I was invited to a 300-person cattle-call interview, and now the company wants to know why I’m not interested

A reader writes:

I’m having an odd time with a company and was wondering what you thought of this process. I applied to a position on LinkedIn for a communications assistant on Friday. On Saturday at 6 am(!) I got an email asking me to schedule an interview for Monday. On Sunday I figured why not, and went ahead and scheduled myself a time for Monday on their website. The emails they sent asking me to schedule the interview and then confirming the interview were odd. They used cutesy language and, whether a joke or not, told candidates to bring donuts to the interview Monday.

I show up Monday to a large amount of people in a small waiting area. They had me fill out a form that included questions about why I was the best candidate, etc. Someone actually brought donuts, which seems like it took advantage of younger, more naive applicants. When someone finally called my name, they told me they were interviewing 300 people that day to whittle it down to the top 50 Tuesday, where they would meet for an experiential interview, get coffee, etc. The person also told me it was for a brand manager position and that I’d work my way through various roles to get there, because that’s what was required in a startup.

After the extremely short interview and being sold a different job than the one I applied for, I figured I wouldn’t waste any more time with them and ignored the email Monday night asking me to schedule another interview for Tuesday. On Wednesday I got this email:


• You apply, along with 3999 other people
• You ACE the first interview, getting into the top 20 of 100 candidates
• You fail to turn up for your experiential day with us

This literally never happens, so the manager asked me to reach out and make sure nothing horrible had happened to you that would have prevented you from coming in. Are you ok?

If there was a genuinely good reason for not coming in then please let me know today and I’ll see if the manager would consider a reschedule.

There are so many red flags here I don’t know where to start, and I almost want to keep going to figure out what the game is, but I am also just interested in your thoughts on this weird process. It’s clearly not something I want to be involved in.

“This literally never happens” has to be a lie, unless they are only inviting inexperienced and desperate candidates to their second round. People with any amount of experience are going to realize this isn’t normal, and people with options aren’t going to come back for another cattle-call-style interview.

I also love that they themselves are so desperate for candidates (despite their alleged 4,000 applicants) that they’re willing to overlook you no-showing for an interview and will “consider a reschedule” if you want to.

There are some legitimate industries that regularly use cattle calls, like retail stores or other businesses that need to hire a huge number of people at one time.

But aside from those, generally when you see a group interview it’s a sign that you’re either dealing with a seriously amateur company that doesn’t know how to hire (and won’t know how to do other things, like manage) or it’s a slimy business that’s hoping to take advantage of people without experience or options (often a multi-level marketing scheme … or door-to-door knife sales).

Part of me wants to encourage you to go through the rest of their process and report back (perhaps live blogging it for us), ideally while educating the other candidates who are there (either loudly or covertly; both have their advantages).

But really, the best thing to do here is to either ignore them (not quite as satisfying) or send a response saying, “In the future, I hope you’ll do candidates the courtesy of explaining ahead of time that what they’ve been invited for is not an individual interview, but rather a cattle call of 300 people, and for a different role than the one you advertised. I’m sure I’m not the only one who felt my time was misused and who isn’t interested in further contact with your company.”

{ 399 comments… read them below }

    1. Kes*

      Yeah, so many red flags. Also ‘you’ll work your way through various roles to get there, because that’s what was required in a startup’. (And the cattle call, and the donuts, and the this never happens to us…)

  1. New Job So Much Better*

    Live blogging would indeed be awesome, LOL. Sorry you have to deal with this.

    1. ursula*

      May I Suggest: wasting their time back with endless rescheduling and cutesy excuses, seeing how long you can keep them on the hook?

      Fair’s fair.

    2. Sun Tzu*

      I would really love to read that, too. It’d surely be interesting. If the OP has the time and inclination to do that, it might be a formative experience for him/her too.

      1. selena81*

        LW probably has better things to do, but it’s the kind of stuff that’d make a cute project for (aspiring) journalists/writers. Preferably with a proper source of income at hand: because this stuff is kinda funny if you have options, but sad when it’s about the desperate.

  2. NW Mossy*

    Ewwwwww. There’s something so… slimy about their strategy that I’m left with a very strong desire to wash my hands. More than once.

  3. Aveline*

    Don’t respond. It will be more frustrating for them.

    Besides, I am of the op9inion that if they were this inappropriate to begin with, any pushback will be regarded as you being unreasonable rather than them being unreasonable.

    1. whatwhatwhat*

      I’d be tempted to reply with something completely inappropriate like, “LOL whut u crazy?”

        1. Fact & Fiction*

          I nearly embarrassed myself by guffawing out loud at work but managed to stifle it in time.

    2. Le Sigh*

      This is some next-level negging. It sounds like someone read a Pick-Up Artist’s Guide 2 Hiring .

  4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    Is this employer American Idol? Because this entire approach sounds banana crackers unless you are a very desperate (and passionate) person without a job. Even the follow-up email raises my hackles. I don’t blame OP at all.

    Aside: I can’t even imagine being able to effectively interview and screen 300 people in a day. The most I’ve done is 15, and I was absolutely knackered as if I’d been Dementored by the end.

    1. Totally Minnie*

      Dementored is a really good word for it. I did 12 interviews in a day once, and I was so exhausted I had applesauce for dinner and went straight to bed. I can’t even imagine 300. You can’t possibly get good and consistent information on that many people. This was not an organization that’s trying to find the right person for a single job. They’re using the buckshot approach, and OP made the right decision.

    2. Karen from Finance*

      I was once interviewed with 9 other people at the same time, and I can’t have been there more than an hour. So this times 8, 80 people in a day per every 2 recruiters. If you do this with 4 pairs of recruiters, there you go.

      I’m not saying this is a good, humanizing, effective, moral, or recommended way to go about things.

    3. Wintermute*

      These are not normal interviews, they are more like basic screenings. Places that use this approach tend to be “churn and burn” outfits that figure if they hire 40 people, set a nigh-impossible quota and fire 9 a week every month they get four superstar employees. The problem comes when they’ve churned through the entire local labor pool and have a reputation in the local community that says “yeah, don’t ever apply there”.

      Or as my boss at one such place said, “you hire ’em in masses, you train ’em in classes, you kick ’em in the asses”.

      1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

        Then these companies should watch a pretty good TedTalk titled something about ignoring the pecking order at work. It starts with an anecdote about chickens and points out the problem with breeding for superstars – basically the chicken egg producer equivalent of what these “hiring” managers are doing (breeding only from those chickens who met the egg producing quota – it wasn’t clear what happened to the other chickens. Soup?)
        Without spoiling it too much, of a breeding flock level of ten chickens, only three (I think) were still alive by the end. It’s really not a good way of trying to get “superstars”.

    4. Yikes Dude*

      Oh hey, you might be righter than you know when comparing it to American Idol. Especially when they mentioned something about working your way to the job they applied for. I would not be surprised if this was for a reality show! I personally know people who thought they were going on a normal date or event and it turned out to be a casting thing.

      1. Lisa*

        Assistant Casting Director here – there is no way this was for a reality show. They wouldn’t hide it as an actual business interview (over a period of multiple days). If it was for some type of Apprentice style “job” show, they would just be open about it and not waste time, only to end up with the vast majority of people having no interest in television, just looking for an actual job. Most of the dating shows are bogus as well and planned in advance. You cannot just film someone with hidden cameras and then air it on television. A release needs to be signed for commercial use, and most casting now begins online with emails sent out to those registered with the agency.

        I’d bet a million dollars this is for one of the scammy MLM or direct sales popups. When I was in college I applied for a marketing job and had a nearly identical experience. First interview was a cattle call. I was then contacted and told they had narrowed it down and asked me to come in the next day with a group of 25 other people (only 9 showed up). They gave a loooonnnggg pitch about what an amazing opportunity this was to get in with a business that would be growing, had us individually meet with the pinky-wearing “President” in his office, and suddenly the in-house “marketing” job I had applied for had shifted to something quite different (they wouldn’t even fully explain what it was)! Needless to say, I did not come back the 3rd day and received calls and emails similar, again, to what the poster described. By then I had done additional research online. I can’t remember the main company’s name, but lots do the same thing: rent an office space and register the company under a new umbrella name (despite being affiliated/selling for the main scam company so it makes it very hard to find the affiliation), conduct large interviews with vague job descriptions, lose most applicants after the first couple rounds of interviews since they are able to sniff out something is just not right, and eventually end up with a few, easily susceptible people to sell perfume out of vans in parking lots or Tupperware sets door to door. Eventually, those people will see what’s really going on and quit (after they’ve made the company money- and often there are sign up fees!), the “business” will repeat the process one or two more times until word gets around and finally they will pack up the operation, move it to a different city or town and register it under a new name.

    1. Yarrow*

      Absolutely. And they probably only have a few actual employees. The rest are paid in options or are short-term contract workers I bet.

      1. Software Engineer*

        Mmmm…worthless stock options! Nowadays they are all electronic so you can’t even use them as toilet paper!

        1. Startup fan*

          I assure you that stock options at a startup that has an exit are far from worthless. Of course, not all startups are successful: most are not. But that is part of the calculus you make when you join a startup. If you are highly risk-averse, then no, you shouldn’t join a startup.

          1. Brett*

            Or you should have a day job and do the startup on the side. That’s how I always handled it.

          2. Artemesia*

            I know two people who worked for one day short of a year for start ups and did heroic work getting the business up and running and were fired one day short of that stock instead of salary vested. Two people, one youngish man, one middle aged women –entirely different start up businesses, both screwed out of those great stock options after doing major work. One set up the whole on line presence for an on-line business and then got hosed with ‘we will get someone to maintain it but we don’t need you anymore’. Stock options on top of decent pay — can be a windfall — but there be dragons.

            1. Startup fan*

              Most stock-options have four-year “cliff” vesting. 25% of the options vest after one year. The remaining 75% vest on a monthly or quarterly basis. So unless they were fired after one year, these startups did not offer standard vesting terms.

              1. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

                “one day short of a year” would mean they didn’t make the one year anniversary vest date.

      2. Startup fan*

        “Actual employees” at virtually any start-up will be paid in part in options. Indeed, earlier employees are likely to have more options than later ones. The use of equity incentive compensation has nothing to do with whether you are an “actual” employee versus, I dunno, a fake employee.

