Interviewing is often a stressful time for most people. Eager for a new career, most people are expecting to accept a position. However, not all interviews go well whether it be stress or lack of interest or just bad feelings from the company. In this piece, job seekers reveal what a hiring manager did to turn them off a job. Stories were edited for clarity.
"I had an interview where they took me into the office and told me to point to the person I'd want to do it with.
I told them I like to keep my work life and personal life separate and I'm happily in a relationship. They told me that I had to pick someone and wouldn't drop it. I just pointed to someone who wasn't really paying attention and was minding his own business hoping that would be the end of it. They all laughed and went over to the guy and just started to really bully him. I could tell he was uncomfortable. They told me to think of a really creative way to insult him. I refused because I don't know him. They got weird with me and carried on bullying him, encouraging everyone in the office to do the same.
They told me to come back the next day for my first shift. I refused and never went back."
"When I was 18, I was looking for a job to work part-time while going to college. I got an interview at a major grocery store chain that my older sibling worked at as well. I got an interview pretty much right away because of that. Anyways, I showed up about 20 minutes early for the interview. I went up to an employee and asked where I should wait, they told me to sit at the bench next to the checkout area. I sat there for around 30 minutes, getting odd looks from customers and employees alike. Eventually the store manager showed up, ten minutes after she was supposed to meet me. We went up a set of stairs into the messiest office room I have ever seen. Papers everywhere, lots of empty bottles around, etc. The manager had me sit down at a chair and told me to fill out a couple of papers and then left. The papers were availability sheets and a couple things for me to sign. She came back 15 minutes later and scanned over the papers and asked me a few questions (standard interview questions) and was then called away from the interview again for 20 more minutes. Long story short, she repeated this cycle of giving me something to do/asking questions and then leaving THREE MORE TIMES. At one point, she had even forgotten that she was interviewing me and I had to got find her, to which she said, 'Oh yeah! I was interviewing you!' The interview took over 90 minutes.
It finally ended after she told me, 'Expect a call from us soon!' to which I said I simple I will, gave a hand shake, and got out of there. I did get offered a job, but I turned it down for one with better pay and benefits and for the fact that the interviewer actually seemed to give a care about interviewing me."
"When I was in college I got an interview for a summer reporting internship with a fairly large regional newspaper.
I was working part-time at a marine supply store and had arranged to leave early to make sure I had enough time to go home, change to a suit and make it to the interview on time.
Unfortunately, on the day of the interview a surprise snow storm hit. There was no snow in the forecast, but by the time I left work there were four inches of snow and ice on the ground, and there were accidents everywhere. I quickly realized that there wasn't enough time to go home and still be on time for the interview because traffic was at a crawl.
At my job I wore khakis and a polo shirt, so while I wasn't fully dressed they way I wanted, I wasn't a complete slob. Under the circumstances, I felt it was more important to show that I was prompt and reliable than a snappy dresser.
I arrived at the interview 10 minutes early, I had my clips organized and cogent answers prepared for the editor's questions and some good questions for him.
I never got that far. He took one look at how I was dressed and spent the first 10 minutes criticizing my attire. This despite the fact that he was wearing a rumpled shirt, no tie, and pants that hadn't seen an iron in years. He took great pride opening a desk drawer and telling me that he always had a tie in his desk in case he needed one. The wrinkled, out of style bit of silk he held up made the same fashion statement as the rest of his ensemble.
I tried to explain that I thought his time was more important than my outfit, but was cut off.
He took a cursory look at my clips, but it was obvious my chances of getting hired were pretty slim. But in that moment I also decided that I didn't want to work there even if they did offer me the position.
A few years later, a friend tried to recruit me to work at that paper. I asked if that editor was still there and would they be my supervisor. The answer to both was yes.
I politely told the friend that I was happy where I was, even though the move would have meant a significant raise."
"Oh my god, so many things. This is all for the same job:
First off, the place was dirty and cluttered. They had rented out space in an office building and it was kinda dingy and busted up, but I chalked it up to the fact that it was a small company just starting out. Then, the boss had her dog walking around the office the whole time. Now I very much love dogs and I’m not even totally against the idea of having one around the workplace, but she made one of her employees keep him in her office and take him for walks.
Now for the bad regarding the job itself. Even though it was an unpaid internship, she kept trying to talk up the fact that after a couple of years of service, employees get 'their own piece of the company.' It was all very pyramid-schemey. Next, I was told to shadow two of the 'team leads' as they combed through resumes and called potential candidates for door-to-door sales roles, which was to be my responsibility if I got hired. The first girl I sat with called a candidate, who asked if it was door-to-door which she wasn’t interested in. She lied to her about it being door-to-door sales, then told her she would email her a job description in the next half-hour, hung up and called her a witch, then giggled with another team lead about it. The next guy didn’t say a word to me, just had me sit there and watch him search candidates on his laptop, while blasting Wiz Khalifa and singing along."
"Fresh out of college I applied for a job as a developer at a company that made advergames and edugames. This was about 10 years ago when Flash games were huge and many companies wanted branded games.
