candidate showed up in-person for a Zoom interview “to demonstrate their interest”

A reader writes:

As part of my job, I’m responsible for hiring processes for director level positions. We first conduct a phone screening, then a Zoom interview, and then pay for finalist candidates to visit our city for the the final round of interviews.

Recently, following the phone screenings, I scheduled Zoom interviews with our candidates. We use a self-scheduling system, and notified candidates on Tuesday that they could start scheduling interviews. The first available interview was on that Thursday. On Wednesday (so 24 hours after the self scheduling opened, and 24 hours before the interview), one of the candidates called me to say that they had driven to our city from their state about 12 hours away, with their entire family, at their own expense, to “demonstrate their interest in the position.” They asked if we would instead hold the interview in person, since they were in town. Our search committee was not prepared to hold this interview in person, as some members of the committee live far away, so I told this candidate that we would still need to hold the interview via Zoom. They expressed disappointment that we weren’t able to make it work.

I think this crosses professional boundaries and is a huge red flag. One of my colleagues was impressed by this candidate’s “go-getter” attitude and thought we should have accommodated the request to have the interview in person. What do you think?

What on earth, no! This is indeed a huge red flag.

This isn’t about being a go-getter. It’s about lacking an understanding of professional norms and being willing to push what they want ahead of what works for you, without regard for the process you already laid out. (They also apparently haven’t noticed at any time during the last two years that a lot of people work remotely or from separate locations now?)

This is someone who’s going to ignore clear instructions when work is assigned to them in favor of doing whatever they think best, without thinking about what problems their “better” approach might cause. This is also someone who has muddled thinking about how much energy and how many resources are worth expending for what pay-off. (A 12-hour drive? With their whole family?!)

It’s particularly troubling that they didn’t think to check with you first. It would have been fine for them to offer to come in-person, as long as they waited to hear whether that worked for you. But simply showing up without bothering to check, and then being surprised when it didn’t work for you, bodes badly.

If they wanted to demonstrate their interest in the job, they could do that by, you know, interviewing for it and explaining their interest. No stunts required.

Your colleague who liked it isn’t thinking it through.

{ 389 comments… read them below }

  1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    Driving for 12 hours with their family is not go-getting. It’s emotional manipulation.

      1. Migraine Month*

        Like a guy who shows up for a first date with a corsage, takes you to a fancy steak house instead of the restaurant you agreed on, and spends the entire dinner talking about his struggles with rejection and suicidal thoughts.

        1. Kit*

          Or at least like a guy who does magic tricks and then plays the piano while staring at you at a work event…

          1. Slipping the Leash*

            That was my all-time fave. Forwarded it to the person who arranges events at my office and she circulates it ahead of the holiday party every year.

    1. Lindsay*

      Once my husband was interviewing far away for a job in a city we had family in. We had already planned to visit the family for a week before this started – he mentioned that he was already planning to be in the city for a certain week to do an in person interview when they said they wanted to bring him back – they weren’t ready that week but did fly him out later.
      He did get the job.
      But it wasn’t dragging family and it was something already planned so he offered it if the employer wanted it that week.
      Who knows maybe the city is a destination city the family wanted to visit anyway but it should have been: “I am going to be in the area anyway if you want to meet in person….” Not this BS

      1. Observer*

        Who knows maybe the city is a destination city the family wanted to visit anyway but it should have been: “I am going to be in the area anyway if you want to meet in person….” Not this BS

        Yup. The thing is that your example doesn’t make it any better – just bad in a different way. Because in case where they were coming out anyway what he said is a lie intended to be manipulative.

        1. Venus*

          It is better because it’s an offer, same as what Alison suggested. If someone said “I can offer to meet in person if you prefer” or “I’m planning to visit family so I can offer to meet in person if you prefer” then there isn’t any real difference. “I’m visiting family now and we must meet in person or I’ll get very upset” is a completely different thing.

          1. Environmental Compliance*

            Yes – it’s a “hey, I’ll actually be by you for other reasons if that would work better for you all”, not a “I’m coming in regardless here I am”.

            I have made the same offer before – I had another interview already lined up that I was traveling in for, and had let the other company know that I was going to be in the area [these dates] if they would be interested in having me stop by in person. They were glad I mentioned and transferred to in-person for that interview. If they had said no, no worries, but the offer was there.

          2. Observer*

            What I meant was that if that’s why they had come, *their failure to say so and instead claim that they came to “show interest in the job” is bad.*

            Actually SAYING “Hey, I’m here anyway. Does this make sense?” No, not a problem.

          3. Helenteds*

            I have offered to come in person for an internship interview because I was local (my apartment being less than 1 mile from their location), but it was just an offer, because I might as well give them options since it was easy for me to do so. I didn’t have any expectations that they would necessarily choose to, and in the event they did chose to remain on zoom.

      2. Smithy*

        During one period I was interviewing for a bunch of jobs in another city, and one of those jobs brought me out for an in-person interview. The interview was just going to be one hour at noon in person, so I reached out to two other places where I was interviewing to let them know I’d be in town that day in case it worked to meet in person. Ended up with three interviews in one day, ended the day as a total zombie and would never do that again personally in future.

        However, with one of the jobs that did take me up on the in-person option – they ended up STILL needing to bring me back into town another time for another interview with people who weren’t available that day.

        1. EngineeringFun*

          In 2004, I wanted to live to DC for work and my folks lived there. My mom cut an ad for an engineering position out of the paper (olden days). I contacted them and told them I would be in town visiting my folks and would they like to interview me. I interviewed and got the job. Totally different.

        2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          A family member did something like it and both companies were happy to accommodate. Company A scheduled an interview with him on a Thursday and paid for the hotel. Company B was in the same city and also wanted to interview in person, fly him out, and pay for a hotel. He called company B and said something like “if Friday the XX works for you, the other company is already flying me out and you’d just pay for one extra night at the hotel” and they happily agreed. He ended up getting an offer from Company B.

      3. ABCYaBye*

        Yeah, I had someone who was in town for a funeral do something similar. I appreciated it in fact.

        This wasn’t driving 12 hours with family in tow hoping that I’d change my entire interview process.

        1. Zephy*

          Oh God, I can’t imagine traveling for a funeral of all things and trying to squeeze in a job interview in the midst of all that. My thing is, if the funeral is important enough that it requires a special trip (and all attendant logistics of just plain ol’ travel, before even getting into the rest of the emotionally charged and culturally fraught rituals around death, grief, and mourning), I can’t imagine the candidate would even actually have time for a job interview, unless they really decided to make the most out of their trip and stay in town for a relatively long time (7-10 days). Like, I guess the stars could align like that, but I certainly don’t think I as the candidate would be in a position to give a good interview under those circumstances.

    2. Observer*


      It also shows you that this person is either a liar (ie they made this up) or they are a flaming jerk. Because that’s a really bad thing to do to your family. Which leads to the question of what other seriously problematic and boundary crossing things will this person be willing to do to get ahead?

      1. Lea*

        Yeah it’s super weird to say anything about bringing your family during a job interview????

        It does seem like manipulation

    3. Meep*

      Yeah… I would honestly be afraid of how he will handle that rejection if he isn’t a good fit.

    4. ArtsyGirl*

      The only positive spin I could give this is if the job is in a well known destination city and the family decided to make a short vacation of it but that still doesn’t alleviate the red flags. Even with that interpretation he should have asked first and not mentioned his family. It comes across as either manipulative or as clueless to professional norms. Neither of which is someone you want at a director level.

      1. pancakes*

        And even with that spin, the only thing this candidate has going for him vs. other candidates is having the time and money to take off for a vacation on the spur of the moment. That doesn’t say anything at all about his qualifications for the job. It’s entirely beside the point.

      1. irene adler*

        Especially as they came out the day PRIOR to when interviews were to begin.

        Gumption X 2!

        Makes my head hurt.

    5. I Faught the Law*

      It also sounds creepily controlling. I’m picturing him driving 12 hours with his wife and ten home schooled kids and matching Bible quote tee shirts. This person just seems wrong.

        1. Migraine Month*

          Which would somehow be even worse than dragging spouse and kids along on a spontaneous unnecessary business trip.

          1. Observer*

            Yeah. I mean, at least there aren’t any vulnerable kids in the picture. But as an employee? Oh nooooooo!

    6. AbruptPenguin*

      This. If you were already planning to be in the area, you could just say, “I’m actually going to be in town on Thursday. Would the panel be available to meet in-person?” But saying “I drove 12 hours and brought my entire family” is totally unnecessary and seems designed to guilt the interviewer into accommodating the request. This goes beyond gumption and straight into inappropriate boundary-pushing.

    7. LB*

      He didn’t even need to mention that his whole family had been dragged along! He must have thought that showed extra … “commitment”?

      This is like a dall-E drawing of being a go-getter: some of the requisite parts are there, but it sure doesn’t look right.

      1. Greg*

        You’re being too kind. I suspect it was emotional manipulation: “Look how much effort I put into this! You can say no to me, but you can’t say no to little Fergis and Tallulah, can you?”

    8. Luna*

      As part of the family, if I were not a very small child and this was a single parent, I’d be questioning why the hecky-roo I’d have to drive along for 12 hours for an interview that I’m not taking part in…

      1. Wenike*

        When I was in high school (over 20 years ago), my Dad had a job interview in another state that my mother and I both were with. Unbeknownst to us, that interview was actually Dad signing the paperwork to start working for them and Mom and I spent the rest of that week house hunting and scoping out schools. He worked for that company for a year (as a consultant), got hired on with the client company and actually just retired from that client company. And the only reason I was there when he signed his employment paperwork is because timing was such that we went straight to the office after getting into town rather than stopping by a hotel (but might have needed to go to the office to get hotel information). I also got diagnosed with vertigo on that same trip, so that definitely impacted our timing a bit (as much as any ER visit would).

        However, this is not something I’d expect to fly nowadays and I think the only reason it did for him was because he did have some niche skills that were perfect for the company.

  2. The Original K.*

    I feel sorry for this person’s family. I suspect this isn’t the first time they’ve had to indulge whims like this.

    1. voyager1*

      Maybe someone is desperate for a job. I am confused though why they drove 12 hrs? Was this a clearly stated remote job? I can see going to a city to check it out if you have to move for the job.

      1. The Original K.*

        The LW said they pay people to come to the city where they’re located if they make it past the first two rounds. There’s no reason for the candidate to have made this trip on his own dime.

        1. Cringing 24/7*

          This. And even if their full interview process isn’t public knowledge, this whole situation reveals either an absurd amount of misunderstanding of both business needs and how to show genuine interest or a clear willingness to not follow rules *and* to sacrifice time and money into not following those rules.

        2. Clisby*

          Exactly. If this candidate had been called back for the in-person interview, I wouldn’t think it was strange to bring the family (or at least your spouse). Not for them to meet people at the company, but to get a look at the place they hypothetically might want to move to. (It might be such a dismal place the spouse would be entitled to say, “it’ll be a cold day in hell before we move here.”)

          1. The Original K.*

            Yes – a friend did a national job search and took his spouse (they don’t have kids) with him when they got to this point in the interview processes so they could both get a feel for the locations and see if they could live there. That’s appropriate – which is why the LW’s org has it built into the hiring process. (They did end up vetoing a couple of places once they saw them.)

        3. Typing All The Time*

          Yes, and they had it scheduled on Zoom. Can’t imagine how much in flights and/or gas it cost him and his family.

      2. Cringing 24/7*

        Even if the job wasn’t remote, the interview was, so I’m just sitting here like – how does desperation justify making your family possibly not go to school for two or three days and/or potentially have your spouse also not go to work – all so you can interview somewhere when you could have interviewed from home? It’s *baffling* and v. concerning.

      3. KRM*

        But the time to drive the 12 hours with your family to check out the city is when you get the IN-PERSON interview! Not for a stated Zoom interview and certainly not 24 hours in advance.

