update: my interviewer asked about my personal finances

Remember the letter-writer whose interviewer asked how she’d been supporting herself while she was unemployed and kept prodding for an answer? Here’s the update.

First, I’d like to thank you for answering my question. Your perspective and advice were so helpful during a weird and confusing time. You confirmed for me that this was not behavior that anyone should expect to encounter or tolerate in a normal, professional business setting. I also appreciated the support from many of the commenters during what’s been a very difficult time.

Your advice also arrived just in time for me to use it! You were 100% correct that the hiring manager was just a nosy dude. After you answered my question, I found out from someone directly involved in the hiring process that this hiring manager is inexplicably obsessed with candidates’ personal finances, especially when they’re unemployed, and has done this before despite repeated warnings not to. Apparently, he’d recently done this to a male candidate, who later declined the offer due to a “counter-offer by his current employer” (yeah, OK). This is why the hiring manager insisted on calling me without the contracting agency present, which was so out of the norm for their business relationship that it confused the agency. He knew he wasn’t supposed to, but took active steps to do it anyway. I have no way of knowing whether sexism was involved, especially since I now know that the previous candidate he’d interrogated is male.

That same source also told me that the hiring manager also believes that everyone he interviews has actually been fired but lies about it and seems to consider it his personal duty to ferret this out. That would explain the rest of that crazy phone call, which I alluded to in my original letter but didn’t fully explain. Basically, he read me lines off of my resume that we’d previously spent hours discussing and insisted that I “further explain” them, because he suddenly now “questioned the implications” I was making, even though the references he’d already talked to could have attested to them specifically. It felt strangely accusatory and was definitely not last-minute due diligence. I had no problem fluently and fluidly re-explaining these for the millionth time because I had IN NO WAY EXAGGERATED THEM, but I found it really insulting. At that point, I was sure I’d be rejected, but didn’t care because I was so angry. That’s when I emailed you, because I wanted to make absolutely sure that I wasn’t misinterpreting the finance thing.

Well, I wasn’t rejected. Not only was I offered the job right after you answered my question, but I found out that of the 8 people who’d interviewed in that round, I was the only one they’d ever seriously considered. He’d wanted to hire me the entire time, and this is how he treated me! I politely turned the job down (I was only polite because it was the contracting agency that called with the offer). I thanked them for investing their time in me, but explained that I was concerned that I’d never be able to have a productive working relationship with the hiring manager due to that phone call, or with the other interviewers due to other unrelated behavior. I have no way to know whether the hiring manager was indeed trying to lowball me on salary, because I wasn’t interested to hear out the terms of the offer.

I’ve had other (completely normal) interviews elsewhere since then. I waited this long to send an update because I was hoping to have good news to share by now. I unfortunately don’t, which sucks, but I have not for one second regretted turning down that offer. I’d rather be in this boat than on a yacht to Crazytown. Good riddance and good luck to whoever accepts it (it’s still being reposted).

{ 235 comments… read them below }

    1. Xenia*

      Why, oh why, has the company not fired him after repeated warnings to not be a suspicious ass?! Or even if he’s not fired, why is he allowed to interview people ever?

      1. Nanani*

        Is he the actual owner? Or just really good at hiding his weirdness internally?
        The mind boggles.

        1. OP*

          it’s a huge global corporation. he’s not particularly senior, but i guess senior enough to be hiring.

      2. Sparkles McFadden*

        Yeah, I really don’t get that. They HAVE to know the guy is scaring off talented people.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          If it’s a large enough company – maybe weird manager just flies under the radar.

          1. Selena*

            I’d guess it’s one of those cases where someone is better at hiding their crazy obsessions when interacting with higher managers, and only harasses people who don’t want to make a scene.
            And there might be a bit of sexism in the mix: paranoid old dude being read as ‘thorough and devoted’

            @OP: sounds like a bullet dodged on working anywhere near that guy. If he can’t wrap his head around being wrong now than there isn’t much hope he’d be a reasonable person to work with.
            I hope you’ll be able to update with ‘i found a great job’ soon.

            1. Rainy*

              Yeah, this sounds like a (hitherto-unencountered, at least by me) variety of the “kiss-up-kick-down” species of junior manager.

              Agreed that OP dodged a huge bullet.

      1. Le Sigh*

        OP I’m sorry you were even in that position after such a long year. I’m glad you had the ability and fortitude to opt-out of that nonsense, which I’m sure would have only brought you misery, frustration, and approximately 4 months of employment.

  1. F.M.*

    “I’d rather be in this boat than on a yacht to Crazytown” is about to join “Not my circus, not my monkeys” in my set of sentences to succinctly explain certain decisions being made.

    1. Momma Bear*

      Which is a good way to look at it. If you have the option to choose, hold on for the right choice.

  2. Mental Lentil*

    The hiring manager should not be a hiring manager any more. This is just plain bizarre behavior.

    1. EPLawyer*

      Yeah they KNOW he does this. he’s been told to stop, so he goes around the process to STILL ASK HIS question. At this point his employer needs to say “Dude, STOP or it will cost you your job.” how many good candidates do they lose because no one wants to work with the Captain of Crazytown Yacht.

      1. Kevin Sours*

        At this point they need to skip the first three words there. Dude need to be gone.

      2. IndustriousLabRat*

        Destination Crazytown, with a stop at Ramen Island, so the Captain can do his income-related research on its rarefied inhabitants!