      3. Wintermute*

        Or commissioned. I see a lot of cattle-call interviewing for commission jobs because being overstaffed or having poor performers on staff costs you nothing if you’re only paying a percentage of the money they make you. There’s no risk to the company, practically speaking (ignoring the obvious risks of having under-trained people representing you, but in my experience they rarely think about that)

        1. selena81*

          Yeah, that’s the only kind of job where it makes business-sense to not invest in proper training or screening and just wait for the ‘winners’ to work their way to the top
          It typically takes a special kind of blindness: to ignore all the decent people who have fallen by the wayside and keep believing that *everybody* can blossom into a salesperson if they just have gumption
          (It also requires blindness at how much you are irritating most of your potential customers)

  5. fposte*

    How is this even a good use of their own time, let alone the interviewees’? 300 interviews to whittle it down to 50? I wouldn’t fund this startup.

    1. LCH*

      right? they have to be getting ready to ask their new “employees” to buy a large amount of something to resell.

        1. Gail Davidson-Durst*


          OP, if you respond, be VERY CLEAR that you’re not willing to pick up water for the event!

    2. Contracts Killer*

      Yeah, even if every interview was only 1 minute long, that’s FIVE HOURS of interviews.

      1. FortyTwo*

        Sadly, it occurs to me that you can tear through candidates quickly when youlook through the crowd and pre-judge who gets a real interview and who gets a very short fake interview, basing the decision on things like appearance or desperation. Sure, it may be illegal, but when has that stopped them?

      1. CaliUKExpat*

        I have to ask. Did you intend the murder-y pun or am I overtired and spending too much time with my twisted husband?

        1. mark132*

          If your twisted husband is coming up with great puns like this all the time, i would think it impossible to spend too much time with such a “twisted” genius.


  6. Mockingjay*

    “the manager asked me to reach out and make sure nothing horrible had happened to you that would have prevented you from coming in. Are you ok?”

    Please, please reply to this false concern with a horrible soap opera saga!

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Bonus points if you adapt something from a relatively well known source of fiction.

      Some options:
      I suddenly found myself needing to care for my deceased sister’s child.
      I fell in a hole and went a little bonkers.
      I got hit in the head during a tornado.

      1. Not Sayin' Who I am*

        I was bitten on the neck by a really cute guy and now I can only go out at night.

        1. Don P.*

          On the other hand, I’m now WAY more aware of responsibility than I used to be, so…good life experience?

          1. Jennifer*

            My uncle said that before he died. Freaky! “With great power comes great responsibility.”

      2. Kathleen_A*

        Kind of a funny story. I went out on a boat for what was supposed to be a three-hour tour. But then the weather started getting rough…

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          Legit almost used that one and then was afraid the general AAM readership was too young to get it and it would just make me feel old.

          1. SarahTheEntwife*

            I’ve never actually seen Gilligan’s Island, but I think it’s still pretty well permeated the culture ;-)

          2. Kathleen_A*

            I wondered about that too, but then I realized that I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone older than, say, 15 who didn’t have some knowledge of Gilligan. I think it’s become encoded in our DNA. Not sure that’s a good thing, mind you…

      3. SS Minnow*

        I served as first mate on a 3-hour boat tour, and the Skipper ran us aground on an uncharted desert isle with a movie star, a Professor, a really cute farm girl named Mary Ann, and a rich old fart and his wife.

      4. I Work on a Hellmouth*

        I would take “I got hit on the head” further and additionally feign amnesia. “Who are you? Do you know Steve? Why did I wake up slumped over a large bag of diamonds? Did I include my middle name on my application? Do you know what my birthday is?”

        1. Granny K*

          Preferring Bourne movies myself, I’d go with the ‘woke up with a tracker that a nice fisherman removed from my side and a bunch of folks are chasing me…gotta go!’

        2. NW Mossy*

          Based on some of your jaw-dropping tales of your actual work life, I think you could stick scrupulously to the truth and get the same reaction!

          (I totally thought of you when Mockingjay asked the question!)

      5. Alli525*

        My high school Spanish teacher retired and moved to Argentina, then promptly moved back to the U.S. less than six months later because she had LITERALLY fallen in a hole upon arrival. She stayed retired (as anyone would!) but that became our excuse for everything for the rest of my high school career. Didn’t do your homework? Got a demerit for dress code violations? Forgot to study for a test? “I fell in a hole in Argentina!”

        She also used to say she owned more shoes than Imelda Marcos, which was probably only a small exaggeration, and would occasionally reenact the “don’t cry for me Argentina” balcony moment from Evita. She was just a hoot in general.

      6. BurnOutCandidate*

        My uncle, who raised me like his own child, mysteriously vanished in the middle of his big birthday bash, leaving me to sort through his “estate,” including a gold ring that an old family friend has been saying really cryptic things about. As you might imagine with all this stress, my buddy Sam took me out drinking last night at our local pub.

      7. Creag an Tuire*

        Yesterday, the President was kidnapped by ninjas, and it turned out only I was a Bad Enough Dude to rescue the President!

      8. Anonny*

        Got lost in my wardrobe. Snow everywhere. Met a talking lion. The whole thing may have been some form of Christian allegory.

      9. whingedrinking*

        My father told me he was mad at his brother and I had to get back at him.
        A bunch of strange women told me I was going to get a promotion soon.
        My wife lost my favourite handkerchief.
        My sisters are having a fight over who has to look after our dad.
        I went to the most awkward dinner party ever.

        1. LunaLena*

          Was rehearsing for a play when my head was turned into a donkey’s head. Worst night ever.

      10. AKchic*

        I’m sorry, my dad went on a hunting trip over the weekend and didn’t come home. I had to go with my brother to go find him.

      11. RaccoonLady*

        “I’ve been reliving the same day over and over, and the only way to stop the loop was to not go to your interview! Sorry ’bout that.”

      12. Gazebo Slayer*

        Some guys broke into my apartment and peed on my favorite rug, which really tied the room together….

      13. Mockingdragon*

        I woke yesterday morning to discover that I had been turned into a giant cockroach.

    2. Amber Rose*

      Now I’m trying to write this in my head. While leaving, the LW were confronted by someone claiming to be their son! The shock made them reel into the street, where they were struck by a car being driven by their long lost twin! The twin had to sacrifice a kidney to save them, only they woke up with total amnesia! They didn’t regain their memories until reading the email!

    3. Jennifer*

      Yes, please!

      “You’ll never believe what happened to me! I was getting ready for the interview when the doorbell rang. Surprised, I answered the door without checking the peephole. There stood a person that was the mirror image of me. The person I’ve been evading my entire life. My evil twin/clone. ‘I want the job at this shady company!!” She screamed, wielding a knife that glinted in the early morning sun. ‘It’s time for me to take your life.’

      Yada yada yada, I had to interview with the police for 10 hours before they accepted I was telling the truth about everything and let me go. Joke’s one them. Hope we can still reschedule! How’s this Friday at 2?”

      1. Deryn*

        Plot twist, the evil twin works for a door-to-door knife sales company and actually just wanted an inside scoop on the hiring process.

    4. Dan*

      On the flip side: I wonder if the response: “I had a really bad hangover” would be a good enough excuse to permit a reschedule.

        1. TeapotNinja*

          …and I woke up with a strange tattoo on my face I have no recollection of having done to me.

          How’s Friday at 2pm?

      1. Helena*

        If the hangover excuse works, at least it would be definitively established that the company is running some sort of scam or MLM scheme.

    5. Jean (just Jean)*

      Shucks, my first thought was “I was abducted by aliens.”
      Optional second sentence: “But after they read your email messages they dropped me off like a hot potato! Clearly, they thought that Earthlings are too terrifyingly stupid to invade. I stood on my back porch watching as they ran up the steps to their space ship, hauled in the stairs, slammed the door, and skedaddled.”

    6. whatwhatwhat*

      I think the OP should try to sell this employer on some MLM product/scam. And be really pushy. An eye for an eye…

      (ask for donuts too!)

    7. Tangerina Warbleworth*

      “My sister’s name was announced at the reaping so I volunteered for her and had to go into this really bizarre arena and kill people. Met a cute guy!”

    8. LSP*

      Sorry. I found this giant statue thing on the street, so I made a Youtube video about it and now I’m actually kind of famous and don’t need to work any more.

      1. Who the eff is Hank?*

        I love this reference! Also, it’s probably the most believable, given that this is supposedly a startup company.

    9. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

      Just say you got “Ruprecht”-ed. OkLAhoma, Oklahoma, Oklahoma-Oklahoma-Oklahoma…

    10. Jaid*

      Oh, I took the red pill.

      (BTW, I’m sad a great Matrix reference got stolen by some yahoos…)

    11. Gingerblue*

      Look, I only came to the first interview because I was looking for the bishop’s bird stump.

      1. Mockingdragon*

        Haaa that book was awesome and I’m sure I didn’t even get half its references.

      2. Not Gary, Gareth*

        There was a wacky misunderstanding involving a riverboat, a seance, and St. Peter’s Cathedral. To say nothing of the dog!

        (My god, I love Connie Willis)

    12. Jersey's mom*

      I was out fishing with these three guys on an old boat, when suddenly this huge shark attacked the boat! It sank the boat but fortunately I finally killed the shark with a lucky shot, and it took forever to swim back to shore, and now I really need to take a nap.

    13. linzava*

      And if the saga works, ask a friend who is the opposite gender to go and “be you”. See how long it takes them to figure it out.

    14. Tertia*

      Please, please reply to this false concern with a horrible soap opera saga!

      I’m not advocating it, but responding with “Not…okay. Call 911! [thud]” would also be funny.

  7. Amber Rose*

    I got called into one of those once. It was a total scam. I just walked out. Unfortunately, one of the risks of job hunting is getting called into crap like this. :/

    1. RandomU...*

      Me too. There was a group pep rally, followed by a sales pitch, followed by the dreaded words ‘cold call’, ‘leads’, and ‘unlimited opportunity’

      I was just mad that I wasted time at it and got dressed up.

      1. Amber Rose*

        Me too. I had applied for a data entry position and they tried to convince all of us to take a door to door sales position for a water treatment system that “sells itself!” When I asked about the data entry position they said they weren’t hiring for that. I was so angry. I drove out to the middle of nowhere at night (I was young and desperate) for nothing.

