It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. My interviewer rejected me for a job and then tried to sell me luxury suits
I recently applied to an office assistant position at a local insurance agency. The posting was very simple and straightforward (looking for an assistant to file, fax, answer the phones, order office supplies, etc.). The ad also stated that this was an entry-level position and no knowledge of insurance was necessary. I sent off my resume and cover letter, expressing my interest.
I received an email stating that my “qualifications seemed to be a good fit” and was asked to please call the agency later that morning. I called and had a pleasant phone interview with the agency’s owner. She invited me to come in for an interview the following Monday.
The interview went well. The woman was very friendly and seemed to be impressed with my previous experience. As in the posting, she kept stressing that insurance knowledge wasn’t necessary, as my job would just be making sure that the office ran smoothly. As we were shaking hands at the interview’s end, she explained that she had several other candidates to interview, but she would let me know either way by Friday. Friday came and went and I continued to apply to other jobs.
I woke up this morning to an email from this woman. She started off by saying that I did not get the position because she decided to go with someone who had previously worked in “a company like mine.” I was perplexed, because both the online ad and she herself stated that insurance knowledge wasn’t necessary.
The second paragraph mentioned “but I have another opportunity that I think you would be perfect for!” Great, I thought. All hope is not lost. Then she launched into this big spiel about how in addition to running an insurance agency, she is also an independent consultant for a men’s luxury suits and clothing company and if I “or any of your friends are interested,” I could click on one of the links below. It doesn’t seem like she wasn’t looking for an office assistant. She was looking for a commission.
I think I might have already answered the question, but this office assistant position was a scam, right? Is this insurance agency just a cover for this nonsense? The insurance agency’s website and the office looked legitimate (as does her LinkedIn profile), but now I am second-guessing everything. I just feel very used and humiliated and that my time was wasted. I even spent money (money that I really didn’t have) on a nice outfit for the interview.
I suppose it’s possible that the entire thing was a scam, but I wouldn’t assume that. It’s more likely that she did indeed have a job opening to fill, filled it, and now is inappropriately trying to pitch the remaining candidates on her side business. That would be a lot of work to go through for pretty weak sales leads.
But it’s really, really not okay for employers to try to sell things to people who interview for jobs with them.
2. Was I wrong to ask my new employee if she has kids?
I had a meeting today with a small group of employees I do not know–I am new to the organization and these employees work for me. We went around the table introducing ourselves and providing personal and professional information. I asked one of the employees if she had children. (I would never ask that in an interview, of course.) Was this wrong?
It’s not the biggest offense in the world, but wasn’t ideal. First, why ask one person and not the others? That raises questions about whether you were basing the question on her sex or age or maybe something else. Second, you never know if someone is dealing with infertility or some other difficult topic related to having kids. Third, when you’re the new boss trying to get to know your employees, it’s good to let people decide on their own what info about their personal lives they share with you.
But again, it’s not unforgivable. And hell, it might not have even bothered her, who knows.
3. Asking for a raise as a contractor
I’ve been maintaining a web store on an hourly contractor basis for about six months, averaging about 10-20 hours a week. I’m doing a great job, sales are up, and I’ve gained empowerment and have been using it. I knew this would be a long project, but I didn’t know I’d still have work six months later. Would it be hella uncouth to ask for a raise?
Independent contractors don’t really ask for raises; they raise their rates (and potentially negotiate with the client from there).
But in this context, it would be reasonable to say something like, “When we set up our agreement, I didn’t realize this would end up being long-term work. Since it is, I’d like to revisit our payment agreement. I think X would be reasonable for the work I’m doing now.”
4. Running into an interviewer at a professional conference
I had my second interview just over a month ago and I am still waiting to hear back. However, last week I was at a professional conference where, over the course of a few days, I repeatedly crossed paths with one of the search committee members who interviewed me. I was prepared to make a friendly gesture in passing, but this person either purposely avoided eye contact with me or honestly did not realize I was there before moving on. Multiple times.
It was an awkward position to be in, for sure. I wasn’t going to confront this person about the job, of course, but it would have been nice to have at least recognized each other to address the elephant in the room. Our interview was several hours long followed by a lunch together, so I don’t think I would be completely forgotten so soon.
Given that I will likely continue job searching within my field and seeing these potential employers at this annual conference, is there a correct way to interact with someone who has interviewed you, either recently or in the past? Or do we just pretend we have never met?
I’d treat an interviewer in this context just like any other business contact who you know but don’t know well: Smile, nod, say “good to see you,” and keep moving. If you put the person into the “business contact” mental category rather than “interviewer,” it will probably help you do that both automatically and more naturally.
5. Hiring someone who can’t start until two months after the advertised start date
I would like an outsider’s opinion on a recent hiring decision that took place at our company. Our current director is leaving, and I was the only internal candidate who applied for his position. I interviewed and was told I was qualified and was a strong candidate. Only one other person, an outsider, was interviewed, but this person was friends with members of the board of directors on the hiring committee. The outsider was hired. They then informed the board they cannot start until two months after the position’s advertised start date — and the board of directors is allowing that.
My question is — is that proper? The previous director was supposed to train the new hire for a month, but now this person will be stepping into our company cold. The other staff members and I feel something shady took place, but I would like an another perspective.
Sure, employers adjust start dates for the person they want to hire all the time. Not every position allows for it, but when it does, there’s no reason not to be flexible on something like that. In lots of positions, waiting an extra two months would be a non-issue. That’s especially true the more senior the position is. For a director position, it would be very normal.
It’s not ideal that the person won’t overlap with the outgoing director, certainly, but that isn’t always going to trump other considerations.
It sounds like you’re concerned that the person may have gotten special treatment because of the relationship with a board member. It’s certainly possible — but it’s also possible that they were actually the strongest candidate.