what’s the worst or weirdest way you’ve been rejected for a job?

Let’s talk about the worst or weirdest ways you’ve been rejected for a job. Maybe they set up a video call, making you think you were moving forward in their process — so you had to process your reaction to the rejection live on video. Maybe they sent you a list of everything they think is wrong with you, or delivered the rejection via condescending poetry.

Let’s discuss poorly done rejections in the comment section.

{ 1,054 comments… read them below }

  1. anononon*

    Well, I’m still waiting for a response from a large UK university after my second interview there in 2005. I think it’s safe to say I’ve been ghosted…?

    1. workswitholdstuff*

      Hah, I’m still waiting for reponse from a UK county council from 2008.

      I’m pretty sure I didn’t get that job. Thankfully, I *did* get the other job I applied for that week – and despite two restructures and a change of role, I’m still with them!

      (which as it was actually in the sector I wanted to to be, I’m fine with. The other job was a ‘applied to keep job centre happy’)

      1. Freenowandforever*

        I’m still waiting for a response from a law firm that I interviewed with in 1989. I’ve since switched professions twice and been retired for 6 1/2 years. Should I stop waiting to hear from them?

        1. SpicySpice*

          Maybe reach out. /s That would be hilarious though. “Just wondering if you have an ETA on that job decision yet? Thanks!”

        2. Rob aka Mediancat*

          That actually sounds like the beginning of a comedy series: an old resume for a position gets mixed in with a bunch of new ones and when this person comes in they’re in their mid 40s and they wrote the resume in 1998 and by coincidence happened to be looking for work when they were called.

          Wackiness, of course, ensues.

        3. Can’t remember what name I used last time*

          I interviewed for articles ( now called a training contract) with a firm of solicitors in my last year of my degree in 1986. I really liked the firm but like you I have not heard back yet. I stayed in the law but wonder what field I would have specialised in if I had gone to them.

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      I am still waiting for a response from a benefits administrator company (US) after multiple interviews (both in person and remote) in 2016.

      Fun fact: They administered some benefits for the company I was leaving then the one I ended up moving to. Then they got replaced. Perhaps due to non-responsiveness?

      1. Artemesia*

        decades ago my husband followed me and was to his surprise finding it difficult to find a new job with a law firm since he had been very successful as a junior person where he was then working. He was finally offered a job and invited to a BBQ at the firm; when we arrived I could tell immediately that something was wrong — we were not being welcomed the way you expect a new person coming on board to be welcomed. And in fact sort of cold shouldered. I told him that the job had obviously fallen through but he said ‘oh they would never let me come to the BBQ without telling me that.’ Uh huh. Later the guy who had made the offer took him aside and clued him in. Someone had blackballed him for some reason (new town with no history, so no idea what that was about — maybe this one partner just didn’t like him) and the partner making the verbal offer didn’t let him know. I’m sure without the BBQ fiasco, they never would have gotten back to him. Luckily not too long after he had a couple of offers and started a decent enough career in our new city. (and then I lost my job in a merger — but that is another story)

        1. Karinna18*

          Sounds similar to my story. I had been working full-time for a US Representative’s reelection campaign. They were looking to hire someone for their local office, and they interviewed me. This was about a week before the election. After the Representative won the election, there was a get-together for campaign workers and volunteers. The woman who interviewed me wouldn’t look at me and didn’t say a word. I knew. The spouse and I left pretty soon after that.

    3. Decidedly Me*

      My partner is still waiting to hear back from Google! It’s been 10 years (and he found a much better job).

    4. Miette*

      Ha! I was given an extremely low-ball offer by the recruiter, asked if they could get to $x instead, then didn’t hear from them for a year.

        1. Miette*

          It was a different hiring manager by then (red flag, the first of many), and when I told her my tale of woe, she hired me on the spot. Turned out she had been given a pile or resumes for the job, and mine was on top with positive notes, except the important “we offered her the role” part?

          Anyway, a truly crappy job–I’d been unemployed for a year so I was desperate–but that boss is still a mentor and friend.

    5. Throwaway Account*

      When I lived in the UK in the early 90s, all my job rejections started with, “Further to your request …” and I had the feeling I should look over my shoulder to see how further away my request was! I had never seen that phrasing and thought it very confusing and unique … until I got several rejections. lol

      I also had an interview for a 10-hour-a-week job as a receptionist in a medical practice. My 2-hour! interview was with 10 men in white medical coats with me at the head of a fancy conference table. They asked me tons of questions about medical practices in the US and almost nothing about my work experience. Like is it true the gynecologist uses stirrups for regular appointments in the US or how do you handle seeing a specialist in the US and is it hospital or office-based? And general questions about life in the US. I really started to wonder if they had never traveled!

      Near the end of the time they tried to let me down gently by telling me that the job paid little, I would only get a below minimum wage as I had not taken the post O level, 6 week, receptionist course so the pay scale from the NHS for me was below the minimum wage. I would have to pay for my uniform (a yellow blazer as I recall) on my own and that would further cut my wages. It went on and on with me countering all their concerns – I wanted a job to get out of the house, I wanted to use my brain and not spend all day with a 2 year old, I did some quick maths and would still get a little money each week even after paying for the blaze and the bus commute (child care was super low cost and my husband could cover), and I really wanted the job. I was so clueless that they were trying to get me to say no to the job!

      They finally had to be more honest than I think they wanted to be and tell me they could not hire me because I would be the lowest staff member but given my education and “class” I would be higher than most of the staff so it would wreak havoc on the office. They could not have the disruption as I would have to report to the others but they would feel they had to defer to me given my “class.”

      And so ended my attempts to get a part-time job in the UK.

      1. Lenora Rose*


        I knew the UK could be weird about class lines (which they *also* use to disguise their own racism and xenophobia), but I was under the impression they had slotted North Americans as “N/A” when it came to deciding what class we were.

      2. All right so*

        I think you’ve posted this story here before, or I have deja vu?

        Anyway, it’s an insane story, I can’t BELIEVE they mentioned your ‘class’! I’m based in the UK, so I know they’re weird about class, but I wasn’t here in the early 90s, and I just can’t believe this weirdness. What I find most surprising actually is that they had a handle on your class background at all; the class-conscious people here mostly regard anyone from another country as not being quite of the right set…so I wonder if you had some overt class signifier? (And money wouldn’t cut it… Maybe accent – did you learn English from someone upper class? Or, you know, are you royalty?)

        1. Mary*

          I can’t believe this. I was born in the UK and have lived here all my life. In the profession in which I work, class has never once been mentioned- most of the people who work with me and in positions much higher up are from working class backgrounds- but they have a high level of education and have worked hard to get to where they are. I’m not suggesting that you don’t- just that I’ve never experienced it nor heard of anyone else having done so.

          1. MarmotMarmot*

            i wonder if it’s more noticeable to folks who *haven’t* grown up with it – something you’re so used to, you don’t even notice it?

            I’m from the US but have several friends from the UK (we all lived in a third country together) and I find it quite noticible!

        2. londonedit*

          Yeah, this is utterly insane and NOT at all representative of any hiring practices in the UK, or general behaviour in the UK. Please don’t take this as evidence that we’re all disgusting human beings.

      3. Holly*

        Middle class people are so weird. Whilst it’s (only somewhat still) true that working class people tend to defer to middle class people, it’s usually only in the context of being a patient or a client.

        I’m often mistaken for being middle class (I’m just neurodivergent!) and let me tell you no-one defers to me for shit. What actually happens in a majority working class workplace is that anyone perceived as middle class gets mocked for it. The only people that think that the middle-class is ‘higher’ are apparently some random middle-class people.

        And foreigners are in their own class of ‘foreign’ as class markers in the UK are far less to do with money than many non-UK people seem to think.

        Even back in the 90s this is bananapants behaviour and not how class works since you aren’t from the UK, so how anyone would know what class you were is beyond me.

        (For anyone confused, the three basic classes are working, middle and upper, but the upper class is specifically people born into old titles and families. They often have money but not always. You can never become upper class, even by marriage. It also has a lot to do with where you are born, what your parents do, their education as well as your own etc. It’s also much harder to move classes than it is in other countries. It’s also not as desirable to move classes as some outsiders think – I’d love more money, but I’ve no desire to be perceived as middle class.)

    6. Mim*

      I’m still waiting for a couple of grad school rejections from almost 25 years ago. Do you think I can still ask for my application fee back, since there is no evidence they even looked at the applications? ;-)

      1. Red22*

        In 1998 I got an email from an Oxford college I had applied to for a PhD that said only see attached letter: it was a rejestion letter addressed to someone else who had applied not for a phD program. I responded to notify them of the error and asked if I should assume that I had also been rejected, and never heard back.

    7. Rejected via Pterodactyl*

      I got a rejection letter (as in: printed on paper, sent in the mail) for a job I had applied for over a year ago. This was in 2012. Why yes, it was a job at a slow moving, highly bureaucratic institution! How did you know?

        1. I forgot my user name againn*

          I once went for an interview with a store manager I did not click with or care for. I had filled out the paper application while i was there. She must have tossed it aside and forgotten about it because a couple of months later I received a call from her inviting me in for an interview like we had never spoken before.

      1. Siege*

        I got rejections (two of them, a month apart) from the automated system for a job I was working in at the time. The job was a temp gig (and it wasn’t funded the next year) and everyone said “oh, oops, we should take that posting down” … and didn’t, based on me getting another rejection the next month.

        But at least it was an email.

    8. Aimless*

      I was once a contractor for a company that had offices overseas and on the west and east coasts in the US. My office employed at least 50 people and was the second largest in the company. One Friday we all came in for work as usual and there was a cop car outside. Once we got in, we were told there was a big meeting for all hands (except contractors who had to sit outside the meeting room and still work because we could not be treated like FT employees or we might think we had rights we didn’t actually have.) People came out of the meeting with horrified expressions, and then the email arrived saying that there was going to be a massive restructure and an 80% reduction in workforce. If you received a further email, you were to report to the meeting room at the time specified. People started going in for their meetings and coming out with a cardboard box and an HR rep and their manager. They had to pack up their desk in front of everyone and weren’t allowed to say goodbye. Many people were in tears. We had zero forewarning. The cop came in to stand by the door to watch and make sure no one lost it and did something violent. More than once a manager was there to watch their direct reports fill up their boxes and then they themselves were given a box for their things. I figured I was out because I was a contractor. But I never got an email. After noon another email was sent out saying “If you receive this email, your position has not been eliminated and you will be notified of where you fit into the restructure on Monday.” Sweet! I made it! Morale, as you can imagine, was in the toilet, so those of us who remained were given the afternoon off. I had recently moved to the state after being laid off from a gas & oil job when that market tanked and this was my second job in my new state. The first was a failed start up and then there was this one and I thought, I made it through! No more lay offs for me. I got home and poured myself a glass of champagne. Before I could take my first sip, my phone rang. It was the temp agency telling me that I had been let go. Since I wasn’t an FTE, the company had the temp agency do it, but hadn’t allowed a rep onsite and told them to wait until after 3PM to call us. Meanwhile, I had left my desk full of my stuff, including food and my favorite water bottle. I would have gladly cleared it out if they’d just told me, but I thought I was safe because I’d literally received an email telling me that I was. That place was nuts. I never got any of my stuff back, but I’m happy to say I got another contractor job a month later and a year after that it turned permanent and I’m still here today and just made five years.

    9. Corvus Corvidae*

      I once got a form rejection letter SIX YEARS after I’d applied. In that amount of time I had gotten a different job, left that job, got another new job, started dating a former coworker from the first job, and gotten engaged to said former coworker. We read the rejection letter together with the same bewilderment. I’m not sure why they bothered at all.

    10. TechWorker*

      I got an email last year asking me to apply to some admin jobs, from a job agency I signed up to over a decade prior & had not heard from since. After a degree & 9 years of experience in tech I am unsurprisingly no longer looking for agency admin work. Better late than never…?

    11. Arglebarglor*

      I too have been ghosted. I interviewed FIVE TIMES with varying levels of people over 12 months for two different positions and was told what a great fit I would be (and I totally WOULD!) but….nothing. Completely ghosted.

      1. Young and dumb*

        I was ghosted after 4 interviews, the last of which was the CEO who flew in from Germany for the occasion.

        Complete radio silence and when I emailed the HR rep after 3 weeks, it bounced back undeliverable.

    12. Emily Byrd Starr*

      I’ve had many, many, job interviews where I never heard back from the employer afterwards. In fact, the number of people who have emailed me after an interview to say, “we gave the job to someone else” is so low that I figured that “ghosting” job candidates was the norm. You mean it’s not?

        1. Cyborg Llama Horde*

          That said, I do think if you have an actual interview, especially an in-person one, they should really tell you that you didn’t get the job. (They should all the time. But ESPECIALLY if you invested any meaningful amount of time and effort.)

        2. Gilgongo*

          After one interview, yes. But I think it’s weird to ghost someone after 3+ interviews. Especially after they completed a project for you as part of the interview process

    13. Felix Unger*

      My wife had three interviews with a law firm, including one where she flew from Pennsylvania to California, and she’s still waiting on a response. She’s started to doubt her chances ever since the firm went out of business a few years ago.

    14. Some dude*

      I interviewed for a role with a hiring manager who had offered me a job at another place (I had said no). Three years later she’s at this other place, I interview, it went pretty well…and….nothing. Ever again. So weird.

    1. Cj*

      I had an interview last summer, and I mentioned that I had looked at the website and those that it was a lot of women (I am also a woman). the owner who was interviewing me said she has never hired a man and never would. even if that’s her stance, I can’t believe she actually said it to me.

      I’ve worked with some awesome men over the years, and a person who taught me pretty much everything I know was a man, so I certainly didn’t agree with her.

      decades ago a guy I worked with had an interview where he was told they don’t hire women, because women are too “by the book” when it comes to doing tax returns.

        1. AngryOctopus*

          Of all the places to want someone to not be by the book! Wonder how many audits they were involved in?

        2. bamcheeks*

          I once checked a CV for someone who wasn’t a native English speaker, and they’d written how much they enjoyed creative accounting, and I had to explain that whilst I understood what she probably meant, that wasn’t usually listed as a positive in the UK.

            1. Betty*

              IANAA, but I could imagine ‘creativity’ in a sense of “finding innovative and fully legal solutions”, e.g., advising a client to continue to contributing to an eligible child’s 529 [tax-free education savings] even after the child received a scholarship because of rules allowing a certain amount of unused 529 funds to be converted back to the account owner’s IRA funds tax-free.

              1. HB*

                I am an accountant, and this is a good interpretation. “Creative” as a skillset in accounting is more about being able to make intuitive leaps between IRS rules and *following them*. I use the analogy of board games a lot with new staff. A lot of the Internal Revenue Code feels arbitrary at first, but as soon as you begin to view it as a system where the rules were designed with a purpose, it gets a lot easier. And the better you understand the *system* (not just the individual rules), the better able you are to think strategically.

                When I took Federal Income Tax in law school there were two former econ majors that were constantly asking things like “Well, what if you called it X instead of Y” when discussing some principle or code section. And each time the professor’s response was “Well that would be fraud…”

                Generally the guiding rule in tax law is Substance over Form. You can twist or interpret your books in all manner of ways to make it look the way you want and even if you didn’t technically break a rule doesn’t mean you didn’t commit illegal tax evasion. Helvering v. Gregory is a great example of this – and also the source of one of the best tax quotes of all time:

                “Any one may so arrange his affairs that his taxes shall be as low as possible; he is not bound to choose that pattern which will best pay the Treasury; there is not even a patriotic duty to increase one’s taxes.” (Fun fact: when you see that quoted in a tax case, the taxpayer is going to win. But in the actual case, the taxpayer lost)

                1. Bitte Meddler*

                  I can’t remember if it was a Tax class or an Accounting class, but I remember the prof citing a couple of studies that showed Business majors scored higher on tests of personal creativity than the Arts students did.

                  And suddenly a lot of white collar crime made more sense.

            2. Weaponized Pumpkin*

              Like Betty I interpret as creatively interpreting, but not breaking rules. If you can classify income in a different way than the obvious, it might be subject to different rules and lower taxes. You can change what something is worth on paper by using a different model. Shifting money here or there can make the books look different (better or worse, depending on your needs).

          1. Curious*

            That reminds me of the (apocryphal, I think) story of the business owner hiring an accountant:

            First applicant comes in for interview.

            “What is 2+2?”
            “Thank you for your interest.”

            Second applicant comes in for interview.

            “What is 2+2?”
            “Why, 4!”
            “Thank you for your interest.”

            Third applicant comes in for interview.

            “What is 2+2?”
            “What do you want it to be?”
            “You’re hired!”

            1. Magenta Sky*

              We had a controller, back in the day of paper ledgers, who would use that line when the owner asked how the books looked. “How do you want them to look.”

              He retired to avoid having to learn Windows.

            2. Dancing Otter*

              I heard this years ago as President Reagan looking for economic advisors.

              The joke was especially popular among those of us who thought poorly of Reaganomics and the trickle-down theory.

            3. Dhaskoi*

              I was told that one as

              Accountant: ‘The answer is 4.’

              Statistician: ‘The answer is somewhere on a scale between 3.8 and 4.2.’

              Lawyer: ‘What do you want it to be?’

                1. Chas*

                  I’ve seen people point out that 2 +2 can = 5, if you’re rounding the numbers (i.e. 2.4 + 2.4 = 4.8 gets turned into 2 + 2 = 5)

              1. Cyborg Llama Horde*

                I’ve heard it similarly, except that the lawyer consults books of precedent, and it’s the actuary who asks what they want it to be.

        3. Falling Diphthong*


          In a past job I held there was a comment that the accountant was kind of anal, and the people who had been there longer were like “Omigod, the last accountant was not at all, and that relaxed attitude is not a quality you want in the person ensuring you get paid each month.”

        4. Cj*

          yep, okay that want somebody that would be by the book, they wanted somebody that would be willing to at least stretch the rules. I don’t know enough to go so far to say they actually wanted somebody to fudge the numbers.

        5. rebelwithmouseyhair*

          Sounds like a bullet was dodged there! CJ might have found herself working for a descendant of Al Capone!

      1. Magenta Sky*

        Back in the 60s, my father did a radio call in show in St. Louis. One of the people he interviewed was a woman who owned a radio station (bought and paid for with the proceeds of six divorces – all her husbands had divorced her for physical cruelty), who said, on the air, live, that “all men should be put into labor camps and whipped to work every morning.” She refused to hire men, period. (The 60s were a different time.)

        The local city council decided she needed to employ a man, one way or another, and started holding their monthly meetings in the men’s restroom at city hall. (The 60s were a *very* different time.) So she married a mousy guy named George, whose sold job was covering the city council meetings. I doubt she paid him for this time.

        1. Kiaya*

          OT, fun fact. Eleanor Roosevelt was the first First Lady to hold a press conference which she did weekly. But she allowed only women to be present. So all the major newspapers and news services had to hire their first woman reporters, which paved the way for women in journalism.

          1. anotherfan*

            With the caveat that women had been newspaper reporters long before the Roosevelt era but that certainly spurred an increase in numbers!

            1. DJ Abbott*

              I’ve read about the reporter Lois Long, who was a nightlife reporter for the New Yorker in the 1920s and the inspiration for the Lois Lane character in Superman.

        2. Artemesia*

          I was in the job market in the 60s and overt sexual discrimination was perfectly legal. I had a law program tell me that I was one of only 5 women they were admitting that year (I ended up going to grad school instead) The average LSAT for women was in the 700s (old 800 scale) and for men it was about 475. Jobs were advertised as ‘jobs for women’ and ‘jobs for men’ and executive training programs in companies were aimed at men. ‘We want a man in that role was perfectly common.’ Technically after 1965 or so and the Civil Rights Act which included gender discrimination as a kind of joke to get it turned down in congress, this would be illegal — but it was still overtly practiced. I could not even get a passport in my own name in 1972 — I had to use my husband’s name, which I had never taken. We just didn’t travel and so missed our window for carefree travel until years after we had our kids.

          1. Reluctant Mezzo*

            The sad part is that Brandeis University and other institutions now do ‘gender balancing’ so they’ll have more men by giving them more points. *That* kind of affirmative action is ok, naturally. /s

        3. Random Dice*

          Wait I was with you up until this point:

          “The local city council decided she needed to employ a man, one way or another, and started holding their monthly meetings in the men’s restroom at city hall. (The 60s were a *very* different time.) ”

          Did they do that to try to force her to hire a man, or just for sexist kicks?

          1. Magenta Sky*

            So far as I understand, it was entirely personal: They hated her guts. Apparently, *everyone* hated her guts. It was mutual.

            I guess, in your eagerness to hate on men, you missed the quote about putting men in labor camps. She wasn’t speaking metaphorically, she meant it literally. Or perhaps you agree with her?

        4. Jaydee*

          I appreciate the irony that the city council was trying to force her to hire a man but clearly there were no women on the council or female staff who were involved in meetings (eg a clerk to take minutes) if they could hold the meetings in the men’s restroom. Of course in the 60s why would there have been?

      2. Chidi has a stomach ache*

        There is a similar apocryphal story in the private high school I used to work at about the previous principal. It was an all-girls school, so most faculty were women. A man interviewed for a position, and he asked something along the lines of “how is the culture for the male teachers here?”

        Principal responds, “I don’t like hiring men.”

        Interviewee, thrown but trying to maintain professionalism says, “There are some men on staff, however, how well do they integrate?”

        Principal closes with “Yes, disappointments, every one.”

        1. Porch Gal*

          I worked for a private all-girls high school until last summer. They had *never* even interviewed a male teacher, let alone hired one. The only men who ever worked there were the business manager, the facilities director, and the janitors. They justified it by saying their faculty were “role models” for their students. And yet when it came time for accreditation they added a “we do not discriminate on the basis of race or gender” line to their official statements and somehow got away with it.

          Same school had a business manager who, when questioned about financial reports for the Board of Trustees would respond, “What do you want it to say?”

          I don’t know how they’re still in business but I’m thankful every day that I no longer work there.

      3. Hall or Billingham*

        This seems like the perfect time to plus my new business: Tax Mavericks! Our motto: “Tax code? What tax code?”

      4. MsM*

        I had a boss who mentioned wanting to keep our tiny team all-female because “it would be easier,” and then spent another five minutes jumping back and forth between “Just joking! I mean, not really. But ha ha!”

        “Best” part? Her training was in employment law.

      5. Cookie Lady*

        I worked for a local Girl Scout Council for a lot of years and for about 9 of them, our CFO was a man. I off-handedly referred to him as ‘he’ in a training and one woman’s eyes nearly popped out when she exclaimed “HE? REALLY?”
        I said, yes, he and he has been an incredible asset to our Council (he actually won a local business journal award for best turn-around of a government or non-profit business) and when we have men who are willing to be vocal advocates for girls and women, that’s a good thing. (He was literally our only male employee besides our camp rangers/property guys. Everyone else in the Csuite and in the offices in general was a woman.)

        1. Avery*

          Similarly, I once worked for a local branch of the League of Women Voters. There was no incident quite as dramatic as yours, but I definitely had to explain repeatedly that despite the name, the League of Women Voters both helps and employs people of all genders. (Though like in your case, the team was mostly female. But not 100%.)

        2. Cathie from Canada*

          I organized an information session for staff at our university to highlight what would now be called DEI issues, including asking a male Mathematics professor to talk about the issues around recruiting more women to major in Math and Statistics.
          Later I got some pushback on this presentation, along the lines of “why would you ask a man to talk about recruiting women?” But actually, he was the only person in the department who took the issue seriously, he had researched it, and he was working on solutions.
          I should note that later this same man became department head, then dean of the whole college, and finally he became president at another university — a meteoritic rise that didn’t surprise me at all!

      6. Orange You Glad*

        As a woman who has built her career filing accurate tax returns, I wouldn’t want to work anywhere with that attitude. Sounds like they are too risky with their positions and I wouldn’t want to risk any damage to my reputation and licensing.

      7. Mister_L*

        Years ago I was sent to interview with a leasing company by my countrys unempoyment office, only to be told by the lady there that their client only wants to hire women. (Am a man). I informed the clerk at the unempoyment office and never heard about it again.
        I suspect it was illegal, but I’m not sure.

      8. OMG, Bees!*

        I (a man) worked with a man who just could not seem to work around women without sexually harassing them eventually. He would be fired from client after client for such interactions (I never heard what exactly, but given what he said at a holiday party once, I have a good idea). Instead of firing him, the boss would send me to client offices and I was to call the coworker if I needed help, since he was technologically smart, just had 2% people skills.

      9. Anon for this*

        I was helping my former boss hire my replacement (I’m a white man) for a niche role. Her finalist list included several people with non-white sounding names but no relevant experience. I asked why she wasn’t looking at two candidates with great experience but white sounding names and she told me “I can’t hire a white person for this.” ( they did find a qualified person of color so they got the skills they needed and were able to claim to be diverse so win I guess?)

    2. Katie A*

      Holy crap, that’s so wild! It’s also so stupid. It’s easy enough to get away with discrimination for quite a long time, as long as you don’t admit it. I guess people who actively want to discriminate (as opposed to unconscious bias) are less likely to think through things.

      Do you remember exactly what they said/can you paraphrase it?

    3. Yes*

      Me too, a version of that:

      Asked me in the interview if I had kids. Yes.

      Rejected me ”due to your family situation”.

      Who they hired? A man with kids.

      1. NotTheSameAaron*

        I was once told by an older man that a woman with kids is presumed to be spending more time on her back than working, whereas a man with kids is presumed to be a hard worker.

        1. Lenora Rose*

          The sexism is gross — but how does the math there even work? I believe the phrase is, “it takes two to Tango.” Do these old sexists believe in immaculate conception?

      2. Burbonk*

        My favorite job rejection told me, in writing, that one of the reasons they weren’t going to hire me because they knew my fiance was looking for work in California (we were in NYC) and they thought he had a chance at getting a great opportunity out there.

        I’ve been asked “why I don’t have kids yet” or if I’m planning on having children in so many interviews I can’t even remember them all. Fun times in the tech industry!

        1. Princess Sparklepony*

          I got rejected for a job once because I was a transient….

          I was living in a town for three years while my spouse was in school. I was interviewing at the beginning of the three years, so they would have had me for three years… but no, I was a transient.

          Funny to me, I got a job and held it for over two years until there were layoffs. Got a 9 month job with a law firm where they knew I was only going to be there for 9 months. They were pretty cool. Although in my last month, I kept telling my boss – what are you going to do? Fire me? He did not find that funny….

          1. Lora*

            This happens to military spouses. I spoke with a hair stylist at a local salon whose husband was stationed at a nearby base. She told me that salons rarely hired military spouses because they move frequently, and the local salon was one of the rare ones that sent her for classes for new products and techniques. it’s rough in a business that likes to hire people with a following.

      3. Artemesia*

        I had one child when I was interviewing; they asked me what my future plans for children were and I said ‘That is between my God, my husband and myself.’ (translate ‘F*&k Off). Years later my file came into my hands and I discovered one of the committee had voted for me over my competitor because of my deep religious faith. Sometimes you win for losing.

    4. WavyGravy*

      I was told – “well we could hire you, but we already have a woman.” This was a mid-size, decently respected law firm in the 2010s. I just sat there and I think I said okay and left.

      1. Bast*

        Even in the 2010s and beyond I have encountered a good deal of law firms that are still the “good ole boy” type firms. My very first law firm job as a legal assistant was in a decent sized for where I live, about 25-ish attorneys. Of those, only 3 were female, and 2 were older women so they didn’t have to worry about them having kids. It was a big deal when the firm hired the third female attorney, as she was still in her early 40s. It was VERY much a “good ole boys” club, and none of the female attorneys were ever made directors or shareholders. The female staff members were, for the most part, all past childbearing age — and when I got pregnant the displeasure was well known. Let’s say I did not make it through the pregnancy at that firm.

        I STILL interact with some attorneys that act shocked that women are attorneys, or automatically assume that every female is an LA or paralegal.

        1. Bast*

          Forgot to add that many of the male attorneys all took days off to go golfing together — none of the female attorneys were invited.

    5. Jay (no, the other one)*

      When my husband was on the academic job market, he was invited for a job talk and interview and the chairman of the department loved him. Basically told him he had the job “if I have anything to say about it.” And called hubs several months later to say he’d been forced by the college administration to hire a woman “over my objections.” Still can’t believe he actually said that out loud.

