my interviewer asked about my personal finances

A reader writes:

Is it normal for a hiring manager to ask, somewhat insistently, how a candidate has been supporting herself financially during a period of unemployment? If it’s not normal, which is my suspicion, what could possibly be behind this?

I work in a niche field and was laid off last year in a Covid-related restructure (i.e., it was not performance-related). I’ve now been unemployed and desperately job searching for an entire year. It’s been brutal because my field is already small and my skills are not easily translatable to other lines of work. In short, there are very few opportunities for people like me, and everyone in the field knows that.

I had several interviews for a role in which I’d be a contractor at a client site, and an employee of the contracting agency. It was made clear that it’s informally a contract-to-client hire role, and the contractor is expected to have a very close relationship with the client hiring manager. After multiple in-depth interviews, the client hiring manager called me directly without the contract agency present. To be honest, the rest of the conversation also felt inappropriate, but what really bothered me was that at the end he pointedly asked how I’ve been supporting myself financially, because “a year is a long time,” “I didn’t think unemployment payments were enough to support that,” and “I didn’t know if you were married or had kids.” I politely and non-defensively asked why he asked, and he said he “just wanted to know,” but that I “didn’t have to answer.” I mustered all of my diplomacy to assure him that I wasn’t turning down jobs to rely on unemployment or even hiding a more recent job, if that’s why he was asking, and that the job market was just really difficult right now. He laughed and said that’s not why he asked but just really wanted to know, and asked again.

What could be behind this? I can’t imagine that personal finances are any business of a potential employer for roles like this that don’t require a security clearance. If he was concerned that I had gotten into some unsavory financial arrangements to finance my debt, like drug dealing, that should be covered by the credit check process, right? And I can’t imagine that this was to suss out my salary requirements, because I had agreed to the range before interviewing, and aren’t salary negotiations what he hired the contracting agency to manage? The agency wasn’t even on this call. Also, even if he was stepping into salary negotiations, why does it matter how poor I am now? Salary should be based on merit, not need. If it’s based on need, then I need $10,000,000.

I was already on the fence about this role due to other troublesome behavior I had noticed throughout the process, so am probably going to decline if they offer this job to me. I’m just really curious what could have been behind these questions, especially without the contracting agency present.

This is just a nosy dude.

He felt curious about how you’d supported yourself through a year of unemployment. That curiosity on its own isn’t the problem; the problem is that his brain didn’t immediately tell him it was none of his business. And even after you politely pushed back twice (first by asking why he asked and then by trying to address what you thought he might be concerned about ), he still felt entitled to insist on an answer. And he didn’t have any qualms about admitting that he “just really wanted to know.”

I think you can take that at face value. He just wanted to know. And he’s clueless enough not to realize or care that being interested isn’t the same as having the right to ask.

Because you are a normal, professional person, you’re looking for a way his question could be rooted in something businessy — thinking maybe it was about salary or so forth. And sure, maybe he was looking for signs that he could lowball you on salary. But more than anything, he’s just nosy and feels entitled to get his curiosity satisfied.

I think you’re right to turn down the job, particularly since there have been other danger signs, but it wouldn’t hurt to mention to the contracting agency that you had an odd call and explain what he said to you (not just this, but whatever the other inappropriate parts of the call were too). They may not care since he’s the client — in fact, their attitude may be that whoever they hire needs to deal with this guy, so it’s better to have people self-select out otherwise — but it’s still reasonable to alert them that it’s happening.

{ 330 comments… read them below }

    1. M*

      Honestly, same. Especially with the comments about whether she was married or had kids.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        Yep. Exact same. I think “I didn’t know if you were married or had kids” is the actual giveaway here.

        1. Autumnheart*

          Even that question is a basket of trouble that an interviewer should take pains to avoid. It only gives the impression that being married and/or having kids is grounds for not hiring a person, even if that wasn’t the conclusion they were going for.

        2. Selena*

          My take was that he (for whatever stupid flimsy reason) concluded that she was hiding a rich husband and possibly a whole family.
          With the bigger problem being that he can’t wrap his head around the fact that he’s wrong, so he wants to keep pushing until she reveals her ‘secret’.
          Taking that further makes me conclude that he probably surrounds himself with bootlickers who pretend that all his hunches are always correct.

      2. OhNo*

        Bingo. Once I saw that line, I immediately thought that he was trying to hit on her. At best, this dude has no sense of separate work and personal boundaries. At worst, he’s a creep.

        1. Mr. Shark*

          Yeah, I don’t know if I’d go to OnlyFans, but I definitely think he was trying to suss out if she was married or had a boyfriend, so he could hit on her. I really think that’s all there is to it.

    2. 2 Cents*

      OnlyFans is probably it, though my first thought was more of the old school Craigslist “live with me for free, but clean my house in the nude” kind of arrangement.

      1. Harvey JobGetter*

        Blegh. If it really is about looking for OP’s (non-existent) porn site, that is pretty specific to men. But both men and women ask inappropriately personal questions at interviews. I’ve not seen men being more likely to do this, nor have I heard of any data saying the same.

        1. KHB*

          OK, but this isn’t really about men versus women in general – this is about this one specific man.

        2. Rach*

          Men are way more likely to sexually harass, that is well documented. Not that women don’t, men just do at a higher rate.

        3. EmKay*

          So…. not all men? That’s what you’re saying?

          Gee, I’ve never heard that before.

      2. Your Local Password Resetter*

        Ah, to have the confidence of a mediocre white guy.
        But yeah, it’s not a suprise that this was a man acting entitled to a woman.

    3. What’s behind curtain number three*

      Really glad I wasn’t the only one getting sketchy vibes. As someone with an OF side hustle, this would make me incredibly uncomfortable and remove my application from consideration.

      1. ursula*

        As an aside, I would love an AAM interview with someone who does this kind of work or other sex work on the side, or has bounced between sex work and non-sex work, and how they navigate being in both of those worlds!

        1. theharuspex*

          I run fundraising for a nonprofit by day and do OF/fetish content in my free time.

    4. Observer*

      My first thought was that he wanted to know if you had an OnlyFans.

      My first thought was that he was telling the truth – he wanted to know if she’s married or has kids. Which is utterly non-relevant to the position. So, problematic either way.

      1. mf*

        Yeah, me too. I read it as veiled sexism and discrimination. The “I don’t know if you’re married or have kids” sounds like “I’m fishing to find out if you have a husband who supports you, because wives and mothers make bad employees.”

        1. SuperDiva*

          Or “I’m fishing to find out if you have a husband who supports you, because then you won’t be a ‘dedicated’ employee” (aka a person who needs to keep their job so won’t quit if they’re overworked or have a dumpster fire of a manager).

        2. Liz T*

          Agreed, I thought it was older-school sexism than someone who would know what an OnlyFans was. “Surely a little lady such as you could only get by with a husband to support you?”

      2. Rach*

        Yep, this was my take. It is an inappropriate interview question. Family status is protected, isn’t it?

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            It’s actually not, federally. It can be if it’s playing out in a way that has a disparate impact on women, but not in and of itself.

      3. Ellie*

        Me too – that was his real question. He either wanted to know because he was hitting on her, and wanted to find out if she was available, or he thinks she’s going to take more sick time and be less dedicated if she’s a parent, or he’s going to try to low-ball her on salary since she ‘doesn’t really need to work’. There’s certainly no good reason for him to be asking.

        I’m sorry this happened to you, and I think it’s really worth raising it with the company so that they know he’s doing this.

        1. Julia*

          This interpretation is really surprising to me. I took the statement as “I didn’t know if you were married or had kids, which would mean you might be supported by additional income, so I’m still curious about how you supported yourself while unemployed.” I’m quite interested to see there are so many other interpretations. I personally think they’re reading a little much into it and it was just curiosity as Alison says.

          Ever since the demographic survey that revealed how heavily skewed this site’s readership is to white women, I tend to wonder whether that skew affects the commentariat’s take on a situation.

          1. Observer*

            I’m sure it does – I think women of all demographics have lots and lots of experience in dealing with problematic behavior of this sort.

            And for a lot of us “simple nosiness” of this level tends to be a red flag, based on experience.

    5. Pumpkin215*

      Hahaha! I didn’t know what that was so I googled it…..at work. Totally my mistake and now I know to use my phone. But it made me laugh today.

        1. Autumnheart*

          It’s a site for people who want to create NSFW content. (In case anyone else is wondering.)

          1. DJ Abbott*

            Thanks, I googled it and it said it’s a site for content creators to get paid by their users. So I was thinking freelance writers.
            I have a disconnect though. If OP did have an OF site, even if it was X-rated, what difference would that make in her day job? Unless it was something where “morals” are important, it’s not her employers business.

            1. OP*

              Thanks for bringing this up. The OnlyFans speculation misses the point and has been annoying me.

              1. SS Express*

                I don’t think anyone is suggesting that having OF would be in any way relevant to the job or appropriate for him to ask about – just that, with so many people using OF to make money while out of work during the pandemic and so many employers having (unfair) opinions on this type of work, it’s one possible explanation for his inappropriate question.

              2. Megan m Guiney*

                I dont think it does, actually- it has been a very common way for young professionals out of work to stay afloat during the quarantine, so given the fact that it has been a rising trend, I think it’s a reasonable thing to consider

            2. Tiffany Hashish*

              How the OP supported herself after being laid off isn’t this employer’s either, yet here we are.

            3. Observer*

              If OP did have an OF site, even if it was X-rated, what difference would that make in her day job? Unless it was something where “morals” are important, it’s not her employers business.

              Of course it would make no difference. Neither would it make a difference if the OP is married or a parent. Either way, the boss is pushing for information he has not business pushing for.