    2. The Prettiest Curse*

      Yes, bringing the family makes this seem almost like a high-pressure sales tactic.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        That part REALLY confuses me. Showing up on their own would strike me as weird, out of touch with professional norms and a bit demanding – “I’m free now; interview me” – but I could see it as a GUMPTION thing. Bringing the family on the other hand is just truly bizarre. Unless they were doing it partly as a vacation? Still really weird though.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          It’s so weird that it almost makes me wonder if the applicant was planning to parade around their kids at the interview as a manipulation tactic -“You HAVE to give me this job, can’t you see I have a family to support?” (Never mind that there are no doubt other applicants with kids who aren’t willing to use them as guilt inducers.)

          1. Kelly L.*

            Oh yeah, my dad would definitely have pulled this. I remember him dragging the whole brood to a job interview once (thankfully local) and me sitting there bored in the lobby during it–and in hindsight, I’m sure it was a “Look at my adorable moppets! I need this job so I can support them!” tactic. He also used to list his number and ages of children on his resume.

    3. Dust Bunny*

      I wondered if the family weren’t the instigators here: “Don’t just apply–show up in person to show them how interested you are!”. I wonder if this is a young applicant with out-of-touch parents, etc.

      1. Mapplegarth*

        That’s a good point that the LW didn’t say what kind of family members, but for a director level position I would assume it’s someone with a decent amount of experience. God I can’t imagine bringing my parents somewhere for an interview.

        1. Observer*

          Yes. This is a director level position. So if this person is being pushed by clueless family, that’s a problem on its own.

      2. Beth Jacobs*

        Unless “director level” means just vanity job titles, the position calls for someone with significant experience.

        1. Lilo*

          You also wonder if someone who is “director level” would then expect all applicants to do the same thing because they did. It seems like someone who might push back against teleworking.

          1. Observer*

            That was one of my first thoughts.

            But also push back against any sort of appropriate boundary in terms when and how much people are supposed to work.

        2. ScruffyInternHerder*

          I’ve worked with some “director level” people who were definitely the definition of “promoted into a position where they can’t cause damage” and were also the definition of “poisonous, manipulative ambition”. Some meaning “more than one”, which was pretty frightening in all honesty.

          I could absolutely see these gentlemen pulling this type of nonsense.

      3. pancakes*

        Being trapped in their family’s poor judgment to that degree would be no less a red flag than being the instigator of it.

      4. Nanani*

        That’s possible. If so there may be hope of curing them of the gumption when this rejection lands.

    4. Blue Moon*

      My father was very much like this. He once hauled us 15 hours to our “new city” for his “brand new job” and had us pack up our most prized possessions in a U-Haul, saying we’d send for the rest of our stuff later. This “guaranteed” job was a friend-of-a-friend who had never heard of him and said there were no jobs available. My father, upset, took a cab from their office to the airport and got on a plane home. My mother had to haul all our stuff and the kids the 15 hours back home by herself. Coincidentally, she filed for divorce when we returned.

      1. Lady_Lessa*

        Blue Moon,

        For your mother +100, and I am surprised that your father survived. I’d want to kill him. GRIN

        1. Meep*

          I would probably find a new place on the way home and just never come home. Let him file a police report after explaining he abandoned his wife and kids hundreds of miles away from home.

            1. quill*

              Yeah, better to file for divorce (if no one is in physical danger) after returning than light on out and make everything messier.

              1. Susan Ivanova*

                It’s also better to file when you’re in the house; it makes it easier to keep it.

      2. SometimesALurker*

        Wooof! I’m sorry you had to go through that. It sounds like you and your mom had a happyish ending, though; I hope so.

        1. Scarlet Magnolias*

          Was he by any chance a middle aged Wasp white male? When they decide to “follow their dreams” (at the cost to their wives and kids) it can be truly breathtakingly selfish. Check out “Oh Wasp where is thy sting” by Florence King and any number of John Cheever stories

      3. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Hoo boy, I’m so sorry, that’s terrible. Echoing what Lady Lessa said, + a million to your mom.

      4. Observer*

        Your Mom sounds like she really rose to the occasion.

        But I’m guessing that your Dad had a hard time keeping a job. That level of . . .badness is the kind of thing that will absolutely leak into one’s job.

          1. Observer*

            And of course it is NEVER him… Because somehow he still hasn’t figured out that he is the common denominator.

      1. Lysandra*

        YES EXACTLY. Have you read Prairie Fires by Caroline Frasier as well, or were you able to see it even in LIW’s novelized versions?

        1. kiki*

          I haven’t, but I’ve heard that’s really good! I was able to see it in LW’s novelized versions in a re-read as an adult. I feel like I’ve been making realizations like that with a few children’s books recently– what were the adults thinking? It actually makes me feel a bit better. Sometimes I feel like I missed the boat on knowing how to be a proper, fully-functional adult like people in the old days (“back in the day, people my age would have 5 kids and a farm to manage! Why do I feel overwhelmed with a WFH job and two cats?”). And then I realize they didn’t have things all figured out back then either!

      2. KK*

        Pa’s “wandering feet”. Ma finally put her foot down in De Smet and told him they were staying put.

        1. Tassie Tiger*

          Didn’t Ma and Pa have a compromise that they were would until the girls were school age and then settle down in a town with a school?

          1. wendelenn*

            In reality, they went to a little school in The Big Woods (I know Mary did, not sure if Laura was old enough) They stayed in Walnut Grove a while, which did have a school and even a church with a circuit riding preacher. They also (not included in the books) ran a hotel in Burr Oak Iowa which was NOT a good environment. Yup, all over the place.

      3. APsychNurse*

        OMG. My favorite series as a child. Now I have a son, so I recently re read them and now I can’t unsee any of it. There’s a book called “On the Shores of Silver Lake.” Pa announces that they are going to live in a dugout next to a river, how charming! As an adult I realize they were homeless, living in a HOLE because they had nowhere else to go.

        1. quill*

          I mean, they were technically squatting (legally at the time… sort of? It’s unclear) several times when trying to homestead.

        2. Books and Cooks*

          Oh, wow! “Silver Lake” was my favorite of those books–I loved them all–and while I haven’t read them in a long time, I’m still surprised that that never occurred to me! I remember as a kid thinking it sounded so exciting and fun, living in that lakeside cave/hole, and figuring out how to put up curtains and such. (I still fantasize about living in a cave, actually, or one of those underground bunkers or silos.) Poor Mrs. Ingalls.

          1. Heather*

            Definitely read them again and your eyes will be opened! And me too– I definitely still dream about living a life like the one I imagined they had when I was a child.

        3. EmmaPoet*

          I believe that was By the Banks of Plum Creek. But yes, dugouts were a thing. And there was a scene where one of their oxen ran across the top of the dugout and nearly collapsed the roof on Caroline and baby Carrie.

          1. allathian*

            Yup. How scary!

            LIW writes in a very matter-of-fact way, but many of the things that happened to the Ingalls family would’ve been very stressful to live through.

        4. Irish Teacher*

          I only saw bits of the TV show. I think the books were possibly a bit too descriptive for me, being aphantasic? So yeah, I didn’t know about stuff like that.

      4. Scarlet Magnolias*

        Or my other 2 least favorite fathers, Bronson Alcott and Johnny Nolan from “A tree grows in Brooklyn”

        1. EmmaPoet*

          Eve LaPlante’s Marmee & Louisa: The Untold Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Mother left me with the desire to yeet Branson Alcott. He was The Worst. I’d originally wanted to give my mom the book for Mother’s Day, luckily I read it first and decided I needed to get her something less depressing.

          1. EmmaPoet*

            Interestingly, both her brother and a cousin became feminists in part because they saw what Abba went through with her bum of a husband, and were very upset that what money she managed to earn went to Branson to waste on yet another wildcat scheme.

          2. The Rafters*

            I’ve read a couple of books about Bronson that suggest he was very mentally ill (it ran in the family). It wasn’t understood at all back then (not that it is much more now), so he comes across more as a completely selfish AH than the mentally ill man he was. Not an excuse, just an explanation.

        2. glt on wry*

          Rex and Rose Mary Walls, Jeannette’s parents (The Glass Castle), are also contenders for slipshoddiest parents.

          1. rosyglasses*

            Oh goodness yes. I read that book and Educated in the same space of time and I was about done with slipshod (great word) parents after those two reads!

          2. Bill and Heather's Excellent Adventure*

            They were incredibly selfish. I still remember the part where the school says that Lori needs glasses and you as the reader can tell from Rose Mary’s reaction that she had already known this for some time and just not done anything about it because of her ridiculous belief that “glasses were like crutches. They prevented people with feeble eyes from learning to see the world on their own”. The nurse immediately works out what kind of person RM is and says that the glasses are required for Lori to attend school and that the school will pay for them.

      5. MEH Squared*

        Oh god. I loved those books as a kid, but when I grew up, man, Pa did not come off well at all.

    5. pancakes*

      Why do they have to, is dad keeping them all hostage? It’s not mandatory to marry and have kids with someone like this.

      1. ErinB*

        Presumably because an 8 year old doesn’t have a lot of autonomy not to?

        This seems like an unnecessarily harsh response to an inoffensive comment expressing sympathy for this person’s family.

      2. Dust Bunny*

        Sometimes you don’t realize it’s a big problem until you’ve been married awhile. Changing jobs doesn’t seem that odd when you’re really young before you realize that the fact that you now have a family, etc., isn’t incentive enough for them to settle down and stick to a job.

        1. Nack*

          Yes, this. My sister married someone like this. When you’re engaged and 21 (and very naive) it doesn’t seem a huge deal that your partner quit their minimum wage job on impulse. When you’ve been married for 15 years and have several kids and he’s still making career related impulsive decisions, that is a much bigger deal.

    6. APsychNurse*

      100%. I work in a mental health clinic and I’m also just going to say that this type of thing is pretty common among our patients. No diagnosis needed or necessary, obviously, but “OMG i HAVE to have this job, everybody in the car NOW” doesn’t exactly whisper “healthy.”

      1. bluephone*

        Yeah, I’m not gonna internet-diagnose or anything but this type of “gumption” is giving me bad vibes for lack of a better word, based on previous experiences with people in my life.

    7. Lalaluna*

      I’m kinda thinking that the applicant didn’t actually bring his entire family with him. I think he just said that to create pressure on OP’s company to see him in-person.

      1. Observer*

        That doesn’t really matter. The lies you tell say something about you, too. If this is a lie, then he’s a liar, so that’s a problem right there. But also, it says that he thinks that this is a reasonable enough thing to do that it’s OK to claim that they did it, without it making them look bad.

        1. Kella*

          It doesn’t make the flags any less red, no, but this interpretation does answer the question of, “But… why did you bring your whole family exactly???” It’s honestly a lot more feasible to lie about bringing your family than to bring them all on a 12-hour trip chasing a whim.

        2. Lalaluna*

          No, I agree, it doesn’t make a difference from OP’s perspective. But for people questioning why the family puts up with it, or why they wouldn’t stop the applicant – he probably just lies to everyone.

  3. Kimmy Schmidt*

    This also sets a very bad precedent for future interviews. Candidates are going to wonder if this is a secret “test” they need to pass at their own expense, which severely disadvantages anyone who is not able to spend their own money to travel 12 hours.

    1. Excel Jedi*

      I wouldn’t say that. I couldn’t see how other candidates would even know that this happened, never mind feel pressure to do it themselves.

        1. pancakes*

          People who are taking career tips from viral tweets will have been in trouble in that regard well before latching on to any particular new one that catches their eye. The platform the content is on is beside the point – people are either in a relatively good position to discern good advice from bad, or they aren’t.

        1. quill*

          Oh, I don’t think there’s much danger of him getting the job, given that there may be second thoughts now about the interview.

      1. All Het Up About It*

        I agree I don’t think other candidates are likely to know this happened, unless it’s one of those very small, everyone knows everybody fields and they might get wind of it.

        However, it COULD set a precedent of a secret test within the agency. “Remember when Jon drove 12 hours to show up for a Zoom interview? Why didn’t any of these candidates do that?” Hopefully it wouldn’t happen and most people would see this for the level of wackadoodle it is, but you already have at least one person on the interview panel that finds it admirable… so I do see how it could be a slippery slope based on your company culture and that individual’s level of political capital at the agency.