        I was both angry and amused when people from that company showed up at my house the other day claiming to be from the government there to install a “free” water treatment system. Free except for the $150 monthly payment for the rest of eternity anyway. Sells itself indeed… through straight up lies. :/

        1. Fergus*

          Aflac does this all the time. They call pitching a great opportunity for sales and marketing. Aflac is the reason I took my number off my resume. They don’t take no for an answer.

          1. Sabina*

            HA! I got AFLAC sales reps banned from coming into my work place. I caught the pushy very annoying rep who was supposed to be confined to the break room sneaking into private offices when employees were elsewhere and snooping around.

            1. Josh*

              My company took the opposite approach and mandated that we attend a meeting with our AFLAC sales person.

            2. Renee*

              I handle the benefits and I’ve banned AFLAC. When I started this job I made the mistake of giving a salesperson an in, and I provided them with very basic instructions to follow in order to set up a meeting with my boss… which they ignored in favor of constantly calling me for a meeting. Solicitors that ignore very basic instructions from me don’t get further consideration. Why would I think things would get better if I hired them if that’s how the relationship starts?

        2. Vanilla Ice*

          In about 2007 or so, I got invited to a cattle call interview like this in a city three hours away. Being a recent college grad, I missed a few red flags in the job ad itself and was excited to make the trip. A day before the scheduled interview, one of their recruiters called me and said “Before you come all this way, I just wanted you to be aware that we’re interviewing 150 people, and that this is really a sales and marketing job.” I canceled the interview. (Fortunately, Amtrak tickets were refundable).

          I’m guessing the poor recruiter genuinely hated her job and felt some pity for me when she saw I was traveling from almost 200 miles away.

    2. Lana Kane*

      This happened to my husband during the recession. He had been unemployed for about a year. He got called for an interview, and the night before did some sleuthing on the company (this was around 2008, so not quite as many resources as now), and in short order found postings from people warning that these interviews were cattle calls. The awful thing is, he still considered going for a minute because he was so desperate. I told him to not go and to not cancel. They never followed up with him so they clearly expect to have no shows to this BS.

      It was incredibly disappointing, and it angers me that there are companies out there employing this clearly manipulative tactic.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Reading all these stories of people being scammed and knowing my partner has worked for some slimeball sales/centers before I came along to give him breathing room to shake out a real job this last time has me grinding my teeth.

    4. Lil'*

      There’s a few companies in my area that totally have the same set up. I applied to one on LinkedIn and got called in for an interview the next day. They also said there was a great bakery next door and the team would love it if I brought donuts. WTF????? So, then when I read the reviews on Glassdoor that it was a scam (mixed in with a bunch of great fake reviews) and cancelled. A few months later, my friend was super excited to find the same job posting and was called in for the interview. Luckily, we met up that day and when she told me about it, I warned her. She emailed the company to cancel her interview and they emailed her back all concerned asking why….We crafted up a pretty good email explaining that she looked into them and that they were a scam and she wasn’t going to waste her time going in…. absolute silence. I didn’t realize how popular these scam companies were, but the SAME BAKED GOOD SUGGESTION??? What are the odds…

  8. Detective Amy Santiago*

    Unless you are trying to fill 200 positions for a brand new business or a seasonal need, there is no reason to interview 300 people.

  9. DC*

    I want to push back briefly on the “only slimy industries use cattle calls” idea a bit. Some places in the theatre tech freelance world set cattle calls up once a year with a lot of local theatres and stages, allowing folks new to the area to introduce themselves and get lots of jobs out of it. It’s definitely a know-the-industry, but let’s not make it so people automatically assume cattle call= sketchy.

    1. Ra94*

      From how you describe it, that sounds more like a networking/jobs fair situation, though, where lots of freelancers interact with each other and multiple local theaters. (Correct me if I’m wrong!) That’s very different to one employer organizing a cattle call for one position.

    2. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      That sounds like a niche job fair. Do they make it clear there isn’t a specific job, but you can network and see what is currently and will be coming available.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      But they’re not putting up “job” openings on Linkedin and inviting you to an interview it sounds like. I agree that sounds like a job fair not just a cattle call to sell something.

    4. Lily Rowan*

      Also, Alison even says it’s not just sketchy industries, but also sometimes ones that need to hire a lot of people at once, like retail.

      1. Mystery Bookworm*

        Yeah. When I used to work summer jobs (retail and camp counselling) they were group interviews. I think the difference is that:

        A) they were structured in ways that made sense for the role (like with the counselling, we each led a group “game”)
        B) expectations were set beforehand, so we were well-aware of what to expect
        C) they were still of a manageable size (~20 people?)

        As opposed to the time I got called in for an interview for a “Marketing Specialist” only to discover that it was a group sales pitch on selling knives. It’s all about how it’s presented to candidates. Straightforward industries will be straightforward.

        1. Charlotte Collins*

          I agree that there’s a difference. I worked for the Disney Store back in the mid-90s. When setting up a store, they’d have a posting at the mall where the store would be and give a phone number. (Remember back before the internet was a big thing.) You’d call and get invited to an interview at a conference center (I can’t remember, but I think there were some questions to answer when you called). They were very clear that it would be a large, multi-person event. You went, filled out your application, and had some group interviews. Part of it was clearly to see how you interacted with other people. (Disney has this thing about customer service and friendliness – you may have heard about it.) Then you got a call to let you know if you were in or out. It was very well structured, and you always knew what the expectations were on both sides. And they were hiring about 30 people for the new store, so this was a better use of time for the company, too.

          What the OP is describing is terrible, and I would have left.

          1. Eleanor Shellstrop*

            Ooh I’m seconding this as I worked at the Disney store a couple years ago! The whole interview process is so cheesy/over-the-top (what Disney character are you most like and why??) but it makes sense in terms of the level of service they expect of you and how they want you to have a confident enough personality to stand out in a group.
            Weirdly, I also didn’t apply over the internet – they had a posting up to apply in person, so sounds like not much has changed since you worked there!
            Anyway, this 300 person cattle call sounds like madness. Even a Disney “audition” that was 10 times less than that was madness. How do you even determine who’s in the top 20 percent or whatever, when you can’t possibly assess everyone?

        2. many bells down*

          Same, I had a group interview for a drama teacher position. There were 8 of us, and we did improv. Which made perfect sense for the role, as far as I was concerned.

    5. Clorinda*

      My school district has an annual event similar to that. All the schools that need staff are in the same place so that applicants can apply to several at once rather than one at a time. Even though the schools are different, there’s only one employer, the district, so it makes sense. But I think it’s pretty easy to tell legitimate events like that apart from cattle-call scams.

      1. Samwise*

        I imagine the applicants know this in advance, however.

        And I doubt they’re coming back for — excuse me, so honored to be invited to! — an “experiential day’ (sounds like, do free work for us!)

    6. Jam Buddy*

      Yeah, as a theatre person myself, I’ve been to those type of job fairs/interviews and they’re nothing like OP described, since they’re usually for multiple positions and with multiple companies. While some people will jokingly say it’s a “cattle call”, I don’t think I’ve ever seen it officially advertised like that, though I can’t speak for the entire industry.

      1. DC*

        The one near me is literally called “Cattle Call.” Glad to hear other cities only use that as a joke! But I didn’t want people to instantly discount it on name alone, since it is DEFINITELY a different thing.

    7. Legal Beagle*

      A job fair where people can interview for multiple, specific roles onsite is definitely not what I think of as a “cattle call.” A well-run job fair can be a really great resource for people who are new to the workforce or have fewer resources for formal job hunting. On the other hand, an “interview” process with dozens or hundreds of people, no clarity about the role(s), and gimmicky tactics, is often the marker of an MLM or other scam.

    8. MsM*

      I think theatre people are more acclimated to expecting a bunch of applicants to show up at once.

      1. wendelenn*

        “God, I hope I get it. . . How many people does he need? How many boys, how many girls?”

    9. Startup fan*

      Also, some top consulting firms (like Monitor, before it closed up) use group interviews. Many investment banks have a form of a cattle call-day interview. This 300-person interview is indeed absurd, but the mere fact of having a group interview, or a day on which the firm dedicates to interviewing lots of candidates, is not inherently wrong, and it does inherently indicate dysfunction.

    10. Observer*

      Close enough. Legitimate events of the kind you describe are accurately described for what they are rather than being billed as “interview for position X”.

      As a side note – theater is not known as a paradigm of good employment, so while I wouldn’t call it “slimy”, I would say that anyone who is seriously considering emulating theater hiring and employment practices should really reconsider.

    11. Wintermute*

      I wouldn’t call that a cattle call. That’s a job fair, or an industry networking night or something like that.

      A cattle call is one employer, usually with a training class full of openings for a high-turnover position, usually in cold-call sales, call center, or even door-to-door sales. The people are usually brought in on false pretenses with a job advert that called it a “marketing” “human resources” or “customer service” role, sometimes they’ve even said it’s IT or technical support. They may have said it’s management or a management-track position which actually just means the person with the best performance finds themselves as a shift lead or other non-managerial supervisory role, usually with no pay increase but maybe a portion of a the commissions from their underlings and added cheerleading responsibilities.

    12. KP*

      The only time I had anything close to this happen was when I was a candidate tobe an RA (resident assistant — basically, a student who is paid in room and board to sort of be the floor “superviser”/in-dorm point person for students living on a college dorm floor) at a Big Ten university. It still wasn’t that bad though. They separated people into groups of about 20 to first justsee how you interacted naturally, and then had structured group conversations of some sort. They began whittling the pool of candidates down from that almost immediately I think to the one-on-one interview stage.

  10. Aiani*

    “This literally never happens”, gave me a good laugh. I interview candidates at my job and I’m respectful of people’s time and I still have people who no call/no show for interviews because that’s life and sometimes it happens. That line had to be a lie or they have never actually interviewed people before this so they have no idea how often no shows happen.

    1. Antennapedia*

      My guess is that this is a form email automatically generated for anyone on the attendance list that shows up for one day and not the second. Which means they’ve literally automated their hiring practices. Which is, for the record, garbage.

