How I Survived My Surreal Client Meeting From Hell

Carol Tice

awkward client meeting

by Josh Monen

Have you ever had a meeting with a prospective client go bad on you?

Well, here’s the story of the worst client meeting I’ve ever had as a freelance writer (names have been changed to protect the innocent — and the snobs):

I walked into the small office and sat down behind the small table. The two agency creative directors, Alex and Nicole, followed me in and sat to my right and left.

Alex pulled out a piece of paper, “Well. We have your resume here. But why don’t you tell us a little about yourself.”

I told them how I left my career as an insurance agent in May 2011 to start my own freelance writing business. And that I specialized in direct response copywriting for the financial services and insurance industries.

I ended by talking about some of the clients I worked with.

It seemed like things were going well enough until…

“You don’t have a degree?!”

After I finished my elevator speech Nicole looked at me with a puzzled look. “So how did you transition from insurance to writing? Do you have a degree?”

“No. I don’t have a degree. I took English in college but never finished my degree. I’m self-taught. I read books, completed online training and learned from seasoned freelance copywriters.”

“So have you ever worked with designers, editors or other writers?” she asked condescendingly.

I gave specific examples of projects where I had worked with designers, editors and writers. But she wasn’t impressed.

Then I decided to ask my interrogators a question.

“What do you look for when you hire a freelancer or a full-time writer? Is a degree a must?”

“Yes,” Nicole said, gently nodding her head.

“So that pretty much excludes me, right?”

“Umm… well, not necessarily. If you could build a portfolio and prove you could do the type of writing we need then we’d consider you,” she said.

Finally Alex spoke slowly, like he was talking to a child: “If you don’t have a degree, then you could work on building an online portfolio.”

Did the office manager not forward my information to these guys? I thought.

“Yes. That’s a good point. When I’ve shown prospects my relevant samples it’s helped them see I can do the same type of work for them,” I said, hoping the light would dawn that I already have a professional portfolio online.

No response. So I continued, “What type of projects do you anticipate you’ll need help with this year?”

“At this time, we don’t have any need for freelance work or a paid full-time position. And it’s hard to tell what we’ll have need of a year from now. We mainly do corporate responsibility writing for Fortune 500 companies,” Nicole said.

Alex said out of the blue, “The main thing that separates us from freelancers is we have editors, writers and designers all working together. The writing goes through a rigorous review process before it goes to the client. And that’s why Fortune 500 companies choose us over freelancers, because they don’t want to take any chances.”

Go to college and make $10/hour

“If you don’t mind me asking, what’s a typical salary for writers here? You don’t have to answer if you’re not comfortable,” I said.

“There’s a range. We have writers in their first year and 30-year professionals. So it varies,” Alex said.

He continued, “A writer right out of college, an A-Level writer would earn about $20,000.”

“Oh okay,” I said, trying to mask my shock.

The meeting ended shortly after that. I got in the elevator and thought, That was the most awkward interview I’ve ever had!

Laughter is the best medicine

When I got back to my car the first thing I did (besides laugh) was pull out my phone to do the math: $20,000 / 52 weeks = 384/ 40 hours in a week comes to $9.62 an hour!

They start writers — with a degree — out at $9.62 an hour! That’s ridiculous. I charged at least $75 an hour at the time (my minimum is now $100/hour). How crazy.

I laughed, drove home and told my wife the story. We both got a good kick out of it.

And I decided I wasn’t going to let this get me down.

3 days later: another meeting

Exactly three days after my nightmare meeting, I received a phone call out of the blue from the CEO of an insurance marketing company. This particular CEO is arguably the highest-paid copywriter in the insurance industry (charging $15,000/day).

He asked if I’d be interested in a full-time copywriting position with his company. It would involve relocating.

I told him I would, but would need to talk to my wife first. So after talking with my wife, I called him back three days later and told him I was interested if the compensation was right.

He said, “OK. What are we talking?”

I told him how much I would need to make, naming a substantial figure I thought would probably be too much for them.

