why don’t people walk out of bad job interviews?

I hear a lot of stories about terrible job interviews – the interviewer who demanded to look inside a candidate’s purse, interviewers who are rude and hostile or even explicitly insulting, candidates who are left waiting for hours after taking time off work, and much more. One common denominator in these stories is that when job candidates are subjected to rude behavior from employers, they mostly feel obligated to stick it out until the end of the interview. They’re not getting up and leaving. They’re sitting politely, then walking out quietly stewing.

At Slate today, I wrote about why more people don’t walk out of bad interviews — and why they should. You can read it here.

{ 514 comments… read them below }

  1. Diahann Carroll*

    My reason? I was young and inexperienced and didn’t know I could do that without permanently blacklisting myself from employers in my area. Now I won’t hesitate to cut short an interview that’s a waste of my time.

    1. WhatsUpSusan*

      Same. I was so worried that I would give myself an unprofessional reputation that I never considered the simple fact that the interviewer was the unprofessional one!

    2. Candy*

      Same. I remember going to an interview in my early twenties that I KNEW was bonkers but I still stuck it out because I thought that was what I was supposed to do (suck it up and be an adult, get the job at any cost). If I had that same interview now with twenty years of work experience under my belt I’d simply get up mid-interview, thank them and shake their hands, then laugh all the way to my car.

    3. LawReject*

      The power imbalance never feels more real than when you’re young, inexperienced and interviewing with someone important in your field. I wish they taught courses in university, or even high school, about what is and isn’t OK for an interviewer to ask or do during an interview and who to report it to if they cross a line.

      I had an interview for an assistant role posted on my university jobs website with a hugely important male barrister (they even made a TV show based on his life) when I was in my first year of law school. It was WILDLY inappropriate and bordered on sexual harassment, I wanted to report it but I had no idea who to contact or if it would make a difference. I just warned my female cohorts to avoid him and tried to forget it. A couple years ago it came out that this barrister had been ratcheting up the harassment over time to the point the law society had to get involved with complaints from multiple female students, all of whom had applied to the same job posting I had.

      If I had known who to go to, or even that what happened to me was worth reporting, he might have been stopped so much earlier.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Agreed. My university made all of us take a class on interviewing, job searching, etc. before we did our co-op’s; however, they definitely didn’t tell us what to do if our interviews went off the rails. Maybe because those types of experiences are outliers?

      2. Hey Nonnie*

        A course on labor law and workers rights should be a mandatory part of high school curriculum. Wage theft is RAMPANT and I certainly didn’t know for YEARS that there are many different kinds, or that I had recourse when it happened. I’ve lost so much money simply because I didn’t know that what my employer was doing was illegal.

        Also, frankly, there needs to be better avenues for recourse for all this stuff than “you can sue them.” Your average worker can’t afford a high-priced lawyer, if they can afford any lawyer at all. Enforcement ought to be the government exercising actual oversight and consequences. Especially for human rights/anti-discrimination laws… those most often discriminated against are generally the ones with historically the least power and money to enforce these things.

        1. bluephone*

          Same. Some of the stuff I put up with as a new college grad (and later, as someone desperate for a job) included:
          1. wage theft because the editor needed a FT reporter but the publisher wasn’t willing to hire for FT positions
          2. being hoodwinked into a “job interview” that was really a Primerica pitch given by the most obnoxious idiots ever, I will never get that Saturday morning back, go to hell Primerica
          3. being asked if I was married, had kids, was planning to do any of those things, etc. by a neurologist who needed an admin assistant (I already had a job to fall back on but I was so taken aback by his questions that I answered them without thinking. REALLY wish I’d told him to shut the hell up before he got himself sued out of existence)

          Lessons very much learned, I especially wish I could go back in time for No. 1 and tell DumbBluePhone to blast that publishing company to the labor department and back (they eventually folded several years later but it was very much like, 20 years too late because that company was so awful)

          1. Athena*

            I walked right out of a Primerica presentation when I was 19 and desperate. It’s a moment of pride for me looking back at it now. I wonder if people saw me leaving and realized they could too.

            1. Hey Nonnie*

              Oh, Primerica. I remember getting MULTIPLE phone calls from them when they were at their worst… apparently none of them could keep track of who they’d called already. I never got farther than a phone call though, because their pitch was that they’d seen my resume on a job site and they had a job I’d be “perfect” for. So I excitedly said “You have a llama grooming opening?!” At which point they admitted that no, it was some “financial services” nonsense. So I became very confused and asked why they thought I was “perfect” for a job that’s entirely unrelated to my resume that they had fawned over. It was funny how none of them could come up with an answer.

              I think they didn’t think that pitch through.

            2. Bluephone*

              I was somewhat familiar with MLMs (I’ve had cousins do Mary Kay) but had no idea about Primerica or anything before I got there. But as soon as they started talking about the sale stuff I was like “hahaha no” and beat it out of there as fast as I could after the presentations ended.

          2. Artemesia*

            told it before, but in my panel interview for my first big grad school job, I was asked if I planned to have more children (I had a 2 year old at the time) I paused and said ‘well that is between my husband and me and God’ — my way as a freethinker of just saying, ‘up yours.’ But politely. Decades later I saw my employment file and learned that the key vote for me rather than the other finalist was because of my ‘religious faith.’ I am sure God if she exists chuckled; I certainly did.

        2. PowerEng*

          Outliers? I don’t know. In my very first interview a few decades ago, as a 16 year old, I was told I looked nice in a skirt, and that they were concerned I wouldn’t want to get dirty in a power station. I asked if I should have worn my overalls to the interview instead. At the end they said I had the traineeship if I wanted it, but I should go do an engineering degree instead. I did.

        3. Gazebo Slayer*

          All of this, a million times. But I can’t remember ever even seeing any U.S. political candidate propose replacing “sue them or you’re SOL” with real and well-funded employment tribunals. (Let me know if I’ve missed any!)

      3. J*

        The United States Secretary of Education is Betsy DeVos.

        Her husband’s family owns Amway.

        It’s not a coincidence.

          1. SRSLY*

            I was in high school and college in the 90s and none of this was taught then, either. What WAS taught was to never, ever rock the boat during interviews because you would “ruin your reputation.” Just not formally, because there were no formal classes on how to navigate the work world.

          2. Gazebo Slayer*

            True, but her family has been influential a lot longer than that, as well as a lot of other owners of scammy companies.

      4. SharonJG*

        Libraries are full of books about how to do adult things, as is the internet. Problem is, most young people don’t know what they don’t know.

      5. SubluxedMatrix*

        One of my first jobs after uni was with a gynecological/obstetrics charity. During the interview, the director asked me whether I’d be going off and having kids soon, because they didn’t want to hire someone who’d just take off on maternity leave. Asked as though this was a perfectly normal and reasonable thing to do during a job interview at all, let alone by a charity who should have some vague awareness about pregnancy issues.

    4. Grumpy*

      I did, when I was young hothead who didn’t care what people thought… I miss that hot head at times.
      I literally just got up and walked out, no words.

    5. Teacher Lady*

      Same! My worst interview ever (which, to be fair, pales in comparison to stories I’ve heard on this website, but is still not an experience I’d ever want to revisit) was the 3rd interview I ever had in my professional field, and it was at a school in a fairly small district where school leaders share a LOT of information about candidates. I was worried that anything negative in the interview (whether that was poor performance on my part or any reaction to the bizarre questions I was asked) would lead to my getting blacklisted from the entire district.

      1. old curmudgeon*

        I have walked out of one interview in my life.

        It was about 20 years ago, right after we had relocated to our current city from about 2,000 miles away. I had a wealth of experience in accounting, inventory, purchasing and office management, but all that experience had been gained across the country – plus all my training was of the OJT variety and I had not yet finished my degree. So I was applying to any job that had anything at all to do with my work history, and this particular one was for a position as office manager at an advertising agency.

        The interview was in a fancy conference room at a huge conference table, and there were eight people – EIGHT – on the interview panel. They were firing questions at me from right and left, all sorts of questions about my experience, my management style, and so on. I fielded them as best I could, not an easy task when people kept interrupting each other to yell out more questions, but I did my best to roll with it, like you do.

        Then one big dude right across the table leaned over and barked out, “when was the last time you cried at work?”

        I raised one eyebrow and said “I beg your pardon, what did you just say?”

        He repeated it – “When did you last cry at work, and what was the reason?”

        I fixed him with a steely stare in silence for a very long moment. Then I stood up, gathered my papers, glanced around the table and said “this interview is done. I am withdrawing my application. I have absolutely NO desire to work for an employer that thinks that is a reasonable interview question. No need to get up, I will see myself out.”

        Yup, burned a bridge there, pretty darn sure my name went straight into the “Never Ever Hire” file with a big old word-that-rhymes-with-witch written across the front in red marker. And I do not give a rat’s patootie, either.

    6. TardyTardis*

      But there are some places where the industry is concentrated enough that you *do* get blacklisted for not putting up with it (publishing is one, if I recall correctly).

  2. Lena Clare*

    Well, I think Alison answers that question and gives several reasons why not… The main one for me would be needing a job for financial reasons, ie. being pretty desperate.
    But there’s also the upset and too embarrassed to do so.
    It would be good to be able to get up and leave if possible, give employers the information that it’s a 2-way prices and they *don’t* hold all the cards – or they shouldn’t do, anyway .

    1. Senor Montoya*

      And there’s also, the bad interviewer can lie about you with others in the industry and wreck your reputation as not being professional. So sometimes you have to suck it up.


      1. babblemouth*

        I keep hearing about this one, and I wonder if that’s a real risk. I often conduct job interviews and would never share what happened during one outside of my immediate team. Similarly, I would be very weirded out by someone from my industry not directly in my team volunteering information about someone else’s job interview. Even if the feedback was very bad, it would be more likely to make me think less of the interviewer than the candidate.

    2. Mim*

      Yeah, I have never been lucky enough to have my pick of multiple companies/job openings, or the knowledge that if one doesn’t work out the next one will be right around the corner. Because of where I live and an inability to move or do very long commutes, my options are very limited. I would have to feel in actual danger to leave a job interview. This town is too small to burn bridges or even close doors.

      1. Ann Onny Muss*

        I tend to switch jobs within my company. It doesn’t matter how shitty the interviewer is. I have to suck it up lest they blackball me to the rest of the company.

      2. Wendy Darling*

        I had an interviewer at a huge company I’d been laid off from previously give me the third degree about why I felt I should even be considered for the job. He was not the person who had decided to bring me in for the interview and he made it very clear he thought I shouldn’t be there and was openly angry about having to spend his time talking to me.

        He also made it very clear he had access to and had read my reviews from when I worked there and brought up everything anyone had ever said I needed to improve on. I desperately wanted to tell him “You’re right, I shouldn’t be here,” and leave but I was afraid that since he obviously had access to my record he’d add something nasty about me. And I was unemployed and desperate. So I just sat there and tried not to cry while he berated me.

        The lunch interviewer proceeded to sexually harass me and I was ultimately rejected so I really do wish I’d walked out. When HR emailed me and asked for feedback on my interview experience I told them about the lunch interviewer, and that company has never spoken to me again, even though I applied for several positions I was highly qualified for after that. Not sure if coincidence or if they’ve decided I’m too much trouble.

      3. TardyTardis*

        I live there too! I didn’t dare become politically active till after I retired from a company which was run by *extremely* conservative people, and I made sure I left on the very happiest terms possible.

    3. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Yeah the one time I wish I had walked out, or at least spoken up for myself, I had been laid off and was desperate for a job. But I did give a piece of my mind to the recruiter that had set it up.

      He brought me into his office, and during the interview he answered emails and took calls. I wish I would have had the guts to say something because he was so distracted that there’s no way he could have gotten any sense of me and if I was right for the job, and I wouldn’t have wanted to work for him.

    4. Lord Ye old*

      I interviewed at firms before where the interviewer turned out to be a director in the company (because the office structure meant that if I got hired I would be working directly in his team). Walking out would have definitely meant him lamenting about the state of youth and warning his colleagues not to hire me.

      The power dynamic is an undeniable factor in this.!

      1. Arts Akimbo*

        Yeah, and until reading those comments I had no idea looking through women’s purses was a fetish. Education!

      2. Massmatt*

        I can only imagine being asked this question as a guy.

        I think I would flip a coin to decide whether to walk out, or say “sure, after you empty all your pockets”.

        Or maybe ask to see his browser history!

    1. KayDeeAye (Kathleen_A)*

      It really is. I mean, I keep a fairly organized purse, but it’s far more organized than, say, my house.

      1. Quill*

        I used to keep a very realistic fake mouse in my purse in middle school, because a couple of the boys thought it was funny to steal and go through girls’ purses, looking for money or “Ooooh, what do you keep in your puuuurse?” because apparently at 13 girls being embarassed that anyone might know they had a pad or tampon was stronger than the stereotypical male reaction to the very idea of tampons, i.e. treat them like rattlesnakes.

        (For context, our middle school had a “no backpacks” policy and it was the era of the cutesy clutch purse so… if aunt flo was over it would be pretty obvious.)

        The mouse bought us several months of being left blissfully alone during advisory.

        1. bluephone*

          Ugh, memories. I hate kids so much sometimes, why do we keep having them when we know they’ll become terrible, horrible people once puberty sets in (I am mostly joking, no one @ me)

            1. bleh*

              What do they do with women who don’t carry a purse? A backpack or a wallet or a briefcase is as close as I come.

        2. Massmatt*

          what was your school ‘s policy on rat traps? I would load up with a rat trap and cover it with a tissue or something. After a couple broken fingers I’m sure the boys’ curiosity about purse contents would diminish sharply.

          If that doesn’t work? Badger trap! Admittedly that would require a larger bag.

          1. fhqwhgads*

            In general, setting a trap for a human is illegal in most places. It doesn’t count as self-defense and doesn’t matter if the person who gets caught in the trap was in the act of committing a crime themselves. That’s not a defense either. Unless you could successfully argue the trap were in your purse for actual rodents, this is a very very very bad idea. I can’t tell if the suggestion were meant in jest or not, but just in case not.

            1. Massmatt*

              OMG, you must be a gas at parties. Do you explain that it is in fact, impossible to time travel, and therefore You cannot party like it’s 1999?

              1. JSPA*

                warning against an illegal thing that’s not obviously illegal and could be tempting (and that real people have done and been prosecuted for) is hardly the same thing as debunking time travel when people just wanna party.

          2. KoiFeeder*

            Glue trap in a fake wallet worked well for me- peanut butter is a staple of all cafeterias, and that’ll get you out of one of those. My purse was 100% for my inhaler and other medication, though, so the combination of “minor inconvenience for prying hands” and “any tampering with my medicine could send me to the hospital” probably kept me out of the trouble that other people might get into with traps.

  3. Nanc*

    Never, ever, ever let anyone take your ID. It’s fine to show it if they want to verify your are indeed the Penelope Pureheart scheduled for the [fake] interview at whatever o’clock but they don’t need a copy for their files until you’re actually hired and even then, they don’t! That’s what employer-issued IDs are for.

    1. Allypopx*

      I’ve typically had to take copies of IDs for I-9s when hiring. But for like 30 seconds with the hire in the same room. I would never *leave* my ID with someone.

      1. Nanc*

        I process a ton of I9s. You don’t have to have a copy, you just have to write down all the info. I never permit anyone to copy my ID.

          1. Construction Safety*

            It varies.
            They don’t have to have to keep a copy, but they can’t pick and choose which peoples’ they keep/ignore. It’s all or none.

          2. lost academic*

            Most places will do that, under the (false) pretense that they need to see the original ID to verify that it’s real. Because someone in admin or HR is SURELY trained in evaluating the validity of identification cards…. So it’s “policy” because they’ve “always done it that way” but don’t actually know why.

            1. Cass*

              For a Form I-9 you are required to present the original document for purposes of completing the form. The person (typically HR) is not expected to be an expert in identifying this, only that it appears to a reasonable person that it is in fact the original form of ID.

              1. Burned Out Supervisor*

                It doesn’t even have to be HR, and you don’t even have to be at the business. I verified the ID of my husband when he was hired as a contractor. I had to fill out a form that stated that I knew him personally, had reviewed his physical ID, when it expired and sign it.

            2. blackcat*

              Huh. When I’ve done it, I sit down next to someone with my passport, they enter the info, then we’re done. I’ve always been told they need the original, but it’s never left my sight and never been copied. That’s for 4 different employers.

          3. Diahann Carroll*

            Same. Every job I’ve ever had, they made copies of my ID. (And since I’m a remote employee now, I had to make my own copy and attach it to the I9 form and have a notary fill out the latter.)

            1. Wendy Darling*

              I’m also remote… they let me fill out my own forms but I had to have someone witness it. I asked if it had to be a notary and they said it could be anyone not related to me who knew me.

              So I had my building manager witness it because I’m cheap and she’s nice.

            2. Jennifer Thneed*

              I’ve sent a scan of my driver’s license plenty of times.

              And the agency that *insisted* that they needed me to come to their office to fill in the (can’t remember — 1099?) before the job started? But they were a 3-hour drive away and I refused? Somehow they managed with just the copy.

          4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            It’s a standard practice in a lot of HR offices to take copies but it’s actually not the law/regulation anywhere that I’m aware of.

            They take copies also so they can complete the confirmation page on their own time, instead of immediately upon receiving the document and seeing the ID’s presented.

            The reality is that when you’re completing an I9 from the employer standpoint, you don’t need copies for proof. Since that doesn’t prove they were fake or anything. It’s mostly a “CYA” kind of setup that they’ve adopted. You just need the details [ID number/Expiry dates/type of ID]

            You are just supposed to physically hold it and check it for authenticity [and then you can sign that “Under the penalty of perjury, to the best of my knowledge this is a legit ID]. And just signing that is enough.

            And as someone who has had their I9s audited, all they do if they find one that isn’t legit is to tell you effective immediately that person cannot work there anymore to to cease their employment. In this political climate, they may go collect the person with the false documentations but you don’t get in trouble unless you aren’t even trying and cannot show good-faith in having I9s kept.

        1. Karo*

          You don’t have to, but a lot of companies have a policy to make a copy and once you have that policy in place you have to hold to it for all candidates (the idea being that otherwise someone could claim illegal discrimination).

          Regardless – that’s for the actual hiring! Like you said at the beginning, there’s no need for anyone to take it for an interview.

        2. Detective Amy Santiago*

          Where I worked, we made copies if they used a List A document, but not if they went with B & C.

        3. Essess*

          You don’t have to have a copy, but a company can choose to make that a step in their I-9 process when hiring. https://www.uscis.gov/i-9-central/105-retaining-copies-form-i-9-documentation

      2. ArtK*

        The problem is that you don’t need to do an I-9 when you’re interviewing someone. There is no reason for an employer to have a copy of your ID during the interview phase.

        1. Chaordic One*

          The justification that I’ve heard is that employers don’t want to waste their time interviewing someone who won’t pass the I-9 check, so they do this ahead of time. It’s a reason, but not a very good one.

          When I worked in H.R. at a school in the U.S. we only had two U.S. citizens get flagged by E-Verify. One was a recently married woman who had not informed the Social Security Administration about her marriage and that she was now using her married name and the other was a guy who used his passport as a form of I.D. I’m not sure why he got flagged. In any case, the matters were resolved fairly quickly.

          OTOH, more than half of the non-U.S. citizens were flagged. (We hired a lot of non-U.S. citizens as short-term instructors. There were a couple of people who had given us incorrect Social Security numbers by mistake before we started making copies of their Social Security cards and who had to meet the SSA. However, most of them ended up having to go through a phone interview with the Department of Homeland Security and everyone of them were all cleared to work here. They would never tell us why these people were flagged, but I suspect that at that time, there was some hangup where information from when they were entering the U.S. wasn’t showing up in the E-Verify database. The interviewer at Homeland Security always asked them when and where they entered the U.S. and then they cleared them. But I’m only guessing as to why.

      3. political staffer*

        I’ve processed a lot of I-9 (and sent them to a 3rd party payroll service). The payroll service firm required me to put a PDF of their ID in the Dropbox.

    2. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      I worked somewhere where we offered something akin to CPR training through A Particular Vendor exclusively. This Particular Vendor required all instructors to keep proof of age in their class files, and if you didn’t have them on an audit, you could lose your instructor certification. When I taught these classes, I would first explain to everyone why I had to keep the copies, and where I would be storing them, and then we would go to the photocopier together so their ID didn’t leave their sight.

      I always kept paper copies on the grounds they were more secure. But some of the instructors in my company went “paperless” and kept a copy of the student’s ID (driver’s license, passport, or birth certificate) and their info sheet with their name, address, phone number, email address bundled into one PDF, on the public share drive for the office! Drove me nuts.