      3. Rainy*

        I bet he’s also the sort who demands to see his reports’ finances if they ask for a raise.

    2. NotAnotherManager!*

      +1 This dude would have been pulled off hiring so quickly at my office that his head would spin. He’d also be on a performance-improvement plan because this sort of things is a hard no for a manager and 100% unnecessary risk for the employer.

      HR requires everyone who’s going to interview to meet briefly to discuss interviewing dos and don’ts and has a simple guide to appropriate/inappropriate questions (that one of my colleagues refers to as the Bob Wilkins* Memorial Interview Guidelines). I’m not saying we don’t have crappy interviewers, but they are identified and sidelined if they can’t follow guidelines. Nowadays, most crappy interviewers are the ones who ask stupid questions (like what kind of tree or animal the candidate would be) rather than invasive, personal, and inappropriate ones.

      *Name change to protect the entirely guilty. “Bob” was a senior manager who felt no question was off limits and was the first person pulled from the interview roster when our new HR regime took over. I think one of our recruiters still twitches a bit whenever Bob comes up in conversation.

      1. RT*

        I wouldn’t take a job that wouldn’t let me interview with the hiring manager. I think OP got valuable information about what working with him would be like: Lack of boundaries and negative assumptions based on simple stuff.

        1. Lexie*

          I’ve had jobs where I didn’t know who my supervisor would be until after I started because my employer didn’t know who that would be.

        2. Selena*

          The other day i was talking with a dude in HR, where i specifically said i’ve applied to his company several times (no succes so far) because what i see from the outside looks extremely professional: job-ads with clear skills and salary-indication, the few times there was a possible match i got to talk with the hiring manager the next week, polite rejection within a week, etc.

          I know a few people who actually worked there who weren’t all around happy (and some who were happy). But it’s so much easier to see that as ‘meh, probably just a bad match’ when a company doesn’t throw up red flags in every interaction they have with the outside world.

        3. Koalafied*

          Agreed – if this guy can’t be trusted to interviews candidates competently, then he shouldn’t be managing employees. Both because managers generally should personally interview their prospective employees whenever possible to and this guy should not be interviewing anyone, and because if he’s being this hostile and weird as an interviewer it’s reasonable to have concerns that he’s being hostile and weird as a manager.

          I admit I did wonder if the reason there have been so many recent incidents for others to recall means this guy is just managing a lot of positions, or if he’s managing one or a small number that have high turnover, so he keeps having to replace people… Who left because their manager was weird and hostile.

      2. quill*

        … I love it, or “love” it when someone has a rule named after them. I had a professor who had a thesis rule named after him and studying under him was a ride… but he was probably better than Bob Fakename Wilkins.

        1. Xenia*

          My 100% favorite example of this phenomenon is in the small music community I’m a loose part of. One of our more talented members is notorious for not just forgetting the lyrics, but for forgetting the lyrics that he himself wrote. The result is that we now have “Bob Wilkins disease” as a catchphrase for “forgot the words I was singing.

          1. Coder von Frankenstein*

            And I forgot, the next verse–
            Oh well, I guess it pays to rehearse.
            The lyric sheet’s so hard to find,
            What are the words? Oh, never mind…

          2. quill*

            The “Bob Wilkins thesis protocol” was “all questions during thesis defense must be asked in the language the thesis was written in NO EXCEPTIONS EVEN IF THEY’RE FUNNY.”

            (Someone forgot to cite the translator in their bibliography properly and Prof. Wilkins assumed it meant he’d read the paper he was citing in the original german. Hilarity ensued, but not for the thesis defendee.)

      3. Artemesia*

        I still remember the guy who asked in a full department interview ‘so do you plan on having more children’. This was 45 years ago. I responded ‘that is between me, my husband and God’ (which won me the support of one committee member for my piety – go figure). One of the others pulled me aside and said ‘Ignore Bob Wilkins — he has this thing about overpopulation and asks everyone that question.’ I ignored it because I knew he had no management role over me if I took the job.

        1. Jean (just Jean)*

          High five for your answer! (My long-ago variation was to defer all decisions to the Deity.) Never mind piety bonus points–the idea is to say something that Firmly Shuts Down any & all further questions.

    3. Krabby*

      Yes! Can you imagine doing this after you’ve been explicitly told not to multiple times (and also already knowing you’d lost a good candidate over it)?! Boggles my mind.

      1. Aquatic Fun Center Dream Team*

        This guy is the kind of person who assumes that if they run someone off with their invasive questions, it’s because that person had something to hide. It’s basically an impenetrable hubris where there is no way to convince them they are the problem.

        LW is better off well clear of him and the chain of command that lets him keep doing this.

    4. Stitching Away*

      Honestly, that’s the biggest red flag. Not that the hiring manager is doing this, but that others are fully aware and not stopping it.

      1. Selena*

        That’s why it’s always good to report it.
        And notice if their reaction is ‘omg i am sorry, this was his first time, but his behavior means this will also be his last time’ or more like ‘yeah, we know, that is what he does *shrug*’

  3. Mike*

    imma start a petition to get ‘I’d rather be in this boat than on a yacht to Crazytown’ t-shirts sold by this blog as soon as humanly possible

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m thinking this is turning into a quilt. 1 patch per memorable quote, anchored by llamas and teapots.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Better you than me… My record time is about four years for a quilt. I don’t plan to do another one for a long time.

        2. TardyTardis*

          Don’t forget teapots. I’d really enjoy seeing a chocolate one (milk or dark, not picky, though almonds are a plus).