But he simply responded with, “That should be no problem. That fits within what we had budgeted for the position. But you’ll need to earn that amount. For that amount I expect results.

The next step is for you to come down and meet me and the team. My assistant will call you to set that up.”

After a much more positive meeting than the one I had with the agency… Fast forward three weeks, and I had a full-time copywriting job that pays well — with six weeks of paid vacation to top it off!

This whole experience proved to be a great lesson for me. I discovered some people have their own preconceived idea of what it means to be a professional writer (i.e. having an English degree, working for an agency, etc.).

But others look past all that to see if you can get the results they need.

You just have to find the clients who appreciate you, whatever your writing background.

I’m thankful for Carol and the writers who supported me in the Freelance Writers Den, who’ve taught me an important lesson: you become a professional writer when you decide you are.

Have you ever had an awkward client meeting? Feel free to share in the comments below.

Joshua Monen is a freelance copywriter and marketing consultant who helps businesses grow by flooding them with qualified leads. He has written for PerkStreet, MicroVentures and American Express. You can read his marketing blog for valuable tips, tactics and strategies on how to grow your business.


  1. Erin

    Way to go, Josh! I love the double victory of your story: escaping a hellish workplace and landing an awesome job you will enjoy. Living the dream.

    I don’t feel bad for your snooty interviewers, but I do for their Fortune 500 clients. A college degree is a wonderful thing, but it is not the *only* thing. As you’ve shown, being self-taught can create success; likewise, a college degree in no way guarantees success. There’s a lot more to good writing – and by that, I mean copywriting that converts – than what you learn in a classroom.

    • Carol Tice

      I’ve edited the work of people with master’s degrees in writing, Erin, and I couldn’t agree more!

  2. Tracy Oeser

    Congratulations, Josh! You’re probably much more happier now than if you’d taken that first assignment. It’s nice to hear that there are still people out there who are results driven rather than trying to save the almightly penny.

  3. Clare Speak

    Thanks for this post, Josh! I worry about ending up in this kind of situation myself as I don’t have a journalism degree. Thanks for that little lesson on how such (stuck up) people should be handled!

  4. KM Logan

    Wow! I can’t believe the first company. Even though I have a degree, degree snobs irritate the snot out of me.

  5. Terri H

    I love this story. I can’t stand “degree” snobs. It’s like I always say, a college is not always synonymous with education. A truly motivated individual will be successful with or without a degree.

    Good for you knowing what you are worth and doing everything you can to achieve it.

    • Terri H

      I had to add that these employers think paying $10.00 is doing us a favor. I don’t understand when $10 became the magic number. Fresh out of college, I took a job making $10 doing copywriting for a real estate office. It didn’t take me long to recognize how ridiculous the whole situation was until I quit and started freelancing on my own.

  6. Madeleine Kolb

    Well done, Josh

    The degree thing is weird, especially because many people assume that it must be a degree in English. I remember a guy in the technical writing program I took who had a PhD in English and taught it at a college. He knew Shakespeare and all but seemed to really hate the idea of technical writing. After I finished the program, I landed a job at the FAA working with engineers to write all sorts of documents. In English.

    • Carol Tice

      Great story Madeleine! I’ve never had someone ask me about my degree, including interviews for 2 full-time jobs I got that required them. 😉

      But I’ve definitely had meetings like this, where there’s a weird disconnect and you can’t figure out why they even wanted to talk to you.

      I’m sure Josh will weigh in later this afternoon after he gets home from his awesome day gig.

  7. Rebecca Klempner

    Yikes. I think one of things that’s irritating about Josh’s situation is that the folks in the first meeting presented themselves like they were the experts and that Josh was a know-nothing, while he truly was expert in the areas involved. The comforting thing is not only the second, successful meeting with the better employer, but that Josh saw the first situation for what it was and walked away from it. I’ve heard of people seeing that kind of attitude in an interview and then taking the job anyway (usually out of desperation). They end up in a miserable job, with inferior pay, working for unpleasant bosses.