        1. Everything Bagel*

          And then there’s what does John expect from future employees he might be interviewing?

          1. Le Sigh*

            I think, to me, this is the thing. If he doesn’t get hired, it probably isn’t an issue. But if you hire John, what other ridiculous, double-secret expectations is he going to have as a manager? And what about the colleague who was impressed by what John did? Is that person going to start expecting this?

      2. EPLawyer*

        Because one person on the panel thought it was a GREAT idea. If OP had given in, that person probably would have pushed to hire the person since they showed such “gumption.” Then the story would have made the rounds. Just like all the other gimmicky things that worked ONCE.

    2. Another freelancer*

      I could see someone like the candidate expecting their reports to go above and beyond in ways that do not make sense. So if the candidate gets this role, he will use it to show his team “the meaning of gumption” and expect similar behavior. Like “I made my family drive out here for my interview, so you will be expected to make (pointless) sacrifices too.”

    3. 1-800-BrownCow*

      I don’t see this becoming an issue. Even IF I somehow knew another candidate got a job over me because they did this, I know it’s not the norm nor expected by companies. I would question why that particular employer was okay with someone not following their instructions or common professional practices. Honestly, I would much rather be hired by a company that is impressed with the skills I bring to the position and the company, not some stunt I used to get noticed during the interviewing stage.

      1. anonymous73*

        This. I don’t want to work for a company that expects me to know about some secret test for interviewing rather than what I bring to the position.

  4. Lilo*

    I agree 100% with Alison. This is someone who would take it upon themselves to do something like “reorganize the files” (and make a giant mess) to show “gumption”. Not being able to follow instructions and ignoring workplace norms is a HUGE red flag.

    1. Aggretsuko*

      This is “gumption” for the 2020’s, all right. Heck no. Feels stalker-y and I feel sorry for his family.

    2. Lacey*

      YUP. I’ve got a coworker like this.

      I think part of her honestly believes she’s helping. But it also seems a bit like she’s trying to show she can do a job (totally unrelated to the one she holds) without going through the actual training for it.

      But she causes a lot of problems for the people in the department actually doing that work.

      1. Putting the Dys in Dysfunction*

        Like Lacey, I do wonder whether this candidate is utterly clueless rather than manipulative. I would hope, for the candidate’s sake, that they’re very new to the job market and able to learn for the future.

        Nonetheless, the lack of judgment would certainly turn me off if I were on the hiring committee. Plus, I also wonder about the general judgment of the colleague who WAS impressed by this.

        1. NotRealAnonForThis*

          They don’t have to be mutually exclusive statements, either, utterly clueless and manipulative. That’s a fun combination (72 point sarcasm font here folks…its truly pitiful to watch as the clueless one attempts to manipulate others using his family. Yeah, I do know someone like this.)

          1. Nobby Nobbs*

            Yeah, some of the most manipulative people I’ve met are the ones who don’t seem to think anything through beyond toddler-style “If I do this, people tend to do what I want and then I feel good!”

            1. Pugetkayak*

              Ex husband was both, which means he was not successful at actually being able to manipulate me. But oh boy, he tried daily.

        2. Cringing 24/7*

          Yes, this! I definitely would be side-eyeing a lot of the judgment calls of this colleague now. I’m sure some people might think that’s an overreaction, but… this is just too weird a thing to think is a good idea.

        3. fposte*

          They’re a finalist for a director-level position, so they’re not likely to be new to the job market.

          1. Putting the Dys in Dysfunction*

            I once interviewed for a director position early in my career (when I had no business directing anything). Nonetheless your point is well taken.

        4. Observer*

          I do wonder whether this candidate is utterly clueless rather than manipulative.

          In the second round for a *director* level position? I don’t see anything in the letter to indicate that the OP is utterly incompetent at their job, and they would have to be that incompetent, to consider someone with zero work experience for the job. Even if “director” is not a top level job.

          1. JB (not in Houston)*

            That doesn’t necessarily mean he isn’t clueless! After all, we don’t know how he go the jobs he’s had in the past. But the OP doesn’t really need to decide whether he’s clueless or manipulative because either way he’s not someone they want to hire.

            1. Books and Cooks*

              Yes, that’s what I was thinking. Someone who spent much of his career in one “We love gumption” company, might be simultaneously qualified for a high-level position and pretty clueless about norms in other workplaces.

              1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

                I worked for (indirectly, they were a “great-grandboss”) someone who was recruited to my company as a Director which was a very senior role, not just a title given out to lots of people as it is in some companies – I was one of about 200 people that reported (indirectly) to them. They came to this role having had about 25 years of senior level experience as VP of this, Head Of that, Director of the other etc… all within companies that were part of the same group and in a single industry. Upon starting at my company this person was lost at understanding what most of us perceived as simple things! And had an unfortunate approach (luckily unsuccessful) of deeming teams that did something they (boss) didn’t understand as unnecessary and to be removed….

              2. pancakes*

                In the situation you describe, Books and Cooks, he’s not qualified, on account of the cluelessness. I don’t think that’s quite the right word for someone as severely blinkered as what you describe, though. Someone applying to high-level jobs shouldn’t need remedial education on the many reasons it’s not good to be blinkered.

                It feels like a lot of people are trying to strain to see this guy as a good candidate. “Maybe he’s just never paid attention to anything besides his own poorly-run workplace” isn’t one.

                1. JB (not in Houston)*

                  I don’t see people saying he’s a good candidate, just that he isn’t necessarily manipulative. You don’t have to be a jerk to be a bad candidate!

    3. Burn After Writing*

      I think the bigger risk is that a Director- level employee with this idea of job candidates is likely, when hiring, to go for “gumption” over qualifications. So if he had hiring authority, the candidate most like him (race, gender, extrovert, schooling, etc.), would be most likely to be hired and if you have the audacity to not remind him of him you’d be out of luck. (Particularly troubling if he’s one of so many who reads gumption into candidates like him who act like him, but “aggressive” into candidates not like him who do the same thing. Also known as the “darned of you do, darned if you don’t” hiring philosophy.)

      1. Irish Teacher*

        And of course, even if he ISN’T somebody who only admires “gumption” from certain people and truly would respect it just as much from women, minorities, those from poorer backgrounds, etc, it is a LOT easier for certain people to manage that kind of “gumption.” Somebody without a car, for example, would find it a lot more difficult to get to a different city without any guarantee it would even benefit them. And girls who have been socialised not to “aggressive” but to “follow the rules,” might be less likely to even think of it. There are a whole load of barriers both practical and psychological to certain groups attempting this kind of thing.

    4. Gnome*

      Lilo, you took me down memory lane there… But in my case it was my mother…

      Went to visit my grandma over winter break in high school. I was in a concert band, an ensemble, and a full orchestra. I had two big leather music folders/folios and a regular folder. My mother decided to “organize” them without even mentioning it to me while I was out of town. The music for the different groups ended up mixed up, out of order, and different pieces were intermixed with each other. Since I didn’t even know, you can imagine my surprise at the first rehearsal when the music simply isn’t in the folder where I left it. No, it was at home several miles away in the wrong folio.

      I got chewed out for being unprepared in front of the entire group because I had literally nothing I needed… Not even My pencil. My stand partner was also impacted. Mom never quit understood why I was upset with her “help”

      1. Firebird*

        This reminds me of the time my then-husband who was in the Army Reserves was sent to a Microsoft Access class even though he was never going to actually use it.
        I was using Access for a community volunteer program and he decided to “help me.” He changed file layouts and field types without telling me. Then he decided that I didn’t need the old files and deleted my backups. All of them. I had to restart the entire project from scratch.

        1. allathian*

          Ugh, I can see why he’s an ex, even if that was probably only the tip of the iceberg…

    5. Storm in a teacup*

      This reminds me of the letter writer who wrote about a new role where they were showing gumption and initiative by going behind their manager’s back when they were on holiday to get the director to approve them changing a load of things on a client project; despite the manager having explicitly told them no. All hell broke loose on the manager’s return and the OP couldn’t understand why they were fired.

        1. Storm in a teacup*

          I’ve always wondered how it all turned out. Hoping maybe a coworker recognises the scenario and gives us an update one day, like the Cheap Ass Rolls one

        1. All Het Up About It*

          Thanks for bringing this one up again. I remembered it but it was so wort a re-read on a Monday. Especially the part where she was still giving these people as references! Whooo boy.

    6. Irish Teacher*

      I’m now remembering the letter from the employee who’s boss said no when she suggested working on a project so she waited until her boss was on holiday and went to the boss’s boss and was utterly shocked when the boss came back, undid her work and she got in trouble. This candidate seems like somebody who would have the same kind of “good ideas.” “They said no, so I need to use my INITIATIVE.”

    7. Trawna*

      Oh, gawd. The time I redid a Partner’s files because I was bored during a temping gig is one of the things I mentally relived during this past Mortification Week.

      Just, no, youthful self, no.

      Someone interviewing at the director level needs to do much better than this.

  5. Escapee from Corporate Management*

    Just imagine what other surprises this candidate will spring on you if you hire him! None of them are likely to be good.

    1. Snarkus Aurelius*

      And the self-awareness.

      Did this person really never consider that OTHER interview participants wouldn’t be there?!?!??

      1. Lilo*

        My organization is specifically trying to reduce interview costs for our applicants and doing our interviews by video has saved everyone money.

      2. It's not Monday*

        >Did this person really never consider that OTHER interview participants wouldn’t be there?!?!??

        What better way to stand out from the competition?

        1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

          I think the person above meant the other people in that interview, ie the other members of the interview panel… but in that case I wouldn’t put it past that person to think they are showing up the other people in the company and should be given their jobs instead!

      3. Elle*

        In my office I don’t have anywhere I could put an in person interview! We’ve gone up in size during the last 2 years, and our one remaining meeting room is now an office. On top of that, everyone below deputy director level is sharing an office with at least on other person. I think senior staff are still (partially) being interviewed in person, but at that level you’re allowed the board room for interviews, whereas I’d be hung drawn and quartered if I tried to reserve it.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Depends on whether your goal is someone who is effective and steady at the job, or someone who will generate epic AAM letters and give you epic tales to dine out on.

    3. Everything Bagel*

      My first thought was, imagine what the people who have to work for this person will be put through.

    4. Lab Boss*

      Yeah I definitely would expect praise and positivity based on how much effort they put into a task, rather than whether they did it effectively and as requested. Yes, Fergus, it’s very impressive that you cut down the tallest tres in the forest with a haddock, but I’m going to give the promotion to Percy because while you were doing that he cut down a dozen with a chainsaw, like we asked.

    5. Excel-sior*

      That’s if he doesn’t turn up randomly one day announcing that he’s there to start work despite being told no because that’s how much he wants the job

        1. pancakes*

          It’s ok for TV shows to not be realistic. People shouldn’t be taking career tips from them.

        2. GammaGirl1908*

          AND THEN she never mentioned the job again. Rory Gilmore inappropriately gumptioned her way into a job and then, apparently, promptly wandered away from it (TV, continuity, etc etc etc, but still).

  6. Snarkus Aurelius*

    Ask your colleague to define “go-getter” in this context. Go get what?

    How is disregarding explicit instructions ever a good thing? Why does this person think they’re so different that the rules don’t apply?

    1. HumbleOnion*

      Yeah, I’d be real interested in hearing more from the coworker. I’m also curious about the coworker’s age & background. But mostly I’d be questioning their judgement about everything else.

      1. Snarkus Aurelius*

        The American workplace has a nasty habit of incentivizing horrible behaviors. The trend of egregious boundary crossing isn’t a coincidence.

    2. Ellis Bell*

      They got an awkward proposal on the table that nobody wanted and was the opposite to what was required? Yay?

    3. Chilipepper Attitude*

      I work at a very small university. We asked those questions of the prof who presented at orientation “how to get a job.” The presentation included details like, print your resume on pink paper to stand out. Prof was quite surprised that we all said you stand out by doing a good job, not with gimmicks. And also, everything is online!

      None of us work in career services.

