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This post, interviewer fake-rejected me to see if I would “fight for the job” , was written by Alison Green and published on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes:

I have a question about a weird interviewing situation for a sales role.

I had gone through a few interviews with a company as I was evaluating a new sales role, and the entire interview process felt standard and professional (phone screen, in-person interview, tour of the branch, and next step would be to shadow a cold call).

After the in-person interview and tour of the branch, I got a call a few days later from a VP I had met (not the recruiter) telling me that they decided I wasn’t a good fit and wouldn’t be moving forward in the process. I did the standard “thank you for the opportunity, I appreciate your time, wish you the best,” after which the VP said, “Just kidding, I got you! I wanted to see if you’d fight for the job.”

I kind of awkwardly laughed, he told me they’d want me to do the cold call, and I told him I would get back to them about scheduling next steps. I eventually emailed and said that I didn’t think it would be the right fit (partially because of the weird joke, but I also decided to stay in my current role).

I guess my question is … what? Is that a legitimate tactic? In my experience, getting a “no” from a recruiter is not the same as getting a “no” in a sales transaction. Should I be fighting back whenever I get rejected for jobs?


What on earth!

It’s true the norms in sales can be different, but what? Wanting a candidate to fight back against a rejection? Wanting a candidate to refuse to hear “we’re going with someone else” and instead push to be reconsidered? That’s pretty much universally considered obnoxious candidate behavior that no employer wants to deal with and which will often get you blacklisted.

I realize there are some sales strategies that encourage salespeople to try to push past a no, but (a) many people consider that approach a huge turn-off in a sales context too and will never buy from someone who does that, and (b) even if we set that aside, generally people understand that tactics for one type of situation aren’t always appropriate in others.

I suppose if they are screening for candidates who will run roughshod over people’s boundaries and ignore clear “not interested” statements, this is a way to do it. But I’m guessing that’s not a place where you want to work … and by withdrawing, you rightly screened that behavior out.

(For the sake of thoroughness, I will also note that it’s not 100% clear that it was a screening tactic from them, as opposed to just a bad joke, given the VP’s weird “just kidding, I got you!” and interest in moving you forward anyway. Rejecting you as a joke would be a whole different problem, though.)