Is It Harassment or Simply Unprofessional to Ask Someone Out After a Job Interview?

Bird's eye view of applicant and interviewer seated at a conference table
Is it harassment to ask someone out after a job interview? (Photo: Getty Images)

A New York City woman is calling harassment on a move by a man whom she recently interviewed for a job. Katarina Batina, who is a design lead at Artsy, a resource for art collecting and education, according to her Twitter account, recently tweeted a message she received from a potential employee.

On Thursday, she posted a screenshot of the email, sent by someone whose identity she kept anonymous. The note read, “Hi Katarina, I’m [name redacted]. You interviewed me the other day at your offices for an engineering job. I enjoyed meeting you. Are you free this Saturday night? I’d like to take you out for a drink. Text me: [number redacted].”

The amorous job candidate either didn’t really want the job or was oblivious to the social awkwardness of asking out a potential employer during the hiring process — or at all. Batina captioned he tweet with “ATTENTION ALL MALE DEVELOPERS Do not under any circumstances ask your interviewer out on a DATE #harassment #commonsense #shemightbegay.”

The post, which has received more than 1,100 likes and almost 700 retweets at press time, has commenters baffled too — and it has the sexes divided. Many male commenters, while acknowledging that this might have been a stupid move, fail to see it as harassment. One man wrote, “hm, maybe I’m living in the wrong country, but why is this considered a harassment? If it was woman->man would it still be?” Another commented, “Clueless, sure. Borderline stupid, sure. But I’m not sure I understand the harassment hashtag? Help me with that?” A third wrote, “Being straightforward, but polite is now harassment. Good to know.”

Batina’s female followers reacted in a different way. “Someone making unwarranted romantic advances to someone who is only talking to them for business is harassment,” one woman stated. Another wrote, “Looks like a lot of people in this thread never got appropriate harassment training at work or something?” A third commented, “Even worse than the email (which is gross) are the men feigning confusion/insult in the comments.”

Yahoo Style asked professional job interview coach Bill Cole, author of the book The Interview Success Guide, for his take on the exchange. Does it constitute harassment or is it just poor form? “This is at minimum an interview etiquette breach, and at maximum, a clumsy, possibly desperate attempt at ‘shopping where you work,’” Cole said. But he doesn’t think it’s harassment, per se. “I doubt it would rise to the level of harassment, but the interviewee may certainly be guilty of a stupidity misdemeanor.”

We’d have to say that stupidity is at the core of this particular issue. What do you think — does this person’s email equal harassment? Is it just tone-deaf? Or is it perfectly fine?

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