      1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        Oh and they’d use the scan-to-email to stitch together these bundles, so they were sitting in our not-very-secure email inboxes on top of that.

    3. dealing with dragons*

      and like….call the police. they can’t keep your ID from you. it’s the same as if a bouncer decides your ID is fake and keeps or destroys it. it’s probably overkill but as soon as you say “ok, calling the police” they will probably find the keys.

      1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

        Yeah I would have made a scene. You’re not going to bring me in under false pretentious and then essentially hold me hostage because someone took my ID and went to lunch.

        1. out on the east coast*

          Back when I lived in a state where you could have both a driver’s license and a state non-drivers ID, I would only ever give people the non-drivers ID. There were places where they’d require you to give them your ID to hold onto while they gave you a badge and you had to turn it back in at the end of the day, but sometimes, well, the police kiosk would be closed by the time I left for the day.

          These days I have two copies of my driver’s license. One is in my wallet, the other in my backpack. I’ve had too many times of people trying to keep my ID hostage.

          1. Environmental Compliance*

            This makes me feel better that for a while I had 2 driver’s licenses because Hubs had to have a physical copy of my driver’s license to get me signed up for benefits when he joined the military. We are in IN. The officer school is in RI. I couldn’t exactly go with him to sign up. The option was take my license or don’t get signed up, apparently. So I sent him with one license, and kept a secondary so I could at least drive to work.

            1. WellRed*

              I imagine this also varies by state. I think in mine, you can’t have two, or the second is stamped duplicate. Of course, having two doesn’t mean they’ll come after you either.

      2. YetAnotherNerd42*

        That business with keeping your ID reminds me of a scam I’ve read about at some scummy car dealerships, where you hand them the keys to your trade-in so they can evaluate/inspect/test-drive it. Then they keep the keys and don’t want to give them back to you until you’ve signed on the dotted line for a new car. The right answer there, too, is to threaten to call the police unless they cough up the keys, and then call the police if they don’t.

        1. Anonymous Celebrity*

          That happened to me. I stood in the middle of the sales floor, looked the salesman in the eye, and said in a loud voice that I wanted my keys and that if he didn’t return them to me I intended to stand there, scream at the top of my lungs, and keep screaming until I got my keys. I said I would then sue them for false imprisonment.

          I got my keys back. And I never set foot in that dealership again and told everyone I knew about the stunt they pulled. They are now operating under new ownership.

    4. J*

      Not gonna lie, my first response probably would have been, “Okay, dokey, no problem. I’ll get it back in a minute.” I’m kind of accustomed to giving up my ID in exchange for security badges and things like that.
      But now I know!

      … and knowing is half the battle.

    5. You can't fire me; I don't work in this van*

      I assumed it was done on purpose because it was some scammy pyramid scheme or shady sales job and needed an excuse not to let people leave.

    6. Ruth (UK)*

      At the university where I work, it is uni-wide practice that we must do a right to work check (includes taking a copy of a passport or similar document) at the point of interview. However, we keep their ID for perhaps 2 to 5 minutes maximum to take the copy then give it back. They’d never end up in a situation where they can’t leave cause they’re waiting for it back…

      1. londonedit*

        I think this is pretty much standard policy for most UK companies, too – I’ve always had to bring my passport in on my first day at work, so they can verify I have the right to work in the UK. But it’s a case of taking it to HR myself and watching them make a photocopy of it, I’d never just give it to someone to wander off with.

    7. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I verify IDs for criminal records checks (UK). This involves having the physical ID in front of me and entering certain details into the system (DOB, expiry date, etc). No copies are taken, let alone held, and I have the documents in my hand for maybe 90 seconds each.

      Frankly I wouldn’t want the responsibility of holding on to them out of sight – what if someone accused me of losing their passport? What if I actually mislaid something? Yikes! No thanks.

      1. Kendra*

        We did that once, and it was awful. I work in a public library, and our director at the time was looking for easier ways to let people use our public computers, since so many forget to bring their library cards with them. He had us take their IDs and hold them at the main desk, then give them back as the patrons left. Well, we had a perfect storm one day of a particularly incompetent staff member and three ladies with similar haircuts; we got one of the IDs back to the right person, had to pay for the second to get a new one, and never saw the third person again (for all we know, she’s still driving around with the wrong license in her wallet, blissfully unaware). Never again!!!

    8. Chaordic One*

      When I worked in HR it was handy to have a copy of someone’s I.D. just in case you miskeyed-in one of the numbers in one of someone’s forms of I.D. You could go back and verify the number. It didn’t happen often, but it did once or twice that I remember.


    I had a horrible interview directly out of undergrad in 1986. The company was an hour away. I got there and was met by a nice man who gave me a tour. Then I was interviewed by about 6 people. The initial questions were fine, but they started asking me how I would handle certain scenarios and then began yelling at me and questioning me all at the same time. It was clear that the nice guy was part of a good cop/bad cop setup. After the interview, when I was practically in tears, he told me I’d experienced what they called a “stress” interview. I decided right then and there that I wouldn’t work for them, no matter what the pay or benefits. It felt like a police interrogation and I wasn’t willing to work in an environment where it was OK to treat someone like that in a first interview. FYI, I’m female and these were all men. I think they thought it was funny.

    1. Yumnum*

      I sympathize with your poor treatment as I’ve experienced the same thing.

      Quite disappointing to come ready to put your best foot forward and then to be pummeled like you’re some piece of meat being tenderized for the main course.

    2. Parenthetically*

      “to treat someone like that in a first interview LITERALLY EVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES”

      1. Adric*

        In boot camp it kinda makes sense, but unless the job is likely to involve life or death emergencies, it’s definitely overkill. And even then you should save it for a little bit later.

    3. CG*

      “Don’t worry, this was just a ‘stress interview’ – we’re not actually jerks! Come work with us!” What a terrible tactic! I bet many of their candidates had the same response as you did.

    4. KAG*

      In my college during the late 90s, one of my classmates told me about an interview at MajorInvestmentBank where the interviewer asked the interviewer to open the window (which, naturally, didn’t open, as it was one of those glad-walked skyscrapers). The interviewee ultimately ended up attacking the glass wall / window with an office chair in their desperation to get the window “open”.

      To this day, I’m not quite sure that story is apocryphal…

    5. C-nonymous*

      This happened to me about a year ago when I was interviewing for my first job out of (evening) business school. It’s typical for consulting firms and similar to do a case interview, and not totally unheard of for a case interviewer to be cold or demanding to test how you react to difficult clients.

      However, I was interviewing at a huge e-commerce company for a back-end role. I was expecting a case interview, but not one that involved the male case interviewer to start yelling over my responses and interrupting me when my answers were not what he wanted to hear. At the end of the interview, he told me I needed to work on my math skills (at the time I was working as the the Director of a small FINANCE team). I’m also a woman. When the recruiter called to follow up after the interview, I asked her if the hostile case interview was by design, and she said no. I told her what happened, and gently let her know I was no longer interested in working there.

      This particular e-commerce retailer is currently being sued by an employee after her repeat reports of sexual harassment that went unaddressed. Bullet dodged.

  5. Oh No She Di'int*

    The Hidden Brain podcast did a very interesting episode that touched on this. Part of the issue is that making the decision to get up and walk out of an interview seems like a fairly simple, one-dimensional decision. But it actually involves a complex series of decisions, all of which have to be responded to in just the right way to result in someone walking out of an interview.

    In their case, they experimented with women who were sexually harassed during a job interview. 100% of test respondents in the experiment stayed through the entire interview. You read that right: 100% stayed through the end of the interview.


    1. fposte*

      Yeah, that was really illuminating. However much we feel “Oh, I’d never put up with that!” that comes from distance and external insight. In the moment it’s hard even to realize there’s a that, let alone decide not to put up with it.

      1. LawReject*

        I wrote about my own experience up-thread about being sexually harassed during an interview, and it was exactly for that reason I sat through the whole ordeal. The worst part is when the interviewer ended up in the news for harassing other women, the comments were all “How did they not just all walk out?? I would tell him to go screw himself and leave”.

        Easy to say, hard to do when it’s actually you. And we were all law students that knew our rights better than the average interviewee.

        1. hayling*

          Oh yeah it’s so different when it’s actually happening to you. There’s also the thing that when someone else is violating a social norm, you have to violate a social norm back in order to extricate yourself or call them out, and it feels very uncomfortable. I’m sorry you had to go through that.

    2. MissGirl*

      I think a big part of why people stay is the surprise and stun. You go through this wait, what moment. Did this just happen? No, this can’t be happening. It’s not a scenario you’ve prepared or practiced for. So you sit there mumbling answers, waiting until it’s time to go. Time adds a lot of clarity.

      1. Kiki*

        Yes! And especially when the behavior is especially egregious, out there, or weird, you almost want to check with someone that it actually happened/ you didn’t mishear/etc.

      2. Who Plays Backgammon?*

        For me, there’s also the “wait, how is this going to end?” factor. Even if I’ve decided I don’t want the job, there’s the feeling of having committed to seeing the interview through.

    3. AnonEMoose*

      I believe it. Between the “freeze” response many of us experience, and the way that a lot of harassment becomes, in essence, background noise to many women, I can understand it…and could see it happening to me. Because my brain would be going…”Did they really just…WTF?!”

      1. KoiFeeder*

        And, bluntly, in modern society, freeze or fawn are the best responses for safely getting out of situations- especially in childhood where those responses get partially codified. Or, at least, as someone with a strong fight response, I have gotten into a lot more trouble and pain for it than a freeze or fawn would have provided.

    4. Elizabeth Proctor*

      I’m not a researcher and I don’t have time to listen to the whole interview right now, but I have questions about how such a study would pass an IRB.

      1. Anonymous Poster*

        I’d assume it was a case study, meta-analysis of case studies, survey, or something similar.

      2. BradC*

        Probably a study involving gathering stories from those who reported being sexually harassed in prior job interviews.

        But yeah, let’s hope they’re not experimentally putting subjects IN that scenario to see what happened!!

        1. BradC*

          Oh, jeez. I read the transcript; that’s exactly what they did:

          “VEDANTAM: What was different here was that the women weren’t imagining a job interview; they were in a job interview or so they believed. So how did they react? Did 90% respond assertively, tell the interviewer off, slap him and walk out?

          WOODZICKA: Nobody left.”

          1. BradC*

            From later in the interview:

            “There’s clearly an aspect of the study that should make you uneasy. Researchers brought in unsuspecting women for what they thought were job interviews and then subjected them to harassment to see how they would behave. Julie went through a rigorous ethical clearance to conduct the study. After it was over, she debriefed the volunteers and gave them the option of pulling their data.”


            1. AnonEMoose*


              I mean, if I am not mistaken, researchers are, under certain circumstances, allowed to deceive their research subjects. But this seems like way more than that. I haven’t seen the details or anything, but…yeah, I would not be happy if I thought I was going to a job interview and then someone was like “SURPRISE! RESEARCH!”

              1. Book Badger, Attorney-at-Claw*

                They are allowed to deceive their subjects, but you need training on how to do it properly and get special permission from an ethics board before you can carry it out.

                I helped conduct a study in law school (a classmate of mine was a joint PhD/JD), and even though our study involved absolutely none of that, we still had to sit through a multi-hour online course about why stuff like the Tuskegee syphilis experiments and the “Monster” stutter study were bad. I can only assume that this similarly went through an IRB check beforehand (though they’d be more checking for, say, bad mental health effects due to having been harassed, not just disappointment that it wasn’t a real job).

                1. anon for this*

                  Haha, I had to sit through a course like that (took around two days to complete) and I wasn’t even a researcher. We were potentially going to be storing medical data and I was one of the IT techs who’d be supporting the database. Cue a crash course in HIPAA, the history of medical ethics, under what circumstances you are allowed to do research involving pregnant women, and the criteria that must be fulfilled for your study to be eligible for expedited IRB review. Human subjects research takes this stuff seriously enough I’m also amazed this was allowed.

      3. Mpls*

        It was a 2 part study. 1st part asked women to imagine how they would answer a certain set of inappropriate questions that came up during an interview.

        2nd part had a fake job posting (for a lab assistant) that had the same type of harassing questions that were listed in the 1st part. The reviewer had (according to the story) “rigorous ethical clearance to conduct the study. After it was over, she debriefed the volunteers and gave them the option of pulling their data.”

        The deception/debrief combination in conjunction with the IRB oversight is usually what allows this for psych experiments.

      4. not this again.*

        What is an IRB.
        I mean. I think I know what it is. (internal review board? international retail broadcast? insane relative bombardment?) I don’t have time to look up every acronym I come across, but I have questions about why everyone assumes all acronyms are part of everyone else’s lexicon.

        AAAKBE. (All Acronyms Aren’t Known By Everyone)

        1. Book Badger, Attorney-at-Claw*

          Institutional Review Board. Basically a committee that makes sure that you’re conducting your research ethically, not keeping confidential data out where people can see it, etc.

    5. Kiki*

      This is part of what bothers me when people ask, “Why didn’t you just leave?” It is actually very psychologically difficult to leave in a lot of situations! Most people do not!

      1. CastIrony*

        I know, right? Once, I walked out of a job, and I was so shocked the whole drive to my previous job, like, “Oh, my gosh! I can’t believe I just walked out of my job! What have I done?! I just walked out of my job!”

        1. Elitist Semicolon*

          I had that same reaction to walking out of a job I hated and knew I was leaving in the long run. I’d made the mistake of telling them three months in advance instead of two weeks – it was a shitty clerical job for which they could have hired a hamster; they didn’t need lead time to get someone competent – and they went ahead and hired someone anyway. Then they took to asking me every day when I was leaving, because the new hire “won’t wait forever.” The last time they asked, I said, “I am leaving NOW,” and got up and left. I made it out onto the sidewalk and burst into huge sobs. Cried in the car, went to my mother’s workplace and cried at her, then cried all the way home. It was a terrible job and I hated it and I knew I would be happier when I quit, but it was still an immediate shock.

    6. ADHSquirrelWhat*

      I think there’s two things here – one: harassment can lead to worse. Someone’s already crossed that line, the idea is to keep things calm until you CAN safely leave. DO NOT escalate the situation. Just get through and get out.

      Two: There’s a clear /out/ when the interview’s over. It’s not permanent. It’s not even an actual job. It’s a short-term thing where you know how long you need to deal with it. It might be longer than you think, but there’s a clear escape – the end of the interview, when you can get OUT. And you can make the choice to never ever go back.

      But those two together makes sticking it out a very reasonable choice – lowest risk.

      1. Avasarala*

        Yes, I’ve experienced that fight-or-flight reaction and the biggest hurdle is that in order to flee, you have to confront the aggressor. I was able to quietly leave the auditorium when the presenter started saying things that made me feel unsafe. If it was a 1-1 conversation, you have to say something in order to leave! It might be safer to just sit there and wait it out sometimes.

      2. Hey Nonnie*

        This was my first thought too. In addition to the slow dawning “what is even happening” moment, if I’m being sexually harrassed I’m automatically doing the calculus of just how dangerous or violent this person is. What do I need to do to get out without it escalating? Would he block the door? Would he do worse than that?

        I’ve also experienced being physically threatened in public, so I know that having witnesses won’t help me in the moment (no one will speak up or intervene), so being in an office where other people can see/hear an altercation can’t and won’t even factor in to the decision.

        Unless I had an obvious advantage in our relative sizes, I might conclude it’s safer and easier to wait it out.

    7. Aggretsuko*

      I’m not even 1% shocked to hear that nobody walked out. I sure as hell wouldn’t walk out of an interview even if someone bitchslapped me during one. Why? Because I’m too well trained to put up with whatever anyone dishes out.

    8. SubluxedMatrix*

      I can see that. For me, when I’ve wanted to walk out, the cost/benefit of doing so didn’t work out in my favour – I put up with this bull for another 20 minutes or so until the interview’s over, and then walk out without drama (and then call the recruiter to ask WTF they got me into), or I let them know I’m done here and try to walk out – potentially having to deal with their aggressive or otherwise angry reaction while I navigate my way back (potentially through security gates) to the front door. Easier and faster to play the game than quit.

    9. Just Another Techie*

      Yeah, that surprises me not one bit. I had an interview where the asshole dudebro interviewing me asked me “do you have children” and “How do you feel, in your heart, leaving your crying baby at daycare to go to work? Doesn’t it make you sad” and also told me in great detail about his “PTSD” from a bad manager at his last job. I had a decade+ experience in a high-demand hard-to-hire skillset, and was employed relatively contentedly and had no burning need for a new job, just a vague desire for a new environment. And I still stayed in that interview. I don’t know why, because I also already knew from talks with other interviewers earlier in the day that it was very unlikely to be a good culture fit, plus it was only barely in the radius of how far I’d be willing to commute. And yet. I stayed. \shrug emoji Brains are weird, dude.

      1. Just Another Techie*

        Oh also, of 30 employees at that company, there were two women: the office admin and one technical woman. And massive wild drama between the founder and his ex-business partner. So you know. Bad from jump, and I should have walked out as soon as “how do you feel, in your heart, about leaving your baby” ugh. Gross. I’m getting het up all over again thinking about it.

  6. Bunny Girl*

    I walked out of one once. I was in recovery from major surgery like five days before and just wanted out of my job so I hesitantly took the interview. I had filled out a ridiculously long application and had answered at least three times that I wasn’t looking for seasonal work. They were 40 minutes late and I hadn’t taken my pain heads so I wasn’t kite high during the interview and there was no where for me to sit so I was pretty rough going in. About 5 minutes in they mentioned that this was for a seasonal position (when I set up the appointment I had double checked that this wasn’t the case) and I asked if they were sure because that’s not what I was lead to believe. When they confirmed that yes they had called me in for a seasonal position after multiple things done on my part before hand, I asked them if they knew I had just had a f**king organ removed and they had completely wasted my time. I stood up, told them not to jerk people around, and limped out. I have no idea if they changed their hiring practices but I never applied for them again.

    Word to the wise – if they treat you like crap during the interview phase it isn’t going to get better. It’s like going on a first date and the person is already a complete jerk before the first drink is even ordered.

      1. Bunny Girl*

        I was very grumpy post-op and needed my drugs. LoL. I wish I had that much gumption on a daily basis.

  7. Oh No She Di'int*

    The Hidden Brain podcast did a very interesting episode that touched on this. Part of the issue is that making the decision to get up and walk out of an interview seems like a fairly simple, one-dimensional decision. But it actually involves a complex series of decisions, all of which have to be responded to in just the right way to result in someone walking out of an interview.

    In their case, they experimented with women who were sexually harassed during a job interview. 100% of test respondents in the experiment stayed through the entire interview. You read that right: 100% stayed through the end of the interview.

    1. AndersonDarling*

      I can understand this. It is hard to identify if it really is sexual harassment in the moment. And if you do realize what is happening, there is a fear response that says “play it cool until you can safely leave.” Because people who will openly sexually harass you are capable of a lot worse.
      But if I was at an interview and someone called me ugly, or was blatantly disrespectful, then I sure as heck would get up and walk out.

      1. Reba*

        Yeah, while 100% is a little surprising, having a very high number show this response is not at all surprising. This response is sort of like playing dead–just act non-threatening till it’s over.

        Also consider that it may not be the candidate’s first time being on the receiving end of this stuff. It’s horrible and possibly shocking, but people have experience responding to this kind of thing.

      2. Quill*

        Yeah, in many cases it can feel riskier to walk out of a sexual harassment scenario than, say, an interview that isn’t the position you applied for, or a rude but not predatory interviewer.

      3. Oh No She Di'int*

        Yes, so this was part of the experimental condition. I think if women had been lunged at or some such thing, there may have been a different outcome. But the way it was set up, it was more like each candidate was asked a few unprofessional questions sprinkled in among a bunch of “normal” questions: things like, “Would you consider yourself attractive?” IIRC.

        So that’s part of the problem is that we all imagine what we would do if we found ourselves in some enormously outrageous situation. (“I’d just get up and leave!” etc.) But the vast majority of situations out there aren’t blatantly outrageous. Most situations are murky and subtle. That’s what makes them difficult.

        1. SomebodyElse*

          Honestly.. even if it is outrageous most people will stick it out. TV franchises have been built from this condition (Candid Camera, Impractical Jokers, etc).

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      When someone seems to be a real threat, or just really unpredictable, sometimes the safest move is to just detatch yourself as much as possible, say whatever is necessary to keep placating them, and then once you get out you can ensure that you are neve be alone in a room with them again. Just like with abusive relationships, sometimes you have to have an escape plan and then a way to extricate yourself before you act. And if there’s no threat but they’re just unprofessional or downright odd, part of me might start taking notes for later to see how far they’ll go.

