While normally a person should be on their best behavior for a job interview, sometimes it's the company itself that deserves a rejection email. These companies were absurdly terrible in how they ran their businesses, prompting these interviewees to get out while they still could. How these companies function while treating their employees like actual dirt is beyond me.
Just Sleep In The Car!
“They told me they would have, ‘trouble meeting my requested salary.’
I was asking for 50 cents more than minimum wage for a cleaning job, and I said it was what I was getting paid at my current job. (I actually took a dollar off my pay at the time, as I really wanted this second job.) Note, I wouldn’t have complained but I KNEW the couple running this business, and they were acquaintances to my mother, hence the interview. They had four Audis.
I asked what days they needed me and I said I’d have to wait a few weeks, about a month, to clear out the current work schedule at my old job before any changes might take effect, as I had to work those nights and couldn’t just change those shifts. They asked what the problem was, and I said well, having three hours between my jobs wasn’t going to work.
Here’s how it fell out. My job at the time worked me 10 p.m.- 7 a.m. They wanted to hire me to work 10 a.m. – 7 p.m., with hour lunches at both. Maybe three hours to sleep? But they wanted me to work Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, when I worked at my ‘original’ job.
I told them that I couldn’t do that for a month because of the overlap, and they said, ‘Well, can’t you just nap in your car? Don’t be a wimp, we’re giving you a great opportunity here as a favor to your mother.’
I went, ‘Yeah. We’re done here.’
And I left. Later I found out they were pretty forcibly dismantled for violating a huge amount of tax and labor laws.”
Condescending To The Max
“I walked in, already skeptical about the job, and was put in a waiting room the size of a small bathroom with about three other people. After filling out paperwork (this was for a full time marketing gig), a guy comes and gets me and brings me back to his office. In hindsight, the first alarm should have been that the guy didn’t even have a computer monitor on his desk, but I didn’t pick up on that at the time. So we walk in and he asks how I’m doing. Now, it was pouring down raining that day, so I say I’m doing great, but maybe wish the weather was a little better. He stops and goes, ‘Well what’s wrong with the rain?!’
I reply that there is nothing wrong, I was just in a suit and wished it was nicer out. He then asks if I like sports. After saying I do, he asks if I think Tom Brady is paid a million dollars a year to not play in the rain. I’m not sure how I responded to that, but weird question, right?
So then, he looks at my resume and goes, ‘So I see you’ve worked at Burger King the last 3 years.’
I replied that, no, I actually worked at a full service restaurant as a waiter during college. His reply? ‘Same thing.’
So I’m starting to get a little upset at this point, and then he calculates my hourly income as a waiter over one year (spoiler alert, it’s not much), and he asks why I think I deserve a raise and a salary. I explain that I just graduated from college and am looking for a real job. He then says, ‘Oh, well that’s not impressive since it looks like it took you four years to graduate and most people do it in three years to get it over with.’
At this point, he tells me it’s not going to be a good fit. I told him I agreed and that he needed to work on his interviewing skills. Then I called him an loser and walked out. The whole thing lasted 10 minutes tops.”
This Can’t Be Legal
“I was 20 years old at the time (I’m 39 now). I went to a job interview at a call center. I got dressed up, with a suit coat, tie, dress shoes and dress slacks. Now, I was nervous about the interview because I occasionally stutter, and figured I could get lucky, not stutter, and get the job. I was greeted by the manager, filled out the application, and waited for the manager. I looked at the signs in the office. They were rules for working there. It’s not a good sign when there are framed rules all over the office on how to work the job and the dress code. This was the first red flag to me. I don’t work well in very authoritarian work places.
Second red flag was on one of the signs, telling us that although it was a call center, we were still expected to dress professionally at all times, with a suit and tie. I was called into the office to interview. The manager clearly didn’t care about the interview, he was going to hire anyone who walked in through that door, so long as they had a pulse. Third red flag: high turn over rate. Next was the fourth red flag: six-day work week. Still, just 40 hours, but spread over 6 days and not 5. Sorry, if I’m going to work six days, it’s going to be because I have two jobs.