            4. Jules the 3rd*

              To me, ‘has she got an OF’ is a way for the interviewer to check whether he can hit on her, because that’s one of the assumptions that goes along with OF accounts.

              1. KHB*

                To be clear, the scenario that sprang to mind that prompted my initial comment was that the boss wanted to know if OP was on OnlyFans because if she was, he wanted to purchase her product. (Which, it should go without saying, would be super gross and inappropriate.)

            5. OboeBeans*

              The speculation appears to be that he’s not asking as her (potential) employer…

      1. Speaks to Dragonflies*

        Yeah,I had to google what onlyfans was…on my work phone.Thank goodness for safe search. For inquiring minds that don’t wanna risk it, what I gleaned was it’s a site where anyone can put up pictures and others pay to see them. What the content is,I leave to your own imaginations. If I’m wrong,please correct me.

    6. NYC Taxi*

      Or recognized her from Only Fans and was trying to get her to admit it? I don’t know how that site works.

        1. Artemesia*

          It didn’t even cross my mind (I am old and out of touch LOL) but it is certainly possible. My first thought was living on credit card debt and perhaps being an embezzlement risk — or something like that. But I think Alison probably nailed it — just a snoopy jerk.

          1. OP*

            I’m the OP. I can tell you from work experience that investigating whether someone is an embezzlement risk is only appropriate when it’s directly linked to job duties (ex: the person handles money or has access to finances), or the person is being investigated for a security clearance because they might be tempted to sell access to classified information. This job involved none of those things. Beyond that, only credit checks can be leveraged to determine someone’s debt, which can tell a lot about the candidate. Even in that case, the hiring manager should not be having this conversation because he’s not privy to that investigation/credit check, and more than likely has no idea what he’s talking about because it’s not his job.

              1. Ponytail*

                Nope, it really is none of their business. I got asked outright “How are you doing for money?” in an NHS interview (so, literally, the biggest employer in the UK) and it was none of their business. They also asked me if I hated my previous employer for making me redundant (!!) and I was tempted to reply (I didn’t) “God no, thanks to them, I literally don’t have to work for almost 11 months if I don’t want to, the redundancy payment was enormous”.
                Worst interview ever and of course, they offered me the job…

          2. D3*

            If they *were* wanting to evaluate that, it would be a formal part of the process, not pushy, nosy questions like this.

            1. OP*

              exactly. that’s the main reason i submitted this question: to make sure i wasn’t missing the big picture in terms of a legitimate business reason that he’d need to know this.

              1. Pants*

                In my experience, to background check on this type of question requires a signed statement of your permission to do so.

                This guy … Just–what? I’m a snarky person; I’d most likely have answered “magic beans” or something. What a clueless creep.

          3. JB*

            For jobs where that is a concern, they just ask your permission to pull a credit check as part of the screening process.

            1. Smaller potatoes*

              Yes, credit check is the professional way to do something like this. Very common in industries where access to high value materials (think diamonds and gold) is part of the work.

          4. Observer*

            My first thought was living on credit card debt and perhaps being an embezzlement risk — or something like that.

            That’s a REALLY bad way to look for embezzlement risk.

            Besides, that’s a pretty ridiculous thing to do. I see that the OP addressed this – and I agree. If the OP were handling money or in a role where this were relevant, that would be one thing. But the OP would know if that were the case.

            1. Artemesia*

              Oh the question is a stupid one and in appropriate for any of the reasons being speculated about here. I think we have established that he us is is out of line and the rest was speculation about what he might be snooping about.

        2. Mr. Shark*

          I don’t think he cared about the financial side or possible OF. He wanted to know if you were available, or had husband/so and kids. That’s it. He was basically hitting on you.

      1. PT*

        He could have just *thought* he recognized her from OnlyFans. Lots of people look sort of alike, and they might both share a common first name. (He is likely also the sort of person who doesn’t get that the women on Only Fans are using fake names, and are also not actually his friends.)

    7. JSPA*

      Or were desperate enough to overlook red flags and problematic behavior. “Let me know you’re desperate” is (way too frequently) a red flag with flashing lights pointed at it.

      At least he didn’t come out and say, “I’m also looking for a sugar baby / sugar daddy arrangement.” But if he wanted to suss out likely relationship availability and financial desperation, he’s asking all the right questions.

      1. Nobby Nobbs*

        This is where my mind jumped too, although my assumption was that he was looking to take advantage of her in a more work-related way.

    8. MED*

      Oh this was definitely my first thought, too. Whether he wanted to know because he wanted to look her up, or wanted to know because he was worried that somehow a client would make the association, or if it was just prurient interest, this was exactly what I assumed he was asking.

        1. Ace in the Hole*

          I don’t think people are trying to imply anything about what you actually do to support yourself… just speculating on what the interviewer might have been fishing for.

          I also think there are many other reasons he could have been asking – general nosiness, fishing for info on your marital status, things (wrongly) that he is screening for embezzlement risks, things (wrongly) that he can tell how “dedicated” and employee will be based on how desperately they need the paycheck… etc.

          1. KHB*

            Yes, thank you. My comment was 100% about the boss and 0% about OP, and I’m a little bit perplexed that people are interpreting it otherwise.

            Obviously, we’re all just speculating here. None of us were inside this man’s head, and there are many plausible explanations for what he was fishing for. (Maybe he was fishing to hear that she was single so he could ask her on a date. Maybe he was fishing to hear that she was supported by a wealthy spouse so he could low-ball her on salary. Maybe he was fishing to hear that she’s financially desperate so he could low-ball her on salary. Maybe he was fishing to hear that she’s financially desperate because it gives him pleasure to hear about women in desperate situations. Maybe he was fishing to hear that she’s on OnlyFans so he could shame her for doing sex work. Maybe he was fishing to hear that she’s on OnlyFans so he could become one of her customers.)

            The one explanation I find least plausible here is that he’s just being nosy and clueless and doesn’t mean anything by it. From OP’s description of her interactions with this man, he’s giving me some extremely creepy vibes. I’d bet dollars to donuts that he was digging for something specific about her personal life, and that his intentions were not at all pure.

              1. Caroline Bowman*

                Tempting to say ”oh I just sell crack. The ROI is insane, though the clients can be quite challenging” with a deadpan expression.

                ”I didn’t know if you were married or…” ”No Chad, you don’t, I don’t think I’ve mentioned that during this job interview on account of how it’s a bit tangential to my thesis on Accounting Systems in Public Office / Llama’s I Have Successfully Wrangled / Alpaca’s, Their Foibles and How to Tame Them”.

                Well done for not being manipulated!

      1. Eden*

        I think it’s a reach, but how is it part of the problem? It’s not speculating about OP, it’s speculating about what the interviewer may have been speculating on. Which is is what OP wrote in about.

        1. HereKittyKitty*

          I’m also wondering why it’s “part of the problem?” I feel like the fact so many people jumped there so quickly should tell us all a little bit about how women are often interacted with in the workplace and beyond tbh. If we’re not supposed to read this interaction as creepy because it wasn’t creepy… then idk maybe things should be better for women so we don’t automatically assume it’s creepy? Like nobody is pulling this reaction out of their butts for no good reason, you know? There’s a lot of lived experience (some documented on this very site!) of interviewers trying to date, hit on or otherwise become emotionally wrapped up in their female colleagues’ lives.

          If it’s bothersome because OP has update knowledge that it has nothing to do with this information and knows our speculation is not on the right track, that’s fine, but we also don’t have the extra information yet so people are gonna people and speculate based on their knowledge base.

          1. Jack Straw*

            Oh, it was 100% creepy. Very creepy. But the immediate thought of it being because she had an OF account vs. drug dealing, event planning, a side hustle selling llama grooming kits? That is just as odd. It implies that women cannot do anything else but use their sexuality to make additional income.

            My read of this comment is it was used as a punchline. It left a bad taste in my mouth.

            1. Observer*

              But the immediate thought of it being because she had an OF account vs. drug dealing, event planning, a side hustle selling llama grooming kits?

              You missed an important point here. No one was saying that the OP actually HAD an OF account, but that the INTERVIEWER might have thought so. Do you really think that this is SO unlikely?

              It implies that women cannot do anything else but use their sexuality to make additional income.

              Indeed it does. Which is why it’s such a garbage thing for a potential employer to imply.

              Well, there a

            2. Peggy Hill*

              Except there is tons of proven data that a lot of women have turned to OF to make ends meet this year (myself included). It’s the first really accessible site for newbies to turn to sex work, and a lot of people have tried it to get through hard times. It’s a seemingly easy way to make a LOT of money, and a lot of people do succeed on there. I don’t think anyone is jumping to the OF conclusion because they think women can only use sex as a side hustle. They jumped to it because it has been at the forefront of the “side hustle” conversation since before the pandemic even began.

              1. Peggy Hill*

                And also…I don’t see anyone saying that the OP is obviously doing OF. Just that it’s possibly what the interviewer is trying to suss out, which IS wrong and sexist. But the convo turned to OF not because of misogyny, but because casual sex work like OF has become more prominent than ever.

        2. HelenofWhat*

          Honestly, this was one of the things that popped into my mind, as the only reasons I could think of for someone asking this, is that they made a gender and/or race based assumption about the OP. I don’t actually care what the OP did or didn’t do, but my first thought was “he’s pushing because he has a ‘guess’ and REALLY wants to know if he’s right.”
          Nosy and super creepy.

          1. Jack Straw*

            I’m reacting to the implication that an OF account is the one and only way OP (a woman) could be making ends meet.

            I realize it is a comment made about the interviewer, but it struck me as odd that a commenter’s immediate thought was of OnlyFans as the go-to for “how else do you make money” vs. running a llama grooming business in her garage. Or selling drugs. Or selling candles. Or running an event planning side hustle. Or any number of other ways folks supplement income.

