Not all jobs are worth it. These interview candidates explain the reason why they didn’t accept a job offer and I can see why. Content has been edited for clarity purposes.
No One Looked Happy
“I was interviewing at a doctor’s office. They brought me in to start the interview and were showing me their system on the computer. It was filled with various colors that had to be changed depending on when the person got there when they were called in, and all of these ridiculous details had to be put in throughout each person’s moment in the office. I thought it was ridiculous and redundant.
Then, as they let me observe the patients coming in, it turned out to be an office where they were constantly prescribing Ritalin and other medications for children.
They would ask them the same things each time the child and parent came in such as, ‘Do you feel like killing yourself?’ and then they would simply be in and out like a revolving door with their medication.
I was not comfortable with that. Then I had to sit and listen to the doctor’s speech on what was expected of me and if I didn’t catch on within 30 days, I would be fired. The girls in the office were either very stiff or looked fearful of even speaking to me.
He said, ‘You are not allowed to eat or drink while working and you are not allowed to talk to each other. You got 30 minutes to eat or drink and then you are back to work.’
I knew with such lack of flexibility, stringent regimen, the fact that they were filling these children full of pills, and their ridiculous scheduling and computer system, there was no way I was going to work in an office like that. No one appeared happy. Not the employees or the parents and children.
I’ve always worked with the public and my job was to make the client leave with a smile on their face. That was definitely not what this doctor’s office was about. They called me back and offered me the job and I turned it down. I can’t remember if I told them why I was turning down the job. Looking back I should have told them exactly what was on my mind.”
“I Hired Her To Fetch My Coffee”
“At the conclusion of an interview for a company in need of a general HR Manager, I realized this was one of those great experiences where I hit it off with the General Manager and the other people on the hiring panel. We were laughing and sharing stories off the record and pens down. We clicked and I had a great feeling, which just intensified when the GM asked me to stick around so the owner could meet me.
About ten minutes later, I stood up to greet a gruff-looking older man in a well-worn suit. He looked like an air traffic controller in the middle of a bad storm with fifty birds in the air, just the kind of severe and all-consumed no-nonsense personality that I’ve seen many times before. He sized me up in his eyes, cocked his head, and decided after a firm handshake, he would sit down with me. Without a word, everyone else left and I’d noticed they took all the air with them.
‘Okay,’ he said. ‘Here’s the deal. I know we gotta follow the laws to stay out of trouble, but I know my business and I know what works. I don’t hire women of a certain age because they cost me money when they get pregnant. I don’t mind it in the office so much because when a girl on the staff gets pregnant, I think of the time as my gift to the family, but older women and these single women who get pregnant, I don’t abide by that.’
He was so over the top that the only thing I could think of was that this was a test of some kind. Based on how the others spoke and acted during the interview I could not imagine them working for this caricature of a boss in 2012 AD.
He continued, ‘I don’t want to hear anything about tolerance training, sensitivity, or none of that nonsense. We’re men on the production floor and on the dock and I get the best work from them when they’re thinking like men, not wrapped up in feelings. I met my first wife here forty years ago. I hired her to fetch my coffee. She did it so well I married the hag. Found my second wife the same way. It’s good to be the king and I don’t need someone coming in to change all that. That something you feel you might fit into?’
I smiled this knowing, ‘I see what you’re doing’ grin, which confused him. I said, ‘Everything you just said could be pulled directly from a ‘what not to say to HR’ handbook for awful bosses. Have you had ANYONE tell you they’d help you run that kind of shop?’
He just glared at me until I realized I was looking at a rare beast, a creature of a prehistoric age that thrived only because the environment had allowed him to while the rest of the world drove his species toward extinction. And I dropped all pretense of campaigning for a job, hoping this was at the end of it all, a ‘candid camera’ moment.
‘No, sir. I’m not going to be part of that culture. Those aren’t values I can get behind. Thanks for the talk,’ I claimed.
We both stood. I offered a hand and he just stood there looking at me like I wasn’t just the cutest libtard he ever dun saw. And I walked out.
In retrospect, I realized that the GM and others were trying hard to bring me on in SPITE of their boss. I’d never been buttered up so much before the second interview. They couldn’t get a decent HR person and I learned later the boss didn’t want one, which made sense.
But I kept thinking that someone would rush out of the shop before I got to my car and left the lot shouting, ‘Surprise! It WAS a test. You passed! Come back and sign the papers!’
