Steer Clear of These 7 Outrageous Requests and Demands of Job Applicants

Nancy Anderson
Posted by

Some employers make outrageous demands of job applicants just because they think they can. One company even conducted interviews simply to get ideas when they didn't have any openings available. Fortunately, candidates have the upper hand because there are plenty of great companies out there looking for top talent despite the outdated or unethical treatment of applicants from other less desirable employers.

1. Providing Salary Details

Some employers require job applicants to disclose previous salary levels without revealing the current salary range for the position at hand. Even worse, you may run into a few companies that need proof of earnings before a live person looks at your resume. How would you feel working for a company that demands to see your previous earnings without showing you the financial rewards that come with the job?

2. Lengthy Application Processes

Despite technology, apps and ways to make the process more efficient for job applicants, many employers have applications that take hours to fill out and submit. Not only must you include previous employers, current contact information and your qualifications, but you may also jump through personality tests and questionnaires before waiting weeks to hear back from a recruiter or HR representative. Instead, find an employer who relies on personalized, face-to-face contact for hires. Better yet, network your way into a position by using social media, contacts within an company and your own personality.

3. Completing Free Reports

Job applicants don't work for free. Unfortunately, employers sometimes have candidates create reports as so-called tests during the hiring process. In reality, the company needs these reports but doesn't feel like paying someone to do them, and completing them doesn't guarantee that you reach the interview stage.

4. Being a Face in the Crowd

Large employers sometimes force job applicants into large group interviews. That's when up to 100 candidates fill an entire room and people on a stage ask the same questions to everyone. There's no way for the interviewers to gauge your personality from a crowd that large.

5. Showing Up for Free

Instead of submitting reports, you might find yourself having to work at the firm for a day for free to prove you can handle the job. Your time and talents are valuable, so working for free shouldn't be part of your application when you don't have an established relationship with the employer.

6. Paying Background Check Fees

Background checks are a standard procedure and cost of doing business for any firm, yet many employers require you to pay for your own background check. It's time to check out of these employers and find ones with better financial backing to pay for their own HR expenses.

7. Brainstorming to Show Your Worth

Employers may suggest a brainstorming session type of interview — which sounds great until you realize it's really a way to get free consulting work from candidates. Respond with a statement about your hourly fee for consulting work before you attend a brainstorming session with a hiring manager.

These outrageous demands are convenient only for the employer, have nothing to do with showcasing your personality and talent, or are all about free work. Job applicants should look the other way if they run into any of these seven scenarios during a hiring process.

Photo courtesy of marcolm at


Become a member to take advantage of more features, like commenting and voting.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Brandon Goldsmith thanks so much for that comment. You said everything that all other job seekers are saying. Companies don't seem to value the individual at all. I would have sent them a bill! I remember going through an 8 hour job interview. I met with so many people individually as well as had a lengthy panel interview. At the end of the day, however, I was asked about my salary requirements and I knew that I was in! I think if they had asked me to do everything that you had to do, I would have just turned and walked out. Either you know, in the interview, that this is the right person or not. What's even worse is when they put candidates through the hoops, like they did you, all the while knowing that they were going to hire internally! So sorry you went through that. But now you have a great experience under your belt and nothing will surprise you going forward. All the best.

  • Brandon Goldsmith
    Brandon Goldsmith

    This article really struck a chord with me. I recently had one potential employer ask me to go through an initial screening interview, then an interview with the hiring manager, then two interviews with peers of the hiring manager, then write a paper on "what I had learned about the company so far," then give an on-line Powerpoint to the hiring manager and two of her colleagues on "why I am the right person for the job." At the end of the process they decided they needed somebody with a different skills-set altogether! I am constantly struck by how employers expect a level of professionalism from candidates that they they, as an organization, do not demonstrate. I wish recruiters would just stick with asking for a resume and cover letter, skip the supposedly clever "what makes you unique" questions, and have the common courtesy to tell candidates promptly where they stand.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Christopher H thanks for your comment. It's always nice to get responses from the other side of the table! It is probably a good idea to see how an interviewee would respond, as long as it doesn't go too far. Some companies get carried away and have you there all day long trying to brainstorm on an issue. You give them your all and help them solve a problem, for free, and then you never hear from them again!


    I'm not sure I can agree with point #7 being a bad thing. Sometimes you want to see how a person approaches a problem to know if they're the right fit for the job. I've used this approach before and its with the thought that I'm not really looking for the right answer but rather I'm looking to see HOW he or she would approach solving the problem and the types of questions they would ask to fully understand the problem.

Jobs to Watch