    The most awkward client meeting I ever had was in a public place. The person hiring me has mediocre communication skills–that’s why he hires me to communicate for him. The way he talked to me was brusque, at best. Not abusive, but not calm and businesslike. He wasn’t trying to be mean, but he doesn’t have the impulse control to speak in a respectful way. Other people in the room were shocked by the way I was being spoken to and cast concerned looks in my direction. If I didn’t know this gentleman and understand that he clearly has a problem and that he’s genuinely a decent person with many good qualities, I would have walked out of the meeting, even if it meant I wouldn’t be paid. As it was, it was hard to take. I’ve had to learn strategies to deal with such clients without taking their rudeness and yet remaining professional.

    • Katherine Swarts

      Is your client on the autism spectrum? The way you describe him sounds pretty typical (insofar as there is such a thing as “typical” there): talks loudly, doesn’t really understand how he’s coming across to others, and for all that is a decent fellow at heart and perhaps a genius in his field.

      The writer who is desperate enough to hook up with a genuinely arrogant boss is another matter altogether–about one level above the horror stories that begin, “I knew he’d make a lousy husband, but I wasn’t sure I’d ever have another chance to get married at all.”

      • Rebecca Klempner

        Close, Katherine. Not autism, ADHD. 🙂

  8. Misti

    *laughs* I’ve seen that sort of thing.

    My oddest meeting was one wherein, after we’d discussed what I could do for the potential client—and how long I’d been doing it—she asked how I was liking middle school.

    Now, I know I look young, but I usually get labeled as high school, at least. And this was despite me already mentioning that I’d met a mutual friend of ours back in high school, which had been years before.

    Talk about not taking someone seriously. She said she wanted me to do the project, then never gave me the items I needed to do it (despite my repeated prods), and then hired someone else to do the project because I never got it done. Eh, well.

  9. Sandra

    Kudos for holding it together in that meeting and sticking up for yourself. And congrats on the lucrative job!

  10. Mike Shurtleff

    That’s a great story. Very inspiring for a guy like me. The interview with the cramps would have been disappointing for me and it might have taken a while to shake it off since I’m not in your league-Yet. Cheers and best wishes.

    • Carol Tice

      That’s exactly why I asked Josh for this post after he told me this story, Mike. This is a key trait for successful freelancers: You gotta realize it’s not you. It’s them.

      You can’t let outside input derail you, if you want to freelance. You have to know you’re good and have the ability to laugh off the naysayers. I thought Josh’s reaction was beautiful. And remember, he was like 1 year out of being an insurance agent! Pretty brand-new to freelancing. But he already had the confidence you need, that your work has value.

  11. Erica

    Way to go, Josh! Good for you. And congratulations on landing the better job.

    My worst happened last year. I’d submitted my samples (you know, work done for *previous* employers) and the people who were interviewing me had marked them up.
    But instead of actual editing, they’d circled entire paragraphs and wrote question marks. Not questions, just question marks.

    Then—for an hour—they made squishy faces, weird hand gestures and squirmed in their seats, shrugged their shoulders and told me that that I was mediocre and unlikely to ever rise to the level of sophisticated writing that they required. I would have left but at some point, you just want to see how it plays out.

    I didn’t get that job, but now I have two clients that appreciate me and pay me better. Neener neener. 🙂

    Incidentally, I have a BFA while my mom has two BAs and a Juris Doctorate. But my dad never even finished his associate’s degree and he makes twice what Mom and I make put together. A degree does not indicate how smart you are or how great you can get.

    • Carol Tice

      Great story, Erica! Man, what tools.

      Remember, writing well is the best revenge (believe Dorothy Parker said that). I discovered that phrase early on in my writing career…and it’s one to bear in mind, whenever the b*stards are getting you down. 😉

    • Karen

      While higher ed doesn’t always translate into more money made, I think that it’s valuable for a whole host of reasons. But the “snob” factor is ever-present, even among people who have several degrees — they can find themselves at the end of a glance down the nose from graduates of supposedly superior schools : a friend of mine recently had this experience when campaigning in an East Coast state which is home to several such colleges. Having lived there myself, I know her perceptions were accurate.