But they didn’t. And I left. And the company folded five years later as the owner died and the assets were sold off to cover his debts.”
“You’re Kevin Kennedy?”
“I was asked this, for the third time during my visit to a potential employer, as if for some reason my identity, resume, and stated job history were all a lie.
A job I was (at the time) interested in, for a wing of a large telecom company. I had a great phone interview, as the person conducting the interview asked quite a few questions and immediately set up an interview with me the following Monday.
I arrived, 15 minutes early, dressed in my favorite two-piece suit, my favorite tie, and my shoes were freshly polished.
As I entered the office, the secretary looked up, seemingly startled by my presence when I said, ‘Hi, I’m Kevin Kennedy, I have an interview for 1 pm today.’
She looked at me, puzzled, then put on the smile I know to be one of amusement.
She replied, ‘You’re Kevin Kennedy?’
I said, ‘Yes ma’am.’
She said, ‘Okay, one moment.’
She got up from her desk, went into the next office, and spoke quietly with the man in the room.
At 1:05 pm, two men brought me into a conference room and the first question asked, ‘So, you’re Kevin Kennedy, eh?’
‘Yes,’ I smiled, realizing by this time, they did not believe that the man sitting across from them with the polished resume and bright smile (that was beginning to fade) was actually who he said he was.
The interview began with the gentlemen (I use this term loosely) poring over my resume, and of course quizzing me on the dates and accomplishments contained in the document, asking no questions that I’ve typically had asked of me at job interviews.
He asked, ‘Mr. uh, Kennedy, can we see your driver’s license?’
I kindly showed them my United States Passport and driver’s license. Was never asked if I had any questions about the position, even though I did ask a few questions. Then I thanked them and left.
About two weeks later, I was called and offered the job. I realized that a company that was this ignorant not to believe my identity as my own as to ask me three times during an interview to prove my identity may not be the best fit for me, and I politely declined the offer.
If someone tells you who they are, believe them.”
Illegal Interview Questions
“I was interviewing at a large insurance company that will remain nameless. They had me come in to meet with the new sales manager. I was told they had been cleaning house, and this was the guy that would ‘save the branch.’ Well, he was an idiot and knew nothing about sales, and I figured that out rather quickly.
For those that don’t understand sales, or get a bad taste in their mouths just hearing about it, let me be clear that it is not an easy job, but it is also not one that involves ‘pushing things’ on people. In fact, the best salespeople are some of the most amazing listeners you’ll ever meet. I think it’s the only reason I ever managed to work in sales, along with being able to build rapport with about anyone.
Back to this interview, the new sales manager spent almost the entire interview talking to me. He actually told me, ‘Selling is in the telling.’ This is almost laughable because the actual quote used in sales departments is, ‘Selling ain’t in the telling.’ This guy was clueless. He kept flexing his ego the whole time. Then he began asking me utterly illegal interview questions about my personal life.
After this, though it hadn’t been discussed at all, he said I would have to work for several hours being monitored by others to assess my sales skills. So without having budgeted the time for it, he sat me down at an empty desk, gave me a sheet of leads, and had me start calling people trying to close business for them. Without pay. Without being employed in any way.
After two hours of this nonsense, I let him know I had other engagements and politely asked to leave.
He said, ‘Well, if you want,’ as though it would cost me the job.
I went home and wrote an email to the executive in charge of HR, and received a follow-up call the next day during which I explained how messed up the interview process was. I have never interacted with that company again, and when I see job ads from them, I can only roll my eyes.”
Why Did Bob Leave?
“I’ve been in sales for roughly the last 20 years and managing a team for the last three. About six months ago, I sent out some resumes to see what my current market value is, and to take on a new challenge. I saw an ad on LinkedIn, the job seemed perfect for me. The description was one that I would have written for myself if someone asked me what my next career challenge was.
About two days after I sent my resume, I got a call from their in-house recruiter. It was a brief phone conversation, and mutually agreed to move forward with a phone interview with the guy who would be my boss. I got an email shortly after my phone call with days/times available and we picked a time for a second phone interview. He and I hit it off well, talked for 30 minutes or so, great dialog, call going great. He explained at the beginning that he had a ‘hard stop’ in 30 minutes. We got close to the 30-minute mark, he said, if I was still interested, that next week he and his boss could fly into my area, or they’d fly me out to them for a face-to-face.