      Since academia is a small world, hubs knew the woman, thought she was a rockstar, and got a job elsewhere that same year. The woman is still there with tenure and a national reputation and I suspect the chair went to his emeritus status resenting the hell out of her.

      1. me too!*

        When I (female) was in the academic job market (hard science), I was told by more than one department that it was a courtesy interview because they “already had one woman” on staff. I went to private industry.

    6. Young and dumb*

      Yup. Mine was, “You’re exactly what we’re looking for…too bad you aren’t a man.”

    7. Perfectly normal-size space bird*

      That happened to me once. That’s when I also that none of the area lawyers would even talk to me unless I had a recording of my interview.

      My brother told me last month that he doesn’t believe sexism in the workplace exists anymore.

    8. Andy*

      Lower stakes but I had the opposite when I was looking for a retail job in college. Except it was specifically “I’m looking for young girls.” Not cosmetics or something with a largely female customer base, it was an icecream place. Why yes, it was a creepy old man, how did you guess? Also unsurprisingly, it closed down not long after and I got a fairly decent job at a clothing store that lasted me three years before beginning my career.

    1. Juicebox Hero*

      Sorry, the admin already blew the snack budget on portabella mushroom jerky and durian smoothies.

  2. soontoberetired*

    I went and read the list of everything wrong with you – and I just have to say Les Miserables is a book you should read for fun. It is a great book, and that guy was a jerk.

    1. Not Australian*

      A similar thing happened to me: I mentioned I’d been enjoying ‘Les Miserables’ and the interviewer looked down over his glasses and asked “The book, or the musical?” I replied that I was referring to the book, but tactfully didn’t mention that I’d read it *because* I loved the musical. (I wanted to know what they’d left out of the story, which was a lot.) I did get that job, though.

      1. Lilac*

        They left out so much! But in fairness, the play would probably have to be about ten hours long if they’d included everything!

        1. Autofill Contact*

          I mention below that we are reading the book *before* seeing the musical, which our children know, and upon seeing the thickness of the book asked, “Just how long is the musical???”

      1. UnemployedInGreenland*

        Funny you should mention that. I actually read it before I saw the musical, but after I had tickets for the show on Broadway. I wanted to understand the story. And yes, they left a lot out, but it is an amazing show.

    2. Lilac*

      And who says your favorite book has to be one you read for fun? I never would have picked up a copy of Macbeth if I were left to my own devices, but I was assigned it in school and loved it so much that I wrote my master’s thesis on it years later. And even now, it’s still not exactly something I’d read to relax and unwind at the end of a long day.

      1. Artemesia*

        I read War and Peace for a book club expecting it to be a bore and was mesmerized — it is a fabulous book. totally unexpected.

      2. Rain*

        Exactly! My two favourite book is “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley – but I don’t read it for relaxation. (That’s what true crime books are for.)

    3. Autofill Contact*

      I’m reading it right now for fun! Amazing book!

      We will see the musical at the end of the month, though, which is why we thought to read it. Glad we did, though.

    4. HG*

      The guy was 1) threatened as hell by her and 2) trying to neg her. You have technical skills but no passion? Get mad at me and show me how passionate you are.

    5. Lenora Rose*

      Interesting fact: A Canadian minister named Cleaver used to retell the story of Les Mis orally and it entertained so many people that he went on and wrote it down as “Jean Val Jean”. Basically “the Good Parts version” a la the Princess Bride, except for real. And apparently it was indeed popular for a long time.

      My grade 6 teacher read us the story, and I at least recall storytime during those sessions as being quiet and attentive. Although even then, he also cut out a few extra preachy digressions the minister left in. (This would have been in, ah, 1988.)

      I do want to read the whole unabridged thing sometime, although some of that might be that I’m *actually* curious about the Paris Sewers. I’ve also heard some good things about it as a book in general.

    6. MsM*

      I used to love getting book questions. Then I got rejected for a job I really wanted after that was the last thing I was asked, with no explanation offered, and to this day I can’t help but wonder if it was because I outed myself as a sci-fi fan.

      1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

        A couple of years ago, I read a fun mystery that was based on the *London* sewers being new and rich people not realizing that they were a good secret route for thieves. Now I will cudgel my brains to figure out the title/author and if I succeed, I’ll share it here.

    7. I love puns!*

      Wow, what an asshole! At the end of the day, you should be glad you didn’t get that job. I wouldn’t want to work one day more for that person. It’s clear that he likes to look down at people, and he thinks he’s the master of the house.

  3. Llama Llama*

    I applied a job that was clerical work for a company. Didn’t hear anything. A few weeks later applied for a better job at said company. Got an interview for better job. Got a job offer for better job. Started company for better job. During the first week I was there I received a rejection letter from the company. I found it hilarious and mentioned it to HR during an onboarding session. They were horrified.

    1. Llama Llama*

      Oh to clarify it was not a rejection specifically for the clerical work. It was generic one for the whole company.

    2. Problem!*

      This happened at my old job, there was some HR glitch that sent out rejections to everyone in their hiring system including people they’d hired and had already started working there.

      1. Collarbone High*

        A manager at Old Job sent HR a request to post a job opening in his department; they responded with a rejection letter that said he didn’t meet the minimum qualifications for the job. My favorite part was that they mailed it to his work address … which was the same office HR was in. He framed the letter and hung it on his wall.

      2. Charlotte Lucas*

        I once got a form letter rejecting me for a promotion within my company that was clearly written for outside applicants. I actually pointed out to the HR director that this was just a sign of why they were having problems with employee morale. They ended up changing procedures so internal applicants who were rejected for a role didn’t get a form letter inviting them to keep applying to the company. And the director thanked me for pointing it out.

        I left the company about a year later. That was far from the only case of them not acknowledging their employees’ worth.

      3. MtnLaurel*

        Problem!…that happened to me too when I got hired back in 2009. We may have worked for the same company. Our HR was horrified as well.

      4. Cyndi*

        I never applied to grad school but I thought about it a bit in undergrad, enough to be on some schools’ email lists, and several years after I finished college one of those schools had a glitch that sent a “Congratulations, you’re accepted to our program!” email to EVERYONE on their list.

        It put me in a bit of a weird mood for a couple of days, but I still think about how upsetting that must have been for the actual applicants who were waiting for a response, especially people who wound up getting rejected.

        1. Dragon_Dreamer*

          I once got a “here’s how to sign up for grad student housing on campus” email, after applying to a program. However, when I tried to follow the instructions, the system wouldn’t let me in.

          It took almost a week to find out that email had been accidentally sent to every applicant. I couldn’t get into the system because I’d been rejected.

          The following year, I reapplied to the same program. After some time, I got an email, telling me a decision had been reached, and to check the application site. After logging in, the website said the decision had NOT been reached.

          I called them about this, and was told, “we can’t tell you your status, only the system can.” It took another month for them to officially reject me.

          Then there was the program that for 2 years waited until July to reject me. I did find out that was because I made their short list both times. The third year, their system had a glitch. I submitted in December, deadline was in February. At the end of March, I got an email telling me that my application had not actually been submitted due to a glitch in the system. After some frantic phone calls, I was assured I would still be considered. I ended up being rejected, with the “late submission” being cited.

          That particular program imploded soon afterwards due to unrelated reasons. I dodged a bullet, but it was still frustrating to have wasted $60 on the application fee.

    3. LCH*

      Haha. I got a rejection once for a job I was already in. Because the job desc and classification had been reworked at some point. So they were rejecting me for something that didn’t exist, I guess.

    4. You want stories, I got stories*

      Something similar happened to me. I had applied for two jobs at a company. I was asked to interview for one of the jobs. The interviewer sent me an e-mail, “I apologize, but can I reschedule your interview from Wednesday to Thursday.” I responded with yes. 20 minutes later I received an automated rejection from the company. After further investigation, that turned out to be for the other job at that company and I still had my interview.
      Although I did not get that job either.

    5. Willow Pillow*

      I got a rejection email from my current job – I had applied via Linkedin, I’m sure it was just an automated email that they needed to have told LI to not send.

    6. OMG, Bees!*

      My time working with some HR says that’s par for the course.

      One HR for a construction company would hire employees with a short timeline and tell us, IT, that the new hire needs equipment and accounts setup and oh, by the way, that person started this morning. Officially, we needed 3 days notice, ideally longer since finance at the time didn’t allow us to have *any* new laptops we could setup. So when HR gave us the rushed new hire, a laptop would have to be rush ordered (extra shipping), and eventually finance try to come down on us for the extra costs.

      Took replacing the heads of both HR and finance to fix that.

      For added fun, HR would only tell us half of the new hires’ name, and it took pulling teeth to get the last name and other info for accounts.

  4. EJ*

    Not the most egregious, but a certain grocery store chain known for its snacks and disdain for U.S. labor laws called me in for two interviews before informing me that they “were going in a different direction.” What that means in the context of stocking shelves and ringing up customers I’ll never know.

    1. Phony Genius*

      Maybe they meant it literally:

      “Well, in your interview, you stated that you stock shelves left-to-right. We’re going to be stocking our shelves right-to-left going forward, so we just don’t think you’ll be a good fit here.”

      1. MassMatt*

        Right-to-left shelving is crucial to their branches in Tel Aviv and Cairo.

        And for Tokyo and Shanghai–top to bottom only.

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      My guess is someone else had a schedule that worked better for them. But very strange wording in this context. (Back in my days of service jobs, they’d just tell you why you didn’t get the job.)

    3. Mystery Rejection*

      I once received a similar rejection for a volunteer greeter position at a nonprofit. Maybe they found someone who would actually pay them money to work there.

  5. AlexandrinaVictoria*

    I found out a didn’t get an internal position when my boss announced a teammate had been hired and congratulated him publicly in a team meeting. I really would have appreciated a heads up!

    1. I'm sorry, what?!?*

      My boss called me while I was driving in to work, which was super unusual for him, to let me know I wasn’t getting the promotion and that his favorite employee ever was instead. He had to let me know before the announcement was made at the 8 am meeting that morning.

    2. DD26*

      Not rejected for a job, but found out my position had been eliminated in a meeting with new team structure and my name obviously missing.

      1. Jules*

        Same. I found out in a board and all staff meeting that we were restructuring and I was not part of the chart. It took a few weeks for my boss to actually let me go.

      2. You want stories, I got stories*

        This happened to my boss. She wasn’t fired, but she was demoted. During a large all hands meeting. They had literally had to go and find her before the meeting to let her know what had happened. I got to find out I had a new boss during that meeting.

      3. Michelle*

        My husband once found out he’d been let go when his boss sent an email to the entire team – including him – informing them of his departure. I guess she didn’t think he’d be checking his email in the hospital while I was having a baby.

    3. SallyGreene*

      Same, except they announced the hiring of an external candidate and it happened during a staff meeting and lots of people who knew I had applied looked straight at me. Fun times!

    4. Rusty Shackelford*

      I found out I didn’t get an internal position – that I had been told “was mine if I wanted it” – when I found the new org chart on the copier.

    5. LondonLady*

      Same! Internal reorg in a small NGO a few years ago: my post was under threat, a post on a parallel team was vacant: similar work, different subject matter within same broad field. Ops Director whose many duties included HR asked me 1:1 if I’d be interested in the other role. I said I’d have to think about it but could be good. Soon after, the org announced that a consultant who’d temped in that role had been appointed to it permanently. No-one had come back to me about my decision. I felt massively undermined at first, but luckily my job survived the reorg and the consultant was a lovely colleague.

    6. ferrina*

      oh no! I had similar happen to me-

      It was a hybrid work environment, but most people worked remotely. A colleague and I had each applied for the same promotion (replacing our boss who had just left). HR asked us to be in the office that day for the final decision.

      That day the office was empty. It was literally just me, Colleague, HR, the VP making the decision, and the CEO. No one else. It was open office, and Colleague and sit I next to each other. Colleague had her meeting with the VP & HR first. She came out looking really bitter and immediately walks out of the office for a long lunch. My meeting was set for 2 hours later. I find out I didn’t get the job. I walk out of the meeting room into the open-office. Everything is either in full view of my colleague, my VP or both. No privacy, no way to process my disappointment. I sit at my desk next to my colleague that did get the job (who is now my boss). As soon as I sit down, she rolls her chair over and says “No hard feelings!”

      1. Beacon of Nope*

        I don’t get it – why did she come out looking really bitter if she’s the one who got the job? Also, the “No hard feelings!” sounds like something the one who didn’t get it would say to try to be gracious. Am I missing something? All the details sound like the reverse of what you’d expect for this outcome.

        1. ferrina*

          Yeah. It was a weird situation. She was a nepotism promotion- she was really underqualified for the role, but was the boss’s golden child. She was great in her current role, but (for example) had been managing one person (who was really easy to manage) less than a year and was promoted to lead a team of a dozen people. She just didn’t have the experience needed for the role and was really immature as a leader. She was almost promoted by default (no job posting or anything) but I proactively reached out to grandboss and said I’d like to be considered for the role. I had way more experience than her, had more responsibilities, and Old Boss had a track record of taking hard projects away from her and giving them to me. (of course, Old Boss never conveyed this to her boss, so Grandboss thought I was doing lower level work).

          I think she was bitter because she didn’t get the pay bump that she wanted.

          I think the “No hard feelings” meant that she had no hard feeling toward me. I think she felt entitled to that promotion- she made comments about how clearly she’d get it because she’d worked hard and done well in her current role (that’s….not how business need work). She saw me asking to be considered for the role as something underhanded, I guess. Like I was trying to take “her” job away. Ironically, once she had the job, it was clear she was in over her head. I ended up doing most of her work in addition to my own. Basically she would just not do parts of her job until it became a problem for the team, then I would do the work with some ego soothing (“I had a couple free hours, so I chipped away at this, hope you don’t mind…”), she’d slap her name on it but everyone knew it was my work. Eventually I left and she immediately went AWOL and stopped doing her job (because she wasn’t doing it in the first place)

    7. Leigh*

      Similarly, I applied for a job in another department and found out I didn’t get it after they announced the successful applicant at their staff meeting and word eventually got around to me. I got a call two days later “informing” me I didn’t get the job. I was really angry and it was a really awkward phone call. Apparently HR thought the manager was going to tell me and the manger thought HR was going to do it.

    8. M2*

      How awful. I had someone on a different team apply to my team and we ended up going with an external candidate. This person was only in 2 rounds of a 3 round interview, but I emailed them personally and told them and then offered to talk with them in person if they wanted. They did, so we got coffee at our organization and I spoke to them about why, what we were looking for, what I thought they did great, and what they should work on if they wanted to move into this department. They were thankful and it also sounded like they just wanted our of their department, their department head was not great (and is no longer with the company), and I also offered to be a reference if needed. I had worked with this person many times, our two departments worked together regularly so I had seen their work (which imo was fine/good, but not stellar) and had a better understanding why they didn’t do great work after speaking with them. They ended up going to a completely other department in a different building and getting a promotion.

    9. Raspin*

      Yes! And then the manager had her admin call and tell me that I didn’t get the job. So I called the manager and told her she was a coward.

    10. CupcakeCounter*

      Was called into a meeting with the2 other internal candidates for a position and we were all told together that the only male candidate got the position (that’s when he heard too). The hiring manager then started telling the other unsuccessful candidate and I what we did wrong – again in he group setting – when the HR rep finally found his voice and shut it down. We were dismissed and the HM and HR stayed back and I saw 2 other HR people running towards that room a few minutes later. HM was enrolled in a newly created “leadership” course where I believe he was the only enrollee. He did not learn from his mistakes and is no longer in a management role.

      1. Observer*

        We were dismissed and the HM and HR stayed back and I saw 2 other HR people running towards that room a few minutes later. HM was enrolled in a newly created “leadership” course where I believe he was the only enrollee. He did not learn from his mistakes and is no longer in a management role.

        At least your HR was reasonably competent and acted. But what an idiot! Jerk + stupid is a REALLY bad combination for someone with any sort of management position. I’m glad he got busted.

    11. Kiaya*

      I found out I didn’t get an internal position when the company roster was updated from “vacant” to the chosen candidate’s name.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        I found out minutes before the updated org chart was announced with the chosen candidate, also for an internal position. That selection process had taken several months, which was odd considering there were only about 5 internal candidates and no interviews. The official reason I was given was that the chosen guy had management experience (completely irrelevant for the position). Unofficially, I was later told that one of the decision-makers flat out refused to consider me at all.

    12. Resident Catholicville, U.S.A.*

      Company hired an outside manager for a position they had pushed me to apply and interview for when I didn’t want it…but didn’t tell me I was out of the running and I only found out when I found a print out of the announcement on the communal copier. It was…interesting.

    13. FuzzBunny*

      Similar experience here, but it was an external candidate, and I learned about them when the boss brought them around the office to introduce them. I never received official notification that I hadn’t gotten the job.

      1. Dancing Otter*

        I had actually been promised the promotion, then met the new external hire with no warning.
        He wrote me up for not smiling enough.
        The relationship went downhill from there.

    14. Artemesia*

      I had the same thing happen, but the person who got the job actually called me to give me a heads up since she assumed the organization would flub it — I really didn’t want the job so I was okay with it — I had sort of been pushed to apply because it was a new office in the area of my specialty, but I was not enthusiastic about pushing what I knew would be a rock up a big hill with no real support. But I would have been a bit taken aback to hear about it in a public meeting. (and yeah the new program pretty much failed for lack of support –not the fault of the person selected)

    15. Sparkly Librarian*

      Ugh, same. First, I found out that the offer letter had been sent (and was pending acceptance while the new hire was off sick) AFTER I casually mused to the rest of the office when we’d all be getting our offer/rejection notices, as it had been a couple weeks since the interviews. Awkward silence fell, and someone thankfully pulled me aside a little later and reported that offer letters for that round of promotions had all been sent, and the only people who hadn’t received their rejections were the ones waiting on this particular position.

      Then, the office gossip casually mentioned — in a public area, to all of the staff on site — who the new manager would be. Knowing that a) she only had access to this information because of a business need to update the schedule a month in advance and b) that I’d applied for the position and c) that the names of the new managers had not been announced.

    16. CatWoman*

      Yep, that happened to me, too. I was so confused, since I had already received a rejection, when my boss started with, “One of our teammates has received a well-deserved promotion!”. I hadn’t really considered that this person would be a fit for the new role, since this was an insurance company and their background was in cosmetics, but it made more sense when I considered that they joined my team in the first place solely because they were best friends with the department VP.

    17. LodiBound*

      Twice I applied for roles within my own organization and learned I didn’t get the job when the person who WAS selected had their good news publicly announced on the company intranet. Twice. The last time I applied and didn’t get selected, I was therefore utterly shocked when the hiring manager actually called me to say I didn’t get the job…I had fully expected to learn the news on the intranet.

    18. karstmama*

      similar! i had applied for an educator job in a home health company. i already worked as a nurse, was trying to move up. went to a one-day educational presentation and as they went around introducing folks the two who got it were introduced as the new educators and i was all in public and had to stifle. i did say during my intro that i had applied and just found out i didn’t get it, so i did get my little dig in.

    19. Dorothy Zpornak*

      Also me. I was supposed to be up for an internal job, director of a new program we were creating. I was told explicitly, in writing, that I was under consideration. Then while in a meeting with the manager and 2 other people involved in the program, the manager said, “Well, we need a director. Which of you two *gestures to the other two people in the room* wants to do it?”

      The icing on the cake was that she had, in that same meeting just five minutes earlier, remarked that it would nice to have some women or people of color involved with the project, since those already on board were all white men. I am a woman of color. The other two in the room were white men.

  6. The Okayest CPA*

    Not mind-shattering but I interviewed for my dream job a couple of years ago and was told that no matter their decision they would circle around and let me know. Then I never heard from them again. Last I heard, they are in financial trouble so I do wonder if I potentially dodged a bullet there.

    1. Punkzilla*

      Something similar happened to me. I wanted the job so badly, and I asked straight up if I would hear back yes or no. Nothing afterwards. Looking back, it is good that I didn’t take that job, I found a much better fit later.

  7. Casual Librarian*

    I was once contacted by a company I had applied for a job with. The person opened by asking me if I knew John Smith. I responded with “yes, he’s my brother”. They then proceeded to tell me that he was their only good candidate and if I could provide a familial reference.

    I asked my brother, and he in no way knew I was applying for the job, and he did not put me down as a contact for anything on his application. So presumably, they saw our unique last name and decided I could be of more use as a reference than a serious candidate for the job.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I was wondering the same thing! The only time I’ve had to provide anything about my family was to get federal government security clearance. And that’s a very formal process.

      2. Magenta Sky*

        I can almost see a point there: If a sibling won’t give a good reference, there’s a pretty good chance that’s a family with a lot of drama, which can make for an unreliable employee.


        1. Everything Bagel*

          I do not understand this at all. If you call my brother and he says we don’t get along, that means you wouldn’t consider me for your accounting position? Why would you consider anything he tells you about my work history or my personal character when he is completely unknown to you? Someone coming from a family “with drama” isn’t necessarily a bad hire.

          1. Everything Bagel*

            I realize you said almost, so maybe you’re just trying to give the benefit of the doubt that there’s something to having a family reference. I just don’t see it as being a good hiring tactic whatsoever.

          2. Magenta Sky*

            I said I could almost see a point. I didn’t say I agreed with it.

            And the “almost” part was even repeated.

          1. MsM*

            Lots of people who are in no way responsible for the family drama and have done their best to distance themselves from it, in fact.

          2. Artemesia*

            Plenty of straight people too. And families that don’t get along often provide less drama than those who do — as adults they may have virtually not relationship with siblings.

            1. Observer*

              Yes. Or maybe they are going to be an exemplary employee so they can be independent of their family of origin.

              Or, or, or. The bottom line is that observable weird / bad family dynamics are no predictor of employee performance.

          3. Magenta Sky*

            People doing hiring make bad decisions for bad reasons every day. Doesn’t mean they’re not understandable reasons.

            I agree it’s a *bad* point, but I can see where it mnight come from.

            Or maybe the guy was just a jerk.

        2. MigraineMonth*

          That’s a really odd take. “Your sibling is a jerk” isn’t a great predictor of work performance.

        3. Observer*

          If a sibling won’t give a good reference, there’s a pretty good chance that’s a family with a lot of drama, which can make for an unreliable employee.

          No more than any other background issue.

          On the other hand, if your sibling sings your praises, there is a pretty good chance that the family is loyal and says good things about each other. Which can make for an employee who doesn’t know their faults.

          I could come up with a half a dozen different scenarios. But the bottom line is that none of them make any sense.

          1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

            I fell out with my brother because he stole his own children’s and mine’s inheritance. In what way does that make me unsuitable for employment?

      3. Casual Librarian*

        I forget the position, but it was heading up a department for the local chamber of commerce. So weird.

    1. Yorick*

      I was asked for a reference when my sister applied to work at an elder care facility. I guess your professional references wouldn’t know things like “she gets too frustrated with Grandma.” But they still asked tons of work-related questions about my sister that I wouldn’t know anything about.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      I got one, too. From the biggest tech company in my state! It was… weirdly formal for them.

  8. Grumpus*

    My partner got rejected today. The hiring manager emailed asking him for a call. My poor partner then nervously waited until the time, thinking he was getting an offer. What a stupid waste of everyone’s time. Tell candidates they didn’t the job over email, people. Offer them a follow up call for feedback.

    1. Seal*

      Same thing happened to me a few years back. I was much more disappointed and angry to find out that way than having received the news by email.

        1. ferrina*

          No, some people genuinely think a call is kinder. They feel that it’s more personal than an email. No matter what medium, there will always be someone that prefers the other medium.

          1. Roy Donk*

            I once worked in a place where this was a matter of policy. If you had made it to the final interview stage, we were required to call you and reject you. They believed it was the kinder way. It was the absolute worst part of my job. People always thought that we were calling to offer the job. I got a lot of people crying on the phone. No fun!

            1. Fiorinda*

              That can depend on when the call arrives. I once got a phone rejection from a job I’d applied to while I was on the bus going home from work. I only needed to see the number to know I hadn’t got the job – if I had, they’d never have called at that hour because there’d be too much to do during the phone call!

            1. Dasein9 (he/him)*

              Exactly. For an email, I don’t have to immediately Be Professional While Disappointed.

            2. Laser99*

              Exactly. It is like a person breaking up with you by stating vague reasons, or saying “Your breath stinks and I hate your mother.”

          2. Lana Kane*

            Part of me wonders if the people who say it’s kinder have ever actually received that kind of call.

            1. Grumpus*

              I know right. I think sending an email in advance to arrange the rejection call, with no previous hint that it is a rejection, is the single worst way you can routinely reject people.

          3. Grumpus*

            Surely it should be a matter of what the candidate would prefer, rather than the employer? People generally don’t like to be kept on tenterhooks, only to receive bad news.

          4. Not Enough Coffee*

            I think this is a thing that has changed over the years. Years ago, many people really did think email was an impersonal, insensitive way to give important news. I had to tell my husband this at one point–it’s been several years now, but he was talking about scheduling phone calls with people who didn’t get a job in his department. I was like, “Why on earth would you do that, just send an email so they can process it without having to respond to disappointing news in real time on the phone.” He had actually never thought of it that way before. I referred him back to AAM for evidence. :-)

            1. Anon for this*

              Yep! ~30 years ago, my purported best friend used an email cc list to tell me and everyone else he knew that his mother had died. This ended the friendship. (Not in any kind of dramatic way, of course–I’d never have brought drama in that situation. I just had a, “Dear Occupant is clearly surplus to requirements” reaction and stepped away.)

              Back then, an email cc list really did have the same feel as a robomailed “Dear Occupant” letter.

              I told someone about it maybe 10-15 years ago and at that time, I still felt the force of it, but they as a regular facebook user did not. Nowadays, even I don’t feel it–I’m sure there’s no way to really communicate the problem anymore. Nowadays, people think of an email cc list as like a facebook update.

              These days, I agree with you!

        2. Parakeet*

          The only time I was okay with this was actually the first time I applied for my current job. The hiring manager wanted to let me know that I was the second-choice candidate, that she’d wanted to hire both of us but not gotten clearance to, and that if I was open to it she’d like to use me as a consultant. She was very worried that I would be upset. Obviously I would rather have gotten the job, but I wasn’t angry or anything. A few months later, another position on the team opened up, and I got that one (and it is by far the best job I’ve ever had).

          As far as candidates for the worst rejection I’ve had go: A few years back, a company called me after an interview to tell me I’d been rejected because while they thought that my technical skills were good, they didn’t think I’d be a good cultural fit. I had been unemployed for quite a while at that point and that interview was the closest I’d come. I was choking up on the phone when making polite remarks in response, and the woman talking to me seemed taken aback that I was clearly on the verge of crying. I hung up as soon as I could.

      1. Artemesia*

        Happens all the time. A call feels like an offer and it then requires the person to not show their pain in real time. Terrible practice.

    2. FedEdJustEd*

      I had this exact situation the other week. Telling me I was going to have a final call with the grandboss, not responding to a request for a time or platform, and then the same day having a HR person call to let me know they were going with another candidate. They were respectful of my time otherwise, but what a rollercoaster.

      1. Grumpus*

        I think the insistence on a call thing is people sticking to old fashioned business norms, and refusing to update them in line with modern communication techniques. VM is ok for bad news, but a lot of younger people don’t even really use it these days. Email is just vastly superior for rejections IMO.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        honestly, that would be my preference personally. I hear it from a person, but they can’t hear whatever I say in response so I don’t have to be careful about what I say or do, and I can crankily stab my finger at my phone to delete it when it’s done.

    3. Ally McBeal*

      This happened to me a few years back. The hiring manager wanted to assure me that it came down entirely to “the other candidate had about 10 years more experience than you” and she considered me a strong candidate, hoped I would stay in touch, she would keep in mind for future roles, etc…… but I have never been great with in-the-moment feedback and was irritated that I had to struggle to keep my voice level.

      1. ferrina*

        Yeah, that’s what I hate about this- you immediately need to be in Professional Mode while experiencing extreme disappointment. It’s really, really hard, takes years to develop, and honestly it isn’t something you even want to have a lot of practice in.

      2. MsM*

        I had one where after calling to tell me I wasn’t getting the job, the person who would have been my supervisor gave a deeply meaningful pause before asking if I had any questions about the decision, like she was waiting for me to express shock or dismay. I was not, in fact, all that surprised, given that she’d cut me off mid-answer to disagree with one of my responses and ended the interview shortly after, so I suppose I managed to disappoint her twice.