      1. Amy Farrah Fowler*

        Why are form emails garbage? Yes, sometimes situations warrant an individualized response, but if you are hiring for multiple similar positions, the email inviting them to interview, the email inviting you to a second interview, etc. are going to be largely the same, so why not use a form/template and then change as needed?

        1. Persephone Mulberry*

          It’s not the form email part, it’s the automated part that is garbage here. I just about guarantee that the second interview “invitation” went out to everyone who showed up to the first interview. Probably everyone who DIDN’T show up for their first interview got a slightly different “we’re sure you had a good reason for skipping out on us, let’s reschedule!” message. It’s one big flowchart-drip campaign. Blech.

      2. LQ*

        I’m super on board the automating everything train and think there’s lots of room to make hiring better with it. (I’ve advocated for removing names and demographics information with automation before they get passed onto hiring managers.) I don’t think it’s the automation that’s the problem, it’s the absurd hiring practice that’s the problem. I’d guess it’s a form email too (which I’m not opposed to) which lies (which I am against). I wonder if they call everyone back for the “experiential” day. (Which I’m guessing is an mlm sales pitch.)

      3. katherine*

        This was my impression. In particular, the “You ACED the first interview” bit kind of seems like a shibboleth of the MLM version of that.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*


      I’ve had people no call/no show interviews every time we hire. For Customer Service to (actual) management positions.

      I’ve had people no show after they accept the job too.

      And I’m not hiring from cattle calls. RME at the dramatics.

      1. Fergus*

        I did a no show once after being offered the job. I did it after they sent me a reprimand in an email for something they thought I did. I thought it was best I didn’t work there, and no reason to them I wouldn’t I figure they would figure it out when I didn’t show up

        1. Autumnheart*

          Just out of curiosity, what were they reprimanding you about, that they thought you’d done?

        2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          I would have never shown up either. I assume people have their reasons and just laugh it off at this stage!

    3. Decima Dewey*

      My thought is that, if as the organization claims, it’s a start-up, what basis would they have for claiming “this literally never happens.”?

    4. KP*

      Or it’s borderline fraud or an MLM scheme or something where there is no job, the point is to get tge “candidates” to pay for some sort of job placement service or something.

  11. Jennifer*

    Yeah, when I was younger I went to “cattle call” style interviews for retail jobs and call center positions. It’s not that unusual since those industries have high turnover. But this is just plain weird.

    1. mcr-red*

      I went to a cattle call interview for a retail job too when I was younger, but it was for a large store opening in the area, and it was basically – if you show up, you are guaranteed at least one interview. They had multiple interviewers at each stage – like the everyone gets an interview stage, there was a large amount of people and if they were interested, they would pass you along to another group of interviewers, and then if that one liked you, they’d send you to the final set. It was an all-day event basically, I remember getting there at like 7 a.m. and not leaving until 4 p.m. (I went through all 3 interviews.)

      1. Lily Rowan*

        I had a somewhat similar experience interviewing for a seasonal position at Macy’s. I eventually left before completing the process because I was so aggravated, and didn’t actually want the job that much.

        1. Michaela Westen*

          I don’t shop at Macy’s because they don’t have sales associates to help me. When I can find an associate, they don’t know any more about the merch than I do.

          1. BookishMiss*

            Have worked for Macy’s. There’s a reason they’re always short on staff, and it isn’t because they’re great to work for.

          2. Eleanor Shellstrop*

            Lol, it seems like the seasonal hiring practices at Macy’s are a mess. I tried to get a summer job there once during college, and made it clear on my application that I was only seeking a seasonal position. Got 5 seconds into the interview and the manager said “We don’t hire seasonal staff in the summer” and dismissed me! I wonder why they are understaffed….hmmmm

  12. Tea Earl Grey Hot*

    I would be really tempted to respond with Alison’s script, but in the same style as their email, bullet points and all.

    1. Tea Earl Grey Hot*

      (Company Name),

      • I accepted an interview request in good faith, only to discover I’ve attended a cattle call of 300 people.
      • I applied for a communications assistant position, and discover you need a different role than the one you advertised.
      • I was asked to provide donuts during an event where I am a guest in your office.

      This should literally never happen, and it causes me to question the culture of your company. Are you ok?

      If there was a genuinely good misusing candidates in this manner, then please let me know today and I’ll pass on your reasoning to the job advice column I’ve shared this experience with..

      1. Tea Earl Grey Hot*

        (but properly edit before sending) – *if there was generally a good reason for misusing candidates…

  13. Ali A*

    The HUEVOS of that email!!!

    “Are you okay?” (aka “only a tragic accident would have prevented you from coming right?” I once received a similar phone call when declining a 2nd interview at a scammy-seeming company.

    But also Alison’s suggested response is just *kisses fingers* muah – perfection!

    1. Batgirl*

      I’m Okay, but your hiring practices? Not okay, bud. I can call you bud because you tried to mooch donuts.

    1. Emmie*

      It sounds like this company is selling you a timeshare. It does not sound like a sound business.

    1. J*

      Also my thought. The language of the emails sounds especially mlm-hun-like, and they like to pretend they have exclusive opportunities.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        TL;DR: long-ago job-hunting mystery solved! — probably.

        Huh. It may have been Primerica when I went to a group interview many, many years ago. All the presenters were trying to emphasize how their type of insurance was so much better than the other stuff but they would not get specific enough to convey solid information. Despite my knowing absolutely nothing about insurance of any kind, I got the impression that they were waiting to give more details until they were sure that their audience agreed with them. It made me uneasy. I also figured that whatever it was, it was a bad fit for my skills and personality. I didn’t go back. Interesting that I had completely forgotten the name of the company.

        1. Lucy*

          If it’s like most pyramids ahem MLMs they avoid telling you the name until you’re already suckered in. You may never have known it!

        2. LQ*

          Primerica was the cattle call I dodged when I was first hunting for jobs out of college. I’m so glad that I didn’t go because I was really bad at turning down and offer and I don’t know if they’d offered me the “Job” on the spot that little tiny me would have been able to say no. Today I’d snort with laughter until I saw spots.

      2. Midlife Tattoos*

        Does Kirby still do its thing? My mom financed one of those in the 80s because it was being sold by a kid she knew.

      3. MarsJenkar*

        I never realized Kirby was a real company. When I hear “Kirby vacuum” I think of a pink puffball inhaling Waddle Dees.

      4. Bunny Girl*

        Sort of off topic but I have a personal pet peeve with Kirby vacuums and I could see them doing something like this. I used to work in law enforcement and the area I worked for required you to go to the town hall and get a background check and a permit to sell door to door and Kirby was the absolute worst about getting their sales people to do this. I called their regional office, their corporate office, every office I could think of to tell them about this requirement and they never ever listened. So then we would get phone calls up the wazoo of people complaining that these guys were going door to door, trying to get into people’s homes to demonstrate this damn vacuum. Uggggh. Most other sales people did it just fine and it wasn’t a problem.

      5. Sneaky Ninja for this one*

        I telemarketed for Kirby in high school. The husband/wife team who ran the local place were not nice people. Would you like a free rug shampoo? While you listen to sales pitch for an over priced vacuum. I made good money for a high school nights and weekend gig, though. We just went through the phone book and referrals from people who had a free shampoo.

      6. Wine not Whine*

        Primerica! I was trying to think of the name of the company. I did one of their mass “interview” sell-sessions long ago (early 90’s?) when I was young, naive, and desperately underskilled for any real job.
        I left at the first break. Lousy coffee and cheap cookies weren’t enough to make me sit through an encyclopedia-salesperson pitch that I’d dressed up for, to boot.

    2. Dagny*

      Some sort of bait-and-switch. They want those people to buy products and sell them, pay commission only, want free work, or are getting free market research.

      This is not a legitimate job opportunity. That’s the thing to remember.

    3. You dodged a bullet*

      THIS. I was reading the OP’s letter and thought “MLM MLM MLM” the entire time until Alison mentioned it herself.

    4. Lily Rowan*

      Although, don’t they usually do the bait and switch right in the first meeting? They want all 300 of you to know how amazing the opportunity (to sell whatever) is! I went to one of those, too.

    5. wittyrepartee*

      I went to something like this with Aflac, where they like… weren’t going to pay me anything but commission. But even then we’re talking 12 people, not 300!!

    6. Alton*

      Totally. Either that, or a commission-based job where they expect turnover and the new hiree has way more to lose than the company does, so they cast a wide net.

    7. Mimsie*

      Came in to say exactly this. It sounds really similar to the situation I got taken into about 10 years ago but updated with some nice modern touches (work your way up through different roles because it’s a startup, lol ok nice one)

  14. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    “Brand manager” is the biggest flag here. You may as well just get a job sign spinning, this place is not anything you want to be apart of.

    They’re a joke and pay no attention to their spam emails trying to get a response.

    1. AMT*

      Bingo. Any company that calls an entry-level position “manager” = instasketchy. Right out of college, I was a “social media manager” for about a week for a terrifically disorganized nonprofit whose founder was eventually prosecuted for fraud and barred from operating a charity.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Then I get them applying for my actual management positions and my heart is crushed. They’re not just over hyping an entry level position with a “manager” title, they fooling the decent people who do end up taking the jobs.

        You knew better than to go actually try to apply for a Marketing Manager position afterwards, right??? That was a recent hell weeding out resumes with inflated titles.

      2. Detective Amy Santiago*


        I got a job at a for profit university and my title was “Assistant Director of Admissions”. There were 15 of us on my team and there were at least a dozen teams. If only I had been smarter.

      3. Startup fan*

        “Any company that calls an entry-level position “manager” = instasketchy.”

        ^That is quite the hasty generalization. While it is unfortunate that you had a bad experience as a social media manager, that surely does not mean all social media managers have had similar experiences, or that the position is an unnecessary one. And the term “brand management” is certainly a widely-used one.

        1. We just say manager.*

          “Social media ____” isn’t the sketchy part, entry-level manager is. Depending on the particulars, assistant, specialist, or coordinator are some better alternatives for someone with little or no prior experience.

