We often discuss the Top 10 Stupid Interview Questions that employers ask. This week we’ll talk about two really insulting questions that interviewers should never ask — and how you might respond. One question was posed by a headhunter, and the other by an employer.
In the January 13, 2015 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, two job seekers’ personal space is invaded by presumptuous interviewers:
I am aggressively searching for an IT Technician position, and I have been contacted by several headhunter companies. They usually ask, “What other positions have you applied for?” and, “Which companies have you spoken to?” This makes me uncomfortable. What is the best way to answer?
The best answer is short and sweet: “Sorry, I don’t disclose that information.”
Be polite, but be firm. It’s none of their business. More important, sharing that information puts you at risk. Unscrupulous headhunters (and there are lots of them) will go straight to the employer you mention and pitch other candidates to compete with you. In the meantime, the headhunter may not schedule any interviews for you at all. He’s used you.
In How to Work with Headhunters… and how to make headhunters work for you, I discuss this problem in more detail. The headhunter will likely try to explain that he needs to know where else you’re interviewing because he doesn’t want to create a conflict by submitting you to the same company. Yah, sure.
From HTWWH pp. 85-86, “Should I tell a headhunter who else I’m interviewing with?”:
The argument that the headhunter “just needs to know” to ensure you’re not already interviewing with her client is hogwash. She can just as easily determine that by divulging who her client is. After all, the headhunter called you, not the other way around. A good headhunter should not be bothered because you decline to divulge what companies you’re talking with.
Don’t fall for this ruse.
If they don’t respect your not wanting to disclose, then they’re not worth working with. They lack integrity.
If the headhunter presses you, try this: “Can you please tell me the names of employers and hiring managers you sent candidates to interview with this month?” Of course, it’s none of your business. And where you’re applying for jobs is not his, either.
I have been on many job interviews in the last two months and each time they have asked me if I would be loyal to them as my employer. I have been laid off a couple of times, though it had nothing to do with the quality of my work or my loyalty. It was due to a downsizing and a change in the job, requiring new skills I didn’t have. But employers seem to hold me responsible for those short jobs. Is there a nice way to say that I have been loyal, but employers were not loyal to me? I find it interesting and a little suspect when this question comes up in an interview. Do they expect an interviewee to tell them if they were not planning to stay more than a year or so? Why would they ask this? It seems like an unrealistic question.
I think employers ask that question, best case, because they’re naive. At worst, because they’re stupid. If they seem puzzled when you explain it wasn’t you, but the employer, that made the choice to downsize, then that should tell you all you need to know. Their reaction is a non sequitur.
Telling them the truth and committing to the new job is the best you can do. But my cynical answer to these clods would be a question: “Well, how long do you keep your employees?” Of course, they’d be insulted, but turnabout is fair play.
Don’t over-think this. Often, the reason employers question an applicant’s loyalty is because they’ve already got a turnover problem. Rather than root out the real cause, they want you to promise you’ll stick around. Duh.
Another, more interesting, way to handle this is to go on a polite, professional offensive. Before they get to that question, ask them what the turnover rate is in the department you’re interviewing with. By taking the initiative, you also gain the advantage. If they answer honestly, they’ll become defensive. Then you can ask why people keep leaving. By the time they get to questions of your loyalty, their own “bad” is out of the bag.
Be careful, of course. I’m not suggesting being sarcastic. But it’s legit to ask an employer about employee turnover, don’t you think?
(For a head-on approach to changing the path of your job interviews completely, see Fearless Job Hunting, Book 6, The Interview: Be The Profitable Hire, especially pp. 16-18, “How do I overcome my deficiencies?”)
The two questions employers posed in these two Q&As are insulting because they are presumptuous and invasive. No one can assure an employer they will stay at a job, and a job seeker’s other prospects are none of a headhunter’s business. The best way to deal with such questions is to politely but firmly decline to answer them. How snarky you get is up to you.
What really insulting interview questions have you encountered? What’s your advice about the questions in this week’s Q&As?
I agree that you shouldn’t mention which other companies with whom you are interviewing. Still, it is very useful to hint that you are indeed considering other positions elsewhere.
As to the issue of loyalty, I find that hilarious. There is no such thing as loyalty anymore.
Workers are treated like garbage. “human resources” are regularly ground up by HR departments.. aka into Soylent Green
I have only heard loyalty questions from headhunters and HR people- not in interviews with managers. I have short term consultancies listed on my resume and they ask why I left. “Why did I leave? I completed the project successfully?”
