I flew out for an interview — and they ended it after one question

A reader writes:

I went on an interview for a position in another state that I was really excited about. I work in a niche field and jobs rarely open. I prepared well, researched the company, and prepared answers about how my experiences align with their core values. I felt great. I had to fork over money for airfare and fly during a pandemic, but if that’s what it takes, right?

On the day of the interview I met with a hiring manager with whom I am aquainted. My previous company had worked with his previous company and, although we weren’t friends or anything, we knew each other well enough to recognize and remember one another.

He was friendly and showed me into his office. With no further ado or small talk he opened with, “Why should I hire you for this position?” I was a little thrown because he hadn’t offered any information about the position. Using what I’d read on the job posting, I gave a little information on my background and briefly alluded to those talking points that I mentioned above, but I wasn’t really sure how long to speak and didn’t want to “steal” the answers I’d prepared for other questions.

He then thanked me and showed me out.

I was stunned. I recovered enough to ask what the next steps would be. He assured me I’d be moved on to the next interview phase. Then … nothing. I’d obviously bombed it and hadn’t sold myself well, but I had assumed that I’d be given more time to talk. I’m embarrassed about how poorly I performed, but I’ve never in my life been on an interview where I was only asked a single question.

After a few weeks, I emailed him thanking him for his time and asking if there was anything I could clarify about my answer (I had, of course, contacted him to thank him immediately after). A manager from another department responded with a brusque email that the position had been filled.

I’m disappointed and frustrated to say the least, but I want to use this as a learning experience. How would you respond if an interviewer opened an interview like that? Should I have pushed for more time when he tried to show me the door?

Your interviewer was incredibly rude … and also just a bad interviewer.

Ending an interview without explanation after one general question is rude on its own, but you had flown in for this interview — and he knew that, I’m assuming? And at your own expense? He owed you more.

If something about your answer was an absolute deal-breaker for him, he had two choices:
* He could have explained why your answer was prohibitive, so you weren’t left wondering what caused him to short-circuit an in-person interview that you’d taken a lot of trouble to be there for.
* Or, he could have kept interviewing you out of courtesy and respect because you had just flown in on your own dime, and figured he owed it to you to keep talking at least a bit more. Not for hours, but 45-60 minutes when they asked you fly in? Yes. (And if that was too much time for him to invest, then he had the previous option of being honest with you.)

Now, it’s possible there’s something else happening here. Maybe he felt he already knew your work well enough to recommend that you move forward. If that’s the case, he shouldn’t have let you fly out in the first place (during a pandemic, no less) or he could have done a full interview out of respect for your time. The fact that you didn’t end up moving forward in their process doesn’t mean this wasn’t the explanation at the time. Sometimes an interviewer intends one thing and is overruled, or a stronger candidate emerges, etc.

Or who knows, something could have happened that had nothing to do with you. Maybe he was overscheduled that day and you were the corner he decided to cut. Maybe he’d just learned his basement was flooded and he needed to go home. Doesn’t matter — the way he handled it was horribly rude.

I’m betting, though, that it was none of those. My guess is that he’d already decided to hire someone else, or at least not to hire you, before you ever arrived that day. And rather than treating you respectfully, he decided to just ask you a single question and then show you out.

No matter what explanation is the correct one, he’s a jerk. His company shouldn’t be letting him interview people.

Also, why on earth did they ask you to come out in person? Sometimes there are reasons an interview really does need to be in-person, but this one clearly could have happened over the phone.

In any case, you asked how you should have responded to his question. “Why should I hire you?” isn’t a great question, especially as an opener — it comes across as a bit adversarial, and assumes the candidate has info they probably don’t have yet — but it’s not an uncommon question either. It’s a good one to be prepared for! Ideally you’d answer it by talking about why you think you’d excel in the role (perhaps while noting that you have limited info so far and want to learn more). Just summarizing your background isn’t the strongest answer to this question — he presumably already had that info from your resume and this was a chance to go beyond that — but it’s a very common type of response and certainly not one that would make any decent interviewer short-circuit the conversation without explanation.

As for whether you should have pushed for more time when he started to show you out: It was already over at that point, and I doubt there was anything you could do to save it. But it would have been entirely reasonable to ask what was going on — as in, “I may have misunderstood. I flew out from Portland for this meeting at my own expense because I understood we’d be doing a full interview. Can I ask why we’re wrapping up so quickly?”

But for all the reasons above, this is about him, not you.

{ 265 comments… read them below }

  1. oranges*

    Sounds like this was some kind of weird power play on the part of the interviewer or the company. You totally didn’t want to work for either, but I’m sorry they wasted your time and money.

      1. Green*

        Yeah, they can’t pull this kind of BS on senior positions, because people with options treat an interview as a 2-way vetting street.

      2. Marzipan Shepherdess*

        If that’s a sample of how that company treats its people (and I hope it ISN’T!), the LW dodged an employment bullet and DOESN’T want to work there! One not-so-great question and out the door? Umm…no. Just no!

        1. And they all rolled over*

          It would have been nice if the potential employer fired that bullet remotely instead of making LW fly in so they could shoot it at them in person!

    1. Van Wilder*

      Same. I want justice but I don’t think there’s anything LW can do. In my fanfic version, someone from the company reads this, recognizes the interviewer, and takes appropriate action.

      1. Lynn*

        In my fanfic version, the interview accidentally eats a laxative and spends a day confined to a bathroom but yours is good too.

      2. LifeBeforeCorona*

        In my version, the LW had deeply offended the interviewer in some way and this was his revenge.

        1. JSPA*

          Take Corona out of the equation, and it would still be a huge breach of the social contract, unless the fictional LW had caused damage somehow commensurate with the cost of a plane ticket and hotel, yet not provable in a court of law. Add Corona, and it becomes disproportionate unless the fictional LW had somehow risked not only the other person’s life, but the lives of their friends and relatives.

          OP, unless you aimed your car at him and hit the gas to “wake him up” “as a joke” while he was carrying his new baby, there is no planet where this fantasy is somehow a pseudo-justified reality.

      3. MassMatt*

        Well, there’s Glassdoor. If the industry is as niche as LW says, the review might be really damaging, though that has to be weighed against the LW being identified.

        This person didn’t just waste your time and money, he made you risk your health all for something that could have been done over the phone. It’s far beyond merely being rude.

        This interviewer should never be allowed to hire again.

          1. Tax Nerd*

            I agree on a polite, factual Glassdoor review.

            “I flew out to at my own expense for an in-person interview (after X phone interviews). The first question was ‘Why should I hire you?’, to which I tried to answer based upon the information I had from the job posting. He then thanked me and showed me out without asking any further questions, or allowing me to ask any questions.”

            I’m really sorry this happened to you, OP. This is awful.

      4. Ally McBeal*

        I wonder if LW could contact the HR department and ask if there could be some partial recompense for the travel expenses? It’s bad enough that they had to spend their own money to fly out (I know that’s just how some companies operate, but it still sucks) but to not even have the full interview? That’s a huge waste of time and money.

        1. Snuck*

          This is what I was thinking… I’d be tempted to send them (not just the interviewer, but HR) an enquiry about their willingness to pay for the travel, considering it was clear that the interview was not in ‘good faith’ as there did not appear to be a serious attempt to employ you. Not expecting to actually get an offer, but it’d make for an uncomfortable few conversations around the work location for the interviewer… which might feel satisfying.

          But it depends if it’s worth future issues with this employer. Niche industries are hard.

  2. College Career Counselor*

    I cannot wrap my head around ushering someone out the door after one question after they flew in for presumably a serious interview (or even several interviews). In higher ed (pre-pandemic) if you’re flying in, you’re there for at least a half day, if not the whole day or longer. I agree with Alison that this guy decided to hire someone else and went through the barest of motions when they either should have video-interviewed you in the first place or cancelled the interview outright.

    I would ask to be reimbursed for the travel expenses (maybe with HR) and see what happens. Even higher ed (which routinely asks/requires people to share rooms when going to conferences/meetings) generally pays for travel to an interview.

    1. TCO*

      If this company is large enough that there’s an HR department separate from the department in which OP was interviewing, I agree that it could be worth asking HR about reimbursement for travel expenses. A good internal recruiter, for instance, would be horrified by what you experienced and might be willing to bend company practice to make it up to you (especially since you work in the same small industry–I assume word travels fast about things like this).

      Also, OP, leave a review on Glassdoor. This behavior was so egregious that other prospective employees should know about it.

      1. Nicotene*

        I know non-profits often state up front that they can’t pay for interview travel costs or relocation, but if this trend has made the jump to the professional world I’m very sad to hear it.

        1. TCO*

          (By “professional world” I’m sure you meant “private sector,” right? Nonprofits can be very professional workplaces indeed, even if norms about things like relocation are different than in the private sector.)

          1. Nicotene*

            You’re right, I’m sorry, that was poor phrasing. I just mean, in jobs that presumably have a revenue stream to use for expenses like this (however much they may wish not to). I have worked for many nonprofits that don’t have unrestricted funds they can use for things like recruiting.

        2. LCH*

          and because of this they usually do phone or video interviews. my last two positions with NFPs were acquired via phone interviews. any time a place wants me to travel for the interview, but won’t pay for it and won’t consider a phone/video, i have to turn it down. if an institution doesn’t have the money for it, how on earth would i?

          1. Nicotene*

            I agree. I would pay for my own relocation if I liked the job, but generally if the nonprofit can’t accommodate the interview with video, I’m probably going to have to pass.

          2. MassMatt*

            No money or no flexibility or realization that we are living in a pandemic and we need to use creative solutions and technology. In any case yes they are marking themselves as poor employers.

        3. anon4this*

          That says to me they’ll also pay below market value (if they can’t even put up normal recruiting costs for flying in out of states employees). Like, if a non-profit has to find candidates outside their location, or even state, how could they not include costs for airfare, transportation and hotels? I’m never heard of company that wouldn’t pay normal recruiting costs and pays their people fairly.

