5 Good Reasons to Walk Out of a Job Interview

Did you experience the worst job interview of your life? Did you wish you could just get up and walk out? You could have.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to suffer through an entire job interview if things are starting to take a serious nosedive. Although you don’t want to make this a habit and leave for every little thing that annoys you, sometimes it’s wise to cut your losses and find the nearest exit. Here are five good reasons to walk out of a job interview.

1. The employer is engaging in illegal business activities

scene from "Breaking Bad"

Is your potential employer a criminal? | AMC

When times are tough, it can be tempting to jump at the first couple of job opportunities that come your way. But if you’re not careful, you could end up losing money. Some job applicants are unknowingly lured into pyramid schemes this way. One sign you might be interviewing for an illegal pyramid scheme is if you show up and realize you’re going on a group interview with a bunch of other applicants.

The Federal Trade Commission also warns to be on the alert if product sales do not determine your income. If your income is based primarily on the number of people you recruit, as well as the money new recruits pay to join the company (rather than on the sales of products to consumers), you’re likely dealing with a pyramid scheme.

Fraudsters running a pyramid scheme might also pressure you to buy a lot of inventory. However, if sales determine your earnings, the FTC says the company could be a legitimate multilevel marketing program.

How to handle the situation

woman having job interview

Say thanks, but no thanks. | iStock.com

A pyramid scheme is sometimes disguised as a multilevel marketing program, so it’s best to be skeptical. The FTC advises to ask questions to determine whether you’re dealing with a scam artist.

Some things you’ll want to ask are how much product was sold to distributors, what percentage of sales were made to distributors, and what were the annual product sales. If your interviewer has trouble answering these questions, you might be dealing with a scam. Leave the interview, and then voice your concerns to the FTC.

2. Your interviewer makes an insulting remark about you


Leave if your interviewer insults you. | iStock.com

Just because you’re one of many candidates interviewing for a job doesn’t mean you should accept poor treatment. Inappropriate comments about your race, appearance, or gender identity, for example, are unacceptable.

You’re seeking a job at a particular company, and the interviewer already has a job there. That immediately puts you on uneven footing. Unfortunately, some hiring managers take advantage of that and use it as a license to be obnoxious.

How to handle the situation


You deserve respect. | iStock.com

Don’t sit there while your interviewer insults you. Leave. If you can, let the interviewer’s supervisor and human resources know about the behavior you experienced. You might be able to prevent a similar situation from happening to another job applicant.

Also, file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Be aware, however, there are time limits to filing a discrimination charge.

3. Your interviewer takes personal calls and ignores you

manager holding a smart phone

An interview is not the time for personal calls. | iStock.com/Halfpoint

Your time is just as valuable as your interviewer’s. You shouldn’t have to sit there while the manager engages in a lengthy conversation. He or she should not use your interview time as an opportunity to catch up on personal phone calls or send texts to friends. This is exactly what happened to one person on Reddit, who goes by the user name kane55:

As I walked in [to meet the manager] he was on the phone, so he motioned for me to have a seat. He made a hand signal like he would only be a minute. No problem. He then proceeded to talk on the phone for 10 minutes. It was clearly a personal call and not business related. He just let me sit there while he talked. When the call was done, he didn’t say anything. He just opened up a folder and started filling out some papers. After about five minutes of him doing paperwork, I asked if there was anything I could help with. I was just looking to break the awkward silence. He said, ‘Nope, be with you shortly.’ And he went back to work. Another several minutes went by and he finally finished. He then looked at me and said, ‘Why do you want to work here?’ I said, ‘I don’t think I do.’ He then asked what I meant, and I told him, ‘If you’re going to act like [a jerk] toward me before we have even spoken, I can’t imagine what kind of hell it must be to work for you.’ With that, I got up and left. As I left he followed me out and angrily told the receptionist to make certain I left the building.

How to handle the situation

scene from The Office

You should have the interviewer’s complete attention. | NBC

Before you walk out, give the interviewer the benefit of the doubt. It’s possible he or she could be dealing with a family emergency or something else that requires immediate attention. Ask the interviewer whether he or she would like to reschedule your interview. If the answer is no and the interviewer continues to ignore you, that’s your cue to get up and leave.

 4. The office environment is unsafe

engineer, construction worker

Safety comes first. | iStock.com

Your work environment should be clean and safe. If you show up to a job interview and you can see that the office is unclean and definitely not safe, that’s a big red flag. It’s best to make the decision to leave now instead of taking the job and then getting sick or hurt later. An unsafe working environment shows a lack of care and concern for employees.

How to handle the situation

scene from Silicon Valley

You have the right to work in a safe office. | HBO

Leave as soon as you realize the office is not a safe place to be. Let your interviewer know you feel unsafe, thank him or her for the time, and then get out of there. Now is not the time to worry about how your reaction will be perceived.

Your safety comes first. If you get hurt, that will make it a lot more difficult to interview for jobs, now won’t it? So think about yourself in this situation, and deal with the consequences later.

5. The interviewer wants more than just a professional relationship

couple kissing

Is this what’s going through your interviewer’s mind? | iStock.com/karelnoppe

It’s great to work in an office where everyone is friendly. However, some people have a tendency to get a little too friendly and want something much more than a professional relationship. And when that person is your manager or your interviewer, things can get very uncomfortable.

One Redditor, who goes by the user name Treeaway4, shared this experience:

I interviewed for a receptionist position. The owner of the business was interviewing me. Everything was going great. It wasn’t awkward, and it was a ½ interview, ½ normal conversation. He told me about how he started his own business and worked in corporate, sacrificing until he got the chance to open his own business. “I would even get their coffee.” He proceeds to ask me if I’m willing to work hard “even if that means giving your boss a massage sometimes?” Confused, I asked him what he meant by that. He explained that sometimes you have to do what you have to do to get far in life. I told him I’m not comfortable with that, and he said “Well, I don’t think this will work, then.” I left. Such a scumbag.

How to handle the situation

job interview

When an interviewer makes advances, things can get uncomfortable. | iStock.com

Just as the person on Reddit did, it’s best to ask the interviewer what he or she means before jumping to conclusions. You might have misunderstood or misheard the comment. If the interviewer repeats the statement and your suspicions that he or she was hinting at an inappropriate relationship are correct, it’s time to get out of there. You’re there for a job, not a date.

Follow Sheiresa on Twitter @SheiresaNgo.

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