        1. Jean (just Jean)*

          Thank you for saying this.
          Preferably one that produces sound, like a baby’s squeeze toy.

    2. The Dude Abides*

      Now that you mention it, I’m surprised that Alison hasn’t started a t-shirt line on Etsy (with proceeds going to various animal-centric NGOs).

      1. Frank Doyle*

        There is a Cafepress shop, but aside from a “Chocolate Teapots” mug, they’re just the logo and website name, not pithy sayings.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          What I’ve been told from people who work on that side of things (making shirts and other promotional items) is that the market for that kind of thing is very small and usually not worth the resources you have to invest in it — and that everyone says they want the shirt, but in reality few people buy it.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            In case interesting to people, here’s what one person in that industry told me:

            It’s amazing how much people don’t order things like that from even wildly publicized/known/trafficked/fanned websites & blogs. It’s also true with corporate world things like, huge company XYZ comes to us to set up an employee store with XYZ logo on it. They have wild projections of how much XYZ gear will be sold and, as long as they are buying the stuff in advance, we’ll reluctantly set up the store for them and, never moves except to a fraction of whatever was projected. (there are a bunch of reasons but I won’t bore you with the details)

            What might move: what might move is some stuff with clever quotes from your AAM material. I can see somebody wanting to purchase as a gift. Fun office gifts or clever things for your desk do sell retail rather well.

            Why even that probably wouldn’t work: it would have to be done with one of the print on demand people, like Café Press, since you don’t want a bunch of stuff in your spare bedroom. The print on demand people are ever so handy, but costs per piece are high and you only end up making a couple bucks per piece unless you push the price past the point people will pay.

            There’s just no money in it. The amount of work it would take you to make even $500 is just not…. write another paid column or two.

            If the pieces were needed for branding, that’s another animal…

            1. tamarack and fireweed*

              This is good to know – and surprising to the uninitiated (at least me!)

              (Reason I thought it would be more lucrative is that when I co-organized our local March for Science in 2017 we raised a lot more than I expected with basically no effort from a print-on-demand T-shirt shop, just by uploading a customized MfS logo that took a talented volunteer a few hours to make. We had money for all the permits, insurance, materials for signmaking, food and all the small incidentals of a small science fair and march for ~1000 people. We even had $500 left over to donate. But something that raises low 4 figures easily doesn’t necessarily scale to what would be interesting for you…)

              1. Yessica Haircut*

                I do think $2 per item would add up faster than Alison’s contact may realize, given the unique reach of her blog. It’s very unusual for a blog in 2021 to have this kind of dedicated userbase, and I’m imagining her contact in the biz is used to some rando with a moderately popular podcast starting an ambitious Cafe Press and then being disappointed.

                Imagine if Alison did a voting-based contest every quarter on famous AMA sayings to add to her store! People would be buying in droves. I’m sure I’m not the only regular reader here who didn’t know until now that an AMA Cafe Press even existed.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  The contact is someone who works in the promotional items business — i.e., their business manufactures promotional items for other businesses or people like me :)

                  That said, you’re right that I could do more to promote the Cafepress store. It gets literally like two sales a year and it’s barely findable here (in part because I created it long ago on a whim and feel like if I were going to really promote it, I’d want it to have more/better stuff).

                2. Yessica Haircut*

                  @Alison, that’s fair, but I really do think your brand is extremely unusual. I can’t think of another independent blog that has this kind of loyal following, other than Captain Awkward and maybe Starslate Codex (blurgh). I think it’s likely your contact is speaking from the voice of experience dealing with clients who are different in some critical ways from you.

                  If you added more referential/inside joke-based items to your shop, I bet a LOT of people would be all over that (myself included)!

                3. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  You could be right! For me, the biggest obstacle is artwork. It would be a pretty big project and expense to get the art done, and for that reason alone it probably won’t happen!

                4. Yessica Haircut*

                  That is completely reasonable! Good graphic design is expensive and time consuming.

                5. mdv*

                  Alison – you could run an artwork contest. It works for so many public radio stations across the country, why couldn’t it work for you? You give a deadline for people to submit artwork for their favorite line from your blog, then the commentariat could vote…

                6. Observer*

                  Something that might make the initial cost more manageable might be to get someone to essentially develop a template for you. So, say you could have a template for tee-shirts with AAM sayings, and then you could put new lines in yourself. Even if you needed the artist to do it for you, adding a new line would be far more minimal. And, done right the template should be easily tweaked for something like plaques or desk items.

                  I’m not saying it’s going to be pocket change, but it might be worth looking into this, to see if low enough to make the risk worthwhile.

                7. Eeeeka*

                  Or just forget the artwork and do words. Quotes from this site would be awesome just as they are and fonts are easy.

              2. Coder von Frankenstein*

                I was also involved in the MfS (at a local level) and had similar experiences, but in retrospect, I think it had a lot more to do with that moment in time. A good fifty percent of the country was still in shock that Donald Trump was President of the United States. Participating in the March for Science was a way of reaching for some kind of normalcy and sanity, and buying a T-shirt felt like doing your bit.

                We tried the MfS again in 2018, but no one was interested. I think we sold about ten T-shirts that whole year.

            2. calonkat*

              I tend to agree. I used to run a gift shop for a small museum, and we had a wonderful logo designed by a local artist. But no one (not even supporters) would buy in enough quantity to make it worthwhile. We did some short runs to use for volunteers and museum exchanges at conferences, but stuff just sat in the shop.

