5 reasons to walk out of a job interview

Written by: Georgina Bloomfield
Published on: 22 Mar 2017

Historically, job interviews have been seen as opportunities for job seekers to impress prospective employers with their skills and acumen. In job interviews we’re desperately trying to sell ourselves and we’re already subconsciously indebted to the interviewer(s) for choosing to see us. Job interviews are awful, man-made artificial social environments whereby people believe they need to behave in a certain way. When there’s a shiny new job for the taking, you must be able to quash any negative feelings or instincts as soon as possible. This thought process is not only dangerous for your future career, but damaging in the short term too. This way of thinking could make you end up taking a job offer that you really shouldn’t have. The truth is, your time is too valuable to be wasted by pointless job scenarios – and your self-respect shouldn’t be damaged because you feel as if it’s the social norm to take an ego hit because you’re in a job interview situation. Here are 5 reasons why getting up and leaving during a job interview is required.


Work/life balance is severely affected

One of the things that wouldn’t have been mentioned on a job description could be how many hours you’re actually required to do. The spec may say “35 hours a week”; however it soon becomes clear in the interview that you’re expected to do a minimum of 45. If you also hear that any extra overtime isn’t compensated and is required from everyone regularly, your instincts may be telling you to high-tail it out of there. Maybe you’re expected to check work emails late at night or you have to travel regularly. Either way, if these are things that you absolutely do not want to do and negotiation doesn’t seem possible don’t waste yours or their time any further.

The company tests you and wants all of your ideas for free

Unless you’re told about interview testing in advance and you can have something prepared, it’s never good to get sprung with an unexpected test. There’s nothing bad about it if there’s been a genuine communication error; that’s just bad luck. However, if they keep probing you for ideas on how to solve their problems and you haven’t even reached the second stage of the interview process, then you should feel free to leave. You may get a good feeling from having such a ‘collaborative’ discussion – but take it with a pinch of salt. Give them enough information to get them interested in what you have to say but nothing more. If the interviewer(s) seem irritated when you refuse to divulge your trade secrets or contacts, it is best to leave. They probably weren’t going to hire you anyway – and if they do, do you really want to work for people like that?

They make you wait and don’t apologise

People get their wires crossed all the time. Miscommunication is common, and when a genuine mistake has been made it can usually be explained there and then as well as being followed up by a genuine apology. However, employers who test your commitment deliberately by making you wait for over half an hour to see them really aren’t worth your time. If it was the other way round and you turned up to a job interview 45 minutes late, it would be seen as a real negative against you, so why should it be acceptable for them to make you wait? After all, the interview process should be a two-way thing.

The interviewer(s) ask you irrelevant and inappropriate questions

It is absolutely none of their business how much your current salary is, what your relationship status is or even if you have children. Employers want to know these things to see how much you’re worth to the company. They also may want to know these things about your personal life so they can evaluate where you fit in to the workplace culture – such as your religious beliefs and what your hobbies are. There is a difference between the small talk/getting to know you chit-chat and probing. Employers aren’t allowed to discriminate based on those aspects of your personal life, and they shouldn’t be asking you sneaky questions.

The interviewer(s) (or anyone else in the company you come across) are rude or offensive

From the moment you enter company property, you’re in the interview. From the parking attendants to the security guards to the receptionists (and anyone else in between) – these are all people who may be asked by the employer if you were polite or well-mannered. In turn, you should be assessing the politeness of the company towards you. If a prospective employer makes you feel uncomfortable in the interview (aside from the probable existing discomfort you may already have) then it can be a deal breaker. Just remember again that interviews are a two-way street. Would you be seen as unprofessional if you asked the same question back?

How to walk out of a job interview

If you’ve had enough of the red flags and feeling of discomfort, there’s no rule to say that you’re obliged to stick around. After all, why should you? Your time is being wasted. Knowing how to leave a job interview without burning any bridges may seem like a daunting task, but it’s actually very easy to do. When it’s your turn to speak (don’t interrupt if you can avoid it) just politely say “I’m sorry, but I don’t think this is going to work out. Thank you for your time” and leave. Shake their hands if you want to. For all you know, the employer could be relieved that you’re going because they saw that you weren’t a right fit either. You don’t have to give a reason for leaving; just make it clear that the interview has come to an end and you’re not prepared to continue any further.