          1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

            We have Data Management Co-ordinators where I work. Except that’s a bit of a mouthful, and I’ve heard it shortened to Data Managers, because, in truth, they Manage our Data. I’ve never heard them refer to *themselves* as managers though, so there’s no self-inflating going on there.
            What bothers me is the number of people at my work who call themselves Business Analysts. You’re not a Business Analyst, Simon! You’re a Data Analyst – you use Excel to pivot figures into a budget report each month!

            (*ahem* sorry)

          2. AMT*

            I just interviewed for a utilization management position, but since it’s not a manager-level job, the title is “Utilization Management Specialist,” which I think is a bit clearer. On a related note, my wife’s office is all over the place with titles. Every single person in the art department is an art director (none of whom actually do the kind of job you’d associate with that title), with the exception of the actual director, who is “Director, Art Department” or something like that. Meanwhile, in editorial, you need 20+ years of experience to be a senior editor. I imagine that hiring managers have just learned to ignore titles by now.

        2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Over zealous use of enhanced titles is ridiculous. And I’m a super fan of startups and micro businesses. I’ve worked with many and the one’s who do best are the ones with a grasp on not over selling a position.

          1. Skavoovie*

            I don’t see “Brand Manager” as being inflated though. If the role of the brand manager is to manage the brand, it makes perfect sense. But, that may be because I am also used to having many individual contributor “managers” in my companies: Product Managers, Project Managers, Technical Account Managers, Customer Success Managers. It is not expected that any of those roles have direct reports. These titles are widely used across my industry, and have reasonably consistent duties from company to company.

            That does then leads to awkward titles like “Manager, Product Management” to talk about the people in that team that do actually manage people.

  15. That Redshirt.*

    It would probably be best for the OP to ignore the banana snacks weirdness.

    However, it would be glorious to read the OP’s documentary as they conduct an analysis to see what The Game is. *gets out popcorn*

  16. Hey Karma, Over here.*

    God, it’s like a right of passage in the modern work world.
    I got a call like the one OP writes about offering me a management position, right after I’d finished my Master’s. She’d gotten my name from Jane Smith who was recommending my undergraduate school grads. She was clearly reading a script, but I was looking to change jobs. 8 AM, 20 miles from home I found myself in an MLM real estate seminar.
    1) There was food in the office. Like a pot luck. Me: Oh, do we get lunch? No. Why? Because there’s food over there. That’s not for us. Yeah, the guy rented someone’s conference room which was possible because they were open and working on a Saturday.
    2) Me: so how do you know Jane Smith from undergrad college? Who? The person who recommended my name? What? Oh, you just pulled recent additions to Monster.com. Got it. Remove resume from Monster.com.

    1. Alton*

      I would get calls from people who would act like they were responding to an application I submitted. The first time, I sort of panicked and doubted myself–could I have forgotten about an application I submitted? Was the company that called a parent company of something I applied for? But I realized pretty quickly that they were just trying to trick me and they’d actually gotten my contact info from Monster.

      1. TootsNYC*

        you must have a crappy opening if you have to lie to people who are actively looking for work.

        1. MsM*

          They almost never have an actual opening. It’s typically an “open your own insurance franchise” type racket.

      2. Dragoning*

        Ooh, I got this recently–and I’d applied to a couple places the week before and hadn’t written all the names down or anything, so…maybe? But the email had so few details about the position, and then googling the company turned up “probs a scam” so I ignored it.

      3. Hey Karma, Over here.*

        Oh, same. And I got a voicemail, and I’m trying to listen and get the number and call back like it’s real and I’m so stressed out!

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I only recently learned Indeed was sending me resumes of people who never hit the apply button. And I’m enraged at myself being annoyed I would ask people to interview and get no response. They probably assumed we are psycho cold calling scam artists.

      1. many bells down*

        Oh lord, I have a resume on Indeed, and what Indeed thinks I am a match for is … confusing. I have teaching experience, so it calls anything with “teacher” or “instructor” in the title a “resume match.” I teach English, Drama, and Public Speaking. I do not teach violin or Pilates or quantum physics.

        Also it keeps matching me with “budtender” jobs (weed is legal in my state) which is extra bizarre because not only do I have zero interest in the marijuana industry, I don’t even have any retail experience. Like none. Zip. Nada. Making change is one of my phobias, ffs.

  17. Jaybeetee*

    Start-ups man. The more I hear about them, the less I ever want to work for one. (I don’t think many of them would want me either…)

    Also: Thousands of applicants, 300 for interviews? Exactly how entry-level is this job, and how large an urban area to “attract” so many? 4000 people applied who could even hope to be qualified to be a communications assistant? Even assuming that many applicants, they must have been awful at screening to still “short-list” 300. How many of those 300 had zero background/qualifications related to the actual role?

    (I do work in a region/industry where entry-level job postings can be flooded with applicants, especially during times of economic downturn. I can believe in some cases there are thousands of applicants, including MANY who are not at all qualified for those positions. By the time they’re actually short-listed for further consideration though, the actual short-list may be a few dozen at most, if for multiple positions. Not hundreds.)

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      LOL NO. This isn’t how startups work at all. I’m sad you got the idea this is a “startup” thing…it’s a slimey bottom feeding MLM or shady commissions only kind of job…not a startup.

    2. Rex*

      That 4000 number is totally made up. That they said “you and 3999 others” as opposed to an actual, plausible number, is the giveaway.

    3. Antilles*

      This isn’t a real start-up in the sense you’re envisioning it. They may call themselves that, but their behavior pretty clearly isn’t:
      1.) Few start-ups would waste this much time and energy with a cattle call and interviewing hundreds of people at once. When you’re only looking for a couple people, it doesn’t even remotely make sense to interview 300+ people, much less 4000.
      2.) True start-ups don’t have a long “work your way up through various roles” path, at least not early in the process. There’s only, like, a couple dozen people at the start-up if not less; it’s logistically impossible to have a path like that.
      3.) Right or wrong, most start-up founders tend to have an extremely inflated view of themselves and their company’s potential. The idea that you aren’t in love with the company and enthralled with the vision and overjoyed about how you’re going to change the world while also becoming rich and blah blah blah is usually a disqualifier right then and there…no way they’d follow up with someone who no-showed the interview.
      If I had to bet, I would guess they’re calling themselves a ‘start-up’ in the MLM sense. You’re starting your own business! You’re founding a company! You’re being your own boss! It’s not just one, but dozens of start-ups, all happening today, right here, for the low low price of…!

      1. hbc*

        As ridiculous as the whole thing is, it was your point 2 that got me most in the letter. You do not need to work your way through the “departments” (aka: one person each with a director title) to be anything in a startup, least of all a Brand Manager. Either you’re the gofer/assistant and you help whoever needs it when they need it, or there’s crap for you to do this minute in the area they’re hiring for.

      2. Brett*

        I do see some people “work their way up” in startups, but it is always something much more dramatic and rarely more than two steps, like “Our receptionist learned how to code.” ‘Oh, make her a developer.’ “And she has graphic design experience.” ‘Hello new senior front-end developer.’
        (And yes, it is almost always women that this happens to, because that is who gets under-hired in the first place in so many startups.)
        Takeaway: Every single employee in a (good) startup is treated like a potential engineer or similar high-demand position.

    4. Autumnheart*

      Most start-ups have a product or a concept, and the plan is to work at warp speed to bring it to launch status and/or sell it to a megacorp for a gazillion dollars. The scam of start-ups is that they typically low-ball you on salary, claim to make it up in future compensation with “stock options”, and work your ass off while riding a rollercoaster of unreliable funding. There’s about a 99% chance your stock options will never be worth a dime; there’s about an 80% chance you’ll be out of a job in the first couple years when the start-up loses its financial backing. (And you’ll probably discover this when your paycheck bounces.) But in the interim, at least it’s a real job that gives you marketable experience.

      What the OP is describing is casting a net among desperate/inexperienced people who will work for free until they figure it out.

      1. Kristine*

        >There’s about a 99% chance your stock options will never be worth a dime; there’s about an 80% chance you’ll be out of a job in the first couple years when the start-up loses its financial backing.

        My husband worked for 3 startups at the beginning of his career and definitely learned this lesson firsthand. After the 3rd time he accepted that he needed to work for a more stable type of company if he wanted to get out of the cycle of work for 1-2 years–>be unemployed for 6+ months and burn through savings–>repeat.

        1. Startup fan*

          You have to be particularly selective about joining a startup — not only do you need to assess usual interview-type things, like whether the culture is a good fit, but you also need to know about the startup’s business strategy and plans for an exit. If you work in the startup space you do begin to get a sense of the potential for an exit. Also, seeing which venture investors have backed a startup can shed light on how promising it is.

          No one should join a startup thinking it is like interviewing at some established mid-market business. It’s not. Tolerance for risk is part of the person you join a startup.

    5. Mimsie*

      Actually start ups have the opposite stereotype in over promoting everyone who joins. So if this were a cliche start up the role would be for VP of Marketing for someone to manage their Instagram account. *grin*

      Instead I agree with the others that this is most certainly an MLM.

  18. CCenter Human*

    We do group interviews and are not shady, though I suppose we (being a Contact Center) fall into the “hires large numbers of people at a time” camp. We do them speed date style, though, and no more than 8 candidates at a time. The candidates stay put at a table and the interviewers rotate through, asking each candidate 1-2 questions. It’s been working really well for us and cuts down drastically on the amount of time wasted interviewing people who aren’t a great fit.

    1. Phlox*

      I do a group interview hiring for a field team, with group activities and individual written interview questions. But I work really hard to not make it feel like cattle call and that candidates have places to individually shine not at the expense of other candidates. It’s great for screening for team work and the important job skills for my team, and because I’m hiring multiple people at the same time for a seasonal team, avoids much of the fellow candidates = competition feel. But it’s a format that certainly wouldn’t work for many jobs.

  19. boo bot*

    I would bet a shiny penny that the “This literally never happens!” email is a frequently-used form letter.

    1. dramalama*

      I had the same thought. I don’t know if I’m reading it with bias, but it smacks of spam email sales fakery. I.e., “Our product is so in demand that we can only accept the 1st 200 orders! We’ll keep emailing you about this for weeks though!”

        1. Decima Dewey*

          Or the ad for some security company on my local all news station. They only have enough free doorbell cameras for the first 40 callers. The first 40 callers every dang day.