              It’s fine to say “I’d buy that”, but think about yet another coffee mug, with yet another cute saying, but this one costing a premium and shipping. Same for shirts and such. Yes, YOU might buy it, but Alison needs hundreds to thousands of people to buy it to be worthwhile (and t-shirts come in so many sizes/styles/colors).

              I could see stickers or pins possibly (lower cost, lower shipping, smaller storage), but mugs and larger items (or things with sizes, like t-shirts) have a tremendous overhead in the storage alone.

              A Cafe Press setup would be easiest by far on Alison, but it would be SOME work, and it’s entirely up to her if she wants to take that on.

              1. Kyrielle*

                Stickers, pins, and given this is a work advice blog, maybe mouse pads or notepads also. But yes, through a print-on-demand.

                1. Llellayena*

                  My current sleeping kitten mouse pad just opened it’s eyes and glared at me for daring to contemplate purchasing an AAM Llama mouse pad…

              2. TShirtNerd*

                I’m a bit of a T-shirt nerd. I have way too many of them.

                The problem I have with promotional t-shirts is that exactly for the reasons described by Alison’s contact, the promotional t-shirts are quite expensive. They simply can not compare with better designed ones from companies like Design By Humans or mass produced ones by companies like Uniqlo.

              3. Artemesia*

                I think that is right and I am someone who has actually bought two mugs in the past few years — Elizabeth Warren’s ‘Billionaires Tears’ mug and when people were hassling Jill Biden, the mug with Miss, Mrs. Ms crossed out and Dr. actually.

              4. Selena*

                Yeah, T-shirts are especially burdensome because of all the sizes. Those printing-on-demand services are expensive but they make selling merch a whole lot easier.

              5. .LC.*

                Stickers and pins are my jam, as long as the stickers won’t disintegrate at a drop or two of water because they often end up on a water bottle and the pins are something like enamel (or anything except button pins really, just something a little nicer).

                There isn’t a ceiling on how many I’d buy (definitely not the case for something like a mug), styles can often be added/changed more frequently, I can always find somewhere to put them, they’re cheap enough that I don’t tend to think too hard before buying ones that I fall in love with, shipping tends to be way less since you can use envelops (benefit for both the buyer and seller). So yeah. I’m a fan.

            3. Your Local Password Resetter*

              Good to know, I did always wonder how viable those merch stores actually are!

            4. Free Meerkats*

              Sitting here looking at my Chocolate Teapots mug and travel tumbler, I’m curious how many (ballpark) you’ve sold.

            5. Dwight Schrute*

              I might be the exception to this then! I have 4-5 t shirts from my other favorite podcast- Stuff you should know! And my partner has at least one. They’re all quotes and random sayings from the show that only other listeners would get

            6. Selena*

              I’d be much more likely to f.i. subscribe to your patreon than to buy a tea-mug.

              I think that friend is right that a few people typing ‘it would be cool if….’ rarely translates to the hundreds of monthly sales you’d need to make it worth the effort.
              Although it’s not quit the same as putting a company name on stuff: nobody wants to pay to be a walking advertisement for their own employer, but people do want to support the writers they like.

          2. Fergus's wife*

            If you had a prominently featured link on your page, I bet you’d get many, many buys! I’ve been a faithful reader for years, and this is the first I’ve heard that you had merch.

            My husband’s name is Fergus (which is a very unusual name for where we are in the U.S.), so I’d love some merch based around the AMA character names (Fergus, Wakeen, etc.).

            1. Fergus's wife*

              I’m picturing something like the “Hello, my name is” name tag with Wakeen and Assistant Llama Groomer, or Fergus and Lead Chocolate Teapots Engineer. Or something referencing the hellmouth.

              I’m much less likely to buy merch that just has the blog name or URL on it than a fun inside joke for the commentariat.

              1. IndustriousLabRat*

                The Hellmouth art [done by the original LW’s brother, I believe?] was glorious.

              2. Selena*

                On the one hand i agree that an inside joke would be much better than just a logo.
                On the other hand i think that only works with properties like starwars or Trump quotes where the audience is HUGE and you’ll often run into strangers who recognize the quote

      2. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

        Right?!!!!! All for this!! I’d love to be in an airport someday and see the shirt on someone and say “YOU’RE AN AAMITE?!”
        Or should this cohort be called the Llama Groomers? Teapot Enthusiasts?
        If Alison ever offered certification for going through all her archives and acing a trivia round on it, sign me up XD

        1. Whynot*

          Um, how about llamas? as in LlAAMas, but without worrying about the janky spelling?

          Just a random suggestion.

      1. Deborah*

        There are cross-stitch pattern generators online, though, for text with a border. More of a DIY thing.

        1. Jean (just Jean)*

          Howzabout “your boss sucks and isn’t going to change” cross-stitch patterns?
          Nope. Good for a chuckle but who has time, and once it’s finished, who wants one more Thing?
          NO disrespect to Allison but most of us don’t need more possessions.
          Interesting thread, however. I learned something about the t-shirt (and other merchandise) biz.

        2. Keymaster of Gozer*

          I design cross stitch patterns as a hobby (currently working on a gaming one) and yeah, I could knock something out for most sayings here. Or one big sampler of best of AAM. Actually, will ask for suggestions on next open post.