      1. EmmaPoet*

        I don’t know of any place that takes paper resumes at this point. Even the local small grocery store asks you to apply online. And if they ask you to upload a resume, doing it on a pink background is not going to make you stand out in a good way.

      2. Ellis Bell*

        Is someone getting their career tips from Elle Woods? I love Elle, but if your relevant experience involves watching a movie…..

      3. pancakes*

        I hope this university is somehow free of charge to the students who were given that presentation (lol, I know), and that someone in career services is arranging a follow-up presentation from a prof who has useful knowledge on the topic.

    4. EPLawyer*

      Definitely side eyeing that person. This is how bad job search advice continues. because someone thinks its a good idea and rewards it. What other quaint ideas does your coworker have about the workplace?

  7. Littorally*

    Yeesh, no, this is bad news.

    It doesn’t even demonstrate a bright go-getter mindset, aside from the gimmicky nature of the stunt, because they made the long and doubtless pricey trip before finding out what they wanted would even be doable. Even if you were going to be impressed by the initiative, you should be unimpressed with the poor prioritization.

    Someone who expends a ton of effort without bothering to check first if what they’re spending the effort on even makes sense is not someone who is good at independent decision making or time management.

    This is the kind of person who spends multiple days creating a 50-slide powerpoint presentation before confirming the topic they’re presenting on or how long they’re allotted to speak for. (True story, just had to have this discussion last week.)

    1. Observer*

      It doesn’t even demonstrate a bright go-getter mindset, aside from the gimmicky nature of the stunt, because they made the long and doubtless pricey trip before finding out what they wanted would even be doable. Even if you were going to be impressed by the initiative, you should be unimpressed with the poor prioritization.

      This is 100% on the money.

      This part of it reminds me of the newbie who lost their job because they enrolled in a conference by sneaky means. One of the things I pointed out to them was that they spend a significant amount of money on getting into a conference whose parameters and function they clearly had no clue about. That was not the most egregious part of that story, of course.

  8. Haven’t picked a user name yet*

    So many red flags, from the unilateral decision making of what was best, lack of communication, and your coworkers buy in of the old “gumption” quality being a good one (note: this is generally only seen as a positive for white males)

    I feel bad for the family that got dragged along, but this reeks so much of controlling behavior to me. Or desperation – both of which can result in violations of professional norms.

    Consider yourself lucky this surfaced when it did.

  9. AnoninnyC*

    This candidate is cuckoo for bananas and will definitely pull more stunts like this on your company’s behalf if hired bc they’re being improperly incentivized for their cray cray behavior.

    1. APsychNurse*

      This made me chuckle because I wrote a comment above implying that I thought the person might have a mental health problem. But you floridly used “cuckoo” “bananas” and “cray cray.” None of which are words I approve of, for the record!— but I must say I agree with your assessment.

  10. SNAZZYdragon*

    Back in 2008, well before the pandemic, I applied for a job where the corporate HQ was in a different state, however, I found out through LinkedIn that the hiring manager was based in a field office in my area. After the recruiter initially set up my interview as a phone interview, I emailed the recruiter and pointed out the the office where the hiring manager worked was barely 20 min from my home and I would be more than happy to meet him in person, if the hiring manager was interested. The interview was rescheduled to an in-person interview, and after I got the job and onboarded, my manager confessed that while he had interviewed several candidates in our city, the fact that I took the initiative to ASK to meet in person is what put me across the finish line to get the job (big difference to what the OP is talking about here – I didn’t show up uninvited!)

    1. Antilles*

      Interesting. I wonder how much that would still be the case today. In 2008, companies weren’t nearly as set up to do remote interviews as they are post-pandemic – especially with regards to remote video. The technology existed of course, but many companies didn’t really have it. And even if they were set up for it, there just wasn’t nearly as much comfort in relying on it for a hiring process as there is now.

      1. Observer*

        Yes, but the point is not that the company would necessarily want to do the meeting in person. But even now, it is possible enough that ASKING is a good idea. Again, ASKING and doing BEFORE the meeting.

    2. I should really pick a name*

      I’m curious how asking to meet in person makes someone better at a job.

      1. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

        In this case it is probably that they took the initiative to do enough research on the company to discover that the person they were interviewing was local and that the company could do an in person, if desired, at no expense.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          Maybe. My knee jerk reaction is that this doesn’t necessarily imply the other people lacked initiative to find that out or ask, but rather they took at face value that the people doing the hiring asked for what worked best for them and saw no value in suggesting something else.

          1. Smithy*

            In general, I think that effort which indicates research or preparing for an interview is often received well even if what comes up isn’t always relevant.

            I was recently in an interview where it was clear that in preparation the candidate had gone through LinkedIn pages of those interviewing. During the interview she mentioned something from someone’s past and made a logical and thoughtful connection when answering a question. It demonstrated her preparation in advance of the interview and how she thinks, despite the fact that her answer wasn’t 100% technically relevant.

            Now, post COVID, I do think those sort of offers should likely come with far heavier caveats. In addition to interviewers not all being in one city – just getting to the office these days… Or in my case, getting an external guest into the office is a whole other process I’ve yet to master. But pre-COVID, it’s hard not to see that initiative as providing some extra credit.

        2. pancakes*

          Looking up an employer’s contact info online is not an impressive display of “research.” It’s not research at all, any more than using the yellow pages used to be. The fact that people lacking very basic skills may not be able to do it doesn’t make it research. There’s no particular reason to think it wasn’t in fact SNAZZYdragon’s interview itself and qualifications, in combination with the interest they showed in asking to meet up, that actually got them the job.

      2. Smithy*

        So 2017, I’m interviewing for a job during what I know was a competitive hiring process and I was the only out of town candidate. I had a number of interviews in that city at the time, and whenever one of those entities would pay for me to come to town I’d always ask the other places where I was interviewing if they wanted to schedule an in-person interview at that time.

        In my case, these were nonprofit jobs – so some aspect of being cost conscious was at play – but more than that, even in 2017 where I was ultimately hired had very very little remote work. Most jobs were done largely 5 days a week in the office and it was just how people were most used to working with their immediate team mates. So those offers to interview me in person (and for free) were often seen as a plus. In the one case, they still brought me in later on their dime because of their own interview timeline needs – but by offering to interview in person, I was meeting them in a capacity they preferred.

        COVID has forced a number of these jobs to expand their comfort level and expertise around remote work. But I don’t think the answer is how it makes someone better at a job, but rather how it used to make life easier for interviewers.

        1. Lab Boss*

          And I think the key there is that you showed initiative but also deferred to their processes- if LW’s candidate had said “I’ll be in town with my family the same week you scheduled the Zoom interview, I could just stop by if you prefer in-person” that would have left the door open for getting an edge with a face-to-face meeting but also to being told it wouldn’t work.

      3. Come On Eileen*

        It expresses interest and shows initiative in a positive way – soft skills that make many people good at their jobs.

      4. ScruffyInternHerder*

        Honestly, in 2009, we had something like a hundred people submit resumes for a receptionist. (I remember this due to the “WT…F?” sentiment from ownership.

        Even after you screen those on the most ridiculously tight criteria, anything that stuck out (sore thumb or otherwise) got you noticed. The market was flipped, at least locally, and you had to be noticed or you were just one of the 99 that was discarded.

        I do think that they chose well in my example. What stood out was the candidate’s typing speed and accuracy juxtaposed with their “what is this?” to the typewriter. Because they couldn’t wrap their brains around us using a typewriter for anything in 2009 (note: the candidate was NOT wrong here, there was no reason for it other than “its what we’ve always done”).

  11. Mapplegarth*

    I feel like this is someone who is very desperate for a job and is making really unwise decisions because of that. Which if that’s the case, while unfortunate it really just speaks further to the red flags of the situation. Imagine how this person might act during a work crisis!

    And also, expressing disappointment that *you* aren’t able to accommodate their request is just so on par with someone who would pull such a stunt. So not only did they make a wildly bad call they are also putting some blame on you that their plan didn’t work? That’s not someone you want in a director level position.

    1. Daniel*

      Agreed that I got a desperation vibe as well, but I’m not sure if that’s the case. This is supposed to be for a director-level job, so I’m guessing that they’re already some distance along their career?

      Although maybe that doesn’t even matter. Traveling 12 hours unbidden for an interview–not even a final interview!–is completely nuts in any context. I’m not even going to mention the part of bringing his family because I do not want my head to explode.

      1. MistOrMister*

        I wonder if this could be someone who has lost their job and is desperately trying to find another on the same level. That could explain someone applying for a director position doing something that reeks of desperation. Years ago I read about a guy who had a job making $100-$150k. Recession hits, he loses his job and becomes homeless. I could,not feel sorry for him because he said he had received multiple offers for jobs paying $70k or so. And he refused to take anything making so much less money. Instead he chose to make no money at all. It blew my mind. But that could be someone in a higher level of their career who would be desperate to get a higher level job.

        I wish we had been given an explanation for why the candidate brought their whole family along. Were they expecting to bring them into the interview? Did they think post interview everyone would get together for a family dinner? I’ve never taken my family to an interview…come to find out I’ve been doing it wrong all these years!

        1. Everything Bagel*

          If it’s someone who is desperate due to losing their job, then they doubly didn’t think it through, loading up their car with their family and driving 12 hours with gas prices the way they are.

        2. bluephone*

          This happened to a lot of my dad’s peers 20+ years ago when his then-employer announced a bunch of location closures–including my dad’s office and basically every office helmed by his peers. He was in his early 50s at the time–the closure announcements were actually made the day after his 30th anniversary with the company :-/
          My dad immediately threw himself into job searching as he worked his notice period, applying for everything from jobs similar to his current level and entry-level, retail, etc (even if it meant a paycut of $20,000-30,000 probably). But a lot of his peers in the same predicament were very much like, “I will only apply for jobs that are EXACTLY LIKE the job I’m being pushed out of, how dare I even consider something that might be different, this job opening is $5k less how very dare,” etc.

          It was a lot like Cousin Eddie’s “he’s holding out for something in management” from National Lampoon.

        3. pancakes*

          If he’s that desperate he’ll likely fare much better by not behaving so recklessly and odd as to make him an easy No as a candidate. Desperation is not actually a cue to get messy, it’s a cue to get serious.

    2. Fez Knots*

      Came here to say this! This doesn’t sound manipulative or vindictive to me, as seems to be suggested, but someone who is desperate for work in an unsteady climate and whose desperation is leading them to poor judgement.

      I’m not saying this was a good move. It definitely wasn’t and they shouldn’t be hired. But I felt pity for this person rather than alarm.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      If nobody adopts “Performative Gumption” as a username I’m going to be so disappointed.

    2. Zennish*

      Yep. Imagine how they might be if this behavior continued on the job… “I know, instead of just emailing the report, I’ll have it professionally printed and bound. That’ll impress them.” Part of applying for a job is showing you can actually follow the directions and meet the requirements of the process.

  12. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

    The only way I can see the 12 hour drive with the whole family making sense is if the family already had a pre-planned vacation in the employer’s city, and the candidate thought they could kill two birds with one stone, so to speak. But the “demonstrate their interest in the position” comment suggests that this wasn’t the case here.

    (And for the family’s sake, I really hope there was something interesting they could do in town during the scheduled interview time. Riding in a car for 12 hours to sit in a motel room and riding another 12 hours back sounds absolutely miserable – and I like road trips!)

    1. Ann Furthermore*

      Yeah, that’s what I was thinking too. It would be one thing to say, “Hey, I just happen to be here on vacation and am available for an in-person interview if you’d prefer that. ” It’s quite another to just decide to do it thinking you can arm-wrestle your way through the door.

      1. Gnome*

        I did this once… And ended up with a same day interview (I had mentioned I’d be in town from X to Y and they called on X and asked if I could come in that day). In that case I was putting emphasis on the fact that I was moving to the city already, but it just kinda worked out.

        This candidate is a whole other category.

    2. Bunny Girl*

      Oh yeah their poor family. I could maybe see checking the area out with the family before committing to relocating and maybe this is a good time before school starts to make a trip, see the area, and see what everyone thinks of the city. But you still need to follow procedures and professional norms. Maybe mention further into the interview that their family came up and they were interested in the area but trying to strong arm the interviewers into having a different type of interview is a big yikes.