I read the script and then I got that huge warning sign. I knew it was a call center, but I wasn’t expecting the product. The script was giving the impression that I was a cop soliciting donations for the Police Charity thing. I forget exactly what it is, but you give a donation, get a sticker for your car window that people display, thinking that police will go easy on them if pulled over for speeding. The manager even told me to re-read the script and sound more authoritative, as if I were a cop at a traffic stop asking for license and insurance. I tried again, stuttered through the first two paragraphs, and realized I wasn’t going to make a good call center person. The manager said, ‘Let’s try it again, I know if you sound like a cop you’ll get through it perfectly.’
I closed the binder with the script, handed it back to him and apologized for wasting his time.”
“I attended a group interview for a supermarket chain. The manager came in to introduce himself, including outlining his policy for staff sickness, which was, ‘We don’t accept staff sickness as an excuse for not coming to work, as we have a pharmacy on site. So if you’re sick, regardless of what it is, we fully expect you to come to work. Even if you have diarrhea or vomiting. There are remedies for that, and you can buy them at the pharmacy.’
Considering it was a major chain supermarket that also had a customer café, bakery, and a fresh meat/fish counter on site, I thought that was disgusting. Most places that deal with the preparation of or selling of edibles have a minimum 24-hour rule after stomach bugs for their staff, to prevent any cross contamination of pathogens. After I heard that, I excused myself and left. When they later asked me why I walked out, I told them and they didn’t think the shop policy was a problem. I won’t go into that shop now. I don’t want a sick baker coughing all over the cookies I’m about to buy.
I don’t know if that’s the policy for the entire company, but it would explain why the winter vomiting bug spreads so quickly in the UK!”
It’s A Trap!
“I went in for an ‘Office Manager’ position. When I arrived, there were 20 other people waiting for interviews with me. That raised a major flag, but I thought I’d roll with it and see what was going on, because I really needed some form of income. One-by-one, I started seeing people emerging from the interviewer’s office and being shuttled to the back room, where I could see a phone center set up. They looked confused and dejected, like they were being led into a slaughter house and knew it, even though they were told it was a 5-star restaurant.
They pulled me in for my appointment and said the position was cold-calling insurance sales. I confronted them about it immediately, and even pulled up the job description on my phone. They said, ‘Well, if you sell really good, you can get a promotion to office manager.’
Get a promotion to be a glorified receptionist? Absolutely no way. I flat-out told them they were unethical for lying to desperate people during a bad economy and walked out. I told the lady who had been sitting next to me it was a scam before I left, and I’m pretty sure she walked out too.
Not as bad as a Multi-Level-Marketing scheme, but still super shady.”
“My friend and I were trying to find part-time jobs during college. We found an ad for job openings at a housekeeping service, whose slogan was something like, ‘We don’t say no to any job!’ Red flag? Nah. We were able to get interviews on the same day, and my friend let me wait in her car while she went into the abandoned circus-looking warehouse where the office was.
While she was in the interview, the hiring manager was all sweet and kind, but then during the interview the manager received a call from one of the housekeepers about an issue. My friend only heard one side, but it sounded like it had something to do with feces. Apparently the conversation escalated, with the manager screaming into the phone that if the housekeeper didn’t deal with the issue, they would be fired. The manager then ended the call, smiled at my friend and basically said, ‘So where were we?’
My friend made up an excuse and ran out of there. She told me she cared about me too much to let me go in there, and we peeled out of that circus warehouse parking lot as fast as possible.”
Brutal Interview Rounds
“I had an interview for a position in which I had already completed an extensive Excel spreadsheet, with two incredibly long and overly challenging situational problems to solve, as well as a phone interview. The spreadsheet took me a good three to four hours, and the phone interview was about 45 minutes. AFTER this, I was granted an in person interview. I was informed it would be a four hour in person interview, with four hour-long sections with different people. I did my best to mentally prepare for it.