    3. vho842*

      And the yacht has to be driving to Ramen Island in the distance. Crazytown’s the capital. ;)

  4. Wisteria*

    So he wasn’t asking about OnlyFans or whether you were married? Because I for one thought those were the most likely explanations

    (No, I didn’t. Dude was just nosy. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.)

    1. Software Dev*

      Lol I remember how strange and fanfic-y some of those comments got. Sometimes people are just strangely obsessed with certain data.

      1. Wisteria*

        The fanfic about me for being completely unfazed by nosy questioners was almost as good.

    2. KHB*

      I mean, as per the original letter, he explicitly asked her whether she was married. That part wasn’t subtext – that was just text.

      1. Batgirl*

        It’s also been super common historically for companies to pay married women “pin money” because they “don’t need it”. It’s good that particular dynamic wasn’t the case here, but I don’t know that using his position of power to automatically suspect and insult the truthfulness of the plebs so he can play Inspector Clouseau is much more modern or enlightened.

      2. Wisteria*

        You are right, OP did say that he asked whether he was married.

        And the commentariat jumped right on the fanfic bandwagon with what his subtext must have been.

        1. KHB*

          Pretty much every comment thread here has commenters speculating about what motivations underlie somebody’s unusual behavior. Are they all “jumping on the fanfic bandwagon”?

            1. KHB*

              Because the description of the interviewer’s behavior sounded a lot like how a lot of creepy sexually-harassing guys operate. I don’t think people should be shamed for having their instincts pinged.

              (While I was the one to bring up OF, I wasn’t “SO convinced it was definitely that” – I thought it was one possibility that was worth discussing.)

  5. Excel Jedi*

    I am pretty much convinced that this company is hiring through a recruiting firm because this hiring manager has systematically sabotaged them in the past. And now he’s undermining the recruiting firm by continuing this behavior.

    He should be fired, or at least demoted to a position without and hiring or supervisory responsibilities.

    1. Lucious*

      OPs letter is a clear example of how narcissistic managers cost organizations money.

    2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Going to say at least boat sinking manager is still finding ways to let people know he’s crazy so they can nope out of the yacht ride to crazy town.

      But yes, that’s probably why they are using an external agency.

    3. Frank Doyle*

      I don’t think it’s a recruiting firm per se, I think the deal is that they hire contract employees, so technically this dude is a client, not even the actual hiring manager. Or does that not make a difference, is that still sort of the point you’re making? That they’d be hiring people as actual employees if not for this dude?

      1. BRR*

        I think Excel Jedi meant the company knows the hiring manager is awful so the company is purposefully adding a person (recruiter) to the process to create a layer between the applicants and the hiring manager. But yeah I agree I don’t think it’s a recruiting firm per se. I don’t think he’s the reason the company is doing this contractor to hire, but it sounds like an added benefit since someone on the hiring side seems to know about him.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          That honestly was my feel from the original letter – that the firm/recruiter was added to insulate candidates from crazy guy. Nice he still found a way to show the potential employees he’s a fruitcake.

          (I also think the theory that if not for crazy guy they could hire directly full time is not unfounded either.)

          1. OP*

            this is an interesting take. i know that it’s not uncommon for that company to hire contractors, and it’s also particularly common in my field, so this didn’t occur to me. but what you’re suggesting could well be possible based on what i know now.

            1. CircleBack*

              It’s sometimes a self-fulfilling prophecy. I worked for a company that used a temp agency to fill the accounting department… which they had to do because the accounting manager drove people away in tears. I found out they went through multiple temp agencies because they kept dropping her as a client after hearing back from people they placed. Meanwhile she was convinced the problem was that temp workers are flighty.
              When she retired, all of a sudden we held onto long-term hires in the accounting department and no longer needed a temp agency.

              1. allathian*

                Yeah. Too bad the company didn’t have the guts to fire her before she reached retirement age…

  6. Merry R.*

    I also had to turn down a job recently because of the hiring manager/recruiting process. During my interview, the interviewer yawned, looked like he was falling asleep, and barely asked me any questions. The recruiting company who this company had hired was great, but I expressed that I would like to meet with the team I’d be working with before making a final decision. It took them weeks to set that up, and it ended up being another meeting with the exact same guy, despite them telling me he wouldn’t be my direct manager. I ended the process early, mostly because of the interviewer’s attitude. I got another amazing offer a few days later, so it ended up working out for the best.

    1. stephistication*

      Damn some folks are so goofy that they can’t even hide it. I would have asked him if his job was really that boring – putting the asshat back on him and not my candidacy.

  7. Phony Genius*

    I kind of wish we could somehow get an update on the hiring manager. He asked about this even being warned repeatedly not to. This company’s response to that would say a lot about them.

      1. OP*

        I unfortunately do not have one (and probably never will). I did tell the contracting agency about the call. Let’s just say they weren’t exactly pleased or surprised. But I have no idea what happened next, if anything.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Betting they probably had quite a bit of experience with this guy before you met him. He definitely sounds one of a kind (because hopefully his mold was smashed into millions of little pieces after he came out defective….).

        2. TotallyNormal*

          I hope the agency will tell him exactly why you declined the role! “Dude. We told you not to be a creep. You were a creep. You lost your best candidate.”

          Actually, I hope they tell someone above him so things can actually change!

        3. PollyQ*

          Bob’s behavior has directly cost both your agency & his company money, since the time & effort that was put into filtering candidates and picking you is now flushed down the drain, and whatever work you would have been doing is now going to be pushed back for however long it takes to find someone else. I sure hope the agency bluntly says to someone at a higher level than Bob, “You would’ve had this excellent candidate in place doing work right now if it hadn’t been for this [bleep] [bleeping] things up.”