      1. Avoider of Conflict*

        That is exactly how I respond to threatening situations where I’m stuck with someone who seems potentially explosive or violent – placate them to keep them from becoming dangerous, and then leave as soon as I can and never get into a situation where I’m in the same room with them again.

        So I probably would have stayed too.

    3. CG*

      What IRB allowed an experiment where someone sexually harassed female job interview applicants to see if they’d leave?! Maximum yikes.

      1. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

        That was my first thought! The experiment is deliberately causing harm and doesn’t have the full consent of the participants. It’s invalid. (Unless they were told they’d be harassed, in which case the results would be skewed.) Creepy.

      2. Mpls*

        Psych experiments usually have an out if you tell the participants after the fact. I think. (checks the Internet)…Yeah, it looks like a lot of IRBs have special rules about when a study calls for deception.

        1. Mpls*

          And certain types of studies can qualify for a waiver of consent, but those especially have to maintain IRB review.

          1. Mpls*

            In the Hidden Brain study, is sounds like the deception was that the job posting was real *and* that the sexual harassment was real. The NPR piece says that the person conducting the study “went through a rigorous ethical clearance to conduct the study. After it was over, she debriefed the volunteers and gave them the option of pulling their data.”

            So, yes. Fake job postings and fake harassment can be part of an IRB-monitored study.

            1. out on the east coast*

              I haven’t done more than a couple IRB applications a decade ago but… isn’t there a part on it about harm to participants? This could do long term harm to their mental health. WTF.

            2. TardyTardis*

              And yet, the lawsuit could be quite real. Or the quiet, midnight visit to ‘adjust’ their credit ratings. Not that I would ever do so…

        1. Oh No She Di'int*

          Yes, my fault and my apologies! I posted the first time and it didn’t look like it had gone through. So I tried again and–of course–both comments showed up. Sorry! :-/

  8. Allypopx*

    I work in a relatively small industry, and a lot of interviews I’ve had have been with people I would like to have good professional relationships with regardless of the outcome. That would probably sway me to be pretty tolerant of a lot of red flags. I know there’s an argument for being respectful of people’s time by ending things as soon as you realize it’s a bad fit, but a lot of these folks are academics or directors with big egos and I’d be very concerned about insulting them and having that follow me.

    1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      But there’s a big difference between knowing a job isn’t a good fit, and being treated inappropriately.

      1. Allypopx*

        There is, but even still in most cases it would be my word against the big-wigs, I’m probably still going to stick it out and then do my due diligence in whisper campaigning the hell out of the behavior. I’d prefer to be more direct in the moment but it would have to be pretty egregious behavior to put my career on the line over it. Most of the things on this thread, while I applaud those who did walk out, wouldn’t rise to that level for me.

  9. I coulda been a lawyer*

    I’m at the stage in life where I just stay to watch the train wreck. Although I’ve had a few where I’ve thought I’d bombed it but ended up getting the job anyway.

    1. Cordoba*

      Same here. I’ve had a few hilariously bad interviews, but since I already cleared my schedule for the day I decided to hang around just to see how stupid they could get. The answer: very stupid.

        1. MissDisplaced*

          I had one the other week where the people were all really nice, and the job/company were interesting. But we were at least $30k apart in salary. You’d think they could’ve asked about that on a phone call. Bit clueless.

  10. AndersonDarling*

    At an interview, I was asked “How would you describe yourself if you were a pancake.”
    I deflected and talked about some of the silly questions I had been asked in past technical interviews and horrible questions I had read about. I was trying to move on and flag to them that it was really inappropriate. But they came back to it and said it was required by HR that I answer all the questions.
    I refused. I don’t know what they wanted from that question, but I didn’t have it.

      1. MelonHelen*

        “I’m more of a French Toast person. With syrup and powdered sugar.”

        But now I want blueberry pancakes.

      2. AndersonDarling*

        I wonder if they really were going for a one word response. Everything I could think of seemed to have a possible innuendo side to it…covered in syrup, fluffy, on a plate, side of whatever. I (female) was being interviewed by a panel of men, so there was an extra level of uncomfortable mixed in. And I had just read an article about degrading questions that men ask women in interviews, so I was prepared for the worst.

        1. AndersonDarling*

          Ha! From now on, whenever I get one of these questions, I’ll answer “Not Amused.”
          What Kind of Tree?…not amused
          What kind of animal?…not amused.
          What kind of pancake? “The kind that is not amused by frivolous, pedantic, questions.”

      3. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I’d probably reveal how literal I can sometimes be, because the first thing I thought was “flat and light brown”.

        1. Hey Nonnie*

          Mine was “I wouldn’t describe myself as a pancake because I am a human being.” I do tend to be extra pointedly literal when making a point about the quality of discourse.

      4. out on the east coast*

        I agree 100% about playing it off with a joke… except there was a time I had a bizarre question and did a joke, then they were pushing me like, “no, but WHY are you a blueberry”.

        IDK man, you asked a stupid question, I gave a stupid answer.

      5. Anonomoose*

        Or some sort of reaction around being a sentient pancake….you could just start screaming, occasionally interspersed with how much it burns..

    1. I Will Steal Your Pens*

      I’m sorry for you – I work in HR and am embarrassed for them. SHRM just did a big article on that very subject. I hate that they actually somewhat justified this topic. Again – embarrassed for the HR profession a tad

      ME? If I was able to get beyond my amazement I would have answered “bisquick” because the batter is tasty.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        I actually tried to reach out to the HR rep because I felt it crossed a line. It is a huge technical company in the region and I wanted to let them know, but I never got a response. I didn’t want any other women to be asked that question…no one should have to be asked it, but men asking it to women is especially icky.

        1. I Will Steal Your Pens*

          Well for what its worth it appears you dodged a bullet. And while it may have sounded like I have a disdain for everyone in my profession (I really don’t) there ARE good HR pros out there. But like every other discipline, we can be hard to find.

      2. Now in the Job*

        I’m horrified at SHRM. Do you have a link to the article? I tried to find it and couldn’t. I’m just baffled that they would defend it!

          1. Richard Hershberger*

            Just read it. The cannonball question is a great example of a terribly constructed question, like those SAT questions where you are really guessing the ideology of the test maker.

            The question is how long would it take a cannonball to fall from the surface of the ocean to the bottom of the Marianas Trench. There is no indication given that obtaining additional information is an option. The “correct” answer is to talk about how you need to know how deep the bottom is and the rate at which the ball descends. The “wrong” answers are to either make the best estimate without any additional information, or to talk about the details required for a more accurate answer.

            The thing is, there is no good reason for the candidate to know which is the “correct” answer. He might, entirely reasonably, suppose that it is so obvious that he would be penalized for lack of imagination. Or he might suppose that the “correct” answer is to make reasonable estimates of depth and rate of descent so as to arrive at a first approximation. Or he might suppose that attention to detail is what the interviewer is looking for. This is a guessing game.

        1. Daisy-dog*

          Search their website for Goofy Interview Questions. The part that does condone weird questions is actually from someone in a CMO position, not HR. I’m guessing the individuals that write a lot of these articles are just journalism/communication/marketing pros and not HR. It summarizes the page by saying that if you ask an offbeat question, then the candidate better know why you’re asking that question.

      3. hbc*

        I had someone getting an HR degree tell me how they were teaching that there was a legitimate basis behind the “what kind of tree would you be” question. I told her there was never a good basis to begin with, but now maybe you could test if someone has researched (dumb) interview questions.

        1. SusanIvanova*

          Did they happen to say what it was? Does it allow for someone who knows practically nothing about trees?

        2. June First*

          I know I am late to the party here, but if an interviewer asked what kind of tree I’d be my answer would be, “The kind that leaves.”

      4. techRando*

        Are you referring to the article called “‘If You Could Be Any Vegetable …’ and Other Dubious Interview Questions” ?

        Their title overall doesn’t match the content for that article. The actual questions they discuss are more “weird problem solving” questions than weird “describe yourself” questions. I have a great deal more response for the former than the latter. I feel confident I could give a formula in response to the cannonball question, for example, and it strongly relates to the type of work I do, where I might be given a very vague task and need to ask questions to clarify the situation.

        The manhole question is kind of a well known one but if the interviewer leads the person through thinking about it “What problems might happen with a rectangular manhole cover which would be avoided by a round one?” then it won’t particularly disadvantage quick-thinking candidates who haven’t heard of it before. If they just asked it and moved on when the person was like “uh I don’t know?” or threw out a random answer, that wouldn’t be particularly good interview practice.

        The only example question that doesn’t nearly fit into that is “how would you solve problems if you were from Mars” which is… neither category, I think. I also suspect it’s not a good question, but if there’s some interviewer guidelines for coaching the candidate through the process a little, it might be somewhat valid.

        These “weird problem solving questions” obviously wouldn’t make sense for jobs that don’t have to do this sort of questioning/problem solving work on a huge variety of unfamiliar domains, but sometimes weird sounding questions are valid, depending on the role and the interview process.

    2. Mrs_helm*

      I think the only thing this measures is either (1) your ability to describe things or (2) your ability to stay on task. So, if there’s a way you can answer related to your job function that will demonstrate both. I.e. “I’m an Engineer/Scientist/etc, so I would describe the physical properties” or “I am an accountant/CEO/etc so I would describe how it is cheap but sells well”.

      1. Anonomoose*

        Yeah, but I’m willing to bet it’s totally random if someone gives a good answer…I’d love to see if there’s any correlation between job performance and giving a decent answer to that question

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Honestly I fear it screens out for anyone who doesn’t do metaphor. That should be chilling to you — it rules out anyone who takes things literally, like many of my friends on the autism spectrum.

        1. Tau*

          Yeah… I’m autistic and I don’t think I’d do well with those questions. I’m even good at figurative language etc. as spectrum goes, but I don’t do well with things completely out of my experience coming entirely out of left field. This doesn’t actually have much of an impact on my job performance (thanks ever so, writers defending these questions) because I have a fairly good idea of what all can go wrong in my job and how to react to it. So if you come to me with “horrible critical bug has destroyed everything”, I can handle this. Or “all our prod servers are down”, or “we just realised no purchases have gone through since Tuesday”, or whatever. But “hey, what would you be like as a pancake”…? You’re going to have to give me five minutes or so to switch gears. Which, generally, in an interview you don’t have.

          1. Gazebo Slayer*

            I’m on the spectrum but actually really good at and fond of metaphor… but I’d just consider this so profoundly stupid and insulting I’d probably be unable to answer it anyway from either embarrassment or fury.

        2. Just wondering*

          Great point!!! Number one- you definitely don’t want to use discrimitory questions.

          And two, you just hit the nail on the head for why even though I agree these questions are dumb, I would find it a creative challenge to answer them- I’m definitely a metaphor person.

    3. cmcinnyc*

      I just guffawed at my desk reading that question. And I’m afraid that’s exactly what would happen if someone asked me that in an interview!

    4. Phony Genius*

      I would say that I’m not sure how I would describe myself if I were a pancake because pancakes have no ability to communicate. If I were a pancake that was somehow capable of communication, I would describe myself as being very unappetizing and/or inedible, so that I don’t get eaten.

    5. hbc*

      I’m trying to figure out what the dumb logic is behind this one. Is it a basic assessment of how much detail you go into? Like “round” means you’re not thorough enough, a full minute about your fluffiness and toppings means you go off into the weeds, and two sentences is just right?

      Or is it like the tree question, where you’re image-aware if you describe the toppings and you’re a process person if you describe the cooking process?

    6. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      “Badly. Pancakes can’t communicate, so they’re terrible at describing themselves.”

      But then, my father is a very sarcastic engineer, so unhelpfully answering the question that was asked rather than the question that was implied is something I spent lots of time hearing and practicing growing up. (Having now gained some socialization from a wider range of people, I now generally don’t say those kinds of replies out loud when I think them, but this seems like a case when it would be warranted.)

      1. I'm that person*

        Two biscuits were in the oven. The first said, “Boy it’s hot in here.” The second said, “Oh my G-d a talking biscuit!”

    7. 1234*

      “I’d be famous at IHOP because it’s the International House of Pancakes.”

      I really wonder what kind of answer they were looking for, and I’ve been asked “If you were an animal, what kind of animal would you be?” which at least gives you more options than describing yourself as a pancake.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        I think the animal question *might* give you some insight to a person. But only slightly.
        It’s still not very useful.

    8. Some Windex for my Glass Ceiling please*

      I don’t think pancakes can talk, so this would be where the candidate goes silent.

    9. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I’m also on team “I wouldn’t, because a pancake cannot talk.”

      I’d be pretty terrified, to be honest, if a pancake suddenly started describing itself. Plus, you know that it’s impossible to eat something once you’ve learned its name. “Hi, I’m Fergus the talking pancake” – “Oh great, Fergus. There goes my pancake breakfast. Never going to this IHOP again.”

      1. KayDeeAye (Kathleen_A)*

        To quote Muppet extraordinaire Rizzo the Rat, “Mother always taught me: never eat singing food.” Surely that goes for talking pancakes, too.

      2. Elitist Semicolon*

        I have a relative who (according to family lore) went vegetarian because she’d toked up before cooking dinner and the hamburger she was preparing told her, “stop, that hurts!”

    10. DrRat*

      The first two responses that come to mind would be either “arsenic filled” or “the kind of pancake that really, really loathes bad interview questions.”

      1. Pomona Sprout*

        NGL, the answer that popped into my head when I read that question was, “Flat.”

        Because “flat as a pancake.” So I’d describe myself as flat. Get it?

        Yeah I didn’t say it was a GOOD answer!

    11. Who Plays Backgammon?*

      “If I were a pancake, I wouldn’t have the anatomy or verbal skills to describe myself.”

  11. Pretzelgirl*

    I’ve ended an interview. They upfront about pay. $9.00 an hour for a store manager, who needed a college degree. I said thanks but no thanks and left. At the time I was trying for my first post-grad job. But I knew $9.00 was ridiculous for a manager and someone with a degree.

    I also walked out of what turned out to be a big group interview for a sales thing. It was all completely commissioned based. I walked about 10 minutes into the “presentation” on the job.

    1. silverpie*

      I had one of the insurance ones too. I tanked the written questionnaire, told the person in charge I needed to go eat (truth—low blood sugar), and didn’t go back.

      1. Who Plays Backgammon?*

        Wa-a-ay back in the day I was signing up with a very small employment agency a friend recommended. Her company had hired a temp from them, but the longer I was there the wonkier those people looked. I said I had to go put money in my parking meter and drove home. I thought that would be the end of it–sure didn’t think they’d want to see me again after that, but a day or two later they called me about coming in to finish my application.

    2. Aly_b*

      I also walked out of one of those group commission based things. What surprised me was how surprised the presenters and other “interviewees” were. It was a waste of time and it wasn’t like i was worried about burning a bridge!

  12. SomebodyElse*

    I’ve been on both sides of this…
    As the candidate- I was brought into one of the sales pitch cold call selling type jobs. I snuck out of that one before they could get all of us (there were about 20 of us) in a 2:1 pitch.

    As the interviewer- For some reason my boss decided he’d do the job description for the data analyst position that I was hiring for and unfortunately found a database administrator job description, so that is what was posted. Poor guy comes in and starts telling me of all the databases he managed, his high level skills, and so on. This was the first answer to my question “Can you tell me a little about your current position” I had to switch up my second question to “Wow, that’s a lot of responsibility, can I ask why you are looking for an analyst position? It seems that you would be drastically changing course”


    He blinked… I blinked… and to give him an easy out “Hmm… it seems that we may have a mismatch here. Let me describe the position and you tell me if it’s something you are interested in” It wasn’t. He did ask me why the JD was for a DBA, which is when I figured out what happened. I apologized and asked him if he would like to conclude. He did.. and I took care of the job postings after that point.

    1. Anonomoose*

      The only terrible interview I’ve attended has been as the interviewer.
      Pro tips:
      – Tell us a little bit about yourself is a starting, softball question. It shouldn’t take 15 minutes, and involve waving the interviewers off when they try and get you to wrap up.
      – The other questions should not repeat this pattern. Please.
      – Explaining things in simple, condescending language to the boss, who happens to be female, while obviously not doing the same thing to anyone else, is probably not a good strategy

      1. Mimi Me*

        I once interviewed a woman for retail position and she was so aggressive I really thought she was going to swing at me. I asked about her previous job experience. She was currently working as a plumber’s apprentice and I said, “Oh, that sounds interesting. Can you tell me about a challenge that you’ve faced in that position?” She literally stood up so hard that her chair bounced backward and yelled at me (also a woman) that I didn’t believe that women were capable of doing jobs that men traditionally held. She yelled for a few minutes while I sat there kind of stretching back away from her and then she stomped out of the interview. It was a strange interview.

    2. spock*

      I had a similar experience to the second one. I interviewed someone for a “wrong” position once, but it was sort of kind of close enough to his actual speciality that I guess he wasn’t quite sure that he was definitely being interviewed for something he wasn’t qualified for. At some point I had to make the difficult decision to step back and see if we were on the same page for what the job was, which was mortifying because what if we were on the same page and he was just super underqualified? Turns out I was right and the position wasn’t really what he was expecting, a combination of HR on our end not doing due diligence and him not advocating enough to get good answers, but it was super difficult to make the decision to stop the interview and see what was going on.

    1. Senor Montoya*

      Sure, but also, there are times when you know you need to stay and be polite because if you don’t, it will cost you in other ways.

    2. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      Yes, maybe, but I think that there is also a lot of giving the benefit of the doubt to people especially if the interview is bad but not, say, outright hostile or fraudulent. I’ve been to bad interviews but so far, never one that I felt unsafe and needed to leave in the middle of. I’d need a really good reason to take the nuclear option. IME bad interviews have been poorly coordinated or the interviewer is not really good at interviewing but it would be dehumanizingly rude on my part to just get up and leave. There have been a few instances though that I’ve made the commute to the location and immediately knew this wasn’t what I anticipated (bad commute, bad area or just a bad vibe from the looks of building) and called to cancel rather than go through with the interview at all.

  13. Marny*

    At this point in my life, assuming staying wouldn’t risk my health or safety, I’d stick out a bad interview just for the good story.

    1. Mimi Me*

      That was my take on bad dates too. I have a TON of really fabulous bad date stories because I stuck around to the end. With both bad interviews and bad dates, its always amused me how many times the other side thought everything was fine and I’d get that call later (for second date / interview / job offer) and they were a little surprised/disappointed that I turned it down. Ex; I had a date where the guy literally said 30 words the entire night. On a 3 hour date. He called me the next day gushing about how much fun he’d had. It was the weirdest night of my life. 30 words. Seriously.

    2. Sasha*

      My husband just did that. He was interviewing with a start-up, and between the technical interview and the values interview he did some more research into the founders, and it became clear that the source of funding was likely money-laundering for a highly-dubious oligarch.

      He considered not going, but it was too entertaining not to go and ask them about their links to Famous Corruption Scandal. Obviously had no intention of taking the job at that stage (had other options coming up). It was probably his most enjoyable interview to date.

  14. That Girl from Quinn's House*

    One reason it’s hard to leave bad interviews, is that I think there are way more bad/dysfunctional employers than there are good ones, especially in certain sectors and especially for people with certain skill sets. You might just not have the option to decline working somewhere crappy, because all of your options are crappy.

    1. Adric*

      I’d guess that it’s not so much that there are more bad employers (based on the fact that they’re presumably bad businesses overall, I’d say they’re a minority), but that the bad employers do a lot more hiring.

      If you’re a good employer people hang around because they don’t get sick of you. So they only leave if a life event forces it.

      If you’re a bad employer though, people get sick of your BS all the time, so you keep having to replace them, which means hiring and interviewing.

  15. I Will Steal Your Pens*

    UGH This just happened to me last month – the interviewer was nice enough but about 10 minutes in it was clear to me that the job would be just AWFUL. A ton of work, no chance for development (HR never seems to care about their own development – and if there is a place that does I have never found it), and worse – 6 levels of approvals for pretty mych every employee action – for an HR Manage!

    Anyway, when the hiring manager left to go get someone I texted my friend to tell her how bad it was. After the whole “why the hell are you texting me during your interview” question, she asked me why I didn’t politely just dip – take your own advice for a change. I wish I had – it was that bad. But I did reward myself afterwards with District Taco.

    But still – I hate myself for constantly giving interview advice to friends/peers, etc and not taking it myself.

    I think I was so worried about burning a bridge. But the tacos helped.

  16. nospam*

    If you’re on unemployment, you can’t just walk out of an interview because it’s not going well. You have to wait for them to reject you.

    1. Dzhymm*

      That might depend on unemployment law in your jurisdiction. Last year I was on unemployment in Massachusetts, and all they required was a log of job search activity. Simply showing up at the interview and beginning it in good faith was sufficient (they did ask for contact information for who you interviewed with, but I seriously doubt that they followed up).

