Job interviews are a thoroughly nerve-wracking experience at first. Heck, your entire future can hinge on a single conversation! So, no pressure, Pandas. However, while we’re busy rehearsing our biggest strengths and weaknesses in front of the mirror and triple-checking if our outfits really fit the term ‘smart casual,’ we can forget one important truth: it’s not just the interviewer checking if you’re the right fit for the company.
After all, any job interview is the perfect opportunity for you to check out the company and see if its values align with yours. It’s a moment that you can take a peek behind the curtain and see if there are any obvious red flags that make your gut say, “Nope, no thank you, not this one, we’re not that desperate.”
In some cases, those red flags are practically glowing crimson with alarm bells ringing, practically screaming, “Stay away! Don’t fall for it!” Redditor JimmySaulGene invited internet users to share their actual experiences walking out of job interviews. They happily obliged, sharing exactly what happened to make them stand up and get out without so much as a backward glance.
You’ll find their stories below, dear Pandas. Have a read, upvote the tales that intrigued you, and share your own experiences in the comments about seeing major red flags during interviews.
Bored Panda spoke about how to build confidence for interviews and the top qualities that resonate well with recruiters with Kierra, a cloud engineer and Data Analytics consultant, who helps people pivot into tech, especially data-related roles. She has a helpful newsletter that you might consider checking out if you're thinking to change your career or in the middle of a transition. Scroll down for Kierra's insights about doing well during job interviews, Pandas.
I wasn't informed about the evidently very strict building security prior to the interview. The front door was practically unmarked, and you had to swipe a card to get in, but there was no intercom. The elevator required a card as well, but the stairs didn't. HOWEVER, no one informed me that the stairwells are locked from the outside, meaning I was locked in the stairwell with no way to get out.
I called the recruiter over and over, and even called the front desk, but they just kept putting me on hold instead of sending someone to let me in at the correct floor. I ended up getting a call from the recruiter while STILL STUCK IN THE STAIRWELL telling me they would not be going forward with the interview because I was late.
I almost screamed, and asked her as calmly as I could manage if she had gotten any of the messages I left for her letting her know I was presently stuck in the stairwell with no way to get out. She said she hadn't, and said it was too late anyway because they had gone with another candidate. She almost hung up before I could yell (probably too loudly), "THEN CAN SOMEONE PLEASE COME FREE ME FROM THE STAIRWELL SO I CAN LEAVE??"
They sent security to get me, and I was treated like a criminal as I was led from the building. I have never been so confused, humiliated, and angry in my entire life. I left them a scathing review on Glassdoor.
Kierra told Bored Panda about the top qualities that she recommends people have. These will give you an advantage when applying for a new position and during job interviews. "Showing a willingness to learn new tools, technologies, and procedures and showing an interest in the company and the interviewer," she said.
"This means one should have a few questions to ask after every interview," Kierra noted, giving us an example: "Asking which projects should someone in the role expect to work on and what the interviewer likes about working for the company."
I was interested to get Kierra's take on how to build confidence. "The best way to build confidence is through practice," she told Bored Panda. "If you’re familiar with a skill set that a company is hiring for, you’ll have fewer jitters. This means working on meaningful projects that are similar to the tasks one would expect to perform in a role."
Applied for a teaching job, my current at the time job was at a school for people with disabilities, this new school was a school for children gifted in a particular field. I was headhunted when one of my students from my current school was accepted to the new school.
The woman interviewing asked why I wanted to work there, so I explained the above (including student with disability), she goes, with the most disgusted look on her face “we don’t have students like that here”.
Should point out that I’m also disabled. Was not going to work out obviously!
Interviewer: What would you do if an employee of 15 years asked for a raise?
Me: I'd remind him that he already gets a yearly raise...
Interviewer: I don't give out raises.
For instance, Kierra suggested that if you were applying for a data analyst role in the sports industry, you could create some sample analytics dashboards that cover one of your fave sports teams. "This way you’ll have relevant experience for the job role and also have a fun project to talk about during the interview!" she urged people to go the extra mile if you're serious about the job.
"Also, you do not need to know every single item that a company lists on a job description. I say if you know 70%, apply, and if you’re selected to interview… go and study the fundamentals of the items that you don’t know from the job description and understand how they would be used for the job role," Kierra pointed out that we shouldn't be scared if we don't perfectly fit a job description with our current skill set.
