Nobody – unless you’re weirdly perverse – gets excited for job interviews.
I’ve only ever had two in my life – got em’ both – and the one I had for this job was fairly straightforward. I had to submit a piece of written work, which I think was about a Donald Trump troll doll (??), before meeting my boss, Mike.
We basically just shot the sh*t for an hour and I think he took a liking to me so offered me the job. Easy peasy.
However, most job interviews aren’t as straight forward as that, as one recent graduate found out the hard way.
Olivia Bland, a 22-year-old graduate, attended an interview with Web Applications UK in Oldham, Greater Manchester, on Monday, where she was left in tears by the “abusive” and “humiliating” CEO.
She adds that she was subjected to a “brutal” two-hour job interview where he “tried his best to intimidate” her and “assert power”.
Clearly, she didn’t think it went very well, but she actually got offered the job and subsequently decided to reject it.
She shared her rejection letter on Twitter where it has since gone viral. There’s a lot in it so I’ll sum it up below:
In her letter, Olivia explained that nobody should be left “feeling so upset that they cry at the bus stop” and described her interviewer, the company’s CEO Craig Dean, as “a man who tries his best to intimidate and assert power over a young woman”.
Olivia says he did this by “attacking young women, calling them underachievers, and making them visibly uncomfortable” in front of other people who “have no part in the interview process, just to heighten the feelings of power he gets over someone else’s humiliation”.
The interview had begun in an “utterly bizarre” fashion, she said, in which he picked on her music tastes before revealing he was scrolling through her Spotify account.
He then asked “a lot of personal questions”, she said, before “tearing apart, line by line” everything she had submitted in the written part of the application process.
“Later in the interview he asked me: “How do you think it went?”
“He said ‘I’ll tell you how it went’ and listed off everything bad he thought I did in the interview.
“He told me everything I did was wrong, everything I said, the way I sat, my body language, everything that he could do to attack me.”
She likened the interview to an abusive relationship claiming the CEO offered her the job and its “perks” like her partner offered presents to apologise.
I mean that does sound thoroughly disastrous. Can a job interview actually go any worse?
Olivia received a lot of support from people who praised her powerful rejection letter:
”This job is supposed to be the present. I don’t want it.” I don’t think that I have ever read something so powerful and brave. You didn’t just stand up for yourself but for so many others too. Thank you!
— Ivan Fahy (@IvanFahy) 30 January 2019
Having been in this position multiple times but unable to do what you just did here, I feel so thankful to see an example of how to handle a situation like this. Thank you! 💜 We need more vulnerability and kindness in this world.
— Yuge Yun 🎨 (@YugeYun) 29 January 2019
— Nathalie Molina Niño (@NathalieMolina) 30 January 2019
Although not everyone was in agreement:
Not sure what the story is here: you went for an interview, didn’t feel you were compatible with the organisation and therefore declined the opportunity to work there 🤔
— Martin Jones (@jonesy_LDN) 30 January 2019
Anyway, after Olivia’s tweet appeared, Craig – the CEO – posted an apology, saying:
“I have no desire to see anyone hurt; and can only apologise if anything I’ve done has had that effect.”
But Ms Bland dismissed it as a “non-apology” that “makes it all about him”.
“Sometimes you have to take responsibility for your actions and I think it’s about time he and other people in similar positions did,” she said.
And apparently it’s not the first time he’s been rude to women who he was interviewing.
Web Applications UK said it had conducted an investigation into the allegations and was satisfied “no bullying or intimidation occurred” during the interview.
“Nonetheless, the directors are extremely saddened by this incident and the impact that this has had on the individual concerned, particularly as we are a company that takes great pride in nurturing the aspirations of young people,” it said in a statement.
“We will take this opportunity to reflect carefully on our recruitment process and HR policies.”
There’s a lot to pick apart in this story.
Given that the CEO apparently has previous with this sort of thing, it’s a good job Olivia had the bottle to come out and point out that it isn’t right.
I have no issue with a grueling interview process – it’s how you hire the best – but there’s a fine line between putting someone through their paces and downright belittling them.
A little respect goes a long way…
Images via Twitter/Instagram/Olivia Bland