Job hunting in the 21st-century is a shitty experience. While we no longer have to sift through the classified section of the newspaper and send in applications by mail, there are a bunch of new challenges.
It doesn’t matter which industry you’re in, it seems like there’s a lack of good positions across the board. And when you do find one after scrolling through five different job sites, LinkedIn will happily inform you that 70 other people have already applied.
Plus, every position seems to require not just a solid education, but years of experience – even for an entry level job. Then you have to meticulously tailor your CV And cover letter, using keywords and the correct file format or you risk being filtered out by CV-reader software.
If by chance you make it to the first round, you’ll have to deal with phone interviews, then at least one if not two or three rounds of face-to-face interviews. Then there’s personality tests. IQ tests. Creative briefs. Exams and essays.
No one has any respect for your time, you’re just a number and it’s all just a bit shit.
But, cheer up! Because these 13 totally cringe-worthy job hunting stories (sourced anonymously from Redaktör readers) prove that we’re all having a shitty time job hunting, and it’s not just you.
I was yelled at for resigning
I was offered a new job at a different company, very similar to what I was already doing which I loved. But the salary was almost $20,000 more. So naturally, I said yes.
When I told my manager I was leaving, she got really angry and called me into a meeting with her superior. They insisted that I couldn’t leave, and asked what salary I’d been offered and said they’d match it for me to stay.
I gave them the number. She got even angrier and said there’s no way they could match that and were still very annoyed at me for leaving. The head of the division was notified of my resignation. And then followed me down the elevator as I was heading home for the day! And yelled at me the whole way. So intense. I felt like I was trying to leave a cult.
We had to go around the room and tell everyone “a little bit about ourselves”
I was called in for an interview for a start-up. When I arrived, there were about 25 other people there. The MD came in and announced we’d all be interviewed together and that we all needed to get up and tell everyone about ourselves. The role was a not a junior one by any means. There were people in their 40s and 50s.
After the “tell everyone about yourself” we had to complete a series of tests and obstacles. This include games like “convince me to buy this stapler”. The whole process lasted over 2 hours. I got a call a few weeks later to let me know they decided to make the role part-time and had decided on a different route. So they literally made a room of 40-year olds embarrass themselves for no reason.
The interviewer seemed more interested in dating me
Once a guy interviewing me asked more about my personal life than career question. Like, if I had a partner? And what job did he do.
They used my work but didn’t hire me
I applied for a job and got a super keen email back from the MD wanting to meet with me. When I turned up to the interview, someone completely different interviewed me and said I’d have to complete a writing test – and it was pretty tough. I did it and eventually got an email back saying that my skills were great, that I’d nailed the writing test and that they were going to use the content for one of their clients – but also, that I didn’t get the job.
To this day I wonder if they were just trying to get difficult briefs completed for cheap.
It took two months to get the first interview, and it didn’t go well
I was approached by a recruiter for a leadership role who scheduled me in to see the CEO. CEO cancels the night before and the recruiter reschedules. I turn up to the next meeting and the CEO tells me he doesn’t have time to see me and organises another time. I arrive again for the third meeting, CEO again doesn’t show and I speak to another person in the company about the role on the leadership team. He asks all sorts of questions about team building and team management.
Finally, fourth time’s the charm. I meet with the CEO who is really confused why I keep asking about team leadership. Turns out the role they’ve been interviewing me for is completely different than the one I was approached for. He’s not sure where the confusion came from.
I spent two months being dicked around for a role I’m 10 years too senior for.
They offered me the job, but changed the salary
Had a bank offer me a job after the interviews, but it dropped the starting salary by $5000 from the one stated at the beginning of the process.
My first interview lasted three hours
So, my first ever job interview upon arriving in Australia was with a small, up and coming Tenant Advisory (Corporate Real Estate Firm).
Anyhow, my first “interview” took about 3hrs, and involved me sitting on the outside deck of a high rise building (strange AF), being interviewed by all employees in the firm (about 13 people at the time).