Re #2 Gotta love the ‘Where do you see yourself in 5 years?’ question. With the median length of service now around 4 years, the honest answer is ‘If you hire me, I’ll be gone’. If I were asked the 5 year question, I would be tempted to ask them where the company sees itself in 5 years.
I would ask what they mean by “loyal.” Does loyal mean showing up to work as scheduled, doing your job, and reasonably acting in the best interest of the company in exchange for market wages/benefits, a rewarding job, and a good working environment? Well, yeah, then I’ll be loyal. That’s a win-win for the employee and the company.
Does loyal mean just sticking around in the same position for an arbitrary amount of time? Well, then no. But what company would want that type of loyalty?
I have been asked about the other companies that I am interviewing with only once or twice back when I was a recent college grad over 10 years ago. I remember not knowing how to answer the question and feeling very uncomfortable. I remember thinking that you are not telling me about the other candidates for the job. Also, I made the mistake of allowing headhunters to submit me for jobs and not telling me who their client was until the client determined that they had interest in me. Headhunters can be very useful because some companies only recruit through headhunters but you have to proceed with caution.
I haven’t been asked insulting questions. But recently an IT contract recruiter submitted my resume for a position that I then realized is widely publicized (including a notice through a Yahoo group mailing and a sponsored link on Indeed). When I pointed this out to the recruiter, he emphasized that I had already been submitted for this job and claimed companies would rather work with a company like his, which will do the screening, etc. But if they’d rather work with a company like his, why did they post it so widely?
After an initial interview and then a two-hour “audition” I was asked what year I graduated high school. Supposedly, it was asked because the interviewer had a niece who also attended the same high school. When I asked for the niece’s maiden name, I was told that she didn’t remember.
Not so much questions, but the most insulting statements I’ve come across have to do with being interviewed by HR types who don’t know the job. This has happened more than once:
Interviewer: “Hmmm…..you don’t have experience with (skill set).”
Me: “Uh…..actually, I do. That’s what (abbreviation) deals with.”
Probably the nerviest thing anyone asked me during an interview was the name of my boss. Running a close second, though, was my age (then 30) – apropos of nothing we were discussing at the time. Both of these were software positions, FWIW.
“I am as loyal as Luca Brasi was to Don Corleone.”
Next question, Virgil Sollozzo. :)
I actually used that response many years ago when asked the same question about loyalty.
Perhaps, “I am loyal to those who pay me,” would be a softer approach when dealing with an interviewer/recruiter who does not appreciate irony and humor.
I think the first question is actually pretty straightforward … not necessarily from the perspective of saying here’s a list of who I’m speaking with, but that the recruiter is trying to understand where you are in the interview process so they can act accordingly. For ex: if you are at final stages and he/she knows that the position just opened up, they are going to talk to you about it rather then waste your time; if you are not interviewing but only interested in that company that also makes an impression.
I guess I’m saying don’t assume that the question is posed from a negative perspective and instead try to see the good in it or here’s a novel idea – ASK why they need to know that. I know there are recruiters out there that really are bad at their job, especially agency recruiters …but not all recruiters suck.
Coincidentally, RecruitingTrends just published a story about the trend toward lower employee loyalty that puts some of the onus on employers (wow-wee, eh?)
@Chris: I agree. Whenever the subject of employee loyalty comes up, I always wonder what they’re talking about, exactly. The question of whether an employee will stick around for a certain period of time is bizarre. Makes you wonder, will the manager who’s asking the question be around that long?? Just imagine that retort: “Oh, I plan to stay at least 2 years. How much longer have you committed to staying? If I get hired, can you assure me you’ll still be here in a year?” Hah.
@Mark: I’ve known headhunters who would routinely ask people (during cold calls!) the name of their boss. Five minutes later, they’d be recruiting the boss for the same job, or pitching services to the boss. It’s unethical. Asking later on, and openly, is fine – if the person wants to make the referral. But being sneaky about it is bad.
@Ellen: We call that “Stupid Speak” in headhunting circles. Trying to explain why a company would use a headhunter after widely posting a job is like asking whether you’d like a tank of gas for money or for free. On the other hand, what can we say about employers who harbor a roomful of internal HR recruiters, post jobs, then pay headhunters to fill those jobs? Sheesh. There’s plenty of stupid to go around!