I felt that the interviews were going well until the third person I met with. Keep in mind, this was at the start of the third hour of the interview. This guy would not stop giving me grief. Basically every question he asked me, I gave a response, and he either acted like it was a bad response or that I was wrong. He literally told me that my weakness when I answered the question ‘What is a weakness you have?’ was wrong. I was like, how on earth can you tell me that the weakness I state is wrong? You don’t even know me! He was just a monster for the entire interview. I actually wanted to kick his butt, but I hung in as best I could. I found out after the four-hour interview that I didn’t get the job. I should have just ditched him and walked out.”
Flooded With Red Flags
“A new company that refurbishes electronics came to town and was having open interviews. They had some office positions that I was qualified for (secretary and bookkeeper), so I went to it. I was led to this basement (red flag #1) which was set up like a classroom, even with tiny desks. There were about 20 people in there, and I was the only one dressed professionally (red flag #2). The others didn’t even try: jeans, t-shirts, and flip-flops. After looking around, I was pretty sure I was the only person in the room who had all their teeth. A man came up to the front of the room and introduced himself. He then disclosed that if you have been convicted of a violent crime, you wouldn’t be hired (red flag #3). Around five people got up and left.
We then watched a video clip about the company. Then the man announced that we were to be tested for illicit substances right then and there (red flag #4). A few of us women chuckled when we received our tests, because they were packaged like a pregnancy test. It was a taken by mouth that gave results in minutes. Around ten people got up and left because their tests were positive. Now there were about five of us. I was offered a job as a secretary, and I was to start the next day at 6 a.m. (red flag #5). I politely declined and left the property.
On my way to my car, I was catcalled by several male employees (red flag #6). You would’ve thought they’d never seen a woman in high heels before! There were more scooters in the parking lot than there were cars (red flag #7). I clutched my mace in my hand until I reached my car; I just didn’t feel comfortable. Initially, my husband was upset with me because I turned down the job, but when I told him about the whole ordeal, he understood. The worst interview experience ever.”
Pushing Meat To Unsuspecting Victims
“I went on a ‘ride along’ on a full day interview for a company that ‘sold’ meat. You know the guys that drive up and say, ‘Hey I got a bunch of extra steaks in the back of my truck I need to get rid of, I can give them to you for a really good price.’
Or they come up to your house selling bulk deals on steaks, or fish/lobster. Long story short, I needed a job badly, and this didn’t seem too bad. There was a company vehicle, decent pay, full time position, which are all things I’m in need of, so let’s do this! I get into the truck with these two guys who work together (for some reason they all worked in teams) and start asking them about how they like the job, the pay, and what not.
The first thing they say is how the job is great, it’s good money, you can make a lot of commission and bonuses, then we get to talking about where they’re from. What they said next should have been my first red flag. ‘Oh we both live in a hotel right now, we have been for the last few months.’
Now I’m not against staying in hotels, if you can afford it why not, nice furniture, someone to clean up after you every day, and a roof over your head. Let’s just say they weren’t staying in a Hilton or Holiday inn. Over the next two hours, we proceed to drive over 100 miles North to their ‘hot spot for selling, where the people have deep pockets’. At this point I’m already feeling pretty unsure about this job, and I’m realizing I have to sit with these guys for the rest of the day nowhere near where I live.
Once we hit the first neighborhood, they break it down how it’s going to work. The company sells them these packages of meat for $100, they turn around and up sell to the customer for any price they choose to throw out, which started at about $300, and they were super pushy to people, who were usually in their driveway, washing their cars, or just in between leaving and coming home. At this point I start texting my mom, who is the only person I could think of that would drop everything and come pick me up. I start coming up with a story, my uncle is really sick, he’s in the hospital, I have to go, but I knew these guys weren’t going to drive the two hours back home just for me, this is their job for the day. So I say ‘hey guys, my mom is going to come pick me up to go visit my uncle in the hospital, could you just drop me off at the gas station?’