          Why would anyone work non-profit ever, when you could hold a job that pays more and just volunteer for whatever?

          1. MissBliss*

            Because we find it rewarding, feel like the alternative is (more) unsavory, our jobs only exist in the nonprofit sector, sometimes more flexibility or better benefits to compensate for lower salaries, etc… there are many reasons someone might choose to work for a non-profit. You may not feel that at all (totally fine!) but it gets old to see people ask that over and over–particularly with the implication of “you’re stupid for doing so.”

            (FWIW, I make way more money in my non-profit sector job and get better benefits than my husband ever has in any of his private sector jobs. Sometimes non-profits DO pay well and treat their employees well. They’re just like all other types of businesses.)

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Yes, thank you.

              And really, if you find a well-functioning organization (and there are plenty), it’s pretty great to get paid to spend your days making the world a better place.

            2. EchoGirl*

              Yep. My mom is a non-profit lawyer, and after partnering with a for-profit firm on a case about ten years ago (long story), she said that it cemented her sense that for-profit law would have been a terrible fit, not just because of values, but because the kind of hours that those companies expect are insane. Her job may pay less, but at least working a 50+ hour week is something that might happen a few times a year instead of that being the baseline workweek.

              1. EchoGirl*

                Cut this off early — I meant to add that this is also similar to a calculation my husband, who works in a for-profit job, has made. He’s probably a little underpaid for his industry, but one of his main reasons in choosing to stick with his job is that he’s able to put in a 40-hour week and leave, while many in his industry (engineering) are expected to do regular overtime and/or take work home with them. So it’s not JUST a nonprofit thing, it’s just that nonprofits pay less on average than for-profit jobs.

            3. soshedances1126*

              Yes! I make more in my nonprofit career than I ever would have staying in the private sector of my field (which is notoriously underpaid). My hours are better, I have more autonomy and management opportunity, and better benefits. And the job is immensely satisfying for me (more so than private sector was- and I already loved what I do before I moved to nonprofit). Nonprofits aren’t all bad!

          2. MK*

            Who says they “have to” find non-local candidates? If they are actively asking people who live away to apply, sure, they should be paying for expenses. But in most cases an organization just posts the job and get applicants who don’t live near, in which case it’s not egregious to tell them they are interested in interviewing them but cannot cover expenses. Not ideal, but not necessarily an indication of anything else.

            1. Nicotene*

              Yes sadly in my experience they are looking for local candidates, but non-local ones want to be considered and so they offer to cover these costs, as they would otherwise not move forward.

          3. Jules*

            [“Why would anyone work non-profit ever, when you could hold a job that pays more and just volunteer for whatever?”]

            Ick. This is like saying, “Why would anyone work for peanuts as teacher when you could just get paid more elsewhere and tutor a kid for free here and there?” Or “Why work crazy hours as a nurse when you could work a normal job and hand out bandaids on the street on weekends?”

            NFP work is a valid career choice, as well as an essential part of our society, for better or worse. Around the world, there are people that would literally DIE without the aid of non-profit orgs and their workers. And there are tons of NFP orgs that simply make life more enjoyable for the people around us (including you, anon4this!).

            That being said, as both a former educator and current non-profit employee, I have been on the receiving end of paltry salaries. Sometimes there are benefits that outweigh that, and sometimes there aren’t. But we certainly shouldn’t through the (NFP) baby out with the bath water!

          4. Midwest Manager*

            Because even non-profits need to have staff for all types of work. Not all non-profits are charities where volunteering is an option. My spouse works for a non-profit healthcare provider. They need software that meets HIPPA standards, and an IT team to support it. It’s the cost of doing business.

          5. MassMatt*

            It’s not as though nonprofits have cornered the market on low wages. Wal-Mart is our nation’s largest private sector employer and let’s just say their reputation is not one for generous pay. Likewise most retail and restaurant work. Enormous numbers of “private sector” jobs are not paid as well as full-time work at many non-profits.

            Sometimes when an organization is for-profit it means they profit by underpaying you.

          6. Sweet Christmas*

            I wouldn’t say flying in out-of-state candidates is normal recruiting costs. I work in a field in which it is, but in lots of fields/smaller companies paying to fly in out-of-state candidates is not standard. There are lots of companies that don’t routinely hire people from outside their local area.

          7. BookJunkie315*

            Cause some of us participate in the Public Service Lon Forgiveness program, and working for nonprofits is a requirement for program participation for at least 10 years.

        4. TootsNYC*

          my industry would never pay for a mid- or lower-level person to fly in for an interview. Never. We’re in NYC, which is our industry hub–there is someone here who is good enough. We’ll interview you, sure, but you’d have to get here on your own.

          1. chipster*

            Exactly! I live in a desirable mountain town and every time we post a job we get tons of out of state applicants hoping to move here. We will offer interviews to the most qualified but how they get here is on them (pre-pandemic, of course).

    2. MK*

      It’s not clear if the company (or indeed the interviewer, knew that the OP was flying in. But even so, that’s something that should have been clarified beforehand; an after-the-fact reimbursement request may come across as presumptuous. And that’s assuming the company hadn’t made clear that they don’t cover this.

      1. Ping*

        I’d ask for it because their actions showed that they acted in bad faith. And those are the exact words I’d use with HR.

        1. MK*

          Yeah, that ‘ll teach them. Except it won’t, because they are more likely to think you took your chances when you decided to fly in for a interview and demanding reimbursement after the fact is petulant.

          If what you want is to complain of your treatment, then you can do so in a professional manner: write to HR or the interviewers boss that their company’s incompetent hiring practices wasted your time and money, only phrase it more politely.

          1. Pantalaimon*

            if you flew in *for an interview* and didn’t *get an interview* it’s pretty reasonable. a 5-10 minute discussion of “why are you the one” and nothing else isn’t a job interview by anyone’s standards, and a person can set that forth coolly and factually without coming across as petulant. it is probably a letter that will require a revision or two to keep the angry parts out though.

      2. New Jack Karyn*

        She said the interviewer knows her, if slightly. He’d kind of have to know she’ s not local, yah?

      3. MCMonkeybean*

        They’re not getting this job and if I were them I would not be interested in working for that company anymore at any point in the future, so I don’t think there’s any reason not to at least ask. I would go into assuming they will probably say no, in which case you are no worse off than you were before. But they might say yes.

    3. Can Can Cannot*

      I was once flown to London, from Washington DC, for what turned out to be a single 20 minute interview. The interview went well, and I liked the hiring manager, but I was very surprised that they invested so much money (over $10K) to fly me over for such a limited interaction. He apparently put a lot of value on making a personal connection with his leadership team. In the end I ended up getting the job, and my boss turned out to be one of the best I have worked for during my career.

      1. MK*

        That sounds like an exorbitant amount of money for airfare and, I assume, one night at a hotel. Even cross-atlantic airfare and a London hotel.

        1. Can Can Cannot*

          It was. To be honest it made me hesitate a bit about the company, wondering if they were wasting money in other ways. In the end it turned out to be a well run company, and I enjoyed my time working there.

          1. Paulina*

            It’s not a waste of money if the alternative is hiring someone who doesn’t fit well. And then hiring someone else (who may not fit well) when the first one leaves. International hiring can also have extra criteria that need to be satisfied for immigration purposes, if the person to be hired doesn’t have local status, and it’s good for both employer and employee to be more sure the person is likely to work out first.

      2. Old Admin*

        For over $10k, that must have been a flight with the Concorde! (No, I’m not joking, the supersonic flight new York – London cost quite a bit.)

        1. Can Can Cannot*

          Just business class on a standard jet. I didn’t ask for a business class ticket, but I certainly enjoyed it.

      3. Workfromhome*

        Sometimes companies just have policies that people follow blindly with no consideration for how stupid they are. I once accepted a job offer from a US company (I live in Canada) for a candy sales rep that was just above entry level. Lower end salary, no bonus etc. The “company” had a policy of having new employees sign their offer in person in their local office. I flew (having to change planes ) for over 6 hours, arrived close to 5 pm, taxied to the office (almost everyone had left),signed my offer,the manger had a last minute something come up. Since I had planned on being taken out I had no US funds. I was given $50 out of petty cash dropped off at my hotel that had a diner across the street and told to use the $ to get something to eat. Then back on the plane the next day to go home!. It must have cost them thousands of $ to have me basically sign a piece of paper. Needless to say the first impression wasn’t wrong and it was one of the worst sales jobs I ever had.

    4. Ann Perkins*

      This is what I came here to say, too – I would ask for reimbursement for expenses. OP, you acted under the impression there would be an interview, and there wasn’t. They acted in bad faith on this one even if it was the fault of the interviewer and not the hiring manager, assuming they aren’t the same people.

      1. Momma Bear*

        However, at this point it’s been weeks. OP didn’t email the thank you until a few weeks later + however long before they sent this question in. It will seem odd to ask to be reimbursed at this point. The time to ask about that was before buying the tickets or immediately after the confirmation that the position was filled.

    1. Bleh*

      I’ve gone to a few interviews where the interviewer basically told me whatever information was in the job ad, and then their only questions were “why are you interested” and “do you have any questions?” And then I either got a form rejection or got ghosted. The only thing in common with them all was that there was no phone screening prior to the interview.

      Is no phone screening a sign that they’re not actually interested in you as a candidate and they’re just filling an interview quota or something?

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        I’m not sure it’s a sign of that, but in this day and age, especially with the pandemic, I’d be very suspect of any company that didn’t at least do a minimal phone screen before scheduling an interview. The fact that this company asked OP to fly in for what was presumably a first round interview is sketchy as hell.

        1. Quill*

          Yeah, I have just straight up EVAPORATED from jobs that want me to fly in without bothering to do prelim phone interviews. Because they all want me to shell out to fly, and say “we will reimburse”

          … I’m not spending $500+ on an interview up front, dude, if you were serious about interviewing well you would be paying the kind of money for this position that people COULD drop everything on a 2 week notice and get airplane tickets for this.