    4. SaraV*

      Same here, but looking back, she may have had a perverse sense of rejecting me over the phone because of my association with someone she didn’t like. (Would have been a move in departments in the same company)

      I didn’t know any better, and a few months later applied for the same position. I was rejected via email before the application process closed. THAT’S when I realized I dodged a bullet in working under her. No one I’ve spoken to that knows her likes her.

    5. Golden*

      Ugh, I hate this. I had that situation when looking for my first job out of college – the company could not be more effusive about their excitement of my candidacy, and then just randomly called with a rejection. This was also back when scam calls were absolutely rampant, so I picked up and didn’t say anything thinking it was a scam.

      My condolences to your partner, I hope something fantastic comes through soon!

    6. Show Pony*

      This happened to me when I applied to Google. I suppose they thought it was kinder given that I’d been through a month’s worth of interviews at that point, but the way the call was framed, I thought it would be an offer. I was not happy about it and would rather have had an email.

    7. Willow Pillow*

      My partner got a request from an org he’d interviewed well at on a stat holiday asking him to meet urgently – said meeting was in the evening and they rejected him. Bullet dodged, I’m sure!

    8. allathian*

      It happened to me, too, the last time I interviewed. I was on the shortlist, but they decided to go with the other candidate. That said, it wasn’t too difficult for me to remain professional because I might’ve rejected the job if it had been offered, I interviewed in June 2021 and the new recruit would’ve had to go in to the office every day for the first 6 months or so while everyone else was hybrid every other day because they had 2-person offices and alternated so that only one desk was occupied every day. At that time, my office was still fully remote for everyone who could WFH.

      I basically only interviewed to test the waters. Sure, it felt bad to be rejected, but not as bad as if I’d really wanted, never mind needed, the job.

    9. Elizabeth*

      The only time this is acceptable (and it’s happened to me) is if the hiring manager has a serious offer to help connect you with another position in the company.

      I had HR at my last job ask us to reject people by call for a “personal touch” if they had been finalists, so it might be a common practice. I hated it!

  9. bipolarbean*

    Last year my friend set me up with the new small business she works for to do freelance accounting. I did a phone call with the owner and then an in-person interview. She was very excited because she had no idea what she was doing on the finance side of things. I told her to let me know when she wanted to get started and send over relevant information etc. etc.

    Three weeks later and I hadn’t heard anything, so I gave her a call. Her boyfriend picked up the phone and said “we’re all set with all this” and asked me to return my computer (???) I explained this was freelance work I’d be doing on my own computer. He argued with me for a while before I realized he didn’t understand 1.) the business 2.) the difference between freelancers and employees. He thought the owner had hired me as an employee and provided me with a laptop. I have no idea why he thought this.

    A week after that call, the owner called me and said her boyfriend didn’t think taking care of their books was “necessary.” He had no stake or ownership in the business at all. I never heard from them again.

    1. starsaphire*

      “Not necessary” to keep the books????

      Well, guess that business didn’t last long. Looks like you dodged a bullet!

        1. Ama*

          More like “my boyfriend doesn’t want anyone competent who might question his ‘business expenses,'” at least that’s what that sounded like to me.

        2. Observer*

          “My boyfriend says we can’t pay you until next week” type of bullet.

          Or “my boyfriend says we don’t have to pay” type of bullet. Or what @Ama said. But I’d go for the former, since he tried to claim that the OP had a computer from them.

      1. Oh, just me again!*

        surprised at the use of the word “freelance” rather than “contractor” (or “independent contractor”). Have we gotten to the point where “contactor” just means someone we use as an employee but without making a commitment to them? (I associate “freelancer” with artists, writers, certain types of designers.

        1. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

          I didn’t blink at “freelance,” but that may be because the terms is often used to describe proofreaders and copyeditors who have multiple clients.

          That can be multiple clients at the same time–say, I’m proofreading X journal, averaging ten hours/week for the last few years, and also editing a book, probably for a total of Y hours between now and the end of March, and maybe person Z asks if I can proofread the “personal statement” part of her application for a promotion.

        2. Venus*

          I don’t think accounting for a small business would take all the time in a work year, so I don’t think employee would be the right term.

        3. Media Monkey*

          to me (in the UK) they mean different things. i’m currently contracting at the same co as one of my friends who is freelancing. i have a fixed term contract, so my taxes/ national insurance are paid by the company, i get pension contributions and PTO/ paid for statutory holidays. my friend is only paid for the days she works and is on a day rate. she handles her own tax and gets no paid holidays.

    2. Marzipan Shepherdess*

      “…Her boyfriend didn’t think taking care of their books was “necessary.” ”

      Hmm…did he major in “creative accounting”?

  10. Sangamo Girl*

    This was a government employment process and I already worked for the agency in another capacity.
    [Walking down the street at lunch.]
    Me: Hi colleague!
    Colleague: I’m so sorry.
    Me: Sorry about what?
    [Colleague starts to cry.]
    Colleague: They didn’t tell you?
    Me: Tell me what?
    Colleague: You didn’t get the job and the other person has already started.

    1. Silver Robin*

      1) what an absolutely bananapants way to find out. I was kind of expecting something absurd after “they didn’t tell you?”. Like maybe the whole building moved to the moon. Or a dragon came and swallowed them up.

      2) your colleague seemed really invested in you getting the job!

      1. Sangamo Girl*

        I was the favorite candidate with the staff. I had a master’s degree and far more experience. Other candidate got it because it was “his turn” for a promotion.

          1. Sangamo Girl*

            Thanks! I got mad and left and am now in a much better agency with a far better job. It all worked out for me. ;-)

          1. Sangamo Girl*

            We do now. But this is in Illinois and that was the era when we had our Governors making our license plates.

              1. Sangamo Girl*

                Then you will love that I used to take bar cookies to the office on the anniversary of the date that our last felonious governor reported to prison.

            1. Artemesia*

              LOL. I retired to Illinois a decade ago and we have a terrific Governor (to my surprise) today — but I remember those days and the state and Chicago are both still recovering from the gross financial mismanagement of earlier corrupt governments.

    2. Bantry*

      In a similar vein I’ve had organisations announce with great fanfare the arrival of their new hire for open position, before telling me I didn’t get the job after the interview. It’s basic manners that seems to escape people these days.

  11. Snarkus Aurelius*

    I applied for a federal job. ***Three years later***, they sent me a form rejection letter.

    I’ve been applying for federal jobs, and I’ve never gotten an offer despite 25 years of experience and writing customized resumes so the auto screen doesn’t reject me. I even have a disability, and they still don’t want me!

    I’m convinced no one works for the federal government because I’ve never heard of anyone getting hired through USAJobs.

    1. lost academic*

      I only started getting interviews for things I applied for there once I was qualified on paper for the next level up. Ironically I was getting pressure to accept an offer that involved a move I wasn’t prepared for after completing a masters and starting work towards my PhD for an area I’d never actually worked in (though until you get a job in this particular thing, no one has). And I’d said all of that up front. So I’m convinced that’s really how it works with the KPIs there.

    2. DivergentStitches*

      Yeah I applied for various federal positions and had the disability thing going for me too and never even got an interview for anything.

    3. ZSD*

      I likewise applied for a ton of federal jobs without getting past the auto-screen. I finally got hired (yes, through USAJobs) once I had someone who already worked for the agency help me put together my application.
      USAJobs is a terrible system that supports cronyism in federal government hiring. I really don’t think you can get through without already knowing someone on the inside.

    4. ferrina*

      They got back to you?!?

      I do know someone that got hired via USAJobs, but it’s the exception. In general it’s an exercise in futility.

    5. SoonToBeEsquire*

      The process is so incredibly time consuming and dreadful but I did get hired through usajobs after tons of applications and a process that took almost 7 months. Keep applying!

    6. Haiku*

      I work at the federal government. I applied for multiple jobs over the years on USA JOBS.gov. I never had a single interview. However, I got a job offer BOOM in my email, with no information on what the job actually was. It was the weirdest thing, and you can bet I accepted it while subtly trying to find out what my responsibilities would be.

      1. Redux*

        “you can bet I accepted it while subtly trying to find out what my responsibilities would be.”

      2. Mister_L*

        I applied for a job years ago that was simply advertised as (my countries IRS) looking for people who have completed (generic higher eductional step that would be associated with office work / clerk).
        Only in the interview it was revealed that they were looking for field agents who would have to pass the police fitness test (impossible for me due to previous injuries) and take the test to carry a gun (I have a condition that would prevent me from using one).

        Basically, I was made feel like an idiot by the interviewer in front of a 5 people panel because I didn’t predict that the generic job description didn’t match the actual job.

    7. IT Kat*

      You have to have a weird, and totally non-AAM approved, resume to just get passed the screen. I know two people who’ve gotten hired by USAJobs, but yeah it’s really rare.

    8. CommanderBanana*

      It is basically impossible to get a job in the feds unless you have someone on the inside who can keep track of your resume. I applied for a job in a small department in a federal agency where I 1. knew someone who worked there and 2. a former roommate worked in HR and her portfolio included that department, so she could keep track of where my resume was. It took over a year, and it wasn’t even a GS job, it was one of those weird “you’re a fed but also on a time-limited contract” jobs.

      USAJobs is horrible and I personally don’t know a single person (and I’m in the greater DMV area) who has ever been hired through USAJobs. Everyone I know who is in a fed job either ended up there because they were a contractor first or know someone who already works there.

    9. Lou's Girl*

      So true! My husband works for the US Federal Gov’t and got his job through a friend. Although he did have to ‘officially’ apply on USAJobs, he got hired simply through an interview with his friend.

    10. CatJeepLady*

      Federal Employee since 98 (predating USAJobs thank goodness!)
      the one time I tried applying there for a higher GS level my rejection e-mail said “there are many more people more qualified than you” lol
      and once we were trying to fill a medical tech slot similar to mine they screwed up and put my position description instead. One of the applicants called my supervisor and asked who would be crazy enough to have EEG/EKG/CPAP compliance tech on their PD for GS 6 pay
      *rolls eyes* just me apparently

    11. OtterB*

      My husband has gotten several jobs through USAJOBS. Although the first one, he had applied to positions with that agency/location several times and never gotten to the interview stage until he revised his resume and answers to the qualification questions to be incredibly pedantic and lay out every possible detail. The hiring manager was like, we desperately need you, and he was like, I would have been happy to be working here three years ago. The other ones were easier, one making a move from one agency to another in a similar position and the other a new position in the same location.

    12. ...and then I left for a job in the private sector*

      My partner and I both got federal jobs through USAJobs, it does happen. (Different, unrelated agencies, no nepotism!) The HR system before the approved candidates are sent to the agency is awful. Trust me, people in the agencies hate the situation too, but consider it a necessary evil because the only alternative they see is having the hiring manager or interview panel at the agency to review 100s or 1000s of applications for every position, mostly from people who are wholly unqualified. I believe there’s also concern that releasing that initial review over to the agency introduces more risk of bias from having less well-trained people reviewing materials–whereas the current system sucks for everyone, but at least does not suck more based on protected classes.

      Definitely echo what a commenter above said about having a friend in the agency (if you know anyone there already) to review your materials. Knowing someone doesn’t get you through the centralized screen (hiring managers cannot name-request candidates to get through HR), but it is hugely helpful for figuring out how to communicate your qualifications in a way the HR reader will understand.

    13. Head sheep counter*

      I loathe USAJobs and have been content to work adjacent at the national labs… because… you know all the alleged hiring the IRS was doing???? ha ha ha ha ha

      1. Hot Dish*

        I used to be a Federal contractor and our office mostly hired from their pool of contract staff for Fed jobs.

        1. Hot Dish*

          I got the contract job literally by the creepy project manager at the time seeing my resume on one of those sites and calling me up unsolicited. It was during the recession, and the contract company was getting tax breaks for hiring unemployed workers.

    14. RN*

      LOL – I will say that it’s impossible to get through. I worked for them (VA) for several years as a RN.

  12. Stormy*

    When I was temping, I worked at a law firm answering phones for less than a full work day before the phone rang at the office. It was the temp agency. They said the firm didn’t need me anymore and I could go home. They’d find me another assignment. I stuck my head around the corner, to where the boss guy worked, and he confirmed that this was true.

    It was galling to learn this from the agency on the phone and not the person who was literally five feet away from me and I’m still not over it.

    1. The Baconing*

      I used to work for a temp agency in the head office, and I know our contracts with our clients specifically stated that all direction regarding pay and contract period time had to go through us to our contractor. We didn’t want our clients telling our contractors anything related to pay or length of time the contractor would be working for the vendor for several legal reasons.

      It could be that the person around the corner couldn’t, contractually speaking, tell you directly.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        But he could have apologized and explained this right away. I mean, someone at a law firm should be able to explain these kinds of things, right?

        1. RagingADHD*

          If the contract says “don’t talk to X about Y,” then a lawyer (of all people) isn’t going to go explaining things. If you want an explanation, you talk to your agency rep. That’s how it works.

          All the paperwork you sign when you’re a temp explains this pretty clearly. I understand that Stormy took it personally and was hurt, but it was not a reasonable expectation in the first place.

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            So, he can’t just say, “The contract says all these communications go through the temp agency.” That’s the explanation she needed.

        2. The Baconing*

          If the temp agency contract with that client was anything close to the ones my agency used, which followed a business standard, then, no, he couldn’t because it could have potentially led to a conversation about performance, which is in the purview of the contracting house, not the client.

          I understand it can be very frustrating to feel as though you’ve made a real connection with the client you’re providing temporary support for only to find out via phone call from the agency that your contract has ended, but that is the unfortunate nature of temp work. It’s set up that way by design to provide an extra layer of protection between the client and the contractor so that the client is never responsible for the employment of the contractor.

          1. Big Pig*

            I would more so imagine it feels like the person 5ft away can’t treat you like a human being and give you some courtesy.

    2. Our Business Is Rejoicing*

      I had pretty much the identical experience back about 25 years ago while temping. I’d had a position filling in for a person on mat leave in this company’s legal department, mostly reviewing leases for the company’s stores. I’m pretty good with editing and proofreading, and they loved me (apparently former temps were not quite so good, and my supervisor, who was a real stickler, was absolutely thrilled to have someone who “got it”,), so when the mat leave ended, I was recommended to another mat leave replacement position. This one was as an EA for an exec who was so busy I barely saw them (not in the legal dept.) Really different skillset–managing a calendar, etc. One week after starting, my agency called me AT WORK and told me that I could go home. The exec never said a thing.
      Good news was the next position I took led to a permanent position.

    3. Ms. Murchison*

      I had a temp receptionist job where the temp agency called me after 9pm Sunday night (after I normally would have stopped checking and answering my phone) to tell me not to go in the next morning.
      I suspect that the office’s director didn’t like the fact that they didn’t have enough incoming calls, foot traffic, and other reception work to keep me visibly busy. My immediate supervisor had been trying to give me her work to do but I’d developed terrible carpal tunnel syndrome at my previous temp job and couldn’t do all her data entry.

      1. Ms. Murchison*

        My immediate supervisor also didn’t have enough work to keep her busy, so giving me her work just freed her up for online shopping. But my desk was next to the director’s office and her cubicle was out of the director’s line of sight.

    4. Forrest Gumption*

      I know this sounds galling, but this was done properly. You don’t work for the law firm, you work for the temp agency. All communication is supposed to go through them.

      1. EvilQueenRegina*

        In that case, I guess I have a few anomaly stories, because back when I temped years ago, it tended to be the firm who would tell me that and I had to break it to the temp agency!

    5. WorkerBee359*

      ohh this happened to me too. I was working a temp receptionist job and the head of accounting had multiple conversations with me about hiring me in his department. Then the temp agency calls and says ‘I’m so sorry, today is your last day.’ I laughed at her at first bc I thought she just didn’t know what was going on. Stuck my head in to the accounting office and said ha ha the temp agency just said something about my last day today. He wouldn’t look at me and mumbled something about oh yeah, you can go ahead and leave, sorry about that. Turned out the boss’s son’s girlfriend needed a job so they gave it to her instead. Ouch.

  13. Chocolate Teapot*

    Working as an English assistant overseas, I had an interview for a part-time pocket money job. It seemed to go well, I was complemented on how well I spoke the language, but then:

    “We can’t give you the job as you aren’t a national of this country.”

      1. Llama Llama*

        To be fair the person interviewing may not have known. Then when doing the official paperwork for hiring them it became clear the problems for hiring them (especially if it is a small company).

  14. I should really pick a name*

    Not the weirdest, but worth mentioning.

    I had an interview.
    They asked for an additional reference.
    I provide it be email. Hearing nothing for a while, I called to provide it.
    No one picked up, and they had no voicemail (I tried multiple times).

    A few months later, they reached out again because the person they hired instead of me had quit.
    I responded that I was open to discussing further.
    I never heard from them again.

  15. Katie*

    I was interviewing for a role on a college campus in the disability resource center. This involved a presentation and half day long interview. They told me they went with the other candidate because even though the students would love me, the professors thought I would be difficult. (I had many accessibility questions during my campus tour)

    1. Margaret Cavendish*

      I would argue that someone asking accessibility questions would be a good candidate for a disability resource centre, but I guess that’s just me. And “the professors thought I would be difficult” is really something they should have kept to themselves. Talk about saying the quiet part loud!

    2. Lurker*

      Of course, because why provide a potential employee of the *Disability Resource Center* any information about accommodations?/s. Sorry that happened to you

      1. Katie*

        And it wasn’t even questions about accommodations for myself! It was a very hilly campus with lots of old buildings with lots of stairs and I wondered out loud about how things worked for people with physical limitations and the fact that they didn’t really have a great answer showed me the reason they were hiring for the center in the first place!

    3. Mimmy*

      Were professors part of the interview panel? That’s interesting.

      Also sending a fist bump – I have been looking for jobs in college disability services for a long time. Accessibility is something I’m very passionate about.

  16. Reality Check*

    Applied to work at a jewelry store. The manager had made an offer and I was excited to work there. One last formality was the “personality test.” (this was circa 1990).

    There was a long string of questions asking “do you consume” followed by the name of an illicit drug. Every illegal drug known to man. So I kept checking no, no, no. The last question that I didn’t pay attention to was “Do you think you could refrain from using any of the drugs listed above? And I checked”no.”

    Well that was the end of me. Job offer dead in the water. Store manager was very frustrated, she could see what happened. But corporate said no. We were both heart broken. Apparently that one box overrode everything in my favor.

      1. Silver Robin*

        Was thinking the same XD Like what if this were the equivalent of a snack club, are they offering these illicit substances? Is trying new ones part of their professional development?

    1. Seashell*

      I took a similar test for a summer job at a paint store around that era. I remember a lot of questions about whether I’d report a co-worker for using drugs, and the options ranged from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree”. Didn’t get that job, and I’m still not entirely sure what answers they were looking for.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I took a 100-question test for a hardware store! It could be summed up in one question: Are you a violent, dishonest, alcoholic, illicit drug user who can lift at least 30 lbs.?

        I was offered the job, but by then had already taken something else.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          I definitely misread your last sentence as “by the time they offered me the job, I had already started taking another illicit drug”.

      2. FricketyFrack*

        Usually, they want your results to show that you’d be a suck-up tattletale. I learned to lie my face off on those tests when I was applying for retail jobs in my teens. Yeah sure, I’ll tell a manager if my coworker takes an extra 2 minutes on break. Oh yeah, I’d love to report someone saying they hate this garbage job. What’s that? A coworker ate something leftover in the cafe at the end of the day instead of throwing it out? Hell yeah I’m telling the boss!

        I kept getting hired so I guess it worked, but I’m not a damn rat.

        1. KaciHall*

          don’t worry, if you answer ALL of them ‘correctly’ the system won’t advance your application either! (A coworker at the bank was asked by her old manager at Dairy Queen to come back and do their marketing part time. He told her what answers to put. He never saw her application because it was deemed likely fake. And she was a returning employee!)

    2. Jay (no, the other one)*

      I just filled out an application for a per diem position that had the same thing. “Have you ever….?” for 10 or 11 questions and then “Are you capable of performing the duties of the position?” I checked “no” and luckily realized what I’d done before I submitted it.

      1. TechWorker*

        Probably deliberate though? They want you to read the questions not just tick the same for every one

        1. MigraineMonth*

          If you’re going to *list every illicit drug by name*, no one is going to read all the questions. If they wanted people to read every question, they should have asked one or two questions about drug use (“Have you ever taken a prescription drug not prescribed to you by a doctor?” and “Have you ever taken an illegal drug?”, for example) not over a dozen.

          1. KaciHall*

            my favorite was asking me to decide my illegal drug use – it was a range from ‘Socially’ to ‘Heavy Daily Use’. No option for ‘no drug use’.

    3. Some Lady*

      I took something similar around the same time! One of the yes or no questions was, “Have you stopped using drugs in the last x months?” I was so baffled… If I answered yes was that saying I had previously used drugs in order to be able to stop it? If I said no would that be saying I was in fact still doing drugs? I don’t remember what I answered but did not get an interview. :/

      1. linger*

        Yeah, nah. Polarity inversion to check if a respondent is reading the questions is a thing, but inverting the polarity of only the very last question, while keeping the same sequence of options, sets up a trap. More transparent would be to reverse the option order for some of the earlier questions in the list of substances. But that would take more work (less direct copy-pasting of content, and more conditional rules for scoring the data). Whoever designed the questionnaire took the lazy and wrong option here.

    4. Mister_L*

      Allow me to play devil’s advocate here.
      Working at a jewelry store could mean you’d be handling large sums of money or expensive items / materials.
      The way the test was set up, you answered the last question wrong because you weren’t paying attention.
      At work, not paying attention could lead to a loss of previously mentioned money / items / materials, so you failing the test might have been exactly what it was designed for.

      Another example of such a test: Back in school a teacher handed out an extremely length test with detailed (and sometimes ridiculous) instructions.
      The first instruction told you to read the entire test carefully before starting.
      The last instruction told you to disregard all instructions except for the first 2. (Read the instructions carefully, write your name in the top right corner of the page.)

      1. Chas*

        My class was given the same test my first year of high school. As soon as I saw the instruction to read the whole thing before starting, I immediately figured out what was going on and checked the end of the test, which meant I had plenty of time to sit back and watch my teacher try to keep a straight face while many of my new classmates started doing all the silly things things like counting backwards that the test “required”.
        (But I don’t think it taught any of them to read instructions more carefully in the future)

      2. JF*

        My guy, we all took that test in school. It does not prove anything about your attention to detail or your test-taking abilities, it’s just an excuse for the teacher to be smug.

        All standardized tests also advise you to read the entire test carefully before beginning. If you do that, you waste half the test time and the teachers get pissed at you, and it does nothing to improve your final score, because there is no benefit to reading an entire test before starting to answer.

        And no, employers do not slip ‘attention to detail’ tests into their inquiries about whether or not you use drugs. They can literally just test that the normal way if they want to.

  17. 123456789101112 do do do*

    Federal hiring can be slooooooooow. Months if you’re lucky and they’re moving quickly. But when I received a form rejection letter from the Army I was flummoxed because I didn’t remember applying to an Army job recently. I keep track of all my applications in a spreadsheet, and I had to scroll back nearly two years to find that job. Yes, they waited two whole years to reject me by form letter. Government efficiency.

    1. Anne Elliot*

      As a government employee (by strong preference), I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten a rejection letter weeks or months after no post-interview contact, leaving me reading a “you didn’t get the job” letter at my mailbox and muttering, “Yes, I was aware.”

      1. Governmint Condition*

        It isn’t two years, but in my agency, we can’t notify the rejected candidates until after the person hired shows up for work. In the case of a promotion, the candidates all know long before the letter is sent (by U.S. Mail).

        1. Redux*

          Im in state government and this is how it works for us too– because the background clearance and appointments process takes so long, the time between when we select our candidate and they start is 8-12 months. So, all the other applicants have to know they aren’t the candidate, but we cant tell them that because nothing is official until it’s approved.

  18. Sneaky Squirrel*

    Likely a sexism issue more than it is weird, but I was told that I was their 2nd candidate but didn’t get the job because I didn’t smile enough.

    1. Margaret Cavendish*

      Ooh, I had the opposite! I once was the 2nd choice for a job because I smiled too much. Not that it bothered the people in the interview, of course, but they were worried that *other* people might be bothered by it. SMH.

        1. Nea*

          Ah, smiling. That thing that women can’t do enough or too much of. It’s like pumpkin spice – I spend 3/4 of the year being told people like me don’t like spices enough, and the last quarter that I like the wrong spices too much.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            Wars have been fought over cinnamon. Of course it’s delicious and of course I’m putting it in my coffee.

    2. Lenora Rose*

      A female friend of mine, hiring into a role directly within her Master’s Degree and several years of active work experience, was told she sounded too confident she could do the job.

      1. Margaret Cavendish*

        I mean, you can’t let a woman get too confident. Otherwise she’ll get all uppity and start having *ideas* about things, and then who knows where we’ll be???


  19. Sindirella*

    In the phone screening with HR, I’d been VERY clear that I do not have a CPA, nor do I plan to get one. I was told that was totally fine. During the interview with the hiring manager and a woman who literally refused to introduce herself, the woman told me that she didn’t know how I’d made it past the phone screening because they absolutely required a CPA, but they didn’t like to be explicit about that in their job listing. Ok, fine, no big deal. But then proceeded to tell me that I was a job hopper because I changed positions/received promotions every few years while working at ONE employer for over 13 years. She also made several comments that made it seem like she was fishing for my age. She was trying to “lay out the timeline” of my work history, while my chronologically ordered resume was sitting right in front of her. Based on my work history, it’s obvious I’m probably in my late-30’s/early 40’s, but if you try to do the math from my college graduation you might think I’m a decade younger since I went back to school after starting my career. This was apparently causing a lot of confusion for the unidentified woman. It was clear after that interview that I wouldn’t have wanted to work for this company anyways, but I had never been treated so poorly by an interviewer before. I found out later that the unidentified woman was a family member of the owner. I guess she just has a big chip on her shoulder or something. Oh well, bullet dodged.

    1. ThatGirl*

      This reminds me of a weird experience I had back about 5 years ago…

      I’m a copywriter and editor. That’s what I do, I write and edit. I am not a technical writer, I am not a designer. Yet I got a call from an internal recruiter for a “technical designer” position. I was so confused and explained to her that I wasn’t a designer or a technical writer and she said the title was misleading and my background seemed like a good fit. So I went through like 3 rounds of phone interviews, then was abruptly told that my experience was not a good fit for the position. Like, okay, but you called ME? Do you even know what you ARE looking for?

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        No, no they did not.

        I once had an internal interview where the recruiter who was handling the role was out unexpectedly. Not only did the person interviewing me clearly know nothing about the job (including what it even was!) or how to answer my questions about the role, but she spent the entire time jumping from her computer to her phone, etc. If I didn’t already work there, I would have just crossed the company’s name off my list of potential employers.

        What got me is that we were in the same building. I wasn’t taking any time off to interview. They could have explained the issue and rescheduled with the assigned recruiter, and I would have been fine with that.

        I didn’t get the job.

      2. Elle*

        OMG. I’ve had very similar experiences. I don’t know what it is about technical editing and writing that seems to confuse recruiters. I’m a technical writer and editor, but I get recruiters contacting me for instructional and/or technical design quite frequently.

      3. Ama*

        Honestly, I think sometimes the recruiters/HR staff *don’t* know, either because they misunderstood or they don’t understand some of the technical terms and are scared to admit it.

        I will never forget the hiring process at a university I worked for where we wasted six months not finding a single good candidate for a position requiring very specific subject matter expertise …. because the HR person wrote the list of “must haves” down backwards. So where the hiring committee wanted expertise in topic A, and not in topic B (unless they had both), the HR person had in their notes “not in topic A, only topic B.” It wasn’t until a committee member had a topic A expert friend apply and they got quickly rejected for “not the expertise we are looking for” that it came to light.

        1. Elle*

          I think you hit the nail on the head. My team has done a good amount of hiring since I joined several years ago, and our HR always manages to misunderstand things so spectacularly.

          1. Chauncy Gardener*

            That’s why I never let HR write the job description or screen resumes when I’m hiring. Ever.

        2. ThatGirl*

          The strangest thing was that I also talked to the hiring manager who seemed interested in my experience at first, at least enough to string me along for another interview. I don’t know. The whole thing was just weird; my only guess is that it was a new role and they really *didn’t* quite know what they wanted.

