interviewer fake-rejected me to see if I would “fight for the job”

A reader writes:

I have a question about a weird interviewing situation for a sales role.

I had gone through a few interviews with a company as I was evaluating a new sales role, and the entire interview process felt standard and professional (phone screen, in-person interview, tour of the branch, and next step would be to shadow a cold call).

After the in-person interview and tour of the branch, I got a call a few days later from a VP I had met (not the recruiter) telling me that they decided I wasn’t a good fit and wouldn’t be moving forward in the process. I did the standard “thank you for the opportunity, I appreciate your time, wish you the best,” after which the VP said, “Just kidding, I got you! I wanted to see if you’d fight for the job.”

I kind of awkwardly laughed, he told me they’d want me to do the cold call, and I told him I would get back to them about scheduling next steps. I eventually emailed and said that I didn’t think it would be the right fit (partially because of the weird joke, but I also decided to stay in my current role).

I guess my question is … what? Is that a legitimate tactic? In my experience, getting a “no” from a recruiter is not the same as getting a “no” in a sales transaction. Should I be fighting back whenever I get rejected for jobs?


What on earth!

It’s true the norms in sales can be different, but what? Wanting a candidate to fight back against a rejection? Wanting a candidate to refuse to hear “we’re going with someone else” and instead push to be reconsidered? That’s pretty much universally considered obnoxious candidate behavior that no employer wants to deal with and which will often get you blacklisted.

I realize there are some sales strategies that encourage salespeople to try to push past a no, but (a) many people consider that approach a huge turn-off in a sales context too and will never buy from someone who does that, and (b) even if we set that aside, generally people understand that tactics for one type of situation aren’t always appropriate in others.

I suppose if they are screening for candidates who will run roughshod over people’s boundaries and ignore clear “not interested” statements, this is a way to do it. But I’m guessing that’s not a place where you want to work … and by withdrawing, you rightly screened that behavior out.

(For the sake of thoroughness, I will also note that it’s not 100% clear that it was a screening tactic from them, as opposed to just a bad joke, given the VP’s weird “just kidding, I got you!” and interest in moving you forward anyway. Rejecting you as a joke would be a whole different problem, though.)

{ 145 comments… read them below }

  1. Ormond Sackler*

    Having worked in sales, a LOT of sales jobs are very dysfunctional. Sales managers will lie, play weird mind games, try abusive sales training and motivation, and other weird stuff. That Alec Baldwin scene from Glengarry Glen Ross? It is not that far off (in my first sales job we would watch it for “motivation”; while it’s an incredible scene it’s really not a) workplace appropriate or b) something to aspire to). This doesn’t even sound that bad compared to some of the stuff out there.

    1. Ms. Afleet Alex*

      A coworker at my old job who was in sales had a set of steak knives (still in their plastic packaging) tacked to the wall in his cubicle. This was some 20 years ago; I don’t think that would fly today!

      1. Yep, me again*

        I walked into a sales interview and the walls had pictures of Mao and other dictators taped to the walls AS WELL AS the Executive VP of Sales had a very large wall decal of him that took up the whole space.

        Not. For. Me.

          1. Yep, me again*

            That was the least of it. Rounding out the top five reason not to work there:
            1. Was told ‘We have two weeks of PTO….don’t ever use it’.
            2. Overtime was ‘encouraged’ and by encouraged, they meant you’re in the office from 8 in the morning to 8 at night. If you didn’t work more than 40 hours, it would be noticed. A lot.
            3. All those silly things like doctor’s appointments can be taken at lunch.
            4. To see if you were effective, they put you on the phones for an hour to schedule appointments for sales reps. Nevermind I only have a surface level understanding of your product, not really sure who your target dm are, and oh, and you are getting free labor out of me. (They did take people to lunch earlier maybe they considered it compensation ahead of time, but it’s still a crappy thing to do. The dancing bear routine is one thing, but judging the effectiveness of a future employee who hasn’t been through your training yet is another in my opinion)
            5. Keurig coffee…depending on whether you love or hate the stuff. You were going to be there all day so you might as well drink up.