          But again, nothing I’m qualified for is paying the kind of money or in the kind of industry that asking people to fly in for an interview isn’t deeply weird.

          1. Self Employed*

            I interviewed with the NIH for what I hoped would be my first position out of grad school. They wanted all candidates to fly in (which would’ve been from the SF Bay Area to DC) but I was in a disability hiring program and requested a phone interview as an accommodation. They agreed to do a phone interview, but the interviews were very condescending and obviously I didn’t get the job.

      2. OhNo*

        Unless they just need bodies and it doesn’t matter who, I tend to view no phone screen as a sign they’re bad at hiring.

        Even if you could decide from resumes alone who you wanted to spend time interviewing, why not take the time for a few phone calls to get some of the preliminary points out of the way?

        1. Midwest Manager*

          I’ll go out on a limb here and say as a hiring manager and potential candidate, I really dislike phone screens. I personally have hearing issues that make phone calls extremely difficult, plus I live in a rural-ish area where phone reception is poor at best. As a trade-off, I spend the time and will conduct 5-9 in-person (more recently video) interviews for a single vacancy. In my nearly 10 years of managing and hiring, the only hire that went bad was my very first one.

          No phone screen isn’t always an indicator of “bad at hiring”.

          1. Sweet Christmas*

            I think ‘phone screen’ is code for a remote interview, not just on the phone. At my job we still call them ‘phone screens’ out of habit but they are 100% video calls and have been since before the pandemic.

            But I agree with you – I do dislike phone screens that are just on the phone. I find it really difficult without the non-verbal communication.

        2. Alice*

          I have a student job that didn’t do phone screening. In fact, it didn’t even do an interview. I asked a manager working as cashier how to fill out the online application. They explained and indicated they needed night availability in particular. I filled out the application on my phone that weekend, and woke up on Monday to several emails from University HR explaining where to take my identification documents and how to access the online forms all employees were required to fill out. Apparently, I was hired. People who need warm bodies don’t always bother to interview people.

      3. Rez123*

        I’ve only ever had one phone screening. All others have been a direct invite for an in person interview. I wouldn’t view it as a red flag, but I would most definately prefers a phone screen first. All interviews have been good, however I could have self screened our for a few.

      4. Esmeralda*

        No. The last couple of searches (university, academic-adjacent positions) I ran I did not do phone screens because (1) we needed to expedite the search and hire someone before the money disappeared and (2) that’s my preference, because a fair number of people are terrible on the phone who would be great employees (and being awesome on the phone is not a requirment for the job).

        In fact, one of our recent hires is someone who had not gotten past the phone screen several times in the past (I was not in charge of those searches), the hiring officer told me that and suggested we were wasting our time to go straight to interview/presentation/etc. I responded that, as hiring officer they did not have to hire this person, but the committee liked their materials and they were in the top ten of our applicants. I didn’t share the bad-phone info with the committee, we brought the person in (virtually), the hiring officer called me the next day to say thank you. Very good hire.

        The only phone screen I like to do is give the applicants info not in the ad (must start by X date, salary is Y amount, Z skill or experience an absolute requirement), we don’t have money to pay for any travel expenses, and see if they are still interested.

        1. Artemesia*

          Interesting. I did a lot of academic hiring and always phone screened. The job involves presentations and teaching and making a case for grant money; it would surprise me that someone would be great in the classroom and research presentation and somehow ‘not good on the phone.’

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            For me, it’s the spontaneous aspect of the phone screening. If I were giving presentations/lectures about something I knew like the back of my own hand, I might be brilliant. And if I were being asked questions that I may or may not be prepared for… not so much.

            1. Sweet Christmas*

              Spontaneous? Are people not scheduling phone screens? All of the phone screens I’ve had have been scheduled.

              1. KittyRiot*

                Spontaneous in that a question could catch you off guard. Obviously the phone screen would, in most cases, be scheduled

                1. Carlie*

                  If there’s one thing students are good at, it’s asking questions that catch you off guard that you aren’t prepared for.

                2. Self Employed*

                  At least students will be asking about the subject material, not some rubbish job interview question like “What animal would you like to be?” (and yes, I have been asked this in interviews).

                  If students ask random questions that aren’t about anything relevant, the professor isn’t obligated to answer them. “I hadn’t thought of that, feel free to look it up before our next meeting” or “How is that relevant to this course?” are not things you can tell an interviewer.

          2. Midwest Manager*

            I hire into academia support-staff positions, and never phone screen. Early in my career I spent an incredible amount of time on the phone for my job, but since then I have developed hearing issues that make phone calls quite difficult. Add in rural-ish living with bad phone reception and I would not do (and have been passed over because of) a phone screen. Depending on the role, you can be terrible on a phone interview but incredible at whatever else the job requires.

            *The worst is when you’re phone screen is with a committee and they have you on speaker phone in a conference room. Everyone sounds like they’re talking into tin cans!

            1. Bleh*

              Ugh. Yeah. I’m horrible at phone calls, so I do hate phone screens and only apply to jobs where talking on the phone isn’t a main duty.

              I’ve been on speaker-phone phone screenings before. Soooo awkward. Hard to understand everyone.

      5. Smithy*

        Due to the pandemic, anyone not doing either a phone screening should at the very least be offering a remote interview first.

        That being said….post-pandemic, I would love to see more organizations offer video interviews for the first interview as a matter of practice. I had a tough year of doing many interviews, and even when I wasn’t traveling between cities – it was that matter of trying to schedule interviews before/after work or taking off time to get to/from multiple in-person interviews. Even when I was in the office, remote interviews allowed me to find coffee shops/hotel lobbies during my lunch hour.

        I’m in a job that has a lot of external interaction and certainly see a value of eventually having some kind of in-person interviews – but I think there’s a way to hold that off until you’re further along in the process.

        1. Esmeralda*

          Agreed, I think our zoom interviews were very successful. Made several hires and all of them very good.

        2. Hemingway*

          Yes! It’s like telehealth appointments. I don’t have to actually take time off of work, I can work until the doctor is ready, do the appt and then go back to what I was doing. So much easier!

      6. RabbitRabbit*

        My craziest in-person interview, after at least one phone screen and some emails, included a pre-printed list of multiple questions that found about 5 different ways to ask me about my hobbies (what do you do for fun, what do you do in your spare time, what do you do to relax, etc.), and I was mentally WTFing about why this was such a topic of fascination, that when she then did the “what is your greatest weakness” type of question it threw me for a loop and I initially fumbled the response then tried to come back from it. Apparently my biggest weakness is being asked a series of really odd questions digging deeper into my hobbies than I’ve ever personally thought about it.

        Then I never got a response either way from them after all of that.

        1. Bleh*

          My craziest in-person interview was: SQL skills were listed as “preferred” in the job ad, so in the phone screening I told them I didn’t know SQL and asked if that would be a big deal. They assured me it wasn’t because it was easy to learn, and I had many other skills/knowledge they were interested in. The in-person interview was literally just a multiple choice test on SQL. They told me to guess the answers if I didn’t know them. Of course they ghosted me.

          1. voluptuousfire*

            I’ve run into that myself–the “nice to haves” end up being “mandatory requirements” and they reject you based on the “nice to have” that wasn’t important suddenly became a good portion of the role.

          2. RabbitRabbit*

            That sounds a lot like one of those “HR on the phone, actual boss in person” sorts of situations, yuck!

        2. Ace in the Hole*

          Questions about what you do to relax in a job interview really bother me. It just feels way too personal.

          The only time I’ve ever been really okay with it was in an application to join the volunteer fire department. Part of the interview was screening to make sure people had adequate social support and healthy personal strategies for handling the traumatic nature of the job. In that context it made sense to ask “what do you do to relax if you’re stressed or upset by things from work?” When I’m applying to be a delivery driver, not so much.

      7. EchoGirl*

        I think that, at least in non-pandemic times, it depends a lot if it’s local or not. I’ve interviewed for local jobs without a phone screen and it was never a red flag even in retrospect. I think the more they’re asking you to go out of your way to get to an in-person interview, the more of a potential red flag it is if they don’t phone-screen first.

      8. TechWorker*

        We don’t usually phone screen because the aim is to make the process overall as short as possible (but we’re hiring grads not senior positions). That said we’ve been doing fully remote interviews for covid and I can’t imagine we’ll be back doing in person ones until at least the end of this year if not next.

  3. JI*

    I once had an interview with a startup where the first question ‘So why do you want to work at X?”.
    I was a bit thrown. Frankly, I’d done the research I could, but hadn’t been allowed to play with the software, the website was bare bones, didn’t tell me about the architecture, the job description was ill-defined.

    I had asked the recruiter for all this in advance, but they assured me the interview would address that. Nope.
    It was a waste of an afternoon (plus the prep time).
    A week later, had my regular meeting with my then current boss. He said “So I heard you interviewed at X”.
    He was cool about it, but it reconfirmed that X were a bunch of idiots.

    1. ten-four*

      Wow that’s bad! My husband had a similar experience: he was headhunted to work for a Very Cool Startup and the CEO slouched in wearing a t-shirt with some slogan sharpied on it and said “why do want to work for me?”

      Fun fact: that startup went on to be an early unicorn, so off-putting interviewing aside I guess they were doing something right.

    2. SomebodyElse*

      I don’t think this is the worst question to lead off with in an interview. I think it’s a lot better than the dreaded “So why don’t you tell me a little about yourself” to start. God I hate that one… My smart ass tendencies always wants to answer “I like long walks on the beach and sunsets” and then I get the dumb pina colada song stuck in my head.

      I think the “Why do you want to work at X?” is a decent ice breaker opener. It gives the candidate a specific question to answer that doesn’t require them to hit the ground running with technical or super precise answers.
      I mean, you did apply, there must be something that you can talk about to explain why you applied without too much effort, right?

      The other things you describe are the bigger problems from what I can see. Especially if it wasn’t clear what the job description was or if there was no real information on the software.

