It’s fast answer Friday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…
1. Brushing your teeth at the office
I recently got Invisalign treatment for my teeth that require me to take very strict care of my oral hygiene, such as brushing my teeth after every time I eat. However, my office only has public bathrooms, and I don’t want to unintentionally gross out other people in the office (though I realize many people may not mind). Do you have suggestions on taking care of these requirements in the office?
I don’t think you really have much choice, other than to simply go for it and brush your teeth there. I mean, you can’t really erect a cone of invisibility around you while you do it. I say, do it and own your awesome oral hygiene. If anyone acts grossed out by, act like you’re disgusted that they’re not doing it.
2. Punished for not attending a meeting?
I am told by my employer that I must attend a meeting at work. I also just had a dental problem arise, requiring me to need an extraction. The soonest appointment would be during said meeting. I am told that unless I’m on FMLA, I will get written up for not being there. Can they punish me (write me up) for missing the meeting even though I have a valid reason for missing the meeting?
Sure. They can punish you / write you up for pretty much anything they want — missing a meeting, brushing your teeth in the bathroom, not shouting “show me the money” every hour on the hour, or anything else, as long as it’s not based on your race, religion, disability, or other protected class, and as long as it’s not retaliation for engaging in legally protected activity, as well as a small number of other legally protected things.
What you’re asking is if it’s fair. Maybe, maybe not. On its face, it seems unfair. But it could be fair if it’s a crucial meeting that can only be held at that time, or if you have a history of missing meetings they want you at.
3. Leaving just before I’m scheduled to get a bonus
My current company is soon going to give out last year’s bonus. If I get a new position with the company I’m interviewing with now, it means I might have to leave before receiving the bonus, which is a very generous bonus. Since the bonus is for last year, I’m thinking I’m still entitled to it, no? Or does my current company have the right not to give it to me if I leave? If this is the case, is it appropriate for me ask the new company to delay my start date and discuss the bonus situation with them?
If it’s written into your contract as something you’ve earned, then yes, generally they’d still need to give it to you. But if it’s not, then it’s at your company’s discretion, and they could indeed opt not to give it you since you’re leaving. (And that’s not uncommon. While you see it as a reward for work well done, they often see it as an incentive to stay. If you’re leaving, there’s nothing to incentivize.)
You can certainly explain the situation to the new company and ask to delay your start date by a small amount of time. (Some companies will solve this by giving you the bonus money themselves, if you’re valuable enough. Don’t count on that though.)
4. Interviewer opened by asking what questions I had
I had an in-person interview on Monday and a phone interview today (with two separate, unrelated companies). Both interviews started with me being asked if I had any questions. I always thought that came at the end of an interview (and indeed, in both cases I did get the chance to ask questions again at the end). This seemed unusual to me, though, and I feel like I fumbled a little trying to think of appropriate questions to ask before the position was even discussed — is this a new standard interview practice? What kind of questions do you think I should have asked?
Some interviewers do that. I’d start with broad questions — “Why is the position open?” “What are the most important things you’re looking for in the role?” “I’ve read the job description, of course, but I’d love to hear you describe the key pieces of the position as you see.” Etc.
5. Reapplying for a job when you previously withdrew from a hiring process
I interviewed for a very large nonprofit about a year and a half ago. They liked me enough to ask me to come back and meet with the CIO. I declined, however, because the position as it was described in the job listing was different than what was described to me in the interview. I had a series of really nice emails back and forth with the hiring manager at the time letting her know why I was declining — both the difference in how the job duties were described and that it seemed to be a really high-stress environment with high turnover.
As it turns out, I have been laid off from the job I accepted with another organization and I see that a very similar position to the one I interviewed for last year is now available. The hiring manager I spoke with last year is no longer with the organization and all the people responsible for this current job listing are not people I interviewed with, most were not at the organization at the time. As the current description reads, it does seem like it would be a good fit for me. I’m a little concerned that this might be mis-advertising, like it was last year. How do I address this in the cover letter? Do I mention my previous interview?
I’d simply say that you spoke with Jane Smith about a role last year, but ultimately decided you were interested in something more focused on X, but that this new position really interests you. No need to go into further detail than that.
6. Science grad applying outside my field
I graduated as a neuroscience major with the full intention of going to dental school but am seeing things differently now since graduating. I never thought about going into business, sales, marketing or any related field during my undergrad simply because I never had any exposure to that arena as a science major until I started job searching and now I’m realizing how interested I am in this field and wish I had known sooner!
I’m going to a job fair at my university, read your job fair post and did my research and there was this health insurance and benefits consulting firm that specializes in tech startups (which I love) and prides themselves in being the most up to date on what is going on in the benefits sphere through extensive research (which I also love). I was really looking forward to talking to them and to have a contact to refer to in my cover letter, but they canceled. So now I’m wondering, how can I standout now to them? Especially as a science major who has just recently found out more about this field but can really see themselves enjoying this area of work.
Well, you stand out the way you always stand out: by being a well-qualified candidate and having an awesome resume and cover letter. However, you have something going for you that you should make sure to emphasize: You have a science background that a lot of their applicants probably don’t have. Use that. Talk about what that would bring to the role that would help you do a great job in it. That’s something that legitimately could make you stand out from other candidates, because lots of people won’t have it. Good luck.
7. Telling a company about their poorly written emails
After going through a few interviews with a company, then informed me that they decided to go with another candidate, and told me to apply again in the future. They have now sent me this form email asking for feedback about the hiring process, in the form of a survey.
When they scheduled my second interview, an email I got was just awful — lack of punctuation, bad grammar, the works. The email was so poorly written that I almost contacted the recruiter to ask her if my interpretation of the email was correct. If I tell them about this, I don’t want the criticism to burn any bridges. Other than this email, the hiring process was fine. I was thinking I would just not complete the survey, or complete it and tell them what they want to hear (I know, the opposite of the point, right?). If I don’t complete the survey, will I seem disengaged and be a less attractive candidate next time around? Does it matter? What do you think?
Well, while they really should know about this, it’s not your responsibility to inform them — especially not at the possible cost of harming your relationship with them. So I wouldn’t raise it.
And I doubt they’re paying attention to who did and didn’t complete the survey when it comes to future hiring, so I wouldn’t worry about that.