Weirdest Job Interview With a Recruiter. Ever.

Posted By Debbie on February 26, 2013

A recruiter contacted me about a Director of UX position. His boss, the guy who seems to be the owner of the recruiting company, wanted to consider me for it. He wanted a phone interview last week. We made that appointment. He completely stood me up. No email to say he was running late. No assistant calling to say he had to reschedule. And no apology. But they wanted to reschedule and they wanted a Skype call. Sure.

I get on Skype with the recruiter boss. He’s clearly looking at another screen. The first thing he does is complain that my resume doesn’t seem to have much in the way of experience. It summarises my last 18 years of work. I believe a resume should be an exciting summary that makes you want to talk to me. It can’t detail everything I’ve done in the last 18 years. It’s like an online dating profile… get to know me a little, and then let’s meet! 🙂

On the Skype webcam, he starts tearing up a printout of my resume.

He tells me the sections above my experience were unnecessary, and he tears the paper across there. So evidently, he wasn’t interested in my key accomplishments or my lists of skills and software. He told me what was below my experience was unnecessary. That was some LinkedIn recommendations. People have told me they like how my resume has great testimonials right there (with more on LinkedIn). I watched this guy tear my resume there.

He then held up what was left and tried to tell me it wasn’t much. Two thoughts ran through my head:

1) YOU wanted to interview ME for a job. This is your opener? You’re so disgusted with my resume that you’re tearing it up on the webcam, but YOU wanted to interview ME? This first date is going horribly.

2) I already had his number. I daydreamed of telling him he did a lovely job tearing paper, and I wanted to see what he could next do with glue and dry macaroni. I said nothing.

Convinced that my resume told him nothing about me, he asked for my story. I gave him the same story I’ve given many recruiters and hiring managers. Like how it all started with the website design company I started in 1995. Et cetera. He seemed to be looking at my website design company’s website. He told me that it looked like my company had a bunch of disconnected people who can’t really work together in any sort of ongoing way.

Being diplomatic, I told him that my staff and clients would all disagree with him. I told him that my staff work well together in small teams, and that some of my staff have been with me since 2005. He was like no, I mean you’re project-based. Your staff may not have much to do until there’s a project. OK, that’s true. True for nearly every website design company. But what’s the point? Not sure.

He asks me why I’m looking for a full time job. Lots of recruiters ask things like that. I give him my standard answer about the work I’m looking for and how my goal is to be Director of UX somewhere. He asks why that title is right for me. I give him an answer I feel good about. I can feel the passion and excitement in me when I talk about what I love doing. I’m not enjoying talking to this guy, but I always enjoy talking about what I do.

He then says that he wants me to show him some of my work, though he doesn’t think I’d be a fit for this job. I said wait, why do you think I’m not a fit for this job? For the first time, he looks into the webcam, and he tells me that the company where this job is (name withheld here)… they’re all about honesty, freedom of information, and transparency… and it’s clear from the answers I gave to his questions that those things aren’t important to me, and I won’t fit in with the culture at that workplace.

What? I think you just told me I’m dishonest, not upfront, secretive, and possibly hiding something. And you got that from… what?

He continues by saying that the company where this job is, they’re all about social good. And when he looks at my resume, well it’s just all capitalism. I shouldn’t get him wrong! Making money can be great! But this company cares about social good, and according to him, I don’t.

I told him that it wasn’t on my resume, but I have a startup, and out of 209 applicants, we were one of 7 chosen for a social good incubator. So social good is important to me. Second, I told him that I may have misunderstood his questions and what he was shooting for with them.

He didn’t really have questions. He mostly went for insults and accusations, and then asked me to defend myself… or undo some assumption he’s made. He’s in NY. I’m from NY. I remember people like that. I moved away from there… and that.

He tells me he just doesn’t think I’d be a fit at this company, but I should talk to a guy named Erik at this company.

What? You don’t think I match what they want but you want me to have a phone interview?

I said I’ll defer to your expertise, and let’s not bother submitting me to this employer. I need my recruiter to believe in me and promote me to the employer, not be sure beforehand that this isn’t the job for me. He was then like noooooo, maybe I could be wrong. I said I can talk to Erik if you really want, but if you think I’m not a fit, we shouldn’t bother pursuing this. He was like noooooo, maybe it can work out. I said no, that’s OK, if you think it’s not a fit, I defer to your expertise.

He said OK, and hung up on me on Skype.

I should tell you who this was. No, let me say that again.

I should tell you this recruiter’s full name and link to his LinkedIn profile.

Normally, in my blog, I don’t name names. I don’t out recruiters who do some wacky things. I don’t name companies where I’ve had some awkward job interviews. I’m not looking to point fingers at someone by name unless I think something truly unethical is going on.

But yesterday morning, I was semi-berated by a guy who kept talking about freedom of information. Transparency. Social good. Information should be available to everyone. I was told this is the company’s culture, and everything they do is guided by it.

One could then conclude that they would WANT me to tell you the recruiter’s name. His company name. Drop in his picture from LinkedIn. And who the company looking to hire was. They’d want that! It matches their culture!

I have nothing against the hiring company. I was interested in the job, and honestly, I’m still curious about the job. I wish I could talk about this job to someone who isn’t that recruiter (or at his company).

And I’d love to tell you who the recruiter is so you can avoid him, but I’m going to choose to be diplomatic and not embarrass him. I’m sure his reputation precedes him. I’d never heard of him before the last few days, and I doubt I’ll hear about him again.