      1. SomebodyElse*

        I should say this shouldn’t be the only question asked at an interview, I was going to say that’s obvious, but clearly from the OP’s letter it’s not to some people in the world :)

      2. JI*

        No, they approached me.
        Actually, the honest answer would have been “I don’t know if I do yet.”
        The issue was at this stage, I didn’t have enough information to be able to answer well.
        Frankly I would have preferred any of the other questions you mentioned.

      3. Quinalla*

        Honestly, I think it is a bad question to start off with – especially if the company headhunted you – it is one thing to ask it mid-way or later through an interview, but to ask someone who maybe has little info about the role yet? Weird! I like it best when the interviewer starts off talking about the role/company a bit first before getting into the questions. Gives the interviewee a chance to relax a bit.

        But yeah, it is a question a lot of interviewers would ask, so best to prepare what you can for it. Honestly, at my stage of career, if someone asked me too early in the process that question I’d probably start asking them questions to clarify the role and learn more about the company than I could from their website, etc. so I could better answer their question – and I would say that.

        1. JI*

          “Even how much do you know about X?” would be fine (especially if asked in a non-judgmental way to direct any subsequent conversation.
          In my current job I was asked how did I hear about them. I just answered honestly “I saw an ad on Glassdoor”, which was fine. In this case I was bringing a lot to the table, so the fact I hadn’t heard of them before didn’t bother them at all.

      4. allathian*

        Yeah, I think this question might work as an icebreaker when you’ve applied for a job, but it does seem off if you were headhunted for it.

      5. MCMonkeybean*

        I disagree, neither is great but at the very beginning of the interview you at least pretty much have all the knowledge you need to answer “tell me about yourself.” “Why do you want to work here” is less reasonable in my opinion because at the very beginning of the interview the candidate might not be sure yet whether they even *do* want to work there or not.

  4. WellRed*

    Yeah, I think I’d consider complaining up the food chain. “I was really excited about the opportunity and flew out at my own dime and was treated like this.”
    Who cares at this point what they think of you, but maybe it puts them on notice that guy is an ass and they are asses for allowing this to happen.

    1. WellRed*

      Also can we fix this guy up with the boss from this morning who thought her employee should get over her daughter’s death?

  5. Hiring Mgr*

    None of this makes sense… did they fly you out only to meet with this one person? Usually flying to an interview would be more of an all day thing, or at least meeting with several people/groups, particularly during the pandemic I would think..

    I guess something changed between when you scheduled the interview and when you got there, but this handled terribly. Answering this one question differently probably wouldn’t have mattered

    1. Batgirl*

      I had to read the letter twice for this very reason as I assumed the aquaintance manager was just a preamble networking thing, and he then called off the panel meeting last minute but no? Meeting one guy was the whole reason to fly out? Clearly he’s been very disrespectful of OP’s time from the start.

    2. allathian*

      Yeah, indeed. Even if they had changed their minds and decided to hire a really good candidate, a decent company would have interviewed the LW anyway, if only to generate some goodwill for the future. And maybe even offered to pay expenses just for wasting the LW’s time. One can dream…

  6. Salt & Vinegar Chips*

    I think we need to know more about the interview process before the flight out. Did the OP let the interviewer know they were out of state and this would be a hardship or did they just say yes to fly in? Did the OP ask for another option? Its reading like the OP knew everyone and jumped at the chance to interview without asking about the process or if there were any other options.

    1. BRR*

      Does that change the guy being awful though? I agree with everything you said, but the guy is still a jerk.

      1. OhNo*

        It still wasted the LW’s time, to be sure, but there’s different levels of jerk here. If they thought this was just a regular interview, the hiring manager was a jerk. If they knew the LW was flying in for this interview on their own dime, the hiring manager was a capital-J Jerk.

        If the company encouraged the LW to fly in on their own dime in any way, that brings this to a whole new level of Jerk involving several words I probably shouldn’t use here.

        1. Smithy*

          I would add to this that if the OP flew out on their own dime and didn’t tell the company – it might be worth doing some internal networking to see if this is still a thing that is done.

          I have personally felt that when there was a ‘dream job’ I was in contention for, if there were things I could do to bolster my candidacy – professionally – I would. And for a while, being able to interview in person felt like one of those “this can actually help” gumption moves. In the past, I had friends who would fly themselves into town for first round interviews – and when I was flown into town to interview with one job, I remember using the opportunity to hit up everywhere else I was applying to see if they wanted to schedule an in-person interview.

          I think that post Covid, industries that have kept moving have figured out remote interviewing far more – and I would highly encourage someone to check with their peers to see if this kind of ‘gumption’ move remains something that is still done.

          1. Hemingway*

            In my industry you would never fly to an interview on your own dime. We even help associates with no experience get to an appropriate interview, so I wonder if this is industry specific or if the OP just did this becuase they were excited about the job?

            1. Smithy*

              I’m in nonprofits – and while I’ve never flown myself out for an interview – I have had interviewers ask if I need them to find me accommodations or if I have a place to stay. Or have been interviewing and heard “if you find yourself in town, let us know so we can schedule an interview for you.”

              I’ve never heard that and opted to fly myself out just for that organization, but I know others who have. I also do have a friend who’s in media who did fly herself out for a first interview because it was with a major publication and she felt it gave herself the best chance. She didn’t get that job, but did pick up another networking meeting that did ultimately lead to a job.

              As much as my industry does value in-person meetings, during COVID I was interviewed and on-boarded 100% remotely. Post COVID, I’m sure my sector will return to wanting some in-person interviews, but the idea that you can juice your first interview by being in-person – I hope that dies.

              1. Jayne*

                One of the reasons that I am in an academic library rather than public is that academia (despite its own weirdness) were willing to pay for my travel expenses to interview me while the public library wanted me to get a ride with my father when he visited some relatives in the same town. Just a short jaunt from Florida to Ohio, dontcha know.

                Add in the response of what kind of housing the salary would get me in the area: “you have relatives in the area, ie, you can live in your grandparent’s basement” and academia, here I come!

                1. Smithy*

                  Man – industries that are highly competitive and also don’t pay well really do put young candidates through the ringer.

                  If you want to work in international development/humanitarian work, my very best advice is make sure you do your undergraduate and graduate work in a city that has multiple employers in those industries. Certainly the internship/volunteering opportunities are important, but the ability to work through a temp agency that does placements in those types of organizations can be such an important early step if you don’t have the luxury of taking an unpaid full-time internship. And 100% geographically dependent.

            2. Filosofickle*

              In my industry, at least up to mid/senior levels, I’ve never heard of anyone getting flown in for interviews. Also no relo assistance, so there is logic to it — their POV is we’re not recruiting long-distance so if you’re not local it’s on you.

      2. Salt & Vinegar Chips*

        Yes it would changes things. If they had not known or paid attention to that the OP was out of state or if the OP had not asked for other accommodations for the interview it would have made it less bizarre and not as unkind. But since the OP wrote in below it makes it worse since they had already had interviews via zoom and said future interviews would be over zoom.

        1. BRR*

          But it’s really just level of rudeness. There’s not a ton of scenarios where I’m siding with the person who has an in person interview with one question and then lies about the candidate advancing even if the LW lived ten feet from the office.

          And yes the OP’s follow up is basically one of the worst scenarios.

  7. Anon and on an on*

    Option 1: you gave an answer to “why do you want to work here” on a par with “because I want to steal all hardware after work each night and sell it to buy drugs to sell to orphans.”
    Option 2: He found out the position was filled and he didn’t have the grace and presence to tell you straight up (because he forgot to cancel you).
    Option 3: that he scheduled more interviews than he was budgeted to reimburse and thought if he scared you/shamed you away you wouldn’t follow up.
    File this under, “incompetent asses I’ve encountered” and send them a request for reimbursement.

  8. Mellow Yellow*

    The petty in me wants you to send your airfare receipt to HR and ask them about the reimbursement process.

  9. Snarkus Aurelius*

    Two words: internal candidate

    I learned this lesson the hard way over many, many years. Now I won’t go near an interview process if an internal candidate is up for consideration. Yes, I know employers are supposed to give everyone equal consideration, but the reality is they’re going to go with the person they’re more familiar with. I cannot compete.

    That said…

    I flew to DC for a final round interview at a nonprofit. The interview was with the President & CEO. *Before I even have my jacket off,* she tells me, “Just so you know, our charter requires us to advertise and interview external candidates for all positions. We already have an internal candidate so…” Then she asked me about the weather and if it was still snowing. That was my interview. Less than ten minutes! Back then, I took it. Today, I would have reported her to her board for circumventing their organizational charter.

    Perhaps you should consider doing the same to his higher ups? Not ratting the guy out, but phrasing things in a more matter of fact way.

    1. Bleh*

      But you’re not supposed to ask if there are internal candidates. How would you know ahead of time to avoid an interview?

      (I got a rejection letter after a recent interview that said they hired an internal candidate because they like to promote/hire from within. So I know not to apply there again, but otherwise I’m not sure how to find out.)

      1. WellRed*

        Of course you can ask if there are internal candidates. They might not answer, but there’s no “not supposed to”

        1. Bleh*

          Ack. I got the impression from commenters here that you shouldn’t ask. (I think it was discussed in open thread topics, not on Alison’s posts. People said it looks bad to ask, and if someone asked them they’d view the candidate negatively. Maybe I misunderstood.)

            1. Bleh*

              I mean, if someone views a simple question like “are there internal candidates?” negatively, maybe it’s a sign that it’d be a bad place to work anyway.

              1. CollegeSupervisor*

                We had a failed search a couple years back where one of the interview candidates asked why the two senior librarians hadn’t applied for the job (they had and were not considered seriously because of reasons). I found out later that this candidate had already asked that question in a previous part of the interview and was apparently not smart enough to take the “That’s not something we’re going to answer” response at face value. Needless to say, he was not offered the position. I don’t necessarily think this is the same as asking if there are internal candidates, but it definitely torpedoed his interview that he wasn’t able to read the room and kept pressing on awkward questions.

