resisting when asked to change offices, when a hiring manager cancels an interview, and more

by Ask a Manager on July 20, 2013

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It’s seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. Should I have resisted more when asked to move offices?

After a tumultuous six months of departmental reorganization, my boss retired, leaving a vacant office space behind in a crowded, multi-story hospital clinic building. The director of our department gave the space to me, and I have been slowly reorganizing it over the course of several weeks.

Today, as I was leaving the building, the office manager of one of the other practices stopped me and told me that they needed that space, but would try to find another space for me somewhere. I asked her if she had asked my department director, and she said she had emailed him about it. I said OK, and went on my way. As it turns out, the director of my department wants to hold onto that space, and doesn’t want me leaving it.

Should I have put up more of a fuss when I was approached by the office manager? If so, what is the professional way of protesting something like that? I’m afraid I may have harmed my cause by not being confrontational enough.

Did she say she that your director had replied and okayed the change, or just that she’d emailed to ask him about it? If the latter, it probably would have made sense to say, “Let me touch base with him” rather than just agreeing to the change … but it’s not really a big deal that you didn’t. And it doesn’t really sound like you hurt your cause at all, since your director is pushing back against the other department anyway.

2. I was rejected for lacking experience than I actually have

I have a question for about about an interview and subsequent follow up feedback that I got recently. I interviewed for a position which would require me to be the out-of-office support for a public figure. I thought the interview went well, although the HR person and the hiring manager asked a lot of “What would you do” rather than “What DID you do” questions.

A few days later, I received feedback that although I’d interviewed well, they felt that I lacked experience for a role that would be a sole-charge position with community engagement aspects. They also said that this position would be re-advertised, as it hadn’t been filled yet.

The thing is, I feel like I have lots of experience in this area, but never got a chance to really talk about how it’d be applicable in this context! I know the onus is on me to prove my experience, but how would I go about (or should I at all) in contesting this?

Well, you can’t contest it, so you definitely shouldn’t look at it that. This is 100% their call, no matter how wrong you think they might be. That said, you can certainly let them know that you do in fact have significant experience in that area and that you’d love the chance to tell them about it if they think it might be worth further conversation. But that’s really all you can do; from there, it’s up to them.

3. When should I bring up a request to telecommute 2 days a week?

At my current job, I have it set up where I work from home twice a week, and my husband has the same in a different company. Between the both of us, one of us is home 4 days a week so that our kids can do after-school activities.

I’m back to the job marketing seeking my next opportunity, and don’t know when and how to bring that up. The jobs I interviewed for seem to be big on flexible schedules just as long as you get your work done. I thought about few options: asking after getting an offer, asking after one month working there, or asking to work 10 hours a day and come in 4 times a week (if getting to work from home two days doesn’t work). What’s the best way to bring this up?

Normally the advice is to wait until you have an offer, and then try to negotiate the arrangement you want as part of the offer. That said, even companies that are open to flexible (or something flexible) schedules aren’t always open to telecommuting nearly 40% of the time, so unless you have extremely in-demand skills, be prepared for the possibility that they’re just not going to agree. So it this is an absolute requirement for you and you won’t consider the job otherwise, I might bring it up a bit earlier, to save time and aggravation on both ends if it’s a deal-breaker for them.

4. Following up with a hiring manager who canceled an interview

I submitted my resume to a company for a position that I thought would be a great stepping stone for me. A few hours after the submission, the hiring manager called me to set up an interview. He wanted to do the next day, but I had to work all day that day and there would have been no way to ask off on such short notice, but the day after I was off. So we scheduled for that day instead.

The morning of the interview, I received a call from him saying that he was going to have to cancel the interview and possibly reschedule in the future. He was talking so fast I couldn’t really understand the reasoning but he was giving a reason nonetheless. He said he may call earlier next week. If I don’t hear from him by the next Monday or Tuesday, should I email him or should I wait and see what happens?

Sure, it’s fine to follow up at that point. Send an email saying that you wanted to check in and see if he’s still interested in meeting. But after that, move on. Sometimes positions fall through, or they hire a different candidate, or the position changes, or all sorts of other things.