They kinda looked at me like I was crazy, and said okay. I ended up sitting at a gas station parking lot with a phone with half a charge, no money, and a hope that my directions I gave my mom were enough in case my phone died.”
“I was out of university for a few months and was looking for any kind of job, since staying home was horrendously boring. I surf through indeed.com to find a part-time job, where I get paid 15 dollars an hour for selling water filters. I said, ‘Hey, not bad!’
The ad also explicitly says that the pay is weekly. I applied and get the interview. The interviewer confirms what the job post said regarding the payment, and then gets the applicants into a room to watch a quite lengthy presentation about the company. This presentation was genuinely as long as a movie.
Afterwards, we all got sheets to finalize everything and insert our desired working times. That is where I notice it. The sheet says something along the lines of, ‘Employees will only be paid AFTER a filtering unit has been successfully sold’, and that we’d only get paid AFTER a month of working.
80% of the interviewees just walked out, including myself.”
Way Too Petty
“I interviewed for a job at a firm after I had just moved to the country. They proceeded to bring up my Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter profiles on the screen in front of me. They laughed at me over photos of me in a dress at a Christmas party. They also said I didn’t have any endorsements on LinkedIn, which was really important to them for some reason. And I only had 20 Twitter followers, which they felt they needed to bring up. I had all the required experience for the position, they were just so ridiculously caught up in stupid shallow social media profiles that they felt like they needed to belittle me from the get-go.
They told me to send through some references for them, but I was so embarrassed and disheartened by the interview that it drained any interest of working for them at all.”
Pay To Work Here
“I was contacted for some Insurance Sales position a few years ago. I had my resume on Career builder at the time. I got there early, and there were about ten other people waiting for the same interview. They brought us into a small conference room and start giving a 20-minute presentation about sales, how much you can make with their commission only system, and how many cars they have. While listening, we are supposed to be filling out pre-employment paperwork with our names, SSN, DOB, and address. I just sat there staring at the guy.
A lot of people seemed excited about the job. Al] lot of people seemed like they had been out of work for a while, just like me. Near the end, the guy started talking about the training we would have to go through and how we would have to pay up front for it. I think it was between $300 and $500 for all the ‘training’ materials and classes. Throughout most of the presentation, the guy was really putting on the charm. Making eye contact with everyone, smiling a lot. But whenever he looked at me, he kind of scowled. I think he knew I wasn’t buying this nonsense.
As soon as it was over I walked up, handed in the clipboard and blank form and walked out. I had checked out about ten minutes into the presentation and then walked out after the group presentation. I stopped at Culver’s on my way home, so the day wasn’t a total loss.”
“There was a software developer interview when the rather condescending manager told me that they wanted at least two years experience in a coding language, when the newspaper ad called for three others I had extensive experience in instead. I pulled out a clipping of the ad and my resume and asked why I was even called in for an interview. I grabbed my app off her desk and put it in the shredder nearby and walked out.
There were a lot of red flags that this was not a place I wanted to work on the walk through, and her attitude set me off. I saw a large percentage of the stated salary range going away because I didn’t know this particular language. It was a really shifty tactic I’d seen before.
This interview was around 1980 in an IBM shop, the language was an obscure one I’d barely heard of, and I wasn’t aware that it had been ported to the latest technology, and I’ve never seen it again. This was in Tucson, and I’m sure I was probably the only applicant they’d had in weeks. The market was pretty tight down there, with the big defense companies hiring continuously.
Everything in the process was done on paper, this was long before email and the web was widespread, and I suspect this company still doesn’t use it.”
Too Much Experience For The Job
“The manager told me I hadn’t experienced enough stress to be able to efficiently do this job. I would be stocking shelves at my local Family Dollar. I didn’t feel like getting into specifics, so I only briefly mentioned helping to plan funerals for my grandpa and baby cousin, and how our apartment burned down with us in it and the stalker boyfriend story. He said I wasn’t capable of handling the stress that came with the job, and that I needed more experience. Every answer was apparently wrong.