They were going to be in New York the following week for a client meeting so it was decided that we’d meet while they were in the city. I’d work that area for the day and we’d grab lunch. I was all good.
We met for lunch at a great restaurant, sat, had a good conversation, and everything was going well. Their Senior Vice President of sales (he would be my boss’s boss) said they made a decision. They flew up wanted to make sure that I present well in person before making an offer. They slid an offer letter across the table and we continued to talk about the job.
Then I asked my favorite interview question, ‘Why did the person I’d be replacing leave this position?’
There are plenty of good answers to this question, but I wasn’t ready for the answer that came from the Sr VP of sales.
He said, ‘Bob was very good at his job, he was with us for four years. The last two he was salesman of the year, wrote 20–25 percent increases when the rest of the company was averaging 12 percent. He made great money, won the company trip. We decided to increase his budget to a 30 percent increase, but he didn’t hit his numbers. So we mutually agreed to cut our work relationship.’
I asked some follow-up questions: ‘What was the rest of the team budget increases?’
‘Around eight percent’ was the answer.
‘What was he trending?’
He replied, ‘About 22 percent.’
I asked, ‘If he was writing 22 percent increase this year and wrote more than 2.5 times the average sales rep, why would you want to let him go, and why was the choice mutual?’
He said, ‘Well his job is to hit budget, and he wasn’t doing his job if he was only 22 percent. And because he was making less this year than last, he was complaining about his income being so much lower than the previous four years, we agreed he should find another job.’
I had a brief follow-up question: ‘If over the last four years he increased his/your business by over 100 percent, why would he make less money than in previous years?’
He replied, ‘Our commission structure is based on percent of budget, not on sales dollars, or sales increase.’
My final question was, ‘So l want to make sure I understand. If I CRUSH this year, end up doubling my business, the following year you can budget me a 100 percent increase and if I only write a 75 percent increase, I’ll make less money, despite the huge increase again? And about how much less?’
The answer was that it was a mathematical formula, and it would have been roughly 1/2 of the previous year.
I thanked them for lunch, told them that’s not a program I would want to be on. I never opened their offer letter and have no idea what they offering. I just knew that it wasn’t the place for me. They knowingly wrote a budget the guy likely wouldn’t hit so they could decrease his pay.”
More Like A Blind Date
“My daughter went to an interview for a bar manager position in a nice restaurant in town. When she arrived she was greeted by the manager who immediately made her feel uncomfortable. His handshake and the way he looked at her made her uneasy. This continued for the duration of the interview.
First, she discovered that the position had been filled but before he asked her a single question. Still, he offered her a job in reception. The requirement was to always wear makeup and oh, short skirts help with tips. Promotion was available too if she proved herself. He made it clear that being nice to him was a good way to do that.
She’s not a stupid girl. She’s not dramatic and she is assertive and confident. She couldn’t get out of there fast enough. She couldn’t even find a positive spin to put on the situation. She said she couldn’t even chalk it up to interview experience because it felt like a blind date.
She refused the job and has reported him to head office. Hopefully, they will be advertising his job soon.”
Dodging The Question
“Fresh out of college in the 1980s, I interviewed for a job with a stock brokerage firm. It was relatively young and emphasized that the sky was the limit in terms of potential earnings.
I asked a question, ‘How much is the base minimum salary?’
The response was, ‘We don’t believe in putting a limit on how much you earn.’
I responded that this had been quite clear from the very beginning with their talk of high commissions and potentially sky-high commissions, but was there a floor?
Again came the response, ‘We don’t believe in putting a limit on how much you earn.’
I pondered that for a moment as a realization dawned on me exactly what was being said.
‘So what you are telling me,’ I replied, ‘is that you want me to move 250 miles to a new city, get housing, and begin working for you with no guarantee of getting paid anything at all? Surely you don’t think I’m that crazy, do you?’ I stood up, shook hands with the interviewer, and left.
About 18 months later, the principals of the firm were all indicted on federal charges. It seems that not only were they churning accounts and tacking on fees to their customers, but they were also skimming the commissions of their brokers. I definitely made the right choice.”
“A recruiter got in touch with me through Linkedin regarding an opportunity to work for a luxury car brand. I gave her my number and asked her to call after four pm because I didn’t want to take the call at work.
She rang that evening, we went through my work history and I emailed her my CV. In the morning, she rang back to say that the hiring manager liked my CV and wanted to schedule a phone interview.