                1. Bleh*

                  Yeah, if you’re told something can’t be discussed for whatever reason, it’s pretty crappy to ask about it again later and expect a different answer.

                2. Your Local Password Resetter*

                  He also just assumed that they hadn’t applied, even though he would probably never know any of those details.
                  That alone would’ve had my hackles up

                3. Darren*

                  So you weren’t going to tell him that the two people he would be taking the I’m assuming management role for had in fact applied and these were the reasons why their applications were ultimately unsuccessful?

                  How are you expecting him to understand the role he is taking on which ultimately as their manager is to get them up to the point where they would be considered for the role in future, or making them very aware of the fact that this role is not something that they are suited for and that. And ensure he is both up for that challenge, and getting appropriate remuneration for it?

                4. J.B.*

                  Library hiring is just weird. Especially if this person was young I wouldn’t expect them to get the context or even remember what was asked earlier in the day. I don’t get the 3 or 4 panels, it is just exhausting and who knows what to ask.

      2. Snarkus Aurelius*

        Oh heh I never knew. I just remember being annoyed at preparing for hours, getting there, and then getting shown the door after four minutes. (no joke!)

        As I’d gotten more established, I was able to ask around before I applied. If there was an internal candidate, then no way.

        I don’t see it so much now though.

        1. Sweet Christmas*

          Yes, at my current job, the nature of our team is such that every time we have an open role we have multiple internal candidates. But they do not always get the role; in fact, we hire externally way more often than not.

      3. NotQuiteAnonForThis*

        I’ve always had a lot of respect for a former boss who’d let external applicants know during a phone screen that there was already a “very strong candidate for this position”. She never told them whether they were internal or external, but she was always very kind but professional during these screens and was very respectful of everyone’s time. She wasn’t going to have an external applicant come in for a face to face interview (note: this was eons ago, like pre 9-11) if they weren’t even in the running, especially because they were all entry-to-mid-level postings. There was no reason.

        It was also decently well known in that particular corner of the industry that if you got a face-to-face there, you likely have the job.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Yep. Being an internal candidate can either help or hurt you, depending on the workplace, hiring manager, way your current department is viewed within the organization, color of the sky that day.

        It’s not always a given that the internal candidate will get the job.

        1. Sasha*

          Definitely – I have known internal candidates (given to us by the medical school, we hadn’t selected them) who had essentially made themselves unappointable in our unit by the end of their six-month placement with us.

    2. AdAgencyChick*

      PLEASE tell me you were reimbursed for your travel costs. Not that it doesn’t still suck that they wasted your time.

    3. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      I think that approach is closing off other possible opportunities. My husband interviewed for a job at my organization (wildly different work and reporting lines) and was turned down in favor of an internal candidate. However, then her old job needed to be filled so he was brought in for an abbreviated hiring process and hired. He loves the job and it’s a much better fit, but it also turned out that the internal candidate ended up leaving after just a few months in her new role so they had to hire a replacement. If he hadn’t already been working there, he (likely) would have been one of their first calls.

      TL;DR: never turn down an interview!

    4. miss chevious*

      Of course, you know your field better than I do, but I’ve been hired over internal candidates and have hired people over internal candidates, so I don’t think there’s a hard and fast rule. In my experience, internal candidates, especially ones in the same department as the position, have a very high bar, so being external isn’t always a bad thing.

    5. Crazy Plant Lady*

      I was recently on a hiring panel where we selected an external candidate over an internal candidate because we thought they were a better fit for the role. I also recently applied for an internal job posting at my boss’s urging that I wasn’t really sure I wanted. I was actually quite relieved when they selected an external candidate instead of me.

      On the other hand, I have twice applied for positions that were publicly posted specifically for me where they didn’t even interview anyone else who put in an application (external or internal) and once got really far in the hiring process with another role when a strong internal candidate emerged and was selected.

      I could understand not wanting to put your own money out to fly somewhere for a job interview when you think your competition has a better shot than you do, but you may lose out on opportunities.

    6. tangerineRose*

      I don’t know. I’ve worked with a few people over the years who would probably be passed up for a job IF they were internal candidates because people at the company already know their attitude and/or work ethic.

    7. LPUK*

      On the other hand…. I went to interview at a company for a senior role, performed really well at interview ( and indeed later on, in the role) and was offered the job, even negotiating a higher salary than they offered and it was only after I’d been in the company for a while that I discovered that a. it was a corporate rule that they couldn’t fill roles above a certain level without at least looking externally and b. they already had an internal candidate identified ( I later met him). So never say never – it may be less likely, but external hires/unknown quantities can still win out over known quantities

  10. Polecat*

    Asshole. I’m sure there will be 1000 comments on this thread, pondering all different reasons why he did this, none of which will matter. We’ll never know and speculating is meaningless. Sometimes, people are just assholes. If you drove five minutes for this interview and he asked you one question, he’d be an asshole.
    Based on what we know from the OP, there’s really nothing helpful we can tell her other than, it’s not you. You can’t learn from this experience because you can’t asshole proof your life. There will always be assholes to surprise you in new and different ways. You did nothing wrong.
    I had an interview years ago where I had an agenda for the day from the HR person, I was to meet with the hiring manager and then 3 people from her team individually. 2.5 hours was scheduled.
    I met with the hiring manager first and after 15 minutes she stood up and thanked me for coming in, clearly indicating I was to be leaving. I was so confused. You’re not supposed to contradict your interviewer but at the same time I had a printed out schedule in my bag that showed I had 3 more interviews….I said “so will I be meeting other anyone else on the team?” and she said “oh no, you won’t be meeting with the team, they don’t have time for that”. WUT???
    Obviously she decided 15 minutes in that there was no way I was a viable candidate and didn’t see the need for anyone else to meet with me. It was do gaslighty though,,making me feel like I had made a mistake in thinking I had other meetings scheduled.

    1. Bostonian*

      “You can’t asshole proof your life”

      So true! This is key. There’s not much to learn from here, OP: this was just a crappy experience.

    2. gbca*

      This right here. There’s really no explanation that makes what this guy did ok, and there’s no lesson to be learned other than sometimes you just encounter random assholes in life.

    3. Generic Name*

      Yes! At this point in my life I am so over making excuses for awful behavior. Maybe the interviewer isn’t actually an Awful Person, but who the heck cares if this is how the treats people? I know you wasted hundreds of dollars at minimum, but consider this a bullet dodged.

    4. HS Teacher*

      I’ve never understood why people post in the comments negative things about what someone might supposedly say later. Have you read the comments? No one is blaming the OP or excusing the interviewer. It’s just so passive-aggressive to do, and I see it more and more on the forums I frequent.

      1. Persephone Mongoose*

        Because as fun as speculation is a lot of the time, it’s rarely helpful. Polecat is right. We’ll never know why and the main takeaway the LW should have is that it wasn’t their fault at all and the interviewer was an asshole.

      2. Persephone Mongoose*

        Also, Polecat didn’t say anything about other commenters blaming the OP or excusing the interviewer. Please don’t put words in their mouth.

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

    Assuming there weren’t any scandals from your previous employer that would have triggered his memory upon seeing you, and coupled with the fact that a different manager answered your email to him, I’d say that it would appear that your interviewer was maybe no longer with this company and maybe knew that would be the case at the interview. Still terribly rude. If he knew he was on his way out and would have no further input in hiring for this position, he should have said something…maybe, if he wasn’t barred from doing so.

    1. jamjari*

      Yeah, I was wondering the same thing. That bit about another manager answering seemed odd unless the first person was no longer at the company…or couldn’t answer for some other reason.

    1. Greg*

      I’m all for a polite, just-the-facts Glassdoor review, but if you take it too far and start posting about it everywhere you risk making it more about yourself (and possibly damaging your reputation in a niche industry).

  12. ragazza*

    This is a truly terrible interview question, period, at least at the beginning of the process. It’s like asking someone on a first date why they should marry them.

  13. Pointless Flight*

    Hey, OP here! After I sent my email to you, I got the scoop from a mutual friend of my interviewer. Apparently they had already filled the position with an internal hire. I had done a Zoom interview with a panel prior to the in-person one and was told that the subsequent interview(s) would be Zoom as well. I’m completely baffled as to why this one necessitated an in-person meeting, particularly given the circumstances. I wish my interviewer could have had the guts to call me the morning of my flight and let me know. At least then I could have tried to get a refund on my ticket. Oh well. I’m still a little sad about a missed opportunity but I obviously dodged some major toxicity.

    1. MEH*

      Thanks for the update, OP! It’s good to know you found out what happened, but it’s still an awful thing for them to do to you.

    2. WellRed*

      Oh, I’d definitely reach out to their HR and ask about reimbursement. hell, copy the asshole on it.

      1. TCO*

        Agreed–if they made you pay for a plane ticket after 1) telling you the interview would be on Zoom AND 2) already filling the job, it’s worth asking HR about a reimbursement. It’s such an awful way to treat candidates, it it deserves to be escalated to HR as well as shared on Glassdoor or when it comes up in casual conversations with other folks in your field.

        1. Former Young Lady*

          Agreed! Sounds like someone made multiple screw-ups and tried to cover their tracks. Give ’em hell, OP!

      2. consultinerd*

        OP, please do this. Asking you to fly on your own dime to interview you for an opening that no longer existed is totally unacceptable.

      3. Antilles*

        Absolutely. Even if it’s normally not their policy, there’s a good chance that HR will reimburse you just because this was so egregious.

    3. NotAnotherManager!*

      They suck – the least they could do if they were already hiring internally or had already filled the role was to pay for your plane ticket. Sounds like you’re taking a very healthy view of it, but just know that they suck, not you.

    4. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I stand by my “call them out” advice.

      This whole thing was disrespectful. I’d also contact HR and see if they are willing to reimburse any of your expenses.

    5. Batgirl*

      It’s douchey even when they’re local because most people put a lot of time and effort into prepping for an interview. When companies treat a shortlist of desirable people from their field in this way, it makes you wonder how those already on their hook are treated. If you can warn other potential interviewees on Glassdoor, do. Try to get some reimbursement and thank the bullet that dodged you.