      The moral? Not sure that there is one . but consider that Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard and Lincoln was a self-taught lawyer . . .

  12. Laura Davis

    $9.62 an hour? I made more than that working my way through college by cleaning houses…and that was in the late 80’s! These days, even receptionists make more than $9.62 an hour.

  13. Melissa Paulik

    Great story! My most surreal moments with clients tend to be around their attempts to negotiate my rates. ($110/hour is my minimal rate, but depends on the type of project) I gently explain that I do not lower my rates. To do so would mean I would have to let some of my higher paying clients go – now how does that make sense?

    Most amusing are those who want me “on a retainer” which basically means I am at their beck and call with no guarantees over how much business they’ll have for me.

    Good luck in your new role!

    • Carol Tice

      Hi Melissa — love your rate!

      But I have a different view of retainers, which can often mean you get paid even when they don’t have ANY work for you that month. That works for me. 😉

  14. Dawn McKenna

    Thank you, Josh. This was a fun post for the start of my day.

    I had a similar situation, although it wasn’t exactly an interview. At a local writer’s conference, I was making the rounds of various booths and stopped to talk to a guy who was allegedly hiring new writers for his “team.” He owned some sort of website company that provided copywriting for his clients.

    I asked a couple of polite questions, for which I was rewarded with a ten minute soliloquy on how fortunate I would be if he considered me, despite my not having applied for a job. He then asked if I had my resume and portfolio with me and I said I didn’t. He responded that this was a serious wrting job hiring serious writers and that, by golly, he himself had made 35k that year.

    I told him that I had made a little over $45k that year and that while I wasn’t nearly serious enough for him, I’d be happy to give him some pointers. He didn’t seem to want to talk to me anymore. I was able to live with that.

  15. Amandah

    Congrats on your new position!

    I’m confused as to why the people at the first company would have you come in for an interview if they required a candidate to have a degree. What was the point? Did they want to interrogate you and make you feel bad because you didn’t have a degree? Besides, a degree compliments your work experience, it”s not the be all, end all. Look at Steve Jobs, Zuckerberg, etc.

    I don’t think I’ve had an awkward client meeting. I do wish I had an outside office because it’s better than meeting at Starbucks. Every time I meet someone there I walk out with a stinky coffee smell embedded in my nose. Sorry. But it’s kind of gross, to me that is. 🙂

    • Josh Monen

      Good question. I was scratching my head asking myself the same thing (Why the heck did they have me come in here?!) as I left the “interview.” I think what happened was that the receptionist who I talked to was much more interested in having me come in than the creative directors were. I talked to the receptionist twice over the phone before that meeting and each time she was excited to have me come and meet the team.

  16. Bree

    A lot of people have already said what I wanted to say about this article, that a degree doesn’t always equal education (or wisdom, for that matter) and that the salary given to new graduates is incredibly low-paying.

    What I think this post really touches on is the severe disconnect between employers and the perceived value of their workers in the corporate/business world in general. Now, mind you not all companies act this way (Starbucks in particular treats their workers incredibly well). But when companies assume that you’re not smart enough without a degree, inexperienced at their level even when you have some experience and gumption to keep learning, or not worth paying you what you’re actually worth, one has to wonder how in the world these companies hope to survive when/if these perceptions change.

    • Josh Monen

      Bree, you nailed it. There’s a SEVERE disconnect between the actual value of workers who have proven skill sets and the perceived value. I think this perceived value is distorted in the minds of so many corporate and academic types because they base value on theoretical/conventional ideas instead of reality.

      For example, in “theory” it’d be better to hire a writer with a college degree. But in reality it’s better to hire a writer who can achieve the results you need. I appreciate that my new boss/mentor is firmly grounded in reality and not in the make believe world that so many academic types live in… I’m not saying all academic/corporate types are this way but many are.