            It’s that I’m reacting to, not the idea of OnlyFans itself, the hyper sexualization of women.

            1. Jack Straw*

              * the implication by the commenter
              And by “the problem” I mean the larger, societal problem with serialization of women and girls. Not the problem this individual LW encountered.

            2. purpleotter*

              ….but nobody is implying that that’s the only way OP could be making money on the side, just that it’s what the interviewer could be thinking. Onlyfans has been pretty widely covered in the news in the past year as a reason why some women who use it encountered issues with their primary job, their kids’ school, volunteer work, etc. If a man is repeatedly asking a woman how she’s supporting herself and if she’s married and has children, odds are that he’s either being a creep or wants to know if she’s single so he can judge if he can lowball her on salary or hit on her since she doesn’t “belong” to a man.

              Nobody is saying that because OP is a woman, she must have an onlyfans to support herself and couldn’t be doing other work. Acting like that’s wrong to bring up when it’s probably along the lines of what the interviewer was thinking is to be in denial of the reality that many women experience harassment like this in the workplace. I highly doubt he was wondering if she sells drugs or teapots, he waited to bring up his questions until during a call that was just the two of them and was overly insistent. If he really wanted to know if she had a side business like candle making, he could’ve easily been far more straightforward and, while on the call with others present, asked if she had a small business to make sure there wouldn’t be conflicts of interest if she got the job.

            3. Ask a Manager* Post author

              No one here thinks OF is the only way a woman could be making ends meet! People are speculating that this interviewer may leap there, because he is creepy and inappropriate. That assumption, if he’s making it, would also be creepy and inappropriate, and we would judge him for it; that’s inherent in everyone’s commenting.

            4. Observer*

              , but it struck me as odd that a commenter’s immediate thought was of OnlyFans as the go-to for “how else do you make money” vs. running a llama grooming business in her garage. Or selling drugs. Or selling candles. Or running an event planning side hustle. Or any number of other ways folks supplement income.

              I’m assuming that you don’t present as female. But MANY, MANY women have had experience with people who think EXACTLY what you are describing. Where do you think the trope about the woman (sub in a less polite word here) who “slept her way” to her position comes from?

            5. HereKittyKitty*

              Okay but that’s not what’s happening? Like I’m a mega queer feminist that writes about girlhood and domestic violence and stuff so I feel like I would pick up on it if it tingled my activist bones lol

              People thought “OF” because of the interviewer, not because it’s the only way women can feasibly make money! There’s an assumption that if he was thinking llama grooming or candle making he would ask the question in a way more straight forward and chill way. Like “hey you’ve been off for a year. Have you been freelancing or anything for income?” When called out on it from the OP it would make more sense if he rephrased his question to be more revealing or specific to what he meant. Since he didn’t do that, we make an assumption of the following:

              When someone is asking a vague question over and over again it seems like they’re digging for something and is leaving something unsaid because they feel embarrassed about it, or they know they’re being inappropriate. I’ve definitely had creepy men deploy this tactic on me when trying to get me to reveal my feelings on sex. “How do you feel about X? How do you really feel though? Oh I’m just curious you can tell me haha” etc. They’re basically just trying to trick me into a personal conversation I’m not interested in.

              Given that there were SO MANY ARTICLES about OF this past year and a lot of people know others who started an OF (at least 3 people I’m friends with!) It’s not unusual for others to assume this interviewer could have had that intention or thought since he was being so damn weird about it.

        3. Jack Straw*

          By “the problem” I mean the larger, societal problem with sexualization of women and girls. Not the problem this individual LW encountered.

      2. JSPA*

        Let’s dig down on why it’s uncomfortable, though. But first:

        OP, if you describe the tone of an interview as “inappropriate,” the default implication of “inappropriate” isn’t, “he asked about whether I wanted kids” or “he was nosy about my medical issues.” The default implication is, “inappropriate as in improper, as in, somehow lecherous or leering or suggestive or overly personal or negging or in some way a power play of a personal sort with potential sexual overtones.” If you set people up to see “not just boundary pushing in random ways, but boundary pushing in that specific way,” that’s where our minds will go, first.

        Back to the issues…

        Uncomfortable issue #1:
        That people sometimes push to find “dirt” (per their own definition of same) on potential employees. This is gross, but real; pretending it’s not, does us no good.

        Uncomfortable issue #2:
        That some people have decided that “cam” work is the safest way to keep up with bills during a pandemic. This is a sad inditement of our lack of social safety nets. Also, depending on your feelings about sex work, it’s either damaging exploitation or a slightly edgy type of self-reliance –or both, I suppose. Again, cam work is a thing real people are really doing.

        Uncomfortable issue #3:
        That the hiring manager (or the commentariat) could think of OP as someone who does that. Well, as many tastes as there are in the world, really almost anyone could be doing some version of cam work. There’s no “type” one is being mistaken for. In finding it offensive that (in theory) one could be doing cam work is passing judgement on the not-small number of people who are doing it. Literally anybody can wonder if literally anyone is. Full stop. What’s undeniably gross is to muddle streams, by fishing for that sort of information in a job interview!

        Uncomfortable issue #4
        Anyone assuming that a young female person is likely to be quick(est) to default to making side money in that way. Also, the commentariat assuming that a male hiring manager is likely to assume this of a younger female candidate. Analysis: I don’t have figures, but men and women both do cam work. But older guy with power insinuating things to younger female potential hire is not some strange stereotype based on nothing at all. It’s absolutely a thing–a gross thing. Saying, “he must be doing that” is too much, but saying, “he could well be” is reality.

        Uncomfortable issue #5
        to some people, all young blond women look similar, or all slim asians with an asymmetric bob, or all [fill in the blank]. Result: OP doesn’t have to actually do cam work for the hiring manager to confuse her for someone he saw on cam. That’s the cherry (sorry!) on top of all the other reasons that a hiring manager should not try to connect these particular dots.

        Uncomfortable issue #6
        Straight male hiring managers guilting women for cam work (or finding them unhirable) is probably significantly more likely than than LGBQ hiring managers guilting people for engaging in cam work. Also more likely to over-presume that cam work is a problem as far as engaging with clients. This presumably creates an extra, sexism-driven barrier for young women. (I’m rolling into this issue an assumption that straight men hiring managers more likely to be aware of cam work / consider the possibility / make it their business than straight women hiring managers. But in either case, the opprobrium lands hardest on young female candidates.)

        Uncomfortable issue #7:
        If OP decide that this is a job she needs to take, she may not want that gross possibility lurking at the back of her mind, and poisoning her reactions. Well…that’s legit, as far as it goes. But enough of us have ignored our sense of “not quite right,” and had to deal with things that were a lot grosser than “a possibility lurking at the back of our minds.” Again: wanting to believe that people are rarely or never icky in this sort of way is a sort of willing blindness that one adopts at one’s own peril.

        1. Liz T*

          I disagree about the meanings of “inappropriate” here. The interaction was already inappropriate in a professional sense because he was potentially trying to get around an agency fee.

          Not all gender discrimination is around sexual favors, and not all of it is conscious and malicious. It actually IS very much “part of the problem” to assume that all harassers/discriminaters as cold and calculating in that way–discrimination’s far more likely to be casual and unconscious (and no less deadly to careers as a result).

        2. Jack Straw*

          It’s this: “…assuming that a young female person is likely to be quick(est) to default to making side money in that way.” That’s the assumption I was reacting to, and by “the problem” I mean the larger, societal problem not this individual LW’s problem.

          1. KHB*

            That’s not MY assumption, though – it’s my speculation of what the boss might have been assuming. Do you understand the difference?

              1. Observer*

                Then why do you keep on insisting that the commenters are making that assumption, when they are all making the assumption that the INTERVIEWER may have jumped to that conclusion.

                1. Jack Straw*

                  Based on the time stamps, I’ve not “ke[pt] on insisting” anything beyond that last comment. I said I understood, and I do.

                  I know it doesn’t happen often with strangers on the internet, but people really can a) listen to others, and b) have a change of understanding… if only others allow them to do so.

    9. boop the first*

      (forgive my obnoxiousness but)

      OMGGGGGGGGGGGGGG
      I didn’t even think of thisssss
      :O

    10. Jesse*

      Also my first thought, or that he was seeking someone he could maneuver into his bed. Ugh!

    11. Peggy Hill*

      That’s exactly what I thought, too. The cagey behavior and insistent pressing makes me think so. Especially if he had a flirty or casual demeanor instead of a suspicious one.

  1. dogmom*

    LW please tell us that you told this guy — diplomatically, of course — to stick after he asked the third time!

    1. OP*

      I was so shocked that I didn’t know what to say. I needed time to think about whether I wanted to burn this bridge in such a small industry. I’m glad I didn’t, because I do want to maintain a good relationship with the recruiter, who did nothing wrong but could have gotten a secondhand story from him about me being a hothead.

      1. LifeBeforeCorona*

        One good thing is that now if you get asked that question again, you can have a prepared answer for it. Also,you have the confidence knowing that it was an inappropriate question and your instincts are correct.

          1. Pants*

            “Magic beans and unicorn poop. You’d be surprised how much those things can fetch during a pandemic.”

          2. Pants*

            “Witchcraft.”

            “Human sacrifice. By the way, what are you doing the next full moon?”

  2. Shira*

    My thought is that he was creeping (“wanted to know if you’re married”) and/or wanted to suss out what kind of familial obligations you have outside work (I’m a working mother of young kids and have a lot of friends who are as well, so maybe I just hear stories from this angle a lot). Maybe he was trying to push you into mentioning a partner supporting you financially?
    Either way, best of luck in your job search, OP! I think you’re making the right call.

    1. Berth*

      Well if that’s the case, I love that OP didn’t answer ANY of that curiosity. I mean, in any case I feel like OP responded perfectly to the question!