"This way, if you’re asked about the items, you can show that even though you don’t have working knowledge, you still understand the importance of it. No one knows everything before they join a company so showing initiative to learn something new before the job interview goes a long way!"
Many years ago (in the early 1960s) I had just concluded meeting with an HR staff member then overheard him say to the others that 'we just got our 'token minority employee'. I decided not to be anybody's 'token' employee so got up and left.
“We are a conservative company with strong Christian values. We have mandatory prayer sessions before work and ask employees to dedicate a few hours out of their week to do (something for their church). We also require all of our employees to be clean shaven with hair above the collar and no piercings.........where are you going?”
“This is definitely NOT the type of place I want to work for. You’ve had me in here for fifteen minutes and haven’t asked me anything about my job position, my expectations, or even offered to look at my portfolio. I’m mighty proud of my appearance and will not change it for you. At this point I don’t care how much you would be willing to give me to work for you, but no amount of money would get me to step foot in here as an employee or customer. If I wanted to go to church, I’ll go on sundays. Plus, this is an imprint company, if you want to act like a church, then open one.”
Redditor JimmySaulGene’s thread, which is meant for “serious replies only,” got over 15k upvotes and more than 7.2k comments. From the number of comments people left, it was obvious that bad interviews and shady companies aren’t as rare as we’d like.
If there’s one thing that you should take away from this thread is that it’s all right to put an end to a job interview if you feel that the interviewer has crossed all of your boundaries. Whether in terms of their behavior, inappropriate questions, or the bizarre practices their companies have internalized.
The moment that it’s clear they don’t give a flying flip about their employees is the moment you should get up, thank them for their time, and leave the interview. There are actually worthwhile companies out there waiting for your applications. And you deserve the best. Especially if your gut is telling you that something’s off.
"You get what you put into it. You wouldn't want to limit yourself to -just- a 9-5 would you?"
Yes. Yes I would. 40 hr workweek max, thanks. I want to do my job and get paid for my job. F-Off.
2008-Applied for mechanic position. Told I was too pretty so I could answer the phones and other tasks required wink wink
2017-Applied for a manager position. Told I’d have to dye my hair dark coloured as everyone knows blondes are stupid and no one would take me seriously.
2021- manager position. I was friends with the previous person(m) leaving. I knew their salary-60k The salary band open was 50-60k. I was offered 38k as they don’t think a woman could be firm enough and do the job properly and they would need the salary to hire an assistant to help me. (17min interview).
Sat down with the owner and the first thing he said was, I don't hire people with beards. I said okay, got up and walked out.
If you want to do well during a job interview, the main things to keep in mind are staying confident, boasting about your achievements, and showing your absolute best sides. Nobody’s saying that you should be arrogant, but if there’s a time for confidence instead of timidity and humility, it’s at a job interview. First impressions mean a lot.
Jermaine Murray, a career coach from JupiterHR, explained to Bored Panda that the single biggest mistake that job applicants make is not highlighting their accomplishments enough. According to him, people “humble themselves when they need to be boasting” which isn’t what you should be doing if you want to make a great impression.
The interviewer was "clarifying some details" and asked me if it was Miss or Mrs. I gave him a pass and said "Ms"
But he doubled down and said "yes, but are you married or not?"
So I told him it didn't have any bearing on my capacity to do the job, but that I was going to stop the interview there as I didn't want to work for someone who thought it did. And then I left.
Interviewer wouldn’t give me any hint as to what my salary would be even after asking twice.
So I got up, told her the interview from my side was over and left her sitting in the conference room.
They told me I wasn't pretty enough by their standards to work for them.
I was so shocked I didn't even say anything, just got up and walked out.
“If you understand why the work that you were doing was important and how it impacts your org (project) then you should be explaining that to the interviewer without holding back. How did you go above and beyond to make sure things worked? What creative ways did you come up with?" Jermaine said that we should be showing off during interviews.
Both your body language and your tone of voice are important when it comes to projecting your confidence and just how capable you really are. “If your body language or tone says otherwise, you destroy the perception of your skills. Once that's gone so are your chances of landing the job.”
I once showed up for a job interview in a suit and tie after answering a newspaper ad for a "warehouse worker".
Instead of a job interview at the warehouse, they had me get into some truck with one of the employees who drove me a few hours away, pulled over in some random neighborhood, and explained to me that the job was going door-to-door trying to sell cuts of meat to people, unsolicited.