    2. Massmatt*

      Not true, at least in my state. The requirement was to actively look (make/document at least 3 attempts per week) and not turn down work. Nothing about having to be rejected from jobs.

      1. Darren*

        I could see leaving an interview be construed as having turned down work. Because for all you know they would have offered you the job no matter how bad the interview was.

    1. Katniss Evergreen*

      Oh ew I didn’t think of it like that but I’m thinking now that’s a super valid assumption to make. GROSS.

  17. Quill*

    I didn’t walk out of the false advertising interview that was actually fishing me for a pyramid scheme / MLM (because I was young and didn’t know that “let’s have a preliminary recruiter meeting at a starbucks” was a red flag,) but I did inform the person who was trying it that pyramid schemes were illegal.

    (Then I read the aquaintance who had “recommended” me the riot act… turns out they’d had me in their contacts and the contacts had just been mined and matched with resumes listed as actively seeking jobs on linked in!)

    1. Quill*

      Moral of this story is “don’t apply to jobs via facebook” but aquaintance was barely 20 and this was from before everyone knew that facebook was bad/a security nightmare

    2. Third or Nothing!*

      AUGH I hate those!!! MLMs and the skeevy companies that do promotions in grocery stores are notorious for posting their jobs as real entry-level marketing positions. It was so incredibly annoying trying to find a marketing job that wasn’t a sales job in disguise back when I graduated college.

      1. Switch and Bait*

        I submitted my resume for a job that had a title like “Marketing Assistant” or “Marketing Coordinator.” There was no mention of sales. Guy calls me up and it’s basically a commission-based MLM type of thing. I said I wasn’t interested in those opportunities and he proceeds to get an attitude and says “Well, why did you even apply?” and basically hung up the phone on me.

        1. Third or Nothing!*

          Maybe if they’d be upfront and honest about the fact that it’s really sales, they’d actually get people who wanted a sales job. Just sayin.

          1. Switch and Bait*

            Funny how that works! *eye roll*

            I think these companies do what they do because they wouldn’t get very many people applying for “door to door sales” and it’s all a numbers game to them. The more people who show up to these initial “job interviews,” the more likely one/some of these people will join their MLM.

            1. Quill*

              That and this is probably the cheapest way for door to door, commission only, and MLM positions to net the most potential employees the fastest.

      2. Quill*

        They disguised this one as a DATA ANALYST, third! I wouldn’t have touched marketing with a 10 foot pole at the time. Also they were selling via facebook and it didn’t take a genius to figure out that was shady.

        1. Third or Nothing!*

          Oh now I’m curious which MLM it was. I can’t think of any that pretend to need data analysts.

          1. Quill*

            I don’t remember exactly what it was named but it was a “sell things online via a store connected to facebook,” so I know it got big enough to reach my small city but don’t think it got any bigger.

      3. Daisy-dog*

        I interviewed with the one that works out of Home Depot. For the first round interview, the interviewer was more than an hour late. They actually asked me to leave and would call me when he arrived. When I came back, he said that he appreciated that I came back and wasn’t going even do the interview (not a red flag to someone in their early 20’s!). He told me about the job and then invited me for a second round interview. I knew it was a terrible idea, but didn’t have any other options and just accepted. I actually followed someone around Home Depot for 2 hours learning about the role which had been awful enough as it is until I learned about the hours: 10 hour days, 6 days/week. I stayed though and then left and applied to as many non-marketing jobs as I could find.

    3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Ohhh oh one of my sons walked out of one of those! He came in for what was advertised as an interview for an entry-level sales job position, was then taken to a conference room with 50 or so other candidates already sitting there, and given a presentation, which contained all the usual key words (be your own boss and whatnot). The presenter then had each candidate introduce themselves. When my son’s turn came, he said “Hi, my name is Son of I Wrote, and I think this is an MLM.” The presenter said “Well that’s what *you* think”, and my son then walked out. Really hope that at least some of the candidates followed his example. I’d hate to see young people fresh out of college trapped into that nonsense. We looked the company up later and sure enough, it checked out as an MLM. He drove all the way across our metro area for this interview (like 50 miles one way). He and I both had spent the evening before getting the cat hair out of his suit. All this hard work, in vain. PS. They found him through either LinkedIn, or Indeed.

  18. lost academic*

    There’s a lot of situations where people stick with things past a logical end to the acceptability of the outcome, but I think it’s human nature to do so. We don’t usually go into a lot of situations knowing our clear dealbreakers after having recently considered them and being willing to bail after meeting one. Jobs, real estate, dates, things where there’s flexibility in the relationship or situation. We rationalize the negatives because we’re trying to assess the entire picture and don’t want to make a snap decision – but everyone has dealbreakers. I’ve never myself walked out of a crappy interview but I don’t think I’ve ever had one bad enough where I thought at any point “I am not working here/with you and I can’t see any incentive to change my mind”.

  19. TexasPenny*

    The majority of my career has been spent in the transit field. I had an interview at a university for a mid-level position-staff, not academic. I was brought into the room to be met with 10 people sitting around a table set up in a horseshoe formation, with me situated between the two “ends”. It was to run bus operations for the university, but I spent the whole time talking about why the city would not receive federal funding for light rail transit. And, to top it off, there were 3 uniformed police officers on the interview panel. I ended up not getting that job but was asked if I would consider the department manager position. I got the job, but it turned out to be a nightmare (a subject for another time on how not to be played by your boss).

    1. MissDisplaced*

      Yeah. Academia. They’re a special brand of interview crazy.
      I suppose they feel they’re being inclusive with their peer interviews for all levels, but it’s really just overkill for everyone involved.

  20. Wintermute*

    I’ve done this three times in my life. But each and every one was well-founded I think. It turns out the “management-track busness to business marketing” job was really cold call telemarketing, on pure commission pay, and the “management track” was the fact some lucky guy with the best metrics (I.e. whoever gamed their internal systems the best to get more sales numbers and better patrols) another one was similar but door to door… yeah no, you advertise for an office professional, I’m not sticking around while you try to convince me to give up and IT career to go sell cutco knives for you.

  21. LuckyClover*

    I had a job interview for an office assistant job where the interviewer kept asking me trick questions like “who is your biggest competition” I even remember asking him what kind of competition does the sole front desk admin have. It was so bewildering. He’d keep pushing and I finally would give an answer and then he would tell me how I was wrong and give me the “correct” answer. I don’t know why I stayed through that, but I knew as I left that I definitely wasn’t going to work there.

    They called me two weeks later to inform me that they decided to “redo” the interview process with a new panel of interviewers rather than the one guy.. I declined. lol

    1. Phony Genius*

      Do you by any chance remember what the interviewer said was the “correct” answer to “who is your competition?”

        1. LuckyClover*

          lol it was “myself”

          for a front desk receptionist position at a very small (3 people) engineering firm. Not really sure how I was supposed to compete with myself every day for that one…

          1. Third or Nothing!*

            CONSTANT VIGILANCE! Your past self is always trying to sneak up on your current self. Probably shouldn’t have brought the Time Turner to work. ;P

      1. disconnect*

        I’m guessing the only acceptable response would have been, “YOU. YOU ARE MY COMPETITION. I CHALLENGE YOU TO THUNDERDOME.” said in the appropriate Movie Tough Guy Intonation.

  22. Shramps*

    I like to think I could leave, but I am so midwestern polite I doubt I would have the courage.

    Luckily that’s never been tested.

    1. londonedit*

      Same, but British. I’d have to sit there and smile and nod politely and then run away as fast as I could once I got out of the door.

      Luckily I’ve never had a truly horrendous interview, but there have been a couple where I’ve thought ‘well, this doesn’t sound like somewhere I want to work’. But I work in a small industry, and I’d worry about becoming ‘that woman who got up and walked out in the middle of an interview’.

  23. Wing Leader*

    I had a terrible interview once that nearly killed my self-confidence. I was putting my resume out everywhere and netoworking like crazy online. One day, I got an email inviting me to apply for a particular position because I seemed like a good fit. I did some digging and actually talked to someone at the company to make sure it wasn’t scammy, but it was legit so I applied. A couple of days later, I got an offer to interview. This company was out of town and I would have to move for the job, but it was so good that I was open to that if I got it. So, I planned a day trip and went for the interview. When I got there, and after a few minutes of standard interview questions, the interviewer said that he had no idea why I bothered to apply for the position because I had nothing they wanted and didn’t have the right qualifications. I told him that the company had asked me to apply and gave him the name of the person I had spoken to about it. He said that must have been a mistake and told me to not waste their time anymore. So my whole day was ruined and I traveled for nothing. If I didn’t get the job, fine. But to be beaten down like that was so demoralizing.

    1. SomebodyElse*

      That sounds like a bucket full of crazy in that organization. Hopefully you don’t give it any credence anymore, but I can definitely see where that would be a blow to your self confidence.

    2. Sparrow*

      Did you report that back to the person who invited you to apply? Seems like they clearly had some sort of major internal disconnect (but also, there’s no need for him to be that rude, wow).

    3. Fikly*

      Well, why did you get asked to interview then?

      Yeah, I’ve gotten that line too. I also sat through an interview where the jerk spent the entire time telling me what jobs I should be applying for instead of that one (in an entirely different field, no less).

  24. Lauren*

    I went to a place that was a group interview for selling knives to your friends and family. They didn’t stop to breathe for 45 minutes before I was able to say – this isn’t for me so I’m going to head out. Easier to do when its not 1-1, but I regret not asking the others if they wanted to come with me.

    1. BadWolf*

      I went to one of those! For some reason, I even went in for the 1-1 on chat after the group presentation. Why, self, why? I was looking for a summer job. Didn’t realize what it was. Fortunately I escaped without signing up for anything.

    2. MCMonkeyBean*

      Yep, that’s a pyramid scheme/MLM. Cutco/Vector Marketing. I responded to one of their postings when I was looking for a summer job in college and someone called me like literally seconds after I submitted. I was pretty sketched out by their unusually quick response and decided not to go. Now I know more about these companies and how horrible they are and I’m so grateful for that bullet dodged!

    3. Environmental Compliance*

      I got sucked into one of those in high school! Ad was for a “front desk reception” position, I was looking for summer work. I walked into the cattle call with a whole lot of other people, got through two slides, said this isn’t what was posted, walked out and threw my paperwork in the trash on the way out.

      Got to my car and cried because I was so mad I had wasted my (very precious) gas money to get there.

    4. LCH*

      haha, i was asked to leave a vector presentation halfway through. i must have been sitting there with the turdiest look on my face. so at the break the guy told me it didn’t look like this was something i was into. he was so right!

    5. Wing Leader*

      I got sucked into going to an MLM interview not too long ago (didn’t know that’s what it was initially, but recognized it as soon as I got there). I purposely stayed so I could laugh at it. It was a group interview, and they had company “executives” do a PowerPoint presentation that showed off all their fancy houses and cars to supposedly show how much money we could make there. I wanted so badly to walk up to them afterwards and say something like, “Wow, nice presentation. Unfortunately, I know every scammy sales tactic in the book so I didn’t buy it one bit. But keep trying!” I restrained myself so, I just said no thanks and left lol. But I really wanted to goad them a bit.

  25. Salsa Your Face*

    I walked out of a job interview this summer when I realized that it was a scam. The marketing communications position they invited me to interview for didn’t exist, and they wanted to “start me out ” by selling solar panels door to door with promises of ascending through their MLM-esque hierarchy. I knew of several other companies in my region who were notorious for doing this, but the name of this company was new, so I hadn’t heard it before and research didn’t turn up red flags yet. It’s absolutely infuriating and my heart goes out to the people who are too naive or desperate to see through the nonsense.

    Anyway, the interview. My hackles were raised the moment I walked into the office and saw the name of one of the scam companies I already knew about printed on the sign. The receptionist told me that the new company I was interviewing with was still looking for their own office space. I quickly looked up the scam company on Glassdoor while I waited to familiarize myself with their interview tactics should the new company try to do the same thing so what happened next wasn’t a huge surprise to me. The first few minutes of the interview were fine, with the interviewer asking me to tell him about myself, my career goals, my skills, etc. Then he dropped the door-to-door thing on me, and I pushed back. I told him that that wasn’t what I had applied for. He said it’s all they had available. I asked why the person who had phone screened me the other day confirmed the marketing communication job duties with me, he said “the job description doesn’t say it’s NOT door-to-door sales.” I told him that I felt very misled and gave him the chance to own up to it, but he was very defensive and only spat out company lines.

    It went on like that for a few minutes longer. In the end I snatched my resume out of his hands, told him that I didn’t appreciate his deceptiveness and was not interested in continuing the interview, and left. It felt good. Blasting the company on Glassdoor that evening felt really good too.

    1. The Original K.*

      I’ve told this story here before but I was part of a mass walkout when we realized that a) it was a group interview, which we didn’t know going in (we all got there and saw all the other people and were confused) and b) the job (also a marketing role) didn’t exist and it was an MLM scam. This was during the recession, in wintertime – we all stood around outside afterward in the snow for a few minutes and commiserated with each other about how rough it was out there.

      1. Salsa Your Face*

        I’ve walked out of a group MLM interview too! That was years ago, before I realized how often marketing job titles were used as a stand-in for direct sales.

        I’m normally a very polite person, but that flies out the window when someone is trying to bullshirt me, and I’ve learned through experience that that isn’t true for most people. I was once on a tightly-budgeted vacation with two friends, and we agreed to sit through a vacation club presentation in exchange for free tickets to an (expensive) event. I primed my friends ahead of time and told them how hard the sales people would be pushing and how good of a deal they would make it out to be. They promised me that they would say “no thank you” a few times and then we would all leave. Did that happen? I’m telling this story here, so of course not! They bought into it hook, line, and sinker, even with me sitting at the table with the sales guy and refuting his “only a stupid person wouldn’t take this deal–are you a stupid person?” nonsense. I was afraid that if I walked out, then my two friends might stay there another hour or, worse, sign up. Eventually I couldn’t take it any longer and walked away. Thankfully, it only took another twenty minutes for my friends to follow me. Later they agreed with me that the sales pitch had been pushy and the offer not worth the cost, but they still insisted that I “could have been nicer.” No, I couldn’t have. I was as nice as I could have possibly been. I don’t owe anything to people who try to take advantage of me.

        1. The New Wanderer*

          I’ve been surprised how many people I know who try that same thing – go to the timeshare sales pitch for the free gift with every intention of saying no no no, and then actually get swayed enough to seriously consider it (and sign up in a few cases). Personally I’ve never been tempted by any gift enough to deliberately subject myself to hard sales, not because I’m afraid I’ll buy into it but because I have no patience sales pitches of any kind.

        2. CupcakeCounter*

          My parents bought one. It got us an immediate upgrade and free tickets to two places we were already planning on going so my dad bought in. Luckily they had a “trial” package that wasn’t too bad so he didn’t shell out tons of money. It did come in handy for a little bit though as my grandfather got sick not long after and they had a resort 5 minutes from where he was. Cancelling was a serious hassle though.

          Me…I’ll buy all the warranties and protectants you have for the shiny new vehicle I just purchased but anything other than that I’m gold level Nope. When I was 19 I got one of those “free” cruises and hotel stays in the mail so as a broke college student I said hell yes I will listen to your BS for a couple hours in exchange for a free vacation. Friend and I went and when it came time for the spiel, I simply kept replying “I’m a 19 year old college student and live with my parents…what makes you think I can afford that?” and “looks like my grandma’s house” during the tour of the newly renovated/build and decorated by top designers condos. After about 45 minutes of being passed from tour group to sales guy and a couple managers finally someone asked “If you weren’t interested and couldn’t afford it why are you even here?” Duh…you sent me a voucher for a free vaca and I’m broke. My time at this point wasn’t worth spit so wasting a couple hours touring a nice place didn’t completely suck. We were escorted out quickly (because I am loud and a total skeptic) so as not to give other people ideas.

    2. fposte*

      You wonder if they ever stop to think how shitty the jobs they offer must be if they can only hire people via bait and switch.

    3. Lauren*

      I was basically kidnapped for 8 hours on a interview to sell art work to doctors offices. We were shuttled back and forth to complexes and I couldn’t get back to my car even though I said at the first stop that I didn’t want the job. They didn’t have anyone to drop me back off. Uber wasn’t a thing then nor were taxis very reliable.

      1. Prof. Space Cadet*

        I was once a patient in the waiting room area of an urgent care clinic when a salesperson like them came in demanding to speak to someone in charge. The clinic manager came out of her office and read them the riot act. I don’t recall what exactly she said, but it was an amazing, profane rant that left no ambiguity.

    4. Shady Lady*

      The job description also didn’t say it’s NOT chipmunk wrangling, but you don’t expect that to be one of your duties! A job description is supposed to be what the job *is*.

    5. MissDisplaced*

      I work in marketing communications.
      Selling door-to-door is very much not marketing communications! It’s field marketing, but even that would likely be a stretch! It’s door to door scams.

      And god that asshat was infuriating.

      1. Massmatt*

        No, it’s NOT marketing in any sense, it’s DOOR TO DOOR SALES, call it what it is!

        Quibbling about what TYPE of “marketing” it is is the thin end of the wedge.

  26. Cordoba*

    A few years ago my brother had an interview at a well-known big tech company. They flew him out to California, paid for a fancy hotel downtown for the weekend, etc.

    When he went to the address *they gave him* for the interview he found that it was not a company site. After calling his contact he learned that they had intentionally given the wrong address as a test, to see which candidates would research the location beforehand and correctly identify that it was not affiliated with them. They then gave him the real address and said he should hurry across town to complete his interview.

    He said “sure thing, I’ll be right there” and then spent the day at the beach while ignoring any further calls from them. Essentially, by playing silly games they lost him as a candidate AND managed to pay for him to have a long weekend vacation.

      1. Cordoba*

        It gets better. He *had* researched the address they provided before even flying out, and had noticed that it was a generic upscale office building rather than a company specific site. He just figured that the Big Tech Company had discreetly had a presence in the building to and used it to do initial interviews rather than bringing candidates to their main location.

        So, their plan of “the most prepared candidates will put on their Sherlock Holmes hat and deduce that we tricked them” didn’t even work. They thought they were selecting for problem-solving ability and attention to detail, but were actually selecting for people who will eat crap and like it. Which maybe was their original goal after all…

        1. Quill*

          The intersection of “jobs that will pay to fly you to an interview” and “jobs that will play extensive mind games during the interview” is apparently larger than I thought.

        2. hbc*

          Yeah, that’s the plan is just asinine. What, am I supposed to notice that it’s not their headquarters and then…assume they gave me a completely random wrong address? Seems much more likely that it was a convenient spot for any number of reasons: better space, privacy, client site, closer to interviewer’s house, etc..

          I’ve got two choices: go to where they clearly told me I was supposed to go, or get back to them all “So did you actually mean what you said?” and risk ticking off the interviewer.

          1. fposte*

            And at that point there’d be a strong impulse to go down the list of everything you were told and check to see if any others were fake.

            1. out on the east coast*

              “I see this offer letter is for $50K. I checked google maps for rental prices near the office and I assume this to be another test. Shall I correct my copy to $100K or will you?”

            1. Temp anon*

              Way back when I worked retail, the owners of the store (who I’d met several times) came in to meet with the manager. I waited on customers while they hung around and yakked in the back. one of them put merchandise under his jacket and complained I wasn’t paying attention. Umm, OK you want me to what, frisk the store owners? Ignore customers and stare at you? Hit the panic button to summon the cops with guns drawn?

        3. SomebodyElse*

          This is what I would think too. It’s not all that uncommon for off-site interviews to be arranged for a number of reasons.

        4. Antilles*

          Yeah, that was my first thought too – like, even my last company which was like 400 people had three difference offices in our primary city (including one office for “I’m the CEO, I am not driving more than 3 minutes from my penthouse”); it wouldn’t make me blink for a second just getting an address for a generic office building because I’d assume they had a satellite office there.

          1. Quill*

            Satellite offices specifically for people who didn’t need to be in the main manufacturing / r&D / compliance campus is pretty common in my industry!

            1. Millennial Lizard Person*

              Right, they take you to a rental space because you have to have a security clearance to get you in the main building!

        5. The New Wanderer*

          Yeah, that is really bad planning on the company’s part. I’ve been to two interviews for big tech companies, both of which were either entirely located at, or had the interviews at, generic office buildings with no signage whatsoever. Of course this was explained to me so I wouldn’t think I was being led to the wrong place, but having a nondescript office presence is a Thing that companies very much do. Several of the places I’ve worked have had multiple locations within the same city or region as well, so why they would think advance research would help in the slightest is beyond me.

          Being misdirected on purpose and then told to hustle up, you’re already failing our secret test? Only crappy companies do that.

          Absolutely love that your brother bailed entirely!