    2. mf*

      Yep, I read it this way too, and I don’t have kids. Either that, or he was trying to figure out if he could low ball the OP when he makes a salary offer.

    3. Gamer Girl*

      SAME. From the snippets of conversation, it sounds like dude was trying to figure out whether or not OP was available. Or if she would be open to an agreement for, ahem, “outside work.” For him. This dude gives me the creeps, OP, and I’m really sorry he put you in that position. I would turn it down if they offer you the job because it sounds like this dude could try something inappropriate.

    4. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Yeah, I’ve had a few interviewers in the UK try to find out what my home life is like with roundabout questions like that (and I spent 2 years unemployed and it’s none of their business how I got by). There’s questions like:

      ‘Do you have any commitments to time? Like having to leave before 4pm?’ which in itself sounds innocent until you realise they’re trying to find out if you have to do a school run.

      ‘Would anything prevent you in the next few years from working this job full time?’ (Said to a woman? They were asking if I had any plans for kids. I absolutely do NOT but that question is unanswerable anyway- nobody can predict the future)

      I wear my wedding ring to interviews, my title is down as ‘Mrs’ if needed but literally anything else about me: gender of my spouse, finances, mental history, disabilities, that I don’t have or want kids, et cetera is on a need to know basis.

      1. DogAnon*

        ‘Would anything prevent you in the next few years from working this job full time?’

        ‘Well I don’t know, do you have an oracle on staff to tell me how the next few years will go?’

  3. Properlike*

    I thought it was simply a way to work around the illegality of asking if she was married or had kids. Either for personal reasons or because he wouldn’t want to hire someone who’s going to take maternity leave, etc. etc.

    1. No Name Today*

      It’s not illegal to ask.
      They can ask if you are married, if you have kids, if you are of a certain race. They don’t have to try this graceless and transparent ruse (if it is. I think he’s just a self-centered blurter. More below.)
      They just can’t factor it into hiring decisions.
      So once the answers are out there, it will be like a judge ordering the jury to disregard. They still KNOW, they just have to work around knowing. They have to have a very good answer regarding why they didn’t hire a married woman with kids in case she realizes everyone in the department/company is a certain gender/age/race.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Asking the question is not illegal (except about disability) but having it influence hiring decisions is (so smart interviewers don’t ask).

        1. Kevin Sours*

          Not according to the link you just posted. The EEOC says what Alison just did. It’s legal to ask, but not to use the information on the hiring decisions so it’s highly inadvisable to even ask.

          For what it’s worth it’s also been on the list of questions THOU SHALT NOT ASK when I was doing interviews.

        2. No Name Today*

          I followed the link you posted. It offers a list of questions, that if asked will raise issues of discrimination based on protected class. I do not see where it states that it is illegal to ask a particular question itself.
          I think I am correct in saying that one can ask, but cannot let it affect a hiring decision. It is therefore easier and more practical not to ask.

          1. Kevin Sours*

            More to the point simply asking can (and probably will) be taken as evidence that it affected the hiring decision.

    2. Chilipepper Attitude*

      I thought the same. That he wanted to ask because he wanted to use the information about marriage and kids to make a hiring decision.

  4. No Name Today*

    Are you married? Do you have kids? Do you have husband’s income? Child support? How are you paying your bills?
    Oh, no, I know it’s none of my business, but seriously, you don’t have income but unemployment? How much was that? How long did it last?
    Yes, I know, that’s really personal. But I’m not asking so that I can pay you less. I’m just curious. I can’t IMAGINE how anyone could go a year without an income? You must have had something else. You can tell me.

    Show up in a wheelchair. He will ask if you have any kids. Or if you are planning to. Or if you can. I mean, you don’t have to tell me, but I’m curious. Can you still have kids in a chair like that?
    He’s the guy who asks my retired military partner where he served and then follows up with so, did you kill anybody?
    “not yet, but the day is still young” is what he stops me from saying. He, to his credit, walks away.

      1. No Name Today*

        Ha! He is happily retired, or I’d sign you right up because yes, it is the coolest thing walking.

  5. PollyQ*

    I wish we lived in a world where it was considered polite & acceptable to say, “That’s none of your business.”

    1. The Original K.*

      I’ve said it when diplomatic ways of saying it failed. Like when “that’s nothing you need to worry about” doesn’t work and they keep pressing, I have straight up said “That’s none of your business.” People don’t like to hear it but that’s not my problem. And it’s worth noting that I’ve said it mostly socially; I haven’t said it to a boss (though I have said it to a colleague at the same level I was – she raised her eyebrows but didn’t ask again).

      1. Wendy Darling*

        I’ve gotten mad in personal contexts when my polite deflections haven’t worked and just said “That’s an inappropriate question and I’m not going to answer it.”

        At work I just give people topic shift whiplash and take advantage of my ability to talk too fast for them to get a word in edgewise. “Oh don’t worry about it, by the way, do you know what the deadline is for the llama hair length project? I heard it got moved up but that was from Charlene and you know how she is I was going to ask Fernando do you think he knows he’s usually right about these things.”

        Usually by the time people figure out what the hell just happened conversationally it’s too awkward to double back to their rude-ass question.

        1. Wendy Darling*

          I did just remember that I’ve said “Wow, I’m not going to answer that!” to coworkers before. But in a really cheerful voice. Because it turns out that you can get away with being really blunt if you do it in a really pleasant tone of voice.

          1. OP*

            Sometimes in these situations I like to smile warmly and sincerely and thank them so much for their concern, because it’s so kind of them to care about me!

            The ones with any self-awareness get so embarrassed.

            I didn’t do this with him because I wasn’t sure I was ready to burn a bridge in this small industry.

            1. No Name Today*

              You have your own type of awesome. Respect! And also, your approach is made for face to face. I don’t think it would be as effective without body language, the polite half smile and look of appreciation.

              1. OP*

                Thanks. And I agree about the body language. They get very, very confused when I do this. But of course, this is for social situations.

      2. tamarack and fireweed*

        I have, when I could, assumed a smile and a quizzical expression, and said “You know that this is not an ok thing to ask, right?” But that would be extremely hard to do in a job interview!

      3. Greige*

        Socially, I’ve used, “Really?” As in, did you really ask me that? But that’s kind of confrontational.

        You could also try laughing as though it were rhetorical.
        “How did you support yourself for a whole year?”
        “Haha, I know, right?”
        Maybe not super interview-appropriate, but neither was the question.

    2. No Name Today*

      Miss Manners reply, “if you will excuse me for not answering, I will excuse you for asking.”

    3. The Prettiest Curse*

      “That’s a really intrusive question, why would you ask that?”
      Never said it in a work context (fortunately, never had the need to do so), but it worked a treat on my mother when she was being incredibly nosy earlier this week!

    4. Kes*

      I have on occasion (no, I don’t think you need to know my current salary) said this as politely as possible – “I’m afraid I don’t think that’s really relevant information”/”I’m afraid I’m not inclined to provide that information” (and then in the salary context, move on to what I’m looking for. But here I would just say that and leave it)

    5. Purple Cat*

      Whenever people say “Can I ask you a personal question…” or other such lead-in that you know it’s going to be nonsense, I always say “You can ask, but that doesn’t mean I’ll answer.”

      1. OP*

        He amazingly did not preface this question at all. Didnt even try to telegraph the crazy.

      2. The Original K.*

        I’ve said this too. I’ve also point blank said no if I know the person well enough to know that they’re about to ask a question I’m not going to want to answer. I’ve also had people say “Can I ask you a personal question? You’re free not to answer,” and to that I say “I know that,” which also tends to catch people off guard.

        I subscribe firmly to the belief that asking a question does not entitle you to an answer, but many, many people, like this interviewer, really seem to believe that they’re entitled to an answer simply because they asked.

    6. Merci Dee*

      I’ve actually told people that before, but slightly re-worded. I got a slightly shocked, slightly puzzled look on my face and said in a confused tone of voice, “I can’t imagine why that’s any of your business,” and then just sailed along into another topic. Wasn’t hostile or rude, just giving them an honest reaction to an outrageous question. I think that’s what did the trick.

      1. OhNo*

        Similarly, “I’m not sure why that’s relevant?” can operate in the same way, and might be a slightly more gentle way to get the same point across to the easily offended. Though I personally prefer a decidedly un-gentle response when possible, because people that ask silly questions deserve no leeway.

    7. OP*

      i really wanted to say “you’re right. i don’t have to answer that.” but i didn’t, because i wasn’t ready to burn a bridge in this small field. gotta love them power dynamics. i also wanted to ask alison if there was a legit business purpose to these questions that i was missing.

    8. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

      I know, right? I don’t know why it’s okay for people to ask inappropriate questions, but not acceptable to say “none of your business.” The person asking the inappropriate question is the one being rude in the first place. And then we’re expected to be diplomatic and polite if we don’t want to answer.

  6. The Original K.*

    The contract agency not being present on this call doesn’t read as unusual to me. I’ve done a lot of contract work where I’m employed (W-2) by a staffing agency but producing work for their client, and I’m not sure I’ve ever had the agency present for interviews with the client. The agency has followed up with me after interviews with the client and I negotiates with the agency since they were the one paying me, but they weren’t on the calls. The agency presented me with the job, I said go or no go, and then if I said go I had an interview with whoever I’d be reporting to on the client side without the agency there, just like any other interview. That may be unusual in the LW’s line of work, but it’s how it’s always gone for me.

    HOWEVER. No one, agency or not, has ever asked me about my personal finances in a job interview, and if they did I wouldn’t work for them – it’s a very personal and wholly inappropriate question.