    2. HoustonNotHouston*

      I was just about to comment the exact same thing – it seems like something a scammer would use – language that SEEMS genuine/casual/familiar, but is in actuality a form letter that was sent out automatically to any candidates who didn’t show up to the scheduled interview. I wouldn’t even reward them with a response.

      1. cheluzal*

        You got it.
        I would go further and guess they called everyone back (20 different people on different days) to get more free work, but I’m cynical that way.

    3. Bulbasaur*

      Ding! Too theatrical to be spontaneous, and has a definite Publisher’s Clearing House vibe to it.

      Which means they are definitely lying about “literally never happens” and probably a lot of other things as well.

  20. hayling*

    LW, I hope you write about this interview on the company’s Glassdoor page to warn other applicants!

  21. PB*

    There are so many red flags, I think this might be a parade.

    The cattle call interview is bad enough, and that’s just step 1.

    Experiential day? *shudder* This is too reminiscent of Alison’s Slate post from earlier today about using candidates for free labor. Then there’s the false concern in the follow-up email (“Are you okay?!”), accompanied by at least one lie. I can’t believe for a minute they had exactly 3,999 applicants. What a weird number. As for “This literally never happens,” the only way that can be true is if they’ve never hired before (which is very possible). There’s the too rapid turnaround time, the cloying tone, the grab for free donuts….

    If you felt like live-blogging this, I would definitely read it, but yikes. Definitely never work for these people.

    1. PB*

      Oh, and the fact that they played bait-and-switch with the job! Man, there’s so much here, I forgot that one.

  22. Falling Diphthong*

    I like the detail that you apply for communications assistant to become brand manager because that’s just how start-ups are–like a big game of Chutes and Ladders. (Or, possibly, this goes the other direction and you work your way up from brand manager to communications assistant?)

    1. Batgirl*

      Four boxes of donuts, landing on a ladder, three ACED interviews = CEO (of subsidiary; no pay included)

      1. Bulbasaur*

        Or perhaps you’d like to be an absentee director? $20 a month and all you have to do is assume personal financial and criminal liability in the (highly unlikely) event that this all turns out to be a big scam!

  23. Lillie Lane*

    What a sleazy interview scheme. I feel bad for the person suckered into bringing donuts….while they might be inexperienced, they might have thought they had to comply with the direction, otherwise they would be disqualified for not following directions.

  24. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    My only experience with “open interviews” like this is when I applied to an HR position for a home health group. It was literally the only job “interview” I excused myself from midway.

    Basically the poor woman interviewing me summed it up as my day would be doing her job. Interviewing in such a fashion. And I was over it. The 12 page application was already weighing my patience down and I realized it wasn’t ever anything I needed to be apart of.

    Trust your gut. Always trust it. Trust nobody else until they pass a basic gut check.

  25. Lobsterman*

    “When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.”

    My 2c: block the email

  26. Emily*

    The experience the LW describes is absolutely ridiculous and full of red flags, but I’m glad Allison mentioned that it can be legit for retail stores to use this approach. I went to a cattle-call style interview session (which, I should note, was accurately described beforehand) for a new Container Store location, and the whole process/day was actually pretty pleasant (even though I didn’t end up with an offer).

    1. Elspeth*

      Correct – and legitimate businesses are also not going to do a bait and switch on the position you apply for either. If you show up for an interview, it turns out to be a cattle call AND there are no positions available for the job you applied for – might as well turn the other way and go do something more productive with your day.

  27. We all scream for ice cream*

    “There are some industries that regularly use cattle calls, like door-to-door knife sales, multi-level marketing schemes, and sometimes retail stores or other businesses that need to hire a huge number of people at one time.
    But generally, with the exception of those last two examples, when you see a group interview it’s a sign that you’re either dealing with a seriously amateur company that doesn’t know how to hire (and won’t know how to do other things, like manage) or it’s a slimy business that’s hoping to take advantage of people without experience or options.”

    Wouldn’t multi-level marketing schemes (or, really, any kind of “scheme”) be an example of a slimy business?

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      She’s not validating MLMs or saying they’re not slimey.

      It’s buried a bit but only retail/similar places who have lots of spots to fill quick are the exception to the “yikes, shady AF” rule.

    2. OhNo*

      I suspect the “last two” examples were meant to refer to the “retail stores or other businesses…”, rather than MLMs and retail.

    3. Lucille2*

      For industries that do this legitimately, they generally call them “job fairs” or something similar. It’s usually pretty clear the job is entry level, the company is hiring en-masse and interviews are happening on a specific day at a location that will accommodate this type of event.

      IME, the cattle call interview format coupled with the inflated job title+description equals MLM or door-to-door sales. In my younger years, I ended up with some retail and customer service jobs through the job fair strategy. They were totally legit, but I knew exactly what I was getting into.

    4. Jean (just Jean)*

      TL;DR: Another interview story from Jean (just Jean)

      Grassroot-level political organizing is another industry that can do group interviews for on-the-ground (aka minimum wage or low wage) positions to canvas door-to-door or stand on sidewalks, hold clipboards, and accost passers-by on behalf of A Good Cause. Not knocking the organizations that hire these services, just sympathizing for the poor souls who have to earn a living this way. I did it once for a candidate in whom I believed, but on my own scheduling terms. I wasn’t sorry when the campaign season ended. P.S. Our candidate won.

      1. Brett*

        At least in that industry, canvassing is often a fairly quick gateway to other better jobs.

      2. Gazebo Slayer*

        Some of those canvassing orgs are really shady and dishonest; I’ve had friends work for them. They bait and switch on wages; their ads promise a significantly higher hourly rate than they actually end up paying. Some of the supposedly “better” jobs with those organizations aren’t much better; I have seen one which paid $26k a year for 60 hours a week, which works out to less than my state’s minimum wage. (This was the local US PIRG affiliate.)

  28. Katie the Fed*

    Um, I’m sorry Alison, but I think this should be opened up to a vote. I demand a live blog!

    But since you clearly don’t care about us enough to request, nay, DEMAND that, I’ll just say I’m glad our OP was sharp enough to see the red flags and RUN! This is so amateurish, and in such a hot job market you really can’t afford to be assclowns when it comes to interviewing. How many great candidates did this startup miss out on by treating this like a timeshare proposition?

  29. SusanDC*

    I’m begging you-liveblog or live tweet it. It would only be for a day, right? Hopefully?

  30. kittymommy*

    “Part of me wants to encourage you to go through the rest of their process and report back (perhaps live blogging it for us), ideally while educating the other candidates who are there (either loudly or covertly; both have their advantages).”

    – Yes please!!! JK, do not do that to yourself but it would be hysterical!

    1. wittyrepartee*

      At best, they’re getting dunkin. No donut factory for them. But really, I’m probably buying them hostess powdered donuts, on sale because they’re a little stale.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        I’ve been marathoning The Ranch so my mind just said, in Sam Elliot’s voice what you can do with your powdered donuts *face palm*

  31. EmKay*

    Alison has excellent suggestions, as always.

    Or – hear me out – you take a selfie of yourself giving the bird and email it back to them, text optional.

  32. dramalama*

    I had a laugh when Alison mentioned knife sales, because that’s my go-to cattle call experience, and if I EVER in my life walk into an office for an interview and see 20-30 obvious job candidates there too I’ll walk back out again before I loose another 2 hours of my life.

    I guess the real irony is that the door-to-door knife sales pitch/interview I got tricked into back then was smaller and more intimate than what LW got.

    1. hbc*

      Same here. I was actually too gullible at 19 to really understand what was going on, but I went home and was like, “So I’ll be selling knives,” my parents put a stop to that right quick.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Your parents get the win!

        I’m angry at parents who just go along with this BS. I had classmates who had parents who set up their unsuspecting parent friends to have Jr give knife demos. It’s so terrible and a cycle of terrible at that!

        1. Artemesia*

          We have been the victim of that being pushed to ‘just give Fergus a chance to practice his pitch’. We stupidly finally agreed stressing that we had more knives than we needed already and they were still annoyed we didn’t buy.

        2. My Cabbages!!*

          Yeah, my mom kind of was a “falls for MLM schemes” herself so she didn’t catch it in my case. But I am naturally horrifically introverted and the thought of actually making cold calls pretty much stopped my career before I’d wasted too much time. On the other hand, I do still have those knives. They aren’t terrible.

        3. Grapey*

          On the other hand, helicopter parenting prevents kids from learning their own lessons.

          As an older teen I thought it would be fun to join an MLM type thing for a product I liked but it was a $300 lesson after nobody I knew wanted to buy anything. My mom just said she thought it was a bad idea but “good luck”.

      2. pope suburban*

        Vector/Cutco is exceptionally horrible about this. I think every kid in my high-school graduating class got a form letter from them, trying to recruit us to sell expensive knives. I don’t think many of us fell for it, but still. It’s so predatory. They’re out there looking for people who don’t yet know better, and who many be worried about getting a job to help pay for college or cover rent.

  33. Batgirl*

    /s/ It sounds super professional to tell someone only in the top 20 finalists that they ACED (in capital letters!) their interview. That’s some quality hiring manager experience on show right there /s/

    Except that’s it’s not ‘the manager’ so who is it then? I’d contact the person who signed that email and say:

    “I’m the person who blew off the interview day, remember me?”
    “Of course…”
    “Okay what’s my name?”
    “Do you want to reschedule?”

  34. Beth*

    Once when I was young, desperate, and unemployed I attended a similar cattle call style interview for a customer service position. The difference though was at least I warned ahead of time. The owner-interviewee was an abusive jerk. He asked me about my driving record. Fair enough. Then he proceeded to berate me when I said yes, I am sure I have never driven drunk. Job paid $8 an hour. If he bad been nicer I might have taken it. Bullet dodged.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Lmfao @ “are you SURE you haven’t gotten a DUI?!” nonsense.

      Usually cattle calls are headed by super hyped robot humans trying to beg people to think they’re the best place ever. Ignore the employees they have trapped in windowless rooms, dying inside with each cold call they’re forced to make so they can have a warm bed at night.

  35. Yvette*

    I only wish it was acceptable for company names to be disclosed in these letters. I understand and agree that they really shouldn’t be but it would be interesting.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      They’re typically not recognisable by name I’ve learned. Especially if they’re running a scam claiming to be a startup.