5. My manager is upset that I went around her to get a locker

I just started working for a hotel as security fire guard. I asked my supervisor about getting a locker in the men’s room in the basement. She said that there are associates who have worked longer than me who do not have lockers themselves. But I found a locker on my own and went to HR about the available locker. My supervisor was there and asked me about why I was in the office. When I told her I was there to see a list of who occupied the locker I found, apparently she was upset that I went over her head.

I was called in and found out that it was bad on my part to want to know the status of available lockers and I was wondering if they can simply fire me on a matter like this.

They could, but it’s unlikely. It sounds like your manager had told you that others were in line to get lockers ahead of you, and that she was irritated later when it seemed like you were ignoring that and trying to get a locker anyway. That’s annoying, yes, but it’s not such a big deal that you’d generally lose your job over it. Go talk to her and tell you misunderstood and that you didn’t mean to go around her, and you should be able to smooth this over.

6. Can I include volunteer experience as work experience on my resume?

I have taken a two-year break for employment to purposely provide volunteer support to a group of nonprofits in my community. Recently I was approached by our senator to apply for a job based on the work I have been doing unpaid. Since the experience comes from this volunteer project, should I include it with my work experience? Otherwise it looks like I have not worked for two years and the reviewer may never make it to the volunteer section to see the pertinent skill set, let alone the reference section.

Yes, you absolutely should include it with your work experience. It’s sounds like real work, despite being unpaid, and it’s relevant to the position you’re applying for.

By the way, your resume shouldn’t have a references section at all. You don’t supply those until they’re requested. However, you can certainly open your cover letter by explaining that your senator encouraged you to apply, and why.

7. What went wrong with this performance evaluation meeting?

I work for a large nonprofit institution. My job is unique in that I work in a laboratory which is located some distance from my department head’s office (I cross paths with him only about twice a month), and the head of the lab (whom I report to as a “day-to-day” supervisor) works for a different department.

June and July are job evaluation months at my workplace and I’ve had the strangest evaluation in my 20-year employment history. I arrived at my department head’s office on time, but he hadn’t completed the job evaluation and he told me to “get the hell out” of his office. He immediately apologized, and he asked me if I was offended, and then he was very complimentary about my work. My day-to-day supervisor was 30 minutes late. When she arrived, she wanted to talk about how I should be promoted! A promotion would be great, but she was clear about the fact that she is advocating that I seek a promotion without a pay raise. Then the meeting was cut short because my department head had a meeting with a couple of VIPs.

Isn’t the point of a job evaluation to document one’s goals and areas for improvement? I’m not clear about what those are supposed to be for the next year. On the job evaluation form, employees are allowed space to comment about the evaluation process. I realize that its not wise to rat out my department head and supervisor to the HR department, but I would like to document what happened in the meeting. Is the job evaluation form an appropriate place to do so? If not how can I politely voice my dissatisfaction with the meeting?

The point of an evaluation is to discuss how well you’ve been meeting the goals for your position, what you do well, and where you do better. It’s not necessarily to set goals for the coming year; in fact, although many organizations use them that way, it’s generally better practice to have a separate conversation about goal-setting for the coming year. (In part because they are both big conversations that require separate preparation and separate outcomes.)

Since you’re not clear about your goals for the coming year, tell your manager(s) that you’d like to meet to discuss them, and send over a proposal for those goals ahead of time, so that they’re prepared to discuss it. I wouldn’t bother with a complain or documentation of what happened in the meeting. While not ideal, obviously, it’s not so egregious that you could formally complain without looking like a different kind of problem yourself.

{ 77 comments… read them below or add one }

EngineerGirl July 20, 2013 at 9:07 am

#1 – Turf wars between managers. Happens all the time. Always go back and confirm with your manager on this. I can’t tell you how many times certain people make things look like a “done deal” when really it only exists in their heads.

#2 – many times people underestimate the extent of a skill level. That means that they think they are ar 80% when they are only at 40% (it’s a form of Dunning – Kruger. Experience isn’t the same as enough experience.