    1. OP*

      Thanks for this background. In my case, it seemed unusual to me because the agency had been present in every single communication until that point, and my contact there sounded confused when she told me about it as to why he wanted to speak privately. It struck me as out of the norm for that particular business relationship.

      1. Observer*

        In that case you REALLY want to tell your contact about that conversation. I mean, I would tell them anyway, but this makes it more important.

        1. allathian*

          Agreed. The interviewer didn’t want anyone to witness his inappropriate questions. Please tell your contact about how the interview went and how creepy he was.

    2. Clisby*

      I worked as a contractor for years under this kind of setup. The contracting agency directly controlled my pay, but of course that was constrained by what the client was willing to pay. I had almost no contact with the agency, just with the people I actually worked for. (This was a company where I had worked for almost 9 years before becoming a contractor, so it just seemed like normal work to me.)

      1. The Original K.*

        Yeah, the agency would contact both the client/person to whom I reported and me in the first few days to make sure everything was going OK, but beyond that I generally had very little contact with them until the contract was ending.

    3. Charlotte Lucas*

      I worked for a contracting agency. But I directly reported to the hiring manager. The agency I worked for definitely would have wanted to know about this behavior. (They were pretty good & supportive when a bunch of us went from being contract staff to full-fledged employees where we had been contractors.)

  7. Wisteria*

    Oh gracious. Most people do not have the savings to take a full year out of the workforce even if they are collecting unemployment. I took more than one year out of the workforce and was not collecting unemployment. People ask because it’s unusual and they are curious. Is it nosy? Sure. Should you get over it? Yes.

    1. No Name Today*

      I agree that OP should not lose sleep over it or “report” him to somebody. Use it as information about a person who may be your boss.
      He saw an opportunity to get information about the quarantine that he’s been wondering about for a year. Instead of asking/inviting OP to have a dialog about it to his questions, he used an interview set up to drop his personal questions on OP.
      Maybe it is a one off on a particularly unique event (see, my fiance is pro athlete) or maybe he will greet OP after a sick or vacation time with “what did you do? where did you go?” Even if it just his chatting/small talk, it’s going to get old.

    2. Aquawoman*

      Asking once would be a probably-excusable failure to engage the brain before the mouth. Asking twice more after the person declines to answer –with the power dynamics involved — shows some real boundary challenges.

        1. TIRED*

          Yes. Flaming red flag. Run awaaaaay. Run awaaaaay….. “Should you get over it? Yes.” Nope. Get over it by ensuring you don’t work for this company and this particular person ever.

      1. Kes*

        Yeah, if he’d asked once that would be one thing, though still not great but I think the facts of a) he seemingly called directly just to ask inappropriate questions, b) it’s nosy and inappropriate, c) the power differential and d) even after she declined to answer, he kept pushing multiple times, really escalate it to not okay and a red flag

    3. Kevin Sours*

      It’s nosy. And utterly, utterly inappropriate to ask in an interview setting. And the contract agency should be alerted that their client is behaving unprofessionally in interviews. They might not care, but they should.

    4. Shaniqua*

      Maybe this is because I’m in the Bay Area, but I’d assume family or a partner was able to help out while OP was job searching.

      1. OP*

        I live in probably the 2nd most expensive city in the country (after Bay area) and have been supporting myself. I take your point, but what struck me as even weirder was that he didn’t seem to understand what my neighborhood was despite his having lived in the general region for years. So I really have no idea whether he thought I was comfortable or struggling.

    5. EmbracesTrees*

      >People ask because it’s unusual and they are curious. Is it nosy? Sure. Should you get over it? Yes.

      Sure, IF he had asked once –mayyybe even the second time — but then recognized he was WAY out of line when she pushed back. Twice. After the third time though? Nope, I don’t think LW should “get over it” if it still bothers them. This isn’t just borderline rude, it’s invasive and aggressive.

    6. Observer*

      People ask because it’s unusual and they are curious. Is it nosy? Sure. Should you get over it? Yes.

      Wrong on both counts. It is NOT just nosy, it’s intrusive and wildly inappropriate in a work context and after the FIRST refusal to answer the question.

      Just because something is unusual does not mean it’s ok to ask about it. And it is never ok to push for an answer just to satisfy your curiosity. Which is to say that this guy DEFINITELY has boundary issues. Once the OP made it clear that she wasn’t comfortable asking, he should have backed off. But he. would. not. That’s just wrong.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Yeah, I mean I was itching to know about a fantastic tattoo a candidate had on her arm but you know, that’s personal and irrelevant to a job interview. There’s being curious and then there’s knowing when to not voice the curiosity.

        If I went round asking all the personal questions that ever pop into my head….well, yeah I think my psychiatrist would have a few words! :p

    7. Rusty Shackelford*

      It would be casually nosy in a non-work setting. In a job interview, it’s way out of line.

    8. New Jack Karyn*

      It’s nosy, especially to ask a stranger. He kept pushing on it, after being deflected more than once. And he either had no clue about the power imbalance, or he didn’t care and was using it to try to get what he wanted.

      None of these are a good look for a potential employer.

    9. Super Duper*

      What does “get over it” mean, though? IThere’s nothing to get over here. It’s not about whether LW should keep thinking about this or whether she’s justified in being be upset by it; it’s about how this impacts her decision regarding the job, because the question is a red flag that says this guy might a nightmare to work for.

      1. Kevin Sours*

        Generally “get over it” means that you should ignore wildly inappropriate behavior to shield the misbehaving party from any consequences for their actions.

        1. Overit*

          Just like “Be the better person” means you should fall down and make like a doormat to give the obnoxious/demanding/selfish person a clean and comfortable walkway. Over you.

      2. Willis*

        Right. How many other nosy, intrusive, rude, etc. questions would the OP have to “get over” if she’s working for that guy. Also, there are tons of times where someone might be curious about something but it still doesn’t mean the object of their curiosity has to entertain their questions or ignore their inappropriateness!

    10. Former Young Lady*

      “Get over it” is a common response from people who don’t want to believe that the questions they’ve been using as icebreakers are nosy, inappropriate, and rude.

      I hope that doesn’t describe you. I hope you’re just unfamiliar with professional norms, and you don’t know how green you are.

      If I’m wrong, and you ARE the type who thinks “I was just curious” is an acceptable justification for asking about someone’s personal finances, reproductive plans, marital status, etc. in a job interview, kindly allow the rest of us to disabuse you of that misbegotten notion right now.

    11. OP*

      People can ask, sure… but not when they’re interviewing you. I mostly asked in case I was missing the big picture in terms of a legitimate business reason that a hiring manager would need to know this.

      1. JimmyJab*

        Lol, you don’t need to justify why you wrote in, and obviously with a good question, as Alison chose to answer it! Sometimes people on here are just rude.

      2. Essess*

        Nope. No reason an employer should ever know about your private financial arrangements. Anything specific they need would be in a credit report or background check. None of their business about your savings or loans from family, etc..
        My response to him would be “I keep my finances private. Thank you for respecting that.”

    12. HR Exec Popping In*

      Yes, this was most likely nosiness. I know I have had situations where I wondered something like this but you never ask. It is none of his business. I highly doubt it was him creeping or trying to figure out if you where hiding something. Sadly the boring reason is most likely. He is probably thinking one of the following and would like to know which it is:

      a) she is independently wealthy / has a wealthy family
      b) she is married to someone who is able to support her
      c) she is living in a box

      Of course none of that is his concern but people like to try to figure out people’s story.

      1. HR Exec Popping In*

        To be clear, I am not defending him and it was wrong. I just don’t think he was being nefarious. He is just a normal jerk with boundary issues.

        1. Observer*

          He is just a normal jerk with boundary issues.

          And that’s really the key. All the rest is speculation, but THIS is something we know for sure. Whatever his motivations may have been, he DEFINITELY has boundary issues, and they should NOT be ignored.

        2. TheAG*

          I might be more inclined to agree with this if he didn’t set up a separate interview with just the OP. That maybe indicates to me he knew enough not to say it in front of the contract company.

          1. nonegiven*

            The company had probably already told him it was inappropriate. That’s why he didn’t want a witness.

    13. Shortenedfortime*

      I feel like it is a little tone-deaf to say that being out of work for a year “unusual” at this point – a lot of people are still unemployed due to layoffs, child-care situations, becoming disabled, etc. Besides it being wildly inappropriate to generally ask about something “unusual” about person, we should all remember that the last year has been very hard on a lot of people and do our best to be considerate of how our questions will be received, especially in an interview, which is to assess whether a working relationship is beneficial to both parties, and is not the same as chit-chat from a nosy aunt.

    14. Reference Librarian*

      I have a well deserved reputation within my family for talking about finances beyond what they want, especially about my mortgage. To the point that two of my aunts got me a wall hanging referencing my mortgage. As a state employee, my salary is public knowledge, including the pitiful amount it has changed over the years.

      As a reference librarian, my whole life is information and the providing of information. I warn people that if they ask a question, I will probably answer it.

      Wanna talk about budgeting? Wanna talk about interest rates? Wanna talk about credit scores? Wanna talk about how retirement communities are a money-making machine? Wanna debate whether the increase in college tuition comes from decreases in state support to universities, increases in administration, greed, and/or increasing amenities to recruit students? Wanna argue about different methods of organizing your finances? I will discuss it as long as you want…prob longer.

      One of my professors has me come to her financial literacy classes partially to talk about research sources, but mainly to talk about all the mistakes that I have made in my financial decisions. Too many people are not willing to talk about finances and young people can be lost when they enter the working world. Case in point, one of my colleague’s daughters got her first paycheck and asked: “Who is this guy FICA and why does he have all my money?”