    3. I should really pick a name*

      It’s possible that they were going to be in 5own anyway and just lied to make themselves look more “dedicated”

      1. Lab Boss*

        That was the only version I could think of that’s at least vaguely sensible. Still a bad idea, but not totally off the rails like if they made the trip exclusively for the interview.

      2. fhqwhgads*

        Funny you should say that as my instinctive response to all the “poor family” stuff is that he could be lying about bring the whole family just to seem more…whatever it was he thought this all made him seem.

    4. RC Rascal*

      I’m thinking he already had the trip planned. “ Demonstrating his interest “ is just a manipulative line.

  13. Another Jen*

    It’s extremely strange that this very normal scenario (no one is prepared to hold an in-person meeting and they need it done over Zoom) apparently didn’t even occur to a candidate for a director-level position. I would assume the position calls for critical thinking skills, and the only thing this person has done so far has been to demonstrate a deficit in that area.

    Alternatively, showing up in person was some kind of power play or attempt to manipulate the emotions of the people involved in the hiring process. And in that case I would find them too manipulative to want to hire.

    1. Observer*

      I would assume the position calls for critical thinking skills, and the only thing this person has done so far has been to demonstrate a deficit in that area.

      Yes! This person’s behavior is not *a* red flag. It’s Red Square on Mayday level of red flags.

    2. fhqwhgads*

      Not only that but the date he showed up was not one of the dates they were offering as available for interviews. He failed to think through not only that they may have had a practical reason for needing to do it over Zoom, but also that they were not expecting to do any interviews at all on the day he showed up.

      1. EmmaPoet*

        Yes, exactly. The other interviewers might be in meetings all day, or on leave, or a thousand things that mean they wouldn’t be available for a out of the blue interview.

      2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        I thought he called on Wednesday asking to be in person on Thursday (when the original interview was intended to be) but it also makes sense that he’d call hoping tk be accommodated immediately!

        1. fhqwhgads*

          Now I’m not sure. He did call on Wednesday asking to do it in person, but saying he’d already driven the 12 hours there – so I took it as he wanted to interview that same day, Wednesday. Otherwise, why’d he bother getting there on Wednesday? But I suppose he could’ve meant his original Thursday spot.

  14. FearNot*

    I actually had someone do this in my office for a mid level IT support position, and they flew across the country on their own dime even though Zoom was the official way to do interviews. It was really embarrassing for everyone involved because he didn’t interview well, and we all felt terrible about the wasted trip money. Not sure who’s telling people to do this, but please don’t!!

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Another example of the rule about big showy gestures being associated with the least qualified candidates–to the extent that such a gesture will shove a borderline application into the “nope” pile.

      1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

        Exactly. And then they usually lack the self-awareness to see that their actions cost them the job. They’ll spin a tale to friends and family that the company just couldn’t handle their energy/were looking to hire *insert some underrepresented community*/didn’t deserve them.

        And thus the cycle continues.

      2. MEH Squared*

        Yup. Those with the qualifications needed and the actual ability to do the job usually don’t think about trying to gumption their way into a job because it’s not necessary.

    2. Ozzac*

      Because it shows that I really want the job!
      Seriously, during lockdown I was hiring, and every post I made specified to send the cvs to a specific email address.
      I lost count of not only the cvs sent to other email addresses, but the people coming and shoving a paper cv in my hands.
      Once I looked one of these people in the eyes and asked bluntly why they didn’t follow the instructions. The answer? “Too complicated.”

  15. ABCYaBye*

    Yeah that’s a huge problem. While the applicant may very well be interested, they apparently didn’t spend a single minute of time on their 12 hour drive thinking through the fact that the Zoom interview probably allowed multiple people to participate from multiple locations. You don’t want someone who doesn’t see how their request is both outrageous AND potentially problematic for your process.

    1. EmmaPoet*

      Especially now that Zoom/Teams is being used for a lot of interviews! The last Zoom interview I did had people calling in from four different offices- we were all in the same state but different cities. At least one person was working from home that day. Asking them to drop everything on a day when they were not scheduled to do interviews and scramble to get to a central location (which none of them works at and which is not convenient for anyone) would not leave them thinking happy thoughts about the interviewee. And this presumes that they could come- they may very well be spending the day in meetings, or have reports that can’t be put off, or doing trainings.

  16. Bitsy*

    The detail about dragging the family along just gave me a frightening flashback to a good friend whose father had a serious, undiagnosed, unmedicated mental imbalance. Her family’s life was always chaotic, at the mercy of her father’s whims.

    I’m not going to presume to diagnose this person. But the grandiosity of the gesture, and the (I assume unwitting) involvement of their family, is disturbing.

    1. Generic Name*

      Yeah, my ex did something like this (for a post-divorce mediation) and he ultimately lost custody of our child. It indicates a HUGE problem.

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

    On one hand I can see driving the 12 hours, possibly with my family, to scope out the area if it would be someplace I want to relocate to, or if there was anything about the business that might be a red flag (business address is just a vacant lot). But on the other, I would never SAY that to the hiring manager in order to alter the interview process. That’s a personal choice a candidate keeps to themselves.

  18. Bunny Girl*

    I’m getting the same vibes from this applicant that I did from the writer who went over her managers head to take a project from her while her manager was on vacation and then told her not to interview with her work when she got the big boss involved.

    I would remove this applicant from consideration myself. Do it kindly but firmly but I think this is just so out of touch that I would have a hard time moving forward.

  19. Person from the Resume*


    And regarding this:

    One of my colleagues was impressed by this candidate’s “go-getter” attitude and thought we should have accommodated the request to have the interview in person.

    Please relay Alison’s response to your colleague so they can learn not to be impressed by this or similar showboating (?).

    1. Person from the Resume*

      … And it’s for a director-level position too!

      This showboating, perfomative gumpton or emotional manipulation may (only may) be forgivable and worth trying to educate a young person new to the work force, but for a director to be so out of touch and not consider that everyone in the interview worked from the HQs dailys is a huge, blinking red flag.

      It reeks of the salesman who shows up in your office uninvited to try to pressure you into buying something you don’t want. And that’s not even an attitude or sales tactic I want salespeople using.

      1. The OTHER Other*

        I was going to say something like this. Someone new to the work force might follow terrible advice from a relative or career counselor, but someone who’s experienced enough to be a director should know better. It’s a red flag for bad judgment and boundaries he’ll expect of subordinates and stakeholders he’ll be dealing with in the job.

    2. pancakes*

      I think it’s too late and too unlikely for the colleague to revise their whole idea of what makes for a good employee based on something that should’ve jumped out at them the first time around, but this is very useful information for the letter writer to have about their mindset.

    3. Storm in a teacup*

      Yeah I feel it’s also a red flag on part of the colleague who thought this was appropriate!
      Are they involved in a lot of hiring decisions?

  20. Not creative enough for a name*

    I definitely don’t think the request should’ve been accommodated, but is it possible the candidate wanted to look around the city together with their family and knows that the final interview will be taking place after the school year is back in session? They might’ve figured it’s the best time to make the drive before they’ll know if they have the job, so they might as well ask for an in-person interview while they’re in town (maybe hoping to avoid making the trip back for the final round?).

    I think if that’s the case, it could have been communicated a lot better (further in advance, with their intentions up front) and was still an awkward misstep, but maybe less of a red flag.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      Scoping out the town is reasonable. A candidate for a director-level position should be able to communicate that & understand why the employer can’t just do an unplanned in-person interview on the fly.

      I call red flags because of this.

    2. Person from the Resume*

      We first conduct a phone screening, then a Zoom interview, and then pay for finalist candidates to visit our city for the the final round of interviews.

      No, not a valid reason. The time to look at the city is during the in person interview if the candidate makes it that far. When there’s a good chance the company would reimburse some of the cost of a 12 hour roadtrip up to the value of the cost one person’s plane ticket.

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        It seems to me that this being when a family trip works best for the school schedule is a perfectly good reason to take the family to see the city now (particularly if it’s a city you’re likely to apply for multiple jobs in and/or are specifically targeting for a move), but not to expect the interview to pivot to in-person at the last minute just because you’re nearby. If I already had “family road trip somewhere…I dunno where, we’ll figure that out when it gets closer, maybe visit a national park or something?” on my schedule for July, changing that to “visit a specific city since there’s a chance we might move there” is a reasonable pivot.

        However, the way to bring that up to the company is to say something about being in the area for a family vacation that week, and letting the company know that you’re open to switching to in-person if they prefer, rather than this gumptive mess.

    3. Observer*

      I think if that’s the case, it could have been communicated a lot better (further in advance, with their intentions up front) and was still an awkward misstep, but maybe less of a red flag

      No, if that was the case, then the guy was lying about what was going on as a means to manipulate the situation. Or he’s got communications issues that make him unfit to manage any sort of job where his every email doesn’t get checked.

      This is not about “communicating better” about a complicated, complex or vague situation. All they needed to say was “I decided to bring my family in to see the place. Since I’m here, maybe we can do an in person meeting.” But that’s not what he said. Big, fat, HARD and UNALTERABLE no.

    4. londonedit*

      I mean, that’s possible, but surely you ask first?! You don’t just completely bypass the system for booking an interview, drive 12 hours to turn up on a day when there weren’t even any available interview times, and then (I imagine from the OP’s description of them ‘being disappointed when they couldn’t make it work’) do the whole ‘But I drove 12 hours and brought my family here!’ thing. I wouldn’t have had a problem if they’d bothered calling ahead and saying ‘I understand you have Zoom interviews available on Thursday but the fact is I’m going to be in City on Wednesday afternoon as part of a family trip, and I wondered whether there would be any scope for an in-person interview?’ And then they should have accepted the answer if the OP had explained that they were doing exclusively Zoom interviews because they had people on the panel in different locations/they needed a level playing field/etc. This just comes across as another example of someone who believes the rules don’t/shouldn’t apply to them, and they should be able to manipulate their way into getting special treatment. It’s way OTT and doesn’t give a good impression.

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

      I agree with you, but I think this is going to be a regional culture thing; driving 12 hours is a BIG DEAL to some and meh, long but not crazy, to others. I’m in a region where commuting daily 2.5 hours 1 way is not super unusual.

      1. pancakes*

        What does any of that have to do with the candidate choosing to make this a surprise to the employer, though?

      2. Observer*

        There is a fundamental difference between commuting 2.5 hours each way to a job you actually have and dragging your family (however you define that) on a 12 hour trip – for a maybe.

        In addition to @pancakes question.

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

          If this is a high level job, a candidate wants to make an informed decision about proceeding. Why wait until the near end of the interview process to find out you wouldn’t accept the position? If location is a key factor, check it early. The red flag is that they tried to parlay that to an in-person interview rather than keep their personal decision private.

          1. pancakes*

            For a start, it’s a pretty big waste of time to visit a city for that purpose if you won’t in fact be offered the job. It’s also a bit backwards if he’s applying for jobs in cities he maybe doesn’t want to live in. If an in-person visit feels like an essential part of deciding whether to look for work there or not, that should come first.

    6. pancakes*

      “. . . but maybe less of a red flag.” What stopped them from communicating all that, and why wouldn’t it be a red flag in itself?

  21. Falling Diphthong*

    Oh dear. Job candidate, this is how you radiate desperation. And no one with other options is attracted to desperation, unless they are toxic and the despair of their target is a feature.

    You demonstrate attention to detail by spelling everything correctly in your application, writing ability with a compelling cover letter, and punctuality by being on-time for the interview. I agree with Alison that everything about this stunt indicates poor judgment and an inability to infer norms. (Apparently they believe that everyone on the hiring committee will be sitting in a shared conference room in the shared building they go to every day?)

  22. Falling Diphthong*

    Gumption: I feel moved to note that both lack of gumption and excess of gumption can be a problem. It’s just that only the latter make for compelling stories.

    “Casey sat in his basement hoping a job would find him, but it didn’t” doesn’t lend itself to legend.