    6. Malarkey01*

      This is so so crappy and also a little shady. If they said interviews would be by zoom why in the world did he ask you to fly out there? It’s even more galling that someone else was already selected and you were given a crappy interview. But seriously why did they even ask you to come out?

    7. Quill*

      The fact that they wanted you to fly out in a pandemic makes me think they were aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

      …. filled with bees to begin with

    8. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

      Thanks for the update! Internal hire was my guess, but as everyone has said that doesn’t excuse his asshole behavior. Sorry you had to deal with this! I am glaring at the computer screen on your behalf. Good luck!

    9. Artemesia*

      My god, they let you fly during a pandemic on your own dime when they had already filled the positions. Moral monsters. I would request reimbursement on the grounds that they asked you to fly in for a non-existent position.

      1. Willis*

        Yeah, it’s worth asking for a reimbursement. It’s especially egregious considering the health risk associated with flying during a pandemic and that OP probably could’ve gotten a flight credit if she was able to cancel beforehand (maybe with no fees, since many airlines are offering fee-free changes now). And what does the OP have to lose by making the request??

    10. Marzipan Shepherdess*

      Yes, I’m afraid they wouldn’t have treated you as an employee much better than they treated you as an interviewee! And of course, an interview is two-sided; although we often forget this, it’s a chance for the applicant to see if they really want to work there.

      Many years ago, I interviewed for a teaching position with a nonprofit agency. One of the first things that the interviewer told me was that they were looking to hire someone to replace a current employee who was going to be fired but who didn’t know that yet – and that they’d scheduled my interview for a day she was off so that she wouldn’t suspect anything. Uhh huh…I went through the rest of the interview, but had already mentally crossed that agency off my list; if that’s how they treated her, that’s how they were going to treat me some day and I was NOT interested in being stabbed in the back! (I was offered that job, but politely turned it down; by then, I’d already accepted a position with an excellent agency which I stayed with for the next 27 years.) To paraphrase a wise saying, when a company shows you who they are, believe them!

      1. HS Teacher*

        I’ll add a caveat to your comment. Just because the hiring practice is messy doesn’t necessarily mean it would suck to work there. Our HR is hit or miss, and getting hired can be very frustrating. But once you’re onboard it’s a great place to work. The people we report to have no control over HR.

    11. heismanpat*

      If they wanted an in-person interview that badly, they should have paid for your flight. Next time, you should at least ask about it.

    12. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Joining the chorus of “They made you fly during a pandemic, to interview for a position they already knew had been filled?!?!?!” This makes me so angry.

  14. jm*

    LW, i’m so sorry this happened to you. i can’t imagine how demoralizing that must’ve felt.

  15. Miranda*

    I’ve had someone walk into the room, put their feet up on the desk, whereupon a rock of cork fell out of their nose, and *I still conducted the whole interview*. Because I am a professional person.

    It’s not you.

      1. AE*

        LOL, I was about to say that I had so many questions. I still have a lot of questions, just not cork-related.

    1. Ryn*

      Did they notice and try to subtly rub it into their gums? That’s now what I’m visualizing and it’s hilarious.

      1. Properlike*

        I thought it was a new drug imbibing technique. Like you soak the cork in cocaine dissolved in water and just let it leech into your mucous passages.

        I’m trying to figure out what the person was doing: 1) Were they trying to snort a rock of coke? Or, 2) Did they snort so much coke that it became some kind of drug pearl, a mix of powder and snot that formed around a wayward booger?

      2. The Rural Juror*

        I was imagining that they couldn’t find anything to keep their nose ring in place, so they used a piece of cork in a pinch…

    2. The Prettiest Curse*

      Rock of cork is almost a better mental image, tbh. Hitting the wind hard ahead of the interview…

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        And that should’ve said “wine”. This thread has an ancient typo curse upon it!

    3. MCMonkeybean*

      I mean, *sometimes* it is more respectful of people’s time to cut an interview short when it’s obviously not going to work out and honestly that sounds like a time when cutting it off would be the best option.

      Assuming you did not also ask that person to fly out for an in-person interview that could have been done over Zoom on their own dime.

  16. AdAgencyChick*

    OP, I really, really hope you can get your money back. I wouldn’t hesitate to use some guilt and a presumption that you WILL be paid with the hiring manager, since you knew him already. “I was surprised and dismayed to have spent $XXX out of my own pocket to come out and then not have the opportunity to talk for more than a few minutes about the position. Who can I work with on your end to get reimbursed for my travel costs?”

  17. JelloStapler*

    Wow. Very rude and a waste of your time. I would probably be reeling after that as well!

  18. Working Hypothesis*

    The way the interviewer handled it was definitely rude… but Alison, I’m surprised to hear you talk positively about an interviewer “giving” a candidate more time “just to be respectful,” when they already know that they’re not going to hire you. You’ve said so often that it’s *not* respectful to waste somebody’s time by interviewing them when you already know you won’t hire them!!

    It seems to me like the respectful things to do would be either to genuinely keep your mind open to the possibility of the LW being the best candidate, or else to have called them before they ever got on the plane and told them that you’re hiring somebody else and they shouldn’t come. Even if it means they have to eat the plane fare, at least they wouldn’t have to travel during a pandemic unnecessarily!! (And most airlines these days give free changes, though not necessarily actual refunds, so you could repurpose those plane tickets for some other trip to someplace else, anytime within the next year or so.) Letting you fly out there for a pretended “courtesy interview” that doesn’t have an actual chance in hell of getting hot a job and letting you fly out there for one stupid question and then shutting it down both look like variations on the same rudeness, to me.

    1. Working Hypothesis*

      “that doesn’t have an actual chance in hell of getting hot a job” should be “that doesn’t have an actual chance in hell of getting you a job.” Sorry. My spell checker sometimes gets a little over-enthusiastic.

    2. WellRed*

      But neither of those things happened, so at least if they pretended to be interested, OP wouldn’t have been left doubting themselves on every level. It just would have been a job they didn’t get.

    3. Green*

      I think you’re misreading Allison’s comments.

      Allison would say that they should have cancelled the interview if they’d already decided not to hire her.

      But we’re taking it from where the interview starts, and Interviewer has two options: (1) be honest or (2) fake it, even though it wastes everyone’s time. “Be honest” is probably the best one if you’ve already hired someone, maybe less so if you just don’t like the person based on their one answer.

      1. Jinni*

        I don’t know. This happened to me twice. Or rather like LW and once worse. I drove to an interview, they offered me a water, asked me a single question, THEN told me they’d already filled the position. Why they couldn’t have called me, I don’t know.

        BUT the second time, the interview was the preparation of a class for a specific jail population. The interviewer had some weird issue with driving, so I picked her up, drove to the jail, did the entire prepared presentation, ate lunch at the jail (odd, but she liked county food), then on the way back she mentions the position was already filled, but she wanted to give me the courtesy of doing it. I got a call later from a supervisor apologizing for making that choice, but I lost time not only with the interview but the preparation time as well.

        In both cases, a call that it wasn’t going forward would have been preferred. And this was only LA traffic, not a flight during a pandemic. I’m unclear as to how or why that not very hard conversation can’t be had.

        In the second situation, their preferred candidate bowed out. They called me, but by then I was very soured on their orgnization and wasn’t interested in working somewhere that would treat me that way.

        1. linger*

          Unfortunately, the possibility of the preferred candidate dropping out (as in your second example) is a powerful reason why it’s so unusual for hirers to be honest about telling candidates in advance the position has already been filled.
          Admittedly, that issue is less likely with an internal hire. Continuing other interviews under that scenario more likely means there has to be some competition in the hiring process; but any hirer treating that as a sham process is showing disrespect for the other candidates they’re dragging into it.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Of course they should have canceled the interview if they already knew they weren’t going to hire the OP (which I think I said in the post). But once she was there, he needed to either (a) tell her directly why he was cutting short the interview or (b) pay her the respect of having a real conversation with her. That’s the same thing I’ve been saying for years, and I don’t think it conflicts with what you’re arguing for.

      1. Nicotene*

        I also think in the case of a) at least he should have offered to cover the cost of flying out there!

      2. Working Hypothesis*

        Alison, thanks for clarifying. I think what happened was that I have literally never before read of a case which got so far down the list of appropriate options that “pretend to do a real interview” was actually the best of the remaining ones! So I didn’t know it was even on your list of acceptable choices, no matter how far down. I did know that “cancel the damn interview if you’ve already hired an internal candidate” (which is what the LW said actually happened, in a followup comment), and “if you can’t remember to do that, be honest with the candidate who has showed up on your doorstep about having hired already, and apologize profusely,” is second on the list. I just didn’t really think that anyone would fail so completely to do one or the other that “go through the motions of a real interview even though you have no position to offer” was going to get to the front of the line.

        1. LPUK*

          At that point, I think that the very least you owe a candidate who has bought a flight and come for an interview that you didn’t cancel due to your own cock-up ( NB this isn’t a rude phrase = it comes from the old days of printing presses…) is the ability to preserve their own dignity and go through a proper, thoughtful interview even if it messes up your own day and is a waste of time for you. At least it stops the interviewee feeling as bad as this one obviously did, it gives them the opportunity to practice their interview skills and if you feel truly penitent ( as you should) then you can offer thoughtful feedback on what they answered well and which bits of their experience you valued. Oh and pay for the damn flight ( and any incidental travel expenses – taxis, lunch etc)

          1. Self Employed*

            If the interviewer goes through with a full interview, then they also have the benefit of knowing if they want to call the candidate for a similar position or if the internal candidate gets hit by a bus.

            1. CircleBack*

              Especially in a niche industry, it would’ve been to both of their benefits to have a full conversation about the OP’s experiences and career goals. You never know what the future brings, and the OP could’ve been a future replacement for their internal candidate, or a source for the interviewer to turn to for a future project or job at another company. First choice would’ve been honesty & helping OP with canceling the flight & covering costs, but once they’re there, it’s shooting the interviewer in the foot to not learn more in depth about OP & let OP learn more about them.