      However, in the context of the situation that OP found themselves in, it was totally inappropriate. And more importantly, they should not just “get over it”. It is a red flag for someone to boundary push in an unequal power situation that would carry over into the day-to-day working relationship. Overlooking red flags can result in people finding themselves in toxic workplaces. This is especially true since many people did not do well financially, physically or emotionally from the pandemic. To feel that it is their right to ask such a personal question, when the answer could have been the loss of a relative to COVID, is breathtakingly insensitive.

      The OP handled much better than I could have. My reply would have been somewhere in the neighborhood of that I supported myself with a lot of tears and fears.

    15. Librarian1*

      no, she shouldn’t get over. It’s inappropriate, especially from someone interviewing her for a job.

    16. Sasha*

      I’m quite sure OP will get over it – will she still be bringing this guy up in ten years? Unlikely.

      She shouldn’t take this job though. That isn’t “getting over” something, it is ignoring a load of red flags. “Getting over it” would be withdrawing your application and applying elsewhere.

    17. Lecturer*

      The person who needs to get over it is the idiot asking such intrusive questions. Stop blaming victims for bad, sexist behaviour! Shame on you.

    18. SG*

      Sounds like a rude and defensive response, because you recognized yourself in this interviewer. I would suggest you do some self-reflection rather than attacking strangers online who (rightly) point out that this behaviour is problematic.

    19. Skippy*

      I hate to break it to you, but no one likes a Nosy Parker. Just because you’re “curious” doesn’t mean that you’re entitled to that information.

      This is especially true when you’re an interviewer or manager, where the power differential favors you and the candidate or employee may feel compelled to answer against their will in order to secure or keep a position.

      Pro tip: just don’t ask.

  8. K491*

    I had a boss that was 100% like this, and exactly as Alison described – no nefarious motivation, just curious and felt entitled to Ask. About. Everything. It felt like living on a microscope slide, to the point that I would be sure to only wear the same X sets of clothes to in-person meetings and never move my setup at all for remote meetings because *anything* new would prompt a 20-30 minute grilling that was impossible to deflect – because deflecting would then cause its own cascade of questions (seriously – we had a great company career coach and even she basically admitted defeat on dealing with this guy). There were many many many other problems with that boss and his company, but even aside from all that I would never work with/for someone with that particular personality trait again. ::shudder::

    1. Dr. Doll*

      Oh my goodness, that is unbearable. My husband does a 1000x diluted version of this and it still makes me have to take deep breaths so I can answer kindly. Boss would be impossible.

    2. Overit*

      I had a similar boss when I was first starting out.

      Daily, he would follow me around, asking questions about my previous night or weekend. You could not deflect him or change the subject. If you did not give him a full and complete answer, he would continue to ask all day long. I dreaded Monday morning. I called it the “Monday Morning Grill.”

      When I asked him WHY he wanted to know, he would just grin and say, “I’m just insatiably curious about people.”

      1. A Person*

        You know who else had “insatiable curiosity”? The elephant’s child, that’s who. And what happened to them? They got their perfectly ordinary nose bitten by a crocodile who pulled on it until it turned into a trunk. Insatiable curiosity is not actually okay in anyone over about 9 years old.

    3. Kammy6707*

      Omg…I know someone like this and it’s my mother-in-law! We don’t tell her things to avoid the onslaught of questions and then she gets mad that “we don’t tell her anything.” Well, maybe if you didn’t have 100 questions about everything (that also come across as super judgmental), we would share more! (And they are always nosy, over-the-line questions.)

  9. Ann*

    He was totally out of line, and I am impressed with your presence of mind to respond as you did regarding not turning down jobs to rely on unemployment or hiding a more recent job. That shows intelligence and savvy on your part, and it sounds like extreme weirdness on his part that he would think it is OK to push you on it.

  10. Don*

    Employers who are overly entitled and inappropriate at the interview stage will never ever get any better when you’re actually employed by them. I think declining to work for them, if you can manage it, is a good call.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if this place likes contract-to-hire (Informally! So all the uncertainty and none of the promise of future improvement!) precisely so they can let their freak flag fly more freely than they would with a standard w2 hire. Perhaps this lets them hide the churn they get from folks noping out in their first quarter.

    1. Kevin Sours*

      The interview is the start of the employment relationship. Something both sides of the table really should keep in mind while it’s happening.

    2. OP*

      Thank you for the support. That’s an interesting point about the contract angle. I hadn’t thought about it, but it makes sense now.

  11. MissGirl*

    You handled this really, really well. I’m impressed with your presence of thought. I would’ve stuttered out something I’d regret later.

  12. LKW*

    I am really curious what kind of answer would have sufficed? I got laid off and between the very generous severance package and my own frugality, I was able to take a year off without financial strain. I would tell interviewers pretty much that “I was laid off, the severance package was generous and it allowed me the time to focus on some personal interests.” I don’t know what I’d have said if pressed. Probably something along the lines of “Not sure we’re close enough for you to ask that question, definitely not close enough for me to give you more of an answer.”

    1. oranges*

      “My husband makes enough money to support us” would have satisfied him. This guy sounds super, duper nosey (and sexist).

      1. The Original K.*

        But then would he have held that against OP – “their spouse can support the household so she doesn’t need this job?” If the guy is gauche enough to ask the question, I wouldn’t put that line of thinking past him either.

    2. JSPA*

      “I’m frugal and was raised self-sufficient”? But you did great! “He wasn’t satisfied” doesn’t mean the answer was problematic in any way, nor lacking in any way.

  13. Grim*

    I’d be tempted to say “didn’t you invest in GME when it was $10 and sell at $400? If only I had more than $1000 to invest, I wouldn’t be here talking with you.”

    1. OP*

      Hahahaha. A friend told me I should have said I had a trust fund just to see how he responsed. I don’t, but now I kind of wish I did say that.

  14. Lori*

    He may have been trying to suss out if you were independently wealthy or had a wealthy partner supporting you, in which case, you might leave at the first sign of dysfunctional behavior, of which there surely is, based on this phone cell.

    1. mf*

      Oof. I can definitely see this. “Is this candidate desperate enough to tolerate our toxic culture?”

  15. Archaeopteryx*

    It’s an abuse of power on his part to satisfy his nosiness. Very not cool.

  16. Box of Kittens*

    I’m curious about the “other troublesome behavior” was in the interviews. Depending on that, I think this line of questioning could come off more sinister-feeling than just a man being nosy.

    1. irene adler*

      Yeah, that was my thought too. Especially with the “just want to know” line.

      LW is right to pass on this.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Please don’t — most readers won’t see it (since most don’t read the comments, and especially after the day is mostly over) and I’m collecting updates right now for update season anyway!

  17. RunShaker*

    There’s a big uproar in my city from a local celebrity chef that owns a few restaurants. He stated on local news channel that he wouldn’t interview anyone that took unemployment during COVID. His reasoning has something to do with person is lazy if they took unemployment. The kicker is his businesses accepted PPP loans. As soon as I read this letter, it made me think about the possibility this employer may have the same reasoning.

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      What an absolute arsehole. How does he think people in under-paid service jobs that don’t allow then to save paid their bills and bought food? I hope he’s having a LOT of difficulty hiring!

      1. The Original K.*

        I bet $5 that he underpays and mistreats his staff and now has a sign in the window of his restaurant saying “we’re short-staffed because no one wants to work anymore.” No my dude; they don’t want to work for you.

        1. RunShaker*

          He is getting a lot of backlash but it appears he doesn’t care. I hope he feels it though.
          OP, I wish you luck & hope this wasn’t case as to why this guy was asking how you were supporting yourself.

        2. Charlotte Lucas*

          That’s the kind of attitude that loses my business.

          And what about all the women who took unemployment in places where daycare & the schools were closed/remote? Where they being lazy for taking unemployment?

    2. The New Wanderer*

      Such garbage reasoning – that chef clearly has no idea why unemployment exists, much less why providing COVID relief was so necessary for so many people. I vote him most likely to underpay his employees while using PPP to ensure he personally didn’t have to take a paycut.

  18. Loredena Frisealach*

    He might just be really really nosy (that’s the nice explanation) but the married/children question screamed creeping on the LW to me. It read like he was hoping for no’s to both so he could pursue her as a potential date.

    LW: If you can afford to wait on a better opportunity I would; if you really need to take this, focus on keeping professional barriers in place.

  19. Daffy Duck*

    Of course, he asked to see if you would work cheap. If you have a husband “to support you” you are more likely to take a lowball offer.
    *Note – this is icky and absolutely none of their business. Unfortunately, still the way some backward folks think tho.

    1. TIRED*

      Yes also this! He is gauging how desperate you are for this job, so he knows how much he can lowball you in the offer and torment you as a boss. With a nice side of “hmmm, can I start dating her? / creeping on her *OnlyFans?” (*OP has stated she does not have an OF, but the interviewer doesn’t know that and may assume / hope she does. No shade to people with OF ofc.) This guy is prominently displaying his crossing boundaries behavior in a job interview. He will be a BIG boundary crosser in the workplace, guaranteed. As others have noted, he didn’t ask once, he asked repeatedly. Run. Away.

    2. HR Red*

      Yes, I totally agree that he was thinking that if she had a husband with an excellent salary to support her, the job offer would be a lot less money

      1. OP*

        I honestly couldn’t decide if it were this or the opposite. I can tell you that hiring me based on my need as opposed to my merit is a terrible hiring practice. If the offer is based on need, then I need $10 million. Whoops.

  20. HugsAreNotTolerated*

    This is a situation in which Alison’s standard go-to is golden.
    Interviewer: Rude or irrelevant question
    You: What a bizarre/odd/unusual question for an interview! Why do you ask?
    If the answer’s “just curious” as it was with this guy, a neutral “I know we don’t have a lot of time so I’d like to focus on any questions you might have for me about my qualifications for the X role. I know I wanted to ask you about Z.”