            Funny (maybe) story. There was a guy in my interview group (yep, groups) who came in with a cast on his arm. He’d been attacked by dog the night before and came in for the interview. Supposedly, they put him on the phone and he booked an appointment. I also hope he found something better and left.

            1. Yep, me again*

              Sorry, bonus round. At the beginning of the process the HR partner told everyone a list of questions would be sent to their email address on file and they needed you to respond that night.

              I don’t remember the questions (they were like, sent before the interview technically started and from the HR Partner) but the gist of it was tell this company how awesome it would be to work there and beg (my words, probably a bit biased) to work there.

              That’s when I said…no, I don’t really think your company is awesome.

              Now, the job I had sucked, the people I worked with sucked, and the only thing they did was offer 401k on a cliff-vested schedule and withhold taxes. No PTO/No health insurance but you could get HSA (but I couldn’t afford it on my salary).

              Even with that, I still turned it down. No f’in way could I work there like that.

              They also turned me down.

            2. Jayne not Jane*

              When I was graduating college in 2008 I thought I wanted to go into Marketing and possibly sales. Companies would post these jobs for Marketing Associates and schedule interviews with alot of young and sometimes older desperate for work people. You would into a waiting room full of people. It would basically be for selling some kind of service door to door. Or once it was to work at a table at Walmart selling some kind of strange product. One was basically and MLM disguised as a financial planning company. I can’t believe all of these dumb interviews I went on. I never accepted any job bc thankfully I knew better.

              I even had a friend that graduated and moved herself across the country for one. She got there and realized what it was and packed up and moved home a month later.

              I wonder if these places are still out there.

              1. Wendy Darling*

                Yes, unless they all curled up and died during the pandemic.

                I went to a jobs fair in my city several years ago and the employers there were 1/3 that crowd, 1/3 sketchy life insurance companies that took advantage of seniors, and 1/3 Robert Half (a staffing agency).

                I walked in, did a single lap, googled a few companies on my phone, yikes-ed, and left.

                1. DJ Abbott*

                  Robert Half is still around. I saw posts from them during my job search in 2021 and early 2022.
                  When I was starting out in the 90s- early 2000s, they had a terrible reputation. They had big ads everywhere promising great pay and benefits, but their reputation was so bad I never considered working for them. Now I don’t remember why.

                2. Candi*

                  (Google search)

                  Apparently Robert Half pulls some crap that would have Alison saying, “Find another job asap.”

                  They also apparently spend a lot on SEO. I had to go to the third page of Google results to find something really negative, and the stuff on the first and second page was all about how wonderful the company is and how blessed people are to work for them.

                  The last time I heard that kind of language was from someone trying to recruit me for a MLM. No thanks.

              2. Chickaletta*

                Oh man, I inadvertently ended up at a couple of those interviews when I was young and didn’t know how to spot them early on. They felt so greasy…

                In one, one of the other candidates was so pissed when he figured out what was going on, he gave them an earful and then left in the middle of it. The rest of us were too polite to walk out, but out of a room of 30 people I think only one or two candidates seemed actually interested.

                1. thatoneoverthere*

                  I walked out of the financial planning one. It was a large group interview with a presentation. 23 year old me was so pissed I got up at 6:30am for that. Pretty sure I grabbed a starbs and crawled back into bed.

            3. Sharkie*

              ooof. Yeah sounds like sales hell. I only had a group interview once, and it was fun. They wanted to make sure all the personalities matched on the team ( Ticket Service for a baseball team) since it was important we all worked together well. We quickly figured out that it wasn’t an interview and they had the offer letters ready to go as soon as we left, so we used “sales tactics” to convince the interviewers to uber eats burgers. We are known as the most convincing service class in the history of the team lol

            4. Ormond Sackler*

              You were spoiled with your two weeks of vacation you never got to use…we got five days of vacation we couldn’t use.

              We did get three sick days…but you had to get a doctor’s note to use it.