Had a great interview. On the way in, I was shown around the office. Nice people, interesting customers, cool projects. Made a great impression with my portfolio. I was told I was the last candidate, and they were sufficiently impressed that we'd go straight ahead with the salary and benefits negotiation which also went fine.
At this point it was 5'ish and they'd send me the paperwork for the contract. But since it was the end of the day, perhaps I'd like to see how they spend their evenings at this company... uh ok?
I was taken to a large attic space. Big enough to stand freely but no windows. There were logs, like big real tree trunks placed around a fake camp fire on one side of the attic. On the other side were tents. Like proper camping tents with sleeping bags and stuff.
I was asked if I played any instruments because every night they'd come up here with the whole group of employees. Play music together around the fake camp fire while they had dinner. Then they'd go back to work for a few more hours and sleep in tents, so they could start early in the morning. Apparently most people only went home over the weekend.
I was just so absolutely stumped that I didn't even decline the job on the spot. I just thanked them for the interview. Got on the train home and just sat there mulling it over. Declined the job over the phone the next day and the manager actually got pretty mad because he already accepted a job from a client and scheduled me on it."
"In the early 2000s, I answered a newspaper ad to 'Be your own boss!' 'Make your own hours!' 'Travel and get paid!' I was sixteen.. Of course, I wanted to be my own boss.
The office was creepy to start with, and the dude looked like a caricature of a 1970s used car salesman. Mass interview type situation, about nine people. Everyone sign here, date here, sit there, I'll call your name. I get called back, and he starts in on a sales pitch about all the money I'll be making and how easy the job was and how I could move up if I was really dedicated. When I would ask him exactly what I would be doing, he would dodge the question. Over and over, he did this song a dance around my questions. Finally, he told me that he couldn't tell me what the company did until I made it to the third interview. I was almost 100 percent sure that I was about to accidentally join a cult. I told him very bluntly what I thought about the whole thing and walked out.
Come to find out, it was one of those pyramid schemes where you have to buy like $600 worth of kitchen knife sets up front to get you started. Then the dude drives you around in a creepy van all day and you try to sell them to house wives and old ladies in mall parking lots or talk your friends into buying sets too and 'being your own boss.'"
"During a phone interview, I asked the potential manager about work life balance. He started out by telling me that his team worked reasonable hours, which gradually turned into a rant about how his team never brought their laptops home at night and didn't reply to email after 7pm, despite him having multiple 'discussions' with them about 'being more reachable.'
During the same conversation, he mentioned that the company had grown so fast that there had been a lot of battlefield promotions that put some less-than-qualified people in management, but that it had slowed down a lot recently. So, it's hard to get promoted AND a lot of managers are unqualified?"
"Tiny bit of back story; I'm an executive secretary and have worked with executives for years. I know my stuff. Prior to the interview, I was asked by his HR team to take a typing test. A typing test. Twenty years of EA experience. OK. Rules. I took their test. I crushed their test. I got the interview.
The executive came to the interview late, with his breakfast in hand. Breakfast burrito, stuffed with scrambled eggs and some kind of meat with a side of potatoes. No problem, I've worked with busy executives forever. He starts shoving the food in his mouth, laughs while chewing and asks if I mind if he eats while we talk, because he's terribly busy. Of course, none of my business how he conducts business, but I was going to judge him for it. I smiled and said 'Not at all.'
He basically interviewed me with food in his mouth, and I was grossed out. I took my name out of that ring soon after that."
"Did a quick calculation in my head, I wasn't asked, I forget what the circumstance was but it wasn't really related to anything. He was explaining my salary breakdown and said something like 'and x percent goes here, totaling y' and I was like 'did you mean z' and he says 'Yes. Great catch. Hey, are you Jewish?'
Pretty awkward. Dude then assumed I was offended because I wasn't Jewish. Did not understand how it wasn't a compliment when I said I was Jewish.
To be fair, the guy seemed like an idiot not necessarily a mean spirited bigot. I was more concerned about his stupidity, than the stereotyping. But the stereotyping was also a red flag."
"The interviewer wrote a number down on a piece of paper and, all proud of himself, slid it over to me saying that he could hire me and this would be my salary. I looked at it and asked if he'd looked at my resumé (the company asked for a salary history, so I added it to me resume for this interview). When he told me 'no,' I suggested that he give it a glance since I was already making 20% more than his offer."
"I'm a painter, and my chosen career has led me to some interesting characters. About three years ago, after moving to Boulder, Colo., I found myself responding to job postings that had any relevance to paint, painting, or art. So I see one posted by a guy starting a 'green' (organic, no-VOCs) paint company who needs someone to mix paints for him. Perfect! The details were vague, but I assumed he meant someone to mix pigments and make different colors, which sounded really awesome.
So I get to the coffee shop where we agreed to meet and turns out this guy hadn't had a haircut in at least two years, and he had this full lumberjack beard that he was not taking proper care of. Long story short, this guy tells me that he wants me to research how to make 'green' paint, buy the supplies, mix it up, and bring it to him when it's ready. After that I'd be setting up production of paint in my apartment until he had the funds to open up an actual store. Oh and I'd be a partner in this business, so my payment would be some share of the profits once we were up and running.
