who they are, believe them.

    1. Totally Minnie

      OP didn’t just dodge a bullet. They dodged a cannon ball, a catapult, and an intercontinental ballistic missile. OP, I’m SO glad you’re not working for this banana pants slimeball!

  8. kittymommy

    He was getting his shoes shined??? WTH!!?? I know it’s hard not to wish that this job had been the “it” job, and to maybe start second-guessing yourself, but don’t! You definitely got out of a big ol’ messy mess there.

  9. Detective Amy Santiago

    Wow! There are so many things wrong with this that I don’t even know what to say.

    Good luck in your continued job search!

  10. Celeste

    You weren’t desperate, and I think that it was actually one of the job requirements. Don’t give this place another thought; they can’t even hire properly, so there’s no reason to think that there would have been anything good about working there. When it’s toxic on top, be scared of what trickles down.

    1. Jennifer

      Yep. Only a desperate person would work there. I have been desperate, so no judgment of the person who took the job, but they have to understand that until they change some things there is going to be a lot of turnover.

  11. Cassandra

    So, did this creep actually say “the girl we hired”? Because unless she’s underage, that’s another indication that this is Not Someone To Work For, no matter what gender the OP is.

    Respectful people do not refer to adult women as “girls” in the workplace.

    1. Yanked Offer LW

      Yes those were his words. And for context I am an early 20-something female and I met the person leaving the job during the first interview and she was a young looking female as well. He was at least 60 years old white male in a luxury industry located in a city known for catering to the rich and famous.

      1. Kali

        Side-eyeing this boss so hard right now. I think the “creepy interview invitation” answer from earlier today is probably also applicable here, LW1!

      2. R.D.

        gross. gross. gross. Everything about this dude is gross.

        I for one am glad that you reapplied. Imagine if you hadn’t and then had occasionally wondered if you missed a wonderful opportunity. Now you know that you definitely didn’t miss anything. Also, all us readers got to be horrified by your update. Good luck on you job search.

        1. Jerusha

          Well, no, to be fair, the OP did miss something.

          She missed an utter disaster.

          OP, best of luck on your ongoing job search, and glad you didn’t end up here!

    2. Decima Dewey

      I suspect “the girl we hired” didn’t work out because she expected to be paid regularly, have decent benefits, not be chased around the office….

  12. mr. brightside

    Then he starts saying something about maybe being to hasty the first time since the girl they hired instead wasn’t really working out and that I should “Let them know” if I truly wanted the job this time.

    So they re-listed the job, but still had someone in it? Does that woman know they’re trying to replace her?

    1. Alldogsarepuppies

      I once had a job, that i learned a few weeks in from a co-worker on my level, that the person i was replacing was fired THAT morning. which explains A. why they told me to “come in at noon so we can make sure everything is ready for you” and B. why they only gave me a cell phone number for contact and had all interviews after 6pm (I was unemployed and could have done durning the day)…it turns out the flags were indeed red and I did not stay long.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch

      My suspicion is she’s absolutely unaware.

      My old toxic dbag boss did this to an admin right after I left. He wouldn’t fire the guy and kept saying to give him a chance etc. I left. A few weeks later I was told by an old coworker they canned him Friday afternoon and had a new lady start Monday.

  13. Jennifer

    He was getting his shoes shined??? I laughed out loud at that one. I would feel weird about having an interview when there is someone else in the room who has absolutely nothing to do with the interview.

    I think you dodged a bullet with this one. I think it’s a red flag when employers get angry when you don’t accept their first offer, have questions about salary and benefits, or want to take a little time to think about it. They don’t seem to understand that the interview process goes both ways.

  14. The Doctor

    I hope he was actually “getting his shoes shined” — i.e. that it wasn’t a euphemism for something… else!!!

    1. Yanked Offer LW

      This made me laugh out loud. Fortunately it was a legitimate shoe shine, happening in full view.

  15. Yanked Offer LW

    A few weeks after my question ran, my roommate had a friend over for a dinner party. The friend is in the same field and looking for a new position so I ended up telling her the whole bananas story, naming and shaming the business and the owner specifically just in case she came across their posts as well. She responded mentioning that she had read a very similar story on Ask A Manager and she started explaining the advice that Alison had given. So we all got an extra laugh when I said “Yup, it sounds similar because its me!”

  16. :-)

    Congratulations, OP. You just outflew the beam of the death star!

    The shoe-shining, the part where he says that he took it as a red flag for not singing on for the job right there and then, the girl-reference instead of woman… what is this guy thinking!?!

  17. Linzertart

    Good for you for being willing to pass up an offer even though you’ve been looking for so long. I know it can be tempting to go for anything at that point but holy macaroni is this a terrible place. I’m so glad you saw it for what it is. Good luck in the new year.

    1. Hmmm

      Exactly! Except in extreme toxic environments, it is always better to leave for a new position rather than just trying to get away from your current job. Interviews are two way streets, you are interviewing the company and the position just as much as they are interviewing you.