            5. DJ Abbott*

              I went to a group interview once for a part-time evening position. It was advertised as office support and answering phones.
              It turned out to be for a sales job, and the interviewer said something like “ OK let’s all work on our sales skills and you tell me how you’re going to sell our product”.
              I said I hadn’t come there for a sales job, if I’d known that’s what it was I wouldn’t have come, and I was not going to do sales. He yelled at me and implied I was the one who was wrong. I yelled back and walked out. :D

            6. jojo man*

              I don’t know where you are from, but here in the US, that hour of work is not free. I would have called the state labor board. Not only would you get paid, but you would get paid triple the usual pay. My husband had someone try that on him, they backed down when he said they would report them. I also know someone who was shocked when they found out they could not legally get free labor.

          1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            I agree.

            The case that knives are potential weapons in the workplace seems like an easy one to make.

    2. Kes*

      Yeah, in most contexts continuing to push for a job when they’ve just rejected you would be seen as inappropriate and pushy (and would likely confirm their decision not to hire you). So they’re essentially deliberately filtering for people who will ignore norms and nos and keep pushing, which says a lot about their likely culture and sales practices

      1. Reluctant Mezzo*

        I recall an episode of Gotham where Fish Mooney literally wanted two women to fight for a job (middle of some kind of huge depression)–and one character just noped out of there. (if I were writing the script, the two women would start fighting and then turn on Fish Mooney, but that’s just me).

      1. Ormond Sackler*

        We watched that movie for motivation as well…one of the managers pirated it and we watched it on the conference room screen at like 9 pm on a Wednesday. Not watching it was strongly discouraged, but at least one person went home and took the office key with him, so a bunch of people got their coats locked up. I was able to slip the lock with a credit card to rescue their garments.

    3. Nesprin*

      I mean, this goes a long way to explain why every time i ask a sales rep “how much is it? and will it do X?” the answer is not “$ and Yes” but “Let’s get on a Call so I can tell you about our exciting discount plan!”

  2. Sloanicota*

    Alison’s last point was my takeaway too. It would have been one thing if the VP had said they’re rejecting OP and moving on with a candidate who didn’t take no for an answer … that would have also been annoying, but at least consistent. Maybe he did it to both candidates and they both reacted the same way? … unfortunately since OP did end up withdrawing the VP is probably sagely nodding to himself that this test did indeed identify who “really wanted the job” LOL.

    1. Empress Matilda*

      You’re right, the VP probably just validated his own opinion there, that OP was definitely not right for the job. Which turns out to be true, but not in the way he probably expected!

    2. ecnaseener*

      I almost wonder if the “joke” was a cover for a mistake – like he called the wrong number on his list, gave the rejection spiel, realized too late this wasn’t one of the rejected candidates, and said just kidding.

  3. KHB*

    Are you sure that “fighting for the job” was the “right answer”? Given that you didn’t fight for the job, and they wanted to move forward with your application anyway, could they have been screening out people who wouldn’t take no for an answer, rather than screening them in?

    1. Jennifer Strange*

      I mean, even if that’s the case it’s still the wrong move. You don’t need to play games with your applicants.

    2. Peanut Hamper*

      That is entirely possible, but there are easier ways to screen out obnoxious people without driving away people who are, for lack of a better descriptor, perfectly normal.

    3. Ellis Bell*

      They should still be aware that the OP is interviewing them back. Telling your top picks that your culture is awful and pushy is only going to screen them out.

  4. Jennifer Strange*

    I’m guessing this is the guy who seems to teach sales folks that if I decline (or even ignore) their first 50 emails/phone calls to me, it’s just because I want them to work for it. (Hint: I don’t).

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      Ugh I just deleted yet another sales email this morning that even referenced how frequently they had emailed me without receiving a response! I couldn’t possibly not be interested or the wrong audience for their product, nooo I must just be playing hard to get!

      1. BubbleTea*

        I keep getting those from someone who claims to be very impressed by my LinkedIn profile and wants to help me build my business. A) my LinkedIn profile is only impressive in the sense that it’s impressive how little effort I’ve made on it, and B) they emailed me at my work email, as in, they guessed my address on my employer’s system, rather than contacting my own business via the email address on my profile. Why would I think they’d be able to help me when they can’t even read?