A week later, the director called me up and asked me to come in for another ‘interview’. This time, it involved me discussing how to deliver a particular service that they didn’t currently provide, how the service works and how I could implement it within their business – even though this service is fully against what they do. This lasted about two hours.
Finally, another week later, I’m asked to head back in for a third ‘interview’. Although this meeting was brief, at the end I was asked to go away and write an essay on why I want to work for their business and how I could be a benefit. I’m like, WTF?! I’m not applying for a writing position, bro! I’m not writing you a 3000-word essay, I just want a bloody job! After already giving away some crucial industry knowledge to them in previous interviews.
They made us watch a movie about a girl who went to jail
I was in a group interview at a big retail chain ahead of Christmas. In the middle of the process, we all had to sit down in a dark room and they turned on a film. It was a movie called “The $20 Story”.
Essentially a very low-production story about a blonde, bubbly cashier that steals $20 out of a register and is then caught, prosecuted, sent to jail and ends up with a criminal record and her life completely derailed. Like, I get what they were trying to do by showing the film. But… talk about being a little over the top? Not really in the spirit of Christmas.
They asked why I only had one degree
When first looking for a job (post-degree), I was interviewed by the head of a local RE firm in Auckland. He likes to see grads/interviewees under pressure and absolutely grills people at breakneck speeds with intense questions and gives you no time to answer etc.
Questions were like: Why did I only do one degree, not a conjoint degree like other people?
If I made a major fuck-up, would I conceal the problem or report it straight away? Knowing you’d be fired if you did report it etc?!
Would you lie your way to promotions?
Like how the hell is a fresh grad meant to answer those questions so quickly and correctly? Kept firing questions at rapid-fire to see how I would react under pressure and moral/ethical conflict. Certainly shat myself!
That was a hectic experience.
The interviewer asked for my high-school grades, three years after finishing my university degree
Eight years after finishing school and three years after finishing uni some muppet interviewing me actually asked me what my UAI [AN: this is a final high-school grade up until 2008 for those in NSW Australia] was. I actually asked why it mattered three years after I finished a degree. He just said “it’s good to know”.
They made us role-play the customers
A cinema chain I applied with make you do role plays in groups during the interview – I can’t remember too much but it was WEIRD.
They left me alone in a room with a piece of paper
I interviewed with a well-known website. I arrived and said hello and engaged with the usual small talk, then interviewer left me in a room with a piece of paper. Like they didn’t ask questions or for qualifications they literally just left me alone with a piece of paper for half an hour. And barely any instructions. All he said was “draw a picture or write a poem. Do whatever. We just want to see you.”
I was like… um no thank you.
They said free toast made up for the salary gap
As a junior back in the day, I went for a chat at an agency for a role similar to what I was already doing. The role seemed great so we started to chat salary. They told me that the position was offering $38,000 non-negotiable. Which at the time was $7000 less than what I was already on. When I said the offer was quite a bit less than I always already on, the hiring manager said “but we offer free toast and coffee every morning in the kitchen, so that makes up the salary gap.”
Umm… no it doesn’t.
While you’re here….
Check out our guide to asking for a raise.
Mia Steiber is an editor, journalist, strategist and SEO whizz. She’s been a beauty writer, fashion journalist and finance writer for over a decade. In the past, she has written for brands like POPSUGAR, Cosmopolitan Australia, Gizmodo, Mamamia, The Daily Telegraph and Finder. You may recognise her face from her appearances on Sunrise and Channel 7 News where she’s talked about all things fashion and beauty. She has a Bachelor's degree in journalism and certification in travel writing. A slashie through and through, Mia is currently the Digital Strategy Director at RUSSH Magazine and the Editor-in-Chief at finance site RateCity. She started Redaktör with her partner Luke so she could have her own space to share her years of expertise in beauty, fashion, travel and money - reviewing the best in luxury products and experiences. In her spare time, Mia is a collector of cats, a lover of skincare, a world traveller and a passionate gardener.