It’s hard to keep your head up and stay strong when you’re job hunting. I recently saw this post on Facebook: Is there anything more humbling, and possibly humiliating, than looking for a new job?

I’m sure there are a few things. A wizard making your clothing disappear when you’re giving a speech to thousands of people, perhaps? Let’s face it. Sometimes a tooth extraction is less painful than a 120 question “assessment”.

So, heads up, employers. Here are 10 ways your job application process can discourage and frustrate candidates before they even get to the interview stage:

1. Long online applications aka your life story (and every address you’ve ever worked at) aka there’s a special place in hell…

Sound familiar?

Dear Minion,

Thank you for filling out our novel-length application four times (we know it’s buggy). Our robots will carefully review your qualifications, and we’ll be in touch if they think you’re a match. Otherwise, you’ll never hear from us again.

Look, I get that applications are needed for legal reasons. But can’t the application wait until after the first interview, considering only a small percentage of job seekers make it to that stage? I’ve lost track of how many employers have said something like: We got over 80 applications for this job and we’re only interviewing 3 of you. With odds like that, some job seekers just won’t apply to jobs that require online applications.

Fun Stat: You’re 8x more likely to score an interview if you apply within the first 96 hours. 

2. Include your salary history with your application. 

Sure, buddy. I’ll show you my salary when you show me yours. Deal? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

3. Don’t apply unless you’re willing to work for free.

Design a new logo for our start-up as a “test” of your design abilities. Send us an original 1500 word article with your application. Develop a marketing plan for our new product.

Sure thing! My hourly rate is $100/hr. When would you like to start?

4. Job ads that YELL AT YOU.

You know the ads I’m talking about.

We’re looking for someone with great communication skills and Excel experience. NO INTROVERTS! To apply, please send a cover letter and a resume. APPLICATIONS WITHOUT A COVER LETTER WILL NOT BE CONSIDERED.

Can you imagine the emails you’d get from this hiring manager? I found my cookie jar empty this morning. FILL MY COOKIE JAR NOW!

5. Software Developer/Graphic Designer/Accountant with lawn care experience and at least 15 years of management experience who is willing to answer phones, greet customers, and take care of my dog. PhD preferred. $12-14/hr.

Just stop.

6. Give us your references immediately or ACCESS DENIED.

I’ve never been comfortable providing the contact information for my previous supervisors and colleagues to whoever is on the other side of a blind Craigslist ad—or even a company that appears to be legit. For all I know, you’re going to hit them up with emails or phone calls, asking them to try out your dog-shaped vacuum cleaner. IMHO, there is no good reason to ask for references before you actually interview the candidate.

7. Take this short 120 question assessment, and this one, and that one. Oh, one more!


8. Must love Star Wars, the oxford comma, and Lady Gaga. To apply, share ten Lady Gaga songs to listen to while writing a sci-fi novel.

You’ve got a super cool geek culture going on. I get it. But I’m not applying for a best friend. I’m applying for a job. My taste in music should only come into play if I insist on blasting this in my cubicle every morning.

9. Answer these 30 behavioral questions we should be asking in an interview.

This job opening probably has a hundred other applicants. Are you seriously going to read 3000 responses? Probably not. If you need help narrowing the applicant pool, try just asking one important question. That should make the process less overwhelming and time-consuming for everyone involved.

10. I know the ad said we’re hiring a marketing manager. But you’ll actually be handing out flyers on the street.

If they’re looking for a “director” with no experience required, chances are it’s too good to be true. Do a little research on the company and try contacting them by phone before agreeing to interview in-person.

In my experience, how you’re treated in the hiring process can be an indicator of how you’ll be treated as an employee. No hiring process is perfect—and that’s okay. You’re not perfect. We all have to make some allowances for each other. But we all deserve to be treated with respect. If an employer can’t give you that, move on and don’t look back. They aren’t worth your time.

What ridiculous experiences have you had applying for jobs? Share your stories below!



  1. I totally agree with everything you’ve said on this post. Some companies can really be rude upfront to people who are looking for jobs while others ask for too many requirements.

  2. Had a Skype interview ..lady was sneakin in fryes between questions. .I’m guessing she had them in her desk drawer. She adjusted her pc later to I I saw was her face..I hate this process I’m too old for thus shat

  3. Yes this is all true i would laugh but this system of B.S. has to fixed and fixed fast maybe go back to paper and do your damm job. I know that would be to hard to interview people and talk yes i know talking is now on the list for requirements for getting a damm interview. This system that is in place now is as good as trying to put a bullet train in CA oh ya they are doing that too, lets not forget the billion dollar f-up at lake orvellie. OK i am done for now but wow i know children that could do a better job at getting people to work then the current system. Good luck usa you are going to need it

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