        1. Kacihall*

          I get emails commending my LinkedIn.

          I have never, ever had a profile on LinkedIn. Makes it easy to file as spam.

        2. Splendid Colors*

          I got one of those except he wanted my personal cell number or WhatsApp so we could text and be friends. I said no and referred him to my business email/website for automated llama grooming.

          Then he looked up where LinkedIn had automatically set my recovery phone number as where I want randos to text me. He spammed my SMS about the beautiful friendship we he hopes we can have. Luckily, I had just seen the relevant AAM letter and realized that’s how he used gumption to text me after I told him I don’t text my business contacts. (Well, not new customers, anyway. Established customers who aren’t creeping on me are different.)

          I thanked him for reminding me to adjust my LinkedIn privacy settings and reported/blocked him.

      2. Seahorse*

        I get those a lot, and part of me always feels a little rude for not responding. A different, larger part feels that I have better things to do with my time than respond to multiple, pushy, unsolicited sales pitches every day – especially when my purchasing powers are quite limited.

        1. Wendy Darling*

          I used to feel rude for not responding, then I rolled over into being pleased that my ignoring them is bothering them.

      3. Meep*

        I blocked a guy last week who at this point had forwarded the email (with all the forwards) 9 times asking “What do you think?” So it was literally..

        What do you think?

        What do you think?

        What do you think?

        Sales Pitch

        Well, sir. If you have noticed me opening said email and deleting it, I think that is enough indication of what I think about your proposal.

        1. Jaid*

          One of my favorite YouTubers, Simply Nailogical once did a commercial for The Wizard of Oz where her hair was styled as Dorothy. The hairdresser turned the chair around, and her line was to say, “What do you think?”

          I’d find that snippet and send it back to that dude.

      4. Ama*

        The most annoying thing about those are the ones that set up the subject line to pretend to be a response to an email you sent them. Which has resulted in my spam filter “learning” to filter out legitimate replies from people I *actually* emailed to set up a meeting.

        1. Verthandi*

          The most pushy sales call I’ve ever gotten was when I moved home after months of being displaced after a house fire. The caller called my land line, not operational for those months, claiming that I’d told them they could call me at that number.

          I had just moved home that very day and the phone service had been reconnected about two hours before. There’s no way I would have given anyone my home phone number when I wasn’t even at that number. I gave that guy a blistering earful.

        2. Splendid Colors*

          OOOOHHH! That’s what happened to my spam filter!

          I am losing so many legitimate emails there, and so many threads where Gmail decides I don’t want to see the response to my email to a known contact.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I chose my buyer’s agent in large part because when I said that I couldn’t meet next week because work was crazy, and I would contact her when I got through this push, she didn’t send me a zillion little reminders that she was still there. So when I got through the push, I contacted her and we set up a meeting.

      Pushing past a no usually hits me as desperation, which is extremely off-putting.

      1. Chris*

        Yeah, I am not on sales, but if someone tells me that they are in a crunch, why would I want to jeopardize a possible commission ticking off someone who is probably gonna have some money to spend at the end of their busy time? That said, if you said something like, “the next two weeks are crazy for me,” I as the sales rep might say, “I will send an email in 3 weeks to check on how things are going if I don’t hear from you, okay?” That would give some space and grace, as well as an easy way to say, “I actually am not interested” without wasting extra time.

      2. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        Yes, desperation. I was thinking with this hiring method, they’d only get desperate people with gumption. Which of course can be a (very bad) business strategy.

  5. Peanut Hamper*

    If that’s their hiring strategy, can you imagine what their actual sales tactics look like?

    Dodged a bullet, LW has.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Winner winner, chicken dinner*.

      *quantity of chicken subject to availabikity; the use of the word ‘chicken’ does not preclude turkey, duck, pigeon, or any other avian protein; offer subject to revocation without notice at any time; see full terms and conditions at awebsitethatIreadwaytofastforyoutofollow.