#4 – fast talking = feeding you a line

#5 – the supervisor told you that there were people in front of you. You basically sent her a signal that your wants were more important than theirs. Next time find a solution where both your needs and theirs are met.

#7 – one manager wants to promote you but the other doesn’t want to pay for it. Turf war! Watch out for nitpicking of your work from the manager that pays for it (justifying that you don’t deserve the pay raise)

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nyxalinth July 20, 2013 at 12:41 pm

that makes sense, on #2. I’ve been told that many times, and now I have a better understanding that while I might have plenty of experience under the general umbrella of ‘Customer Service’ I don’t have enough specific to taking calls in a very small, more office-y than call center setting. It doesn’t solve why they interviewed me to begin with, but it does tell me that I need to be more clear in my cover letter and in interviews about the experience I do have and how it would apply.

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TheSnarkyB July 20, 2013 at 1:17 pm

EngineerGirl, in the future can you separate out your comments into separate (or at least smaller) comments? Chunked comments like this make it harder for people to jump in & start conversation about one small part or to follow the thread if there were to be many replies to you.

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Anon July 21, 2013 at 2:36 pm

I like the way she made her comment.

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tcookson July 21, 2013 at 3:46 pm

#1 — Where I work, I wouldn’t even have the authority to accept a move like that, and my boss wouldn’t have the authority to move me, without going through his boss, who is the master and commander of who gets what office assigned to them in our building. If someone else told me to move, and I mistakenly acquiesced to it, and my boss allowed me to do so, then it would get to his boss, and if she didn’t like it — BAM!! — everything would be undone.

All that is to say, you may have accepted the move, and I would definitely tell your boss what happened, but it could very well be that your saying “okay” to the other manager isn’t enough to make it a done deal, anyway.

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Galimatisen July 20, 2013 at 9:37 am

I am the one who asked the question about the hiring manager canceling quickly.

The only thing that’s really bothering me, and I could just be paranoid, is that he ended the call so fast that I couldn’t even comprehend what was going on. I heard the word “house” and I want to say he said something happened at his house? But I’m not sure. I’ve been jipped of jobs so many times, I can’t help but feel like I’ve been jipped again. If I was, why not just tell me the position was filled?

He said” Sorry I’m going to have to cancel our meeting today, I’m not going to make it. We’ll have to reschedule in the near future. I may call you earlier next week.” And then after that was the reason but he said that so fast I have no idea what he said.

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Cat July 20, 2013 at 9:46 am

If he didn’t want to interview you, he could have just not interviewed you; I don’t think he has any reason to make up a fake emergency. It sounds like something might have gone wrong quickly and he might have been worried about it. And you can’t actually be cheated out of something that isn’t yours; no particular job candidate is entitled to a job.

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Galimatisen July 20, 2013 at 9:58 am

Oh, I wasn’t meaning it that way. I mean, I have had interviews scheduled where they would quickly cancel on me and give me some weird reason but turned out they hired someone else, rather than telling me.That’s what I meant, I don’t feel entitled at all. But as I said, I’m probably just paranoid. Now that I wrote it out and looked at it more, I don’t quiet feel that way now.

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TheSnarkyB July 20, 2013 at 1:26 pm

I don’t know if/doubt that AAM would endorse this, but if I get a voicemail I can’t hear or where the person is talking too fast, I think it’s okay to call back and politely say that. Even though you’d normally want to respect that they said they’ll call you back themselves. I’m personally uncomfortable not knowing everything they said – in case it was germane to my candidacy- and a staticky/rushed voicemail is a perfect excuse to get clarification and to get them on the phone. Just a quick, polite, “Hi Jim, I’ll make this quick, you sound pretty busy. Your voicemail was a little (staticky/warped/poor sound quality/hurried) and I’m worried I missed some information there. Just to clarify: you said something about calling me early next week to reschedule?”
And then, the awesome part is that in this situation maybe you’d hear something like, “Yeah, my house is certain with fire ants! I’ll get back to you on Monday if they don’t carry me away!” Which tells you that it’s not about your candidacy! Ta-da!