        6. MCMonkeyBean*

          Yeah, there are plenty of legitimate reasons they might ask to meet at an address not listed as associated with them online! What a weird test!!

        7. Who Plays Backgammon?*

          I live near a couple of Major Prestigious Firms with fancy campuses, but they’ve outgrown them, so they have extra offices and even whole floors in regular office buildings nearby. I wouldn’t automatically assume it was a test if I were given an address off the main facility.

    1. Some Windex for my Glass Ceiling please*

      Yes! Bet they never figured on anyone doing this.
      I’m sure they expected him to show up, out of breath, begging for forgiveness, and timidly asking if the interview was still on.

    2. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      The only thing I’d be concerned about in your brothers place would be that when he didn’t show, they’d call the hotel and check him out right away or in some other way mess with his return home — it WAS a direct flight, but now you have a 5-hour layover in Cleveland, cheers!

      1. voluptuousfire*

        That would be unlikely to happen. IME, most candidates in tech end up booking their travel directly with the company’s travel vendor since it makes sense logistically. Unless they had the travel confirmation (which is not necessarily the case), they wouldn’t be able to do anything. Thankfully.

        1. Clevelandgal*

          Sadly there aren’t many places anymore that sell pierogies at restaurants in Cleveland. Now if you’re lucky enough to stumble across a church selling them, good for you! We do have great grilled cheese restaurants and burger joints. :)

    3. CommanderBanana*

      I take my hat off to him.

      And also, that is INSANE. What is that supposed to accomplish?!

  27. Can't Sit Still*

    I vividly remember the interview I should have walked out on. The interviewer was relentlessly trying to get me to talk about someone I’d worked with 15 years earlier. He also implied multiple times that I was lying about my experience. I’m sorry I didn’t walk out, but that was the interview that made me decide I would never sit through another interview like that again.

    Then there was the group interview for a senior level position. There were 4 candidates being interviewed by a panel of 4. It was a family business and this would be the first time they hired an “outsider.” After the interview portion, they took us on a tour and showed us the work space for the position: a small table under the stairs. Finally, they told us that there was a dispensary next door and that the smoke got pretty heavy in the afternoons. As we walked out, another candidate and I agreed that we were going to pass. After the interview, they sent as an email asking for an essay about why we wanted the job. I only stayed because the interview took place during rush hour, and I thought I’d rather not be in traffic for an hour. In retrospect, sitting in traffic for an hour would have been a better use of my time.

  28. boop the first*

    I haven’t interviewed much overall, and being in retail/hospitality, it was either:
    1. Structured math questions and tests
    2. Tone-deaf “why do you want to work here” conversations that don’t make any damn sense. No one wants to work here!
    3. Oh you have a resume and a human name and hands, start tonight, maybe we’ll do paperwork later? ok cool.

    If I have a great interview with productive conversations and seem to fit in really well, it’s always a rejection.

    Ugh, when I was 18, I ended up baited into one of those Cutco interviews where they put out a call and intentionally hide any details about what or where the job is. I showed up to the room filled with anxious teenagers and their baffled parents. An overdressed 20 year old took me in to interview and we didn’t even get past the job description, where he told me I, a tiny girl, was going to go door to door selling knives.
    I said, “What, is that SAFE???”
    He said, “Sure it is… do you want the job or…?”
    I said, “No… I, I don’t think so.”

    We shook hands and parted. He tried to make a big macho show of throwing my resume in the trash, but I was so flabbergasted that he thought that an inexperienced girl would voluntarily make a go at taking knives to strangers’ houses that it barely registered on my usual guilt complex. Plus, I felt like a goddess that day, which helped. My mom didn’t even flinch when I told her I rejected the job.

  29. Ebrofin*

    I had a telephone interview for a job that aligned well with my skills and experience, the company had a good reputation, and it would be a very good commute. First there was an HR screen, then a second call with the hiring manager, a peer, and a contractor who was a subject matter expert. The contractor proceeded to dominate the conversation, interrupting both me and the hiring manager. At one point, the contractor didn’t agree with my answer and shouted “That’s wrong! That’s wrong! It’s ABC! Everyone knows that!” The rest of the interview proceeded with interruptions at increasing volume by the contractor.

    I was stunned, and simply didn’t have the presence of mind to end the call! I think I was partially hoping it would get better and I could save it, and partially felt that I just needed to see it to the end. After the call, I wanted to remove myself from consideration, but so many people, including the out placement service, told me to stay the course. Why would people say this? Could I possibly be comfortable interviewing in person with these people?

    The HR person, who was very professional, called me a few days later to say I was on a long short list. Thankfully, my sanity stepped in and I told her I didn’t want to proceed due to the unprofessional and hostile interview. The HR person then tells me I’m not the only candidate who gave this feedback. I felt pretty horrible after all this, and swore to myself never again.

    1. Sparrow*

      I think I would’ve stayed on the call just to see if the hiring manager and peer would step in at any point. The fact that they apparently didn’t tells you a lot about that team, I think…

  30. Thornus*

    I had a bad interview that I’m not sure why I didn’t even walk out before it started. Maybe I was morbidly curious.

    I was called a couple of days before to schedule. I was given two times and asked which worked better – something like 1:30 and 2:30. I was working a contract job at the time, so I had some flexibility in my schedule. However, I wanted to bank more hours that day, so I chose 1:30. Which fine. I get there by about 1:15. Come 1:30, one of the interviewers came out and said they’d be with me shortly, running slightly behind with other candidates, etc. Understandable. Another candidate gets in at about 1:45 – her interview was scheduled for 2:30. Various people walk through the lobby – some of whom I later learn are in on the interview. The head interviewer then comes out, and takes in the 2:30 person at about 1:55 or so. The receptionist, who had seen me waiting patiently the entire time, asked me loudly and in front of the interviewer and other candidate “What time was your interview again? 1:30?” I said yes. The lead interviewer then acknowledged me and said she’d be with me shortly. They finally bring me in at 2:30 (again, I do not know why I hadn’t left by then – morbid curiosity to see if they’d apologize?). There was no apology. One of the interviewers kept asking me about my ex in intrusive ways (my ex was relevant – why did I leave a job? to be with an ex whose job relocated her elsewhere, things didn’t work, now I’m back here). I had experience with some niche federal law on my resume that was relevant to the position; one of the interviewers asked me directly what it was since she did not know, and the lead interviewer answered for me.

    It was a disaster all around. I wish I had gotten a callback just so I could have declined it with very specific reasons why.

  31. IcarusTyler*

    I walked out of one! It was scheduled to be a 30min-call, then the day before they ask me to come by in person. Turns out they expected be to be there for FOUR HOURS. I replied that I had different plans, and I’ve never had this in my previous x interviews in my life, to which one of the interviewers said “That many? Wow, you must be bad at getting jobs, I only had a single one.” Then I said fuck it and left.

  32. RC Rascal*

    When I was a fresh college graduate I was having difficulty getting interviews. Finally I got a call for a interesting job at a smaller business. Interviewer insisted on interviewing me at noon the day before Thanksgiving.

    My family had plans to drive over the river & through the woods to visit Grandma for the holiday, a 9 hour drive away. My Dad suggested we delay the trip departure so I could interview. We were packed, car was loaded. I expected to be home by 1:30.

    When I got there the Interviewer was running late. Then, after an hour interview, he said to me, “ I have interviewed 21 people for this role and you are the least qualified .” I’m sitting here thinking: “ Why did you feel the need the need to talk to 21 people? My resume clearly says I’m straight out of school. You knew who I was when you brought me in!” I left & then got caught in traffic on the way home. It was the day before Thanksgiving, after all.

    We weren’t able to hit the road for Grandma’s until after 4PM. My entire family was really pissed at that Interviewer.

  33. Megan*

    I walked out of an interview only once and it was because the interviewer made it so awkward. A few minutes into the interview her phone rang (her cell phone, it was on the table next to her), she apologized and said she was waiting for an important phone call and answered it. The person on the other end was a debit collector (she had her volume up, waaaay to high) and started to talk about all this debit. I attempted to get up but as soon as I moved, she gestured for me to stay put. She made zero effort to disconnect with the guy, she talked to him maybe 5 minutes and then finally hung up.

    We continued the interview, the phone rang a second time and this time it was a doctor’s office and they started to tell her personal medical things. I once again tried to get up and she tried to gesture for me to stay, but I got up and walked outside the room. I felt waaaay to awkward to stay in there since I could her every single thing the office was telling her!

    She came and got me after like 10 minutes. She was apologetic but didn’t seem that bothered by all the random personal information I had just heard. I knew I didn’t want the job at that point but continued with the interview anyway. Apart of me wishes I just would have left after the second phone call, but I didn’t want to be as rude as she was. :X

    (Randomly and related, the job was for a Youth Librarian and I was interviewing with the Department Head. She asked about my knowledge of current Youth authors, I started to talk about my favorite author who also writes Youth novels and had recently gotten a major award for his book. She looked at me and said, “Wait didn’t he die like 10 years ago?” I was like “Uhh, no. As of last time I checked, he’s alive?” I was kinda surprised she thought he was dead, since his book was recent and so was his award win! When I got home I made a joke about it on Twitter and tagged the author. To my surprise he retweeted it a bit later and had a laugh. It was totally worth having that interaction to have to sit through and hear about the woman’s debit and medical problems, haha).

    1. 1234*

      I’m nosy so I would’ve stayed in the room when the interviewer was getting her medical information just so I could know what was wrong with her!

        1. Uncle Bob*

          You know it didn’t even occur to me about auto-correct but you are probably right. It’s become a tic for me to correct debit/debt usage ever since my accounting prof beat it into our heads in college.

          1. Pomona Sprout*

            Well, I appreciate the explanation, because I was confused about why it said debit, and not debt. So thanks!

  34. Liz*

    I applied for a job once that required a very lengthy application, a simulated test on the computer, and a phone interview. Throughout the whole process I made it clear that I could only work part time, as I had one semester of school left. When I had the in-person interview, the interviewer started out by saying not only was the job full time, but my schedule would change constantly for six months so I could train in all areas and I absolutely could not take off any time for the first year. When I explained that I was in school and looking for part time work, she was so rude and basically stated that I should quit school for this opportunity. I walked out.

  35. ElizabethJane*

    My worst was an interview for one of those door to door sales (cable TV) that was run by an MLM type company (probably Vector though I had no idea at the time).

    Except the interview was a “working interview” where I actually got in the person’s car and did a full day of “work” following them around. In high heels because I dressed for an office job.

    I should have refused to go but I was 22 and had no idea. I did tell them I wasn’t at all interested when they called to offer me a job.

    1. LurkNoMore*

      Same here – except it was knock-off perfume! Wool suit, power-bow, nylons…all of it. Scrambling thru bushes and walking around to the loading docks. And you were in their car, so you couldn’t escape!
      We returned to the business and I was supposed to go in for a final review and I just headed straight to my car. The person I had been traveling with didn’t seem too surprised.

      1. 1234*

        That’s one of their tactics, to make you go in their car so you couldn’t escape! I’m glad you got out of that one.

      2. Richard Hershberger*

        You are my twin! In my case this would have been in the late 1980s. I kept my mouth shut and smiled and nodded the whole day, because I wasn’t even in the same county as my own transportation. Once back home, I was out of there as fast as I could.

    2. Celestial being on a bike*

      Had a similar experience for a company selling DSL. They said they were NOT hiring sales people but management trainees…um,no. It was full on cold calling. The day long “interview” 45 miles from my house was excruciating and consisted of us stopping at every business in town. I told them halfway through I wasn’t interested. Still had to stay all day until they drove me back. Since I was only 21 and so inexperienced, I forgive myself but I still cringe that I didn’t dig deeper before agreeing to that interview in the first place.

  36. Hello It's Me*

    Whelp, I have walked out of interviews before. I just go, “This isn’t the right fit for me. Thank you for your time.”

    It is SO incredibly uncommon that the only response I get is their jaws falling to the floor, not saying anything back, staring at me as I walk out.

    I think people are afraid to seem rude or go against a status quo.

    1. Darren*

      I got the same result both times that I left interviews after saying pretty much the same thing. The interviewers literally had no idea what to say to someone deciding that it wasn’t what they were looking for. Both were very early in my career not that I’ve done a lot of interviewing recently.

      It’s almost like some companies forget that an interview is a situation for both sides to decide whether it’s the right fit, not just the employer.

  37. Quill*

    You were interviewed by the LW who thought scheduling interviews during finals / move out week was reasonable, I see.

  38. notMichelle*

    I stayed through a bad interview once, but mainly so I could just get some more experience in interviewing. Part of it was that I KNEW it was going to be bad before I got in – I had been doing some last minute research on the company/interviewer and found his book that set off major red flags to me but I was heading underground and was not going to have enough service to call and cancel (plus it was within an hour and I just think that looks bad). It just started off awkwardly, the receptionist was having a very loud personal conversation with someone on the phone and then didn’t know how to transfer the caller appropriately. I interviewed with the admin first and, while she was very sweet, she just looked a mess. Then the owner came and just….wow. First he came out with saying that I was too early and that he sent me a message to push it back 30 mins (I never received anything – no email/text). His overall tone felt very condescending which was completely different from the phone interview a few days before. He asked for my news sources and then commented how they weren’t fast enough (NPR, NYTimes, PBS, etc). He asked if I had cable which I don’t and then asked how I even got my weather (from one of several apps on my phone). I know he had a smartphone because he actually answered a phone call during the interview. He even was like “Y’know, I’m just looking for someone with that ‘spark.’ ”

    I sat there and kept wondering WTH is actually happening right now. I was unemployed at that time so I really had nothing else to do that day so I stuck through it. Would my day have been better had I not gone? Probably. But! I got a pretty good story out of it and I learned some valuable things about myself and what I wanted at that moment (which was not working for someone like that).

  39. CupcakeCounter*

    I walked out of an interview for a internship that, assuming nothing went horribly, had a guaranteed offer of employment at the end. On paper it looked great – less than a 20 minute commute, smaller firm so more hands on and diverse tasks, and a clean reputation. Yeah…I walked in to an office straight out of the 1970’s (this was 2007) with lots of pictures of Jesus and Virgin Mary. The receptionist walked me straight back to the owner’s office, so no time to bow out early, and after the pre-interview prayer for guidance (no joke), he started asking questions that had nothing to do with my degree program and a lot to do with my spiritual well-being and faith. I managed to give benign answers to the first couple questions due to shock but when they started getting into more personal territory, I started packing up my stuff and told him that I didn’t think this was the place for me. Can’t remember the exact words but I managed to be very polite since I knew that the school would be getting feedback from this guy since it was a credit based internship.
    I had an interview last summer I wanted to leave but since the guy who was being a bit jerkish wasn’t someone I would be working with I stayed. Should have just left since they had already jerked me around several time rescheduling the interview day of – ended up costing me 8 hours of PTO to meet for an hour due to their last minute cancellations. Best part is at the end of the interview I was asked if it would be possible to come back later in the week for a video interview with another higher up. I really couldn’t but since I worked fairly close to home, I said I could manage an all video call as long as it was right before or after a lunch hour. They seemed ok with that answer until I got a call the next day rejecting me for “not being flexible to business needs”. I about blew a gasket since they had changed my interview time 4 or 5 times.

    1. Shamy*

      Did you end up saying anything to them about the fact that you had accommodated their previous reschedulings (idk if this is a word, but going with it)? My head exploded at that. You definitely dodged a bullet. Pretty sure what they really meant was available 24/7 for whatever whims cross their minds.

      1. CupcakeCounter*

        I did actually – the recruiter I worked with was top notch and that was who called to let me know I was out of the running. As she was the one who had to call me every time they decided to reschedule she knew the hoops I had jumped through so when she gave the reason my response was something along the lines of “Are you freaking kidding me right now?” She told me she pushed back on that reasoning since they had changed my interview time repeatedly but that was all they would give her. She sent me a link for a post-interview survey and begged me to be honest. I was. Ended up getting a call from their internal HR with a bunch of BS about how the recruiting and scheduling team messed up (3rd party) not anyone at the company.
        Unfortunately for the HR rep, I knew that the final reschedule was due to an executive team* lunch they rescheduled at the last minute because the receptionist told me when I arrived that they weren’t back from lunch yet (at 3:30pm and my original interview was at 1pm). Yeah…because they moved the lunch date none of the nicer local restaurants were able to accommodate what they wanted on less than an hour’s notice so they drove 45 minutes each way to the closest big city for a fancy lunch. Rushed me through the interview since they had a dinner planned for that evening with some local business contacts.
        *large global company so the hiring manager was located in a different state and they were doing interviews for the role while he was in town for a corporate meeting

  40. Kat Maps*

    A few years ago I was invited to interview at Big Company. I was told to plan to be there for a couple hours. I think by the end though I’d been there for 4 or 5 hours. At one point, when one interviewer was out of the room and I was waiting for another to show up, I inhaled a granola bar that I’d luckily had in my purse. Then when the second interviewer finally showed up he was pretty rude. He really made it seem like I wouldn’t want the job. At one point, after I finished answering a question he’d asked, he started mocking my mannerisms (I gesture with my hands when I talk, as a lot of folks do). I withdrew my candidacy shortly thereafter.

    1. Quill*

      I went to an interview once that was allegedly a 1 hour interview… and was there 3 hours including a 1 hour site tour in my interview shoes.

      My interview shoes are fine for “walk into office, sit down” but by the end of this unending site tour I was in enough pain to make me cry, and of course I had to go up and down extremely steep back staircases in them… said staircases were made out of metal grates, which didn’t help my general stability in walking down them, staring three fifteen foot floors down to the concrete.

      Didn’t end up getting the job, but was terrified at the time that mentioning that I was actively in pain from my foot issues was going to cost me the job, because it was in a r&D lab in an industry that routinely writes in “must be able to sit/stand 8+ hours and lift 50lbs” whether a position requires it or not.

  41. Now in the Job*

    I once was called in to interview for a small-ish law firm that was growing and wanted an entry level attorney. The interviewer and owner of the firm was AN HOUR LATE, brushed off his tardiness, and proceeded to tell me that he has NEVER hired someone who was not from his (local, prestigious) law school. I remember sitting there thinking “Then why the hell did you call me in if you won’t hire from outside your law school?”

    He also asked me what I knew about his company, which I started reciting what I remembered from their website and working towards what I had seen on other resources, but he interrupted me first with LITERALLY an eye roll AND a sarcastic “So you looked at our website, good for you.”

    I still don’t know why I sat through it. It was so bizarre.

    1. female-type person*

      I, with a brand new JD degree, was interviewing with a state agency. There were three people interviewing me. After proudly explaining all about their terrible work/life balance–all work, no vacations–they **openly, and as team, ridiculed me** for my three top papers, which I had listed on my resume, as one did then (and I assume, as one still does?) it having been carefully explained to me in law school that this was A Good Thing. I have no idea why they took up so much time to interview someone they detested on paper. And, happily for us both, they did not offer me the job.

    2. Creamsiclecati*

      My worst interview also involved me getting eye-rolled at by one of the interviewers. The woman was dressed in workout clothes and sat there picking dirt from under her fingernails during the interview. No eye contact even when asking me a question. After talking about my related experience for a bit, I asked about compensation because the job posting had been vague, and she finally made eye contact with me long enough to roll her eyes and ask the man sitting in on the interview what the pay would be because she “forgot”. At that point the man, who had been writing down my answers, looked up from his notepad, waved his left hand uncomfortably close to my face and said “did I show you my engagement ring yet??”

      Granted his engagement ring was gorgeous, but unless he’s using that to pay me for my hard work, I’m not super interested. Thank goodness that place never called with an offer because at the time I was so desperate to get out of my current job that I might have taken it. *cue my own eye roll*

  42. Llama Face!*

    In my part of the world we are really really conflict avoidant and walking out of an interview would be A Massively Big Deal even if the interview was terrible. It would be much more likely that we’d finish the interview politely and then tell everyone we know how terrible that company was.

    In general I think that oftentimes the terribleness creeps in gradually so it can be hard to realize just how bad it has gotten while you are in the moment. It is easier to recognize the tailspin after the fact.

    1. Llama Face!*

      The weirdest interview I never walked out on was for a border services position. I got there late because of a mistake with the address (it was on a street that was on both ends of town but stopped in the middle and I went to the wrong end) so I was already frazzled. I get into the interview and they announce that it is a situational interview, ie. involving role play, which was never even hinted at in any previous contact I had with them. The large agressive male interviewer then proceeds to act out being a very angry Walmart customer who wants to return an opened pkg of underwear to customer service. I was supposed to be the employee who couldn’t accept the return. It was bizarre and I have no idea what answer or behaviour they wanted since my usual customer service spiel (be calm and understanding, explain rule, would you like to speak to manager, etc) wasn’t enough to end the simulation. I got a letter afterwards saying I wasn’t a good fit, lol. Me and the undies…

  43. Jeannie*

    I wish I had thought to walk out of the worst job interview I went on back when I was first out of college and job-hunting. The three people interviewing me for this position at a Greek-life-related magazine publisher spent the entire otherwise-totally-normal interview holding back laughter to the point of choking back tears. I never figured out what was so funny.