  18. Coder von Frankenstein

    Yick. It may not have seemed that way at the time, but the guy did you a favor pulling the job offer. The new employee isn’t working out? Yeah, I’ll just bet she isn’t… where “not working out” is spelled “quit last week because her employer was utterly skeezy.”

  19. Serafina

    Bullet dodged, LW. The fact that owner took offense that you asked a perfectly-understandable question about why they rescinded your offer AFTER you accepted it warns that they expect their employees to tolerate all manner of indignity and uncertainty with a smile and a promise to keep right on truckin’ without complaint. (They want your “commitment” all right – to catch whatever they throw, be it a ball, a bucket of chum, a knife, or cess pool, and you better not EVER suggest it isn’t okay!)

    I’ve been in that kind of work environment – left it almost 5 years ago and it had a lasting effect on my mental health and professional development to this day. I’m so sorry your job search has been such a marathon, but I promise you, you are better off not being that man’s employee.

  20. The Man, Becky Lynch

    This guy is ruthless and impossible to please.

    If you took the job, you would have been used and abused. Then tossed out on your backside if you tried asking for a raise or stepped on his newly shined shoes by accident.

    He takes advantage of those “beneath” him. The shoe shining and comments confirm that.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch

      Seriously I’m imaging a “please sir, can I have some more?” tyrant situation here.

      They were playing cat and mouse asking you back after you nipped at the carrot (re-listing). They thought maybe they could get their hooks into you. Then you ran. Thank God you ran.

  21. HBucket

    Getting his shoes shined DURING an interview?! Can you just feel the entitlement emanating from him?! You dodged a bullet.

  22. Mille-feuille

    Having recently finished a three year job search (of varying intensity), I know it’s tempting to daydream about what a job “should have been” based on the description in the listing, especially if your current work reality is less than satisfying. But this one never was and couldn’t have been that! Eventually you’ll find something that IS a great fit – just like when you date someone lukewarm about you for a long time, then eventually meet someone you truly click with, who you never have to wonder if they will call to make plans, and wonder why you ever thought lukewarm person was so great. Good luck, LW!

    1. Rake

      This is exactly what I needed to hear. When people complain about their 6+month job searches I start to wonder if I’m just fundamentally unhireable. I’m very sorry you had to search for 3 years, but it’s also nice to know that sometimes smart competent people get stuck for awhile. A year is a long time but it’s not forever. I know this was a bad situation and I really appreciate all the reminders that this guy was crazy and sleazy and I’m lucky not to be there. My current situation has it’s problems, but ultimately I can afford rent and food and the occasional treat so I’m really not too bad off. And that job wouldn’t even have come with much of a raise.

  23. RoseTico

    Anyone else have the image of Ron getting his shoes shined by Andy and Ron enjoying the shoe shine too much?

  24. Observer

    At least I’ve been steadily employed during that time, but I would be lying if I hadn’t thought wistfully about what this job should have been a few times.

    You have my sympathy. But, please keep in mind when you get wistful, that what you are thinking about is a FANTASY. This actual job would not have been something you want to be in.

  25. Tysons in NE

    It is nice in life when we get the chance to revisit something in our lives and get confirmation that we did the right thing.
    Sounds like this was one of them.

    1. Marthooh

      I came down here to say the same. It’s like the Angel of Employment Opportunities stuck his head in through the window and said, “Hey, you know that job offer that got rescinded? That was actually good luck!”

    2. Yanked Offer LW

      Absolutely! I’m glad I went in the second time to because the what ifs would have haunted me forever. I feel like I was given the gift of certainty.

  26. The Tin Man

    I’m another in the chorus of saying “Thank goodness for a bullet dodged!” Or rather, their bullet just missed because you accepted the job and if they accepted your acceptance (?!) you would have been in that mess of a company.

    Also gotta love how it sounds like he brushed past the fact that you were bald-faced lied to about the “restructuring.” You would have had a much clearer picture of that company if you were told “We are revoking the offer because you wanted a day to think it over.”

    All in all, thank you from the commentariat for going back for this…fascinating interview and providing the update.

  27. MissGirl

    I had a similar experience with being interviewed by an odd duck owner. I had a job but wanted to move into something with more opportunity and in a specific location. I worked in a niche industry with a very niche position.

    The owner conducted my one and only interview, and I can only describe him as having interviewing ADD. He jumped from subject to subject, including telling me he was a realtor and if I moved, he could help me buy a house. He even showed me some listings. I didn’t see this as a red flag necessarily because the owner of my current company was also an odd duck but didn’t have much to do with the day-to-day stuff and I had good managers.

    An offer came the next week after the one interview, and I realized he would be my direct manager. The offer also stated he needed me to start in a week (offer came the week before Christmas). I told him I couldn’t start until after the New Year because with everyone’s holiday schedule, I would effectively not be giving notice. He said he couldn’t wait that long (even though he said he’d custom created a position for me). I declined.

    A few weeks later he still hadn’t found anyone (because, you know, custom position) and asked if I would take it. I declined after being blinded by red flags.

