so I went to a conference the other day and had a talk with a company at a booth about a position that really excited me. The recruiters there also really liked me and we struck up a really good conversation in which they implored me to apply to a specific position, and send them a direct email when I did so. They then said they didn't have any people on site for that position, but I could interview for a different position in my skill set as an additional thing.

I said why not and decided to take the opportunity to speak with someone from the company in a first round behavioral from this company, and it was a terrible decision. The air of the interview was very uncomfortable, the interviewer made some offhand snide remarks about my gender (I was a man at the Grace Hopper Conference, but I always explained how I did my hardest to volunteer and provide for the cause with even work experience to back it up), and even took a point at which I misspoke and called it a "Freudian Slip" about my bias of the interview.

The whole experience made me very upset to the point that it turned me off from the company as a whole, even though it was for a different position.

My question is should I still go ahead and apply? Should I apply but tell the recruiter about my experience? Should I not apply and tell the recruiter? Should I just not apply and not tell them?

  • 4
    If you don't like the company then maybe just forget about it and move on. You don't have to reply, respond, or take action on everything in your life that annoys, frustrates, or disappoints you. Life will be full of situations and circumstances that you'll dislike. You don't have to expend time and energy on all of them. It's not that big of a deal. – joeqwerty Oct 10 '19 at 1:39

Interviews are a two-way interaction. If you're left feeling upset at the interview stage, what guarantee do you have that it will be different if they employed you? They failed at the interview stage, not you.

I think good honest feedback to the recruiter is worthwhile in this case, but don't expect the company to make any changes.


If I've got this right, the recruiters that you're considering talking to are the original people who impressed you at the company's booth. I'd recommend pushing past the disappointing behavioral interview and expressing continued interest in the original positions that were discussed.

If it comes up, you could mention that the behavioral interview presented a very different impression of the company's culture. It may have been something very situational, like the interviewer came to this women-in-tech conference with an agenda to recruit, well, women, and let their disappointment slip at being sent one of the few non-female attendees. Not professional, but possibly not indicative of the company. The interviewer may even have been a contractor for the event, and not a permanent member of the company's HR staff, so really not representative of the corporate culture.

It could also be that the nature of the "behavioral" interview was to gauge your response when faced with interpersonal negativity. Snarky little comments about how your choice of words, or pronunciation, or whether you fit in at this conference, could be to see how easily you get flustered, or how you act when stressed. Or even to see if you give up easily.


  • "It could also be that the nature of the "behavioral" interview was to gauge your response when faced with interpersonal negativity." if you run into someone testing you like that don't walk - run. They are psychotic and uneven if they think that this somehow provides any value to torment a first round candidate. – Tymoteusz Paul Nov 24 '20 at 20:46

It depends on how valuable the opportunity you'd be giving up is.

So, you spoke to a couple of people at the company who impressed you favorably, and one who treated you somewhat badly. Most likely, from the sounds of things, you wouldn't be interacting with any of them regularly as part of your job if you did get a position. So... overall, maybe not a good sign. If you have tons of opportunities, and are mostly limited by your own time and energy as far as going to interviews, customizing resumes, filling out applications, and so forth, then that might be a solid reason to drop this company off the list. The person who treated you poorly might be a sign of something deeper in the company, and if there are enough openings that you can afford to skip some for relatively mild reasons, then this is a mild reason you might wish to skip them for.

If your job opportunities are more constrained by available openings than by personal resources, though, it's probably not worth cutting this company out of your life. At the same time, it's a warning sign, and not to be ignored. If it looks like you're under serious consideration for a position, it might be worth verifying that the experience you had was a feature of the specific, toxic individual you interviewed with, rather than the company as a whole. It might well be worth reaching out to the recruiters you met at the job fair for reassurance and/or better understanding.


Of course you keep interviewing.

One bad interaction should not sway you in any decision you make in life. That doesn't mean you have to give people hundreds of passes, or even two. But everyone has an off day.

In passing up this opportunity, you are also limiting yourself to interview experience. Perhaps your next interview will be similarly awful - or perhaps it will be wonderful. In both cases, you are learning, from your own experience and not from random people, how to make judgements.

This is important - learning from your own experiences, and being able to trust yourself is essential in life. Having the experiences - and not simply listening to other people - is also essential. It gives you extra decision points that will come in handy down the road.

It might be that you yourself are too sensitive - but this is something you should reflect on if following interviews reveal the company to be different to the initial impression.

But please, take opportunities in life - even if they mess up - because the cost is generally trivial when you are young. (It is not crushing, of course, when older. But it is a little more expensive).


You're lucky you're only at the introductory stage of the interview when you had this interaction. DON'T WALK, RUN. I can't make it clearer than that.

So, you went to a convention for women and were referred despite being a man. The point is, regardless of your gender, you were impressive enough that the recruiters at the conference thought you would be a good fit for the position, and that's really the only thing that ought to matter, that you're a good developer and impressed their onsite reps at this conference. Your gender should not matter, where and how you were recruited should not matter, your outside work helping whatever organizations should not matter. The only thing that matters is that you have skill.

And yet, based on this interaction, it seems those things do matter. This interviewer would rather not hire you because you're a man and not a woman. This interviewer would rather not hire you because you were a man recruited through a women's forum. While it is illegal (in most locales, unsure of yours) to hire or not based on things like gender, it seems this company engages in such practices, or at least gives the impression that they take those things into account, by making snide remarks about how you're not X or Y. While actually fighting this in a court of law is probably costly and not worth the trouble, at the very least you have an understanding of the culture of this company, although probably not in the way you might think.

You can't make a wide generalization about the company as a whole based on this interaction; the recruiters you spoke to at the conference seemed to be good, nice people, and perhaps this interviewer was simply a "bad apple". So I wouldn't say that the company is full of man-hating sexists, that's not the point. The point is that the interview is a two-way street; you're interviewing them as much as they're interviewing you. And the representative of the company who they sent to be interviewed by you was the type of person who would make snide remarks about your gender. At the absolute least, this shows that the company as a whole has a blatant disregard for these types of remarks; whether they are encouraged or not, or supported or not, or celebrated or not, you can't say, but at the very least they are not abhorred and reprimanded at this company, as they should be. And that's enough for me to say to you:


As for notifying the recruiter, you can try; it couldn't hurt. However, I wouldn't try too hard; if the company culture is such that their first impression (you know what they say about first impressions) to you is someone of this nature, it's likely the problems are deep-rooted and probably come from management. Your concerns are likely to fall on deaf ears; this is simply the culture at this company. To be honest, if it was me, I wouldn't even do them the favor of explaining to them why they have lost a perfectly capable developer candidate, I'd just let them keep on doing what they're doing and maybe they'll figure it out on their own someday. Right now is not the correct juncture, and you are not the correct person, to be raising heck in this particular situation.

  • I believe the idiom is ‚raising hell‘... – morbo Nov 26 '20 at 15:42
  • @morbo I chose to not swear in this particular answer (I do in other answers though) – Ertai87 Nov 26 '20 at 17:05

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