      4. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I am a technical writer with non-technical BA and a minor in computer science. I had a really interesting interview with an enthusiastic hiring manager for a position that specifically said BA or BS.

        The hiring manager’s boss met me and pretty much wrinkled his nose in petty disgust and said they need to have an engineer. Hiring manager was left floundering — obviously in disagreement and obviously unable to override the veto.

        I’ve since heard stories of a really sexist environment there — someone who keft a sister company said “engineer” was probably code for “man.”

      5. nnn*

        I’ve had similar. A recruiter proactively reached out to me based on my resume on a job site and spent a significant amount of time and energy telling me about how I’m a perfect fit for the job.

        Then I get to the interview, and they’re like “You have a lot of education. Why do you want this job?” in a bizarrely accusatory tone of voice. (I have a single bachelor’s degree, which is par for the course for that kind of job.)

        Then, after they rejected me, I got calls from three other recruiters trying to match me up with that job.

    2. Old lady*

      i joined the navy when i was 17. when i got out of the navy at 37 i was applying for jobs. one interviewer insisted i was a job hopper because every couple of years i moved positions. she had no clue that is how the military works. i didn’t have a choice and yes the navy owned me all those years. She was an idiot

      1. Margaret Cavendish*

        I once had a recruiter suggest I was job hopping because I was teaching llama grooming part time at a local college, while working full time at my regular llama grooming job.

        She absolutely could not figure out how those two things could be happening at the same time, and assumed I was lying about the dates in order to cover something up. It was bizarre.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          I suspect you might have been applying at a company I worked for. Employees who couldn’t handle other roles were often palmed off on HR. To be recruiters.

        2. Bast*

          I’ve had recruiters utterly perplexed by the idea of working two jobs at once, like it isn’t a common occurrence now.

    3. Angela Zeigler*

      That explains why she wouldn’t introduce herself, at least! Otherwise it would just be a scene from Seinfeld- refusing to say her name, shaking her head furiously without answering anything.

    4. Wilbur*

      Absolutely bonkers reading on what job hopping is. Great way to tell someone you shouldn’t expect promotions.

  20. black holes are for space and job apps*

    I have a few!

    1. I got rejected once mid-interview because I am not fluent in Spanish. Nowhere in my resume or my cover letter did I claim to speak Spanish, nor did the job description state anywhere that Spanish fluency was required.

    2. I once applied to a federal job and got rejected because I did not meet the minimum qualifications for a GS-12. I emailed them back to let them know the position I had an applied for was a GS-9 (a job requiring much less experience, for those unfamiliar with the US federal system), and asked them to check to ensure they were considering me for the correct position. I got an email back a few hours later apologizing and stating that I also didn’t meet the minimum requirements for a GS-9.

    3. I once applied to a job on a company website. The hiring manager slid into my LinkedIn DMs (I did not apply via LinkedIn! But I have a unique name and an easy to find. I’m also a woman). He said I didn’t have enough experience for this job, but that I had a promising future in the field and asked me out for a drink. F*ck you, Brandon.

    4. Not a rejection, but I once applied to a job and got an auto-email that said, “Here at [company], we believe black holes are for space, not for job applications. Whether or not we decide to bring you for an interview, we’ll be sure to let you know.” It’s been four years, and I’m still waiting for them to get back to me on that. The kicker? They were a communications firm.

    1. bripops*

      That happened to me once with French! Granted, this was in Ontario where at least basic knowledge of French is a fairly common ask, but if it’s a requirement or if they need someone fluently bilingual they’ll usually specify. I have a working proficiency but not enough that I ever noted it on my resume unless an online application specifically asked with an option to specify that I’m not fluent.

      Went into an interview that hadn’t had a single mention of French in the job description or application process and halfway through they were like, “okay, the rest of the interview is going to be completely in French” which obviously I wasn’t prepared for! I struggled through a few very technical questions with a lot of specific vocabulary that I wasn’t familiar with, and they ended the interview early… still completely speaking in French as they told me my French wasn’t good enough. Fortunately my listening comprehension is good enough that I got that part.

    2. Elle Woods*

      Sometimes comms firms are the worst. They’re great at putting together plans and content for their clients and horrible at doing it for themselves.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        The shoemaker’s family syndrome. My worst insurance coverage was when I worked at an insurance company.

    3. Elle*

      I was hired for a job that required Spanish fluency. I do not speak Spanish. It was not in the job description nor did it come up during the interviews. My team hated me almost immediately because it was clear I couldn’t help much. Frequent AAM readers would not be surprised to learn this place had many issues with bday and holiday celebrations. Very dysfunctional job.

    4. Overit*

      #1 Happened to me with Spanish. I had been volunteering a long time at our town library. Had gotten to know the professional librarians. Althoughbmy background ia notbpublic librarianship, I did pinch hit for them a few times at the reference desk and help in collectiona dev. They all kept urging me to apply. A job came up that looked interesting. I applied. Heard nothing. a month or so later, the library director calls me to state I did not get the job “unfortunately. But you do not speak Spanish.”
      Cue the sounds or brakes squealing. No where in the ad or app process is there a Spanish language requirement.
      I ask why there is a Spanish requirement. “This job includees many hours corraling the children of Hispanic immigrants who are dropped off here after school and all summer.”
      Also info nowhere to be found in the ad, job desc or app process.
      Kicker is I am not fluent, but do speak basic Spanish well enough to deal with kiddies.

    5. mcm*

      i’m obsessed with #4 on this list. I love the idea that they went out of their way to decide and communicate that not responding to applications was terrible, set up a little auto-reply, and then didn’t reply to their applications. absolutely obsessed, 10/10, no notes.
      (and, incidentally, probably a great idea of what working there would look like — all the right ideas, none of the follow-through)

      1. black holes are for space and job apps*

        Haha thank you. At the time I was pissed, but enough time has passed that it’s funny now. If they hadn’t sent that email, I’m sure I’d have no memory of ever applying. I have a friend whose company ended up hiring that firm for a consulting project, and your assessment is spot on! She was not impressed with the quality of their work, and they did not get rehired for future projects.

    6. Sneaky Squirrel*

      Oh, that reminds me, I was once rejected for a temp job because I didn’t speak spanish sufficiently (I’ve had a few years of classes and have enough that I can read/get the jist of things, but would certainly not call myself conversational). However, I got a job in another department that would be the first level of review, then the data is sent to the department that I was rejected from for a final review (think my department enters data from the forms, their department QCs to make sure no mistakes were made).

      It turns out, the only “need” for spanish was because the forms were written in both english/spanish (think Name/Nombre: XXXX;). There was 0 need to understand Spanish, we were just ensuring that the person’s name and US address was still up to date in the system.

    7. black holes are for space and job apps*

      I can’t believe I forgot #5! I got a form letter from HR rejecting me from a job, and they spelled the name of the agency wrong in the email. This email came two weeks AFTER I started working at said job. I called my boss in a panic to ask wtf was going on, and she called HR to shove their rejection where the sun don’t shine. I’m still at that job three years later, and all of my subsequent interactions with HR have tracked.

  21. Smacking my head*

    “I just wanted to see what you looked like.”

    For context, I was a journalist covering sports, at a time when not too many women were. No internet yet so there was no way to look me up. I was also about 22 with little experience in the workplace. I dressed for an interview and was enthusiastic about the possibility of a role with this prestigious publication. The interview was conducted in the man’s office and was not for a specific role but with the hope of connecting for something open or for the future.

    My face must have registered a mixture of disgust, shock, and disappointment. I pulled myself together and announced: Well, here I am!

    I never heard from that office again.

    1. Elastigirl*

      I had a friend who had been a runner up to Miss America. She got interview after interview (with men) for really interesting jobs, but was so perplexed that she never got a job offer.

      A mutual male friend explained that of course she got all these interviews, because it was worth half an hour of the interviewers’ time just to look at her.

      He never understood how horrific this was.

    2. pally*


      I got the request to come to their office in person (even though they had my resume). This was a temp agency specific to the biotech industry.

      When I got there, the lady explained that she “wanted to know what she was dealing with”.

      Okay, I am not FOM. At all. But I’m looking for a lab position. Not much interaction with the public in a lab job.

      Clearly she wanted perky 2o-somethings. Not that either.

      But I know my stuff. But that didn’t seem to matter at all.

      Did not get the position I applied for. Nor did she ever find any other positions for me, which she had offered to do.

  22. Nea*

    I don’t know if this counts as weird per se, but…

    I’m supposed to move to a different internal department. My soon-to-be manager calls me and says “This is the date (a Thursday).” I tell her that I’m going to be on planned PTO then, shall we make it the next Monday?

    She makes a HUGE deal out of no, no, it MUST be that Thursday, this is how they do it in her department, am I going to lose a lot of money on that vacation? No? Then really, I ought to reschedule, because that particular Thursday is so very, very, very important!

    And then… she ghosts me. For *weeks!* The Wednesday before the very important Thursday I call her and ask if things are still on schedule. She says no, she’ll get back to me. Not a peep about “thank you for putting off your leave” or “I hope it’s not too late for you to go on that vacation after all” – absolutely no acknowledgement that she made that demand of me at all.

    After about six more weeks of silence, when I have long since met and trained my replacement in the original department, the other department manager calls and says that the job no longer exists and she hopes I haven’t been replaced yet.

    (That’s the place I gave 2 days notice before I left. No regrets.)

    1. online millenial*

      Given how much my eyes are bugging out of my head right now: definitely weird. And unbelievably rude.

  23. Snailsharkk*

    This happened in 2021. I had gone through 7 interviews with a small startup. I was fairly desperate after going through 2 layoffs in as many years so I put up with it even though it was a nightmare.

    They said they’d get back to me in a week while heavily implying I was their first choice. Luckily I continued to interview elsewhere.

    2 weeks go by and I receive an email that they’d like to setup a phone call. I assume this is an offer. They call 7x beginning 2 hours before the call was even scheduled. I was at yoga so didn’t see the first handful. I return their call when I get home and it’s a conference call with the hiring team (5 ppl). They tell me they chose the other candidate but they enjoyed meeting me.

    I will never understand why they felt the need to – as a group – conference call me SO urgently to tell me that.

    1. FricketyFrack*

      And did they not have any actual work to be doing if all of them are prepared to sit and attempt a conference call for 2 hours? I mean, obviously they didn’t, if they also had time for SEVEN interviews, but good lord. It’s no wonder so many startups fail.

      1. snailsharkk*

        It completely baffled me.

        The hiring manager was a VP which made the effort/time they put into turning me down feel even weirder.

        I’ve worked at many startups throughout my career. Some are great but so many make it clear that the leaders involved do not have the experience to actually build and lead functioning teams.

  24. Halimeda*

    I applied for a fellowship and got an email with an attachment titled ‘RejectionLetter.docx’. And all the rejected candidates were CCd, so our names appeared. It was so bad I found it quite funny, despite the hell that is the academic job search…

    1. 40ish*

      Kind of similar. Applied for an academic job in Sweden. The rejection included a document where they had described and rated every applicant. My officemate (another postdoc) and I got the rejection email at the same time and where like „whaatttt?“. This was not a mistake, but apparently required by transparency laws.

      1. AnotherLibrarian*

        On one hand, that transparency could be really valuable feedback. On the other hand, sometimes you know you blew the interview and you don’t need to be reminded of it.

          1. allathian*

            Yeah, transparency towards the applicant can be a good thing, but revealing the ratings of every applicant to each other should be illegal and probably is, at least in jurisdictions where GDPR is in force.

  25. juliebulie*

    It was the mid 90s. I was out of work. A recruiter called and said he had an administrative assistant job in the next state (like 6 hours’ drive so I’d have to relocate). The thing is, I wasn’t looking for an admin job. That should have been plain from my resume.

    And when I expressed confusion as to why I would be interested in an admin position in another state, he said, “well, it doesn’t hurt to ask. That’s why they put all those buttons on a sailor’s pants!” wtf

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      buttons on a sailor’s… what the hell does that even MEAN? Like, I feel like it’s a dirty joke, but I cannot for the life of me figure out what the joke IS.

      1. juliebulie*

        Well, if you’re looking for something funny, you won’t find it.
        It’s something to do with the time it takes to unbutton that many buttons.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I didn’t figure whatever it was would be funny, but I can’t even make a feeble connection between “it doesn’t hurt to ask” and “lots of buttons” to roll my eyes at.

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            I also can’t imagine. My dad was in the US Navy before he settled down and got married. I remember him explaining why sailors’ uniforms are the way they are. (Everything has a purpose that makes sense on a ship.) Nothing about buttons in that kind of context.

      2. Oh, just me again!*

        I know sailors had 13 little buttons on their fly (and they weren’t under a flap, so you had to button every one) but I don’t get this remark? How does it relate? (I might have said “cause you never know” or “‘Cause if you don’t ask you don’t get” but “buttons on a sailors pants”?!)

    2. A Simple Narwhal*

      …What does that even mean??

      Gotta love the gumption of recruiters sometimes. My favorite is the “Hey you’re currently employed full-time, any interest in quitting that for a part-time contract job for less money and no benefits? Why not?!”

      1. NMitford*

        Part-time contract job for less money and no benefits AND a killer commute. You left that out, LOL.

        I had one recruiter who was astounded that I didn’t want to commute from my home in Fairfax, VA, to College Park, MD, fighting traffic on the DC Beltway, for peanuts and no guarantee of a permanent position.

        1. nnn*

          I get these so weirdly often. I’ve been working fully remote for over a decade (and my LinkedIn says I’m only interested in fully remote opportunities), and I keep getting messaged with jobs that pay half as much and have a two-hour commute each way.

      2. juliebulie*

        Yeah, I get that one a lot. Very often those jobs are out of state. WAY out of state. These recruiters are in faraway lands and I guess have no idea/care that someone looking for work in the Boston/Providence market won’t got to Wisconsin for a temporary job.

        1. Potoooooooo*

          I had an internal recruiter ask me to apply to my same role at a different location 3 times in 3 days. All of them would have required me to relocate; one was even clearly part time. The grammar and spelling were poor, and I didn’t think too much of it after bringing it up with my manager that the recruiter was giving a bad impression of our company.

          A month later, I got an email from the same recruiter, offering me the wonderful opportunity of a demotion within my own team. My manager and I shared a groan over that one.

          1. Beacon of Nope*

            Glad that last one wasn’t your manager trying to tell you something! (I’m sure there are truly awful managers out there who would demote someone that way.)

      3. ICodeForFood*

        Yeah, I’ve had a version of that one, too, except it would have been moving from one full-time perm job to another full-time perm job… for less money, in a state with higher state income taxes.

    3. Telephone Sanitizer, Third Class*

      Also befuddled as to what the innuendo is supposed to be there. What a weirdo

    4. juliebulie*

      Ugh, I just realized, today’s topic is getting rejected by a company, not rejecting a company, so this is rather off topic. Sorry…

    5. Scott*

      To answer several people replying to your post about the Sailor’s pants, the dress blues junior US Navy Sailors wear (sometimes referred to as “Cracker Jacks”) have a flap on the front with 13 buttons. There is a long-standing joke many decades old about it being ‘thirteen chances to say no’.
      Source – retired US Navy

    6. Laser99*

      “Well, it doesn’t hurt to ask” raises my hackles. When you work in retail it always follows the most absurd requests. “Can you sell me this $700 item for $50 if I pay cash?” If I was really cranky I’d mutter “Only your dignity.”

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        I once asked a furniture salesman if I could order a chair without the decorative nailheads that were on the display model. I said “Can I get it without the tacks?” He said “Sorry, no.” OK, that’s how that goes. And then he said “The state always has to get its share.” I was confused – and then said “I meant the UPHOLSTERY TACKS, not the SALES TAX.” He said “Oh! Then absolutely yes!”

        And that was when I learned some people – apparently quite a few people – ask floor staff at a retail staff if they can break the law. WTAF?

        1. Chirpy*

          The first time it happened to me, two ladies ask if I could mark a non-clearance item as clearance for them once. They did not let it drop either when I told them just adding the sticker doesn’t change what price it rings up at the register…it wasn’t even all that expensive, I think it was a boring shirt. So many people think that retail workers should just risk their jobs to give them a “discount”.

  26. raincoaster*

    I interviewed for a retail job with a successful family retail business twice, got an offer with written copy of the dress code and first week’s schedule, spent all my money buying clothes to fit the dress code, showed up the first day ten minutes early. Only to be told in the intervening two weeks there had been a divorce, the person who’d hired me no longer owned the company, and I wasn’t going to be working with them.

  27. NotaMeatSlicer*

    I was in high school, looking for a normal summer job and saw a local deli/specialty grocery store had “now hiring” on their sign. So I stopped in for a paper application (it was the late 90s). The woman at the counter gave me an application but seemed so irritated that I was applying. She kept stressing that it involved cleaning a bathroom occasionally (okay fine, no big deal) and other weird tasks when the job was mostly making sandwiches and running the register. Okay maybe she just wants to be really honest, fine. But the weirdest one is that she kept saying how disappointed she was that I didn’t have meat slicing experience. This was an entry level summer job at a very small sandwich place. It was not a “deli supervisor position.” I just figured you could learn this on the job? Multiple times she mentioned how it was so unfortunate I had no meat slicing experience. She wasn’t even the owner or manager, just the person working that day.

    They never called me about the job. I assume she was trying to wave people off to hire someone she already had in mind or something? My family and I still discuss it 25 years later and how you just can’t teach meat slicing. You’re either born knowing it or not.

    1. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      I bet she threw the application in the trash after you left and the manager never saw it. And meat slicing experience? In high school, I worked food prep in a lunch restaurant (salad, soup and sandwiches) and they taught me how to use the meat slicer my first shift. Now, cleaning the slicer? That was a little more complicated and had written step-by-step instructions).

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Depending on the state, you might not even be allowed to use the slicer if you’re under 18.

        1. Switz4219*

          Because it is SHARP! I worked at Arby’s in college and I once grazed the tip of my finger against the blade while cleaning; that was more than twenty years ago and I still have a scar.

      1. Redux*

        I adore that your family still references it, too– someone is incompetent? “you just cant teach meat slicing.” rude? “you just cant teach meat slicing.” has poor taste? “you just cant teach meat slicing.”

    2. lyonite*

      I like to imagine she still tells that story too. Like, “And this person came in to apply for the job, and they didn’t even have any meat slicing experience! Can you believe it?”

    3. Girl in the Windy City*

      I wonder if there was any law about using the slicer if you were underage? That doesn’t sound like her concern here, but I remember working at a fast food restaurant when I was 16 and they told me something to the effect of, “you’re not supposed to use the tomato slicer since you’re under 18, but we need you to slice tomatoes. Here’s how to do it…” That device was so sharp it could have taken my hand off, which is probably why there were laws about its usage, but nobody I worked with seemed to care.

  28. NMitford*

    A phone call isn’t inherently weird, but here goes….

    After graduate school I worked as a salesperson in a Hecht’s department store in the Washington, DC, area while job hunting. We really, really, really were not supposed to received personal phone calls at work, and I did not include a work phone number on my resume (this was long before cell phones). Someone I’d interviewed with, rather that simply send a rejection letter, took the time and effort to call multiple Hecht’s stores and found the one I was working for, then got the operator to put the call thru to the phone in the department where I was working by saying that it was an emergency, whereupon he gave me the news of my rejection while I was ringing up a customer. I had to keep on smiling and bag the customer’s purchases.

  29. Objection*

    I was one of 3 people being considered for a promotion to a position for which there were 2 openings. I wasn’t chosen for the promotion (another story), and of course I was upset about it. I worked in a satellite office, and they called me into the main office (a 45 minute drive from my office) to tell me in two minutes that I wasn’t getting the promotion. It was my birthday.

  30. Poker Chip*

    This didn’t happen to me, but I was part of the hiring process.

    At a past job, a few coworkers and I had all interviewed for a position with a different organization. I got rejected in the normal way. But my coworker, T, received a call from the organization offering a third coworker, W, the position. And that is how T found out he had been passed over. T politely gave the organization W’s phone number.

    That hiring process was a mess though, because a few months later the organization called me and offered me the position. I asked about W, and it turns out the position they were offering me was not the same position as initially stated, but a temporary position to cover someone’s military leave. I politely declined because I had just started a new job and was unavailable.

  31. Keeley Jones, The Independent Wonan*

    The worst was a phone call. I was in a job that I absolutely hated, and I applied for a job I was a really good fit for. It was one of those half day long interviews where you meet with different people. A few days later I got a call from them at Terrible Job. I answered it and rushed to a private area because of course they were calling to offer me the job!?!!

    Nope. The recruiter said they wanted someone with more leadership experience. Said role was an individual contributor and never once was I asked anything specific to leadership. Being rejected over the phone was terrible and I had to pull myself together and go back to my desk. To add insult to injury, about a month later a staffing agency called me to interview for the position I had already been reject for, as it still hadn’t been filled.

    I’ll take a cold, generic rejection email over a phone call any day.

    1. Autofill Contact*

      Ohhhhhh that’s awful. My spouse was also recruited for a job he’d already interviewed and been rejected for. He was polite enough to tell the recruiter (who was a staff recruiter at the company) that he’d already been rejected. She did not feel good about that.

      1. KaciHall*

        I was once recruited for my own job. That was open because I was moving 500 miles away in a week.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        To be fair , sometimes the same job reopens , and you have a second crack at it. I was rejected from my company seven months before I was hired by my company. No change in my background, just a different hiring manager.

  32. pally*

    I completely match the job description except for knowing Excel pivot tables. I let the HR person who performed the screening interview know this was the case (I did know the basics of Excel). She said that pivot tables knowledge was not an issue. I had everything else.

    Four separate in-person interviews later, I am rejected because…I don’t know Excel pivot tables.

    So I’ve taken 4 courses in Excel. And I’ve learned way beyond pivot tables.

    A year or so later the job ad runs again. I apply-indicating my mastery of pivot tables. Complete radio silence.

    1. You want stories, I got stories*

      OMG. 4 minute video on Youtube about how to do pivot tables. I had a recruiter tell me I should really learn pivot tables. Just watching a video wouldn’t be enough, perhaps I should generate fake data to be able to do pivot tables without watching the video.

  33. ecnaseener*

    I don’t have a good story myself, but I’m curious how this worked in the pre-email, pre-cell-phone days…did hiring managers call you at home and leave a rejection message with your spouse, or on your answering machine for the whole house to hear? Or did they just keep calling without leaving any messages for however long it took? Postal mail? Smoke signals?

    1. starsaphire*

      Letters, mostly.

      In 1988, at a receptionist job, my very first task was typing rejection letters to all the other applicants for my job. (There were quite a few, and one of them, to my surprise, was my then-best friend. I sent the letter, then we went and had coffee later that night and laughed about it.)

      But yeah, pretty much most business correspondence was through the mail.

    2. Seashell*

      I first heard of e-mail when I was in college, and I don’t think it became the norm in work-related stuff until well after that, so I had plenty of job applications where e-mail wasn’t involved. I think either you’d hear nothing or you’d get a letter. I can’t recall ever getting a rejection phone call or message.

    3. KayDee*

      From what I remember from applying for jobs way back in the 1900’s, you got your rejection letter in the mail :-) Usually if they were offering you the job they gave you a call, at least in my experience.
      And yes, I’m old! ;-)

    4. NMitford*

      Yes, to messages with family.

      I interviewed for one job where I really didn’t get good vibes from the whole interview process and wasn’t at all sure I wanted the job. Well, I was living at home after graduate school, and the hiring manager called and got my father at home on his day off. She told him about the job offer. When I got home from my part-time job, I told my father that I really wasn’t sure about the job.

      Well, that was utterly ridiculous, according to my father. I’d been living at home for months and job hunting unsuccessfully and I was going to take the job. And that, folks, is how I ended working for the worst boss I’ve ever met.

    5. Polly Hedron*

      Where I worked, we would call, then feel lucky if we got to leave a rejection message without having to talk directly to the rejectee.

    6. MaxKitty*

      Mostly postal mail. In law school, we got so many rejection letters that a classmate papered their wall with them.

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        Hubs and his roommates did that our senior year in college. Job rejections, grad school rejections, scholarship/fellowship rejections….quite the display.

        Years later he almost framed the rejection letter from a small southwestern state college saying he didn’t meet the minimum qualifications for their academic position. Undergrad degree from an Ivy League, Phi Beta Kappa. Competitive fellowship that paid for most of his PhD at Stanford. Post-doc, publication record, teaching experience. Say what? I’m sure the real story was that they didn’t think they could keep him, which was also true.

        1. Shiba Dad*

          My roommates and I hosted a party that we dubbed “Loserfest”. Part of the reason for the name was that we had a friend who ran for student government President and lost. One of my roommates had run for Veep and lost the prior year.

          Another reason was I couldn’t secure a job and had lots of rejection letters. I posted them on the walls of our apartment.

    7. Snow Globe*

      Graduated from college in the late 80’s, back then the rejection came in the mail. At the college I attended, we referred to those as “flush letters”. Among the seniors, we kept them and had contests to see who had the most. :)

      1. I'm sorry, what?!?*

        We called them flush letters as well, and people would cover their doors with them. Apr-June it wasn’t unusual to see your RA’s door have 8 or 9 rejection letters.

    8. Serin*

      Our answering machines never broadcast the message while it was happening. If you were standing by the answering machine while a message was coming in, you’d hear a beep and a light would start flashing quickly, and then you’d hear another beep and the light would change to that slow “you have one message” flash.

    9. pally*

      My mom tells me, that, back in the 1940’s and 1950’s (when she got her first jobs), one routinely brought a self-addressed, stamped postcard to the interview (in addition to a copy of the resume and references). This post card was left with the interviewer or the secretary.

      Then later, the employer would mail out the post cards to all candidates who did not get the job.

      In fact, just like one would remind someone to bring along extra copies of their resume, Mom reminded me to bring along a post card as well, when I was going for some of my earliest interviews for jobs (in the 1980’s). No Mom, I did not bring along a post card. No one ever asked for one either.

      1. Redux*

        Oh man, I love this little bit of history. So quaint! And also, so cruel to make you supply your own rejection materials!

    10. She of Many Hats*

      Answering Machines were often the bearer of bad job news, too. But mostly, in the 1980s & 1990s, you got ghosted with most entry-level jobs or foot-in-the-company’s-door jobs unless it was an important enough position.

    11. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Letters were usually sent in the mail.

      But hiring managers were completely willing to talk about your business with the other people who answered your phone. (My mother once got my job offer because I was flying back to the place I’d been living, to pack up and move home. Better her than the people I was sharing an apartment with I guess!)

  34. Kristin*

    Not for a job, but I got this message on my answering machine many years ago:

    “Well, I *was* going to hire you for [freelance gig] but your answering machine message was *SO RUDE* that now I’m not going to!”

    I don’t remember what my answering machine message was like – I was about 22 so probably not the most professional – but in retrospect I’m pretty sure I dodged a bullet with that client.

  35. AngryOctopus*

    Mine isn’t that bad, but it was the one line response to a follow up inquiry from me (the only one, and sent because I had another offer in-hand) that went ‘K thank you for reaching out but we have decided to go in another direction.’ K being the initial of my first name.

  36. Nesta*

    When I was looking for my first part-time job, I had a telephone interview with a clothing retailer one afternoon around 4:00pm. It was very scripted, but I had little experience, so it seemed weird to me, but I couldn’t tell how I had done. It didn’t seem like any typical job interview that I had read about to prepare. With experience, I can see they now likely used some kind of interview program with questions they promised would offer a deep insight and get the perfect employees. One of the questions I can remember was something like which vegetable would I want to be and why.

    The next afternoon in the mail I got a postcard rejecting me.

    This manager must have had to run down the postman immediately after hanging up with me to make sure that made it to me less than 24 hours later; I guess I picked the wrong vegetable!

    1. ferrina*

      “I’m kale, because I’ve got curls and I’m good for you. I can also withstand all kinds of weather and don’t mind a chilly environment. Some people say I’m bitter, but I think I’m worth it.”

    2. Ama*

      I kind of wonder if the manager was hiring someone they already knew but the hiring process required a certain number of interviews, so they’d already sent out the rejection postcards before doing the other interviews. I find when there are required question lists like that the rest of the hiring process can also be a little too focused on doing every step exactly.

    3. Redux*

      I’m a pumpkin; I take up a lot of room, I’m tough to break into, but once a year I’m an absolute star.