  23. straws*

    Putting aside the multitude of issues with the candidate’s actions, I’m seriously side-eyeing the coworker that “thought we should have accommodated the request to have the interview in person.” I really hope they weren’t suggesting to inconvenience all of the staff involved in the interview process by making them come to the office for 1 candidate. And if that’s not the case, having 2 people in-person and other people via zoom is super awkward unless you are already set up for it with the proper equipment, positioning, prep time, etc (and even then it’s still more awkward than all remote…)

    1. Observer*

      Putting aside the multitude of issues with the candidate’s actions, I’m seriously side-eyeing the coworker that “thought we should have accommodated the request to have the interview in person.” I really hope they weren’t suggesting to inconvenience all of the staff involved in the interview process by making them come to the office for 1 candidate.

      Yeah, OP. If you have any influence here, I think you’ve just gotten a strong hint that you have a colleague with some problematic ideas about how organizations should function. Please keep an eye on that one.

  24. 3lla*

    You know all that weird dating advice that’s like “you have to be coy! Don’t call first, they might realize you like them!”

    Someone needs to take a Cosmo and do a find and replace of “crush” and “potential employer” for this individual.

  25. kiki*

    Especially for a director-level position, this is a red flag. For an entry-level or early-career candidate, I could see it as a yellow flag (they may have gotten weird advice or worked in an industry where showing up in-person and having ~gumption~ are actually considered beneficial).

    For someone at a senior or director-level, you’d want them to have a firm understanding of industry norms and some ability to intuit what folks are likely to need/want/find beneficial. You also want them to have discernment– this person seems like they would put 100% into everything they do, which sounds nice until you realize they’ll put 100% into something wrong without asking the necessary questions.

    1. bratschegirl*

      Yeah, for a very young person or an entry-level job I could see this coming from bad, outdated parental “helpful” advice about showing GuMpTiOn! ™️ but for a director-level position you really want someone with better judgment and a better sense of professional norms.

    2. Storm in a teacup*

      Totally agree. I wonder if this is someone who has been out of the realm of interviewing for a long time, maybe been at their current employer for many years? So the other end of the age scale in terms of not getting current job seeking norms.

  26. Not My Name*

    Back in 2020 we also had a candidate show up in-person for a virtual interview with my boss, but it was because he hadn’t read the email throughly. Y’all- the guy showed up in our corproate-casual office in sweats with holes, a jacket with pot leafs designed on it that was visibly dirty, and his phone was too low on battery to call in to the interview once he realized his mistake.
    Boss had us lend him a charger so he could sit in our waiting area and conduct his virtual interview while he sat there. Some highlights I overheard from the candidate: “dishonorably discharged”, “baby mama sometimes has the car” and “full time to me? Probably 30, 32 hours a week”. This was a very professional, coverage-based, full time plus overtime gig. He was handing back the borrowed charger about 8 minutes after he called in. Never really had to wonder why.

      1. Office Gumby*

        I am wondering this as well. How many jobs have I applied for, written decent cover letters, ensured my resume was top-notch, addressed all the selection criteria in a most excellent manner, only to get a form rejection?

        I want this guy’s hooking mojo (but not his follow-thru).

  27. azvlr*

    I did something similar, but not as bad. Spoiler: I didn’t get the job.
    I had an interview at a company where I had previously interviewed in person and gotten an offer. I had already accepted a different offer, so had turned down their offer.
    A few years later (but pre-covid) I got a quick response when I applied to interview for a similar position. Assuming I was a shoe-in, and being familiar with the location, I didn’t read all the email details to see that the new interview was mobile. I showed up in person. The team made managed scramble to make it work. I’m certain I came across as the person “trying to show interest”. It was a very awkward conversation.

    1. Loredena*

      I misread a client meeting request and showed up in person when they intended to use teams. It was awkward but I only had to drive to downtown !

  28. Dark Macadamia*

    I wish the LW had said what happened next! Did you interview the candidate from their hotel room with kids in the background? Just cancel? Aside from disappointment, how did they react/interview? I need to know everything lol

  29. Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii*

    Seems i’m not the only one seeing “gumption” here.

    I would be curious of his thought process of why this was a good idea.

  30. EmilioPostStructuralism*

    Just to add to how presumptuous this is, in some situations hiring committees have to interview all candidates in the same modality. I interviewed for my current job over Skype from a room in the same building as the hiring committee BEFORE the pandemic! State and county regulations required uniform interview conditions for everyone.
    (I’m not defending the practice, since it seems like equality over equity, but it is a situation that exists in some fields)

    1. Guacamole Bob*

      I was thinking this, too! We conduct pretty much all our interviews by video at this point, for this reason (government agency).

      Regardless of what you think about these rules, an experienced candidate showing up uninvited in person shows a compete lack of awareness of the fact that there may be any number of reasons that the interviewers selected zoom to begin with. Not good.

      1. Observer*


        Either that, or this is someone who is aware of the issue and thinks they can find a way around it (thus the family being dragged on this insane trip.)

        Neither is a good idea.

    2. EmmaPoet*

      Good point. Pre-lockdown, I did a phone interview and then later an in-person one. Everything was standardized, questions and method (govt job.) If someone had pushed for an in-person interview instead of the phone, it wouldn’t have been allowed, because they had a procedure that needed to be followed to give candidates an equitable interview process.

    3. Purple Chairs*

      Right! This was my first thought – well, this effs up my uniform approach to interviews required by my HR.

    4. Other Duties As Assigned*

      This was my experience during my career in a state university system: we were scrupulous about making sure every candidate had an identical interview experience. When I applied for one job, I was already employed part-time at the organization. The day of the interview, I showed up at the office prepared for the in-person interview, but because of a snowstorm, the committee called the other finalists and said they’d be interviewed by phone instead. To be absolutely fair, they had to interview ME by phone as well, even though I was physically there. At the appointed time, I left my desk (in an office shared with a member of the hiring committee no less) and went to a vacant office, where the committee called me.

      Seems a bit silly, but no one could complain about unequal treatment.

  31. bluephone*

    “one of the candidates called me to say that they had driven to our city from their state about 12 hours away, with their entire family, at their own expense, to “demonstrate their interest in the position.”

    Oh [bleep] and no to that. Was this Richard of Freckled Fox infamy? Because that seems like the kind of dumb-ass thing he’d do (although he never struck me as a “actually go out and get a job” type person).

  32. Sunflower*

    Their whole family traveled 12 hours just for the sole purpose of this interview? And who is their family? Spouse and children, parents and siblings, or both?

    If they were in town for vacation, it would still sound better to say “I’m in town anyway” without mentioning his family and definitely don’t mention the 12 hour drive.

    What they actually said sound manipulative (getting a jump start on their competition), and also like their family are overly involved in their job which can cause problems if they are hired. Maybe that’s not their intention but that’s how it comes across.

    1. Hiring Mgr*

      Honestly i was thinking it was just as likely that the job is in Orlando, or LA, or Maine, etc… some place where he could combine a summer trip with this insipid stunt.

      I’m curious to know if they still interviewed him via zoom, which sounds like it was still on the table so they weren’t completely turned off

    2. APsychNurse*

      I am a high strung person who does things that are borderline desperate sometimes. (Like arrive to an interview location an hour early). But I don’t TELL people about it. I hide in my car until a normal time to arrive and act like I just breezed in. So I agree!— “Oh my family will actually be in town Thursday for a vacation. Can I interview in person?” is a reasonable thing to say. “Ta-da! I drove all night to get here!” is NOT.

  33. A.N O'Nyme*

    I know there’s a lot of outdated “gotta show gumption” advice out there but even they don’t mean “drag along your entire family”. Usually. I hope.

    Also interviewee probably meant nuclear family but I’m choosing to imagine it’s the entire extended family. Just…a big caravan of cars all on their way for this one person’s interview.

    1. Heidi*

      Interesting how some people are imagining that the family is kids, while others are imagining that it’s parents. For some reason, it hits differently depending on which scenario. But maybe it’s both. What I really want to know is if he was planning on bringing the whole family to the interview with him. That would be another level of bonkers.

      1. Observer*

        Actually, it hits equally badly either way. The only way it hits a BIT less badly is if “family” means spouse with no job that requires physical coverage and a pet.

        Otherwise? *TERRIBLE* either way.

        1. EmmaPoet*

          If someone showed up to an in-person interview with their brace of adorable Samoyeds/Caucasian Ovcharkas/Pomeranians, I would be delighted and totally forget to do the interview. But not in these circumstances.

      2. Person from the Resume*

        At the director-level, I’m picturing someone in their mid-30s or up so I’m assuming partner and kids. I do not assume parents, but who knows. I’m make assumptions that people in that age range of having kids still living at home mean the nuclear family when they say family.

        I’m single without a partner and no kids so when I say family I mean extended family (parents, adult sibling and their partners, and their kids), but I’d clarify that to someone not knowing me well enough to know that I’m single and have no kids.

        1. Heidi*

          Okay, the idea of doing this with siblings is weirdly hilarious. I know my siblings would tell me I was insane.

    2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      To show you how organized I am, I planned my family reunion! At your office! Today! Surprise!! Would you like to come meet Great Aunt Shirley? She would like to strongly recommend me for this position.

    3. PollyQ*

      Hee! Yes, aunts & uncles, great-grandparents, 3rd cousins, ex-step-children — EVERYBODY’S coming, and then we’ll have a cookout after the interview!

  34. turtlegrog*

    I wanted to give another vote for candidate being possibly out of touch with current norms and/or desperate, rather than manipulative. I don’t know what kind of work this person would be directing, or what their background is — but I can very much see someone who, say, has been self-employed for the past 5 years or so, or who has been working in a field where everyone is in person or in the same geographic area, really not knowing how radically the job interview landscape has changed in that time — which is really not that long!! — and not knowing that it’s now normal to do things like interviews remotely or that it’s now common for teams to not be in the same town.

    It was only 2017 that I asked if a job I was already conducting almost 100% by email could be remote and was turned down, and only early 2020 when I had my first remote job interview and found the process to be off-putting and bizarre, especially since I was in the same town. (Now I’ve done a bunch of them and it seems normal!) It was only 2019 when a relative who works as an editor — and so can easily do so from anywhere — was given leave to work remotely after going through months of negotiation and working there for 10+ years. In contrast he jobs I was offered in 2022 were all 100% remote or only required 1-2 days a week in the office.

    This is a HUGE shift in norms that’s taken place over what, 24 months? Especially in a rural area, or in a small industry, or with people over about age 50 who still use talking on the phone for everything, I think that it’s entirely possible there are still plenty of people have just not really started doing much Zoom yet and really don’t know how much it’s become an everyday thing.

    I mean it’s still weird that they drove 12 hours without checking first, absolutely. But I can see someone thinking that the hiring committee would use Zoom only because they had to, not because they wanted to — and would welcome the chance to be in person. (I can also see, say, my ex-FIL — who among other things had severe ADHD (diagnosed but untreated) and basically spent his life in his own lala land where it simply didn’t occur to him to confer with others when making huge life-altering decisions — doing something like this and 100% believing he would be making a good impression. And then blaming the interviewer when they said no.)

    1. MsSolo UK*

      I think it’s the fact he brought his family with him that feels manipulative. Why bring them on a 12 hour each way trip without checking first? Surely, if it’s a childcare issue, checking in advance would be the first thing you’d do to reduce the impact on them. If it was an excuse for a family vacation, why bring up that you brought them at all? 12 hours is a huge inconvenience; it’s one thing to do that to yourself, but to do it to a partner/kids/parent/other who has no active role to play in the interview without checking first is either an attempt to manipulate the employer or a way of exerting control over the family.

    2. Another Jen*

      Even if you assume total goodwill and lack of manipulation, it demonstrates a huge lack of critical thinking skills on their part to assume that the format of the interview was able to be changed. Phone interviews have been a thing for a long time, as has the shifting availability of various individuals involved in hiring decisions. To assume not only that the company would welcome the change from Zoom to in-person, but that they were all available for a face-to-face conversation to the point where he drove 12 hours without bothering to check even once is just too much for someone who would be expected to be in a director-level role. And I say that as someone who also has severe ADHD and who can’t have stimulants. To me this isn’t out of touch, this is a dearth of common sense and consideration.