        1. Rainy*

          Just when I sometimes feel like I’m the only person who’s ever watched Being There, I see something like this. :)

  6. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

    Attention delusional executives: no one wants to “fight” for a job at your company. Your company, and whatever J.O.B. you’re hiring for, could not possibly be that amazing. Disabuse yourselves of your hunger games fantasies and learn how professional hiring functions.

  7. Observer*

    OP, you are in the somewhat unusual and very fortunate position of being able to say that your rejection was an unmitigated GOOD thing. I would never go to work for this company in ANY capacity if I could avoid it. As Allison said, either they are screening for people with no boundaries or the VP is a major class jerk who is untrustworthy and lacks basic decency. I know that sounds extreme. But seriously, telling someone that they didn’t get a job as a JOKE?!

    Also, if you have ANY influence on vendor selection in your company and this potential employer could ever be a potential vendor, please let the vendor selection people know that this is not a trustworthy company. This was not some low level rouge employee – this is someone who is high up enough to have a VP title.

  8. Calyx*

    I’d be inclined to talk to the talent rep or recruiter and express your concern at having been the target of such a “joke.” They should know.

    1. HonorBox*

      Absolutely! Came here to say the same thing. This is so damn weird and will potentially turn off a great candidate. Someone, or several someones, should know about this VP’s behavior as it sure isn’t helpful, and is more likely harming things for the business. Perhaps that kind of garbage worked in the past… or at least people thought it worked. In my first sales job, the general manager was this type of person. And he’s part of the reason I was happy to find my way to another job.

    2. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      I’ll disagree, only because it’s a damn good insight to what working there would be like.

      It’s like my very MAGA neighbor. At least I know to avoid them. Unlike ones you don’t find out until the neighborhood block party evangelical in their anti-vaccine beliefs. I’d rather have that in for upfront.

      1. Bilateralrope*

        If it’s the company culture you’re right. If it’s just this VP, it might be something they will fix.

        Also there is the question of if the LW wants the recruiter to think they ghosted them. Or the possibility that this VP will lie to the recruiter.

        I’d send an email telling the recruiter why I’m rejecting their company. Just so the recruiter knows not to their time, or mine, attempting to follow up.

  9. Antilles*

    I suppose if they are screening for candidates who will run roughshod over people’s boundaries and ignore clear “not interested” statements, this is a way to do it.
    The idea of working with a group which has specifically cherry-picked strong-willed people who refuse to take no for an answer, don’t respect authority at all, don’t respect boundaries, and try to fight back against every decision?
    Ouch. That just seems like an absolutely miserable work environment.

  10. PotteryYarn*

    Our star salesperson started with the company when it was first getting off the ground and their hiring is part of our company lore. The person showed up for an interview for a non-sales job, management didn’t think they were a good fit and said thanks but no thanks. The person showed up to interview again the next day, and they were shown the door again. Rinse and repeat a couple times and they eventually hired this person in sales because of their persistence. This was decades ago, so I think times have changed (this would’ve NEVER flown today), but it’s definitely an “old school” idea that people still weirdly hang on to.

    1. Sloanicota*

      It’s funny because in my experience companies don’t like to be the target of the strongarm tactics they want you to use! I was a fundraiser and I negotiated aggressively for my starting salary, and I tried to make a point of saying that I would be bringing the same passion to the work, and it didn’t really work, they were clearly pretty annoyed at me.

      1. Gray Lady*

        In the pilot episode, he fake fired Pam. Same as in the British version, in the pilot David Brent fake fired Dawn.

  11. redflagday701*

    “Just kidding, I got you!”

    This makes me think of one of my favorite Onion op-eds: “Zing! I Just Got You With Another One Of My Trademark ‘Complete Lies’.”

    1. Warrior Princess Xena*

      I’m not sure if this is the origin of this phrase but Captain Awkward calls this sort of thing “Schroedinger’s Asshole – where it’s serious or ‘just a joke’ based on the reaction of the person it is said to”. Similarly “Chill, it’s just a prank”.

      1. redflagday701*

        Oh, that’s always fun. Yeah, this is sort of like that, except it’s someone acting like they’re really clever for getting one over on you by saying something entirely plausible that simply turns out to be a complete lie.