    4. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

      “I must be a mushroom because you’re keeping me in the dark and feeding me bullshit”

    5. Sunglasses at Night*

      I got the “what kind of tree would you be and why” question once. I happened to be able to look out a window, and saw a pine tree. So that’s what I went with. The person interviewing me then asked if I loved Christmas. I told her that it wasn’t generally a good idea to ask about religious celebrations in an interview. I didn’t get a call back.

  37. Lab Boss*

    I made it to the final 2 internal candidates for a promotion at work. We werent’ supposed to know the other candidate, but they scheduled us for back-to-back meetings with upper management and we were sitting int he lobby together in our fancy clothes. The VP in charge of the decision took forever as one crisis then another kept distracting him, then a 2-week work trip to our European offices, then catching up from the trip… we were on pins and needles the whole time.

    Then some random Wednesday he bumped into me in the hallway, said “Oh, we’re going with Jennifer” and wandered off to the bathroom. I think that was even before she knew. It took me a day or two to realize I should ask for a meeting to actually follow up and get feedback on what I could improve for next time. Jennifer is now my boss, the VP is in the C suite, and it’s all a happy ending, but that was just so blunt and weird and out of character for him. I have to assume he was really stressed and distracted that day and it was an easy way to get something done from his check-list, but it was WEIRD.

  38. avocadolime*

    I was desperately trying to move out of academia and had applied for a position at the local library. The hiring director left me a voicemail asking for me to give her a call when I was able. Thinking this was my moment, I excitedly called her back immediately. While in the grocery store. She proceeded to tell me they had gone in a different direction and I was left fighting back tears in the chips aisle.

  39. Wordnerd*

    When I finished my master’s in rhetoric/composition in 2014, I applied for professional writing tutor jobs at all the community colleges in my area (in addition to adjunct teaching). Then in 2016, I got a full-time job as a writing center coordinator. Six months after that, I got a rejection email from one of the tutoring jobs I’d applied for in 2014 telling me I wasn’t qualified to be a tutor.

    1. AnotherLibrarian*

      I’ve had this happen. In 2009, I applied to a Masters program, never heard back. In 2016, I got the rejection email from that program. By that time, I already had a my Masters (from a more prestigious program) and I had a full time job in my field. They even had the nerve to offer to encourage me to reapply “after I had really considered if the field was for me”. Such a patronizing email.

      1. Leira*

        I would’ve been tempted to see if they had any openings for someone with a Master’s and experience…

    2. Dragon_Dreamer*

      My community college had me take a class in Computer Science to be qualified to tutor students in it. “If you take the class, the job is guaranteed!” Easy A, as I had been working in the industry for a few years at that point.

      I submitted my transcript to the manager of the tutoring center. Her response? “Oh, sorry, they should have told you that you have to be a Computer Science major, too.”

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I find this especially funny, as my current manager has a minor in computer science. I am not sure what his focus was (nor do I care to ask), but I (English major and history minor) know more about computers than he does.

    3. I'm the Phoebe in Any Group*

      And if your master’s program was anything like mine, grad student teachers were required to work in the tutoring center as well as teach classes.

  40. Carly*

    I did so badly at the interview that I received a rejection letter by post the next morning. My interview was at 4pm. They must have paid to send the rejection by special delivery or something for it to reach me the next day! In the country where I live, the post is not that quick…

    1. Ginger Cat Lady*

      I once got home from an interview and walked into my apartment to hear the man I just interviewed with leaving a message rejecting me. It was about a 10 minute drive and I went straight home, and I felt good about the interview, too!

    2. Teapot, Groomer of Llamas*

      I got a email 5 minutes after I walked out an interview once. I felt like they completely wasted my time.

  41. Panicked*

    I know federal hiring is a whole other world, but I just recently got a rejection for a job I applied to over a decade ago. I’m sure someone was probably just clearing out old files, but it still cracked me up!

    1. Lab Boss*

      That’s hilarious! I’d put money down that it had nothing to do with wanting to let you know, and everything to do with some governmental requirement to tie up a discovered loose end no matter how screamingly irrelevant.

      1. SELECT*

        Or they changed software/updated their relational database stuff or something similar. Sometimes that sort of thing trips up automated messages. Maybe a new person didn’t know to put a time cap on their SELECT query. Loads of reasons that don’t need an actual human brain involved, or at least not like that.

    1. Tegan Keenan*

      Oh, that is the worst. For my last several jobs, I have specifically asked the hiring managers when other candidates would be notified so I did not inadvertently do this.

  42. Century Kestrel*

    I had an interview at a local very prestigious organization and they told me they wouldn’t move forward with my candidacy because they thought I was too transparent when I “pretended to actually care about the field”. I wasn’t pretending, actually, I was a wide-eyed new grad and very excited at the opportunity.

    They got exposed in the newspapers a few years later for employee abuse, which sort of tracks.

      1. Century Kestrel*

        Really! I interpreted is as them being so jaded and cynical that they couldn’t in fact believe someone was genuinely invested in their job. It’s been 5 years since and I still am, in fact, so I think it was a reflection of how toxic the place was.

  43. MKR*

    It was January or February. I was working from home to take an interview for a new job. About an hour before the interview, I wasn’t feeling great & called my doctor’s office — just based on symptoms, they were sure it was flu. By the time the interview started, I was a bit bleary from a fever, but it was a video interview, and I figured I’d muddle through. I’m sure it went worse than I remember, as I was hallucinating a bit, but given that they weren’t paying a living wage for the city and you were required to live in city limits … yeah. I survived the flu and sent a thank you maybe a week later.

    So maybe a month went by, which is typical in my field. I got a rejection email. Which I expected! Fine. But then I got another. Maybe they forgot they sent the first? I don’t know. Two weeks pass — ANOTHER email rejection. A week later? A fourth. Over the following three months, I got SIX separate rejection emails, which was confusing enough that I looked them over to see if they had an automated system that was glitching, but no, they were all a little different and not really formal enough to sound like a boilerplate?

    That was 8 years ago, and I’ve never been so thoroughly rejected for a job — by a city government, too.

    1. NMitford*

      One of the schools I applied to for graduate school also had some sort of glitch and sent me multiple rejection letters over the course of months. I so sympathize with you on this one.

      1. linger*

        “That’s a no from me!”
        “And it’s a no from me, too!”
        And so on, from each panelist in turn.

    2. Policy Wonk*

      When you mentioned it was for a government, I immediately assumed you were caught in a bureaucratic war over who is in charge, with various officials trying to assert their authority by being the one to reject you. I’m sorry it happened to you, but must admit I am chuckling imagining the infighting as they all claim they are in charge of this, flourishing their versions of your rejection letter as proof.

  44. Euphony*

    I worked for my local mini supermarket for a year before going to university. After my first year of university I needed a summer job, so I applied to the supermarket again and they were happy to have me back. Thought I was all set for the summer…. then it burned down the night before my first shift back. I remember my mother telling me and I thought she was joking, so had to go see for myself. Welp – it was completely destroyed! So my job literally went up in flames!

    1. EvilQueenRegina*

      There was a big fire in the town centre involving 4 businesses in my home town back in 2010, and the news coverage at the time included similar stories of people who’d been supposed to start jobs with these businesses at the time and the fire had put an end to that. It was neither a supermarket nor summer, so not the same story as yours.

  45. GigglyPuff*

    As others have said, the phone calls are annoying. Though the second time it happened (well into my job search career, lol, so not surprised by anything anymore) they were really very nice and basically told me to apply to other jobs there. I realized the person they hired was an internal applicant and according to their linkedin profile didn’t have any direct experience in the subject they’d be the assistant director of, lol. There’s still a glaring issue on their website that could be seen as slightly offense over a year later.

    Ghosting mostly, especially academic job where they’ve flown me out, some have even checked references and I never hear anything back from them. Not even automated HR messages from the system when they do hire someone. Either they aren’t set up or they don’t actually mark the job as filled. Happened four months ago. Got my references checked and nothing, not even an “HR is slow” email to my polite inquiry three months ago.

    The mailed rejection letters, all for jobs that never even received a first interview for. Once it was almost a year later. Can’t imagine how much money they’d save if they stopped doing that and just sent automated rejection emails through the system.

    1. Loredena*

      Final interview for a tech company, they flew me out to boulder Colorado. Recruiter asked for a verbal commitment to take the job if offered. They proved to be a rather athletic group (I was not) and took me to lunch at a place that sat everyone in tall bar seats. I am 4’9” and struggled to perch on the seat.

      They ghosted me.

  46. WasAFirefighter*

    Had a job interview, felt it had gone well especially since it ended with the boss saying that next step would be a trial and would I be interested? I was, he said he’d be in touch in a week or so.

    I wrote the next day saying “very excited about all this, I know the trial won’t start for a little while but any chance of a head’s up of what you’d like because I’m excited and want to get started thinking about the project”.

    Prospective boss sends over an outline of the project with enough detail that I can begin and reiterates trial will be the next week.

    I do a bit of work, send it over asking for feedback so I’m not going off on a tangent.

    No reply. Two months later, I email saying “I assume I didn’t get the job. would have been nice to do the trial. Feedback please” (all politely, of course)

    Feedback: we never said we were offering you a trial.

    So why discuss it with me?!

  47. Carly*

    I was rejected from a position I really wanted – the feedback was that I wasn’t enthusiastic enough about my current position (that I was trying to leave!). To this day, I don’t really understand why I should sound super enthusiastic about a job I was actively trying to move on from.

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      And if you had been sufficiently enthusiastic about your current position, they’d say you wouldn’t be committed enough to the new company.
      One of those, “I don’t know what they want, but it’s apparently not me” situations.

  48. Not Tom, Just Petty*

    Just after college, I applied for a clerical job in a small department in a university medical school. The woman loved me (I think I was the only applicant she got, obscure sub sub sub department), said I was perfect and then took me on a tour of the office introducing me to people.
    It was a whirlwind, but I was like cool. A job.
    She would be in touch with the official offer.
    Two weeks later I called to ask about starting.
    “I’m so sorry. Right after you left, a woman came in who is studying in this field, you understand. We hired her.”
    But you said I had the job.
    “I’m really sorry about that. But I had no choice.”
    (and I regret this part) “But, but you said I had the job and you would call me.” in a really heartbroken voice. (this was a $5/hr filing job, two buses from my house. But it was MINE!)
    Yes, sorry.
    (awkward silence)
    I think in some version of the multiverse she and I are still waiting for the other person to hang up.

    1. Lab Boss*

      Ooh, that reminds me of college. I had a job as an undergraduate researcher, and was going to graduate in the middle of the academic year. The PhD I was working for offered to keep me on through Spring semester so I could be making money while job hunting. Then the week of Thanksgiving he pulled me into his office to tell me a post-doc had inquired about working in his lab, and he was going to be hired using the money budgeted to keep me on. He then basically ghosted me for my last month, wouldn’t help me in my suddenly-urgent job hunt, nothing. I hope that it was because he felt ashamed of what he did. Luckily one of the other PhDs in the department helped me network and got me in the door at the company I’m still at over a decade later.

  49. Helvetica*

    The ad said “good proficiency in English” (in a non-English speaking country) and then they rejected me based on my English skills because I didn’t have a degree in English. Which they hadn’t asked for (any type of higher education was acceptable, per the posting).

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        To be fair, my BA and Ma mean I am proficient in Old, Middle, and Early Modern English (as well as the current version), but unless time-traveling, reading some extremely old documents, or making obscure puns was involved, that is probably not what they needed.

  50. Seashell*

    I once applied for a job that required 5 years of experience in a particular area. In the application process, I wrote a paragraph about my experience that stated I had a job with that experience from 2002-present. Apparently, figuring out that this time from was way more than 5 years was too challenging for the person screening the applications, because I was rejected for failing to show that I had 5 years of experience. I guess the takeaway is that expecting screening people to know what year it is and do basic math is expecting too much.

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      I’m taking this as a lesson to spell things out.
      It’s absurd, because if they are looking at resumes, they should have the number in their head. Like, “if you were born before this date, you can’t buy alcohol.” If you’ve used this software since X date, you are good.

      1. Seashell*

        I suspect spelling things out in a manner used to talk to a 6 year old was what they were looking for. “I have worked at X job with X responsibilities from 2002 to 2019, which equals 17 years. 17 years is more than the 5 years of experience required by this job.”

        1. Autofill Contact*

          I got resumes last time I hired for a position that more or less did exactly this, but in a table format?? Left side: things you asked for in the posting. Right side: my qualifications. I was a little insulted, but I’m sure they’ve gotten this advice somewhere.

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            This is a format that works for some government jobs. My state government doesn’t want a cover letter in the usual sense. They want a letter of qualifications.

            I’ve helped screen them for a position, and they are much, much easier to go through when you have a bunch.

          2. Your Mate in Oz*

            I would absolutely love this from applicants.

            Far too often I end up combing their resume to find that one line that mentions something related to the requirement. Think “must have large animal grooming experience” then after grinding through 20 years of retail positions finally I discover that at high school they worked as a part time llama groomer.

      2. Sandi*

        I have also heard the “We require 10+ years of experience in [software language]” when it was only developed a few years ago.

        1. Always Tired*

          Having worked at a tech company with no tech background working on the hiring side, I can say with some confidence that someone in recruiting (internal or external) sat down with the manager to get qualifications, and the manager said “Expert level knowledge of E++ programing language!” Meaning that they have been using E++ since it was developed 4 years ago or has worked in it for 2+ years so it puts them ahead of most people who haven’t used it yet, but never mentions that part. The recruiter has a table in their head that says “novice is 0-1 years, proficient is 2-5 years, advanced is 5-10 years, and expert is 10+ years.” so when they sit down to write the job posting, they write the requirement as “10+ years of experience in E++”

          1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

            That, or it’s based on the salary being offered. But this has been happening for at least 20 years now!

  51. Red_Coat*

    Fun story time! Had been working for 2-3 years in a call center for an insurance company, and was miserable and depressed to the point it was effecting my physical health, so began to apply to jobs in other departments- entry level ones I was qualified for. Because I was MISERABLE I applied to every opening I could reasonably see myself doing, and got a decent amount of interviews.

    I got pulled into a meeting with 3 interviewing managers and my grandboss and told: 1. I had been applying to too many jobs and looked “desperate to get out of the call center” and 2. I should get out of the call center and network more at company events.

    I wasn’t allowed to go to company events for longer than the 10 minutes it took to grab food and leave, because they didn’t shut down the phones or provide coverage for the phone lines. Which the grandboss knew.

    1. Red_Coat*

      Salt in the wound- forgot to add that because I was young, shiny, and full of hope that I had convinced myself that _all_ of them wanted to offer me the job, and they figured the fastest way was to have me decide in this big meeting. (Yes, I know, but… 23, first professional job, first generation not in a trade…)

      Felt like a good detail to add, so you can see just how hard that bubble was popped, lol.

  52. Seal*

    I once interviewed for a federal government job and weeks later received an email with the subject line “NOT HIRED”.

    1. Seal*

      Also, the message itself had a footnote saying it was autogenerated and not to reply. The whole thing was so ridiculous I had to laugh.

  53. Coverage Associate*

    Rejection letter that misspelled my name for a job I didn’t know I had applied for after a friend passed on my resume without telling me the employer. I got a few rejection letters that misspelled my name during law school.

  54. H3llifIknow*

    Well, it wasn’t exactly a rejection, but when a coworker, “Frodo” had been asked to be taken off his project due to lack of progress (he was super nice but lazy AF) they had nowhere to put him so my boss of 7 months said to me, “we only have funding for 1 analyst so have to let you go, in order to keep Frodo because you have a husband to take care of you and Frodo has a family to support.”

  55. Three Seagrass*

    Not me but my sister: was rejected from a lab tech job but they helpfully recommended she apply for one of their janitorial openings.

    1. nora*

      After grad school I got rejected for a program coordinator position but they were very pleased to offer me an unpaid internship! I’m pretty sure my response included several graphic descriptions of where they could shove their internships.

  56. Alex*

    My college had an ad board where local people could post wanted ads for jobs for college students. Think babysitting, yard work, etc. I responded to one from an elderly gentleman who was looking for someone to cook meals for him and bring them to his house. This sounded great to me, because I loved cooking (and had my own kitchen to do it in) and I could work it around my schedule. So I gave him a call.

    He seemed nice enough, if not chatty in that lonely old man kind of way. He said his doctors said he needed to gain weight and eat better but he didn’t know how to cook for himself. He said he was interviewing people by having each candidate cook a meal and bring it to him, and he would decide. He said he would pay me for the meal.

    So on the pre-arranged date, I cooked up a nice hearty homecooked meal–shepherd’s pie, three bean soup, homemade rolls, and cookies. (He said he needed to gain weight! lol). I made my way to his address (which was in a much sketchier neighborhood than I thought it was), and knocked on the door.

    “WHO’S THERE!” yelled a man from inside the apartment. I identified myself and reminded him that this was the prearranged date he had chosen for me to cook him his meal.

    “THIS IS A TERRIBLE TIME!” he yelled again. He did not open the door. I wasn’t sure what to do since I had a large bag of food, so I offered to leave the food at the door and leave.

    “NO! No, I’ll come out!” And the door opened, and there stood a man with Einstein-like hair, baggy pants, and giant suspenders. “I’ve just spent the morning in jail!” he said. “We old people HAVE NO RIGHTS!” He was very angry and I was getting a bit nervous. But for some reason, when he gestured that I come inside, I did. (I was young and stupid and used to following instructions.)

    I was in his living room now, where his TV was on, volume UP. But it was not tuned to a channel and so it was just static. Creepiness factor multiplied by 10.

    He offered me some tea and I declined, but he started making some for himself. He put a pot of water on the stove. He put a mug in the pot. I showed him the food I’d brought, and he muttered something and handed me a $10 bill (not nearly enough). He then went on ranting about the police, how he had no rights, and how his daughter was a police officer in Puerto Rico. He showed me her business card as proof. I gathered that maybe he had been using medical marijuana? and got caught? (it wasn’t legal yet) but I never really knew for sure.

    Suddenly, the phone, which was attached to the wall (this was a long time ago) rang, and he answered it. The phone call made him angry–he was yelling and ranting to the person on the other side. Then he started to walk into the hallway, yanking the entire phone off the wall so that it was no longer connected. Amazingly, he kept right on talking.

    At this point I was pretty sure he was going to come out of the bedroom with a shotgun, so I quietly let myself out and fled as fast as possible.

    Later that evening, he called me to apologize and tell me my food was delicious.

    “But I’m afraid I can’t hire you,” he said. “I have to flee the country.”

      1. ferrina*

        That went in such a direction! I’m not even sure what the direction is, but it definitely went there!

    1. Silver Robin*

      This is why I always make sure to read through the comments. I am in awe. I am going to be giggling about this for a week

    2. Hermione Danger*

      Blink. Blink. Wide-eyed blank stare as I try to process what I just read.


      I mean…


    3. H3llifIknow*

      You win. I was enthralled from beginning to end and that ending. *Chef’s kiss* a masterpiece.

    4. Charlotte Lucas*

      This is gold! I see it as a scene from a movie. Or an SNL sketch with Kenan Thompson in either role. (If we could only have him do both!)

  57. ONFM*

    I found out through a corporate social media post that the position I’d applied for had been filled – three times, at three separate companies. I guess that’s how you do it these days? They were all executive/department-head positions, fwiw, so it wasn’t surprising that they would be announced on social media, but…ouch. For one of them I had made it to the final round of interviews; I actually rescheduled a vacation in order to continue the process, and heard nothing back until I saw the FB post. I didn’t love it.

  58. Cookies For Breakfast*

    I received a rejection email that included the words “It would make me sad if I stifled your dreams” and “to help you follow your career path in [industry I had consciously applied to], I have decided to not progress your application”. It’s very old now but I keep it for when I need a laugh.

    This from a hiring manager who played some weird power moves in the interview, such as scheduling the meeting for 7am (this was not a shift-based business and I was locked out of the office building until she arrived late), and pointedly asking me how I feel about working with difficult people, because she considers herself a very difficult person to work for.

    I was desperate to leave my workplace at the time, and still would never have taken the job if she’d offered. But hey, thanks for the amusing rejection.

  59. Clem*

    I was quite excited about a job after two interviews where I’d got on really well with the interviewers. I got an email asking to set up a video call to let me know the outcome, which increased my excitement. During said video call, they told me that I hadn’t got the job, then one of the interviewers started crying and telling me how hard it had been to make a decision, so I ended up having to comfort her and pretending that I didn’t really want it that much anyway so she didn’t feel too bad about it.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Nah… You didn’t have to comfort her. For putting you on the spot, she deserved to have you burst into tears right alongside her to make the lesson really sink in.

  60. NMitford*

    Also, I think I’ve told this story before, but in my fund raising days, I interviewed for a job managing both membership and annual giving for an art museum in Baltimore. I arrived and waited and waited, because the interviewer was running late. I was just about to ask if I could run outside and feed the parking meter when I was finally called in.

    I handed the interviewer a copy of my resume, she looked at it and said, “I told HR to not set up an interview with you because you only have annual giving experience and I need both.” I prepared to launch into my “here’s why I think my skills are transferrable” speech, when she stood up, and showed me to the door.

    I arrived back at my car to find a parking ticket, which I could ill afford at that time in my life.

    Later, I received an official form reject letter that basically said, “Sorry your skills weren’t a good fit, but here’s a free ticket for admission so that you can enjoy our lovely collections.”

    Readers, I never set foot in that museum again and never will.

  61. Elevator Elevator*

    In my 20s, while I was stuck in a dead-end job, I helped out with my friend’s little sister’s birthday party and got to talking with her stepfather. He suggested I come interview for a role he and my friend’s mother were hiring for. I did, and they went with someone else, which was fine.

    Some time passed, and the mother emailed me asking if I’d be interested in possibly working for them in a new position that had opened up. I promptly responded saying I was interested and asking to set up a time to discuss it further…and didn’t hear back until nearly a week later after I left her a voicemail following up. She sent me an email apologizing and saying they’d already hired someone else who apparently entered the picture right after she reached out to me.

    I wouldn’t have minded the rejection (I didn’t have specific experience in their field, and they found someone who would have been better able to hit the ground running), but it felt lousy to have someone I’d known for so long proactively dangle the opportunity like that and then never follow up. To top things off, she really went into detail about the new hire in the email – “we found someone with better experience” would have been fine, I don’t know that I needed to hear quite that much about how great she was going to be.

  62. Lorna*

    Applied for a job in a very male dominated industry and was told during the job interview that I’d only be considered for the role if I promised (!!) to not have any more children (had 1 at the time). The guy wanted me to actually pinky swear. I left and never looked back.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        She could have crossed her fingers behind her back. That renders it null and void. (source: I was also a kid)

    1. WellRed*

      If Alison publishes a round up, I think there could be a separate round up of “because you’re a woman”

    2. Kay*

      These days you can let him know that it may not be up to you – but he may want to take it up with some Supreme Court justices and politicians.

  63. Cookies For Breakfast*

    Oh, and I just thought of another one!

    A couple years ago, I applied online for a role I had relevant experience for (someone who works at the company confirmed as much when I shared this story with them). Customised cover letter and all. I received a rejection email 20 seconds later. I’m not kidding. Twenty. Seconds.

    1. AI4thewin*

      “After a careful review of your impressive qualifications, we have decided to proceed with other candidates who most closely align with the role.”

    2. Vertigo*

      This happened to me too! I wrote a cover letter and went through all the application hoops….and then two hours later I got a rejection email.

      I had really wanted that one too so it felt like a real slap in the face. Like, did anyone even actually look at it?

  64. Pink Flamingo*

    Once, a company I interviewed with sent an actual courier to hand-deliver me a rejection letter. This was in 2019 or so, and all of the other communication we’d had (the application, setting up the interviews, etc.) had been done over email. This was not an industry particularly known for its formality, either – I’m in biotech, not finance or law. This dude showed up, asked me to confirm I was X, handed me the envelope, and then bolted, and I thought I was getting served until I read the letter. I guess the company wanted to be extremely sure I received the letter? Is that the opposite of ghosting?

    1. TinySoprano*

      I’m getting mental images of the Skyrim courier NPC just wandering up to you and declaring “this is from the jarl!”

  65. Jane Bingley*

    For years, I volunteered for a non-profit, working under a staff member. She spent years preparing me to be her replacement because she knew her retirement was coming up. When she left, I applied for the job.

    The hiring manager called me after the interview and asked me to volunteer to train the person they’d hired because I was more familiar with the role.

    (I politely declined to train the person hired in my place but continued to volunteer under her. She left on mat leave after six months and I was offered the job a few months later when she decided not to come back!)

  66. JTA*

    I received a voicemail telling me they had gone with a different candidate about a month after the press release announcing who was selected had been distributed internationally.

  67. Hiring Mgr*

    In college one summer I was looking for a job and saw an ad with vague language about the job but it said “get paid in cash daily” so I called up.

    When i spoke to the boss or whoever, the questions were “Have you ever done any collecting?” “Are you a big guy”. “Do you have any big friends who need a job too?”

    I think it was a mutual rejection

    1. Irish Teacher.*

      Whent I read “have you done any collection?” I assumed charity collection. Then I read on and um…maybe not.

  68. Watry*

    I found out I didn’t get an interview for an internal promotion when people from other departments started showing up for their own interviews. And I still had to let them in and take them to where the interviews were being held.

  69. Serious silly putty*

    After interview:
    “Great! We’ll send you a personality test to complete and be in touch with next steps.”
    *completed personality test*
    *email asking for timeline *
    “We’ve decided to move ahead with other candidates.”
    [I FAILED their personality test?! :-( ]

    1. LCH*

      i had to take a handwriting test once (which was evaluated for personality?) i got the job though so no weird rejection story :( it was a terrible place to work so bullet not dodged.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I once had to provide a handwriting sample for a job at a florist back when cards with bouquets were handwritten. I have terrible handwriting, so I don’t blame them for giving me a pass.

    2. Lady_Lessa*

      I failed one too. But, in my case, I wonder if they really wanted a drop in candidate, and it would have taken me time to get up to speed.

    3. Loredena*

      It wasn’t a test but years ago I had an interview for an IT job as a lead. Round table with the HM (male), team (male), and HR (female). HM called to reject me — “he wanted to hire me but HR said I didn’t fit the culture “

  70. ivra*

    I had an interview with a company that seemed really appealing. They wanted to hire me quite badly. They offered me a higher title, better pay, and used the word ‘brilliant’ when describing my interview performance.

    Then they found out that I asked an employment lawyer to review NDAs before signing them.

    They sprung a follow-up interview with some VP I’d never met on me, and used what I said in that interview to suggest that I was “too inflexible” for the role and to rescind my (generous) offer.

    Bizarre. Bullet dodged, I guess.

    I ended up getting a raise at my original employer about a month later and beating their offer anyway.

    1. Corporate Lawyer*

      This one hit home for me because I have on occasion reviewed NDAs for friends who are starting new jobs. So weird that they would pull an offer for that! Speaks volumes about the employer, and I agree that it was a dodged bullet.

  71. Sam*

    I applied for an internal job transfer that would be doing something I already did on a daily basis (editing customer document templates for clients calling in for support). I was already known on my team for being the ‘go to’ person instead of sending the documents to the Document Team I applied to.

    The manager of the team set up an interview with me. I spent ages preparing and even my team manager praised me up and down and thought I was a shoe in. Instead the doc team manager instantly started the call with ‘yeah I don’t think you are capable of this job and am not going to hire you’ and spent the next hour and a half telling me every way I ‘wasn’t ready or skilled enough’ to do the job.

    The entire time I was watching the call queue ramp up and just wanted to die from embarrassment and just drop off the call to go help my team since they were completely swamped with a member down.

    It was soul crushing to not even be given the chance to talk and even get a semblance of an interview. I could never manage to talk to the Doc team manager without remembering the ‘interview’ and feeling ashamed for even applying.

    1. LCH*

      gross. that was a them thing and not a you thing. i hope you know now that you can just shut it down after the first sentence and say, thanks anyway, bye!

    2. Hermione Danger*

      This sounds to me like someone being a jerk to you because they’re a jerk, and not at ALL like there is any reason for shame on your part.

      1. ICodeForFood*

        This! Exactly.. the guy was obviously a jerk, and his decision that you weren’t qualified was about his need to feel superior and really had NOTHING to do with your abilities!