@Steve Amoia: Maybe edit that to “I am loyal to those who pay me the most”??
@bhzuna: I take your point. “ASK why they need to know that.” But it’s still a silly question. “How loyal are you to your employer?” Or, “How long would you stay?” If the headhunter is concerned about the candidate’s history, then ask specific questions about that. “Do you expect to win the lottery and quit your job?” That’s what they’re really asking — with “win the lottery” standing in for “find a reason to move on suddenly?”
Regarding the first question, what happens if it was HR who asked? I think it is a cue that they are not interested. Last time I was asked, they made me wait 3 months before dropping the bomb on me. What do you think?
It sounds like they’re thinking of the feudal ‘Oath of Fealty:’ the lord promises protection and support in exchange for the vassal’s loyalty and obedience.
Badly run companies have high turnover rates. If they’re trying to fix the problem, they’ll be interested in suggestions. If they’re blaming the employees rather than the managers, they’re looking for scapegoats.
Unfortunately, 80-90% of companies are badly run. Shocking but true. It has something to do with the ‘Anna Karenina effect’- all well run companies resemble each other in core values and behaviors, but getting even one aspect wrong damages performance and percolates through. Business is hard.
As to Question #1, Since you are talking with someone about a job, I think one can assume you aren’t the only one having the conversation. If it’s someone I’m really interest in, I just ask them if they hit a drop dead date offer from someone, or have an offer in process and need an answer, let me know. I don’t need the details, just to let the hiring manager know they don’t have the luxury to spend time chanting their mantra in a field of flowers.
As to Question #2, As a boss, and as a recruiter I expect people, look for people who are loyal to their career and their profession. The latter means act as a professional and give it your very best. I’m not foolish enough to expect blind loyalty to the company..that concept went away with mindless downsizing.
And as an agency recruiter..I gave people my best shot, helping them connect with good prospects, and where I could, guide them to maximize their chances. So when they hit closure, (landed a job)…I wasn’t shy about asking them for leads. But not while amid process.
I often have recruiters ask me about other recruiters that I am working with, or where I have been submitted. I politely tell them that information is confidential. If they press, I ask them if they would like me to release the information that we discussed to other recruiters, and they usually admit that they would not.
I tell recruiters that I must know before my name or resume is released to any clients. My email signature and web page include “Note to recruiters: all submittals of my name or resume must be cleared by me before submission to your client to avoid duplicate and inappropriate submissions. Failure to do so will disqualify you from representing me.” I sometimes have to explain that means that I need to know the name of the client company and approve the submission. If a recruiter tells me that he can’t release that information, I tell him not to submit, and if he does, he will not be allowed to represent me because he submitted without my authorization.
Why? I had talked to a recruiter that submitted my resume without my authorization. When we later talked he mentioned that a company was not interested. After getting information about the unauthorized submission I told him in no uncertain terms that submissions must be cleared by me before releasing any information to the client, including name and/or resume, explaining about duplicate or inappropriate submissions. He stated that he understood. Then that recruiter submitted me to another client without my knowledge or authorization. Another recruiter submitted me to the same client with authorization. I was called in to interview based on the second submission. The client company discovered the duplicate submission, and the interview was very short. They were not going to get in the middle of a fee dispute. I told the unauthorized recruiter about the problem. He could not understand why I was upset. I told him that because he submitted me without my approval even after stating that he would not, the he was to stop submitting me to anyone, remove my resume from his files and that we would not be doing business now or in the future.
My son (an early 20’s college student) works seasonal. Last season he had a perspective employer ask several insulting questions including if he was in fact a practicing Christian, his age and if he was living at home. My son was extremely uncomfortable but tried to answer as best as he could because he needed a job and he knew the guy was a new employer. Really threw him for a loop though, he’s worked since his teens and never had never had any employer be so invasive before.
@ Lee Familiar story in the recruiting world. And I’m sure the recruiter you authorized to represent you wasn’t a happy camper either.
You ran into one of the bottom feeder types you make a practice of submitting resumes to companies that have a Standard Operating Procedure of “1st come 1st Serve” for the very reason you mentioned. They don’t want to get in the middle.