  12. mlem*

    This is the “surefire back-up strategy” for when the “surefire negging technique” blows up, isn’t it? It has that kind of energy.

  13. Luna*

    That’s stupid. It’s some dumb mindgame, like how some people say no to their partner on something, but they *want* them to argue with them or so to see if really ‘cared’. Dumb mindgames have no place in personal relationships, nor in professional ones like a job.
    Good riddance to this job, I’d say!

    1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

      “Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.” Or as the kids today say, “FAFO”.

  14. TomatoSoup*

    I realize my experience is a single data point but I took a job that did something like that, but slightly more subtle. I was desperate for a job. It was not a good experience and I later quit without anything else lined up.

  15. Warrior Princess Xena*


    If it wasn’t a joke, this is a terrible way to hire. You are maximizing your hiring of annoying people for a sales tactic that customers are getting increasingly tired of. Additionally, if you’ve got a really good candidate who might be considering both you and a different offer, if they get a ‘No’ from you they’ll just move on to their next offer. The only people you will attract will be the desperate ones – who are often desperate because they are poor fits for the job.

    If it WAS a joke, then it’s not even a little bit funny. Jokes from people on the upper hand of a power differential on topics they could influence are almost by definition not funny. This is why bosses should not make jokes about firing/promoting people (and yes, I’m sure people have had bosses that they trust where this works but for this to work you have to have a pretty high level of trust and familiarity with each other, which is not universal, so let’s just file it under ‘habits to not get into as a manager’).

    I wouldn’t necessarily run away just based on this, since it could have been one VP’s very bad idea of a joke that came out before they thought it through, but I would treat it as a cue to do a much deeper dive into my potential coworkers and any other interactions I’d had with these folks.

    1. Observer*

      The thing is that when someone at that level says something like this, it actually does say a lot about the culture – because it is highly unlikely that this one comment is a total and complete outlier, which says that someone like that may be “just one” VP – but he’s a VP which says that the top management of the company is ok with it.

  16. RagingADHD*

    Oh, this is the kind of boss who tells people they are laid off as an April Fool’s prank. Remember that one?

    Maybe they’re the same guy.

  17. KatoPotato*

    I mean, surely this is the inevitable outcome of the problematic obnoxious candidate behavior (the linked article, not the OP) eventually getting a job, failing upward to VP, and then deciding that this stupid idea is a great idea. Dodged a bullet!

  18. Betsy S.*

    This happened to me many, many, MANY years ago. I was 17 or 18 and it was a summer job selling time-life books. I asked why they said no , and was hired. Crummy high-pressure sales job. I think it’s a sign that the job is for some kinda boiler-room sales.

  19. Empress Matilda*

    Honestly, I wonder how some people manage to exist in the world every day. How do you get to be a VP, which presumably requires having had – and applied for – actual jobs at some point, and still be this clueless?

    I know, I know. No need to answer – it’s a rhetorical question. Sigh.

  20. My Boss Is Dumber Than Yours*

    About eight years ago, I had a similar experience. I had applied for a sales job (outside my usual field, but I had just been laid off and was casting a wide net) months before and got called out of the blue for a phone screening. I already had a new position, but decided to go with it and see what they offered (and just get interview practice in general). I had a good conversation with the HR rep, but it became to me clear that I wasn’t going to leave my new job for this one. Before I could get there, though, the rep apparently thought the same thing and told me it didn’t look like we’d be a good match. I politely thanked her for her time, and told her I hoped they found a great candidate to fill the position. Her response: “that’s it? You’re not going to push back? You’re just going to accept that this isn’t the job for you?” I really don’t remember how I responded, because it was so wildly out of line with my expectations.

    1. irene adler*

      “Yes. Actually, there’s no pushback from me because I’m not the candidate for this job.”

  21. RJ*

    Glengarry Glen Ross is alive in the 21st century. OP, I concur with the others upthread – you dodged a major bullet with this corporate sales chicanery.