  8. Generic Name*

    Good call on turning down the offer. The type of behavior you describes can be indicative of a paranoid-style of thinking where a person takes facts and molds them to fit their foregone conclusion/narrative (usually some form of “they’re out to get me” or “I’m a victim” story). I can’t imagine working for a boss who acts consistently with someone who is a paranoid thinker. Can you imagine having to justify the time you spend in the bathroom, or call out sick, or take a vacation, or buy an expensive handbag??

  9. Observer*

    Wow! So, the guy is “just” nosy. But it’s not “just” normal boundary crossing nosiness, which would be bad enough. It’s the tip of the paranoia iceberg. Definitely a major problem, and I totally get why you decided not to accept the offer.

    I hope you told the recruiting agency about the contents of the call.

    1. OP*

      I’m the OP and I most definitely did! I would like to leave the agency out of this because they honestly did nothing wrong and were perfectly professional and a pleasure to work with. But let’s just say that they weren’t exactly pleased or surprised. I don’t know what happened after I told them.

      1. pretzelgirl*

        My guess is you are not the first person to turn down a role bc of his odd behavior!

      2. Observer*

        Yeah, I didn’t really think that the contracting agency was at fault here. But it seemed to me that it would be useful information for them to have.

  10. pretzelgirl*

    I once had an interview (that a friend recommended me for no less!) in which the interviewer was also obsessed over my finances. He asked how many credit cards I had, why I had the amount I did (note: I had one for a multitude of personal reasons), what my credit score was, why I didn’t know the exact number and had to guess (back before you could check super easily). It was so strange. All for a pretty entry level position. The guy interviewing me was also much younger than me. I never heard back. Bullet dodged.

  11. FG*

    Similar to him believing all candidates have been fired, many years ago I worked in a hospital (a hospital!) where the CFO never believed anyone was sick if they called out. People in his dept would come in even if they were seemingly on death’s door because he gave them such a hard time about sick days.

      1. wittyrepartee*

        I know a NICU nurse who lost her sense of smell during COVID, and they still wanted her to come in. She was testing negative, but… even so, she was sick, showing a very particular symptom, and working with really vulnerable patients.

    1. Nanani*

      What a great way to keep bugs out of your hospital

      My eyes just rolled so hard you can probably hear them on mars

      1. Smug Crumpet*

        I was reading too quickly and I thought you said “hear them on the stairs”! Which also works in this context…

  12. Kevin Sours*

    Dude deliberately went outside of process to do something he’d been previously told not to do. He needs to be fired. Full stop.

    I’d honestly have reservations about working with that recruiter unless they’ve taken steps to ensure that sort of thing doesn’t happen in the future.

    1. learnedthehardway*

      The recruitment firm can’t stop a hiring manager from sabotaging their own project (unfortunately). One hopes, however, that they had a conversation with HR or whoever manages their contract, to let them know that the hiring manager had gone around them to talk directly to candidates about their personal finances – and that the company had done something about the hiring manager in consequence.

      1. Kevin Sours*

        They can stop referring people to interviews with that hiring manager. And they can stop recruiting for that company unless they fix that problem. At the very least they can give candidates a heads up and require that a representative from the recruitment firm be present in interviews.

        1. really*

          Short of a 24 hour “minder” they still can’t keep this d’bag from circumventing the process and calling the candidates outside of the interviews. I believe that is the issue — he was told not to do this but he can’t stop himself (which is really scary — )

          1. Stitching Away*

            We don’t know that he can’t. All we know is that he hasn’t experienced consequences serious enough yet that he hasn’t.

          2. Kevin Sours*

            Sure they can. They can tell the company he works for that he’s not to take part in any interviews for the candidates they forward and, if the company fails to honor that, stop sending them candidates.

            The real issue is that nobody seems to want to *do* anything about him.

            1. allathian*

              Yeah, but if he’s the hiring manager, it’s better that the candidates learn what a douche he is before they accept an offer. A candidate who’s blindsided by this will probably feel resentful towards the recruiting company for keeping the red flags hidden.

              I guess I’m in a privileged position, but I’d never accept a job without interviewing with the hiring manager.

    2. Observer*

      It doesn’t sound like the recruiting agency is the problem here. But the EMPLOYER does seem to be a problem. After all they do know that this is going on. But instead of making this an issue of continued employment and also watching what other issues this guy has, they hire a recruiter to paper over the problem. Is that how they handle all problems?

      1. Kevin Sours*

        At some point an agency continuing to work with a toxic employer makes them part of the problem. It doesn’t sound like this is the first time something like this has come up. They need to start managing it on their end.

        1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

          You could totally be right. For my sanity, I’m going to assume the warning was given just before OP interviewed for this role and now the contracting firm is declining to supply contractors if this fool is involved.

          Otherwise, it reminds me too much of the ineffective management at my last job.

          1. Kevin Sours*

            It’s entirely possible that the agency brought this up with the company and was told it was handled. And it wasn’t. But they really should be communicating that to candidates at this point (as well as taking further steps)

  13. I'm just here for the cats*

    This hiring manager guy is just weird. He secretly thinks everyone has been fired? Boy, oh boy, is he going to be in for a surprise with the job market now. I would say a majority of people who are looking for work will have been laid off because of covid and not because of performance reasons.