    1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      Considering the college-age audience of the publication (unless by Greek, you mean the country and not like Delta Delta Delta-type greek) , I’d wonder if they were high/drunk and therefore …chairs…are suddenly hilarious.

  44. k8*

    I walked out of a bad interview a few months ago– they sat me down for a technical exercise that would take about 2 hours. By that point I had already talked to three or four people and had come to conclusion that it wasn’t the place for me, so I told them I wouldn’t be completing the exercise and bounced. Not something I would have done even a year before that, but it was definitely the right move!

  45. working be cray*

    oh actually sometimes people do…

    I walked out of an interview while I was siting in the reception area. They started playing really loud techno music (in a normal office) and a couple of other weird things. I gave the clipboard with my application back to the receptionist and left.

    and while not in-person interviews, I have had the courage more than once to shut down completely inappropriate phone interviews and once the company even called me back 2 days later asking me to please finish the interview!

  46. And I'm Out*

    I’ve walked out of one job interview, and I have no regrets. Before I accepted the interview invite, I confirmed that this interview would be for a position that did both X and Y, with Y being what most interested me. To make matters worse, I had to foot all of my travel costs to attend the interview (cross-country airfare, hotel, Ubers), though that (sadly) isn’t unusual for my industry. Here is an abbreviated litany of the events that transpired before I decided to walk out:

    – this was scheduled to be a daylong interview, so I had requested meetings weeks in advance with a number of prominent folks in the Y department if any were available, hoping I could get set up to meet with 1-2 of them. When my interview itinerary arrived the day before my interview, zero of the people I requested meetings with were on the list (and neither was the person I would be directly reporting to). I reached out to the coordinator politely asking about this, but at this point they weren’t able to make any schedule changes.

    – at the welcome session with all the candidates interviewing that day, another candidate asked about the vacation policy, and we were told that we would be randomly assigned to a consecutive 2-week block of vacation, and that would be the only time all year we were allowed to take off.

    – when it came time for one-on-one interview sessions, the other ~10 candidates and I were literally asked to arrange ourselves in straight lines like preschoolers (or cattle) and asked to march in order so that our escorts for the day could most efficiently sort us into the appropriate people’s offices. (And mind you, we were all professionals with advanced degrees, not actual preschoolers or farm animals.)

    – when I mentioned my interest in role Y to my interviewers, I was told that that role wasn’t a possibility because of financial issues for the foreseeable future (apparently, all the budget for that had gone into building a fancy new building), but one interviewer helpfully suggested that I could “volunteer” to do that work for free during my two weeks of vacation time or during evening and weekends.

    Anyway, I enjoyed a lovely lunch with some of the interviewers and fellow candidates on the company’s dime (this was literally the only thing the company paid for), then politely informed the coordinator that I had determined that the position would not be a good fit for me and proceeded to hail myself an Uber back to my hotel while the others continued the interview process for the rest of the day.

    1. Quill*

      I feel very strongly that this place then proceeded to ask candidates to cater a large meal for the interview team.

    2. Some Windex for my Glass Ceiling please*

      No one brought out the milk and graham crackers or scheduled in nap time?
      No, you were not treated like preschoolers. Cattle maybe.

      1. And I'm Out*

        Alas, maybe I missed out on fabulous snacktime and naptime sessions during second half of the interview day after lunch!

    3. 1234*

      “This would be the only time all year we were allowed to take off.”

      What if you got sick outside of those 2 weeks? Had to take care of a family member? Geez. I would definitely understand why you chose to leave.

    4. Curmudgeon in California*

      “…we would be randomly assigned to a consecutive 2-week block of vacation, and that would be the only time all year we were allowed to take off.”

      Oh hell no! I think at this point in my life I’d walk when that was said. I don’t like jobs where they get vicarious pleasure out of deciding if and when I can take my vacation that is a benefit I’ve earned. I can understand places that need coverage, but my current field isn’t as bad on that, so, no. My preferred vacation times seldom coincide with others anyway. I’m not interested in “mother may I” like a five year old.

      1. And I'm Out*

        Yeah, in this job it was a matter of coverage…but really, if you have a group of 25-30 employees, then on weekends and holidays you don’t really need more than a handful of them working or available to work to ensure that things don’t grind to a halt. Taking an approach where vacation is assigned such that only 1-2 people can be off at a given time in those circumstances was a huge red flag for me about this organization’s culture. (Recruiting me for a position that basically didn’t exist, and thus causing me to spend hundreds of dollars and time to come interview for a position under false pretenses — that was the bigger red flag.)

  47. Amber Rose*

    I’ve only walked out of one. I applied for a full time assistant manager position, and was told at the interview the most they’d consider me for was a part time entry level position. I told him I didn’t appreciate having my time wasted, and I didn’t respect someone who’d waste their own time like that either, and I walked out furious.

    If you’re going to interview someone for a job other than the one they applied for, at least TELL them, for crying out loud. You’re not a child, use your words.

    There were others I should have walked out of but they didn’t make me angry, just uncomfortable, so I lacked that emotional energy needed to leave.

    1. Miss May*

      I JUST HAD THIS HAPPEN TO ME. I was so mad. They told me I could “work up” to the position. Like really? Then why post the higher position???? Thinking about it makes me so mad.

      1. Amber Rose*

        Yep, I got the same line. What an atrocious interviewing technique. Hire only the desperate people who will even take a much crappier job than the one they wanted.

    2. voluptuousfire*

      Yep! Had this happen to me just out of college. I applied for a receptionist role and only found out they were interviewing me for another role I had no interest in. Apparently even though I had done many receptionist duties, since I never had the actual title of “receptionist,” my experience didn’t count. Yes.

      Since I was so surprised by the change in tack, I ended up interviewing and actually got the job. I remember being set up for drug testing but I never went.

  48. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    In my now advance stages of my career, I have walked out when something weird has started going on or I’m just over it for various reasons.

    But I can absolutely see where fear or freezing would happen in a lot of these outrageous situations.

    I walk even if I need a job because honestly, if they’re giving you bad stuff in the beginning, it’s a sign there may be something bad going on. Like you could take a job from a crackpot who then decides to break laws and not pay you. [I am currently dealing with wage theft in my family, so I’m a little extra right now and trust-nobody-ever is rushing through my veins. So yeah, I see why desperate people continue to go along with it but in reality, you may end up being in an even worse situation if you deal with someone who’s clearly unhinged and doing things that make you uncomfortable AF.]

  49. Book Badger, Attorney-at-Claw*

    When I was applying for interviews last year, I didn’t have a car, so I either had to get up and walk where I was going, or wait for my ride to pick me up, so I’d just sit through them. Useful information now (in the sense of, “What does a bad interview look like?”), but ye gods, never again.

  50. AnonPi*

    I didn’t walk out of one several years ago because a friend had referred me (and she was listed on my app). At the time I didn’t want there to be any potential ramifications for her, and didn’t realize at the time her manager was in a different group so there shouldn’t have been. It was a hella mess and I left an appropriate review on glassdoor (that even I was surprised it was left up there, I figured they’d find a way to get it took down).

  51. That Girl from Quinn's House*

    In 2016 and 2017, I had two separate interviewers, at two separate companies, ask me if I had my “husband’s permission” to be working. One of these interviews was in San Francisco.


    1. Some Windex for my Glass Ceiling please*

      Yeah, the head of one of our competitors has multiple Glassdoor reviews indicating that she asks this.

      I interviewed with her, and while she didn’t ask me about permission from hubby, she revealed some confidential info regarding my company (that no one was supposed to know) and she basically told me they were planning to can the person to whom I would report.

  52. voluptuousfire*

    Yep, years ago went for an HR assistant role with a software company. Long story short, I was feeling rather gross after taking the subway to the interview on a very, very humid early October day. I was denied the opportunity to use the restroom to freshen up, so I was sitting in the conference room sweating and presumedly looking nervous. I kept fanning myself with my shirt to cool myself down. The interviewer kept asking me “are you nervous? You look nervous.” She asked me about 4 times in a 15-minute interval and while I was fine before, I started thinking “is there something I should be nervous about?” My anxiety grew as the interview went on and my gut just started screaming “RUN!” In the end, the job ended up being a copy machine jockey, just scanning in resumes and instead of the hour I was expecting to be there, it was due to be a 3-hour interview where I would meet with a handful of other people. None of this was relayed to me until it was just about to happen. I ended up politely saying that this role wasnt a fit for me and thanked them for their time and walked out.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Yeah, that’s a walk-out-then moment. That might be something so far out of the ordinary that walking out would be the lesser of two embarrassments. Imagine if you actually had to use the toilet!

      2. voluptuousfire*

        It was really odd. The person who greeted me and told me my interviewer would meet me very shortly and I wouldnt have time to use the restroom turned out to be the HR manager who was interviewing me.

        I was only about 23 at the time so I went with it. It was such a strange interview. The HR manager had to have been in her 60 or even 70s. She looked like one of my elderly aunts–boufant hairdo, red lipstick and no other makeup, knee-high stockings with sandals, etc. I hate to sound ageist but she definitely didn’t look the part of of an HR manager with a software company. Maybe she was an admin who handled HR?

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          I’m so baffled at the idea of denying someone the restroom.

          We often have people who use the facilities before an interview! It’s pretty much the norm because you know…we all use the bathroom at some point.

          “Is there a restroom I could use real quick?”
          “of course, it’s right down there. I’ll let them know you’re here.”
          “Ring ring, hey dude, your interview is here. Give it a couple minutes, they’re using the restroom.”
          “Cool, thanks!”
          Then they dilly dally a few minutes or they frigging just wait.

          And the people that are waiting are very busy important people all the same, they don’t say “NO BATHROOM FOR YOU”.

  53. AdAgencyChick*

    The first two examples in the article are terrible people but not scammers. The third one is a scam. That bit about keeping their IDs is shady AF.

  54. LJackson*

    I walked out of 2 catle call interviews when it was clear that what I was told on the phone wasn’t going to happen. Both of these companies continued to invite me to interview and I let both know several times that their process wasted job hunters time.

  55. out on the east coast*

    When it comes to bad interviews, I still remember a story shared on here years ago about someone in an interview where someone pulled either the fire alarm or some other kind of emergency alarm.

    It was not a fire. It was part of the interview. They wanted to see how that person would react.

    I think about that one a lot.

    1. fposte*

      Oh, I think I remember that–the response was to call 911 and the prospective employers were horrified. And what kind of fool wouldn’t see that happening?

  56. Quickbeam*

    I walked out of an interview when it was disclosed that my direct supervisor would be an LPN. Since I am an RN, that would be a violation of my state nurse practice act. It was an interesting job but that was a deal breaker. They chased me into the lot saying that I shouldn’t worry about it.

    1. DrRat*

      Omg. If they are telling you *in the interview* that they want you to violate professional ethics, can you imagine what ethics violations you would see once you were on the job?!? “The medical director is actually a veterinarian, but don’t worry about it.”

      1. Quickbeam*

        Yeah, it was pretty egregious. The LPN had been there since fire was invented so they made her a clinical supervisor. It was an interesting occupational health job but they didn’t bring this up until after the drug screen, physical, personality test and weird math word problem test. I had nothing against the LPN (or LPNs in general) but she wasn’t qualified to assess my work. By law.

        They really did run after me to the parking lot saying they’d make it work, they didn’t want to upset the LPN. It was just a complete no from me.

  57. Katniss Evergreen*

    I interviewed with someone whose waiting room I should have walked out of once – it was for a front-desk rep in a busy medical practice. I was doing the same work in a floating position at the hospital down the road, and this was going to supposedly pay $5/hr more than I was making at the time. I figured it would be fine.

    Not only did I sit there for a half hour (during which time I saw a physician pass down the hall multiple times who turned out to be my interviewer), ask the desk rep whether I needed to come back on a different day, but then watched my interviewer tell the desk rep “oh I’ll do it now, shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes” when she went to ask my interviewer whether she’d do the interview another day. I was already thinking “what could she tell about me during a 5 minute interview??”

    She ended up asking me how old I was (flabbergasted, I answered 23), then going on and on about how she likes to support young people… She then debated with me about whether or not I wanted a more challenging job with less down-time than my current position (e.g.- I said that I did want a challenge, and she debated with me about why I would want that since my brain could relax?), and told me that my evening grad school schedule couldn’t always come first – the hours were not as stated in the posting, as she then explained, and could extend 3-4 hours further into the evening on random Tuesdays and Wednesdays (!!!).

    I’d already covered that I was a floating admin at the hospital with significant coverage experience in every clinical area, including the office’s specialty, for 2 years. She felt that I didn’t have enough experience in that area and told me I would not be offered the full rate advertised in the posting if offered the job, but a full $2.50/hr lower instead (there wasn’t a range posted in the ad, just a singular figure). When she said she wanted to schedule a full day-long working interview (paid) with only 1 week’s notice, instead of using the time I’d already scheduled to be there, I said I couldn’t take more time off of work without speaking to my current supervisor, which she found unacceptable.

    This whole thing lasted 13 minutes instead of her planned 5, and by that point I’d figured out she was a demanding person with zero care for whether she wasted someone’s time or how much, and that I wouldn’t work for her for all of the posted $17.50/hr much less what I would have been offered. I practically ran into her arm when she opened her office door for me, and sent a withdrawal email that night. I should have just cut it short and left.

  58. Just Another Manic Millie*

    I remember one company that ran an ad that said that people should apply in person between 9:00 AM and 12:00 PM Monday through Friday. The ad said “Do not write. Do not call.” So I showed up on several days and waited over an hour each time, and there wasn’t anyone available to interview me. Eventually, someone found me one of the company’s application forms. It took me a long time to fill it out, and when I was finished, there still wasn’t anyone available to interview me. I wanted to take the form home with me and bring it back the next time I returned, but I was told that I had to leave it with them. So I left it with them, and the next time I went there, I saw an interviewer interviewing someone. After she was finished, she saw me. I told her that I had left my application form behind last time, but wouldn’t you know, she couldn’t find it. She told me to fill out another one. That’s when I got fed up and walked out.

    Another time, I was being interviewed, and things were going well until the interviewer asked me if I was Jewish. “What does that have to do with the job?” I asked coldly. He was taken aback and stammered that the company was owned by a Jewish family, but too late, I was already walking out the door. I really doubted that a member of the family had told him to make sure that he hired someone Jewish, because (1) I didn’t think that he was Jewish, and (2) I didn’t think the receptionist was Jewish. He called me afterwards, but I never called him back.

      1. Just Another Manic Millie*

        Yes, it was in the USA, but no, it wasn’t illegal. Alison has said a number of times that people think that it’s illegal to be asked about religion, marital status, race, etc. during a job interview, but those people are wrong, because it’s perfectly legal. The companies just aren’t allowed to use that information when trying to decide whom to hire. I used to think what you do – that it’s illegal – but Alison keeps saying that it’s legal, although she doesn’t think it’s a good idea for interviewers to ask such questions, because a lot of job applicants are under the mistaken impression that such questions are illegal.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          It’s one of those things that is often mistaken as illegal also because many HR departments forbid the questions [to avoid the problems it brings out, like the assumption of discrimination].

  59. DCGirl*

    I’ve walked out of one in my life, back in my fund raising days. I think I’ve posted this story before….

    I was being interviewed by board members and the executive director for a position at a non-profit that helped formerly homeless people gain job skills in the food service industry, which included running a restaurants that its clients worked at in positions ranging from cooks to front of house staff.

    One of the questions was whether or not I owned a car. At the time, I did not. It was during a recession, I’d been laid off from my previous job, and had been looking for over a year at the point while temping whenever I could. When the transmission failed on my venerable Buick, I had to junk it and planned on buying a new car when I was back on my feet.

    The executive director and the board members could not get past the fact that I had no car. I patiently explained that their office was on a direct bus line from the apartment where I lived, and that if there were any evening events that last past the bus schedule, I would take a taxi. They still couldn’t get past it. How could I be an effective fund raiser without a car? There was evening and weekend work involved, after all!

    Finally, I asked them how they expected their clients to get to/from their jobs in the food service industry, which has notoriously crazy hours, if they didn’t have cars. Then I walked out.

    But, in that case, it was clear to me that I had no chance of getting that job if I didn’t have a car. If I’d thought that there was still a chance of getting the job, at that point in my life I probably would have stayed.

    1. 1234*

      But you could’ve eventually saved up money to buy a car if you had gotten the job?

      Also, if they were so persistent on people having a car, they could write in their job description “must have a car” although I’ve heard that’s a form of discrimination.

  60. Rob aka Mediancat*

    I did walk out of an interview once, though it was by mutual understanding with the interviewer, once we realized there had been a communications breakdown somewhere along the way and the job I thought I was interviewing for wasn’t the job she thought she was interviewing me for. (The job I thought I’d been interviewing for wasn’t available; and this wasn’t bait and switch, because she thought I was there to interview for a higher-paying job, not a lower-paying one.)

  61. catwoman2*

    I stayed in one, due to sheer curiosity.

    The person who was supposed to coordinate aspects of my interview, had to leave due to a sick child. This would have been fine and I would have understood that things happen. However, the Executive Director was on a rampage, yelling at other staff members, slamming doors, and even yelling at me (I looked up pleasantly assuming I might be led to a room or something when she came in). It became apparent throughout the interview, that the fit wasn’t right for many reasons.

    Definitely did not go back in for a follow up., even though the ED told the Recruiter I was working with that I still needed to come back.

  62. Booksnbooks*

    I got flown out for a multi-day interview once 15 years ago or so, and at dinner one of the interviewers asked if I’d ever had an abortion. That wasn’t even the worst situation I’ve been in. Another multi-day remote interview involved a dinner with the panel, which went fine. One of the panel was driving me back to my hotel, and said we were going to have a “secret” meeting with the head of the department, at his house. Keep in mind it was like 9:30pm. Anyway, we get there and no one is home. This was eons ago, so I have no phone, no car, no knowledge of the neighborhood, town, region, or even STATE that I’m in. He finds a key and we go in, while I keep asking if he’s sure it’s okay. (I was very young, very naive, and very stupid). We sit awkwardly for a bit. The head of the department comes home and insists I have a glass of wine that I REALLY REALLY did not want in that situation. And then the two of them proceeded to ask me specific questions about whether or not I wanted the job and my husband and his job. I performed exceedingly poorly during this entire exercise, and, as I recall, finally insisted I was just too tired and had to be taken back to my hotel. So I was taken back, after being told I couldn’t tell any of the other people on the panel about the secret interview. I did not get the job. I DID NOT want the job. But sometimes you really are in a situation where you just have to hold tight and try and finesse your way home. They weren’t nefarious guys, it was just a really, really ill-thought out attempt to talk, I think.

      1. Booksnbooks*

        As I recall, I excused myself to the bathroom multiple times as I tried to figure out how to politely get myself back to the hotel. I’d like to think that I’m older and wiser now, and would put my foot down before even getting out of the car at some random dark house.

        1. Quill*

          Honestly I think I might have taken my chances walking back. That whole situation was absolutely NO.

          1. Booksnbooks*

            It really was. I’m feeling very keenly my own stupidity, to be honest. I did keep an eyeball on an exit strategy the whole time, and made sure I was on the side of the table nearest the door. I also visually determined how to unlock the door and get out if necessary.

      1. Booksnbooks*

        It took me quite a while to calm down after I got back to the hotel. So much so that I ended up oversleeping the next morning and was almost late for my breakfast interview.

        1. StellaBella*

          WAIT. The same company, for the next day’s interviews? Why did you go? After that bonkers scary episode I would have taken the day to sightsee and then gone home. I don’t understand, am I missing something?

          1. Quill*

            Breakfast meeting and they wanted to take you to a second location for a “secret interview” late the night before.


            1. Prof. Space Cadet*

              I wish I could say I’m surprised. One of my grad school mentors used to give female doctoral students a list with the names of 15 or so male scholars on it but no other context. It took a while, but I eventually figured out that the list meant “do not allow yourself to be alone with one of these men, no matter what.”

    1. out on the east coast*

      There are moments in my life where it’s like “welp, guess this is where I get stabbed to death in a dark alleyway, this is how I die.” But that story? YIKES.

  63. Hell in a Teacup*

    I did once.

    Turned out the company was actually one of those “get rich quick” companies. The guy said “if you don’t want money walk out the door right now”

    So I followed his directions and left.

