Few people are as knee-deep in our work-related anxieties and sticky office politics as Alison Green, who has been fielding workplace questions for a decade now on her website Ask a Manager. In Direct Report, she spotlights themes from her inbox that help explain the modern workplace and how we could be navigating it better.
I hear a lot of stories about terrible job interviews—the interviewer who demanded to look inside a candidate’s purse, interviewers who are rude and hostile or even explicitly insulting, candidates who are left waiting for hours after taking time off work, and much more. One common denominator in these stories is that when job candidates are subjected to rude behavior from employers, they mostly feel obligated to stick it out until the end of the interview. They don’t get up and leave. They sit politely, then walk out quietly stewing.
Here’s one person’s account of feeling trapped in a bad interview:
I flew to another state for a job interview with the VP of HR for an automotive parts maker. The only flight I could get was for mid-morning, and the VP couldn’t meet me till after 6 pm at a restaurant. So I flew to Detroit, rented a car, and poked around in a small town for hours (turned out to be her hometown—not where the facility was located), and met her at the restaurant as instructed. She arrived with a rep from the executive recruiting firm, and they largely ignored me and smirked together as I put forth my earnest answers to the few questions she asked and sat patiently listening while she spent the majority of the time telling me about what a big shot she was. It was so bad that at one point I felt tearful and had to hide it. I felt trapped and couldn’t think how to end it gracefully and just waited for her to bring it to an end.