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Illegal Questions And Questionable Hiring

, , , , , , , | Working | November 1, 2021

I’m a proposal writer. A few weeks after the health crisis hit the US, I was laid off by my now-former employer. Several months later, I was still out of work. I’d been cranking out job applications right and left, and I FINALLY heard back from a technology company that looked good on paper, and the job description was almost identical to what I’d been doing at my last job. But the red flags started popping up almost immediately.

First, their hiring manager emailed me asking for basic information that had been included in the application. Fair enough; I figured they wanted to make sure I wasn’t a bot. Then, they asked for a copy of my resume, which I had included with my original application, but again, whatever.

Next, [Hiring Manager] reached out to me on Thursday, asked when I would be available for a phone interview that upcoming Monday, and gave me a list of open time slots. I specified my preferred time slot and [Hiring Manager] thanked me and said his colleague would call me on Monday during that time slot. Maybe two hours later, [Colleague] emailed me and said he will call me tomorrow — Friday, not Monday — at a completely different time slot. I replied to [Colleague], CC’ing [Hiring Manager], asking for clarification. [Colleague] emailed me back to say he’d be calling me for my phone interview on Friday during the time slot he’d indicated.

Okay, now I was annoyed — thankfully, my schedule was open on Friday — but decided to be a professional and see this through.

Then, I realized that [Colleague] had also emailed me the ENTIRE email chain where he and his colleagues had decided they should interview me. Again, this was at a technology company, where they should have had at least some idea of information security.

The next day, [Colleague] called me — on time, surprisingly — introduced himself as the owner of the company — I checked after the call and he was — and opened the “interview” this way:

Colleague: “Now, [My Name], I’m guessing you don’t know anything about [Company], so I’m going to tell you about us and what we do.”

Cue a fifteen-minute-long (not exaggerating) rambling lecture in which he told me his entire life’s story and a (very brief) history of the company. He never once talked about the role I had applied for, their clients or industries their clients were in, or anything even remotely related to the job. Once he wrapped up, he dropped this on me.

Colleague: “Now, [My Name], are you married?”

I responded with shocked silence. In the US, employers are not allowed to hire or fire based on your marital status and legally aren’t even allowed to ask you that question. At that point, I decided nope, I’d see the interview through, but I was absolutely NOT going to accept the job if offered.

[Colleague] started stammering, probably realizing that he had just screwed up big-time.

Colleague: “Uh, I ask that question because this is an on-site position and I need to gauge how open your family would be to relocating.”

Me: “Uh, no, no, I have no problem relocating to Florida.”

Colleague: “Okay, that’s good. So, as a Proposal Writer, you’ll be responsible for [literally reads me the job posting word-for-word]. Now, do you have any experience writing government bids?”

Me: “A little on the state and local levels, but not federal. Almost all of my experience has been with private-sector clients.”

Colleague: “Okay, most of our work is with government entities, but that’s no problem. Well, thank you for your time, and we’ll be in touch with an offer.”

And that was the extent of the interview. At no point did [Colleague] discuss my job history (outside of the aforementioned responding to government bids) or my skills or experience. I figured that was that, and shortly afterward had another interview with a fantastic — and much more professional — company. They made me an offer which I accepted.

But the story’s not over just yet. Oh, no. Two weeks after I accepted my current job, [Colleague] emailed me back to offer me the job — at an insultingly-low salary, too! I wrote a very polite and professional email explaining that I had accepted a different offer. [Colleague]’s response was, and I quote:

Colleague: “Okay. Well, when that doesn’t work out for you, give us a call.”

Yeah… not happening in this or any other lifetime.

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