  64. I Was Too Young*

    Back in 1980 or so, I was a Marketing Support Representative (MSR) in the then fledgling word processing industry. I was looking for a new job with more growth potential and was interviewing with several companies, at that time all in person. This is about a phone interview (rare at the time) and I was too “deer-in-the-headlights” to hang up.

    One of the people I interviewed with, was a 40-something male, and I was a 25 yo female at the time, said that he often will place an unscheduled call to qualified candidates at home. So my phone rings about 9pm one evening, and he’s on the phone. I can hears cars in the background, so I can tell he’s on a payphone. He tells me he’s calling from a phone area on the expressway. The call starts out normal, then I can start to hear his voice start changing, and he’s slurring his words. He starts breathing heavily and the conversation moves toward a sexual nature. I’m sitting on the other end of the phone wondering if I am imagining the whole thing. And I’m still trying to talk business, but it’s not happening. When he groans and finishes (I know, ewwwww!), he says he’ll be in touch and hangs up.

    Mercifully, I found a wonderful position with a competing company. I had told my manager about the incident after a few months. He was astonished. Several months later he told me that a new General Manager had been hired. Then told me the name. It was the expressway phone masturbator! I worked remotely, thank goodness, but the next time I was in HQ, I did run into EPM when a group of us were out for dinner and drinks. He remembered me, and often asked me to move to the city where HQ and him were located. I was so happy when I bailed out of that job.

    1. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

      Wow, that’s vile. So much trash in this world. Wishing good things for you now!

  65. Junior Assistant Peon*

    The advice I was given years ago was to sell yourself like crazy during the interview, and don’t make a decision about whether or not you want the job until after you leave. The reason is that you might be having second thoughts about a job that you decide to take on further consideration. Say the commute is longer than you’d like, or you saw some yellow flag during the interview, or something like that. The interviewer could get the impression that you’re not enthusiastic about the job.

    1. DrRat*

      Ummm….if you’ve read some of the examples above, they are not yellow flags. They are huge red flags that are currently on fire and covered with weapons grade syphilis. If someone is masturbating during your interview, screaming at you during the interview, or asking if you’ve had an abortion, I think the last thing you want to do is give the impression that you’re enthusiastic about the job. You want to give the impression that you are enthusiastic about getting the hell out of there as quickly as possible.

      1. Junior Assistant Peon*

        These are also extreme and bizarre. I think I’ve shot myself in the foot a few times by making the mistake of thinking over the negatives when I should have focused on trying to ace the interview. If anything as wild as the examples above happens, you have my permission to get up and leave!

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        In normal situations that’s fine — but the point here is that there are times that will NOT be normal situations.
        It’s not just the screaming red flags of illegal behavior either — Alison’s asking us to consider walking out if we’ve applied for Senior Llama Wrangler and are told we’re there to interview for Junior Manure Shoveler.

    2. Koala dreams*

      You have a point, that kind of advice can make it harder to get up and get away from an interview gone wrong.

  66. Not So Super-visor*

    I walked out of one, but they made it awkward and confrontational. I was just out of college, and it was listed as sales. It turned out to be one of those gimmicky, vitamin pyramid schemes. I walked into a professional looking rented offices. About a minute through a presentation that I was forced to watch about the company and products, I realized what it was. I had the good graces to wait until the presentation was over. When the guy asked what i thought, I said no thank you and that I was leaving. He literally put himself in front of the door. I looked him in the eye and said “I’m leaving right now. Move,” and then I pretty much sprinted out of the building and back to my car.

  67. Elenna*

    I walked out of an interview for a university co-op position once.

    The way our co-op program worked is that each person did 6 four-month work terms, alternated with 8 four-month school terms. So the rule was that if you got an offer, you had to take it (since it was only four months and all companies were required to submit offers at the same time). It was basically to avoid students applying for jobs if they wouldn’t actually take them.

    So anyways, during one of my interviews I realized the job was pretty different from what I was thinking (not MLM-type badness, just a misunderstanding and/or poorly-written job description). I thought about staying due to politeness but then I thought “no, I have to make sure I don’t get an offer from them” so I told the interviewer that I didn’t think we were a good fit and to please not send me an offer, and then walked out. Worked pretty well although I don’t think he would have sent an offer anyways – my skills weren’t really a great fit for what they actually wanted, and I was probably not interviewing very well as I’d bought Stardew Valley the night before and stayed up all night playing it.

  68. J*

    Reading these stories, I’m increasingly convinced these companies are deliberately trying to screen out people who will stand up for themselves.

      1. fposte*

        Yup. Hanlon’s Razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

    1. EvilQueenRegina*

      Interesting! Makes me now wonder if I’d have actually got the job if I’d challenged the guy who made a big point of asking me my marital status and if I had any kids, and writing “single” on my CV as though it was actually any relevance to the job.

  69. Used To Work At The Mall*

    I politely (ish) excused myself and walked out of an interview once. I was a sales specialist for llama trainers, and the store desperately needed to increase business from trainers. (Llama groomers and llama breeders had very different needs, so it was something of a niche.) I had a very successful interview with the district manager, and she sent me to the location I’d be working at to interview with the store manager.

    The store manager “interviewed” me by asking me to role play with her, and then insisting that my half look exactly like selling to a llama groomer. She got pushier and pushier about it, and I finally just said “Sorry, but you seem like you’re looking for someone that will sell to llama groomers, and that’s not what I do. Best of luck!” and noped out of there.

    The store closed a year or so later, at least partially due to the terrible llama trainers sales. That was five years ago, and the district manager still leaves me voicemails, trying to recruit me.

  70. Hey Nonnie*

    My wacko interviewers also saved their WTF moments for the last 10-20 minutes of the interview. So I would sit there in shock at the sudden left turn, and by the time I recovered it was just about time to get up and leave anyway.

    Last year I interviewed for a job that I already had reservations about, because no one in the two phone interviews was able to describe what I would be doing in this job, other than “not llama grooming” which was the primary responsibility listed in the job posting and the reason I applied in the first place. I needed a job though, so went to see if anyone else could tell me what the job did (since, to be fair, the people I’d talked to so far were HR and the “official” department boss who lived and worked overseas, so I figured that likely neither of them were familiar with the day-to-day).

    But, no. Of a total of 8 people, no one could describe the job any better than “you’d work with X department” (@:$%^ DOING WHAT????). Then, my last interview, I sat in a room with just the HR Manager and the woman who would be my direct supervisor. HR Manager asked me what kind of professional development I was interested in, so I answered. Then boss lady interrupts me to declare that this job is REALLY about staying in my lane so I’d better not think I’d be doing anything else. I stare at her in shock, and HR Manager scrambles to jump back in and let me know that they DO support professional development and they would find a way to make it work. So now I’m looking from one to the other, gaping at both of them, and wondering just WHAT political minefield I just got dragged into.

    They only asked a couple more questions, and by the time I was recovering my wits we were saying our goodbyes, so I decided it wasn’t worth addressing. I left, laughed in horror for a bit, and decided that if they contacted me again my answer would be hell no.

  71. Ancient Alien*

    I’ve had a few interviews I probably should have walked out of, but one sticks out more than others. It was at a major non-profit in a city about 5 hours away. It was a city I was trying to move to, so I wasn’t too perturbed that they did not pay for my transportation. Once I arrived, there was very much a feeling of “going through the motions”. This was scheduled to be a 2-hour interview. There was no discussion of the job duties, my qualifications, or how the two related. We immediately launched into behavioral questions. I was prepared for these so that was fine…for the first hour. The main interviewer (who would be my manager if hired) allowed me a short break to get some water and run to the restroom. I saw her in the break room and tried to make small talk. She just responded, “Let’s just get back in there and try to get through the rest of this.” Ummm. OK. The second hour was just more of the same. Except now we were on the 4th and 5th iterations of “tell us about ANOTHER time you showed leadership skills”. Frankly, at this point I was just running out of things to say. The entire time they were literally typing every word I said. The whole process was just so bizarre, clearly dictated by an out-of-touch HR department, and just all around disappointing. Needless to say, I didn’t get the job, but I left there knowing I wouldn’t and that I was probably just interviewed so they could tell HR they had interviewed X number of candidates. If they were going to do that (not that they should), it seems like they could have chosen a local candidate, not someone that had to drive 5 hours each way. Just bizarre.

  72. StellaBella*

    I got up in the middle of an interview a year ago this week, in fact.

    The interview with with a manager, a woman, and her odd assistant, and they were part of a university health research/policy group in my town. She was aggressive and rude, interrupted me at each answer, and asked me why I did not apply for the other team in the building (they have no openings? that is why).

    The role was open for several months on her team, the person before held the role a year – same tenure of the 3 people before that person – I did some research before talking to her. I asked about this and a few other issues with the tasks and timing needed for the tasks, and the interview went to h3ll at that point.

    When she raised her voice at me when asking about experiences I had that she thought were not valid (conference planning experiences and networking with policy makers), I had enough and said, “I am sorry but it is clear that you are not interested in my skills and what I can bring in terms of my past achievements, and my networks that I can use in the role. I am clearly not going to be a good fit for this team, based on our conversation today. Thanks for your time.” And I stood up and walked out, and on the way to the elevator called the recruiter and withdrew right then.

    1. Prof. Space Cadet*

      I had a few interviews like that earlier in my career, where the interviewer would ask me a question and then respond with “I think you’re confusing teapots with coffee pots” or “I fail to see why your experience with teapots is relevant to this position.” I did my best to get through it knowing that I wasn’t going to get the job, but I really wish I had clapped back with, “Why are you interviewing me, then?”

  73. Roy G. Biv*

    Years ago I was job hunting in the town where my partner and I lived, so I could stop commuting 2 hours each day to my under market rate job. One company called me, at work, (pre-cell phone days) and asked if I could interview that afternoon. I made an excuse to leave the office, drove the hour to my hometown, and arrived 5 minutes ahead of the scheduled interview time. Whereupon I sat in the lobby, waiting, for about 30 minutes. Eventually the receptionist handed me an application, a skills test and a pencil and pointed to a conference room. OK. Filled out all the paperwork, brought it back to receptionist. Told to sit in the lobby again, and “someone would be right with me.” About 20 minutes later a guy came out to interview me, right there in the lobby. Not in the conference room, which was right off the lobby, and unoccupied. It was clear the guy had drawn the short straw. He did not want to be there, talking to me. He disparaged my paperwork, my computer skills, and said I did not seem like the right type of personality to sell color copier leases.

    I thanked him for his time, and said I would show myself out. To this day I believe I dodged a bullet.

  74. R.D.*

    I had one that was “management training marketing” that was also door to door sales. I didn’t realize it was a cattle call until I got there. They gave a huge sales pitch on how revolutionary their coupon book was. They were disrupting the marketing industry, etc. Then they explained it was a “hands on interview” and piled us all into to cars to each drive an hour away, across the metro area, to see them do door to door sales of their coupon book in person.


    I unfortunately got in the car and instantly regretted it. As soon as we got out I called my dad who lived on that side of the city and had him pick me up and bring me back to my car. My dad is very nice.

    I had one other bad interview. The lady was just antagonistic and aggressive. She became deeply offended htat I made an off hand comment that “everyone would like to earn more”. She then asked me to justify how my contributions at work would impact to bottom line to make me worth more. As in she wanted me to break it down by dollars and cents only she hadn’t told me what the salary was and I hadn’t requested she go above her stated range. I was totally unprepared for the barrage and didn’t have the skills to justify my hypothetical wages as they relate to her (unknown to me) bottom line. I think now I could probably at least make an attempt. At the time I took it was a nice little flag to me that I should not work with this lady and if I did, I would probably be underpaid and would have to jump through massive hoops for any raises, plus could expect her to completely fly off the handle at comments I interpreted as innocuous. I did not leave because for a 45 minute interview that was already half over, there wasn’t much point. It wasn’t discussed, but I think we were all on the same page that I wasn’t going to work for her.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Your experience was worse than mine. Luckily when the interviewer said we were going to go out for an hour to sell the company product (it was for a job in their IT department but apparently they did this to all applicants) I said I couldn’t do that long walking (I can’t do more than 20 metres) and he told me to just leave then.

  75. starsaphire*

    I did, once, when I was much younger and more fearless.

    It was a generic receptionist style job, but the whole process was conducted with so much secrecy (don’t call the office, wait for us to call you; don’t tell the receptionist why you’re here; don’t look too much like you’re here for a job interview, etc.) that after the interview had started in the Inner Sanctum, I had kind of had enough.

    When we got to the “have you got any questions for us?” part, I said, “Yeah. What’s up with all the cloak and dagger stuff?”

    I got gushing reassurances that the two (white male) lawyers had already let the (woman of color) receptionist know that she was being replaced, but they didn’t want to stress her out by making her face down her replacement, etc., etc. (The amount of side-eye I got going in there let me know she was Not Fooled For A Minute, but whatever.)

    So I said, well, I’m uncomfortable being on this end of the process, and I know I’ll be a lot more uncomfortable when I’m on her end of it, and so I think maybe this is just not a good fit, but thanks for interviewing me. And I stood up and shook hands and saw myself out.

    Only time I have ever, ever been self-assured enough to do that, and oh, how I wish I’d been able to channel that earlier version of me later on down the road…

      1. Junior Assistant Peon*

        Interviewing for a job where you’ll be replacing someone who’s about to be fired and doesn’t know it yet is a gigantic red flag. Run like hell from any company that does this. The most humane time to fire someone is as soon as the decision has been made.

  76. Not Me*

    I walked out of an interview once. It was for a receptionist job at a dental office. The dentist was the one doing the interviewing. When I walked in he said I looked nice and asked if I was going somewhere special after, as if he was surprised someone would wear business attire to an interview. Then he asked if I was “from money” or “married rich” because he thought the salary would be too low for me (no idea how he had made this determination, other than perhaps my clothes and address). At that point I said “These questions aren’t appropriate, I think it’s best we end this here. Thank you for your time” He was surprised and confused, I didn’t really give him a chance to discuss though. I just gathered my stuff (my apparently too nice for an interview jacket) and walked out.

    Then I went and got myself a glass of wine at a nice bar nearby. So I guess I kinda was dressed for going “somewhere nice later”.

  77. Environmental Compliance*

    I have walked out of two interviews. One being a very deceptive MLM sale scheme thing (was posted as front desk reception) and one at Menards. MLM I walked out after two slides were shown and threw my papers in the trash as I walked out. Menards just left me in a dark closet of a computer room after taking the weirdest personality test I have ever taken. I was there for like 40 minutes. I finally got up, poked my head out, waited a few minutes and not a single soul walked by, and so I left. For both I was in high school.

    I got to almost the walk out point in an interview shortly after I graduated from college – the main interviewer kept getting up and leaving, and the other two didn’t look at me once and barely talked, really didn’t seem like they wanted to be there. At the point where I was about ready to open my mouth and say ya know, this just doesn’t seem like a good fit, Main Interviewer came back, told me I’d have my offer later in the day, and shooed me out. I actually got an offer too (that I turned down).

  78. OhGee*

    The last time I had a truly horrible interview that I should’ve abandoned was at a tech company where a friend was the recruiter. I’m still baffled as to why I was called in, because the CEO berated me for being an artist (I had recently completed a master’s in an arts discipline and surprise! I needed a steady job) because ‘the last person who had this job was an artist, but when you work for me, you’re here to make me money.’ He knew I was an artist coming in, because I made very low budget theater with my friend, the recruiter. I’m pretty sure he just wanted to make me cry in front of one of his colleagues, and I made it out to the sidewalk in the middle of downtown before I started weeping. If you’re eager for stable, well-compensated work, it can be pretty easy to put up with a bad interview — you can be worried that ANY poor behavior on your part might affect your ability to get any job! I just looked up this awful man, and he’s currently studying at a prestigious leadership institute. Barf.

  79. Not Australian*

    I’ve walked out on at least two interviews, for very different jobs. I just said, “I think we’re wasting each other’s time,” thanked them for the meeting, and got the hell out of there. Oddly, neither one of them tried to change my mind!

  80. Serin*

    I’ve never walked out of an interview, but I had one end early due to mutual wtf.

    It was for a job at a retreat center attached to a Catholic convent. About half an hour in, the sister doing the interview mentioned the pay, and I involuntarily gasped at how low it was.

    “Is there an issue?”

    “I’m making more at the temp service.”

    “Then I suppose there is no point in continuing.”

    She was chill but not rude. But really, woman, you may have taken a vow of poverty, but I haven’t.

    1. Retail not Retail*

      I had a similar one with a national chain. They asked where do you see yourself in 5 years, i said management (like up the chain retail whatever) and full time, he said they don’t have any full time people at individual locations to get around obamacare.

      We basically stared at each other. I got full time status at my job not long after that and good insurance once I turned 26

    2. Quill*

      At least she didn’t try to recruit you to the convent.

      (I had a great aunt who was a nun. Once I hit 24 without a boyfriend it was apparently decided that god had arranged her successor, via her sister’s granddaughter, and I didn’t have the heart to mention to all the old people that I’m an atheist.)

    3. Prof. Space Cadet*

      I applied to a job like this once, minus the nun part. The hiring manager (who seemed like a reasonable guy stuck in a bad situation) called me and said “I know you’re interviewing for our open position. Just so you know, this is the pay.” I thanked him for the information and told him that I would withdraw so that he could move forward with other candidates.

  81. Allison H.*

    When I first graduated, I had an interview at an alarm system company for an administrative assistant position. The interviewer, an older man, who I’d be working for asked me “Would it bother you if people thought you were sleeping with the boss?” Forty year old me would have gotten out of there IMMEDIATELY and had some choice words. Twenty two year old me just responded “No” and continued with the interview. I was really desperate for a job at the time. WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKING???

    I can only laugh now. That was a really weird interview.

    1. Booksnbooks*

      I’m glad I’m not the only one shaking my head at what I put up with in my 20s now that I’m in my 40s.

    2. Booksnbooks*

      It makes you realize how naive 20-something people can be about what is ok and what isn’t when it comes to interviews and work.

    3. FirstDayBackHurts*

      Oy. That’s BAD. I am continually amazed that places like that stay in business! My husband interviewed once for an alarm system company for a sales job. They asked him to describe his process of trying to up-sell a client. When he didn’t have a thorough enough response for them, he asked how they would like him to do it. They told him to “take the client to their place of pain” and then proceeded to walk him through an entire system they had for scaring the crap out of clients so they would buy more expensive systems. He was 22, so, naturally, he took the job. :P

  82. FirstDayBackHurts*

    I have walked out of three interviews in my life. One was for a private advertising firm. The woman interviewing me asked if I had a boyfriend. I said yes. She told me to dump him because there was no way I would be able to maintain a relationship outside the company because of the hours I would work. She then suggested after the interview she could introduce me to some of the men in my potential department who were currently single. Looking back, I hope I walked out gracefully, but I suspect the truth is closer to running in terror for the nearest exit. The other two interviews I walked out of were for “admissions” jobs at for-profit colleges (i.e. manipulative sales positions). I walked out of one when the older male interviewer patted me on the back when I gave a particularly good answer. And I walked out of the other when the interviewer asked each of the candidates in a group interview to say first why they were a good fit for the position and then, showing off our listening skills, say why the person to our left was NOT a good fit for the position. My response was that the person to my right seemed highly qualified but I no longer felt I was and I left with about half the room streaming out behind me. Looking for that first job to launch a career is TOUGH. I ended up in a crappy position with a boss who stared at my chest anytime we were in the same room together, but at least that job gave me the skills to build a solid and fulfilling career.

    1. Quill*

      I didn’t walk out on the second lab tech job I interviewed for the first year of college that didn’t have a fume or bio hood on the premises, ended up spending 2 years in pig sump pump overflow hell.

      The two best things that job did for me was 1) allow me to pay down student loans 2) fire me while I could still live with my parents for free and collect unemployment at the same time.

  83. anonnnymmmous*

    Came to the comments for terrible interview stories, was not disappointed!

    The only time I’ve been tempted to leave was when I showed up to a lobby full of other applicants and had to wait 40 minutes, then discovered that the initial interview was “just to see if I (hiring manager whose intern I would be) like you” and that no information whatsoever about the job would be given. What a waste of everyone’s time…

  84. Radio Girl*

    I have walked out of two interviews: One at a large company that wanted me to work for a day at no pay and another that required me to take a “personality test.”

    Not interested in that sort of culture.

  85. North Wind*

    I had an interview a couple months ago where I stopped the process from progressing further.

    I’m a freelancer and nearly always engage with clients through an online service. In this case, someone found me on LinkedIn and asked if I would be interested in chatting about an opportunity. I said sure. The guy, I’ll call him Bob, was the owner of a database services firm and had a client who needed my skill set. He asked if I’d be interested in sub-contracting. I’ve had mixed experiences with sub-contracting and approach these opportunities warily, but every situation is different, some turn out fine, and there’s no harm in at least having a conversation about what is needed.