    3. Lizzo*

      For what it’s worth, you have no reason to be ashamed. That manager sounds like an ass who has zero people skills. Nothing to do with you or your value as an employee (or as a human being)!

    4. OtterB*

      This makes me wonder if the manager was bent out of shape that your original team would go to you instead of sending documents to his document team.

      An hour and a half to tell you why you couldn’t do the job? That is … not normal.

  72. Bird Lady*

    I had a first interview at a small, but much admired non-profit. It went very well. By the time I had traveled from the interview to my office, I had a request for a second interview. When I showed up for the second interview, there were a few employees there, and they kept the lights to the building turned off and wouldn’t answer the phone. I thought this was strange. So I reached out to the people interviewing me to see if everything was okay and if rescheduling was a possibility. I let them know I was still excited about the position.

    After a day or two, I received a message that the stomach flu had ravaged the office. They inquired to see if I was doing okay and hoped I had not caught it from them. I responded that I was grateful for their concerns but was happy and healthy and still very much looking forward to the second interview, whenever they were up to it. I got a call quickly to let me know that they weren’t doing second interviews and that it was me and another candidate in consideration. Sick leave had pushed them past their hiring deadline since the position was funded partially by a grant. They would be making a decision before Christmas. Made sense to me, since all this happened during the first three weeks of December.

    The day after Christmas the hiring manager called me in tears to let me know they weren’t going to hire me. I spent 10 minutes of the call consoling her. Sure, the job would have been a nice stepping stone in my career, but I had a good job and was working on interesting projects. No one needed to cry over it.

  73. Amy*

    I’ve got a good one. When I was maybe 22, I interviewed for my first job out of college. During one interview, the older man meeting with me told me I wasn’t qualified for the job he was hiring for (despite calling me based on my resume and telling me on the phone I seemed like a great fit) and suggested that I cover my breasts better and dress more conservatively. I was wearing plain black slacks and a button-up shirt; no cleavage was showing nor were any buttons straining. I seriously felt ill at his comments.

  74. Menace to Sobriety*

    I have rejected the same person at 3 different companies that I worked for as a lead analyst, and have had her blacklisted at colleague’s companies as well. Why? Because the resume she’s using is MINE. She was a tech writer in our office, and when that organization shut down our function we all left for other positions. Tech writing doesn’t pay much, but MY role is in high demand, so, she copied my resume off LinkedIn and only changed the personal details and a few dates. She’s been passing MY resume around for several years. She’s gotten hired at a few “bottom feeder” contractors, but everytime I look her up on LI, she’s at another place. She never lasts long. I assume it’s because she’s hired on the strength of a resume for a career she knows nothing about.

      1. Menace to Sobriety*

        Y’know… it’d be pretty funny, in theory. But in actuality, I suspect it would not go well and could turn pretty adversarial and she’d end up on the defensive, etc… I feel I’ve done my part. It’s a small-ish community and everyone here either knows me, or knows someone who knows me, etc… so I get a lot of “hey we’re looking at hiring so and so…do you have any thoughts?” kind of emails, and when I see her name, I tell the truth. I tell them that it’s possible that in the intervening years since we worked together she HAS developed some of the skills she claims to have, but they weren’t gained doing what the resume says, and that she’s at the very least unethical enough to plagiarize my resume, and she’s on our permanent “No Hire” list.

    1. Epilogue*

      I rejected an applicant for our latest opening who had clearly generated their CV by putting my LinkedIn profile into ChatGTP.

  75. Inigo Montoya*

    I went back to school for my MBA after 10 years in the workforce. During my last few months, I had an interview with a Venture Capital company through the University’s placement office. After the interview they said that they were looking for someone that they could abuse and overwork for a few years and I was too qualified to accept the lousy working conditions and office environment.

  76. EngineeringFun*

    Engineer (46F) with PhD applied for a job at a consulting company that current employer worked with. Had 5 great interviews but then was asked to derive equations on the spot. This is my Achilles heal. They said they were going to offer me a job, but then there was a delay. Second interview deriving equations on the fly equally not good. Then they personally called me to tell me they wanted to hire me but couldn’t because ceo thinks everyone should be able to derive equations in the fly. For the record that’s not how my brain works. I’m very creative and then I do maths. Therefore before interviews I now practice deriving equation on forces acting on a bike just in case anyone asks.

    1. OtterB*

      My husband, an engineer with a master’s degree, applied for a federal research position. They rejected him after an interview because his undergraduate in-major GPA, more than 20 years old at that point, was something like 2.95 and the hiring manager didn’t think candidates with GPAs of less than 3.0 were up to the job. I think he said they asked him to justify his low GPA (again, from 20 years before). He said he had taken too much of an overload of courses trying to complete a double major and would do it differently if he had it to do over. Since that undergrad degree he had completed his master’s degree, and the position he was interviewing for was closely related to work he’d done for some years in the private sector and for which he had earned a couple of patents, which one would think indicated sufficient talent for research in the field. But the undergrad GPA was apparently insurmountable.

      (He could probably have derived equations on the fly. We joke that I made better grades in calculus in college than he did but have forgotten everything I ever learned, while he still uses this stuff all the time.)

  77. Caller number 1*

    I was rejected from a full time role (I currently work per diem, but full time hours) on a video call with my manager. The video call was for another project and I had to sit there and not cry while I tried to discuss project goals.

  78. Serin*

    A small one:

    My large company had three very similar positions open at the same time, and I applied for all three.

    The first one rejected me a week later.

    The second one scheduled an interview, and eventually they hired me.

    The third one sent me a very normal rejection email — ten months later.

  79. PhyllisB*

    This is a different take. One of my daughters applied for a receptionist job at a tax service. She was officially hired but not given a start date.
    She waited a short period of time and called to inquire about when they wanted her to start. She was once again told that they would let her know. They never reached out.
    The kicker ia a couple of years later she had taken another position, worked, was laid off and filed for UE. This position popped up (she didn’t list it because she never worked there.) When the UE office called to verify, they had her listed as employed. Do you know how hard it is to prove you DON’T work somewhere? Note: this was years ago and I assume it would be simpler now with everything online, but very strange.

  80. Poison I.V. drip*

    Worst way? I was a teenager and an ice cream shop in my town had a help wanted sign in the window. I asked my mother to drive me there but she couldn’t, so I walked there. It was a significant walk, close to an hour, and it was in a recent snow, so not fun. After that walk, I was relieved to see the sign still in the window. So I walked in and asked about the job. The owner says “Not hiring.” I was like, “But the sign-” “NOT HIRING.” So I walked out. I’ll never know, but I suspect my skin color (brown) got me rejected.

    1. Petty_Boop*

      Your instincts are probably right on, and it’s infuriating, even how ever many years later to this stranger, who is the Mother of mixed-race children, on your behalf. I’m sorry that store manager was a racist asshat.

  81. Anon (and on and on)*

    When I was working on a huge university campus, I applied for a job in another department. They contacted me to move me ahead in the process but than followed up saying they had checked my attendance and didn’t think my record would fit their needs for having someone on call. Note that I was well within my annual allotment of sick time! They just wanted someone who didn’t call out frequently, I guess. I’ve never responded to a rejection before or since but I definitely responded to that one, pointing out that I was following university guidelines around sick time usage. No response. The kicker? This was an HR department!!

  82. (Don't) Call Me Back*

    I had a pre-scheduled conference and I was contacted for an interview that overlapped. That’s fine. I scheduled it through Zoom during a time there were no panels I was interested in. They said they’d let all candidates know three days later. I got a call, left a session to answer, but I didn’t get out in time and the person coordinating the hiring asked me to call them back. That was all the voice mail said. I called them back and got told I wasn’t a right fit for the job, etc., and that I should have gleaned that from the voice mail (???) and I made it awkward by calling back. I just thanked him for his time and feedback, ordered a pizza to be delivered to my hotel room, and read a novel for the rest of the night. It put a damper on the rest of the conference, but the pizza was great and I’m in a full-time work from home position now so it all worked out.

  83. Intern Drama*

    I don’t know if this counts, but it lives forever in my mind. I applied for and was accepted for a federal internship with the chance to be converted to a full-time employee. I gave 120-150% every day — in part because I had been homeless for two months before receiving the job — and I was dedicated to ensuring I was converted. I got there early, stayed late, helped out other teams, created new training materials, etc. When my educational program ended, my boss began the paperwork to hire me on full-time and I was under the impression that everything was going fine.

    Then HR called me. Not my office’s HR, not my Agency’s HR, but the Department-level HR Intern Coordinator called me personally and told me my educational program did not qualify me for the intern program, I would not be converted, and I should never have been an intern in the first place. I asked if there was a way we could work around it since I’d been at the job for 2 years. She said no and hung up on me. I cried so hard. Middle of the day, middle of a cubical farm, and I was inconsolable. Eventually my office’s HR head found out what happened and blew a gasket, threatened grave consequences all the way up the chain. She knew the Agency head and threatened to bring them in to solve the issue. Eventually Department-level HR caved, and I’ve was converted.

  84. Jane*

    I applied to be an online shopper at Whole Foods. I got a rejection saying that I didn’t meet the minimum qualifications.

    I have no idea what those qualifications were. The ad did not list any except your generic “work independently, able to lift 50 pounds” etc. For context, I’ve held down a job for over 20 years and have a master’s degree. This was just supposed to be a side gig! lol.

    1. Scott*

      The excuse was BS. I’d bet the real reason is because you already had a full-time job and a masters’ degree so you were way overqualified for that position. Even though you just saw it as a side gig, they were probably concerned you would bounce the first time something didn’t go well because you didn’t need the job. I had a similar thing happen about 25 years ago when I applied for a Friday and Saturday night side gig doing security for a local bar/restaurant. I already had my full-time career and didn’t actually need the job.

  85. Dinwar*

    Had an interview with a construction company, for a position doing concrete testing. The interview was at a steakhouse, which was nice. The guy asked me where else I was applying (neither of us had any pretense in previous phone interviews that I was only applying there–it’s construction), and I mentioned two others. He heard one name and said “Son, I’m going to do you a favor. I’m going to shred your application. That other company is going to be far better for you than ours.” I tried to convince him otherwise, but he just laughed and said “Hey, don’t feel bad, I got a steak dinner out of this!”

    I ended up getting hired by the name that scared him off. Been working there for 15 years, doing all kinds of stuff I never imagined I’d get the chance to do. So it worked out well for me. But I’d never even heard of someone rejecting a candidate because their competitor was better before!

    1. Oh, just me again!*

      What a sweet guy! I hope you were able ro return the favor in some form, years later.

  86. Shopgirl*

    I was a temp and interviewing for an internal job in a different department. A few days later the person who interviewed me brought the person she hired around to meet everyone. She had never told me I didn’t get it. That was how I found out. I cried in the bathroom.

    The CFO (who I was working for and loved me) was so angry that happened to me and there was a meeting with her about what she did to me. She wouldn’t look at me the rest of the two months I was there.

  87. Susie Occasionally(formerly No)-Fun*

    I applied for three jobs at a nearby university. I received standard rejections for them, but I found another job elsewhere, so no big deal. But then for the next year I kept getting rejection letters from the university about jobs for which I’d never applied. I tracked my applications on a spreadsheet, so I looked it over to check. Nope, never applied for any of them. Thanks, university, for making sure I knew I was super rejected, for All the Roles!

  88. English Rose*

    I was temping. Been there two weeks. One afternoon my supervisor stopped by to say thanks you’re doing a great job, see you tomorrow. Got home. Phone call from agency. Supervisor thinks I’m doing a rubbish job, don’t bother going back. Never did untangle that one!

  89. Evil Queen of Dysfunction*

    I applied for a manager position after my previous manager left and I was doing the bulk of his work.

    The grand boss did a skype call with me and told me he was not going to interview me because they really wanted someone who knew how to X and Y. I had like 30 seconds before I had a meeting (as acting manager) with the site manager so I said Ok and disconnected.

    I followed up with him a day later and pointed out not only did I know how to X and Y, in previous roles I was responsible for teaching people how to X and Y.

    He said ok but they wanted someone with 3-5 years experience in such and such which I did not have. (and was not in the posting and no one else in this role at other sites had this qualification.)

    Dear readers, the person they hired had no experience in X and Y, nor 3-5 years experience in such and such.

    Grandboss was surprised when I gave my notice.

  90. cactus lady*

    I got contacted by a recruiter at a very well-known university for a role that was a lateral move from what I was doing at the time, but in a different subject area. I had a relationship with this recruiter – they had previously contacted me about a different position and I had a long phone call with them discussing my experience, education, skills, etc. – and they were working closely with the hiring manager, so they knew the position well. After discussing this role with them (and again discussing my experience), they encouraged me to submit a formal application, so I did.

    I got rejected almost immediately for “not having the proper qualifications”.

    1. The New Wanderer*

      Same, but for a tech company. The internal recruiter reached out to me because I seemed perfect for their job description, having done the same position at a competitor for over a decade. I jumped through all the application hoops and was auto-rejected immediately. I was surprised so this was the one and only time I followed up on a rejection, only to find out that it was because my undergrad degree from 20 years earlier wasn’t in the “right” field. Only about 50% of people doing my work have degrees in that field, the rest have the same degree I do. They said they would waive that requirement if I could bring in US DOD contacts (as in, to help them secure defense contracts). I couldn’t, so oh well.

  91. BoratVoiceMyWife*

    During the summer of 2018 my employer was going through incredibly heavy layoffs and I was doing everything I could to find something more stable.

    I had a couple of strong interviews for a role well within my wheelhouse, the money made sense and the company seemed pretty good. We got to the point where the hiring manager asked me to spend a couple of hours on a strategy assignment and sent me a ton of their proprietary data (pretty much unheard of in my industry) to make recommendations on. Since this kind of stuff is pretty carefully guarded, I overconfidently assumed they wouldn’t just give it to anyone but a successful candidate, so I felt like I was in pretty good shape.

    I sent over the assessment piece on July 22 of that year, and never got a response to it or any other email from that point forward…until the end of May 2019, when the hiring manager replied to apologize for dropping the ball. That’s 311 days later.

    I’ll probably reply later this year and tell them it’s no worries.

  92. Baunilha*

    Not by any means as weird as some of the stuff I’ve seen here, but here it goes: a few weeks after applying (no interview or anything), I got the standard rejection e-mail along the lines of “…we went another candidate this time”, no biggie.
    Later that day, I got another e-mail titled “errata”. Got super excited for a second, thinking I still had a shot, only to read the following lines:
    “An e-mail has been wrongly sent to you stating we have chosen a different candidate. Actually, we just chose not to proceed with your application. The position remains open”.

    That was nearly ten years ago and I still wonder what their goal was with the second e-mail.

    1. The New Wanderer*

      Wow, ouch! I guess they want to be sure that if you noticed the position was still open, you wouldn’t try again? But after that, no thanks!

  93. Midwestern Communicator*

    I was interviewing for an in-house position after being at an agency and really hating it. In the agency world, you often have to move agencies to get promoted in a timely matter, and I had moved across the country so left another job I loved more quickly than I would have hoped. I was 3 rounds of interviews in for the in-house position when for the fourth interview I talked to the head of the department.

    He told me that he couldn’t hire me because what if I left the minute I wanted a promotion (I had held a few jobs by then, but with all good reasons for needing to leave said jobs, like pay increases and responsibility increases). After that comment, he then asked me if I knew a well-known influencer in our space. I said not super well, but we had connected with her on LinkedIn as she was a mentor to the college organization I was in. He told me I quote “shouldn’t be connecting with people I don’t know well on LinkedIn because it gives me a sense of superiority”.

    I ended up dropping from the process to take my current role and seriously dodged a bullet. I couldn’t believe the nerve of that guy talking to a 25 year old like that.

  94. noncommittal pseudonym*

    Certainly the weirdest – I applied for a job that I wasn’t at all certain I would take. It was 100% remote (pre-Covid), and I wasn’t sure about it, but willing to discuss the position, if they were interested in me.

    I heard nothing for about 6 weeks, and had basically forgotten about the position when I got 5, yes *5* different rejections for the job, from several different people, some via post, some via email. I guess they really, really, wanted me to know they wouldn’t hire me.

  95. Daisy*

    They sent me three *different* form rejections all within the space of an hour, all of which were minor rewordings of the others.

    This was also the place that flew me in and put me up in a hotel that did not have any food options for me either in delivery or walking distance, and all the cars in the parking lot were very cheap, old, and run-down.

    I was not sad.

    1. Your Mate in Oz*

      My weird one was chatting to someone at a conference, them saying they were trying to hire someone like me, but us agreeing that since I couldn’t to move to their city and they didn’t want remote workers it wasn’t worth further discussion.

      A few weeks later the person rang me, mentioned being impressed by my conference presentation and our chat, and asked if I’d be willing to interview. I said yes, assuming that since they remembered our chat they’d remember why it stopped. They sent me ticket codes, I flew an hour or so to their city, did the interview, I mentioned that my partner was still in the middle of a two year graduate degree and that didn’t seem to be a problem. We got to the pay and conditions stage and they said… so when can you move to this city?

      I still don’t know what they were thinking.

    1. NPC117*

      1) I had an internal interview at one point for a GM position. At the conclusion of the interview, I was told by the District Manager that I wasn’t actually in the running because I had failed to be one of the first people to apply. Apparently this showed a lack of desire and dedication for the job.

      2) Applied for a position at the place my partner worked. I did fairly well in the interview process, passed the background check, and set up a start date. A week before the start date, my partner came home and told me I hadn’t got the job. Apparently, instead of calling me directly, upper management decided to the send the news home via the telephone game instead of an actual telephone.

  96. Sharkie*

    I once got a rejection letter for a job I never applied for in a city I have no interest moving to, on the opposite side of the country.

      1. Sharkie*

        Yeah. I was fresh out of college struggling to find a job so that was a hit my confidence didn’t need lol

  97. honeygrim*

    Not particularly weird or worst, but I still sometimes think about it with amusement. About fifteen years ago, having graduated from the graduate program for my field, I applied for an entry level professional position at a college in a big city several states away. This position had the same type of extensive hiring process as a faculty position, but wasn’t tenured faculty. I didn’t have a lot of money, and neither did the college, so they couldn’t pay my way to the interview. I ended up using the interview as an opportunity to take a road trip with my brother, thinking that even if I didn’t get the job, I would have a nice experience.

    The trip was fun, and the all-day interview went well. They felt bad about me having to pay my way so they gave me $50 to help with cab fare after the interview. Since my brother drove, we used the money to do some touristy things before returning home.

    And then I never heard from them again.

    Since then I’ve interviewed for several similar positions. Every other time I’ve interviewed in person but not been hired, I’ve been contacted by the hiring manager to tell me. From what I can tell, that is the norm in academia; my colleagues always look shocked when I tell them about my experience.

  98. ItWasntMe*

    I had signed the offer letter, I had received my laptop, the swag bag, passed the drug test, and was just waiting on the background check. I received a letter stating they were rescinding my offer, the only thing it could have been was the background check. I called the (internal) recruiter, but they would not answer my calls or call me back. I still had my signed letter giving permission to do a back ground check and contacted the company to get the report. The report was wrong, none of it was me! They had entered my SSN wrong! I tried contacting the hiring manager, HR, the company who did the background check- nothing. No one would talk to me!

    Thank goodness I had not given my notice yet at my job! Lesson to everyone out there, until everything is 1000000000000000000% confirmed and done, do not give your notice.

    I later learned that the company who did the background check had a class action lawsuit against them for the very thing I went through. People stating they lost jobs and had job offers rescinded for grossly inaccurate information.

    1. Kiv*

      My husband had a similar thing happen to him! The background check company claimed that he’d worked at a job for only one month, when it was on his resume for a year and one month. The only thing we could think of was that someone doing the background check had mis-entered “October 20XX-November 20XY” as “October 20XX-November 20XX.” We contacted them, but they refused to fix it.
      Luckily, the company was transparent about this being the background issue, and the HR person from the past company did us a solid by sending a letter confirming the correct dates when we explained to her what was going on. He did end up getting hired after all.

  99. Amanda*

    With my colleagues’ and chair’s encouragement, I applied for a tenure-track position in a department where I was working on a one-year contract. I was cheered through the first round of interviews! I was cheered through the second! And I learned that I didn’t get the job when my chair emailed the entire department a few weeks later to report that – to his great relief – the woman who’d always been the hiring committee’s first choice had accepted their offer. Several colleagues replied with various forms of “hooray!” until someone finally remembered I was also on the damn distro and took me off the thread. (Academia: Keeping it classy!)

  100. Grace*

    I had a phone interview scheduled for a position approximately an hour commute away from my house. When the hiring manager called, she immediately informed me that she had Googled my name, saw my Facebook profile photo was of my and my toddler son, and that she didn’t think I would stay in the position long with that commute and a child. Then she hung up before I could say anything in response.

    1. Oh, just me again!*

      That could have been a 12 year old photo! Or a nephew or god-child for all she knew! What a jerk!

  101. Bookworm*

    I didn’t formally apply, but I had an internship where it was understood it was an “audition.” I thought it was fine, no one ever told me they had issues with my work (and I’d make it a point to ask if there was anything else or if there were any issues, etc.). They hired a guy who was only a few months out of college, had been doing something totally different had had little to no work experience (I was a few years out of college and had some) while I was there.

    So imagine my shock when my supervisor awkwardly told me that I was too sloppy and too slow and they would not hire me, nor would my internship continue beyond the previously agreed time. There was nothing I could do, no way to appeal, no one else to speak to. I pointed out that at no point was I ever given any indication anything was wrong or that needed correction. Literally nothing, and that I *DID* make it a point to ask.

    Supervisor agreed and said it was definitely something the team needed to work on. Cold comfort. I found another internship (unpaid) and left before my contact was up. It was probably for the best: that team almost all left within 5 years and I think that particular working group was acquired by another company.

    At another, the hiring person said she really liked me, but I didn’t have a very specific experience. When I had asked what I could do (since I did have related experience AND did know how to use the tools the job needed), she sent me a list of ENTRY LEVEL (I had several years of work experience by this point) jobs. This was really about gatekeeping and it was disappointing (and from my own experiences, a genuine problem of the field).

  102. starsaphire*

    Not weird, but kind of frustrating:

    I got rejected for a job I was *actually doing* (albeit as a contractor) and my boss was so upset that I ended up being the one consoling HER while she sobbed her way through the official rejection meeting.

    (It’s OK; I got made permanent shortly thereafter, and my boss is still my boss and she is amazing. So it all worked out in the end.)

  103. Liz*

    I once got an automated rejection email from a company I had applied to more than two years prior. Thanks guys, but I kinda figured.

  104. geographically undesirable*

    Interviewed for a dream job (including making time for an interview while on vacation), did some sample work, was told by the supervisor to wait for a call with the job offer.

    Found a message on my voicemail from HR, had to chase around to contact the person, and when she finally answered my call, it was not an offer: I was told that this all-remote company could not hire me because of the state I lived in. Maybe they should have checked that before they interviewed me??

  105. I guess I didn't get the job?*

    I got an automated rejection email exactly two years after I applied there (wasn’t even interviewed). I literally forgot I’d applied — no idea who set two years in their system as “automated rejection time” but it was like total whiplash.

  106. skeptic53*

    This happened 44 years ago. I have a degree from an accredited state school that was highly ranked despite having an “alternative” structure: No majors, written evaluations instead of letter grades, emphasis on cross-disciplinary learning, requirement for internships, etc. One of the least-prestigious medical schools to which I applied gave me a provisional acceptance. I also have a degree from a traditional state university, but I used psychology credits from the first school to cover that requirement. They refused to accept those credits because they didn’t have a letter grade. They wanted me to complete a year of psychology with a letter grade. I got accepted at 6 other schools with no problem including my first choice school.

  107. doozy*

    Long ago, my then-boss quit and went to work for a different company. A few months later, his new company was hiring, and he knew I was not super happy at my current place so he reached out to see if I was interested. I was, but I also knew the new company were pretty strict on their degree requirements. I don’t have a degree, but I did have many years of directly relevant experience. Ex-boss said that they were OK with it.

    In my first conversation with the corporate recruiter, I was very clear around not having a degree, and she said it was not an issue at all, my experience was such a close match and my ex-boss said glowing things about me that they were fine waving that requirement.

    First phone interview: rinse and repeat of above. They really liked me! Next up, in-person interviews. I spent the better part of a day interviewing with four different people. The first 3 were very positive, I was feeling really good about the job. Then came the last one.

    His first words to me were “You’re not eligible for this job, you don’t have a degree.” I very politely told him that I never hid that but everyone up until now had said it’s not an issue. He then told me he might consider me for what was essentially an entry-level / aid for the position I’d applied for, to which I said I was not interested, there were plenty of places that would hire me without a degree for the job I wanted. Then he asked what salary I was currently making. I was young, so I told him the truth.

    He laughed at me and accused me of lying. “Nobody would pay that for someone without a degree.”

    I just gaped at him. Remember I said my ex-boss referred me? Ex-boss knew exactly what I was making at my current job, it would have been stupid for me to lie and the interviewer could have literally walked down the hallway to verify if he wanted.

    At that point, I knew I didn’t have the job. I don’t even think I thanked him, I just got up and left.

  108. pally*

    This is sort of a rejection experience.

    The HR phone screen went very well. The interview with the hiring manager also went well. In fact, the hiring manager disclosed to me that she would be advancing me to the next round of interviews. Wow!

    The following week, I receive a standard email rejection letter from HR. Well, I guess the hiring manager lied. Wouldn’t be the first time.

    Then I receive a “Congratulations on your new job!!” email from the HR dept. They want me to complete a survey about my hiring experience. I don’t know what to make of this, so I called the HR contact. This survey was sent in error, she explained. She confirmed; I was no longer under consideration for the position-in spite of what the hiring manager told me. Yes, she was sure. I’m out. There’s been no mistake. Okay. I thanked her and hung up.

    So I respond to the survey: “This isn’t funny. First, I was rejected for the position and now you send me this???”

    HR replied right back to me! They apologized for sending me this survey.

    A short time later, they sent me a different survey “Sorry you didn’t get hired. Please tell us about your interview experience with us.” I filled out the survey and submitted it. Low marks all around.

    A few days later, the HR person who performed the phone screen called (actually, she left several messages before I picked up). There had been a mix-up. More apologies. I was not supposed to receive a rejection letter. In fact, she wanted to schedule me for an on-site interview. By the tone of her voice, she sounded desperate to get me booked. I reminded her of what she told me a few days prior. I had been rejected for this position, this was not a mistake and that was that.

    I declined. If there’s this level of confusion in HR, I cannot imagine what goes on with the rest of the company.

    1. Lab Boss*

      As a hiring manager I can only imagine the level of livid I would be if HR rejected a candidate I told them to advance, and then bungled the correction so badly the candidate backed out!

    2. BellyButton*

      That is some wild f-ups all around! I would be livid as the hiring manager and the boss of the recruiter.

  109. Lab Boss*

    I applied for a job at a nearby university that seemed like a really good fit for both my experience and for what I wanted to be doing. I mentally prepared myself for not getting the job. I was NOT prepared for, about a week after the application window closed, them to send out a mass e-mail saying “It turns out we aren’t actually going to fill this position for reasons we aren’t disclosing.” I understand public university jobs are always at the whim of budget and other factors but I wasn’t prepared for the job to evaporate entirely, so soon after it was posted!

  110. The Data Guy*

    I once had a job offer but declined it because my other offer had more comp

    6 weeks later I got an email that I had been rejected for that job which felt like “you can’t break up with me only I can break up with you!”

    Another time I had an interview cancelled where the form letter stated they had hired another candidate or cancelled the position. Apparently they weren’t sure which!

  111. Elle Woods*

    Early in my career I was rejected from a job because of a coin toss. It came down to me and one other candidate. They couldn’t decide which one of us they wanted to hire so they did a coin toss. Heads, they chose her; tails, they chose me. It was heads. Yes, they told me that’s why the went with the other candidate–no “other candidate was a better fit” or “we decided to go in a different direction” or anything like that–it all came down to a coin toss.

  112. NMitford*

    I don’t know if this is a higher education thing, but back in my college/university fundraising day, I got more than one rejection letter that went something like this:

    This is to let all applicants know that we have decided to hire Jane Smith for the position of Director of the Alumni Fund. Jane is a graduate of XYZ College and most recently worked at ABC University. Prior to that she worked at DEF College, where she was responsible for doubling donations to the annual fund over a two-year period…. and so on.