  19. Batgirl*

    I’d be OK with “So, why should I hire you for this job?” at the end of a mutual conversation, but as an opener sprung on me like that, I’d be tempted to say “I haven’t decided if I even want it yet!”
    I absolutely wouldn’t ever actually say that, but it sounds so high handed that I’d have to take a deep breath and fix my smile back on.

    1. I edit everything*

      If you get to the end of an interview, and the interviewer feels a need to ask “Why should I hire you?” the you didn’t make your case. The whole interview should be about why they should hire you.
      And yeah, if the interview opened with that question, I’d want to say, “I don’t know–maybe you shouldn’t. Let’s talk about how we can work together,” or something.

      1. Jennifer Thneed*

        Or it was just a crappy interviewer. There’s a lot of bad interviewing going on, because people are pulled into it without any training (or even guidance).

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          I worked somewhere that had canned interview questions (yup, even for internal candidates, which could be… Weird). If that question had been on the list, the interviewer would have to ask it, even if it had been answered by virtue of all the other answers.

      2. LadyByTheLake*

        I have said that exact thing in response to that question. I said it in a light and breezy tone, but I did have an interviewer that opened with that and I said exactly, “I don’t know — maybe you shouldn’t. Let’s talk about what the job entails and what you’re looking for and then I might be able to answer that question.” It turned out that they shouldn’t hire me for the job because they didn’t have a good idea what they wanted, didn’t have the vaguest idea of what kind of work I do and it was clear that they wouldn’t value my contribution. That question was the first of many that showed that they were completely clueless.

  20. voluptuousfire*

    OP, I’d DEFINITELY try to see if they’d reimburse you for your flight if they haven’t offered. Considering your experience, they really owe that to you. They should pay anyway, but especially after shoving you out after asking one asinine question.

  21. AE*

    Aside from all the other horribleness about this interview, it’s also just a terrible practice to expect applicants to travel long distance for an interview at their own expense (and to expect them to travel, period, in These Times). It seriously disadvantages candidates with lower wealth/income, among other things. If they don’t have funding to fly in all finalists, they should just interview everyone over the phone.

  22. Bookworm*

    No words, OP, other than this might have been a saving grace, as awful as this experience was. If that is how they treat potential employees, can you imagine what the workplace culture might be like?

    I do wonder if something happened to the interviewer, though, if someone else answered. Sorry that happened. :/

  23. Quill*

    Why the flying duck did he not ask his ONE question over skype or the phone!

    To be honest, it seems like he was actually testing how much of a yes-man you are. Having you fly during a pandemic to answer one question? EEEEEeighj

    1. EvilQueenRegina*

      Having someone fly out for one question even without the pandemic is pretty crappy!

  24. Alex*

    Ok so this happened to me twice! The first time I accepted the job offer and it turned out to be a really great place to work at. The second time I didn’t accept the offer. Both times I was sure I didn’t get it. Lol

  25. LilyP*

    I want to say in general that as an interviewer, when I ask a broad high-level initial question I am specifically looking for the interviewee to give two or three sentences of the highlights and then stop. talking. Someone who takes “So tell me a bit about your professional background” as a chance to spend ten minutes giving me every detail of their last three major projects and makes me interrupt them to move on is showing that they don’t have strong communication skills and can’t tailor answers to audience/context. So you absolutely did the right thing there!

  26. Ash*

    I agree with all the commenters who suggest asking HR to reimburse you. I would also leave a Glassdoor review about their interview process, so others may not fall into the same situation. But most importantly–OP, this is a case of it’s not you, it’s *them.* You did nothing wrong here.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      It would be interesting to know if Glassdoor yields any similar experiences already.

  27. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

    (Apologies if this is a re-post – I already submitted it but got a weird server error, luckily (?) I was able to copy and paste it!)

    I have interviewed people numerous times and worked closely with other ‘interviewers’ — and even the worst answer to “why should I hire you” (or other opening question, because that isn’t the first thing I would ask) wouldn’t result in me or any of my cohorts terminating the interview unless the person had said something so egregious that it didn’t make any kind of sense to continue (which I’m sure you didn’t!).

    If I did ask that though, I’d be happy with the sort of answer you gave, e.g. “my understanding of the position and the company from my research is xyz, and my background in abc [details] would be germane because here’s how it fits together…”

    It seems to me that there wasn’t anything you could really have done differently (as in, did you “tank” your chances with a not very good answer? I doubt it!) … I think for some reason you had no chance at this job even before stepping foot in there. (I won’t comment about the appropriateness of having you fly out for an in-person interview at that point!)

    I wonder why? I think *Something* must have happened between you having the initial discussion about flying out there, and the interview itself, I guess. Who knows what that might be – whether they had already decided on another (internal?) candidate? They heard some third party information about you that made them change their mind? Or whatever it is. I don’t think we (or you) can know what it is, from the information given, but the “brusque” email from the other manager seems to add to the impression that ‘something’ uncomfortable has gone on there.

    As such I think you are (understandably though) asking the wrong question, as I don’t think there is anything much (that you don’t already have in your interview repertoire) you could have done differently to address this situation, as it is such a strange one.

  28. The Prettiest Curse*

    Please Glassdoor the crap out of this company, if at all possible. The way they treated you was totally unacceptable and other job candidates would probably appreciate knowing how they treat you when you fly in at your own expense in the middle of a pandemic.

  29. Marzipan Shepherdess*

    If that’s a sample of how that company treats its people (and I hope it ISN’T!), the LW dodged an employment bullet and DOESN’T want to work there! One not-so-great question and out the door? Umm…no. Just no!

  30. Veryanon*

    My first thought was, why on earth couldn’t this have been done via phone or Zoom? I would definitely contact someone in the HR department, explain what happened, and ask if they could reimburse you for some of the travel costs. That’s completely outrageous.

  31. Radio Girl*

    I’ve conducted dozens of interviews and been interviewed by numerous companies.
    Never have I experienced this.

    OP, you have dodged a bullet. I’m sorry you had to fork over travel expenses.

  32. Dan*

    I realize this is industry specific, but I work in a field where the norm is to have the employer cover interview expenses, and this does include non-profits.

    I would *never* advise someone to cover their own expenses unless they are a serious contender for the position.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      I work in a field where the norm is to have the employer cover interview expenses,

      If you don’t mind me asking – what field is that?

      Where I come from, the reasoning is that the person wanting the job absorbs the “cost of doing business” in order to attend an interview, because it’s them seeking the opportunity. At any of the places I’ve worked, if someone asked to be reimbursed for travel to an interview they’d have been laughed out of there! (In the same way that a sales person promoting their product to a prospective customer would be laughed out if they tried to charge the prospective customer for the flights.)

      1. datamuse*

        I don’t know what field Dan’s in, but I’m in academia and we either cover travel expenses for a candidate or do the entire thing via phone and video. (In general, the former for tenure track positions–on the rare occasion that we have them–and the latter for visiting and staff positions.) We would never ask someone to cover their own expenses to travel to see us–if we did, we’d be filtering out good candidates who can’t afford it.

        I don’t think your sales example tracks. Wouldn’t the salesperson’s employer be covering the cost in that instance?

        1. Genius with Food Additives*

          I work in R&D for food manufacturing, I’ve had several interviews with travel involved and the only one that wasn’t covered by the employer was a short term contract position (it was driving distance, I was very motivated to relocate, and had friends I could stay with). This is from my very first job out of college plus several after that – and I can’t emphasize enough that I am in no way excessively or unusually qualified for my field.

      2. miss chevious*

        I work at a large company and it’s absolutely the norm to reimburse candidates for exceptional travel expenses. No, we don’t reimburse for your subway fare or your gas mileage if you live in town, but if we want you to come in person and you need to take a plane to get here, we pay for that. It’s pretty common, in my experience.

      3. MissDisplaced*

        Sorry but nearly all fields cover interview expenses to fly you to headquarters for the interview. It’s part of THEIR business costs. If they want to interview you, trust me, they’ll pay for the flight.
        Otherwise, there are things like Zoom.

      4. Filosofickle*

        I commented the same elsewhere, but for solidarity with your experience: My field is creative and in my experience (in moves to Chicago and San Francisco) there was never any possibility of having my travel paid for. Big city creative studios I’ve known simply do not have to look outside their region to find candidates. And in fact it’s likely a feature not a bug — they would prefer not to to deal with the logistical needs of a candidate who is not available immediately for interviews and to start plus has to relo, with all the attending complications and uncertainties. If I’m competing against locals and they’d just as soon hire locals, then it’s on me to get myself there. I’d guess a creative firm in a city with a smaller talent pool might have to pay to bring people in. But if I wanted to work at a big city agency, that’s always been on me. I was earlier in my career in these moves — maybe it’s different at a higher level or when hiring is harder.

    2. TootsNYC*

      as someone who works in an industry in which the employer would never pay for travel expenses unless it was a relatively high-level hire (i.e., never for any of the openings I’ve hired for), I agree:

      I would *never* advise someone to cover their own expenses unless they are a serious contender for the position.

      I have interviewed people from out of town, by phone, and I would never ASK them to travel unless I were 95% ready to offer them the job and had any qualms about their personality that I thought could only be answered by an in-person visit.
      At the time I was hiring and had candidates from out of town, video conferences weren’t really a thing. But I’d never ask for an expenditure unless it was absolutely necessary. That’s just disgusting behavior.

  33. Anon Today*

    I used to work for a guy–smart, professional, a good teammate, respected in the field. He made a *point* of being an asshole in interviews. It was a thing he’d been taught, apparently, to weed out “weak” candidates. He was generally a guy with a smile on his face and an easygoing way of bantering. In interviews: stone face. No affect. Nada. Just asking questions and listening like a robot. I’m sure we lost good candidates because they were either a) thrown off their game by this rude nonsense, or b) decided they didn’t want to work for this jerk. I was way, way too junior to do anything about it, but I did needle him about it. He was committed to this jerk method of interviewing though. This reminded me of his style. So sorry that OP flew out for this crap.