    It makes me wonder, did he get fired in a past job and fib about it so that he can get his current job?

    1. OP*

      EXACTLY! It was just so tone deaf and bizarre. Has he been under a rock? This call took place over a year into the pandemic.

      I also wondered if he was projecting based on something that had happened in his own career.

    2. HS Teacher*

      I’m sure he thinks people are not working because they are collecting the sweet, sweet unemployment money.

    3. Paris Geller*

      Yeah, I know this is pure speculation, but it does seem a lot like some projecting is going on there!

    4. Meep*

      I have a coworker who thinks the worst of people because she is not above being the worst. She says all sorts of spiteful and hateful things about people she just met. I could totally see her assuming this because I have heard her say this about people before. Not surprisingly, we have a hard time keeping people.

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        Well, liars are the first to accuse others of lying, as we have seen recently.

    5. wfh-4eva*

      Hear, hear!

      His obsession with “firing” is bizarre. What is that about? Like, does he think that all firings are for Extremely Serious Reasons, like money laundering or murder or something? Or does he think that it’s always about genuine so-called performance issues? Does he realise that a large number of firings are questionable, either ethically or legally? Or does he think that retrenchment/layoffs and firing are the same thing?

      1. OP*

        i have no idea. it was very strange. according to the source of my update, he still seemed to believe this about “everyone” despite the fact that we both live in one of the original and hardest-hit COVID epicenters, where everyone has lost their jobs.

  14. HereKittyKitty*

    Bullet dodged- wackiness! The wackiest interview I had was last year, where I interviewed at a “startup” for a marketing manager position, but when I interviewed it turned out to be more of a “personal assistant” role for the owner (who was the person I was interviewing with) and it seemed like the company was just a shell for some sort of personal brand building for her own “business advice” self-help business? It was such a strange interview and to this day I’m convinced she was/is a budding cult leader trying to stand up a cult disguised as self-help. She kept asking if I would properly “evangelize” her words to others lol.

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      That seems particularly weird in that “evangelizing” the brand is the marketing manager’s job, but it isn’t the owner’s personal assistant’s job.

      1. HereKittyKitty*

        Yeah the thing is it wasn’t “evangelize” the brand- it was specifically her personal blog posts on substack. Not even RELATED to the “company” or “brand.” So weird!

    2. MissDisplaced*

      Ugh! God I hate people who treat marketing professionals as though we’re little better than personal assistants or administrative assistants. Whenever I get that vibe, I bow out.

      I recently had this happen while interviewing at a very large global company even. During the course of the interview I discerned that the way they advertised the position did not mesh with what I was hearing from the hiring manager about the actual day-to-day duties, which all sounded VERY administrative in nature (basically this was a glorified Admin role disguised as Marketing Specialist because no actual “marketing” was involved).

      1. HereKittyKitty*

        Marketing has become a weird “catch-all” for admin-type duties. It made finding a job a lot more difficult.

      2. Seven If You Count Bad John*

        And those places are hurting themselves, because a proper administrative specialist won’t apply for a Marketing job because that’s just not what they do. Different skill set!

      3. Kat in VA*

        Um, I’m an executive assistant so the “little better than” comment stings like hell. I’m a professional and very good at what I do. We’re not “just” anything.

        1. Jean (just Jean)*

          >We’re not “just” anything.
          No kidding!! Executive assistants keep the trains running smoothly and make it look easy. (Spoiler: it’s not easy.) EAs have a valuable skill set.

          Perhaps the person who made the “little better than” comment was channeling other people’s dismissive opinions rather than their own.

        2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          The trouble with admin is it’s a bit like housework: the stuff nobody else wants to bother with. And you can be as pro as is humanly possible, and get stuff done before anyone realises it needs doing, and deal tactfully with stuff that others have messed up, etc etc etc, but nobody realises just how good you are because everybody underestimates how much it contributes to the smooth running of everything.

          Also like housework, it only gets noticed when it hasn’t been done properly. So an excellent admin will only be fully appreciated when they’ve been replaced by an incompetent doozy.

      4. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        Yes, the “Marketing Manager” at the last company I was with did the teeny weeny bit of Marketing she was allowed to do, and otherwise acted as the boss’s personal Girl Friday, basically picking up the stuff nobody else wanted to do.

  15. tamarack and fireweed*

    Good on you, well done, OP! I’m glad you’re in a position to reject what deserves to be rejected.

    I wish you best of luck for finding a long-term sustainable place at a good employer in your field!

    1. OP*

      Thank you!! So am I. It was still extremely hard to turn down any role given my current circumstances, and I’m grateful that I was able to. F this guy.

  16. MissDisplaced*

    I hope you get a new job soon! Your perseverance will eventually pay off.
    But you are so right that being in the unemployed lifeboat (which sucks) can still be preferable to onboarding the distrustful, unhealthy sinking yacht cruise on the way to Crazytown.

  17. RJ*

    Excellent decision, OP. I don’t know if that hiring manager functions in another capacity at that company, but if he does, he should have procurement removed from his job description. Interrogation tactics are unnecessary and a turnoff for real talent. I hope you get some good news soon!

  18. learnedthehardway*

    The recruitment firm can’t stop a hiring manager from sabotaging their own project (unfortunately). One hopes, however, that they had a conversation with HR or whoever manages their contract, to let them know that the hiring manager had gone around them to talk directly to candidates about their personal finances – and that the company had done something about the hiring manager in consequence.