    Like how were rejected applicants supposed to take this news? “I should have gone to better college like XYZ, I only increased donations at my last job by 15%…” Seriously, what was the point?

  113. long walk home*

    I was waiting tables, sending out resumes for my first office job, and got an interview for a marketing company. It was immediately clear this was likely a pyramid scheme sales situation, but I decided to feel it out. The interview was a ride along sales trip, harassing moms in strip malls selling some nonsense I don’t remember. At lunch my guide drew a diagram on a napkin to try and explain how their company was DEFINITELY not a pyramid scheme. I told him this was not for me, so he got up, said goodbye, and left me to walk 2 miles back to my car which was still at their office.

  114. Johnny Karate*

    I interviewed for a job the day before I got married. I let them know that I’d be out of town for my honeymoon the following week. I was young, so when the phone rang on my trip I naively thought it must be that I got the job, because who would call to reject someone on their honeymoon?

    I did not get the job. I got rejected waiting in line for the ferry to the Statue of Liberty.

  115. Elle by the sea*

    Well, I had too many to list. A few favourites:
    – A job that was severely underpaid and I would have been overqualified for it: They sent out the same rejection email multiple times. The email said something like “we have received a large volume of qualified applicants and you are definitely not one of them”
    – Interview at a FAANG company: young and inexperienced female interviewers were giggling at me right from the beginning of the interview and gave me 1 minute to do a full coding task saying that I am not capable of completing it successfully anyway.
    – Am academic job: Candidates were told that they will receive the results by x date. If not, it can mean a rejection, but not necessarily, so we should follow up. I followed up and asked if that meant a rejection. The head of the department (a middle aged man) replied with full caps: “YES, THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT IT MEANS”.
    – I was called on the phone and told that they went forward with candidates who were obviously much stronger than me because they were from . Plot twist: I used to work at that company, too and he was talking about my colleagues.
    – I was once ghosted because I replied “not yet” to the “Do you have children?” question. The interviewers’ face already went pale when they got to know that I was married, so I could see it coming.

    1. Elle by the sea*

      Ahhh something messed up the formatting: I meant to say “because they were from [insert name of famous tech company]

  116. Heffalump*

    Ca. 1995 I was on a contract software testing assignment for a few months. A few years later I was between assignments and was talking to a contract agency–a different agency from the one I had gotten the previous assignment through. My contact at the agency told me their was another req at the company where I’d worked before. Naturally I told him that I’d worked at this company.

    Next day he touched base and said, “Your work was fine, but someone there didn’t like you.” Naturally, this didn’t make my day. I hadn’t had any obvious problems getting along with anyone at the company. I’m sure I’ll never know who disliked me, or why.

  117. Juicebox Hero*

    I was hired and forgotten.

    In college (late 90s), I applied for a part-time job at an office supply store (rhymes with “maples”). I filled out the application, took their stupid “ethics” test, the guy interviewing me seemed pleased that I had worked retail before and was all set to put me at the customer service desk. All the paperwork was filled out, and signed, and he just had to get the store manager to sign off. Wait here, she’ll be right out.

    I waited there, in one of the store aisles, for a good 45 minutes as absolutely nothing happened. I just felt stupider and stupider, but at that age I was very timid and couldn’t work up the nerve to ask anyone WTF was going on. Eventually I just sort of crept out of the store, feeling like a total dope.

  118. Miette*

    I worked as a freelancer/subcontractor for a marketing firm. VP Marketing at one of our clients was my ex-boss, a man I had a great working relationship with in the past and in fact my firm’s owner recommended him for that job. This was during the last economic downturn, and business was drying up. When the VP had an opening on his team, he asked/received my current boss’s blessing to approach me for it–she was happy for me to get the opportunity for a full time gig. Note that I was already working closely in this team, knew all the players from CEO on down.

    Ex-boss and I had a call about the position and my understanding was that while it was a formality, I’d still need to be interviewed by HR and management. I never assumed I had it, mind you, but I was pretty confident I had a good shot at it. This call was followed by crickets for about a month, which I didn’t think anything of–hiring processes can take time, right? Well, then I got a meeting request from him to HELP ONBOARD THE PERSON HE HIRED FOR THE JOB. Still haven’t forgiven that man.

  119. Sloanicota*

    I once applied for a contract role at a place I had worked before, where I (thought?) I was well-liked and had many friends. Definitely at least some people in the org who were involved in hiring were aware I had applied. After a month of silence I was rejected by a form email that went to spam so I didn’t even see it for a week, sent by some entry level admin whose contact info wasn’t in my address book.

  120. Another Chris*

    I once applied for a low-level position with a federal agency. After a few months, the first I heard from that organization was when someone at that agency contacted my boss, who sat directly behind me, for a reference check. My boss did not know I was applying for other positions, and I did not list her as a reference (only as my current supervisor as required on the online application). I then received a rejection email a few hours later.

  121. Miss Direction*

    I applied for an internal role and interviewed. I didn’t find out I had been rejected for the role until I read the announcement of a coworker being promoted to the position…on our team bulletin board…in front of several other coworkers.

  122. see you anon*

    After being laid off in relation to the pandemic, I was on the job hunt. I was interviewing for an office manger role, and thought I was doing relatively well. The interview was virtual, and the panel was made up of 3-4 interviewers, including the two owners (a man and his adult son), someone from finance, and I think the person currently in the role I was interviewing for.

    After the usual “do you have any questions for us?” the panel moderator went internal, and asked everyone else on the panel if they had any other questions for me. The owner (a man in his 70s, I would guess) said, “I don’t think you have it”. Everyone else’s face on the call went blank/shocked while this man expanded on why he thought I was ill-suited to the job. I don’t know if he misunderstood the question, or if he thought he was doing me some sort of favour. Needless to say, I did not get that job.

  123. WonderWoman*

    I interviewed at a big tech company where you first interview to join their talent pool, and then, if you get in, you interview for a specific role. In speaking with the recruiter, I was very clear that I was only interested in remote positions.

    After completing two rounds of interviews (one of which comprised an entire workday and involved giving a 35-min presentation of my work), I was informed that I had made it into the talent pool, but. . . they had very few remote positions, and I wasn’t a match for any of them.

    The recruiter informed me that I would be kept in the taletn pool for a few months before my candidacy expired. If I was still interested in working for this company, I would need to interview again. I was bummed, but moved on.

    A few months later, the recruiter emailed me out of the blue, asking to set up a call. I wasn’t expecting to hear from her, and this was very exciting!! Had a new remote position opened up? I rescheduled a meeting in order to speak with her at the earliest time possible.

    When it was time for our call, she told me. . . a few months had passed, and my candidacy had expired. Whomp Whomp.

  124. K Cussen*

    Back in the noughties I was applying for my first job in a fairly niche area. It was in the days when you printed off a copy of the application letter and CV and snail mailed it too them and if they weren’t interested they sent you back a polite ‘we’ll keep it on file’, also by post. Not so for one State Agency, who need large numbers of staff in this field, and permanently complain they can’t get anyone qualified, forcing them to train up people themselves. They sent back a PFO along with my CV and cover letter.

  125. Loose Socks*

    I once applied for a company that rhymes with MalMart. I submitted my application online, and was called in for an interview pretty quickly. The manager interviewing me let me know there were two departments with vacancies that she would gladly hire me for. I chose the shoe department.
    Later that day she called me back and told me she had misplaced my application, could I send in another? And this time in the section where you mark which departments you would consider, only mark “Shoe Department” so it would go to the correct manager.
    A week later a different woman called me with an immediate attitude. This isn’t word for word, but the basic gist of the conversation that followed:

    W: I’m sure this was a mistake, but I’m looking over applications and yours says you’ll only work in shoes.
    M: Yes, that’s right, I-
    W: Ok, so you expect to get an interview when you’ll only work in shoes?
    M: I already interviewed and-
    W: You realize you don’t get to just decide what department you’re going to work in right? We may not even have a vacancy in there.
    M: No, I already applied and inter-
    W: I’m going to change this, unless you DON’T want an interview.
    M: Can you please let me finish a sentence? I already applied and interviewed and they lost my application and told me to put in a new one and specifically told me to mark “Shoe Department” only so it went to the right manager.
    W: And you honestly thought that was a good idea? That sounds stupid, honestly. You agree that it sounds stupid? From my point of view, you’re really lucky you even got a call back. I’m going to change this part of your application, because that is just ridiculous, that you think you can just put shoes and get a job like that.
    M: I’m no longer interested in a job.

    I guess it wasn’t them rejecting me, but she couldn’t honestly think that was a good tactic for recruiting people.

  126. Slouching Kitten*

    I applied for a junior IT role at a small local bank. Scored the interview and was scheduled to meet with the COO. As I was sitting down, after saying “Nice to meet you,” he said “I don’t really have a job for you.” Thoroughly confused I clarified that I was called for an interview for the junior IT position. He said “Yes, I know but I don’t have a position open.” So I was rejected before I even had the interview…in person.

  127. VermiciousKnid*

    I once interviewed for a position at a well-known agricultural company. It was an all-day ordeal with multiple interviews. After my meeting with the hiring manager, who would have been my immediate manager, it became apparent the job wasn’t a fit. I was trying to get away from a crazy CEO and the CEO of that company was even worse.

    Rather than ending things there, she passed me off to the next interviewer. When he and I were done chatting, we discovered that the hiring manager had LEFT for the day (it was 2 p.m). She didn’t say goodbye, didn’t give anyone instruction about what to do with me, just bailed. The last interviewer ackwardly walked me to the door and said goodbye. I wished him good luck filling the position, because I was removing myself from consideration. Never heard from any of them again.

  128. Dovasary Balitang*

    The Government of Canada has a really cold system of rejection. After making it through the ridiculously long application phase and the written test phase, I had an interview. The interview was not my best and it didn’t go any further. Fine. Whatever. But two weeks later, I get an email that was basically:

    You scored below the minimum acceptable threshold on [INTERVIEW CRITERIA 1[ and [INTERVIEW CRITERIA 2] for a second interview and will not be moving forward.

    I appreciated spending hours on their convoluted application process only to be given none of that same courtesy in return.

  129. Martin Blackwood*

    this is almost the opposite bit still weird. my sister applied to/was chosen to teach an online course at a university she applied to for undergrad. she didn’t end up going there, but for some reason, they chose to send her confirmation to the student email that was generated when she first applied FIFTEEN YEARS EARLIER. she didn’t know the password. academia.

  130. Form Letter*

    I once applied for a lateral transfer in a company where I’d been working for about 8 years and got rejected in a form letter saying I didn’t meet the basic qualifications of the job.

    What I didn’t know at the time was that the manager at the location I was trying to transfer to had an irrational dislike for me. What I’ve pieced together from conversations with people who worked with him is that I filled in at that location about a year earlier and I suggested a fix for a problem they’d been having that he hadn’t been able to solve, and the more staff talked about how great it was that I fixed their problem, the angrier he got at me. So he decided not to interview me because he thought me working there would make him look bad. I don’t know if that’s the entire truth, but that’s what the people who worked there at the time have told me.

    The company’s policy at the time was that anyone who didn’t get invited to the interview got the form email, so I opened my work email one morning and found an email telling me I was unqualified for the job I’d been doing for 8 years.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      I got one for a slightly different job that I had done for 4 years (employee training, but corporate rather than departmental). I had left training to do publication work in a different area. I pieced together that they wanted to hire someone from my old department, BUT they hadn’t wanted to make it to obvious, so they interviewed all the other people from that department who applied. Since I was no longer even in that division (or even area of the company), they just rejected me out of hand as “unqualified.” But it didn’t occur to anyone that I still knew and talked to my coworkers. Many of whom I had trained into their roles.

      Unqualified my ass, Tracey!

  131. m.*

    My resume says I have *basic* spoken Spanish. This is true, I can talk to small children and have simple back-and-forth conversations with adults in order to, for example, help them complete forms. I once arrived at a community center for a job interview. I was greeted and given a full building tour entirely in fast, fluent Spanish. I was not old or experienced enough to halt the proceedings and just did my desperate best to follow along. I did not get that job.

  132. Rusty Shackelford*

    I’ve mentioned this here before, but at the end of one interview, I asked if the interviewer knew when they’d be making a decision.

    “I don’t know,” she said. “We’re not really happy with any of our candidates, so we’re going to advertise the position again.”

    Well, okay then.

  133. rejected!*

    In early 2021, I applied for a job in a different city. The job post didn’t specify that the job could be done remotely, but since (at least in my part of the country) everyone non-essential was still mostly remote at that time, I assumed I had a chance. It was a research/writing role that could definitely be done fully or mostly remotely.

    I was invited to a Zoom interview with the hiring manager and couple other staff members. A few minutes into the call, the hiring manager asked how soon I planned to move to their city. I replied honestly that I had no plans to move, but was happy to make regular trips to their city as needed. The hiring manager became visibly irritated, said that the job could only be done from their city, and immediately ended the call, without even saying “sorry” or “goodbye”! Lol.

    Another time, I was a finalist for a job that flew me across the country for a final round interview. I never heard from them again, and didn’t find out that they had rejected me until I saw a press release about the person they hired instead. Again – lol.

  134. Overit*

    Happened 35 years ago: At the end of a a 10 hour interview, the director offered me the job. I had hesitations, but accepted bec I was desperate and this job had great pay and benefits. They had also rolled out the red carpet, put me up in an amzing hotel suite, was a highly reputable institution, and everyone I interviewed with was incredibly positive. So I accepted.
    Director said I would get a packet within 4 days with the written job description and $ info. We shake hands, he takes me out and announces to all that he offered and I accepted the position. I shake hands with everyone, smiles all around.
    A week later, no packet. Two weeks later, no packet.
    I call and he pretends he never offered me the job. Says the offer never happened, announcement never happened. Implied I had mental health problems in the form of delusions.
    Then he calls 2 weeks later and asks me to reapply.

  135. Raisin Walking to the Moon*

    I was sent to interview for a technical writing position through an employment agency. The business was small enough that the owner was interviewing me. The first thing she said after introductions was, “I have to be honest, I’ve looked at your resume and you’re not what we’re looking for.” Her assistant looked away, but didn’t act surprised. I said something to the effect of being sorry, and she interrupted me, “we can finish the interview if you want, as long as you understand this isn’t going any further.”
    I said I was happy to interview to get the practice, which in retrospect wasn’t the right choice because it was awkward and she clearly didn’t want me there.
    The employment agent told me later the owner had rejected two other candidates and the feedback about why was nonsense. I never found out if it was me, if it was a power game, or maybe the owner just wanted to hire a man.

  136. me*

    I applied for a job at a professional services firm and didn’t get the job or even an interview, but I probably got a form rejection letter.

    However, the professional services firm proceeded to put me on their email and snail mail lists, so I got all the news about how great the firm did and how hard their employees worked to serve their clients.

    1. not what I signed on for*

      I’ve had this happen when I’ve submitted stuff to publishers and after rejecting it, they have put me on their email list promoting their books. Incredibly presumptuous.

    2. Nancy’s Brother*

      When I was in college, the father of a friend recommended me to an entrepreneur he knew who was starting a new business. It was a subscription wine service (this was 40 years ago, so it was a new idea at the time) involving phone sales. Naturally, they were aiming for an affluent clientele and had opened offices in an upscale town near me. They called me & scheduled an interview.
      I went and met with the HR person who was pleasant & said my class schedule would mesh with their needs. Then I sat with one of the college kids already doing the job and listened in on a few calls. So far, so good.
      Then I was brought in to meet the CEO – the guy who knew my friend’s father. I introduced myself. He looked at me balefully and asked “Do you always sound like that?”
      Never, before or since, in any aspect of my life – including taking acting classes – has anyone else asked about or criticized my voice. Only this guy.
      I said “Yes” and thanked him for the interview.
      I never heard from them again.

  137. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

    I applied for a internal management position of a team that had not had a direct manager or supervisor for 3 years. When I was rejected, the person who did so explained that they’d gone with an external candidate that had experience managing difficult teams. As I had no management experience at all, this made sense to me and I wasn’t upset at all – I knew it was a stretch position.

    But it was the way he relayed the information. The guy who had to tell me was infamous for having no filter, and after telling me I didn’t get the job, he said “Believe me, I’m doing you a favor. These bitches are absolutely feral.” Yes, it was an all female team. Since he would have been *my* boss, I figured I’d dodged a bullet in more than one way.

    The external person they hired was terrible, could not understand our niche business after more than a year on the job, and his whole hated him.

  138. Stuart Foote*

    Recently, I had an odd rejection experience. I applied for a job through a recruiter, then saw on LinkedIn that the hiring manager for that role (who I had no connections with whatsoever) viewed my profile, and then got an email from the recruiter that they were going with another candidate. Fair enough. But then I logged into Facebook and saw that the hiring manager who had just rejected my application had added me as a friend. I’m still trying to figure that out.

    1. juliebulie*

      LOL. Was that supposed to make you feel better? “I’m not hiring, but you seem like a cool person!”

      1. starsaphire*

        It could be because (at one point; not sure if this is still the case) you could see people’s friends-only posts as soon as you added them as a friend – and before you could be confirmed/rejected.

  139. juliebulie*

    I remember returning home from an unpleasant job interview and finding the rejection in my email, which was sent within an hour of my leaving the building. It was actually a relief, but I wouldn’t have minded if they’d waited a day or two. Sucks to realize that they didn’t have to think about it very long.

  140. Stebuu*

    The weirdest pseudo-job rejection I had was decades ago, interviewing at a dot-com. I asked about the hours, their reply was basically “this job would be your life”. When I stated I wasn’t interested in working more than 50 hours a week on average the CEO stated “maybe we’ll hire you for half a job then”. We mutually ghosted each other after that interview.

  141. DeeDee*

    In grad school I applied for a job coordinating a lecture series. Emailing speakers and setting up chairs, for 5 hours a week. I submitted a resume and proper cover letter to the professor whose series it was. I got rejected in one all-caps line:


  142. KTinDC*

    Early in my career, I interviewed for a job. They sent me a letter (yes, long enough ago that it was an actual letter in the mail) letting me know that they had hired someone else for the role of Pubic Relations Coordinator. Then I got the letter three times, with the same typo in every one.

    I thought it was hilarious, not upsetting, and it’s probably the least bizarre one that will be shared today, but I have told that story many, many times.

  143. Ok_Criticism*

    I had several video and phone interviews for a position in another city, and during the last call, which happened on a Thursday evening, the hiring manager asked me for my references. I told her that I’d like to use my current manager as a reference, but he was traveling internationally, and I could speak to him on Monday morning when he was back to let him know I had applied for another job and ask him to be a reference.

    Monday morning, I had that conversation with him (it went well – he was very supportive and understanding) and sent a quick email to the hiring manager to let her know. She responded immediately, asking if I could speak briefly at 3:00pm that day. I responded that I would be giving a presentation at that time but offered some alternatives.

    Despite my message, she called me at 3:00pm (fortunately, I had turned my phone off while I was giving my presentation). When I called her back, she said that they had changed their mind and decided to keep the search open, but wished me “all the luck in the world” with my search. She never called my manager, who of course now knew that I was applying for other jobs and looking to relocate.

  144. Genera*

    Unbeknownst to me, my colleague and I had applied for the same job and were two of the finalists. I was still waiting to hear back on whether I was successful when we had an informal staff meeting involving the assessment of treats. The meeting began with an announcement that my colleague was moving on…to the job I was still waiting to hear from.
    I got to process my rejection in front of my entire office (none of them had any idea) and sit through nearly an hour of treat assessing, which was a serious annual tradition in this office. Needless to say, I ran out of there as soon as the meeting ended.
    I didn’t get formally rejected from the job for another week…

    1. Oh, just me again!*

      Assessing “treats”? Did you mean “threats”? Or was it Halloween?;)

      (It’s unclear, since you said it was a tradition. . . )

      1. Oh, just me again!*

        I’m not trying to take you to task over a typo, just wondering if it *was* a typo or I’m. . . out of touch with. . . something? (kinda like the “sailor’s buttons” story above.)

      2. Genera*

        oh no, it was treats. I don’t want to be too specific, but it definitely involved a type of baked good.

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      A coworker and I in a very tiny department once applied for the same job in a different area. We were pretty close and talked about it, even assessing who would get it based on which of our skill sets was more desirable for the role. (It wasn’t clear from the posting, and we knew our strengths.)

      She got it, but I feel like us having had the discussion meant I could be less disappointed. (And I was genuinely happy for her.)+7

  145. Lightbulb*

    I was offered a job, quit my old job with 2 weeks notice. 1 week into notice the new job called me and said “I’m sorry, I didn’t have authorization to offer you the job.” (This was 36 years ago before a written offer was standard.) This became the first time I contacted an attorney. With his advice, they hired me anyway and 2 years ago I retired from there.

  146. peakvincent*

    My sophomore year of college, I applied to every fast food restaurant in walking distance from my dorm. Three years after I graduated, I received an email from one of them letting me know I “wasn’t qualified” to be a team member.

    1. peakvincent*

      Oh, and here’s a cringeworthy rejection email I got way more recently, back in October:

      “Kudos for applying to our Llama Groomer role! Unfortunately, the role you applied for has been closed. I’m sorry for the bummer news, but we wanted to let you know as soon as we could.

      Here’s the silver lining: We value the time and effort you invested in us. So, your resume? It’s got a VIP pass in our talent repository. And who knows? The universe might just conspire to align our stars in the future! ”

      1. peakvincent*

        Turns out the emojis won’t copy/paste into comments here— there were four, including raised hands after my kudos for applying.

  147. CatMouse*

    I’ve been told I was “too nice” for a customer service role.

    Not sure if it’s weird, but I once applied for a city government job through their job site, got my confirmation of application email followed immediately (less than 5 minutes) by a form rejection letter for the job.

    1. Cat Mouse*

      Oh! And for an internal job that I was very qualified for, I got told it went to the person who got it because she had been there 10 years and they were eliminating her current role and needed somewhere for her to go!

  148. Cyndi*

    I told this story in more detail on an open thread way back sometime, but after graduating college I interviewed for a job at a small marketing company. I was going to be replacing a woman who was going on mat leave; she was moving into a higher role when she returned, so I would be keeping her old role long term. I interviewed great, got a verbal offer–and then the woman lost her baby. I heard about it through a mutual social connection, and never heard directly from the company again.

    I needed work badly but didn’t know how to contact them and ask about the job without feeling and sounding incredibly callous, so I just let it go. I don’t know what happened to her promotion.

  149. Knighthope*

    After interviewing me, an elementary principal drew himself up next to me and asked, “How tall are you? I don’t hire anyone taller than me!” He was serious! Stunned, I blurted out, “Well, I guess I’d have to wear flats if I worked here!” and mentally thanked him for showing me who he was.

    1. Irish Teacher.*

      My mum had the opposite experience. This would have been back in the 1960s, but she had an interview where the boss asked her her height because he “liked the ladies to be tall.” She’s probably slightly above average height, around 5 foot 7 and she got the job, so I guess that was tall enough.

    2. Loredena*

      My first post college job I had an initial interview with the VP. Found out later that his assistant said they had to hire me because I was shorter than her!

  150. Hunger Games Team Member*

    This was years ago, but I found out I didnt get a job via email. The man who wrote the email included all of the rejected candidates (well over 100 people) and proceeded to tell us everything we did wrong:

    Jimmy – you werent very engaging in your interview
    Ray – your resume had tons of typos
    Sam – we didnt like your personality

    It was so strange and rude. I may or may not have replied back and let him know how rude and inappropriate he was.

    1. Janethesame*

      He probably gave these notes to an assistant and asked them to email the rejected candidates with feedback, expecting them to tailor individual emails to each one, and assistant was either completely clueless or lazy and just sent one. it wouldn’t have been nice to get “we didn’t like your personality ” oin an individual email, either, but not quite as horrible! (Maybe he meant them to soften the language too.) But you didn’t want to work for a actress fool who hired an idiot assistant anyway! imagine what that environment would have been like.

  151. Dlirle*

    Got screened by the recruiter, answered all the standard questions about work history and salary expectations.

    The following week, I had an interview with the hiring manager. We hit it off amazingly – had similar POVs on the work, totally gelled personality-wise, couldn’t have been a better interview.

    I got off the call and checked my inbox. The recruiter had emailed me during the call – which he was not on – to tell me I was no longer being considered because my asking price was too high.

    The hiring manager, to her credit, was mortified.

  152. JJ*

    A while back I was going back through an old box of papers from decades ago. I found a rejection letter for a summer intern program that I’d forgotten I had even applied for. It was from the company I joined early in my career and have worked at for over 20 years now. I guess they changed their minds.

  153. Staropramen*

    This was applying to a PhD program. I was very young and nervous and with a huge impostor syndrome. I was thrilled to be considered and felt that all my dreams were about to come true. After submitting a proposal and interviewing, they communicated the results by sending.out.the.meeting.minutes.to.all.candidates. In them, everyone could read that 1. There was a ranking of candidates, so that the spot would first be offered to number one, then number two etc — all the way down to number seven or so. Me? I was the one candidate that wasn’t even ranked, i.e. they would rather have no one than me.

    2. For each candidate, there was a few lines summing up their profile and an assessment. For my profile, they decided it was funny to make a pun based on my proposed project when explaining why I wasn’t good enough.

    The fact that this was put on display for all of the other candidates that were all better than me was just devastating to poor 20-something me. With the joke, it felt like they were all laughing at me together.

    I scream-cried for two days and then got back to applying. This was 20 years ago and now I’m a professor at a famous university and head of a 10+ people research group :)

    But by the way: they were totally right to reject me. My application was bad and so was my interview! They were wrong to be sarcastic and insensitive though.

    1. AnotherLibrarian*

      Wow, that’s really just cruel. I mean, I have gotten applications that were very weak for jobs and I’ve written some blunt assessments internally, but to share those feels astonishingly heartless.

    2. Dr. Doll*

      you… still wanted a PhD in the field after that? you have a SPINE and then some!

      god that faculty sucked.

  154. ticktick*

    When I was just starting out as a lawyer, someone I knew who was a co-founder of a mid-size tech company (at that time – it grew to be quite large and famous) encouraged me to send my resume in to their recruiting department, as he thought their legal department needed to expand. They sent me a form rejection letter. A few months later, the company retained the law firm I was with to work on some matters, and I worked on those files. The Chief Legal Officer of the company then hired me away from the law firm to work in their in-house legal department, and my friend the co-founder never ceased to rub it in that they could have had my skills at their disposal much earlier. While I was at the company, I kept the rejection letter framed on my office wall. It always got a laugh.

  155. Green Goose*

    I shared this a few weeks ago:
    When I was in college I applied for a student position I really wanted that had ties to a student position I had held previously, so I knew or knew of most of the people I’d be working with and vice versa.
    During my panel interview one of the other student workers Wakeena re-asked the question the person before her has asked so she was obviously not paying attention and was checked out.
    A few days later I got a voicemail from Wakeena:
    Hi Green Goose, it’s Wakeena from [potential job]. I’m calling to let you know that we selected you (pause) as the alternate if Jordan doesn’t want the job.”

    I was CRUSHED and the way she phrased it was so weird and just why. It also seemed weird that she divulged who they had picked even before that person had confirmed that they wanted after the job.

  156. TH67*

    I got a letter in the mail rejecting me for a job I’d interviewed for seven months earlier. The letter did not get lost by the post office or anything, they just decided to send it seven months after I went in. I had long ago assumed I was not getting the job, and was happily at another.

  157. AnonYmous*

    Not quite a rejection, but in that vein. I was desperate for a job. I got an interview at a place I really wanted to work in the city I wanted to live. I showed up in a suit I could barely afford and was informed within 5 min of arriving that a hiring freeze had been instituted the day before. The interviewer didn’t cancel on me because he was so desperate to fill the position, he thought if I wow’d everyone they might make an exception (spoiler: hahahaha, nope). My unemployed, struggling young self went along with it and I spent the day tap dancing for a job I knew in my heart would never happen. I at least got a free lunch out of it.

    I stopped at a gas station on the way home and bought a large bag of Cheetos and a soda and just ate away my sadness in a pile of orange dust.

  158. Anon for this one*

    I know it’s a mark of respect to let rejected candidates know in a timely fashion but I still have bad memories of a rejection I received 3 days before Christmas. (Context: academic position in theology at a Catholic university, sent by the interviewer and not HR, yes, it was a reasonable assumption that everyone involved celebrated Christmas.)