  22. Steve*

    Sales is weird profession. I felt bullied when I worked in mortgages because I didn’t want to get drunk with my manager. Literally more dysfunction and addiction on many sales floors than in heavy metal bands.

    Look at some of the sales “training” from Grant Cardone and Jordan Belfort (a literal criminal.) If you apply what they advocate to things like dating it would at the very least be creepy and at the very worst be criminal. They aren’t good guys.

    1. thatoneoverthere*

      I did a phone screen for a VERY popular mortgage company, that now owns an arena in my hometown (IYKYK). During the phone screen they basically said you must be prepared to work 50 hour weeks. There are no exceptions, unless you hit your sales goal for the week. They also added “But don’t worry we have a ton of fun, at the end of that requirement”. I said “Thanks but no thanks.”It honestly sounded like an awful place to work.

      1. Cyndi*

        Not that I know what company you’re talking about, but if I did know, it would have been actually the nicest place I’ve worked! But I was in post closing, not anything outward facing–and I hear things have gone rapidly downhill there in the past few years. Or I would have, if I had any clue what company you meant.

    2. Happy*

      Are you supposed to bully people into taking a mortgage?

      That just seems like such an odd opportunity to try to strong arm people. Like…I’m only going to take a mortgage if I need a house, found one that meets my needs, and you gave me the best rate…

      And if you’re trying to pressure people into buying houses they can’t afford, ewwww…..

      1. Moo*

        yes! a lot of the last financial crash was caused by that…

        more recently, although a good few years ago now, I was talking to a mortgage lender about the mortgage rules (there was a few schemes and changes to what was required as a deposit – you know, since the crash). I wasn’t quite ready to apply for a mortgage because I hadn’t saved enough for a downpayment yet and the sales person suggested I get someone else to take out a loan to give me that money, because I couldn’t take a loan for it, but someone else could gift it to me. I was genuinely stunned.

        When I was ready I got my mortgage with someone else!

        1. thatoneoverthere*

          Alot of times you cannot do that. Let’s say a family member took out a $20k loan and gave it to you, you need to show where that money is coming from. You cannot just show up (a day after receiving it) with $20k and say “Hi, ready for my mortgage now!”

          We just bought a house and had to show months and months of statements.

          Sometimes you can use gifts, but still banks typically don’t like that unless you have held on to it for some time. We used an inheritance as part of a down payment and the only way they didn’t balk at it is because we waited nearly 3-4 years to use it.

          1. Moo*

            my guess is different countries, different rules – I’m not in the US. Here you are able to use a gift… when I said no one was going to gift me that kind of money, they then suggested I convince someone else to get a loan!

  23. Ellis Bell*

    I don’t want to work for someone who doesn’t know the meaning between a lie and a joke. I also don’t want to work for someone who thinks the job they’re offering is the equivalent of liberty and justice. There are other jobs I can earn with reasonable tactics, so I don’t have to “fight for” your company with unreasonable ones.

  24. Seahorse*

    Sometimes people tell awkward jokes that don’t land, but…
    Alison has talked about needing to make a great impression during interviews because the employer only has a few data points about you, and they weigh all them in making their decision. This is the opposite side of that. The applicants only have a limited set of impressions, so whether this was a one-off thoughtless joke or a sign of major dysfunction, it’s enough to be a red flag.

  25. Cat's Paw for Cats*

    On the plus side, props to the VP for showing you the dysfunctional culture while you’re still early in the process. Congratulations for ending the application process. Bullet truly dodged.

  26. La Triviata*

    Years ago, the place I worked for had a sales visit from a company that, even after we’d told them no, kept pitching their product. They wouldn’t accept that we weren’t going to buy it, they wouldn’t stop calling. After many, many calls I finally got to an upper level person and they finally stopped calling.

  27. Alexis (they/them)*

    I work in IT, and was in charge of my old company’s spam filter. When we had a pushy salesperson like the behaviour this is encouraging, the *entire company* of the salesperson was blocked from sending us email.

  28. Cyndi*

    This sounds really familiar. Wasn’t there an older letter from a LW whose husband had this happen to him in an interview, or maybe did this when interviewing candidates?