I walked out when he condescendingly said to come back, ‘When you’re an adult,’ (I was 22 at the time). I went in expecting to be brushed off, with very low expectations, but that was ridiculous. I stood up and shook his hand and told him I hope he finds a candidate that has enough experience.”
“A few years ago, I interviewed for a position at a relatively large, fairly well-known company. As a little background info, I was asked to interview for this position because of my published work in the field (and an extensive history of successful implementation of some pretty complex data solutions). About 30 minutes into the first interview, the team manager started asking some very basic questions form a long list. What I found most odd was that these questions weren’t asked in a way that seemed pertinent to my interview. Instead, they were asked as if they were some sort of ‘test’. It was a bit of gate keeping at the interview. But these were really, really basic questions, the kind that I would expect to ask one of the freshmen/sophomore undergrads in one of my courses.
After about the third or fourth of these, I started feeling annoyed, because clearly these weren’t meant for me, were they? Then came a question about a method that I developed about 15 years ago when working on my PhD dissertation, and one that I know quite well. I think I sat in stunned silence for at least 30 seconds after hearing that question. My response was, ‘Did you even read my CV before this interview?’
At that point, the manager appeared flustered and began to stammer a bit. ‘I looked over it, why?’
I responded that he might wish to re-read the section with the very same title as the method he mentioned, and to compare the lead author’s name with mine. I didn’t exactly get up and walk out right away, but I did remind him that I was brought there by a recruiter. I wasn’t applying for that position as part of job search. I then told him that I was highly offended by the line of questioning, and asked him to bring in his boss, so that I could officially withdraw my candidacy. Then I walked out (after shaking everyone’s hands), and took the rest of the day off.”
Painfully Awkward Two Minutes
“It was a ‘Vector Marketing’ interview, which means it was Cutco. I looked them up before I went, and figured I’d just go anyway for the interview experience and to apply at the Best Buy next door.
Turns out their interviews follow a format. The person meeting me was busy texting an employee when I got in, and yay, they made a sale! Which is how I immediately knew this woman was following a script. She goes through the spiel and demos, and at some point I interrupt her and tell her I’m not interested in door-to-door sales, or their inverted pyramid scheme. She feigns ignorance, and gets a little upset, and I told her that if someone knocks on the door in the next 10 minutes to collect a check for their recent sales, I’m leaving. I said if she picks up her phone to text them, I’d walk out and blast them on the internet as a bonus.
It took about two more minutes. She stared at me wordlessly for the length of time it took. Someone knocked on the door, I got up to open it, and some young kid comes in and says, ‘Just coming to collect that check, sorry to interrupt.’
I walked out behind him.”
Screaming His head Off
“The woman I was interviewing with seemed off, like she was clearly in a bad mood and needed to take it out on someone, who happened to be me. All normal interview questions, with a decent back and forth. Then came this question: ‘Tell me about a time in your life where you dealt with personal conflict. I’m not interested in workplace conflict, but personal.’
I do not know you lady. I am not telling you anything. I declined to answer that question, and I asked that we keep it on a professional work related topic. She said no. I got up and walked out without saying a word.
In the three minutes it took me to walk back to my car, the headhunter who organized the interview called me, screaming his head off, asking why I left in the middle of an interview. I told him what happened. He immediately apologized for yelling at me. I told him it was okay, as I would have done the same. He tells me to sit tight.
About 15 minutes later, I get a call from the regional EVP, profusely apologizing for the interview. He tells me that the question that was asked of me is highly personal and does not have any place in his business. He asked me to come back in the next day to personally interview with him. He actually complimented me for having the balls to say ‘NO!’ to the interviewer, and said that it showed that I had personal boundaries. He suspected that most people would just roll over and take it.