  159. BellyButton*

    I had interviewed twice for a company, gave a presentation, they were clear I was the front runner. They let me know they would be making their final decision on Friday and would have an offer to me the next week. I told everyone on the interview panel that I had to go out of the country for my current job, and that with the time difference there would be a delay in my responses. When they couldn’t reach me on Monday, I tried to call back during their time zone of Tuesday. When the hiring manager answered she said because I didn’t respond on Monday they made an offer to someone else. I told her that she knew I was out of the country and when she phoned me it was 3:00AM where I was. She said I obviously wasn’t that invested if I didn’t answer my phone.

  160. Chidi has a stomach ache*

    This is probably common in academia, but: I applied to a tenure-track job at small liberal arts college. Given the specialty of the posting, I assumed a colleague of mine was probably also in the running. Was a finalist, did the whole interview thing, but kind of bombed the teaching demonstration (inexperienced, and also a snow storm totally changed the class I was supposed to teach at the last minute). So I kind of knew I wasn’t going to get the job — AND YET this was still the roughest decline I had because in the space of 48 hours:

    1. My colleague posted she had accepted the position on Facebook, *before* I’d heard from the hiring committee (it was another week before they called — academic hiring committees, TELL YOUR CANDIDATES NOT TO DO THIS).
    2. My advisor sent me an email asking if I had “any news” on the position (he was not a micromanager, I’m sure he heard about who had gotten the job and was trying to see if I knew).
    3. A slightly more senior-than-me mentor wrote me a long, anguished apology on Facebook Messenger of all places about how she was sorry she never responded to my request for feedback on my job talk, because she was helping other colleague who got the job and she thought it was really important to help her instead, and she felt terrible about it, but she was sure I’d get the next job and she would definitely help me the next time.
    4. When the hiring committee did get back to me, it was a 30 sec phone call.
    5. Also they never reimbursed me for some receipts they specifically requested from me. Thankfully it was mostly food and <$30, but still, the principle of it.

  161. Frances*

    I applied to a camp counselor for a local camp the previous summer. After I went on the interview they kept telling to call for my group that I never got. They decided that I wasn’t hired after all. I strongly believed that for some reason the receptionist wanted to get rid of me because she hated me. I’m glad she did and I realized my mother inquiring the previous summer did me in. Please parents don’t inquire about jobs for your children. Let them grow up and fall down because nobody will respect an employee that depends on the parents.

  162. AnonORama*

    This is a weird one and thankfully hasn’t been repeated!

    Applied for a job, had two interviews, got an offer pending a reference check. Instead of calling my references, the hiring manager called her friend on the board of an org I’d worked for years ago. Fine — they don’t have to stick to my list and should call whoever they want, but this coincidence was bonkers! It happens the board guy stole some of my work many years ago and I’d told him off. So, of course he says I’m unprofessional, a loose cannon, etc.

    It gets weirder. Instead of rejecting me, hiring manager goes radio silent. I emailed twice (both polite) and left one voicemail over a month. Maybe a little pushy, but it seemed ok post-offer. Then the guy I was dating at the time tells me he was at a meeting of a group they both belonged to, and the hiring manager said I was “hounding” her and “wouldn’t leave her alone.” She didn’t know he and I were seeing each other, and ranted to several people about me by name. I reach out again, nothing. Finally she sends me a long, nasty email about how I should’ve known I didn’t get the job and shouldn’t have contacted her, that the negative reference she received for me was clearly correct, blah blah blah.

    Bullet dodged, just so weird.

  163. Zipperhead*

    In the Ancient Times, I was working for a small newspaper in a small town in rural Texas. I’d seen a note about an opening for a reporter at the paper in the largest city in the region. They asked me to come down for an interview.

    It was a full eight-hour-long interview. I’d go from normal sit-down interview set-ups to proofreading exercises to a couple situations where they grabbed a reporter out of the bullpen and told me to interview them and write a feature about them. The reporters were on deadlines and did not want to talk to me, and so the interviews sucked and hence the features were also not great.

    I didn’t hear back from them for weeks and was already assuming I didn’t get the job (and didn’t really want it anymore, after the eight-hour interview). When I finally got a call-back, it was from the paper’s managing editor, not HR. He said I was the worst reporter they’d ever met, and the paper I currently worked at was the worst in the region, and I should never write again, and if I wanted to move up in the journalism world, I’d have to go from our small paper to a slightly larger paper to a slightly larger paper to a slightly larger paper, and then finally, someday, I’d be suitable to work at a big paper like his!

    I know he was hoping to utterly shatter me, but I listened to the whole thing with vague amusement. It was so over-the-top and egotastic.

  164. I hate recruiters*

    I went for a job interview via a recruiter. They told me the day they were going to make a decision. I heard nothing. I eventually emailed the recruiter to ask what was going on. Recruiter called me back at the end of the day, but I missed the call. He left a voicemail to say he had news. I called him back, but got his voicemail. Next day I tried calling him back again and still got his voicemail. Eventually he called me to say I didn’t get the job. A call in which I basically said nothing besides Hi and Bye. So frustrating that I had to chase and then he couldn’t tell me in an email or voicemail and left me hanging for longer.

  165. M2*

    They told me I got the job! The President told me to my face in person that the job was mine and that HR would circle back with salary and benefits, etc. They did a background check and reference check and I got an email and was told saying all was excellent. Then…

    Crickets. Literal crickets. After waiting a couple weeks, I emailed the EVP of HR (who I had dealt with since this was executive level role) and she never replied. I contacted the President and was told they didn’t know what the hold up was.

    I finally googled the role and a former (kind-of, but not really) boss got it (he did a global role while I was regional and country specific with same title)! He had not been a reference since I knew he was a bit slimy, but I found out through someone else that they had contacted him for a back door reference and he allegedly 1. lied about my work 2. told them to hire him. 3. lied about his skill set & said others work was his own.

    Anyway, he left after about year but I was completely gutted this organization (which is very well known/respected) would just ghost me. I knew one other person who was at a similar level at this organization and they left pretty quickly because it sounds like it is sort of a cluster (with too much top level management).

    The work the organization said they were doing/ my portfolio also didn’t end up doing much imo.

  166. Capt. Liam Shaw*

    Was told I would not hire you if it were entirely my decision. This was in a Zoom interview. Was supposed to go 1 hour. This was at the 11 minute mark. We didn’t go the hour.

  167. Alice*

    I had 2 job offers on the table, 1 where I had all the details of the offer and 1, which came a couple of days later, where I didn’t. I asked the 2nd one to confirm the salary, and was told it was fine to reject the first offer and that she would be back to me post-haste. Turns out, asking what they were going to pay me was a step too far because it’s been over 2 years and I’m still waiting for confirmation on what the salary would be.

    Needless to say I took the offer where I knew what I was going to be paid.

    The irony? The company that wouldn’t provide full details of the offer before I accepted is a very large provider of outsourced HR services.

  168. RavCS*

    When they called to schedule an interview they told me that they would have reached out to me earlier, but I was “too young, too inexperienced, single, and female.”

    Full disclosure. I went for the interview. They offered me the job and I turned it down because there were too many red flags. This was in the 1980s.

  169. thatoneoverthere*

    When I was just graduating college I interviewed and accepted a job offer, from large and very well know Bank. I was very excited! You had to complete an extensive background search and once you had passed that you were in. The background was criminal and employment. The employment part was done by an outside agency.
    **Note at this point in my life I had been working since I was 15, mostly restaurant, retail, and babysitting type stuff, I had left a few of them without giving a 2 weeks notice. Some it was bc of school stuff and some of it bc I was young and dumb**
    A few days after the offer I get a call from the employment agency background search place. They went through ever job I ever held in extreme detail. Wanted to know why I didn’t know the exact start date I had when I was 15 and worked at XYZ Retail shop. OR why one summer I didn’t work (Well I did I just babysat alot). Finally the told me bc I left more than 2 jobs without giving a 2 week notice (in HIGH SCHOOL) , I would not be getting the job anymore. I was really devastated. I didn’t know any better than to call the HR department of the Bank and ask if this was really the case.
    To rub salt in the wound, I got my welcome packet, info on where to go for my first day, and a CHECK FOR MY FIRST WEEK OF WORK. I never cashed it. To make matters EVEN WORSE. The harassed me for months on end about the check. I eventually had to hand over bank statements to prove I never cashed it. It was only about $600.00.

  170. a passerby*

    I was one of two finalists who made it to the interview stage, but didn’t get the job. When I got the rejection call, I asked if they had any feedback for me about the interview. They were audibly taken by surprise and unprepared to respond. But in a fit of inspiration, they blurted out, “Well, you only had two questions for us at the end. We like our candidates to ask at least three.”

  171. Typing All The Time*

    I applied to a company for one opening on a list of many but HR sent me a rejection role relating to another posting. I wrote back to them to let them know of the error but they just replied with a “sorry for the mixup” and nothing else.

  172. A Genuine Scientician*

    I was rejected from a job to which I did not apply.

    Let’s say that I am expert in Llama Grooming. I applied for a professor position in Camelid Care and Feeding, since Llamas are a specific type of camelids, and grooming is a type of care. The university was also searching for a professor of Llama Training. While there is a little overlap in training and grooming, I didn’t feel I would be a strong candidate for the second position, so I only applied for the first. I received the standard email telling me my application had been received and that if I were selected for an interview they would let me know. (I know that what this really means is they’re telling me up front that they won’t necessarily send out rejections, but it always strikes me as funny; it would be very hard for me to interview if they didn’t tell me that they wanted to interview me)

    Then, 2 months later, I got a rejection letter for the Llama Training professorships. 3 weeks after that, I also got one for the Camelid Care and Feeding position, which indicates that they probably didn’t just put me into the wrong candidate pool. Apparently someone just decided that they should consider me for both?

  173. Staying anon*

    Applied for an internal position. Received an email from the external recruiter scheduling an update call. On the update call, received a very carefully worded, attempting to be kind and keep me engaged rejection.

    Unfortunately, I’d been rejected the previous day on an all staff call, when our ceo mentioned that all final-round interviews for the position had been scheduled.

  174. urguncle*

    “You were honestly great, but my mother in law is making me hire her nephew.”
    Honesty is sometimes not the best policy.

  175. bripops*

    I had an experience that was weird, but good weird! I applied for a pretty standard reception/admin job that was a good fit for my level of experience (just over entry level but before I’d established much of a background) and had a great first interview.

    I was rejected before moving on to a second interview but I could tell the hiring manager had liked me a lot because in the rejection email she literally included a link for a more advanced position at a company where she’d previously been in upper management and strongly encouraged me to apply. She also immediately added me on LinkedIn.

    This woman has tried to hire me four more times, but it never quite worked out. The first time was at the same company eight months later. Based on the single 45 minute interview, she had created a position with me in mind, custom-tailored to my qualifications, but funding for the salary was contingent on a grant that they ended up not getting (they’d been upfront about this). The second time she was at a new company but I’d already started somewhere else, and the third time was a few months later when I reached out to her because that job sucked; unfortunately I applied the day before lockdown started in March 2020 and they froze all hiring before they could fill the position. She reached out again in 2022 (about three and a half years after that first interview!) but at that point I’d moved back to my home country.

    She still likes all of my posts on LinkedIn and left a comment congratulating me on getting hired at my current job. I think for both of us it’s very much a “the one that got away” situation because we had clicked so well right away. I would have loved to have worked for her but it just wasn’t meant to be.

  176. LucyGoosy*

    When I first moved to New England, I applied for a grant writing position for a small research center connected with a very famous, prestigious university (I had a background in fundraising, grant writing, and technical writing.) I sent them a cover letter, resume, and some writing samples. They wrote back asking for 4 more writing samples and interrogating me about my experience and knowledge in STEM (which they would pass along to the engineer). I sent several examples of articles, successful grant proposals, technical blogs, etc., but based on the tone of their message, I had just assumed I wouldn’t get the job and moved on.

    Months later, after I’d received another job, they reached out to see if I was still available and “interested picking up some side work”! Their initial job listing had been wild (something like, I kid you not, “Seeking recent grad with double major in English and Engineering and previous fundraising experience”) so I suspect I was the closest applicant they ended up getting.

  177. merida*

    Two stories:

    I interviewed for an internal job opening and the recruiter put an in-person meeting on my calendar with the title “update :)”. The update ended up being that they hired someone else, but the recruiter was a very sweet person so she must have thought the smiley face softened the blow. It actually might have been a winky face ;) but I can’t remember which one it was.

    One time when I was actively job searching already a recruiter from the FBI reached out to me on LinkedIn and said I appeared qualified for a job posting in my area and encouraged me to apply. I was intrigued (because I mean, who doesn’t want to live out their crime drama TV show-fueled crime-fighting dreams of working at the FBI? And the job description was in line with what I was looking for) though I knew enough not to be flattered since I recruiters cast insanely wide nets on LinkedIn. I applied just for the fun of it. I did meet the minimum qualifications for the job and I had a passion for the type of work so I did my best to craft a professional cover letter, but I still knew I wasn’t what they were looking for (I don’t currently work in LE) so I expected to get a rejection… I just didn’t expect such a sassy rejection from the FBI. It was a two sentence email with nothing else, no greeting or signature – “The position has been filled by someone better suited for the position. If you have any questions about this decision please re-read the required qualifications on the job description.”

  178. arcya*

    A week ago they asked to have a video call, and then their internal calendar system would not send me a link and it took us days to get it sorted out. Yesterday I had the video call with the team… so they could tell me I was #2 on the list and they’d call me if #1 didn’t work out!

    I was only so-so on them, so I thought it was very funny

  179. Elastigirl*

    I’m interviewing for a big creative role on a major motion picture based on a somewhat well known piece of source material. I’ve done my homework. I know the source material inside and out.

    The meeting is a love fest. The 4 producers I’m talking to love my ideas. We bond over mutual experiences. We laugh. We establish in jokes that we will clearly return to throughout the coming year. We make plans for next steps. I’ll be back next week. They tell me how much they love me as I leave.

    I head to my car to call my agent and tell him I got the job. But before I get there, my phone rings. It’s my agent. They’re passing on me. No real reason. They just didn’t click with me. Huh?

    Two years later, the movie opens. It gets horrible, 1-star reviews. I feel fine about this.

  180. TheHSGPA*

    My senior year of college I wanted to get a serving job at a local restaurant. It was pretty notorious for hiring alot of college students. During the interview I was grilled about HS. What my GPA was, what I did for extra curriculars. At this point I was 23 ( I took a little longer to graduate). I honestly couldn’t remember my HS GPA. Not sure why, maybe bc I was so focused on getting my GPA up at college. I said I couldn’t remember, but was a college senior with a 3.0. They said sorry, if you don’t know your HS GPA we can’t hire you. I was flabbergasted.

    1. Irish Teacher.*

      Not mine, but there was a thing that made the news in Ireland when they were looking for people to do the covid vaccinations. They asked qualified doctors for their Junior Cert grades. (For all outside Ireland, the Junior Cert. is an exam taken at the age of 15 and it’s not even like the G.C.S.Es. You don’t have to get certain grades to continue with subjects or anything and the grades aren’t counted even for college applications. It’s just…an exam for 15 year olds.)

  181. BamBam's Garden*

    Worked as a secretary (admin assistant) in the contracts department of a state agency. Was doing that job and also duties of an assistant contracts administrator. Department Director decided to hire an Assistant Contracts Administrator. I applied, was called into Department Director’s office and told I wouldn’t get the job because I wasn’t qualified (I had been doing the job for 6 months!). They hired an outside person then told me I would have to train them. I declined, said if I wasn’t qualified for the position, then I certainly wasn’t qualified to train someone!

  182. Fleur*

    I applied online at a daycare. 6 months later, I received a rejection email that was one sentence long: “We only accept applicants who apply in person.” I had applied on the “apply here” section of the daycare’s website.

  183. not nice, don't care*

    This (union/benefitted/well-paid for the rural hellmouth it was) job is for men with families. Followed by blank stares from the panel of proto-maga white dudes, who obvs were not going to hire a short-haired alt-presenting woman from the ‘big city’.

  184. Fabulous*

    I applied to Target around 2008/2009 having zero retail experience. This was when online applications were just starting to be used and I had to use a kiosk in the store to apply. Never heard from them for an interview, so I moved on with my life. MORE THAN A YEAR LATER, I received a postcard via snail mail with a generic rejection message. Thanks, Target…

  185. Anna*

    I got a call from a school I had applied to work at as a paraprofessional and the woman doing the hiring let me know that I had gotten the job. I was very happy and grateful to have been offered the position, and she asked if I’d like to accept. I replied that I hadn’t received any information about salary or benefits, could she share what they were offering? She said that once I accepted, the HR department would call me and let me know what my salary would be. I responded that I didn’t think I could accept a job without knowing that information, and her response was that in that case, they were rescinding the job offer. Bullet dodged.

  186. Sea Obee*

    Not a part of the rejection itself, but a few months after being rejected for a job, the hiring manager sent me a friend request on Facebook. I responded, “Just curious, why did you send me a friend request?” She replied, “Oh, are you not the Sea Obee I used to play bagpipes with?”

    No. No I am not. :|

  187. tiny*

    Oh I have one for this! I had a full day, on-site interview with a company where I met with several potential team members and an HR person. So it was “serious candidate” but not “shoe-in”. The interview went average. Then, later in the week I was at a recurring networking event for my subfield and I ran into one of the interviewers. We struck up a conversation and I figured we’d do the “everybody pretends I didn’t just interview with you” dance, and then he was like “Oh, by the way, you didn’t get the job”. The position wasn’t a great fit so objectively I wasn’t surprised, but nobody wants to spend their time networking after essentially being told “you’re not good enough”.

  188. Rachel*

    My favorite rejection was a position that was referred to me by a former manager.

    The position was trainer for an Italian Ice company that was in a huge expansion period of opening franchises across the US. 25 years ago and they are still in business.

    1. Everyone smoked during the interview and it was a smoking office – unheard of in the 90’s.
    2. It would be 80% travel and in hindsight, I asked for waaaay too little salary – I think $25,000 or something crazy.

    I thought the interview went great. Rejection letter by mail 3 weeks later – they found someone with EXTENSIVE ITALIAN ICE EXPERIENCE and were passing on me. Extensive!!!

  189. Whatevs*

    I was told they were hoping for someone younger.

    I was in my mid-30s, and it was a strategy role, so zero legit reason for age to be at play.

  190. Kowalski! Options!*

    A long, long time ago, I did a round of interviews with a smaller agency within the Government of Canada, the last of which was an afternoon-evening of testing plus interviews with all of the senior managers. (It was for an entry-level admin position.)

    After it all wrapped up, I got home at 8PM, and opened my e-mail to find a message from the agency’s general mailbox with a PDF attached (had some kind of vague name). I opened up the file and saw the interview notes for ALL of the candidates who’d interviewed with the job.

    I closed it immediately and replied to the mailbox, “I don’t think I’m supposed to see this? But thanks for your time today.” I had a rejection from said agency in my mailbox when I got up the next morning.

    Hiring in the Government of Canada is a goat rodeo held inside a clown car at the best of times, but that particular instance really stood out.

  191. hansje54*

    Early in my career, I was invited back to a 2nd in-person interview which required a 4 hours drive (round trip). When I arrived, the interview panel spent 45 minutes telling me all the things I did wrong in the 1st interview. After being chastised for nearly an hour, they asked me to leave the room while they discussed the position further. 25 year old me wasn’t experienced or confident enough to just leave and go home. Instead I went and stood in the bookstacks (because of course this was at a library) and cried out of frustration and embarrassment.

    After about 15 minutes they called me back into the room and offered me the job. By that point, I was at least collected enought to assertively decline the offer. I even had the confidence to tell them that this interview showed me that this wasn’t a place I wanted to work.

    The director continued to call me once or twice a week for the next 2 months begging me to reconsider. I eventually had to tell him to stop calling and hung up on him. I was happy to hear when he left that institution (not by choice) a few months later.

    1. not nice, don't care*

      Library administration, in my experience, can be extremely cruel to employees. Mission statements do not apply to staff.

  192. Job Applicant*

    I applied to teach another class for a different group at a nonprofit I had been teaching at for over a year. I had to do a teaching demo, which I thought was just to check I knew the new subject enough, as the hiring manager had told me she’d seen me teaching my current class and how I connected with my students. (Her office was directly across from my classroom, so I figured she’d gotten a good idea of my teaching style.) So my teaching demo was more focused on showing that I knew the subject than connecting with the “students” (which were the hiring manager & another of her staff, neither of whom were acting like students at all, they were just really observing).

    She sent me a meeting invite a week or so later, and I of course think that it’s to tell me I got the job, since I had also been lead to believe that my applying and teaching demo were mostly for show and I would definitely be hired. Instead, it was 30 minutes of the hiring manager detailing all the ways that I was a terrible teacher and unlikable person – I’ve blanked out most of it, but the one part that still sticks with me is her saying that some people just have “it” that makes people like and connect with them and I just didn’t have that. I might be able to fake it if I observe other teachers and people who did, but I would never have “it”.

    1. Bofa on the Sofa*

      Oh my goodness! My eyes got wide reading this! The part about telling you you don’t have “it” is so horrible.
      In my worst rejection story, I was also an internal candidate & was strongly lead to believe that applying was just a formality, that the job was mine. Nope.

  193. Nathan's Mom*

    Oh, I have a story—sorry this is so long. In 2009 I got laid off from my well-loved job of 17 years. After being unemployed for a year I got a temp job with my alma mater and found the department in complete disarray with a number of serious compliance issues. For sentimental reasons I REALLY wanted to clean it up—I could never afford to make big donations to my school but I could certainly make a significant contribution in this way.

    About 6 months or so after my temp job began I got an email from Festus, my old boss, who had gotten a new job shortly after our lay-off. He had an opening on his team which had my name written all over it in large, friendly letters. It played to all my strengths and was VERY tempting, but I really wanted to stay put until the mess was cleaned up so I declined his request to apply.

    A flurry of love-bombing emails followed. Among other things, his wife was pregnant with child number 5 and the company was in the midst of acquiring a competitor, so he REALLY needed backup he could trust. I finally agreed but only if the interview could be scheduled for a specific day that I had already planned to have off. I met with three people and received an email from Festus a few days later saying “We’re going to be making you an offer for employment, hopefully today. I will call you on your cell phone when it’s available.”

    Then, total silence for two full weeks, until I saw that very job posted on a national job board. I forwarded it to Festus, asking “do you have news for me?” He responded “I cannot make you an offer right now. Please sit tight. Senior management wants at least 1 additional candidate before an offer goes out.” After all the emails begging me to apply and pointing out how completely the job matched my skills and experience, I was incredulous—and angry.

    I replied that Festus had worked with me for 17 years, and that if that did not count for anything in the minds of company management it raised questions about whether I would fit into their corporate culture. Better to find that out before, rather than after, accepting a position there. He claimed he had done the best he could and wished me “good luck,” but I told him that he needed it more than I did.

    The good news is that after another 4 months of temping my university finally hired me as a regular employee, and I am still there 12 1/2 years later. After a lot of compliance-related angst and one attempt to kill the messenger—me—the department is running beautifully and we have a strong, cohesive team at least as good as the one I was so sad to leave in 2009. I am still in touch with my former colleagues except for Festus—I always sit on the opposite end of the dinner table when the group reunites!

    1. Nathan's Mom*

      Oh, I forgot the best part! Two years after I was hired at my school I had an opening on my team, and Festus’ boss applied for it!!!!! I took such joy in denying him an interview. I took even more joy in checking his profile on LinkedIn. He had the kind of account that told him who checked him out, and there would have been no doubt who I was, where I worked, what my job was, and who turned him down.

    2. Big Bird*

      Wouldn’t you love to be the “1 additional candidate” who gets to undergo a futile interview so that Festus can justify hiring his direct report of 17 YEARS?

  194. Steph*

    Shortly before I graduated with my graphic design diploma, we were told to make a designery resume and a normal resume and to judge which one to send based on where we were applying. I used the normal resume for a marketing place in town because they seemed a bit formal; they called me in for what I thought was an interview, but it was actually a lecture about how my resume wasn’t designery enough and that’s why they wouldn’t consider hiring me. The guy threw my resume in the trash right in front of me.

    24 years later I freelance in a slightly different field, and in those 24 years I’ve sent my clients to every marketing agency in town except that one.

    1. Laser99*

      The wanton cruelty described in some of these posts was is very disturbing. Why would anyone make a point of insulting a job applicant?

  195. Jane*

    In his last job search, my partner applied for a technical position at a well-known Company.
    Following a successful phone interview with the hiring manager, an in-person interview was scheduled the next month. Shortly thereafter, he was sent a form rejection email for the position. After verifying the rejection with the recruiter via the only contact email he had been given, he removed the interview from his calendar and moved on.
    Two weeks after he started a new position elsewhere, the hiring manager at Company reached out to ask with surprise why he had missed the interview. In explanation, my partner forwarded the confirmation of rejection email sent by the recruiter. The manager asked if he was still interested in the position.

  196. Amy Gardner*

    Ooh ooh! My first real job out of college was as a claims adjuster for an insurance company whose spokeswoman wears an apron. I hated it; the company was in a period of big growth in our area but hadn’t scaled up staffing, so we were constantly drowning. My “someday I want to grow up to be middle management!” boss would praise us when he saw we’d worked at night. After almost a year I got married and moved 12 hours away. I had the option of transferring but opted not to and gave a pretty scathing exit interview.

    Fast forward a year later and I needed a job, so I applied for an open position with the same company. The manager is excited to have someone who’d already been trained, he introduces me to everyone in the office, it looks like I’m a shoo-in. Then a few days later I get a letter saying my qualifications didn’t meet what they were looking for (standard HR). I’m fairly certain the manager reached out to my old manager, who I’m sure gave him an earful because of the criticism I leveled at him in my exit interview.

  197. parttimer*

    Interviewer: “We didn’t hire you for this job because you don’t live in the town the job is in.”

    Me: “Oh, that’s odd. That was your first question and I confirmed that I was moving to that town next week for my husband’s job. The rest of the interview was about how you didn’t think I would be able to do the job because I was pregnant though…”

  198. Anonymous in WI*

    Years ago, I applied for a job with clinical-adjacent duties, meaning I’d work with patients in a hospital. They rejected me by cc’ing me on an internal email thread stating I’d “never seen or touched a patient in [my] life.”

    While technically true, RUDE!

    The best part is that I was hired by another dept doing similar work (where I was wildly successful) right around the corner and I saw those people all the time. Still not sure they connected the dots but I enjoyed imaging them squirming every time I walked past their door in my logo-embroidered lab coat.

  199. UnemployedInGreenland*

    O, I have a few of these.

    1. Got through several rounds of phone interviews and was then selected to fly out to Texas (from New York) for an in person panel interview. Aced it, reviewed the terms – salary, bonus, PTO, moving expenses, etc. – with the HR person and the hiring manager. Sounded OK. I fly home, and get the call with the official offer. Great! I told them I was really excited about joining them, but I needed to review everything in writing. They sent the offer letter and ALL of the previously agreed upon terms were wrong, not what we had agreed to in person at all. I called the HM and expressed my confusion. He asked me to put my concerns in an email to him and he would get back to me. So I wrote a carefully and politely worded email to him reiterating my excitement about joining their company, but also detailing my concerns about the discrepancies between what was said in person and what was in writing.

    Never heard from them again.

    2. Went through multiple (many!) interviews for a job that seemed like it was created for me. Did very well in all of them. I had to take several days off for these meetings because they were in NYC while I was working from home. Went all the way up to a fantastic 2.5 hour meeting with the hiring manager who spoke effusively about getting me started with the company. Went home feeling great. Got a call from the recruiter who was representing me on this position and she said “How would you feel about a $15,000 signing bonus, salary of $[I forgot but it was a good number], yadda yadda… all good things?” I said that would be great and I couldn’t want to get started.

    Never heard from her again. Zero response to my emails and voicemail.

    These days the ghosting has reached epidemic levels.

    1. works with realtors*

      I feel like it’s more common to get ghosted once you’ve met with folks, too. And employers wonder why candidates are jaded!

  200. PivotPivot*

    Back in the 80’s when I was 17, I applied at a local ice cream parlor. This was all paper applications back then and at the bottom of the application were the words, Are you now, or have you ever been a communist?
    Even at 17 I knew this was shady and wrote on the application, I don’t think you can ask me that.

    What a shock! They never called me in for an interview.

    1. LCH*