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Unusual situation here. I was contacted for a "dream role" at a small company. I have been searching for a similar role for a long time and these type of roles are very competitive so I was very excited to attend the first interview.

Whilst doing online research I came across their horrible (and I mean HORRIBLE) glassdoor reviews (shouting, bullying, intimidation, culture of fear etc. Everyone agreed the quality of the work was very high but came with a very very high price tag). I contacted a friend who happened to have worked there which confirmed the awful environment.

I went to the first interview and they did not try to hide the reputation. They said the CEO was "very difficult and he did shout at people" and other similar statements which led me to believe everything I had heard and read had been true.

I was invited to a second interview with the CEO and politely told the recruiter I did not think I was a good fit. Ten minutes later he called me saying he had spoken to the person that had interviewed me and she feared she had "overdone it" and "exaggerated" certain aspects and she had "begged" him to convince me to give them a "second chance" and meet the CEO for 10 mins at least. He then wrote this in an email. I said I would need some hours to think about it.

Is being begged to reconsider another red flag? Is there any way to turn them down again without sounding rude?

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    This type of question is off topic. My advice would be to run away. But since you are young and willing to take the risk, get him to put in some protections for you like a golden parachute. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Feb 7 '18 at 14:08
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    I've been young, and I did ignore red flags. Still healing my wounds. Want to follow my path? – gazzz0x2z Feb 7 '18 at 14:15
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    What are you really gaining meeting the CEO and talking you into staying? Are you 100% sure there aren't any other companies out there with the same opportunities with better environment? – Isaiah3015 Feb 7 '18 at 14:20
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    When I first worked at Taco Bell at age 16, the turnover rate was high. So high, that the manager practically begged me to not quit and to talk to them before thinking of doing so. A week into it I did quit after finding out why the turnover rate so high. That's what is going on here. The manager has nobody to hire, so they're trying to get anyone to stick. It'll be a very harsh, bad environment where you'll quit and have to look for a job again. – Dan Feb 7 '18 at 14:28
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    I might actually agree to meet with the CEO, if only to (hopefully) prevent the previous interviewer from being scolded too badly for being so candid with me the first time. I would not however be interested in joining a company like this, so whatever they offered me in the second interview, my ultimate answer would still be "thanks, but no thanks." – Steve-O Feb 7 '18 at 14:41
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Is this another red flag?

Yes, this is most certainly a red flag.

If a company is literally begging you to reconsider, then that means they are desperate. If they are desperate to hire you, it means that they are seriously understaffed and can't find anyone who wants to work for them. If they are seriously understaffed, it means that you if you joined you would be seriously overworked. It also means that the company is probably struggling financially if they are in that much need of new workers. Add on top of that the high-stress bullying environment, and this is most certainly not some place you want to work.

If not, is there any way to turn them down again without sounding rude?

Just say what you've already said, that you are no longer interested. Rinse and repeat ad nauseam. You are in no way obligated to explain your decision, nor to try to "help" them by telling them why no one wants to work for them. If they keep pestering you, then they are being rude, not you.

Additionally, it is your recruiter's job to run interference for you. Make it clear to your recruiter that you don't want to work for this company. At that point he shouldn't be coming back to you to ask again, regardless of how often the the company is pestering him.

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    Not sure it is the company begging - or the recruiter thinking that once he can get you into the door he can still make his money. Or he had too many people walk out and does not want to loose the client. I am not sure the company even KNOWS about this begging. – TomTom Feb 7 '18 at 19:48
  • Or the interviewers are worried they get in trouble for being honest about the culture. A very bold move would be to demand to put your hard conditions for working there in writing in the contract. This sometimes works, even if for a limited period, after which you could switch. – Captain Emacs Feb 9 '18 at 18:31
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Let me make sure I understand you:

Your online research led you to believe that the CEO is an intimidating bully.

A friend who worked there confirmed that the CEO is an intimidating bully.

The person who interviewed you admitted that the CEO is an intimidating bully.

So naturally you expressed some reservations to your agent.

In response to your reservations, the CEO bullied the interviewer into bullying your agent into trying to bully you into accepting a second interview.

Did I miss anything? Your relationship with this company has not progressed even to the second interview and you are already being bullied by proxy over three degrees of separation! I believe in giving everyone the benefit of the doubt but in this case I just don't see any doubt.

The only possible reason for taking a meeting with that CEO would be for its entertainment value, if you enjoy that sort of thing.

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    This is a good answer, though I'd leave off the last line. Whether you're being serious about it or not, hidden recordings are illegal in many places, and that statement doesn't add anything substantial to the rest of your answer. – David K Feb 7 '18 at 15:11
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    I wouldn't worry about it. Anyone who asks total strangers on the internet how to turn down a bully "without sounding rude" is not going to have the cojones to wear a wire. – A. I. Breveleri Feb 7 '18 at 18:26
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    Never ever take a secret recording without legal advice. You can end in so much trouble. Especially with people like this company... – Captain Emacs Feb 9 '18 at 18:32
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    The point of my last paragraph was that there are no sane reasons for the meeting and we are reduced to considering the insane. – A. I. Breveleri Feb 10 '18 at 1:44
  • I'm sorry, i have to double down vote you, as you've given terriblely dangerous, even suicidal, advice AND said that the people who think OP is a dangerous, suicidal lunatic are wrong. Saying they're wrong might trigger them, you really needed a trigger warning. – bharal Feb 10 '18 at 2:07

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