  29. 3DogNight*

    Crap like this makes professional sales people look really bad. As a woman in Tech Sales, I have to overcome all the BS all women have to overcome in Tech, then go a step further and have to overcome all the slimy used car salesmen crap. I hate that part of my job.
    For everyone, real relationship sales is very much like interviewing. You’re trying to solve a problem the customer is having. And sometimes the solution is really expensive, and sometimes it’s a report we can run.

  30. ponysaurus*

    I have to know: How did the VP who wanted to know if you would fight for the job react when you declined? Did he prove himself to be someone who will fight for the candidate he has chosen? Or was he gracious when you declined?

  31. Here for the Insurance*

    Him: “Just kidding, I got you! I wanted to see if you’d fight for the job.”

    Me: “Please remove my name from consideration. If I wanted to be negged, I’d be on Tinder.”

  32. MassMatt*

    Wow, what a jerk.

    And I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that he will complain “you just can’t find good people to hire”, or “people just don’t want to work anymore”. Well, not for you they don’t.

  33. learnedthehardway*

    Well, that’s just ridiculous and infuriating.
    Honestly, though, well done of the VP for hauling out the red flags and flying them proudly, so that people can avoid the company.

  34. Trying not to get swindled*

    I also hate salespeople who refuse to take “no” for an answer. If I’ve ever encountered someone like that, I either didn’t buy anything from them or I never bought from them a second time after regretting the first purchase.

  35. Tech writer*

    I’ve never heard of a VP of a company do this, but it 100% sounds like external recruiter behavior. External recruiters will happily sell a candidate’s soul in exchange for a commission, and they do everyday.

  36. starsaphire*

    Clearly this VP has watched the Monty Python job interview sketch way too many times. Or maybe he somehow got it confused with actual good hiring practices.

  37. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    In 50 years, I went through a few cuckoo interviews, and during my brief time between jobs, I went through nearly everything that Ben Affleck’s character in “The Company Men” did.

    Weird head games. Bait and switches. One manager dragged me out to the other side of Boston just to mess with me.

    I finally fell in with a great company. It was worth waiting for.

  38. fluffy*

    I had this happen in an engineering job interview a while back, and that was a big part of why I opted not to continue on with the interview loop. Gave me very bad vibes.

  39. Pdxer*

    From my own experience in dealing with medical device salespeople, running roughshod over other people’s boundaries could very well be a job expectation…

    1. Splendid Colors*

      Like the ones who talk VA doctors into using way, way too many stents and stuff in the ProPublica exposé?

  40. Spinner of Wool*

    What. The. Hell.?! LW, you dodged not just a bullet but a cannonball! Can you imagine actually working for a company where that’s considered perfectly okay? Thank the deity of your choice for having given you some very valuable insight into this basket of nuts and concentrate on looking elsewhere!

  41. InnocenceLost*

    I had something similar happen to me many years ago. I was hoping it wouldn’t be a thing anymore. In my case, my potential new boss was a real dick during the interview. I tried to keep things professional. And then a few hours later he calls me back into his office and says he was like that on purpose because some of their clients are like that and he wanted to know how i’d handle it.

    I handled it by speaking to HR and telling them why I wasn’t taking the job even if they offered it to me. The HR rep was very upset at my experience

    1. linger*

      It would have been very different if that strategy had been signalled up front: “This is a role-play exercise to test how you work with difficult clients”. Without that, you’re left to draw the justifiable conclusion that the company is run by untrustworthy assholes.

  42. Rosacolleti*

    A cold call? The 80’s called and wants their job back. I’d be questioning that tactic for a start.

  43. tw1968*

    I wonder how he would have reacted if you’d said “No thanks, I prefer not to work for jacka$$e$ who play games with people instead of treating them like a human being.” Then, when the shocked look hits his face, say “Just kidding, I got you! I wanted to see if you’d fight for me as an employee.” Then walk away.

  44. Alex*

    Uh, yeah, no way would I want to work with someone who “joked” about whether or not I had a job. No thanks! Not funny at all! Bye bye!

    Giant bullet dodged!

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