    Calls them out for the weirdness and then moves on to the heart of the matter of “WTF are you asking this question?’ If their answer is ‘just being nosy’ then you can use the 2nd response and move on. Deflection and distraction.

  21. Coffee Owlccountant*

    The nosiness and creepiness of asking the question in the first place aside, the thing that really raises my hackles is that Hiring Manager was clearly refusing to take “No” for an answer. That raises seven million red flags for me and tells me that if LW goes to work for this dude, he is going to continue to engage in boundary pushing in ALLLLL sorts of ways. I wouldn’t work for this guy.

    Gotta wonder whether LW presents as female and if so, whether Hiring Manager would have behaved the same way if LW presented as male. My gut says he wouldn’t.

    1. OP*

      I am a cisgender female and present as such. I was convinced this was also the issue (sexism). But I have a crazy update that I’ll submit soon that sheds light on this!

      1. CorruptedbyCoffee*

        Ooo, now I must know, because I was definitely getting creeper vibes from this!

      2. Shira*

        Oh I can’t wait for this! I hope it’s good things for you, OP! (And secondarily, yeahhh drama! *Starts popping the popcorn*)

  22. mreasy*

    I read this as wanting to know if you had family or partner wealth for the purposes of lowballing on salary. But Alison’s explanation is probably correct!

    1. bryeny*

      You know, I’m not sure I buy the just-nosy-and-curious theory. In my experience those people tend to back off when you push back. The persistent ones typically have a more specific reason for asking; they want to know — and feel entitled to know! — if you’re in a relationship / have kids / have a side hustle, risque or otherwise / just got out of rehab / are deep in debt / or what-have-you. And they may think that the indirect nature of the question gives them cover.

      1. OP*

        I agree. This is exactly why I submitted the question. It’s incredibly difficult to shock me anymore, but still struck me as so bizarre, that I had to do my due diligence and make sure I wasn’t missing a legitimate business reason he might have had to ask.

  23. Mommy.MD*

    I once got the third degree during an interview for going TWO MONTHS between jobs. I mean, this hiring committee was shocked. What was I doing? Why did I need time off? They were so suspicious. I also had a three year old. I just wanted time off. I feel bad for LW. I think interviewer wanted to know if they were “up to something”. I think they thought I was doing a jail stint or something.

  24. the cat's ass*

    Throw this whole man out. And the job, too, though I’d let the contracting agency know about your exoerience.

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

    Channel your inner 4-year-old and ask as many questions as you can muster on infinite repeat until he gives up.
    Him: “How have you supported yourself during the pandemic?”
    You: “I’m sorry I don’t quite understand the question. Will accounting be a required part of the llama grooming job?”
    Him: “No this is personal. I’m just curious…blah blah blah”
    You: “Does the job require keeping within a set budget or will I be expected to diversify sources of revenue within the llama grooming department?”
    Him: “I’m asking about your personal finances.”
    You: “Can you give me an example or an estimate of how much time will be necessary for budgetary work in this position? 10% of time, 20% of time?”
    Him: “I’d like to know what your sources of income have been.”
    You: “Is there a target for llama groomer profits this quarter?”

  26. HereKittyKitty*

    I think it was straight up nosiness with a possibility of being a creep. Either way, a good reason to avoid this company.

  27. Message in a Bottle*

    I just want to say I’m sorry that in a week at least three letter writers who have/had been unemployed a while, found they have to keep searching for the right workplace. First, the person that realized the job’s Covid protocols were trash. Second, the letter writer whose supervisor commented on her employee’s weight at a work event, and now this.

    We have to just use our intuition and luckily you saw the red flags before proceeding. Not that I’m not curious how you are staying afloat. But it’s no one’s business! People need jobs and I don’t know why supervisors and co-workers can’t just keep to some boundaries. But this pandemic once again highlights power dynamics that were always there and the sheer privilege of some employers or potential employers. To even ask you this.

    I don’t know what to do about shifting the balance of power. But don’t tell them anything and I wish you well finding somewhere better!

  28. cubone*

    I interviewed for a job right out of university while I was working retail and during the small chit chat at the beginning, the interviewer casually asked if I had to commute very far for the interview, kind of in a “did you get here okay?” way (the office was pretty much at the outskirts of the very large city I was living in). I said it was really easy as I was right on the subway line in X neighborhood.
    His response? “wow! That’s such a fancy neighborhood! How can you afford to live there?!”. I was a little taken aback, but assumed it just came out awkwardly, and answered very earnestly that there’s actually lots of older buildings that are significantly cheaper and I had lucked out finding a steal (I think I genuinely thought this would make me look like, extra savvy and hireable, lol).
    Dude would. Not. Let. It. Go. Responded that there was no way even the cheapest apartment in that neighborhood was affordable on a retail salary, asked again how I afforded it, I got more and more uncomfortable, and eventually he just said outright: “ah, your parents must be helping you pay, got it” (not that it matters, but legitimately not the case. I’d found a very cheap bachelor, was working my butt off in retail and had a good savings nest for the months where my hours got cut).

    I honestly think there are just some people who thrive on feeling powerful. Interviews must be a delightful opportunity for them to enjoy watching someone squirm, and vulnerable people are extra appealing/easy to intimidate (young woman fresh out of college, unemployed for a year +, etc.).

    1. JB*

      Some people really have nerve. I can’t imagine ever wondering how anyone can afford the place they live. It’s none of my business! (Unless, I suppose, they’re asking me to co-sign a mortgage!)

  29. Dagny*

    I think the guy has his own set of issues; some people just cannot help but run their mouths about their opinion of other people’s finances. I would even give it a fair chance that he’s overleveraged.

    After the non-responses fail, I would give this one: “I have always lived well below my means and saved aggressively. No one predicted a worldwide pandemic, but recessions and unemployment happen, and it was good to have been prepared.”

  30. learnedthehardway*

    The questions were weirdly personal and inappropriate, for sure.

    The only thing I can think of as a legitimate reason for wanting to know what you’ve done while off work is because he wanted you to tell him that you’ve been resourceful and innovative in your job search, or that you came up with a new business idea, or that you’ve been busy upgrading your qualifications, or that you’ve been active in volunteer work, or have been keeping up with your industry.

    However, he would not need to know specifically how you were supporting yourself financially – and in any case, there are much better ways of asking questions about resourcefulness – not to mention that it is NTH level insensitive to be persistent about it or to demand details of how a person survived while off work during a major pandemic or deep recession (or combination thereof)!!

    I think you will have dodged a bullet by not getting hired or managed by this person.

  31. Alex*

    The devil over my shoulder is telling me to answer “Oh, well I got paid well to f*** your mom!”

  32. Rez123*

    There was a discussion on mumsnet lastweek about a recruiter requesting the applicants husband bank statement to prove that he was supporting the family while the applicant was a stay at home parent. This is total BS. There is no need for him to know this or actually ask the question outloud. My initial reaction is that he doesn’t have savings and can’t understand how someone might be able to afford to be out of work. I went back to school at the age on 28. My colleague (50 yo woman) asked if my parents are paying my tuition and board. I looked confused and said no, she then looked confused asked how I could afford it. I stared at her and said by being an adult with a job. Based on how she talks, her fianncial situation is not great and she couldn’t understand how someone with same pay could do something extra she couldn’t.

    1. Sasha*

      I was just thinking about that! Posters were tying themselves in knots trying to justify why the employment agency Really Needed the applicant’s husbands’s old bank statements, for a reason other than identity fraud.

      It is so nice to come on here and have everybody say “hell no, not reasonable!”

  33. John Smith*

    I’m going to go out on a limb here and play devil’s advocate. Is the manager possibly thinking “is this person really dedicated? Do they have another job/money making hobby that’s going to interfere with the role I’m advertising for? Is there some low level stuff going on that may impact my company in the future? Have they had loads of jobs that they’ve been sacked from?”. It could be that the hirer has had loads of trouble with previous applicants.

    But now I’ve got the improbable out the way… He’s a nosy sod. Bullet avoided (you have my admiration for your strength turning the job down). Sounds like he’d be a nightmare to work for in future. Best wishes to you.

    Speaking of nightmares and of strength, my manager today said to me “make it so!” (a la Cpt. Picard in Star Trek) and even made the “engage” hand gesture at the same time (being a bit of a Trekkie fan, that irked me more than it reasonably should). Wish I had a phaser (not set to stun) but I had to settle on a two fingered hand gesture of my own.

    1. D3*

      But OP asked questions to try and figure out if that was his angle.
      Plus…People get to have side gigs and/or hobbies!

    2. Cal B*

      “Do they have another job/money making hobby that’s going to interfere with the role I’m advertising for?”
      This is a good point and one I did think of. In the industry I work in there are a lot of freelancers – could he possibly be trying to gauge whether you have your own side hustle in the same industry and that what has been supporting you. He may see that as a threat to your employment – maybe you’ll leave if your own business takes off, maybe you won’t be fully devoted, maybe you’ll steal clients….
      I’m not saying the guy went the right way about it, he sounds awful, but this is a possible angle

      1. OP*

        Fair point, but he had asked this earlier in the process and I’d already told him multiple times that I have not been working.

      2. OP*

        Sorry, I got cut off. This is also why I first answered his question by clarifying that I had not been hiding recent job history. But he laughed and said that wasn’t it at all, then kept asking.

        1. John Smith*

          I get that. I think I was trying to say that he really, really really wanted to make sure. And I’d like to point out I was playing devil’s advocate (with impossibly long odds that said advocate would be correct). I’m on your side, OP! No reasonable employer in normal circumstances would do this. I wouldn’t waste a single further thought on it. His issues, not yours! :)

      3. Kevin Sours*

        If you have legit things to ask about, ask about them. Don’t go fishing through stuff that’s none of your business to get there.