    1. Jean (just Jean)*

      >had a conversation with HR or whoever manages their contract
      Here’s hoping the conversation was firm and one-sided, with no speaking lines for the hiring manager.

  19. Essess*

    I am hoping that the fact that they lost their top choice due to his behavior will finally shake them to get rid of him since they have direct proof that he just cost them some experienced talent.

  20. Anoni*

    OP, congratulations on keeping an eye on all the red flags that manager was giving you. I hope you find the right fit soon!

    Managers believe some weird stuff. My boss’s boss believes you can “say whatever you want” in a resume and cover letter, but paper applications are legally binding documents because at the bottom you’re attesting that everything you wrote is true and then you sign it. So she doesn’t read cover letters and she hates resumes. Do not ask me. I do not know.

  21. Meep*

    The average age in my office is 27 years old. We have a total of two people over 50 years old (the owner and my coworker). My coworker is obsessed with everyone else’s personal lives. All of us except for her went to college and therefore all of us are spoiled brats. She hated a guy because he bought a house and was getting married. She even tried to get me fired for buying a house with my fiance (after repeatedly telling me to either break up with him or to buy a condo we were living in and make him sneakily pay my mortgage without telling him). She was divorced and had lost a half a million dollar house because her and her ex-husband decided to be spiteful and neither paid the mortgage. (It was his fault though!)

    I wonder if this hiring manager is like my coworker and dislikes anyone he perceives better off than himself. This is the only kind of crazy I can wrap my head around knowing there are crazy people like that.

    1. Cheerfully Polite Grey Rock*

      I have so many questions about your coworker. Did she expect you to buy the condo you were renting (without telling your fiance), pretend you were still renting, collect your fiance’s share of the rent (which they are now paying you as the new landlord), and then use that to pay off the mortgage? Or did she have an even more implausible suggestion? If she thinks that’s how one should behave in a relationship then I’m not surprised hers didn’t work out!

      Also, on what grounds was she trying to get you fired? I can only think jealousy but I’m pretty sure that’s not viable grounds for termination, especially if it’s someone else who’s the jealous one!

  22. Michelle Smith*

    Sounds like you dodged a bullet. Good work! And good luck with the rest of your applications!

  23. Akcipitrokulo*


    Good for you for turning down – and for telling them why. If he’s done this before, losing their chosen candidate because of this might make them deal with it.

    (If you do happen to hear, please update agsin!)

  24. Anon for this*

    Wait. He did the same thing to a woman and a man, and you “have no way of knowing whether sexism was involved”?

    You say the last person he did this to was male, but you still think there’s a good chance he did this to you just because you’re female, and would not have done this to a male?

    If everything you are saying is true, this guy is a high-level jerk and should be fired immediately. I’m just not understanding how you get “This could be sexism” after learning he has done this to women and men.

    1. OP*

      i said that because i don’t know the details of the conversation. i don’t know if he asked if the guy was married or had kids, which he specifically asked me. all i know is that he asked about the guy’s personal finances.

  25. Marzipan Shepherdess*

    Yes, it’s easy to forget that job interviews are two-way: the job applicant is also interviewing the company to see if they’d be the right fit for the applicant. I recall interviewing for a position with one agency only to be told that they’d scheduled the interview for a day when a certain employee would be off because they were planning on firing her and didn’t want her to know it until they had someone else to replace her. (Of course that meant that that employee would have no time to line up interviews for herself and would have been out on her ear with no job of her own.)

    I decided (silently) that any agency that would treat HER like that would eventually treat ME the same way and mentally crossed them off my list. When I was offered that job, I turned it down and never regretted doing so. Look at how a prospective company treats its current employees because if you join them, that’s how they’ll treat YOU!

  26. Elizabeth West*

    Dear Universe,
    PLEASE don’t let me unknowingly apply to a job at this company, for this manager. Kthxbai.

    Good call, turning it down, OP. Because YIKES.

  27. wfh-4eva*

    I’m so sorry you went through this, OP.

    This douchebag needs to be removed from his job. He is an actual liability.

    This whole thing just astounds and disgusts me, but this really takes the cake: “That same source also told me that the hiring manager also believes that everyone he interviews has actually been fired but lies about it and seems to consider it his personal duty to ferret this out.”

    What the what?!

    1. OP*

      thank you! i had the same reaction. it was extremely strange and i have no idea what that’s about.

      1. wfh-4eva*

        I’m just glad you dodged that bullet! I wish you all the luck and success than an amazing new job comes your way very soon!

  28. SeekYou*

    “I’d rather be in this boat than on a yacht to Crazytown.” = My new mantra. Thank you OP!

  29. MCMonkeyBean*

    Wow, I can understand just being curious about people’s finances because talking about money is so oddly verboten much of the time…

    But this guy is SO nosy about it that he actively circumvents their normal interview protocol just so that he can ask candidates questions that he has been repeatedly told not to ask them!!?? That is just… off the walls ridiculous. This guy should not be hiring anybody and should probably not be managing anybody and I’m really glad you told them that was the reason you were not interested in the job.

  30. Blonde Spiders*

    Wow. I really, REALLY hope the agency reported this inappropriate behavior to the recruiting team. I’m a recruiting coordinator for contract roles specifically, and I would absolutely want to know about this, even if it makes my company look bad. I often see poor feedback from interview teams about candidates, but rarely from candidates about interviewing teams, and perhaps the contract agencies don’t want to potentially jeopardize the relationship.

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