I declined the meeting, and told him that if this woman is representative of the company, what on earth does the overall culture and mood in the office look and feel like? He understood, said sorry again, and wished me well.”
Get It Together, Chipotle
Ultimately this was for the best, but several years ago I was not in a great place financially and needed just about anything. I ended up going to an interview at a Chipotle only a few minutes from my apartment. The ad had said ‘shift supervisor’. I had figured I was taking a pay cut, as I had managed several restaurants, but that the fair trade because I had not managed anything for about two years at that point (I was going back to school). I got a phone interview and absolutely nailed it. I was asked about food safety, about customer relations, about scheduling, inventory control, employee theft prevention, everything I thought I knew got asked about. I was kind of excited because I felt like only a serious operation would even bother vetting someone in this fashion for a phone interview. The confirmation call happened the same day, and I was given a date and time for my on-site interview.
I showed up and was initially caught off guard when I was directed to join about seven other interviewees on the patio. Not one of them looked like they were a day over 20. One of them looked like they were a sophomore in high school, another was wearing a very bad purple vest and had the greasiest hair ever, massive gauges, a lip piercing adorned with a stud that just didn’t sit right, and one of those plastic cone eyebrow-piercing temps that I admittedly have an irrational hate of. My next shock was when the ‘manager’ came out to speak with us and blatantly announced this was a competitive group interview for a crew position. The third shock was her immediate follow-up introduction to her ‘mentor’, who had taught her everything she knew about the store-management level of Chipotle.
The next twenty minutes was a legit sales pitch about literally being told you will give away any and all time you can in the hopes of being promoted to shift, and then to assistant, then store manager, and then maybe possibly to what everyone else calls a district manager. But this guy isn’t even pretending to con us, he is literally saying things like, ‘You’re going to have to give up weekends, you’re going to have to sacrifice family time, and you’ll definitely be here several or all holidays. This is the commitment we need.’ For $10 an hour?!
I hadn’t walked out yet, and that’s when things shifted to the ‘interview’ phase. The gal and her mentor took turns asking basically the same questions as the phone interview. They started with the softball kid stuff like, ‘What do you think you should do when a customer is upset?’ and made their way at a glacial pace into the more interesting questions such as, ‘You know one of your crew is lifting from the register, but no one has actually seen them do it, and it’s not visible on the cashier camera, what’s your strategy for firing this problem?’
Mr. Purple Vest actually answered, ‘I think I’d just have to take his butt out back and talk to him,’. Then our resident child said something like, ‘Um, can’t we just fire whoever we want?’
Both of these answers were discussed at excruciating length for several minutes amongst the applicants and interviewers with absolutely no progress. I finally stepped on Purple Vest conversationally and said, ‘In my experience, this is the kind of person we create a paper trail for. We look for things they’re doing that violate policy and write them up, giving us the necessary documentation to let them go in short order. Generally, folks who act like this tend to focus their best not-getting-caught behavior on the theft, while slacking in other areas of performance.’
I know how incredibly corporate this sounds, and I know that the person who says this is the kind of person almost all of us hate, but I was good at this. My response was met with the most condescending, rude faces I’ve ever seen. All I could think was that I was being rejected for the sane, professional-level response to a tricky hypothetical, and my best competition was puberty and wreck-it ralph wearing a joker costume.
I stood up, was immediately asked to sit down, and responded with, ‘Some of us are wasting the time of others. I’m going to go do something more productive. Enjoy your time working here. Purple-Vest guy, you’re insanely stupid,’ and I left.
Oh, and you know what? That chipotle consistently had wait times in excess of 5 minutes per customer (compared to their standard of about 1 minute), had easily the dirtiest dining rooms I’ve ever seen in food service (cans always full, floor always cluttered, tables consistently filthy and unbussed in any fashion), and over the course of a year they got every single one of my take-out orders wrong, almost 100%. Why keep ordering? It was the only Chipotle for 45 minutes, and I was involved in a Dungeons and Dragons group that would regularly get Chipotle together.”