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

    It seems very clear to me that there’s more to it than just “he’s a very most dude” (although I can’t put my finger specifically on what it is). My radar went off at the idea that OP (or whoever takes the job) would be expected to work “very closely” with this guy… I wonder what that means really?

    In the abstract I think it could be a reasonable question to ask how someone has been supporting themselves during a year out of work, but not repeatedly and in the way this guy did!

      1. Blarghle Blarghle*

        “Most dude” is so useful though! I think it should become a think.

    1. mf*

      Seems very clear to me too. The fact that he was so insistent in getting an answer indicates he has an agenda. He’s not just nosy, he’s intentionally prying for information.

  35. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    Another aspect is – if you’re doing something nefarious to stay solvent, the company might have concerns about your activities.

    I’ll admit, it’s a stretch but a company may have some hesitancy – especially if the activities are illegal worst, or possibly unethical. For instance, in IS/IT – I wouldn’t want to hire someone whose resume included generating SPAM. Some years ago I *did* have a resume cross my desk like that – weird buzzwords on his CV like “targeted marketing” and “browser direction setting” -apparently, he wrote Trojan horse programs.

    1. Metadata minion*

      But is someone going to actually *admit* that in a job interview? That seems like the place for a background check, not for hoping someone is going to be weirdly honest about illegal activity.

        1. PollyQ*

          “You’d think people might have trouble affording cocaine in the middle of a recession, but actually demand is up 30%!”

      1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        YES they might admit it, thinking if they could write code like that, they’re trying to demonstrate how smart they are. SPAMming, and web page banner hijacking weren’t always illegal (I believe they are now) … but many certainly would view such conduct as unethical – just damn wrong.

        Don’t forget – some of the earliest computer hackers were guys who were trying to gain an edge in employment … and thought they were doing a service by penetrating systems and showing “see what a smart boy I am!”

    2. OP*

      This is true (about assessing candidate risk), but there are standards, practices, and even laws and regulations around that. They did not apply to this specific job and the company had other legal and regulated means of determining the areas of candidate life that they are permitted to investigate.

    3. Observer*

      How does “I was wondering if you are married or have kids” translate to “were you involved in anything illegal?”

      The OP also mentioned that she specifically told him that she had not been working and he continued to press. So that doesn’t fly.

  36. Amethystmoon*

    I guess it’s possible that some people have never been unemployed and don’t know what it’s like to slash expenses down to bare necessities. Also, he maybe doesn’t pay attention to the news and know the govt gave out extra funds. But having been unemployed in my life, I would probably answer something like “eating ramen, cancelling subscriptions, and hoping I don’t get hypertension from the ramen.”

  37. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

    At first I was thinking maybe you applied for a job that did contract work for Dave Ramsey’s company or the interviewer taught Financial Peace University but nah, its just weird that he kept asking with no why beyond wanting to know. Like a someone familiar with DR and FPU would have wanted to warn you about accruing debt and show you how to budget. They would have gotten excited at the idea of you surviving a year without income. And wanted to know how. But they would have explained why.

  38. RagingADHD*

    My first thought was that he hates his job, wants to quit without anything else lined up, and was looking for tips he could use.

    Which is still a bad sign about the job, but for entirely different reasons.

  39. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    Ugh. I have done all sorts of things, even during the pandemic, until and even during the last 11 months in something more stable. Proofreading, delivering groceries, pet sitting, dog walking, etc. To survive. I can’t take unpaid internships and fall back on my parents like many can. And it’s not really the employer’s business, if it’s legal to do the work.

    Interestingly, due to supply chain issues and isolation, I have something somewhat lucrative figured out to help pay for weekends up north and some fun in the summer. There are a lot fewer stores, products, and worse prices in the lake and forest areas I go to for fun, but I live in the city.

    People I know up there use the new curbside order features at Target, Costco, Cub, etc. to order and buy what they want, designating me as the pickup person. Then, I label it, cram it into every inch of my car, drive 3-4 hours, unload it, and take a percentage of the cost. If word keeps getting out, I will have to rent a truck.

  40. Pikachu*

    You mentioned that he called you directly without the agency. Were you surprised the agency was not there? Does that mean their presence at interviews is a typical part of their hiring process?

    His questions were super inappropriate, and to me it’s even worse if he skirted standard procedure and contacted you “off the books” to ask these questions.

    Gross.

    1. OP*

      yes, the agency had been present in all communications until that point. he had to arrange this call through them because he didn’t have my number. they sounded confused when they told me and didn’t know what it was about, so it seemed unusual to me.

    2. Pikachu*

      OMG ALSO maybe he was trying to recruit you into an MLM by seeing if you were already involved in one during your time off, making you an easier target.

      The first option is just so gross I am going to move forward pretending he was shilling for Amway.

  41. It’s Not You*

    Oh boy! I am impressed with your snappy in the moment responses! I’ve had two separate dysfunctional jobs ask me about student loans and haven’t had a good come back in the moment. This is definitely a red flag for trouble. I hope you’re able to find a better option soon and I’m sorry you had to deal with this guy!

  42. AstralDebris*

    It’s such an inappropriate line of questioning, and he worded it in such a selfish way, that I wonder if the guy secretly hates his job and wants to quit but is worried he won’t be able to find something else quickly. It kind of sounds to me like he was trying to compare his situation to the OP’s (“I didn’t know if you were married or had kids”…?) and see if he could get any *hot tips* from the OP about making it work between jobs.

    All pure speculation, of course. Either way, bullet dodged OP!

  43. pretzelgirl*

    My guess, as Allison said its just a nosy dude. I once interviewed somewhere and he asked how many credit cards I had, and what my credit score was. At the time I was young, married and had a small kid at home. My husband and I decided that we weren’t going to have any credit cards, so we could work on our finances. It was too much of temptation for us. My credit at the time, wasn’t bad but wasn’t great either. I was really embarrassed to answer and he was taken aback that I was hesitant to answer. I didn’t get the job. Which honestly I am glad about.

    I don’t think personal finances have any place during interviews or at work for that matter. People work because they need money. More often than not, they are working to pay off school, a house, cars and other bills. People have complicated lives and hate the fact that other people judge others so harshly for personal finances. You dodged a bullet!

  44. penny dreadful analyzer*

    I realize there are a lot of holes in various states’ unemployment systems and this wasn’t always rolled out very well, but like… I’ve just skimmed over 100 comments and nobody has yet mentioned that the US government added a whole bunch of extra money to unemployment payouts for folks who lost their jobs due to COVID; this seems weird to me? It’s been a big huge contentious news item for months that folks on unemployment were getting an extra $600 a week for a few months and then an extra $300 a week since! It’s had huge ramifications in the labor market! Businesses that habitually underpay their workers are going apes*** about it! “How did someone survive for a year off unemployment payments” doesn’t seem like such a huge mystery to me when the unemployment payments in question are hundreds of dollars per week larger than they’d have been in any other year.

    I don’t know what state the OP’s in or if they actually got the extra pandemic UI, and it certainly doesn’t make the interviewer’s question any less nosy or inappropriate, it just seems like an odd thing to not factor in.

  45. Elizabeth West*

    I would just be really tempted to fake a Southern accent and say, “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.”

  46. JustMe82*

    At first I thought perhaps her financial stability was necessary for her role. I’ve held a banking job where I needed to prove my fiscal responsibility due to potential risk factors. I am now at a corporate job that required me to have a corporate credit card. In both instances credit issues would have caused a barrier to my ability to do my job. However, when she asked why there was no business reason such as a credit check is required for a candidate to take on x responsibilities. Leave it at that and the candidate could determine if her credit status would be a factor that would negatively effect her ability to do parts of the job she is applying to. However, once he didn’t really clarify why and started asking about her private life I definitely would have avoided those questions as well. I’d probably avoid working with this man if not the company all together after that.

    1. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      Sorry, cat on keyboard

      I would be very wary of anyone who said something like “just wanted to know,” but that the OP “didn’t have to answer”–and repeatedly pushing when the person said that they didn’t want to answer. What else would he say with “you don’t have to” and then make i clear that he meant that you have to do this thing, or answer that question, and are supposed to pretend that you don’t mind?

      Weekend work is “optional”–but if you say no he’ll push you, demanding to know why you can’t, and then pressure you to change existing plans? Oh, and we didn’t mention that you have to cold-call potential customers?

  47. LouisianaAnn*

    I don’t comment here often, but I wanted to say to the OP I hope that you will find a good job soon working for somebody who is not weird or creepy.

  48. Former Employee*

    I doubt I would have had the presence of mind, but I would hope that if someone asked me this I would have thought to respond by looking them straight in the eye and saying “Bank robbery”.

    What a jerk!

  49. Gerry L*

    If you are applying for a job that requires a security clearance, your personal finances could be of interest because they want to make sure you are not susceptible to selling secrets. (My friends told me they were quizzed about whether I had any money problems while I was being investigated for a top secret security clearance.) If you are going into a job that involves handling large sums of money, the employer has an interest in knowing whether you might be tempted to embezzle in order to solve money problems. This narrative, however, doesn’t sound like either of these situations.

  50. Rachel*

    OP you are totally right that this was inappropriate and I’m glad you’re not going to work for them!

    What came to mind for me was the time when I was a hiring manager and an internal recruiter told me not to hire someone because they had a hunch from their resume that they might not *need* to work full time to get by and thus might be more of a retention risk! (The idea that I as a hiring manager should avoid hiring people who might have other options is pretty horrifying.) I wonder if he was applying this philosophy and fishing for whether OP “needed” the job, on the theory that if they could get by without it he would have to retain OP by giving them rewarding work in a good environment.

    1. Van Wilder*

      Reminds me of my friend who doesn’t wear her expensive-looking engagement ring to interview for assistant jobs.

Comments are closed.