    1. 1234*

      At Old Job, we had a director who had the same tactic but I knew it was a tactic when I interviewed. He would “seem” condescending and defensive just to see what you would say and how you would react.

      In my interview, he said something like “You worked in X industry known to have rude people. You must’ve hated that” just to see what my response would be. And my response was “Actually, I learned a lot from Jane and Mary; they have over 20 years of experience.”

  34. Dagny*

    ” I had to fork over money for airfare and fly during a pandemic, but if that’s what it takes, right?”

    Cynically, no. Functional companies that are seriously considering hiring you will pay for your flight, no questions asked. This is a business norm. (Non-profit might be different.) Here are your options:
    1. They cannot afford to pay to fly you out, at which point, you’re uprooting your life for a company that does not have an extra $500. This is a bad idea.
    2. They can afford to fly you out but are not bothering to do so because they do not need to. This means that they have other candidates they like as much or more (so don’t bother), or are very quick to ditch professional norms when unemployment gets high. Trust me, you do not want to work at a company that does that.

  35. Susana*

    I’m not normally a fan out “outing” a company on Glassdoor, but in this case, I’d do it – say how rude and selfish and inconsiderate they were. Just lay out the facts…

  36. TootsNYC*

    I’ve run into situations, both as an interviewer, and as a friend of an interviewee, where the hiring manager knew they weren’t going to hire the person.

    If you know that there’s something about that candidate that means you’d never hire them, I honestly think you should cancel the interview. Maybe it’s too late to change a plane ticket, but still…

    However, I’ve also been in a situation in which I (or another hiring manager) already knew I wanted to hire someone else.
    In that case, the purpose of the interview shifts. It becomes a chance to get to know a potential industry member or a potential future candidate.
    Who knows? they might change my mind. But even if they don’t–now I’ve met them, I know more about them, and the next time I (or someone I know in my industry) is hiring, I’ve got the resume of a candidate whom I’ve interviewed. I can call them in, or I can pass them along.

    Long ago, I was job hunting, and wrote a letter to a senior executive at the company I was freelancing in (and had worked in before). She asked me to come for an interview. She was very open that she didn’t have any need for my skills at the moment, but it was a really well-done interview–thorough, etc. And at the end, she said again that she didn’t have any openings, but she thanked me for spending the time, because she always wants to know who is out there, what their skills are, and more about them, in case she does need them in the future, or in case she knows someone else who is looking. It added to her expertise at her job, she said.

    That has stuck with me all these years.

  37. I don't mean to be rude, I'm just good at it*

    If this is truly a niche industry, one would think the OP could relate his experience to another. The gossip would spread throughout the industry and get back to the interviewer and company. Having that type of reputation spread through the industry would be the best revenge.

  38. MissDisplaced*

    Oof! Well, for whatever it’s worth I don’t think you should blame yourself for doing poorly here. Having an interviewer launch directly into that question first is really off putting to say the least. I’d find it hard for anyone to expect that.
    If it was their intention to throw people off or upset interview norms, I don’t get why they couldn’t have run their little humiliation scheme over a Zoom.
    I’m sorry you went through this AND had to pay for your flight. Honestly, I’d be tempted to send them an invoice for expenses.

  39. Kona*

    Not sure if this has been mentioned, but another explanation might be that they had a candidate in mind but were required to interview a certain number of candidates. Though they shouldn’t have asked you to fly out for that….

  40. Ann O. Nimitee*

    Was this a government position? Something like this happened to me once for a state agency position. It was a second-round interview that I swear was less than 15 minutes. Fortunately I hadn’t flown — just drove 90 minutes for it. But I’d had to purchase a second interview outfit and had of course extensively prepared. I’d barely sat down, weirdly crammed around a small coffee table in a break room with an awkward committee. The whole thing felt off. And the next thing I knew, I was being shown to the elevator. I suspect it was a hiring process in which they had to check boxes. “Yes, we interviewed X number of candidates.” Gah. What a terrible process.

  41. cncx*

    I once had an interview with a woman (who now runs a “women in business” advocacy group in the UK) who had been told by the recruiter that i was on crutches from having broken my ankle and was taking a taxi. First red flag was she was adamant at scheduling the interview at like 3pm when she knew i still worked. So 1/2 pto, ate the taxi, hobble in there, she asks me one question and as I am responding, stops me in the middle of my sentence and ushers me out.

    I sat on a street corner and cried before i took my taxi back. Even if i was to tick a box, there were so many kinder ways to do it- give me the whole time even as interview practice, give me an interview time that wouldn’t have made me eat PTO…she had so many ways to get what she wanted and not do me wrong.

    The irony that she now heads a women’s business advocacy group. Yes, i kept my receipts and am waiting for my moment

  42. Middle Manager*

    I left graduate school in 2008 and went onto the job market for the first adult job in the last brutal job market. I was broke and couldn’t afford a hotel so drove overnight to another state several hours away, slept in my car, got ready in a restaurant bathroom, and then had an incredibly brief interview with no response to two or three polite follow up emails/calls on the status.

    While I sincerely doubt the manager realized any of the effort I put in to show up, it was so thoughtless that 13 years later, I still have a very negative response to that non-profit when I come across their advertising. It’s mostly irrational, I have no knowledge that they as a whole treat candidates or employees poorly, but it’s hard to shake that bad experience. Which is all I guess to say, my best guess is that it wasn’t intentional, people are just oblivious sometimes. And also that companies should really make sure that their managers aren’t doing things like this,

  43. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    Two things –

    1) You may have been called in to interview to create a number they need — for instance, in high tech, people are called in for sham interviews, then rejected, then the company has created a statistical impression so they can get in on visa programs and hire people at lower wages / fewer benefits / less employee protection.

    2) Non-profits versus for-profits = you can STILL work in a for-profit corporation and make the world a better place. I’ve worked for a personal products / medical supply company, and also for a company that did pharmaceutical testing. Both situations, I was making a dollar, I was helping stockholders, BUT I was making the world a better place. I once made a planning report where $1 million was cut from the IS/IT budget, but it went into R&D for medical products…. I had misgivings at first but it felt pretty good, all things said and done.

    Also to be noted – people who work in management for these not-for-profits often do fairly well. Not necessarily as well as their cohorts who work in the private sector, but they often do well – and the contrast is much better than their subordinates. The most important thing in ANY job = can you afford to work in it? And, how much personal, professional, and financial sacrifice are you willing to put up with???

  44. Pretty Ricky*

    Unless you’re unemployed and getting desperate, never travel at your own expense. If they consider you a serious candidate , the company should reimburse your travel.
    My last company even told me they’d pay for an additional night of hotel and meals so I could check out the area before or after the interview.

    Could you still ask them to reimburse you for the flight? Doesn’t hurt to ask!

  45. Firecat*

    Wow! I’m sad that two employers do this!

    My husband once got called into an interview that they held at their headquarters 2.5 hours away instead of the office the person would work at….

    He got there and it seemed like they had a great interview with the candidate before him. Which is fine! Except I guess they decided that continuing interviews was a waste because they acted surprised he was there, then gruffly called him in to interview, and asked one flippant question – why should we hire you? They also showed him the door immediately after. The energy tht had was blah…this sucks we shouldn’t have to bother.

    Well spouse drove home and called them up to withdraw. Get this! They got really defensive! What do you mean you decided we weren’t for you???? We are a great company!???? They tried to talk him out of withdrawing but he insisted and they hung up in a huff.

    Maybe if you care about your companies rel don’t be flip with interviewing etiquette?

  46. ArtK*

    Bullet dodged.

    One thought. It is appropriate to respond to “Why should I hire you for this position?” with a question: “What can you tell me about the position?” I wouldn’t even try to answer that (awful) question without enough background to make an intelligent response.

    1. TootsNYC*

      I think you need to say, “I’d be a great fit, because I’ve done X and Y, and someone in this position needs Z character trait, which I’ve demonstrated with job/task A.”
      And then you say, “What are you looking for most in the candidates?” or something.

      So, answer the question, but yes, to your point: Immediately ask a question.

  47. Firecat*

    Also OP, for the future, you should refuse to fly out unless they schedule a full day of interviews. If the hiring process is typically, or even may be, a multi interview process then they should schedule you to meet with all the stake holders in one day even if they would typically only pass on finalists.

    This may help you prevent wasting money on flights for disorganized jerk companies in the future. Have that full day of interviewing scheduled before you buy or fly.

  48. OceanDiva*

    I had a similar experience ages ago, when I first graduated and paid for a flight to DC out of pocket to interview, and then got a call at baggage claim that they had filled the spot. Pretty demoralizing plus I realized I couldn’t afford to look for out of state jobs – it took 4 more years of work at a crap job to save up to try again (where again I paid for 2 last minute interview flights out of pocket, but at least had the money to do so).

  49. DJ*

    I’d write to the company’s HR about this one unless you are hoping for other opportunities to come up there.
    But one wonders why the interview couldn’t have been done over zoom/MSTeams/Webex etc. I’ve been to a local interview over MSTeams with a panel of two!!
    To save $$ perhaps ask if that is an option next time you apply for a job with an interstate company.

    1. Bill Johnson*

      I spent about $500 of my own money for a flight and a hotel and got what I would call a 30 minute “half-assed” interview from two interviewers who couldn’t even answer my question about how they would describe their company culture. I was tipped off about the job by an industry colleague who was taking a higher-level position with them (he lasted less than a year there). I was well qualified for the position with many years of experience, but I couldn’t get an answer from them after the interview. After a couple of e-mail follow ups, they finally said they had changed the position and I was overqualified. My friend at the company had no clue that they changed the job description.

  50. Greg C.*

    I’d call this a blessing in disguise. If he is willing to be this disrespectful to you now when you haven’t even started working for him just imagine what it would be like to work for him.

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