  17. Erin

    Great Story, Josh, and congrats on the new gig!

    I can’t top that one, but I did have a strange situation come up about a year ago. About six months prior, I had met with the owner of a well-known and highly successful photography studio re writing/marketing needs. The studio owner was very complimentary regarding my writing and said that she may need me for writing-related needs in the future.

    Six months later, her assistant rang me and told me that a freelance writing position had opened at the studio and that the owner really wanted to meet with me again since she had been so impressed with my writing. I agreed and we arranged a time. The assistant told me that a short copywriting test would be required (red flag!) before moving forward.

    So I arrive at the office, but the studio owner is nowhere to be found. However, there are five other job candidates waiting to begin what appeared to be quite an extensive “test” that involved heavy editing, writing a blog post, writing headlines, captions, you name it. Um…huh? What really irritated me was that I’d taken time away from paid work to meet with her. I left early, explaining to the assistant that I had client meetings. As I was heading for the door, the assistant told me again how much the owner had loved my writing. I wanted to reply, “Then why did she contact me for a copywriting cattle call?” I held my tongue, however, and gracefully headed for the exit.

    • Josh Monen

      Erin, that’s also a great story! I wish you would’ve said, “Then why did she contact me for a copywriting cattle call?”. Haha! I might have to steal that line and put it on my site. “I don’t do pro-bono work or respond to copywriting cattle calls.” 🙂

      • Erin

        Hah! Maybe I should have said it, but at the time I was trying to be professional.

        I like the idea of putting that line on your site, lol. Maybe I should put it on mine as well to avoid these kinds of weird “meetings” in the future.

  18. Lucy Smith

    I have an English degree. That means that, should the occasion arise, I could discuss pre-feminist subtexts in Jane Eyre, voice an opinion on William Carlos Williams, discuss the meaning of the green light in The Great Gatsby, and talk at length about the Byronic Hero.

    Does that help me write copy? Not in the slightest.

    • Bree

      Haha! Lucy, that’s exactly my thoughts, too, as an English major. Education and practical application tend to be very different.

  19. Erin Sanchez

    Wow – I’m impressed with Josh’s ability to handle the situation with such professionalism!

    Recently, I landed a meeting to discuss some long-term projects with a potential client. We talked on the phone and he provided me with his email address so I could send him a link to my website/portfolio. He wanted to meet – great! During our meeting, he pulled out a handful of papers and wanted me to do an editing “test” on one and rewrite the others. He also wanted me to look at their website over the weekend and provide some feedback about how they could improve it. Then he mentioned that since he “didn’t want to pay for training” he would like me to edit/rewrite one of his company’s 50-70 page manuals for free (!) and “see where things go from there.” Um, no thank you! I gently reminded him that I’m a professional writer and part of what that entails is the ability to quickly ramp-up on a project–no “training” required.

    On another note, I agree with Lucy’s comment. I have my BA and am currently pursuing my MA, and while I’m grateful for my education (and my ability to decipher a whole lot of academic jargon), neither have been pivotal in advancing my writing career. I’ve learned so much more from reading great blogs (like this one!) and books written by professional freelancers.

    Thanks for sharing this story and reminding me that awful meetings can happen to anyone!

    • Carol Tice

      Wow, that is another whopper of a meeting from hell there, Erin!

      I love when people ask you for free consulting at meetings. I’m always all like, “I’d love to do that for you at $100 an hour — that’s my rate. That work for you?”

      I’m willing to chat for 30 minutes, maybe make a few general suggestions or observations about their marketing…but that’s the extent of it. Otherwise, please define a project and send me an advance. 😉

      • Karen

        Carol, you are so right. Based on several recent experiences with people who seem to wish to tell me their life story in the first phone call, I will in the future inquire pointedly (but oh, so subtly and charmingly – is that a word??) and route the conversation speedily to the exact income opportunity, clarify in a minute or less, offer to send them clips via e-mail, and only meet at a time/location totally convenient to me; if, in my pre-client interview, they remain good prospects.