    3. Observer*

      I wanted to give another vote for candidate being possibly out of touch with current norms and/or desperate, rather than manipulative.

      Even if it’s “just” being out of touch and desperate rather than manipulative, it’s a HUGE red flag. Because the reality is that this is SOOOOOO out of the norm that you simply cannot trust this person so make sound judgements based on anything resembling current reality. Because no only did they show up unannounced, they showed up a DAY EARLY. That is a piece of rudeness that has NEVER been part of the playbook. In fact in the “olden days”, showing up without an appointment was a great solecism.

      or with people over about age 50 who still use talking on the phone for everything,

      Could we dispense with the ageist baloney? Anyone who makes this kind of assumption about people should not be involved in hiring, and is also almost certainly exposing their organization to legal jeopardy.

      I can also see, say, my ex-FIL — who among other things had severe ADHD (diagnosed but untreated) and basically spent his life in his own lala land where it simply didn’t occur to him to confer with others when making huge life-altering decisions — doing something like this and 100% believing he would be making a good impression.

      You’ve just provided the best example of why any sane employer should run the other way. I feel bad for they guy and, even more so, anyone who was dependent on him. But no reasonable employer should ever consider hiring someone like that into a responsible position that needs even a faint shred of judgement.

      1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

        FWIW they didn’t show up for the interview a day early, they called a day early to say they were in town and could they come in person tomorrow.

        1. Observer*

          Could be.

          In which case it’s still manipulative as all get out. Because if you (generic you) actually are that old school, then calling the day before to change a group meeting is a very “last minute” and should only be done for genuine emergencies.

      2. Charlotte Lucas*

        Note about people over 50 – We love text! We were there when email became a Thing. We do not talk on the phone for everything. Not since high school.

        You are thinking of our parents. Or, more likely, their parents.

        1. Everything Bagel*

          Yeah, I was like what? A lot of people I work with are over 50 and I am right at the cusp of it. We all regularly use Zoom and Teams and Skype.

          1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

            Yup! I have a weekly, same-time-every-time phone call with my mother, and I schedule phone calls with my sister, and aside from that the landline phone never rings. And my mobile phone is mostly a texting device. Oh, and I’m a people over 50.

        2. MEH Squared*

          That caught my eye as well. I’m over 50 and HATE talking on the phone. Email and messaging all day long. I only talk on the phone when I absolutely have to.

      3. Gracely*

        Yeah, it doesn’t matter the reason why he did it–desperate/out of touch/manipulative–the important thing is, you don’t want to hire someone with judgment that is THAT bad, especially not for a director-level position.

        The intent isn’t important in this case–all that matters is what the actions show about the candidate, their (lack of) professionalism, and how they treat others.

    4. Anonforthisforsure*

      There has been a huge shift for sure! But, can we move past the assumptions based on age? I’m close to 50 myself, and many of my colleagues, leadership and community partners are older than I am. None of us “use talking on the phone for everything.”

      This is a little off-topic, I know, and I understand if it needs to be removed. But, at this point (after several years of many workers learning new technology or increasing their knowledge of existing technology) a person’s chronological age has become less and less of a predictor of their technical competence.

    5. Escapee from Corporate Management*

      As an over-50 who lives on Zoom, WhatsApp, and text, I urge you to not stereotype my age group based on extremely outdated stereotypes. I don’t know any over-50 in my industry or geography who are unaware of how much they are everything days–probably because they are too busy Zooming and texting.

    6. Dark Macadamia*

      I think what makes it manipulative is the reason the candidate gave! Something like “I’m so tired of Zoom, aren’t you? I thought it would be nice to meet in person” or presenting it as a favor to the hiring committee in some way, or “happened to be in the area” would be a little off-base but not so ridiculous. But this is more “LOOK AT MEEEEE and my unbridled enthusiasm!!!” and puts pressure on the company to “appreciate” the extra effort or feel guilty if they don’t hire the candidate.

    7. StellaBella*

      as a woman over 50 – I was around, working for a tech giant near Seattle, in the 90s. I still have to use the phone, but I do prefer to use email, SMS, whatsapp, Signal, Telegram, Teams, Zoom, Skype….not all people over 50 are clueless Luddites.

    8. Lizcase*

      As I get closer to 50, and have several friends who’ve already past that mark, I’m realizing that the stereotypes for older users of tech really don’t apply any more.
      I did talk on the phone a lot as a teenager. But I also was introduced to email first year of University when long distance phone call costs were super high.
      Most of my friends had computers before me, and we mostly all switched to email or the Unix chats (which were awesome for staying in contact with friends at other universities).
      I don’t know many folks my age (late 40s-early 50s) who prefer phone.

      1. Performative gumption*

        46 year old here. Got my first email at university too in first year and used that to communicate with friends, promptly switching to Hotmail on graduation. About the only person who calls me regularly on the phone these days is my mother

  35. cactus lady*

    I was on an interview panel a while back for someone who showed up in-person for a Zoom interview. The hiring manager ultimately decided to offer them the job and give them a chance… and it was a huge disaster. They will not be a good hire if they act this way at the interview. Just don’t do it.

  36. animaniactoo*

    That person will be problematic. They won’t OFFER to help. They’ll take over people’s projects and then get upset when their “help” isn’t seen as useful.

    1. Cringing 24/7*

      This – plus, they’d be at the director level, so they’d utterly destroy morale with this attitude and likely negatively change the entire work environment with their erratic gumption.

  37. PieAdmin*

    I’m willing to bet this interviewee has helicopter parents who convinced them that this was what they needed to do.

    1. Observer*

      At a director level?

      It would be bad enough for a newbie to the work force. Someone in the workforce for a few years who is allowing a parent to pressure them that way is a bit harder to swallow.

      And, it doesn’t really change the answer. You still have someone whose ability to function in a reasonable workplace is almost certainly compromised.

    2. Person from the Resume*

      Director-level! Director-level!

      Which probably puts the applicant at least in his 30s. A director needs to be able to parse advice, discount the bad, and take the good which would include terrible job seeking advice from his parents.

      Do people in their 30s still have helicopter parents? Shouldn’t functioning adults have shut their helicopter parents down by the time they’re up for Director-level interviews?

      1. Irish Teacher*

        Some do, but in this case, I would not consider it an excuse because this is something HE has control over. Helicopter mom or dad snooping through his correspondance or googling the company he’s mentioned and ringing them up to say how great an employee their darling boy would be, I could imagine and helicopter parents aren’t always easy to shut down, especially if they are utterly CONVINCED their 35 year old son or daughter is still a child who’s just being rebellious and doesn’t know what’s best for them and needs some “tough love,” but this…is not something mommy or daddy has control over.

    3. pancakes*

      And he’s waiting for them to get tired of helicoptering on their own? Or should otherwise be excused from behaving appropriately because . . . why? The number of excuses for this behavior people are tossing out in an effort to bargain with the idea that it’s hugely off-putting is really something.

  38. career coach near the sea*

    On the flip side to this, pre-covid my partner traveled 350 miles for a full day second round interview– only to discover upon arrival that 7 of the 8 scheduled meetings would be video or phone calls. The one in person interview was with the HR rep, who had already had a first round interview with my partner. A huge waste of time and money, but also a huge red flag for candidates.

    1. Observer*

      Yeah. Red flag city!

      I hope your partner did not take the job!

      It sounds like OP’s candidate and this company deserve each other.

  39. Observer*

    PO, I think you’ve gotten a lot of confirmation that your original reaction is correct.

    I hope you’ve soundly rejected this candidate.

    I also hope that you are having some serious conversations with your colleague, as well as looking at how they manage and interact with others. Because seriously? They were willing to make people take all this extra effort and mess up their schedules to accommodate someone who had absolutely no reasonable expectation of any sort of accommodation*, much less something this significant. That’s ridiculous. It’s bad enough that your colleague was impressed. But this – trying to accommodate – makes it very troubling.

    *Before anyone asks, ADA accommodations or the like are not really relevant here. That’s not what he asked for. And even if he did, this is NOT the way you go about it!

  40. Van Wilder*

    This is a Director-level candidate! No, no, no! At this stage in their career, they should know better than to demonstrate moxie to get a job. This move says they have no actual skills.

  41. Alict*

    At one of my old jobs we had someone do this for an entry-level position, of all things. My company hired remotely a good deal and would pay to fly candidates in for a later-stage interview, but this poor kid just showed up. To make things worse, our office was located in an office park on a major, 6-lane highway. The kid had to cross the highway to get from the motel to the office, and presumably took a very expensive cab ride to get from the airport to the motel. All that was nearby was other offices and big box stores, so hell knows what he did for food while he was there.

    The whole thing was ridiculously awkward — we tried to go through with the interview because we felt sorry for him, but nothing could change how shocked everyone was at how inappropriately he’d acted and we cut it off early. He basically ensured he’d never work for us.

    I imagine it was an embarassing, expensive lesson for someone new to the working world who was getting very bad GUMPTION advice.

  42. C4TL4DY*

    I work in IT so this sends a red flag that they might struggle with technology. I assist a lot of executives and have witnessed them panick about attending meetings.

  43. Marketing*

    Plus, they used their family to try to manipulate the job committee to honor this request….you say no to them and the whole poor family drove a combined 24 hours for nothing. This is incredibly manipulative.

  44. Justice*

    A 12-hour drive? With their whole family? For a Zoom interview?
    Oy vey.
    This person has gumption poisoning.

    And your colleague with the “go-getter” fetish deserves some side-eye too.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      I am often very surprised by what impresses other people. Rule-breaking & inconveniencing others aren’t the qualities I’d look for when interviewing potential directors.

      1. quill*

        I think some people can’t distinguish “caught my attention because it’s outlandish” from “impressive.”

        1. N C Kiddle*

          I wonder if they’re the same people who think there’s “no such thing as bad publicity”?

  45. kilo*

    At my work if one candidate is being interviewed remotely, then we interview all remotely for fairness (which means we’ll also Zoom interview internal candidates, even if they’re sitting in the office nextdoor). This feels like an attempt to give himself an advantage over the other candidates of getting an in person interview. Red flags everywhere.

  46. Delta Delta*

    Ew. No. This would be entirely different if they happened to be in the same city at the same time and cleared it ahead of time (“my daughter attends City College and I’ll be there for parents’ weekend on the 4th, can we do this in person?”). This is manipulative and creepy, and you should politely decline to consider this person further.

    1. Nanani*

      I sincerely hope something like this IS what happened and they misguidedly thought it would sound better to say they drove aaaaallll the way out with GUMPTION in the tank (which it doesn’t, of course)

  47. Clever Lee*

    I agree it’s a terrible idea but take a more benign view than most of you. I suspect he and/or his wife may have been unsure about relocating to the city, and, in case he got a quick offer, wanted to know whether it was an option for them. He still shouldn’t have cast it as a sign of his commitment, of course, and shouldn’t have been at all surprised that an in-person interview wasn’t in the cards.

    1. Observer*

      There is nothing “benign” about the scenario you pose.

      For one thing, this scenario displays a huge amount of bad judgement. Shlepping 12 hours by car to scout out a place at this stage in the process makes no sense. This company has a process, which includes a visit to the city! BEFORE any offer gets made. So, they could come scout out the city to make a decision about whether the location was going to be a deal breaker for them. Unless the candidate thought that they are SO stellar that the company would make them an offer that short circuits its own hiring process while expecting that the company wouldn’t even wait a day or two for an answer. And if that’s what the candidate really thought, this person’s ego or grip on reality is a problem.

      For another thing, if that’s what they did then claiming that “they had driven to our city from their state about 12 hours away, with their entire family, at their own expense, to “demonstrate their interest in the position.”” was a lie intended to manipulate the OP into bypassing their process.

      So, not only is your scenario unlikely, it’s no better for the OP than taking the candidate at face value. This is still someone who ignores reasonable norms and tries to manipulate people.