I told him this was not the "warehouse worker" job that they had advertised and if he didn't bring me back home immediately, I was going to call the police and report a kidnapping. I was brought back to my car, but I was not paid for the several hours of my wasted time.
F**k you, Pacific Prime of Cromwell, Connecticut.
Pyramid scheme advertised as "sales and marketing".
It was a group interview. They served wine for f**ks sake! They had obvious stooges initiating conversation about how great this opportunity was.
I got very drunk and stopped being polite about it.
Showed up and the manager practically bragged about how the job offered no breaks for an 8-10 hour shift, and if there was a food break it would be 5 mins max at a hip-height table with no chairs. She said that you’d be fired if you sat down even for 30 seconds.
Im more than capable of doing that. I did that every day at my last job. But when you brag about how your employees are so over-worked that they don’t get breaks or an option to rest their legs, it tells me all I need to know about how little you value your employees.
I should also note that this job wasn’t paying exceptionally well. Above minimum wage, but not at a level that was even enough to live on.
Jermaine pointed out that who you are as a person is far more important for interviewers than your exact skillset. “You can teach someone to be a better coder but it's near impossible to teach them how to be a better person. Recruiters will always value personality first, but technical skills are a very close second. Hiring managers keep that in mind and try to make sure candidates they like can perform competently.”
The manager said "I care about you, because you seem like a nice guy. This might be a pyramid scheme. I implore you to seek better options." I waved, thanked him for the advice and off I went. That business is gone, and it was only a month ago.
It was for a management position, running a mail room. Something I’d done twice before. All the standard questions were asked. I felt like it was going well.
Then he suddenly says to me, “I’m hearing a lot of “I” from you. I’m concerned, because we are about the team, and not the individual, here.”
The hell? It’s a job interview and you’re concerned that I am answering questions you have asked specifically about me, with answers that address your questions about me. That’s utterly nonsensical.
I don’t even remember how I responded, but I knew I didn’t want to deal with his stupid semantic word and mind games, which I was sure I’d only seen the surface of, so I steered us right into concluding the interview, and I left. I also made a subtle show of taking back the copies of my resume that I’d brought with me.
Third and final interview (all same day) at a tech company. First two went well and I was told this last one just was a formality - they wanted me to join.
Interview with the head of the office guy seemed to start well. We walked to the cafeteria, grabbed a couple coffees, and with some small talk we learned we knew some of the same people. We get back to his office and sit down. He looks at my file, “It says here you’re looking for [certain salary].” I said yes, and explained it’s really close to market for someone with my skills and experience. He looks at me and says, “I don’t think you’re worth it.” I said “Excuse me?” He repeated it. I laughed, grabbed my bag, stood up, thanked him for his time and walked out.
The company went out of business like a year later, so I feel I dodged a bullet there.
At the end of the interview I asked "How many staff have worked here over a year?". The 3 interviewers awkwardly looked at each other and confessed they're all new and basically the office is rotating chairs because of toxic micromanagement. Yeah, why would I want to work there? Also, they said they wanted to offer me the job because I was the only male applicant and they don't have any men working in their department of 30 people. Two red flags, I'm out.
The woman (who would’ve been my boss) interviewing me asked some un-okay questions
“Are you sexually active?”
“What are your views on dating a coworker?”
“What are some of your fantasies?”
I assumed that, if I rejected her, I’d never get the job and even if I did, everyday would be uncomfortable as hell to work around her, so I walked. Now, I work at a place doing the same thing with more pay and a boss that doesn’t sexualize me.
I should have; I stayed there out of morbid curiosity to see how low they would go, but I had made the decision I wasn't gonna work there early in the process.
I'm glad I stayed. The last thing that happened in the interview was the CEO personally asking us all to promise that, if we ever make a mistake, the company will calculate how much that mistake cost us, and we will voluntarily pay the company that amount.
They wanted someone to manage sales, ordering and scheduling for a print shop. I could do all those things.
They made me an offer: 25 cents over minimum wage.
I yelled “I put on nice clothes for THIS??” as I walked out.
Job was advertised as a senior level unix admin position.. the same job I'm doing now for ~20 years.
Showed up and was told in fact the job would start as an entry level help desk job, with entry level pay and that I could "earn" my way up to being a sysadmin amd work my way up the pay scale.
I got up and explained that I'd already "earned" my way up to being a sysadmin and wished them a good day and walked out.