    • Josh Monen

      Holy crap! What’s wrong with people?! He seriously wanted you to edit/rewrite a 50-70 page manual for FREE?! Wow. Some people’s kids.

      • Erin Sanchez

        Josh – Yeah, it’s pretty amazing what some people have the gall to ask for! Shameless.

        Carol – I love your no-nonsense response 🙂

  20. Dave Parmer

    Great post! Good luck with the new job Josh. From my experience people on salary have no idea what it is like to be a freelancer. Some of them have had a paycheck deposited monthly for years or decades. They have no idea what it is like to go out and actually find and manage clients and run a business, and be responsible for creating your own paycheck. Moreover, most people have limited interviewing skills at best, and their whole gamut from A to B consists of staring at your resume and saying things like “Tell me about yourself,” or “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” For freelance encouragement, in addition to reading this blog, I read the works of Alan Weiss and Jay Abraham, two guys who have done it and are willing to share their wisdom.

    • Carol Tice

      That’s so true Dave…I once did a piece about hiring your first employee and interviewing, and this is an area where so many people are totally inept. They tend to just shoot the breeze, don’t ask specific questions that would really show if there’s a fit…often, it up to you to take control and steer the conversation where it needs to go.

  21. Darnell Jackson

    Hilarious story.

    Yeah I’m with Tim Ferris when it comes to meetings.


    I have been noticing that when you make yourself available to talk to clients forever for FREE they take advantage of your time.

    It’s almost like they feel like they are accomplishing something by MEETING with you.

    Remember that OFFICE SPACE movie?

    Entrepreneurs don’t get paid to waste time.

    Move on to the next one. Let them waste the next guy’s time. lol

    • Carol Tice

      Hi Darnell —

      I too have a pretty massive meeting allergy. I used to have to take regular weekly staff meetings…and I knew it was the end at one longtime job when a new editor came and the weekly meeting, which had been 30 minutes, was declared to now be 60-90. Count me out!

      Study after study has shown that meetings are the biggest cause of productivity loss in the working world. Keep ’em short and avoid whenever able.

    • Josh Monen

      I love Office Space.

      “Ummm, I’m gonna need you to go ahead come in tomorrow. So if you could be here around 9 that would be great, mmmk… oh oh! and I almost forgot ahh, I’m also gonna need you to go ahead and come in on Sunday too, kay. We ahh lost some people this week and ah, we sorta need to play catch up.” –Bill Lumbergh

  22. Sharon Kay

    I just met with is likely to be a dream client for me — small company, very technical product, needs every type of writing and knows it. As we were wrapping up my contact said “everyone here has a degree. We feel strongly that everyone we work with should have a degree.” My jaw dropped. I said, “Really? One of the best technical writers I know doesn’t have a degree. She’s super-bright and picks up on technology really fast.” Then I managed to shut my mouth.

    Mind you, they have no problem with me – I have a technical writing / business / chemical engineering degree. Main thing I got from the degree? Ways to think through technical material – something my friend developed on her own. I probably would have too. College was a boost, but that’s all.

    To me, the degree is like taking a guided tour through a country you want to get to know. Diving in and doing the work is like moving there and living with the natives.

  23. Anne Grant

    Whoever asks the most questions to get to the heart if the matter wins. Sounds like you stayed on top and came out with more confidence as a bonus…congrats on the new position!

  24. Sherri

    “And that’s why Fortune 500 companies choose us over freelancers, because they don’t want to take any chances.” Uh-oh. Me thinks Alex felt a little threatened by Josh’s confidence and skills DESPITE a lack of a degree. LOL!

    Yea, better watch out for those flightly freelancers! *rolls eyes*

  25. Josh Monen

    Thank you all for the support and kind words. The community and culture Carol has cultivated here is awesome!