While not logical, and unfair to above board recruiters e.g. the one you authorize to submit you, you run into the situation where some recruiters submit candidates to companies like that, so they get the resume into their data base and time stamped. They submit them just to submit them..they don’t even have to relate to the job in question. Then later when some other recruiter submits..that recruiter is on record as 1st in line. If the candidate doesn’t balk at the slight of hand, I’ve seen scenarios where the 1st guy got the $, for doing absolutely nothing more than sending in a resume without someone’s knowledge. Because the hiring company didn’t do due diligence and tell the 1st guy his services were no longer needed due to shiftiness. Too much trouble.
“Why aren’t you working? Surely you’ve had [multiple] offers.” Two decades later, I still wonder if the boss who said this ever realized that he answered his own question with his no-hire decision.
I have personally appeared at a prospective employer’s office with resume in hand, asked if there were any positions available, was called in for the interview a few days later and was hired shortly thereafter. Perfectly routine and acceptable strategy, right? One interviewer for a sales position asked if I have ever approached employers in person. I said,of course, that’s how I have found my previous jobs – the direct approach. He said he thought that was quite out of the ordinary and I thought he was rather odd. I was hired, but I later changed my mind and declined the offer.
Also, I have been told by female manager type interviewers that I was too old for one position and not experienced enough for another position that I felt quite capable of handling, either one. I was not hired and would not have accepted even if I was!
Talk about stupid interviewers!
@Mary Davin: You actually show up in an employer’s office to talk about a job, unbidden. I think I love you.
And some dope interviewer think that’s rather odd. And he’s interviewing to fill a sales job. And he has no idea why somebody would show up at a prospect’s door.
You can’t make this stuff up. Sheesh.
@ Lee Hamilton: I have had similar experiences with headhunters/recruiters. There are so many unprofessional ones (retainer or contingency) out there as there is no certification or license they need to obtain to be a recruiter, anyone can be one and call themselves one. Recruiters need to be held accountable for their actions or lack of actions but there is no policing of this industry. I actually have a S%HIT list of recruiters I will never take their call from again. It has grown to over 25 agencies/independents.
Unfortunately I have found during job searches that some very good companies I would like to work for either use Taleo for online job applications or hire outside headhunters/recruiters to find them candidates. I have tried directly to get to know someone high enough (C-Suite) in these organizations to get a job. I have been referred to HR or to these headhunters from my contact. I have “bumped” into CEO’s and other officers at conferences or at events and over time after getting to know them, I approach them about hiring me. I finally got a job through a friend/past colleague only to find out the company isn’t financially viable. This friend/colleague did nothing to warn me. So I may be out hunting for a job again soon.
I have been asked both these questions in the blog numerous times by employers as well as recruiters. No one should be loyal to an employer as employers are trending towards showing no employee loyalty. You can be here one day and gone the next even though you made the company $50M in sales revenue.
At one interview, I was asked about loyalty, as in how loyal I am to an employer. I replied that I am as loyal to an employer as the employer is loyal to me. The look on the faces of the interviewers was priceless. One of them then asked me how old (!!!!) I was, and stated that only “old” people ask this question. In other words, they expected perfect fealty from me (and to be content with whatever they threw my way, never looking for advancement or to learn new skills, to take on new responsibilities) but told me that “companies don’t have to have loyalty to employees anymore; employees should be grateful they’re working and have a job”. I got up, thanked them for their time, wished them luck in finding a employee, and removed myself from consideration.
Oh, and I did ask about turnover (as in how many people have held this job in the past year, in the past two years, etc.), and they hemmed and hawed and finally told me it was none of my business, but they told me, when they noted that I had been with one employer for less than two years, that it presented a problem for them because it showed that I lacked loyalty to an employer. I explained that I didn’t quit that job, that the employer went out of business and all of us were let go. They never asked why, they just assumed. I still see ads for jobs with this (the snarky one) employer that come up on a regular basis, and a recent television/local news report with them showed them complaining about the “talent shortage”.
For other stupid questions, I’ve been asked if I’m married, if I’m engaged, if I’m living with someone, if I’m planning to get married or get engaged, if I’m planning to have children.
Sheesh. There is no limit to the stupid questions.
It IS stupid to ask illegal questions, but that’s just my opinion.
The most insulting question? Regular readers will remember this:
I was fresh out of the Marine Corps in the late 70’s a a fresh faced HR type asked “Why did you waste your time going into the Marines instead of going to college right out of high school?”
You could almost see the daisies grow out of her hair as the room got silent. It was at a defense sub contractor too.