They came out into the parking lot and asked why I was leaving. I explained that their job description was deceptive.
First question I was asked in the interview was if I had a boyfriend. Interviewer was a man in probably his forties and I was in my early 20s. I immediately responded that that was an inappropriate question and said that I probably wouldn’t be a good fit and walked out.
Told the hiring manager I would like to give more than just 2 weeks at my current job as a courtesy. He raised his voice and said "everyone is replaceable and they'll find that out"
Yea that seems like a good mentality for your boss to have. Later tater
An interviewer asked me why I left my last job. I told her I was being micromanaged and had come to hate my boss. She asked me who it was and when I told her, she said that person was her fiancé. I just stood up and walked out without a saying a word, bullet dodged!
Refusal to discuss salary…this was interview #3
Years ago, I went to an interview, and sat down with the man who was to interview me. Sat in silence while he read something on his computer for a few minutes, then waited for a minute or so while he looked over my resume (it was a small business, he is the same person who called me to set up the interview and he’d had the resume for a few days.)
He finally looked up at me and said, “Well, I’m not sure why you applied for this job; you really don’t have any of the skills or experience I’m looking for.” He was just so arrogant and I felt like he was trying to make a power move to make a lowball offer. I didn’t apply to any job that I wasn’t qualified for. I was just instantly pissed that he was playing games. I calmly said, “Then I’m not sure why you‘re wasting my time,” and I stood and walked to the door. He said something like, “Oh, no, let’s talk,” and I told him I wasn’t interested in working for him.
I had a job already, I just wasn’t terribly happy with it, so I really didn’t feel like putting up with his b.s.
Applied for a software developer position for an online retailer. First round of interviews was a traditional technical skills and whiteboard coding session, second round was a cultural fit interview with HR.
I assumed it would be an one on one interview with HR, it was a room with 20 something people applying for anything from legal to finance.
They asked us to stand up, then crawl into a ball and pretend we were flowers opening.
At this point I honestly thought it was some kind of prank, then I saw everybody around me doing it.
I just said thanks for the opportunity and left.
He asked what my degree was and I said education. He asked why I took such a useless major. (My mother was a teacher and I have two sisters who are teachers) I asked if he realized how much of manufacturing supervision involved training. Safety. Quality. Machine operation. Policies and procedures. Work instructions. Adult education. Etc... He asked what an education degree had to do with that and I shook my head, stood up, thanked him for his time and walked out.
A jumped up security guard made me walk away before I even got in the building for an interview. I followed the instructions I was sent by the hiring manager which was to park in the designated guest spaces. Security guard came charging out of the building yelling at me when I was barely out of the car about how I couldn’t park there, then when I raised my voice just to try and get him to listen he started yelling at me for yelling at him.
Eventually when I got to tell him that I was told to park there, he called the hiring manager and started yelling at them about how I’d been yelling at him. Part way through that phone call I thought “nah f**k this”, got back in the car and drove off.
The hiring manager called me to apologise and asked if I’d come back. I politely declined saying I wanted nothing to do with that security guard again.
I was in the waiting room of a big office suite and a man came out and introduced himself to a few of us sitting there. He asked us our names and talked about the position right there. Then he asked us each questions about ourselves, what leadership means to each of us. Then the guy at the cellphone repair shop at the other end of the waiting room called my name, letting me know that my phone was ready and I grabbed it and left because I wasn’t applying for this job, there just wasn’t a good time to mention that.
I once went to a job interview for a large welding shop, in the middle of a rain storm. After talking to the interviewer for 30 or so minutes, he walked me out to the shop floor to take a welding test. The machine we went to was in decent condition, but was literally sitting in a puddle of water. The welding table's legs were rusty and not grounded well, and also in said puddle. Over half the shop was flooded. I turned around and said "No thank you." Then proceeded to walk out the door. My life is worth more than $20 an hour.
The interviewer said God comes first, then family, then the job. Then he started asking me a bunch of questions about my religious beliefs. (I’m an atheist)
I applied for a register position at Pizza Hut. I specifically told them during my 2 interviews that I cannot be a delivery driver due to my car being unreliable, they even acknowledged that and told me okay. Got the job, came in for training on the first day, the very first thing they do is sit me down in a chair and started up a training video on delivery driving. I asked them if I could skip it since I’m only working the register/in the kitchen, and the manager tells me that every position is a delivery driver. Walked out right then and there and got paid for 1 hour of training.
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