It’s wee answer Wednesday — six short answers to six short questions. Here we go…
1. Asking to come back to an interview question
I’ve always been told (and told others-eek!) that if you can”t answer a behaviorally related question (“Can you think of a time when you’ve XYZ”) immediately, it’s perfectly fine to ask to come back to this question. My mother is very strong on this and has been in charge of hiring for her organization for several years, and I also do recruitment as part of several of my roles, and prefer this to a flubbed answer, but as I think you have said before, it’s all about how the applicant handles it.
However, I recently interviewed for another position that I appeared to be well qualified for, and when the company finally contacted me back to advise I was unsuccessful, the feedback was that this made the interviewer uncomfortable: she found it “highly unusual” and “sometimes you just have to give it a go.” I was extremely surprised to hear this, as during the interview I said “I’d really love to give you a work related example so could I take a second to get back to you on that one,” and then I voluntarily came back to the question and gave what I thought was a really good answer which demonstrated my performance and success in a similar role.
I’d be very interested to know your thoughts — have I had bad advice, or is this interviewer just a weird anomaly? The only other thing I could think of was that I came across as “pushy” by choosing when I wanted to ask the question, but I did ask reeeeally nicely!
Weird anomaly. If you don’t have an answer on the spot, it doesn’t make sense to make the interviewer sit there for five minutes while you try to come up with one. What you did is perfectly fine, as long as (a) you really do come back to the question on your own, and (b) you don’t do this when the question is one you should have been prepared for (like questions about why you’d excel in the role or what you’re looking for in your next job).
2. Do employers have to provide the same benefits to all employees?
Are employers legally obligated to provide the same basic benefits to all employees? Can employees be selectively denied benefits (such as health insurance, paid time off, or education assistance) that are available to other employees? What if the other employees work in a different position or department?
Employers can offer different benefits to different classes of employees, such as: part-time and full-time employees, employees working in different geographic locations, employees with different dates of hire or lengths of employment, and exempt employees and non-exempt employees. They can’t treat employees differently based on any protected class, like race, religion, or sex, of course — but differences like the ones I described in the first sentence are pretty common.
3. My boss is having an affair with my estranged wife
My small, high-skill company has few formal policies. A year ago, they allowed my best friend of 24 years to hire me as a direct subordinate. As my boss, he’s been an excellent manager, and our productivity and work quality have impressed the executives. As my best friend, he naturally became well acquainted with my common-law wife from the day I met her 7 years ago. When she packed her bags last month, my life became agony. I sure felt lucky that my boss could tolerate my low (zero) productivity, and that my friend stood at my side as adviser and confidant.
Three weeks after she left, my friend/boss comes to my home to confess that they had been dating for a week. During that week, he used my outpouring of personal confidences to formulate advise that served his purpose of getting me out of his way. He admitted that he deliberated carefully. A potential wife for him at the cost of (1) throwing his best friend under a bus at the height of the most heart-wrenching pain of my life, (2) losing a valuable corporate asset (me), which would lead to my immediate homelessness. Mind you, there had been no prior personal friction that might explain his betrayal. He simply, out of the blue, decided that dating this fine woman made all these consequences palatable. This is not the man I knew for 24 years. I don’t know who he is anymore.
But job opportunities in my specialty are precious few these days, and I have no savings. On the other hand, my productivity is still abysmal with no foreseeable improvement. My ability to conduct business under this man’s supervision has been broken in a way that may not be fixable. How can I keep my job? Should I? (Really, living in a shelter could be no worse than this.) What would a (higher) manager do if this unfolded in a lower part of the hierarchy? Has misconduct occurred? Abuse of an employee? Living this ongoing nightmare day-by-day is beyond my endurance. But what can I do except endure?
How terrible. I’m so sorry. It’s possible that your company would consider this misconduct by your boss, although I’m not sure that that will really help you in any tangible way if they do. I think your best bet is to start job searching, and move to a new job as soon as possible. Good luck.
4. Required to take time off for lunch
I work in Massachusetts as a temp, and was wondering if I can be required by my boss to take time off for lunch. The email I recently received (after having my hours cut due to lower work volume in the office) said, “Please take a 30 minute lunch if you work over 5 hours. It needs to be shown on your timesheet.” My (limited) understanding was that I’m entitled to lunch if I work over 6 hours, but that I need to be compensated if I agree to work through lunch and remain on the premises.
However, I’m wondering if mandating unpaid lunches falls under the “these are the conditions of employment, take it or leave it” category. What are your thoughts?
Yes, you can be required to take an unpaid lunch break. You’re correct that your state law requires a break to be offered if you work more than 6 hours, but it doesn’t prevent an employer from requiring a break earlier than that, or requiring additional breaks.
5. Listing classes on LinkedIn
LinkedIn keeps asking me to list my classes taken at university, high school and independently. Is there value in having those listed? I have a number of independent courses and two college degrees, so they are asking for a rather large time investment to put all those in. Do you think employers want to see every class you’ve taken? Just the ones related to your degree or the job you’re applying for? Or should I not even bother?
Don’t bother. With the exception of a very small number of fields, employers don’t care. (And even in those few exceptions, no one cares about high school. No one.)
6. Male coworker seems to be hitting on me
There is a very social male coworker in my office. I, on the other hand, am an extremely shy introvert. Since he joined the company he visits me at least once a day. He also visits other coworkers, but his visits with me consist of asking about my weekends or how work is going. He also compliments me on my outfits, compliments I’ve not heard him give to other coworkers. The compliments aren’t inappropriate or anything — just “you look great in red” or “you’re hair looks nice.” I’ve always thanked him and then changed the topic or went back to my work.
Two months ago, he started to put his hands on my shoulders. Having this happen, much less having to confront him was mortifying. After the third time I pulled away and made it clear that it wasn’t appropriate. After that, I *thought* he got the picture that we could be friendly with professional boundaries. On Valentines, I found a very nice box of chocolates and two pink roses on my desk. It is an open environment, so everyone in the office noticed (much to my embarrassment). He confessed to leaving them. I thanked him and then changed the subject. See how much I like to avoid rather than addressing it?
Last Friday he emailed me an invitation for a lunch meeting for this Friday. The meeting is to discuss some freelance work (something I said I was interested in before the chocolate and flowers incident). Everyone I’ve asked thinks he has an ulterior motive for the lunch — that the offer for freelance work is just a way to get me to go to lunch and he’s really testing the waters. Would you recommend that I go to the lunch? Or would it be best to politely withdraw? If I do go, should I prepare for the possibility of him asking me out or am I just over thinking it?
You can certainly go to the lunch, but go with the full knowledge that he’s going to see it as an opportunity to advance his romantic agenda with you. No one gives chocolates and roses on Valentine’s Day to someone who they’re not pursuing. He’s pursuing you; it’s not business. Proceed with that in mind.