    The thing is even though I knew that would’ve been a mess (I found out later more red flags about the company), I still had regrets. There weren’t many other places to apply to and that made me stuck. I later quit that industry and started an entirely new career with better pay and options. Sometimes I wonder if I would’ve taken that job, maybe I would’ve got out sooner and found something new.

    If you’re having regrets about a job that would’ve been a dumpster fire because you don’t have a lot of options, maybe consider a bigger change than just a job. Good luck to you.

  28. His Grace

    OP, if anything, you got some closure. Best of luck on your job search.

    PS: Getting one’s shoes shined while conducting an interview? That is so wrong on so many levels.

  29. Triplestep

    I am curious if either one of you addressed the fact that they LIED to you when they yanked your offer. You accept the job in one day, which for them is a problem. They yank it one week later offering a lie as an explanation … and see no problem with their own behavior!

    1. Yanked Offer LW

      You know, that honestly didn’t occur to me. I was so stunned by his answer that I couldn’t do much more than just nod. I do remember saying “thanks for your honesty” which translates roughly to “welp, now I know what I’m dealing with and I’ll make my decisions accordingly.”

      Right before I went in, my mom asked me under what conditions I would accept another offer from them. I said probably nothing, but if they had a good story about a last minute budget constraint or needing to put the position on hold I might have considered it. I also knew the previous person was leaving to go back to school so maybe she had changed her plans. But the answer he gave…wow it never occurred to me in the slightest.

  30. LG

    Just wanted to wish you good luck on your job search! I hope there is a great manager out there, wistfully imagining someone with your exact qualifications, and planning to post that job on Jan. 2. Fingers crossed for you!

  31. animaniactoo

    OP, congrats on not being desperate, gullible, or star-struck enough to fall for that schtick. Because unfortunately, far too many people are. It’s a good thing that you’re not, and it means when you DO find something else it’s much more likely to be something that’s actually a good thing to move on to.

    But wow. I dunno if I could have kept my face straight throughout all of that.

    1. MissDisplaced

      Too true! But OP did the right thing by at least going and hearing what they had to say I suppose. So big props to her for not immediately writing it off either.

  32. Ms. Ann Thropy

    Bullet dodged. Having his shoes shined during the interview? Uck. Don’t look back. You are well rid of this job prospect.

  33. Jaybeetee

    Y’know, you could almost be thankful that all of this was SO obviously sketchy. Like this wasn’t a “great opportunity, but a couple of things seem off”, and then you’re thrown into a Nightmare on a Hellmouth. This guy did you the favour of showing you outright how awful working there would be, so you had a chance to bail. As I get older, I find myself having more appreciation for people who are just openly jerks, because at least then I know what I’m dealing with.

  34. Ms. Ann Thropy

    Bullet dodged. Having his shoes shined during the interview? Uck. And winking? Blech. Don’t look back. The job you imagine is just that-imaginary. Actually working for this creep would be awful.

  35. Marion Ravenwood

    Was this job in the Pawnee Parks Department by any chance?

    On a serious note, though, I can hear the bullet you dodged whistling by as I type. Well done on your lucky escape OP! And good luck with your job search – I hope you find something awesome soon.

  36. else

    Oh my lord, what a weird one. You made a good choice, LW! I’m pretty sure you’d have been doing another job search right away anyway if you’d taken it.

  37. LGC

    Also, I don’t know how to include this detail naturally, but the man was getting his shoes shined during the whole interview.

    I BEG YOUR PARDON?!

    This is possibly the single most bizarre sentence written this week on this site, and this is the week we discovered Jill 2: The Jillening (aka Tinder Boss). Like, it’s written in English. The sentence appears to be grammatically correct. But the words literally make no sense to me.

    Rest assured, LW, there was no way to include this detail naturally because this guy and his actions are crazypants (and apparently a 1950’s stereotype of a businessman). Although I do have to commend you for waiting until the end of the letter to spring it – it really packs a punch that way.

  38. Katie

    This just makes me think that next year there should be a Worst Interviewer of the Year survey in addition to the Worst Boss survey. What a jerk!

  39. Kimmybear

    Everything about this could be my old job except for the shoe shining. My boss usually wore sneakers. However, if he had someone shine his shoes, he would have said exactly that about the economy. You dodged a bullet.

  40. Anonandon

    When people show you who they are, BELIEVE THEM. Getting his shoes shined?!!?!?!? What. the. actual. f**k.
    Early in my career, I remember going for an interview for an entry-level HR position – this would have been about 20 years ago, so not in the stone ages, and you would think that everyone even back then would understand what sexual harassment is. The interviewer was an older gentleman (maybe mid-50’s, which to me at the time seemed ancient, now not so much). I was dressed professionally in a suit with a jacket and matching, knee length skirt. I remember him asking me to walk to another conference room which was located on a higher floor, and instead of taking the elevator, we took the stairs at his suggestion. I could literally feel his eyes on my legs the whole time I was walking up the stairs. I realized at that moment that (a) I would never work for this guy under any circumstances, and (b), I would never wear a skirt to an interview again. What a creeper.

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