      MLM con artists are fly by night. We could make a list but it’s ever changing. Lots of call centers are under different names than the companies they even represent because they’re contracted to these human meat markets.

  36. save yourself i'll hold them back*

    The person also told me it was for a brand manager position and that I’d work my way through various roles to get there, because that’s what was required in a startup.

    Somehow this part hits the worst for me. After all the indignities and unprofessionalism, it’s not only a different position, they’re condescending to you about how startups work and telling you you have to work your way up.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      And they’re wrong. Which makes the condescending nonsense burn deeper.

      I would love a fool to try me with “this is how startups work” malarkey. But I would have Grandpa-Simpson-gif walked out after seeing it was 300ppl deep.

      They also said she’s 20 out if 4000 when they were going for 50 out of 300. They’re a circus of nonsense.

  37. Jennifer*

    I have a feeling everyone “aced” the interview and they sent all or most requests for second interviews, knowing only a small percentage of the people who saw the circus the first day would show up. Probably very inexperienced people who don’t know any better or the desperate. Actually pretty sad.

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      “Acing” these interviews really just means you showed up and had a pulse.

      1. Amber Rose*

        I was once at a cattle call interview with around 50 people. If you could count, write numbers and read/speak/understand basic English, you got the job. I think only three or four people didn’t.

        It actually wasn’t the worst job I ever had. I only worked there for a couple months before finding something better, but it was pretty chill and the pay was a little above minimum wage.

        1. Jennifer*

          I’ve had that too, where it turned to be a real job, just not one that required a ton of effort. Sometimes those are good to get you through tough times when you need extra money coming in and quick.

          1. Amber Rose*

            It was nice. I didn’t have to interact with people or work very hard. It sounded like most people were like me, just making a few bucks until finding something more stable, so I imagine they were hiring more people every couple weeks.

        2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          That’s typical for call centers. The “throw everything at the wall and see who sticks” method.

          I hired for for a lumber processing plant and it was “here’s an application so we have a record and new-hire paperwork. You start tomorrow.” process. I also knew never to forward their paperwork to our payroll processing company until they showed up that next day because I made that rookie mistake only a couple times before I had yet another no show and months later wage garnishment paperwork from DHS that I had to do explaining they never actually worked for us after all.

  38. Catsaber*

    What bugs me is that they said you “failed” to show up for your second interview, when in fact you never actually confirmed that you had accepted a second interview. You got invited to schedule one, but it sounds like you didn’t….so…where was your “failure”? Sounds like they probably just picked a time for you and hoped you’d show up!

    1. Autumnheart*

      Some poor schmuck is probably working on a “commission-only” basis, calling back people who didn’t generate a sales lead….I mean schedule a second interview.

  39. Phx Acct, now with dragons*

    “Literally” makes me think you had.an interview with my 9 year old.

    I once wasted my time at a start up call center, and was tapped to do interviews. We really would hire 50 people at once, but it’s not like the company was looking for quality canidates. All sorts of shady things went on there, and I ran as soon as I could. You dodged a bullet.

  40. whatwhatwhat*

    YES! to liveblogging this foolery!

    And if “this literally never happens” then why have a (clearly) pre-prepared email to send to those who don’t show for 2nd interviews??

  41. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

    Knife sales was the first thought I had because I got sucked into one of them and walked out as soon as I realized what it was. I would want to respond to the email and explain why every single way of how they handled this is 100% wrong, but it will just fall on deaf ears. I’d ignore the email and consider it a major bullet dodged.

    1. Mockingjay*

      My daughter’s college boyfriend (now fiance :)) sold Cutco knives one year. He came over to do a practice sales call with my husband and me.

      That kid sold me $400.00 of knives. On a practice run. I still don’t know what happened.

  42. Light37*

    Good grief. Unless you’re auditioning for A Chorus Line or something else theater related, having 300 people simultaneously interviewing for a job sounds like a dreadful way to spend a day. Not to mention the fact that they lied to you by bait and switching the job. I’d review them on Glassdoor and move on to somewhere that doesn’t think cattle calls are the way to go.

  43. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

    I would be tempted to treat this like the spam that it is and write back:
    unsubscribe from all
    reason: bait and switch fraud

  44. The Imperfect Hellebore*

    Yeesh, there’s so much wrong with this, I hardly know where to start. The only thing I might, might have done differently in OP’s shoes is send an email after the weird on-site “interview”, saying something like “Thanks for considering me! Unfortunately, as the interview I turned up for made clear, your company is not a good fit for me, so I’m terminating my interest in this position.” (“Thanks for wasting my time.” – I wouldn’t add that last bit of course).

    If I was feeling super snarky though, and didn’t mind burning bridges (and why not burn them with this bunch of cutesy loons?) I might add “I usually prefer to be interviewed for the advertised position, as I’m sure most candidates do”.

  45. Liz*

    I had a similar experience! Senior year of college, LinkedIn ad for brand manager. A million people there; they asked about my resume for 10 min and then said they’d let me know if they wanted a follow up interview. Didn’t let me ask any questions. At 7pm the same day they call back asking if I can be in at 9am the next day… Saturday. I idiotically went. It was indeed an “experiential” thing: they sent me out with a “team” to… go door to door in the city pretending to work for one utility company and trying to get businesses to switch to the company they’d contracted with.

    I left.

    1. BookishMiss*

      Yep, been there. Though that same day on my way home, I dropped my resume at what was (and still is) my favorite job ever. So yay? I guess?

    2. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

      And there you have it. The scam job listing that really is about getting free labor.

  46. Magenta Sky*

    I don’t think “This literally never happens” is a lie so much as evidence they have no clue what the word “literally” means. Which makes me wonder if they know what other words mean, like “labor law” and “minimum wage” and “payroll fraud.”

  47. tink*

    I went to a national hiring day for a large grocery chain and didn’t feel as much like cattle (or misled) as this sounds like. They did end up hiring me for a different job than the one I originally applied for, but that was after asking me if I was okay interviewing for both.

    1. Amber Rose*

      Knowingly going into a hiring fair is a different beast than getting suckered into a cattle call.

      And it’s pretty common for large chains to do it that way, since they usually need to hire a lot of people for a variety of positions, and it doesn’t make sense efficiency-wise to schedule a bunch of interviews individually.

  48. The Imperfect Hellebore*

    Now then, I just can’t resist going through this and commenting on the most egregious parts.

    1. OP applies on Friday, and is emailed over the weekend to schedule an interview on Monday.
    To me, this immediately signals desperation and/or cluelessness on the part of the employer.

    2. Using cutesy language.
    Danger, Will Robinson! I suppose I can think of a few jobs where this would be appropriate at this stage, but the OP’s experience makes it clear that that’s not the case here.

    3. “Bring donuts!”
    Hahaha. The fact that some poor inexperienced person actually did so is kind of horrible. Especially as, as OP points out, that the person who did so is likely young and naive, and can probably ill afford to buy donuts for these fools.

    4. Interviewing 300 people that day? And they claim to be a startup? They must be an unusually well-staffed startup. And whittling it down to 50 by the next day? Someone’s working overtime, to go through 300 sets of interview notes overnight, especially considering they’re working from short interviews.

    5. “Get coffee, etc.” With fifty people? I pity the staff at whichever coffee shop these idiots turn up at. That is, if they manage to have even five interviewees in tow at that point.

    6. “Experential interview”. What is that?

    7. The person also told me it was for a brand manager position and that I’d work my way through various roles to get there, because that’s what was required in a startup. Um, no. Big fat nope on all counts with that sentence.

    8. I don’t even know where to start with the ridiculous follow-up email that OP received. Four thousand applicants? How widespread is this amazing startup? And then OP apparently “ACED” their interview, getting into the top 20 of 100? Wait a minute, I thought they were interviewing 300 that day, with 50 lucky folks getting to tag along to an awkward and annoying assault on a local coffee shop? Too bad the OP failed to turn up for their “experiential day” (again, what?)

    9. The email again. This literally never happens, so the manager asked me to reach out and make sure nothing horrible had happened to you that would have prevented you from coming in. Are you ok? If there was a genuinely good reason for not coming in then please let me know today and I’ll see if the manager would consider a reschedule. It’s so nice to see that even with 3,999 other applicants, someone is so concerned with OP’s welfare that they’ll email her to check she’s OK. What a lovely company. Remind me to subscribe to their ‘handmade horse poo soap on demand’ app.

    1. Amber Rose*

      “6. “Experential interview”. What is that?”

      Free labor. Oh, they’d sell it as a chance to get a feel for the work before hiring, but it would just be forcing people to work for free under the guise of an interview, with the chance at a paying job dangling tantalizingly near. In fact, I’d guess that’s why they interview so many people at set times. Almost nobody gets hired, they just get exploited for a day.

      I feel bad for the desperate people who probably know this but go for that carrot anyway.

      1. LGC*

        From what I’ve heard, it’s worse than that: they DO get “hired,” they just don’t get paid. They’re essentially working entirely on commission selling stuff.

      2. The Imperfect Hellebore*

        Ooh, that makes sense (your explanation, I mean, not the method of ‘interviewing’). I’d been sitting here interpreting it as something like “and then we’ll interview specifically in regards to your experience,” which is obviously bonkers! Now I feel like a bit of an idiot myself for not realising that that’s what they meant, ha. Gosh, that makes it even worse in some ways.

        I suspect this ‘start up’ company is a couple of people who said one day “wouldn’t it be cool if we could magically make money by having customers automatically do a certain thing, every time they do another thing. Right, we own this idea, we’re a start up. Let’s put a net out and see if we can fish up some brainiacs.”

        1. Amber Rose*

          You shouldn’t feel like an idiot. It was worded so oddly it took me a minute too. That’s probably the point. People have no idea what it means, go in thinking it’s just another round of interviews and get suckered into working for free.

          1. The Imperfect Hellebore*

            Thank you. I’ve never heard it phrased that way before, and my mind was turning round trying to figure out a reasonable meaning :D

    2. Pebbles*

      #5 re: coffee

      I highly doubt that the 50 candidates would have been taken to an actual coffee shop. More like, “here is our break area, the coffee pots are over there and the ground coffee in a can is over there. You, you, and you are tasked with making coffee for the group.” *gets stop watch out*

      1. The Imperfect Hellebore*

        I’ll bet you’re right. I can picture it in my head! Although I maintain there would only be about five people max by then, and however inexperienced, two of them at least would walk out then and there.