Later that day I sent him a polite email saying that I was pursuing other job opportunities."
"The employer was a publisher. First they told me about the job, which was basically the entire duties of a graphic artist plus the entire duties of a web programmer put together, and honestly, at the time there were undoubtedly only a handful of people (including myself) who could do the job in the first place.
Then they told me how marvelous the company was going, with X billion dollars of profit in the last year, and how this meant I'd have a bright future there with lots of stability.
I gave some thought to what they were asking me to do, what I was already earning (being just a web programmer without the graphic art duties), and what I'd want to earn for that job. I decided that I wouldn't consider it without a $30,000 raise.
We got around to the discussion of what they were willing to pay for the position, and the number they mentioned was a $5,000 pay cut from what I was already earning. I explained that this was, frankly, insulting, and that they had no business wasting the time of the best people in the industry with interviewing for such a ridiculous salary.
They told me that they're the publishing industry, and publishers traditionally pay less than other employers for the same job. I asked why. They said it was because publishing is a low profit margin industry.
So I pointed out that they had some nerve to try to claim poverty to me after their little lecture about how many billion dollars of profit they'd made last year. Then I stood up and walked out. No way was I ever going to work for that employer."
"So this was about 15 years ago. I was working for the TSA at the time. There weren’t any openings at my airport, but another airport in the state had a supervisor opening they were advertising state wide, so I applied for it. Due to logistical reasons, I had to do the interview over the phone (not the reason why it turned me off) which was fine. The interviewers then started asking me the dumbest questions imaginable. My favorite was something like this:
Interviewer: What page of the SOP would you find the procedure for screening a service animal?
Me: I’m sorry, did you just ask me for the page number for the procedure?
Me: I don’t know the exact page, but I can describe the exact procedure as it is in the SOP.
Interviewer: I just want the page number.
Me: I’m sorry, I don’t know that. May I ask what relevance that has for this position, when I know the actual procedure, and know I can find the procedure in the SOP in seconds if I needed to?
Interviewer: We’re asking the questions and it’s not up to you to decide whether the question is relevant.
(At this point not only did I know I wouldn’t get the position, I was pretty sure I didn’t want to work there anyway.)
Me: I’m just concerned because you seem to believe it’s more important to have irrelevant information memorized, than to actually know how these procedures are done. When I was studying for this interview, I was studying actual procedures and not wasting my time memorizing page numbers. It seems to me a good supervisor should have their eyes up, watching what’s going on, knowing whether their people are doing things correctly, and not have their nose in the book.
Different Interviewer (who happened to the head honcho, the Federal Security Director, of the airport): Are you implying that you know better than this interview board the qualities that make a good supervisor?
Me: No sir, I’m not implying anything. I’m explicitly telling you that this board has no idea what qualities make for a good front line supervisor. I apologize for wasting your time, and wish you the best of luck in finding a quality candidate.
A couple days later my Deputy Federal Security Director called me into his office. He said he had spoken to the FSD who had interviewed me and talked about how rude I had been. I explained what had happened. My DFSD then told me not to worry. He said that guy was a complete dummy and the poster boy of 'promoting your problems.' He said the questions that were being asked were obviously, so they could get their own candidate to score high, and anyone else would score low. A couple months later a supervisor position opened at my airport, I applied and actually got it.
Also, for anyone wondering, the TSA is a horrible place to work. I did the job for almost 10 years because the pay was good, but I hated going into work everyday knowing that we weren’t really making anything safer and that our job was to make people feel safer. It sucks knowing that most people don’t like you because of what you’re doing, and you don’t like what you’re doing because you feel dirty infringing on peoples rights just for the sake of security, that really isn’t security. Leaving that place was one of the best things I could have ever done."
"Was being interviewed by a large West Coast search engine several years ago. One of the interviewers noticed I had a thick southern accent and asked where I was from. I said Kentucky, and he asked me if it was true that a lot of people from there marry their cousins and if anyone in my family had done that. He was dead serious and wouldn't move on until I answered. I said no, and he looked at me like he didn't believe me. Super awkward.
In the next interview (that guys boss), he asked how my other interviews had gone, so I mentioned the remark, and he seemed very put off that I brought it up. Interview went cold after that. Got a call from them a week later and said I wouldn't be offered a job. A month later they called me back and asked if I was still interested and I declined."
"I interviewed at a violin shop for a sales/assistant sort of gig like four years ago, and I was pretty eager for the job because I bought all my gear and got all my repair work done from there, and most importantly, had graduated from college and really needed a job.
I interviewed with another girl who had been there for a couple years in that position and had been promoted, and she legitimately spent over half of the time trying to talk me out of pursuing the job because the owner was so terrible to work for: yelling at his staff in (in front of customers), frequently making them cry, and even yelling at customers when they disagreed with him. They (unsurprisingly) had a really high turnover rate on account of his tantrums. Though to be fair, I would have still taken the job were it offered because I was desperate, but no luck.
I was just in there a couple weeks back and the owner offered me a job on the spot...tempting though that may be, nah - I'll stick with a boring office job any day instead of having to work with a crazy."