    So Bob and I had a phone call, we discussed my rate and how payment would be handled, and I got a very general sense of what his client needed. He said he’d like me to have a phone call with his client directly about the work itself, as they would be the appropriate folks to answer any questions I had. Turns out his client wanted someone on-site, and I let him know I only work remotely, and said maybe it wasn’t the right fit. He said remote work might be possible, let him check with the client and get back to me. After our phone call, I was left with a vague sense that Bob didn’t quite get how a freelancer works (the remote issue aside), in that I take a project, come to an agreement on a budget/key deadlines and best ways to communicate, but then I manage my time and hours myself to get the work done, juggling it with other projects I also have. I also work on a project-by-project basis; I never sign up for a situation where I’m just generally available for any work that rolls down the line. It felt like the client was looking to fill a position, not complete a finite project.

    So I sent Bob an email detailing how I work vs. what it seemed his client was asking for, and he assured me everything was fine. He set up a phone interview for me and his client, and asked that I direct any questions about pay back to him, as he would be invoicing his client. (Yes, of course there would be a mark-up, that’s how sub-contracting works).

    The phone interview ended up being with a panel of 3 people (Bob not included). I was surprised there was a panel, but rolled with it. They had a structured way of conducting the interview, so I let the process play out. We had a productive conversation that lasted nearly an hour, they were definitely interested in work with me. I mentioned that I had some concerns about how the work was structured, and also that I work remotely only. They responded that it would probably be okay if I started on-site for a month or so, and after that we could discuss remote work.

    So. Clearly Bob had not understood or communicated my concerns. I then explained to the panel what I had explained to Bob, and said this wasn’t a great fit. They began talking amongst themselves about potential compromises, and I stopped them and said that if I were in their shoes, I would also want someone on-site. They need someone to meet with various stakeholders, get consensus on requirements, and do a bit of project management in addition to the core development that needed to be done. I naturally do a bit of that in the course of my projects, but not to the extent that they were looking for. I told them if we tried to compromise here, we’d both end up being unhappy in the situation. They seemed relieved and agreed, and then they got really curious about how I *do* work, and wanted to talk about other potential projects down the line.

    At this point they asked my rate, and I said they should discuss payment with Bob. They laughed and said, oh yes, Bob will want his cut. One of them then pressed me and asked if they could hire me directly, and I uncomfortably said no, Bob had done the handshake and I’d agreed to work through him. He pressed again, and again I declined. Bob had told me he had come to have this client (a university) through a friend from years back, and spoke fondly of this client. I don’t know if that friend was on the call, but the men on this panel spoke in a disparaging tone about Bob. Ugh, I don’t want to work with these guys in any case.

    Bob called me to see how the interview went, and I told him that indeed, his client had been looking for something different from what I offer. Bob then asked if I could spend *an hour or two* with one his staff to train them on the software I use, believing that with two hours training it would be appropriate to offer her services to his client for this development work. I was just in shock. He’s the owner and CEO of his company, and it’s been around for decades. It’s clear that all that’s in his line of vision is closing the deal, not whether he can or how to best fill his client’s needs.

    Double-bullet side-stepped.

  86. lnelson in Tysons*

    Had a few in person interviews that both parties realized that it wouldn’t be the right fit. One while the interviewer wrapped that part of the interviewing pretty quickly, we did actually chat for a bit about other job-related things.

    Have had a few phone interviews which waved red flags and was relieved when I was not called in for an in person interview. The worse of the two was getting scolded by the interviewer that I wasn’t on a land-line (was on vacation in Bermuda and only had my cell) and she called at a time that was no where close to my scheduled interview time. It was scheduled to start on the hour, but she called like 45 minutes late. Maybe more.

    Been at interviews that I knew wouldn’t be good for the long term (but needed some kind of paycheck in the short term).

    Never had one so horrid that I needed to just get my and walk out. Been to many, grateful for not getting a call back.

  87. noah*

    I had an experience similar to the letter where the person showed up and there was another candidate. It was for an analyst position at a charter school. I got to the school, checked in and sat in the office for 15 minutes as other applicants trickled in. The interview was 3 hours long and only 30 minutes were a traditional interview. The other two and a half hours consisted of individual and group projects as part of a job simulation, while we were observed. This was AFTER there was an at home assignment after the phone screen. I should have left, but didn’t.

  88. Elizabeth West*

    Oh man. I’m going to go back and read all these, when I take a break from proofing.

    I’ve told this before, but I walked out of an interview for a receptionist position at a dental office. They told me to come to this large hotel near me (I lived on the north side of town and the dental office was on the south side) at 5:30 pm, which seemed a bit odd. But I thought, okay, whatever; maybe it’s a panel interview and they reserved a conference room. And maybe they’re doing interviews after hours since, ya know, they’re busy with patients.

    Wrong! It was a multi-candidate thing. As in, every person who applied, in the hotel auditorium. Every seat was full; there must have been over a hundred people. I’d already filled out an application and faxed it in at the Career Center, but some woman at a table outside gave me some other form to fill out. I sat down, looked at it, looked at the room full of people, and then got up and walked out.

    On the way out, I gave the woman back the form, thanked her, and nicely told her I didn’t think this job was for me.

  89. Mellow*

    I didn’t walk out because I was unemployed and needed the travel reimbursement.

    I lost count of the number of times I thought to myself, “How is it that a nutjob like you is employed and I’m not”?

  90. MissDisplaced*

    I can’t say I’ve had anything so horrible as sexual harassment are truly mean people, but I have had quite a few weird interviews. The ones that stand out:

    > The lady who didn’t say anything while flipping through my portfolio while smoking and getting ashes all over it.
    > The place with 2 days of interviews that included 3 hours of personality testing on day 1 that moved you forward or not.
    > The ad agency that had me work all day unpaid as a trial when I thought it was an interview.
    > An interview at Target for seasonal work where I was kept waiting for almost two hours.
    > The rundown place in the BAD part of town where I was afraid to park so I chickened out and said I wasn’t interested.
    > The place where, for the first interview, I met with at least 10 different people over the course of 3 hours. At one time sitting at a table being interviewed by 5 people at once. Everyone was nice, but honestly this was overwhelming and just plain overkill for a first interview.
    > The place that took me on a LONG walk from building to building all over their large outdoor campus on a 90 degree day in July while wearing heels and a suit jacket. Oh the blisters!

    I didn’t get any of these jobs.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Like you, I had a job interview that I had to cancel because I couldn’t park the car anywhere. The liars said they had secure disabled parking given that it was a rough part of the city…but they didn’t have any parking at all, disabled or otherwise, and on the phone later said I should park half a mile away and walk.

      No. Just…no.

  91. pally*

    First interviewer presented a schematic and asked me to predict what would happen if this port were closed, or that port were opened, etc.
    Okay. I gather this was something to test logical thinking and not something pertaining to the job description.
    Second interviewer’s first question: “what is your definition of Quality?”
    He said my response was incorrect. Then gave the “pleasing the customer while adhering to regulatory requirements” definition.
    Um, you asked what MY definition was, not THE definition. No, I did not point this out to him.
    Clearly he was one of those “I’m always right” kind of people. Never argue with folks like that.
    Should have left after that.
    Ended up being told I should have resigned my current job over some incident where I disagreed with my boss.

  92. Boldly Go*

    I had one really bad interview. In retrospect I should have walked out. I felt very angry and very disrespected. It was during an unpleasant time in the country and there was an expected tv interview that morning. When I got there, the interviewer informed me that when the TV thing started, her entire team was going to join us ” so we can support one another during this difficult time”. I offered several times to reschedule (while inwardly seething. It cost me time/money/effort to get there and I wasn’t happy).

    I was afraid to walk out , I didn’t want to be blacklisted. I was interviewing at a small segment of non profits and I knew that Advancement Directors in that area knew one another.

    That was a few years ago. I would not stand for that kind of behavior today.

  93. Que Syrah Syrah*

    I also have one interview I’ve walked out of in my whole life.

    I was interviewing for a tasting room position at a local winery/tasting room. I had a fulltime job at the time, but I loved wine and the tasting room vibe, so I figured some extra money for 1 shift a week was a pretty good deal.

    I had a phone interview with the tasting room manager that went BEAUTIFULLY, and I was feeling pretty hopeful. I showed up for the in-person later that week, and while the interviewer/tasting room manager was a lovely person, unfortunately for her…the owner was there.

    He was upstairs, and during the entire interview I heard him stomping around, slamming things, making rude and loud comments, and at one point came down to introduce himself to me. We shook hands and he mockingly repeated my “hi, nice to meet you,” back to me in a weird tone. I just stared at him.

    Then, he called upstairs to the other person he was working on paperwork with (his wife, I think?) about how he hadn’t gotten what he needed in time for some deadline, and referred to the woman who had apparently failed in her duties to get him said materials “a b*tch.” RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME.

    He walked back upstairs. The poor interviewer was trying SO HARD to get him to stop; saying things like “(Owner), hey, I have an interviewee here,” and “(Owner), please,” but he just kept going on and on. Finally, I looked at her, horrified.

    “I’m sorry,” I said, “but I have to ask: would I be interacting with him regularly?”

    She looked SO embarrassed and sheepish. “Well, he’s the owner, so…”

    I stared at her. “Yes, then?”

    “Is that okay?”

    I shook my head. “No, actually. It’s really not. I think I’m going to head out. Thank you for your time.”

    We shook hands, she was very gracious, and I left.

    I have always been DYING to know what conversation happened after I walked out.

  94. Sam Foster*

    Because companies have beaten us down to the point where we just want a paycheck we can live on and to be mostly left alone!

  95. Long Time Lurker, Infrequent Poster*

    Why? Because of a reason you already said before:

    “That said, if you’re desperate for work, even a bullet can be appealing.”

  96. Who Plays Backgammon?*

    It’s been about 15 years, and I’m still mad at myself for staying in a horrible interview. The meeting with the boss–a rather young person who seemed a little timid, but knowledgeable–went well, then I was supposed to interview with grandboss. We waited 45 minutes for him. The boss looked very embarrassed. Finally I said I had to leave. I’d taken a half day off, but I had to get back to work and it was about a 20-mile drive. Just then grandboss charged in, saw that I was leaving, and barked, “I’m here now, come on in,” and pointed us into the conference room. How I wish I’d just said, “I have to leave.” And done so. He didn’t interview me, he interrogated me. I felt sorry for the timid little boss having to witness it all. She looked like she was about to die but I also thought what a wimpy boss she’d be. Grandboss picked at a previous job that had only lasted a year and a half (the family-owned company was always on the financial brink, and they finally started letting people go). He was practically yelling at me about it, and I’m sorry to say I lost my composure and barked back at him. It was an institution I really *thought* I wanted to work for. It turned out I knew someone who’d worked with them before, and he told me the grandboss had to OK every applicant and that yes, he was a tough customer. Not the term I used.

  97. Forgot my username again*

    I went to one interview where the interviewer spent the whole time talking with her bird and barely spoke to me. Yes, a live bird in a cage. Shockingly, I did not get the job.

  98. Penny Parker*

    My parents taught me this. They taught me to always be ready to walk out of a job interview or a restaurant (after seeing the menu and before ordering). My mom once walked out of a job interview in the early 1970s because the principal of the elementary school she was interviewing for told her that he thought she would really enjoy working there because there were no — insert racist name starting with n here — in their school. They were an all-white school right next to the rural school I went to which was about a 50/50 mix of black and white kids. Our school always had problems with the kids from that school. My mom got right up and walked out of the interview when the principal said that! And, my parents made sure that we kids knew to do something like that if the interview was an uncomfortable situation.

  99. Chriama*

    I wish there was a video game version of some of these interviews, because I’d love to experience one with the option of rehearsing my snappy comebacks and redoing the whole thing if I don’t get a satisfying outcome. Seriously, how is there no satirical choose-your-own-adventure visual novel game available?

  100. Doctor Schmoctor*

    I had this crappy interview experience. I had to meet the guy at his house. (Don’t remember why) So I arrive on time, his wife lets me in and says the dude will be there shortly. 30 minutes later she tells me he just called, and he’s in a meeting and he’ll be busy for another 30 minutes or so. Then he still has to drive home (another hour). So I said no thanks, I have other appointments.

    A few days later he phoned me again to reschedule, and since I was pretty desperate at the time, I agreed to meet him. In the interview he asked me about religion (it was an engineering job). So I said no, this is definitely not the right job for me, and excused myself.

  101. Melissa*

    I walked out of an interview once about 10 years ago. Still glad that I did. It was for an attorney position and scheduld at 8 am at his request. Within 10 minutes, the interviewer started explaining their billing requirements. When asked how many actual hours per day that usually translated into, he went into an explanation that included the factor of how many bathroom breaks you took per day. I stood up, extended my hand to shake his, and thanked him for his time. I wasn’t going to work for someone who monitored my bathroom use.

    1. 1234*

      WTF is wrong with people…also wouldn’t that discriminate against people with conditions like IBS? They get paid less because they need to go to the bathroom more? *eye roll*

  102. Lily in NYC*

    I’ve walked out of an interview before! It was my very first interview after graduating from college and it turned out to be a cattle call “group interview”. Even though I was young and naive, I knew it was not for me and said “see ya”. The other young women all looked at me like I had three heads after I said this was demeaning and walked out (there was no one from the company in the room at the time – it was just me and 15 other women sitting there waiting for someone to see us.

  103. KateTheGreat*

    I was new to interviewing and was so badly underpaid at my job I was almost desperate to take anything that would come my way, which after reading AAM and looking back on this interview I wish I had walked out. I not only was completely misguided by the recruiter about the job functions and the role, when I interviewed with the girl who was in the role previously she said to me the role was “boring but you get used to it”. But, where I should have walked out was when the CMO came in and asked me who was a major inspiration in my career/ what type of role I aspired for. I told him I owed a lot of credit to my current manager I was working for because she had taught me a lot throughout my short career and I looked up to her as inspiration because of her experience and management expertise. Hoping I could one day be in a role like hers. He leaves the room and pulls the hiring manager aside who walks in to interview me next. He comes in to tell me the CMO pulled him aside and told him he didn’t think I was really interested/serious about the role if I value my manager as highly as I do and starts grilling me about what I was REALLY trying to get out of this interview (did he think I was a spy?!) He asked me over and over again what I was doing there why I was interviewing and concerned if they made an offer I maybe wouldn’t accept since I have such an amazing relationship with my manager. It felt like I was being ridiculed for showing I respect my manager but then stabbing her in the back by interviewing for someone else, and clearly god knows what I’ capable with they if they hire me! It was like I dug my own grave.I was obviously shocked and couldn’t flat out tell them I was broke and I’m leaving because I needed the money. I thought my answer showed respect and an interest in my career development I was proud of my response, not that I was doing another team dirty by not being serious enough. I dodged a bullet as they called me first thing the next morning to tell me they moved forward with someone else I guess they hated me as much as I hated them.
    Also for anyone out there is this some crazy bullying interview tactic I’ve never hear of?! This is not how normal people conduct interviews right?

  104. Kitty Harington*

    I ended an interview for the first time about a year ago. To condense a long story, I was unemployed and desperate for work. The interview started out ok but the interviewer started focusing on my unemployment, specifically saying that if I were so motivated and hardworking, I would have a job by now and she couldn’t trust that I could perform the duties of the job because I had been out of work. I attempted to answer the questions as best as I could but she kept circling back to this issue and wanted to talk about my job search. I decided this conversation wasn’t going anywhere so I told her this doesn’t sound like I’m right for the job and have a great weekend. I really don’t think she understood what she did was offensive or upsetting despite her background in mental health as a therapist.

  105. JM*

    I just didn’t think it was something you do! I think the common mentality around job interviewing is that the burden is on you to impress the employer and that you are at their mercy. I mean to an extent it is, but after being on AAM, I know now that it has to be a mutual fit.

    I commented on here about one particular experience I had because I felt awful and defeated and couldn’t figure out what I had done wrong. The first interviewer seemed low energy and seemed to want to be anywhere else but there and that should’ve been a sign.

    The second interviewer came in, hurled her business card at me even though we were sitting right across each other and stayed cross armed under her shawl the whole time. We go through the interview and halfway she tells me that she doesn’t think I’m a fit for the role. And I tried so hard to convince her why I thought I was. Once it was all over it felt like she was shooing me out and all but physically took her heeled boot to my behind to get me out faster.

    Someone replied to my comment with encouragement and said that at the point when the interviewer said they didn’t think I was a fit, they would have walked out already. And until then, it didn’t occur to me that you could do that! When I told my sister, she was kind of like, that happens and it’s just the way things are.

    I should have known that, whether it was some reverse psychology method or whatever, that everyone’s time is wasted if one person’s already made up their mind and it’s kind of an insight of how that company operates and handles things.

    At least now I know that as much as you should impress and show the potential employer that you’d be a fit, they also have to show how they would be a fit for you as well.

    1. annon*

      I had a moment like this, too. It was the height of the Great Recession, I was deseperate for work, and I had a phone interview for a position that would have been a decent but not great fit. Near the end of the interview, one of the three panelists said “I think you’re lying about why you’re interested in this job. You just applied because the economy is really bad nd you’re desperate.” I spent the next two minutes desperately sputtering about how I was truly interested. I’m sure I sounded pathetic. I really should have replied at that point, “Well, it sounds like we all wasted half an hour of our time. Have a nice day!”

  106. Applied Microeconomist*

    When I was on the new PhD job market (age 28), the US economy was doing somewhat poorly (2003) and I was counseled by my dissertation advisor to apply to every job in the continental US where my research even remotely matched the subjects the employer was looking for. I ended up with 15 interviews at the national meetings weekend where all the first-round interviews were held (think speed-dating, but slower, like 30-60 minutes or so per interview, moving around from room to room). I remember one interview with one employer (I honestly don’t remember the name) where it was clear after about 5 minutes to me that we were not a fit for one another. I stood up, thanked them for their time, and said, “I withdraw my application.” In retrospect, it was a very good choice. I did get a job that season and I stayed there for almost 7 years before moving on.

  107. Rust1783*

    I have walked out of a job interview. It was about 10 years ago right after I completed my graduate work, and it was at a VERY VERY prestigious organization. They claimed that a masters degree was a necessity. The interview itself didn’t present really bad red flags, but as they finished their set of questions, they said “let us tell you a few more details about this position! This is what the office environment is like, we have half day Fridays in summer, etc etc. For this role, we are offering $28,000 annually and our benefits are really excellent…” but that’s when I stopped listening. I am sure I pulled a face of some kind, unintentionally. As soon as she finished her sentence I said, “thank you for your time! This is not a great fit for me, so I’m just going to end this now.” And I left. I guess it’s nice that they were forthcoming, but come on!

  108. Blue Horizon*

    When I was younger I would have thought it was unprofessional. These days I think of it as: I have enough information now to make a decision, so have half an hour of your day back.

  109. ainnnymouse*

    I’ve a lot more bad than good interviews. I don’t leave because I’ve gotten bad advice from older people who told me not to leave. And I didn’t used to do it out of fear.

    I was very tempted to walk out of one late last summer. It was for a local fast food chain. I don’t expect something spectacular, but at least something coherent. First thing is the guy who is interviewing me is not wearing a name tag. He was taking notes about me on a blank register tape and spelled my first name wrong on it. He didn’t bother to read my resume to spell my name right. Then he started reading the interview questions off his phone. All the answers I gave him he would reply “I don’t understand.” or “What do you mean?” with a confused look on his face. He thought I still worked at a job I quit a year before the interview. He didn’t understand why I didn’t have a job in what I majored in. I don’t know how this guy has a job and manages people. The reason I stayed was because I thought it was good blog material. The guy could not answer any of my questions except what was the pay. It was a good thing. This place is near a freeway and I heard drug deals go on in the parking lot there. I still pass by that location and see their faded “now hiring” banner that has been up since the summer.

    After that interview I decided this year if I have another bad one like that. I’m walking out. No apologies or anything. Just up and leave.

  110. Keymaster of Gozer*

    It wasn’t until after I became a manager and started running interviews that I got the nerve to walk out of a lousy one. It changed my entire perspective.

    The lousy interview was one where I was told (not asked, told!) that the company requires all staff to:

    Obey the orders of ANY senior manager, regardless of what department they are in, immediately.
    Work half pay if the company has financial losses.
    Have an appearance of health at all times.

    It was at the last one that I said “this isn’t a good fit for me, thanks for your time” and heaved my disabled overweight carcass onto my walking aids. The interviewer had this look on his face that I’ll never forget: this proto-sneer collapsing into total shock and disbelief that anyone had the nerve to say ‘no!’

    Ahhh that felt good.

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