      1. Clever Lee*

        I don’t think it’s unlikely at all. I think he is unaware of reasonable norms, not ignoring them, and really, isn’t everything about the whole interview process trying to “manipulate” people into thinking of you in the best possible light? He’s just really bad at figuring out the best possible light. I’ve already agreed it’s terrible judgment, and anyway, when I said “benign,” I didn’t mean that he was benign, although I don’t think terrible judgment is malignant. But I meant that my view of him was benign. In other words, I try to think the best of people.

        I suspect that there was family discussion about whether the job could be worth moving to Location City, and he thought it sounded bad to admit that and for some reason thought being super-eager was better than being extra-doubtful, and couldn’t really fathom just not saying anything about it at all, or presenting it as a trip he planned to take anyway, or at the very least not admitting that he’d brought his family with him. (Another related possibility is that he had a job on the table that was better in some ways and worse in others, and again, family discussion.)

        I think I probably interpret it this way partly because, though I’ve not been in this scenario, I did once, with a couple days’ notice, drive 10 hours to check out a job location and city where I had a job offer that stemmed from a phone interview. When I asked if I could meet with them (and I did give them some warning), they were taken aback a bit and reinforced that they couldn’t pay for the trip, but I wasn’t going to accept the job without checking it all out first. I’d take that trip again, but probably present it to them a little differently…and also probably turn down the job, after I got some warning signals upon meeting people. I was inexperienced, as I think this guy is. Unlike this guy, I didn’t have a family who might mind being uprooted to parts unknown, although if I had, I’d at least like to think I’d have kept their presence on the trip quiet!

  48. Rob*

    While I agree this what this guy did is very.. cringe. I do have to say we still see letters published here with hiring managers saying that people aren’t enthusiastic about getting to work for Tea Pot Factory 3 in their correspondence so I can see where his mind was going

  49. Luna*

    I think anyone that does any kind of ‘I did this to show my interest in the job’ action is holding up to some outdated, old advice (likely coming from parents or even grandparents) that don’t realize that those actions are counter-productive.

  50. Curmudgeon in California*

    My impression would be that this guy is a) needy, b) doesn’t give a rat’s butt about the norms of his prospective employers, c) drags his family around like they were pets, and d) doesn’t know how to “read the room”. Even at my most socially clueless I wouldn’t have done this, and I did some really clueless, to the point of awkward funny, when I was in my 20s and new to working.

  51. KK*

    When I read this post, all I could think was GUMPTION!!! And I see the commentariat saw it as well with the 33 mentions before mine! =)

  52. Chickaletta*

    This is going to be Exhibit A when you’re laying out for HR the reasons why you’re firing them in 6 months.

  53. no one reads this far*

    There was a guy like that apply to one of my past jobs. He’d show up nearly every week after he submitted his resume asking if the hiring manager had time to speak with him.

    For reasons that are beyond me, the office manager DID hire him. He constantly made mistakes, assumed he knew everything, and got confrontational when we would try to correct them. Thankfully his role wasn’t anywhere director but this was a medical adjacent company so he was dispensing wildly incorrect and inappropriate medical advice despite being told multiple times to stop it.

    Eventually he was fired, and apparently he argued with the managers over his “unjust” firing (“you never told me I was doing things wrong!” LITERALLY EVERYONE IN THIS BUILDING HAS POINTED OUT A MISTAKE YOU MADE.)

    So I’m glad you’re recognizing these red flags now because I can only imagine the utter hell this person would unleash, especially if their role is an overlord position.

  54. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    Another possibility I didn’t see mentioned: the candidate actually called from their living room, planning to fly out (or drive I guess!) if the company said yes. A lower risk way of giving the “gumption” impression…

  55. Former Young Lady*

    I’m almost wondering if this candidate got the idea from one of those outlandish LinkedIn copypastas where a hiring manager brings someone on because they were memorably weird in an interview.

    “It was supposed to be a Zoom interview, but the day before, he called and announced he had driven twelve hours with his whole family just to meet us in person. We were blown away by his outside-the-box thinking, so we hired him on the spot. Six months later, he’s now our CEO, and we’ve abandoned all telecommunications in favor of meeting face-to-face for every single workplace interaction.”

  56. Nanani*

    I sincerely hope they had a family road trip already planned and did not pull this stunt out of the blue.
    I also hope their Gumptioneering Handbook is tragically lost in a roadside cafe, never to be seen again.

    DO NOT hire anyone who pulls this kind of shit.

  57. Lisa*

    I had someone do this to me many years ago. This was well before COVID and well before working from home was a pretty normal thing… but still…. it came across as super strange. At the company where I had worked at the time they we had a pretty standard interviewing process that started with a quick phone screen. This as mainly just to go over the details of the position and see if there was still an interest. If that call went well we would schedule a full-blown phone interview and then the final interview would be in person. I had a opening in my department and had selected a several candidates to contact for a phone screen. I had reached out to the candidates via e-mail to see when they’d be available for a quick call and attached the details of the opening again. 3 of the 4 candidates chose times and we scheduled the phone screens. The 4th candidate… well he simply showed up. I was in the middle of another meeting and the receptionist calls me to tell me that my “2pm is here”. I told her that I did not have any appointments this afternoon and after a bit of back and forth we figured out that this was the 4th candidate. My receptionist told him I was in a meeting and he said he’d wait. When I finished I went to the lobby to see what the situation was and he told me that he was not big on phone calls and felt more comfortable in person and figured he’d just drop in so we could have our chat face to face. I was floored. I think I stared at him blankly for a few seconds trying to figure out how to proceed. I ended up having an uncomfortable… in person screen… for a few minutes while he continuously reiterated his interest and talked about how people have gotten so impersonal with all of this phone nonsense, and told him I would be in touch. The kicker was that it was for a position that would require mainly phone work with our clients. I brought that point up a few times and he would just turn the conversation back to how impersonal phone calls are… sigh. I will never forget that guy.

  58. Calamity Janine*

    i will bet twenty dollars real cash money that there is right now an article, or tiktok lifehack, or something along those lines that is breathlessly advising people to do this in order to “show gumption” that means it’s “guaranteed you’ll get the job”

    if it does not exist presently, i expect this fella probably will write it.

    1. kiki*

      There’s so much bad hustle culture advice on social media these days. So much of it is its own whole eco-system of grift. A lot of the hustlers don’t even have any real business yet, they’re just on social media talking about hustling– hustling to where? What job do you have? Are you really making the money you say you are? Yet more people buy in and it creates such a strange subculture of nonsense

  59. Bast*

    I have actually seen a lot of “just show up” as advice to teens hunting for their first job or “call and follow up” even when the job ad specifically states no phone calls. I think this was advice of yester year that while well intentioned, is a bit dated. In this day day areas, phone calls and zoom are preferred by some companies for a lot of reasons, and to disrespect that is… well… what other processes are you going to disregard? As someone involved in the hiring process, I would be completely annoyed if someone did this. Depending on their age I might cut some slack, but it sounds like this isn’t some fresh from college newbie starting off with bad advice from a well meaning parent/grandparent.

  60. Jenny*

    About a month ago, I had a candidate pull this. She called to say that she was on the way to the interview, but running late. I panicked for a minute, thinking I gave incorrect instructions. Upon reviewing my invitation for a zoom interview- and her confirmation, I was still feeling confused. I called her several times to let her know that the interview was virtual-and got her voicemail each time. I sent a text- no response. The majority of the interview panel was planning to attend remotely-hence the zoom format. I scrambled to grab a few people who were available and willing to sit on a last minute interview panel. We have multiple facilities and she arrived at the wrong location (not my office) 10 minutes late, then had to drive across town to my office. She was ultimately 30 minutes late. And upon arrival asked where she could charge her cell phone!

  61. Bookworm*

    Years ago I got a job and found out one of the other candidates did a variation of this (well before COVID, and it was supposed to be a phone interview). It seemed to have been a communication mix-up instead, but my future co-workers were thrown off and had to have an interview they were prepared to have over the phone. The candidate was apparently very nervous and wasn’t a good fit anyway. Awkward!

  62. nnn*

    In addition to Alison’s “This is someone who’s going to ignore clear instructions when work is assigned to them in favor of doing whatever they think best, without thinking about what problems their “better” approach might cause,” this is a director level position! That’s a role that has power and authority over others!

    This candidate has demonstrated that they are oblivious to regular day-to-day practical realities (e.g. if the scheduled meeting is a zoom, not everyone is going to be in the same place that day.) They have proven themselves unwilling to consider the possibility that things are currently being done the way they are for a reason, and have shown they are in fact eager to bulldoze over current practices without asking the people affected.

    They have demonstrated that they are willing to needlessly inconvenience people over whom they have power (i.e. their family) in service of their ill-conceived scheme. And they have shown that they feel all this is a good thing, a compelling selling point, as evidence by the fact that they told you all about it, thinking you would value it too.

    Is this someone you want having power and authority over your organization’s resources and people?

  63. Formerly Ella Vader*

    “Our search committee was not prepared to hold this interview in person, as some members of the committee live far away”

    That’s one good reason.

    Another would be “in order to treat all candidates fairly”.

  64. Summer*

    My immediate thought was that I feel terrible for his family – imagine being married to or parented by someone like this?!? No thanks!

  65. Luke*

    I would bet real money that “And they’ll surely feel too awkward to turn me away if I just show up there after a 12-hour drive with my family in tow vs. running this by them in advance” was part of his Cunning Plan. People who show up to my office sans appointment and without calling, looking for by-appointment-only-no-exceptions services (our hard and fast policy for years) trot out the “But-but-but I already drove here aaaalllll the waaaaayyyyy from Townsvilleburg!” sob story, too.

    Unluckily for them, saying ‘no’ in person to people who don’t value my time is my kink. ;)

  66. Darkside*

    This sounds familiar. It reminds me of the job-search “grandparent advice” I get from relatives that haven’t looked for a job in decades. Kinda similar to that “don’t apply on the website, walk down there in person and hand in a paper resume, that shows your dedication!”
    This is also why I’ve stopped listening to my relatives about this.

  67. DrunkAtAWedding*

    Awwww. I feel bad for them, because I’m picturing this as coming from a desperate, hopeful place. I hope their job search gets easier.

  68. megaboo*

    We had a policy where if one person was doing a phone or Zoom interview (say they lived out of town), everyone who applied would have to also do phone or Zoom. It was a fairness thing. My mom had to do an interview for a promotion where she worked in the building. She still had to call in.

  69. That One Person*

    A good demonstration of how key communication is. Does make me wonder how they felt upon learning it was pointless since the people weren’t even there (since they were expecting to do video not in-person yet). Would’ve been annoying if they tried making jokes for the in-person round by asking of people were “prepared” this time or some such.

  70. Tommy T*

    Wow, so many red flags. Considering this is for a director position makes it worst on a whole different level. This person will likely manage a team. Will they also expect this type of “dedication” from his reports? Yikes!

    As an immigrant myself, I wonder if this person is also an immigrant. In some cultures loyalty and dedication are over-valued. Plus, putting the family in tow makes it even more likely it’s an immigrant from my experience as first time immigrant families tend to stick together and support each other much closer than one would expect, often crossing the boundaries like in this case. I’ve seen wifes call recruiters to vouch for their husbands or call bosses to discuss their husband’s issues at work. If this is the case, I think there should be some feedback provided to the candidate. How to do it without creating an issue for the company, I really don’t know.

  71. Phil*

    “Go-getter” just makes me think of the 90s sitcom Just Shoot Me, where the boss makes the staff watch a sexual harrassment video and then remarks of character in the video making unwanted advances to a woman, “I like that guy Alex, he’s a real go-getter. We could use someone like him in sales!”

  72. Not All Hares Are Quick*

    Particularly when the ‘whole family’ is dragged along, I’m wondering if this might be a case of ‘We’re visiting Grandma this weekend, hey, the company I’m supposed to be interviewing for is in her town, I could spin this to demonstrate amazing dedication to getting the job.’
    Still catastrophically misjudged, though.

  73. Vio*

    standing out is not always outstanding!
    it’s akin to bringing turning up at the interviewers home to show keenness and resourcefulness… it makes you seem desperate and creepily unaware of boundaries

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