Most insulting interview question I’ve gotten was
“You know your way out, right?” as HR lackey refused to shake my hand.
(I had worked at this company three years earlier, and a position in the old department opened up.)
Interview went well with hiring manager, but clearly HR did not like me and I did not get the job.
What is hilarious is that, however much scorn I now have for that company (I informally steer people from applying there), I still keep in touch with a few coworkers there. Heck, I won the trophy in that company’s fantasy football league last month!
@L.T.: That’s painful, and even worse because it was at a defense sub contractor!
David Letterman does his top 10, and I think just among those of us who wrote on this week’s blog to date, that we have enough for a Nick’s top 10 list. L.T.’s and Mary Davis’ would get top billing for the all-time insulting interview questions.
marybeth: The post-Vietnam era was a different time. The veterans from that era never did get the “fair shake” at jobs that WWII vets did.
In case there are any other Vietnam-era vets out there today: Welcome Home!
I think the answer is the correct one. At the most, just state whether you’re interviewing or not elsewhere.
@L.T.: I know it was, but I still think that the way Vietnam veterans were treated is a shame. And your young HR/interviewer’s question/comment is still appalling. (Thank you, L.T., for service.)
*L.T. and others. Sorry if this is a repeat but the topic begs a repeat.
A Marine Gunnery Sgt is transitioning out of the military & is being interviewed for a job
Interviewer. What is your greatest weakness?
Interviewer, I don’t think honesty is a weakness
Marine: I don’t give a shit what you think!
An Army General is transitioning out of service, and he is having a little trouble getting in right on time. Exasperated, the department honcho asks him “If you were still in the Army, what would your people say if you came strolling in at 9:30?”
The general replies “Good morning, General!”
@ L.T. Great one, will use when appropriate
This is totally weird, but before responding to this subject, I was going to check with my friend Mr. Webster to see whether infer or imply was the proper word to use when, lo and behold, I was scrolling through my emails when my Daily Writing Tips e-letter answered my question. The proper word is implication.
I was stunned and angered by a hiring manager’s ghastly rude implication.
It happened shortly after I had landed a survival job after being out of work for a year and a half.
Seriously underemployed, I was trying to be discreet in my work search out of gratitude to a nice but rough-and-tumble employer who didn’t pay that badly for a survival job, but had limited advancement opportunities.
To make a long story short, it was my third out-of-town sojourn when gas prices were ridiculous, my third request for time off that was carefully timed to mask the search, additional dry-cleaning bills when my “survival wage” was barely above poverty level, not to mention at least twenty hours of prep time for the three interviews.
(Actually, the HR lady was the nicest and the most professional of the three interviewers—I hope they didn’t fire her for letting me past the gate.)
The general manager had had a long day. As a former manager, I was well-versed in long days. He momentarily had my sympathy.
He began to lose my sympathy when he confessed that he hadn’t had time to read my resume. (The appointment was only made two weeks in advance.)
I stayed cool and politely answered his questions until he noticed that after forty years of continuous employment, I suddenly looked like I was breaking bad.
I had gaps.
His expression clearly showed that I was a huge employment risk, and that I should “come clean” on the real reason for the gaps that began at the height of the collapse of the economy.
It pretty much took all of the little control I had left to keep myself from jumping over his desk, grabbing his shirt and striking him repeatedly, all the time screaming at him, “IT’S THE ECONOMY, STUPID!! DON’T YOU LISTEN TO/READ THE BLANKETY-BLANK NEWS??!!!”
But I didn’t.
Had he taken the time to carefully read and study my resume, had he politely framed his questions about my newfound difficulties, I think that I could have answered his questions calmly and professionally.
I might have even been able to convince him to hire me.
I have been professionally insulted by an award-winning general manager who tried to pressure me into quitting after a corporate buy-out (different long story), but this was a personal insult.
The implication was that after decades of success in many arenas, I was now a “problem child” of society, unworthy of being hired.
At that moment, my professionalism left me, and I began to extract my brief, non-violent revenge.
He was having a long day.
I was about to make it even longer.
I opened my professional portfolio, and showed him some things, evidence of my accomplishments.
To keep the story short, I won’t elaborate, but I politely extended the interview at least a half hour longer than the five minutes he had intended to end it after discovering my “gaps”.
I was determined that HE would end the interview, not me. After all, he had wasted over 20 hours of my time.