The following day, I received a call from a gentleman who introduced himself as my interviewer. I went through my work history once again.
I answered his questions, gave examples to support my answers, and explained the gap in my CV. I also asked questions about the role and the company.
He said, ‘You have the skills and experience required. I like your attitude, you are very straightforward and assertive but I’m hesitant. If we hire you, once you get bored of the job, you’ll probably leave just like you are doing with your current employer.’
It rubbed the wrong way and I thought it was very presumptuous of him to assume that I was leaving because I was bored. I was looking for new opportunities because I wanted to get out of a toxic workplace. I agreed to interview for the position because I already worked in the field. I had the skills and experience. Also, they were also offering better pay and benefits.
He spoke to me for a few minutes and assumed to know the reasons I was leaving my then current employer. I guess in his entire career he never left a job for better opportunities.
‘Thank you for considering me for the role but I’m no longer interested,’ I said to him and ended the call.
Hiring managers are so full themselves. They don’t even realise that sometimes people just leave bad bosses and toxic work environments. I can’t see myself working for someone who is so quick to jump to conclusions.”
He Was Only Asked One Question
“The three 20-something young men sat across a table from me. I’d just returned to the United States from a couple of years living abroad, and it was time to find a job. Back then (18 years ago), the newspaper classifieds were still a pretty good resource for job hunters. The description had been a bit vague (classifieds were usually short), but the promised wage was decent, so I sent in a résumé and got an interview.
When I arrived, I waited in a stairwell outside a sparsely furnished office with another guy about my age (20-something), until my interview slot (the last one) came. When I entered, after the usual greetings, they asked only one question, ‘What business is McDonald’s in?’
The trouble is, I recognized the question and its source. Robert Kiyosaki’s ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’ books were growing in popularity, and a friend had shown me a passage in which Ray Kroc, owner of the McDonald’s chain, asks a class of Harvard MBA students that very question, receiving predictable answers such as ‘restaurants,’ and ‘hospitality,’ only to reveal that he considers himself to be in the real estate business.
I’ve always considered Kiyosaki’s approach to personal wealth to be irresponsible and well beyond my risk-tolerance level. He was very trendy at the time, and the fact that this question constituted the whole of my interview was a huge red flag for me.
In my mind, it communicated: That this company was following financial trends rather than principles, and that the company would probably belong on charisma and short on discipline. Combine that with the lack of concrete detail about the job, and I was more than a bit wary.
I answered the question properly, finished with pleasantries and small talk, and drove away. I received a call-back before I’d gone a single mile, I’d gotten the job. They explained that it was a sales position (something I wouldn’t have bothered interviewing for if I’d known), and started talking about a starting date.
‘Actually, I’m not really interested,’ I said.
There was silence on the other end of the phone.
Finally, he just said, ‘Okay, thanks!’
That was it. I still feel like I dodged a bullet with that one.”
False Job Description
“Once, I went in for a Head Chef position at a still in-construction new gastropub opening in my town. I was prepped, dressed, and ready to win over the interviewer. Thus obtaining my first kitchen to run and menu to design. I was very confident and excited.
I was told the new place was owned by a restaurant group. That’s not unusual. So I wasn’t surprised when there were three people, and not one, in the room to interview me. The man in the middle was the group’s Executive Chef.
The interview went very well. Everything looked great, and they told me I was easily their leading candidate. Then one of them asked if I had any questions. I asked the exec chef if I would be putting together the menu with his supervision and direction.
The three men looked at each other with confusion for a second.
Then the exec asked me, ‘Did anyone explain what this establishment will be?’
I told him the information given to me. He gave a frustrated grunt, quickly glared at the other two men, and said, ‘This isn’t part of a group. This is a corporate franchise. There are about a half-dozen places in the Midwest, and this would be the first on the East Coast. You wouldn’t have any input on the menu. That’s all done at the headquarters in Dallas. Even the food is shipped from there as well.’
I replied, ‘So what you’re actually looking for is a fast-food manager, not a chef.’
One of the other men took some offense to that sort of characterization. But I could tell the exec knew where I was coming from. I just gathered my things and politely said, ‘Gentlemen, I don’t think I’d be the right person for this job. I’ve never even set foot in an Applebee’s or Red Lobster. But thank you very much, and good luck.’
I made sure to thank the exec twice as I shook his hand before walking away. As I opened the door out, I could hear him raising his voice at his colleagues.”