    I just wanted to give you all an update too:

    It’s been 4 months since I accepted the full-time copywriting/marketing job and I’m LOVING it! And since part of my compensation is based on results (and part is salary) I’m on track to exceed my income goal for 2013. My copywriting has been generating hundreds of leads for the company and the sales team has been closing those deals!

    Plus, I’ve been slammed doing freelance work on the side. So I hope this encourages some of the new freelancers and those going through some tough times. There is a huge demand for what we do. We just need to remember what we’re worth… degree or no degree. 😉

  26. Kalon W

    People get paid what they are worth and small minded people don’t seem to understand that a degree only gets you a job interview.
    Of course a go-getter like you wouldn’t nail the $10/hour job. You have to be a recent grad and green in the tooth to fall for an ‘opportunity’ like that.
    Congrats on the new job though Josh. Hope it’s going well!

    • Josh Monen

      Kalon, thank you! The new job is going well. You should come down to Bend sometime to visit (they have some good disc golf courses here!).

  27. Amandah

    Hi Josh,

    It sounds like the receptionist understood the value you would have added to the organization. It’s too bad the creative directors didn’t see it. Oh well… it’s their loss. Onward…

  28. Sarah Russell

    Holy wow! Good for you for not flat out laughing in their faces and walking away (which would have been satisfying, though not very professional).

    I haven’t had any meetings quite that good, but I did get into a fun one once where I met up with a supposedly “big name” in my industry. I sit down to start talking business – he starts out by autographing a copy of my book and handing it to me like he’s doing me some big favor. The rest of the meeting was less “Here’s what I need help with,” and more “Here’s why I’m awesome.” Needless to say, our work together was pretty short-lived 🙂

    Thanks for sharing this!

    • Josh Monen

      Sarah, that sounds like a good meeting too! I’m surprised these creative directors didn’t autograph the poetry and “creative writing” book they sent me home with. 🙂

  29. Howard Baldwin

    One of the best things about finding yourself in an interview from hell is to realize it in the moment; acknowledge that if this is the way they treat interviewees, being an employee there will be even worse; and then do what Josh did — get the hell out.

    I was in a job interview once when the publisher started quizzing me on music trivia, as if I couldn’t look something up if I didn’t know it. I told him if he needed someone who knew that kind of useless information, then I wasn’t the person for him, and left. Never regretted it.

    • Carol Tice

      Good for you! People who throw random stuff like that at you in an interview are probably not going to be fun to work for. Once back when I was a legal secretary (when dinosaurs roamed of course), I worked for one lawyer who was a coke addict. That’s the sort of weird stuff he would do. You want to avoid people like this!

    • Josh Monen

      Howard, good point. That probably explains the “Help me! I’m trapped” look I saw on the employees’ faces there. I couldn’t even imagine working in an environment like that.

  30. Deborah Savadra

    The degree thing is just *classic*. Thank goodness I have one (in English), but I don’t think much of a prospect who would favor that over a good portfolio and relevant experience.

    My all-time “meeting from hell” moment was one in which the client couldn’t stop taking phone calls and visits long enough to engage in a meaningful conversation. (We were in an “open” room, so staffers were wandering in and out constantly.) As was my practice at the time, I took my digital recorder for a backup to my handwritten notes. Somewhere, buried in the depths of my computer, is the audio for that incredibly unproductive meeting. I may have to dig that one up for a laugh!

    • Josh Monen

      Deborah, sounds like a rude and disrespectful client you had. I can’t stand that kind of attitude. I don’t care how important someone thinks they are… if they don’t have the decency to treat people with respect they have issues and I wouldn’t want to work with them.

      And do you know what’s funny? Some of the most successful people I know are also some of the most humble and considerate people I know.

      • Carol Tice

        I totally agree — people think it’ll be even more scary and stressful to work for top-drawer clients, but often, it’s a fantastic experience. The really top-level people, especially in a big organization, often got there because they really do have talent — and know how to treat people.

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