Normally, I’m not into vengeance, but I left that interview totally guilt-free and liberated.
@Citizen X: The horrifying thing is that your experience plays out day after day in America. Unprepared managers coax hungry applicants into job interviews, then make “decisions” based on nothing but whim.
So you spent money and time to get a job, and the putz had never even read your resume.
And employers complain about a talent shortage? They should start by firing managers like this one.
The so-called “talent shortage” could be further brought to a screeching halt by requiring that anyone hired into HR have a degree in something that the business does, NOT merely “HR” or “Business”.
For instance, if the business is widget fabrication, make HR people have degrees in metallurgy, industrial fabrication, design, etc.
Excellent article, Nick! The depth of your insights into recruiting have impressed me once again, as they often have over the years. The question of awful interview questions is timely, because I recently learned about a ruse/scam that it being perpetrated by a large number of questionable recruiters.
The scam goes: “What are the last 4 digits of your social security number and what are the month and day of your birthday? We will only use this information for identification purposes.”
Many people are falling for this one, I understand. The point being that six months later, another recruiter calls up the candidate and asks for the first five digits of the SSN… bingo! time to open a fraudulent credit card account!
Even if no crime is intended, it creates a terrible impression, and sounds like there is at least a suggestion of potential fraud, identity theft or age discrimination.
I was astounded that a group of recruiters I was speaking with online had no idea that this was an illegal practice. Stunning! I checked with a cybersecurity expert in law enforcement AND an employment attorney, and both indicated it was clearly illegal/dubious. Everyone in my search firm immediately agreed as well.
You once wrote an article about ‘terrible recruiters’, and I initially had no idea what you were talking about. Thank you for opening my eyes to the problem of unethical recruiters in the industry. It is much more prevalent than I thought.
I once had an online job app ask for full SS# plus the last 10-15 years of job history including start/end salary.
I told the HR person that isn’t all that a little much – he told me it was “industry standard.”
Yeah, “industry standard” if you’re into identity theft.
The worst answer from the Company to the question…
“What is the company turnover rate?”
“I don’t know.”
““Why did you waste your time going into the Marines instead of going to college right out of high school?””
I did go to school. Heartbreak Ridge.
Thanks for your service, LT.
I know this discussion has kind of died down, but I thought people would get a kick out of this. This is from an unsolicited email for a job. I have no interest in it whatsoever, but some of the questions they want to know are ridiculous:
What is your availability to begin a new assignment?
What is your reason for looking for a new opportunity?
Are you open to doing contract (temporary) work?
What is your availability to phone and in-person interview?
Current/most recent pay rate:
What W2 hourly rate are you requiring for a contract position?
What is your authorization to work in the United States? (i.e. US Citizen, Green Card, H1B Visa)
Do you have any issues completing a drug test and criminal background check upon an offer of employment? (both are required by our client once an offer is made)
What is the month and the day of your birth date? (year is not needed)
What are the last 5 digits of your SSN?
When did you leave your last position if you are no longer there?
What have you been doing since you left that position:
Are you currently interviewing and with who?
Are you currently receiving unemployment benefits?
Please explain any gaps of unemployment (incl. dates):
Highest Education completed:
I’d note that with birthday and last 5 SSNs, one can do a lot of damage. Everytime I’ve called my credit card company, they ask me to verify my identity that information, along with my home address and phone number. All that would be available to this recruiter.
A reasonable reply would be: “please unsubscribe me from any further unwanted prying questions which are clearly none of your business”
@Chris: Some of these discussions never die down!
Did they ask if they could come over to your house right now? Sheesh. “What’s the first digit of your IQ?”
@Nick Corcodilos: Hah! Depending on my mood, I would respond to that last question either “2” or “3”… to see what they say.
Door-to-door recruiters are rare in my neighborhood, except for Mormons.
I dont answer rude questions. And I have had some beauts. I just say Im not going to answer that. Next! Look, if the interviewer asks those sort of questions whats the point of being there.
I had one interview that went really well. I answered all the questions, felt confident, and then the manager started asking what I thought were hypothetical questions to test my working knowledge. She walked me to the front of the office and said that I should consider starting my own consulting firm and thank you for helping her. She could now tell her staff how to go about resolving some of their issues. I was pissed. I was never called in as a serious candidate in the running, I was called in as a “free consultant”. I walked back to my car and knew I was used…and companies want loyalty when they pull stunts like that?