        As a disclaimer, I’m not mocking or disparaging anyone that would keep trying at this point. When I was first seeking a full time job, I might have fallen for this rubbish.

  49. Erin C.*

    My immediate thought was, they were going to have you sell knock-off perfume out of the trunk of your car, because I went to one of these during a long period of unemployment out of desperation/ignorance and that’s what it turned out to be. Spoiler: I did not take them up on this “opportunity.”

  50. Liza*

    Oh wow! What a train wreck! Like Alison says, this reeks of a clueless start-up at best or an MLM con at worst. My money is on the latter. Feel free to respond in any way you see fit! I had my own experience of interviewing with a shambles of an MLM operation, but I was rather naive at the time and took it all at face value. Looking back, I would have loved to have known what I know now and called them on their BS, but you may feel it’s not worth your time.

  51. Engineer Girl*

    “I’m sure I’m not the only one who felt my time was misused and who isn’t interested in further contact with your company.”

    That sentence is a piece of beauty.

  52. Amber Rose*

    I’ve been reading everyone’s stories and now I’m having flashbacks to my run-in with what was basically the Cult of The Leader. They locked us in a room for a mandatory presentation. Oh, but the door was only locked to prevent interruptions. We could leave at any time. Really. (I only stayed for the lols. There were many.)

    I mean, that was pretty over the top, but it seems like maybe there’s a bunch of companies out there, watching The Simpsons and taking notes.

  53. LGC*

    It sounds like you missed out on a great business opportunity, LW. /s

    It actually does sound like a specific MLM, especially from the “experiential day” thing (which sounds like…a day of observation) and the fact that it’s “brand management.” If that WAS what was going on, you dodged a huge bullet with a devil of a corporation.

    Besides, it sounds like the atmosphere at the company…wasn’t the best.

    (And yes, the bolding is VERY strategic.)

  54. A woman has no name*

    I’d be willing to bet that they sent that same e-mail about acing the interview to every single person who didn’t schedule a follow up.

  55. BethRA*

    Glad I’m not the only person getting an MLM vibe from this – very reminiscent of my experience “applying” for a job with Cutco knives as a teenager (which I fortunately walked away from).

  56. HailRobonia*

    Here’s a phrase one of my colleagues used once about a situation and it’s stuck in my mind ever since: “That has more red flags than a circus tent.”

  57. Lizabeth*

    If I didn’t know better, I’d swear this company used to be on my floor at work. Cattle calls with lots of just graduated newbies coming off the elevator at 8 AM sharp. They (the company) was kicked out before the end of their lease last fall because they lied on it. We weren’t sorry to see them go.

    1. silverpie*

      Once did a Vector Marketing interview. The fact that the building staff preëmptively denied any connection to them should have been a red flag… but it wasn’t a cattle call. And it was pretty clear on both sides this wasn’t happening.

      Only actual cattle call I’ve had was Liberty National—made sure to “tank” the application, and slipped out claiming low blood sugar (which was truth). Did also find myself at an interview where the vague position turned out to be sales—I didn’t waste anyone’s time there, and they did agree to pass my résumé on to corporate in case they had openings more my speed.

  58. Amethystmoon*

    When I was young and fresh out of college, I was invited to an “interview” that turned out to be recruitment for a MLM. They do exist.

  59. Kyrielle*

    On the plus side, it was an email and not a phone call, and thus not putting you on the spot.

    On the minus side, it was an email and not a phone call, so you couldn’t just start laughing hysterically and then hang up on them.

  60. perrpi*

    If I responded to such an email, I would stress that I did not “fail” to turn up, I chose to not turn up.

  61. Mockingdragon*

    I love the assumption that 300 potential employees have enough free time to come to TWO MORE DAYS of interviews one after the other with zero notice. That says it all, doesn’t it?

  62. Enigma*

    It’s possible that this was a foreign-owned company. The language in your examples leads me to believe this as well.

    I had a very similar experience with a Chinese-owned company that turned out to absolutely suck and have zero regard for American employment law, so consider it a bullet dodged.

  63. notarobot*

    Before I got to the part where Alison said this might be an mlm I was thinking it. This screams mlm. If this company is legitimate they are so far out of professional norms I think OP dodged a bullet.

  64. Close Bracket*

    ignored the email Monday night

    I’m surprised this hasn’t been addressed. I mean, no, you didn’t confirm, but you also didn’t turn them down. In the world of interviews, it’s fair to expect that people invited to go to one will. Of course they are surprised you didn’t show and reached out to see what happened. Be polite, reply and tell them you aren’t interested in going forward in the process.

    1. Lilysparrow*

      No, it’s never fair to assume that anyone will be available for an arbitrarily-assigned time slot with no notice or confirmation.

      “Be here at 3:30 tomorrow” is a ransom note, not a job interview.

      1. Wander*

        Yeah, they absolutely shouldn’t have EXPECTED OP to show up when they never responded to confirm– the fact that they considered OP’s second interview as “scheduled” when OP didn’t ever actually, y’know, schedule it, is just one of the many red flags here.

    2. Elspeth*

      Nope. OP was supposed to schedule another interview – they didn’t give her one:
      “After the extremely short interview and being sold a different job than the one I applied for, I figured I wouldn’t waste any more time with them and ignored the email Monday night asking me to schedule another interview for Tuesday. “

  65. Family Matusz*

    Hi, OP here, enjoyed reading all of the comments. I wish I could give you a juicier update but I sent them a polite email that said something like “After careful consideration I feel this job isn’t the right fit for me. Thank you for your time.”

    As much as I would have liked to continue with the process to find out what was going on I had more pressing matters in my life. I did some quick research after the interview (stuff I would have done for a more normal interview/if I hadn’t gotten red flags before and only a couple days to prepare, I mainly went in for the first interview out of curiosity) and it seems like a MLM or some other shady business. I still just feel bad for the younger, more naive candidates, especially the one who brought donuts.

    1. 653-CXK*

      Thanks for chiming in (nice name!).

      In the beginning of my job search, someone had contacted me in a similar vein – they contacted me through Careerbuilder, and I had filled out the information on their website for an interview; just for a lark I looked them up on Glassdoor. It turns out it was 100% commission, going door to door. I cancelled my “interview” not thirty seconds later.

      Hopefully you found a better job.

  66. Waiguoren*

    I’ve gone to two group interviews. One was for what I quickly discovered was an MLM and dodged out of as fast as possible. The other was a small group–I think there were maybe 8 of us–and the company had already winnowed down their applicant pool through the application process and a phone interview. It was for an overseas job, and they got plenty of applicants, so they really wanted to be sure they invested in the right people. Got the job, great company, great experience.

    But a cattle call? Yikes! These people need to get it together!

  67. Joey Grace*

    This exact same thing happened to me (20 years ago) with Vector Marketing (Cutco). It’s probably an MLM scam

  68. Astrea*

    I once attended an “interactive group interview” for a set of environmental educator/camp counselor internships. They had us devise and present extemporaneous activities for kids, a practical test of each participatant’s ability to work in a team, divide labor, and think on our feet. I got rejected, but it was an interesting experience. (I’ve had to do extemporaneous animal presentations at aquarium educator interviews, but l those were solo).

  69. 2horseygirls*

    This sounds eerily like a skanky company I interviewed with during desperate times. Ot was some sort of secondary insurance market targeting first responders. Something just did not sit right in the initial interview, and I Googled them as soon as I got home. I got an eyeful of horrendous reviews, and never went back.

  70. kdub3*

    Right out of college I wanted to go into sales and got sucked into a lot of these interviews. Thankfully I was smart enough to not take the bait. Some of them included going door to door selling TV service, sitting at a walmart trying to convince people to buy a DNA registry kit incase their child gets kidnapped (yes seriously).

  71. Elizabeth West*

    I walked out of one of these several years ago. It was for a front-desk position in a dental office. They scheduled interviews at a giant hotel at 5:00 pm, which I thought was strange, but whatever. I figured they probably wanted to use a conference room instead of doing it at their office.

    Nope! They had rented the auditorium. I estimated about 100 people. Some women at a table were checking candidates in, and they handed us applications to fill out. I was gobsmacked. I went in, sat down, looked at the application, then got up and left. On the way out, I handed the form back to the woman at the table and politely removed myself from consideration. Thank goodness they didn’t stalk me afterward like this company did.

    I see no point to group interviews with multiple candidates, especially not this many people. Why would you even do that, for one (probably low-paid) office position? And how much did they spend on renting the auditorium!?

  72. HermioneMe*

    A couple years ago I was called for an interview for a Human Resources position by a casino in the Las Vegas area. (I have never worked in this industry.) I get there and they call 30 of the 100 or so people into a large conference room. These were candidates for ALL positions from custodian to bar tenders to HR. They had us do over an hour of “team building” exercises, while 10 of their staff watched. Then had one of their team with a deck of cards that had strange questions on them, but were basically about how would you handle some weird situation, etc. Each person had to answer a question on a card. That took a while to get through 30 or so people. Once that 2 hours was up, they asked us to wait for our individual interview. I decided to wait. I was one of the last called in. I was told that, while I was a great candidate for the HR position, they had to interview and hire from within – including posting the job across other casino properties across the US, and they could promote someone from within who had no HR experience. What the …..? I asked why then did they bring in people to interview. No answer. I left so angry at how I was treated and the 3 hours I wasted.

  73. Big Biscuit*

    My company was going through some executive level changes a few years back, so I applied for a managerial job with the state on a whim because of the generous benefits . I thought I was coming to a one on one interview, so imagine my surprise when I walked into a conference room and realized 12 of us would be group interviewing at the same time with a panel of interviewers. We also had to work in teams of three and present a mini-action plan for a made up scenario. I’m not sure why I didn’t bolt, but I stayed and wasted two hours of my time. The job also paid about 30k less, so the benefits weren’t that good. My wife somehow ended up knowing one of the interviews and she later said she was embarrassed by the process and wouldn’t attend these type of interviews herself! I’m thinking it was a pilot program, it was amateur hour!

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