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bob July 20, 2013 at 5:47 pm

“I’m personally uncomfortable not knowing everything they said”

Yea because you might end up wearing a pirate shirt on a tv show.

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Susan July 22, 2013 at 1:31 pm

I don’t want to be a pirate!

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Galimatisen July 20, 2013 at 9:36 pm

lol, well, if it was a voicemail yeah, I would have called. But we were actually talking to each other. And I felt bad if I asked him to repeat himself especially if it was something personal. I guess I’ll just have to wait until Tuesday and see.

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Galimatisen July 20, 2013 at 10:06 am

Perhaps I should have said “been jipped on interviews” rather than jobs itself. Sorry for any misunderstanding

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CF July 20, 2013 at 10:22 am

For what it’s worth, “jipped” is an ethnic slur about Gypsies.

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Galimatisen July 20, 2013 at 10:34 am

Huh, never heard it used that way. Oops.

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Felicia July 20, 2013 at 10:37 am

That’s where teh word comes from and what it means.

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Galimatisen July 20, 2013 at 11:29 am

I know that now, I’m sorry, I didn’t know what the meaning was at the time, I have already requested to get my comments removed.

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CF July 20, 2013 at 1:48 pm

I didn’t know what it meant until someone told me, either. I figured you didn’t know. :)

Victoria Nonprofit July 20, 2013 at 2:19 pm

I vividly remember learning the meaning behind that word in a college class freshman year. I was so mortified when someone called me out in class. I’m sure I responded badly.

Jewish Girl July 20, 2013 at 11:52 pm

A lot of people don’t know that, don’t worry! I am pretty sensitive to people using ethnic slurs (especially being Jewish and having heard people use “Jew” in the same manner) but when someone says “gypped” I assume that they have no idea where the word came from and thought it was spelled “jipped” like you did.

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Flynn July 20, 2013 at 8:49 pm

Yep. It’s actually “gypped” which is a lot more obvious, but… well, it got Americanised.

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Galimatisen July 20, 2013 at 9:37 pm

We’re good for that ;)

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Vicki July 21, 2013 at 3:41 am

Not any more.

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Ruffingit July 20, 2013 at 10:22 am

It’s always a little off putting when someone calls you and speaks like a hot poker is being held to their back and they will be burned if they don’t get a certain number of words out per minute :)

In this case, there’s just no telling what is going on here, that is, perhaps the manager is “jipping” you or perhaps he really had a problem of some kind and needed to reschedule. Alison’s advice applies either way. Follow up next week and then move on.

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Galimatisen July 20, 2013 at 11:31 am

Thank you for actually responding with advice.

I feel a little better now. Yes, I will be a little disappointed if I ended up getting screwed, but that’s life sometimes.

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Ask a Manager July 20, 2013 at 11:37 am

For what it’s worth, this isn’t getting screwed. You’re not entitled to be interviewed, interviews do get canceled for all kinds of reasons, and it’s not a slight against you. It’s important to realize that because the “getting screwed” mindset will make you bitter, and it shouldn’t.

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EngineerGirl July 20, 2013 at 12:43 pm

This. You submit your application. Some would argue that you are entitled to a rejection, but in today’s climate even that is stretching it. But you don’t deserve anything else – even if you “know” you’re the best candidate.

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Galimatisen July 20, 2013 at 9:38 pm

I guess you’re right.

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Galimatisen July 21, 2013 at 8:20 am

I will add this I really had no idea that I was coming off as entitled. It’s happened before and as someone else has said on here it’s like “having a rug pulled up from under you”. which is probably why I felt like I was getting screwed. So maybe I do have a bitter view.

This is the reason I left my comment, to see if I am handling this in the correct manner. And I guess I am not :( Now I feel kind of bad. But as I’ve said a few times already, I will wait and see what happens next week, send an email, and if I don’t hear from anything I will move on.

Thanks for your help.

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Ruffingit July 21, 2013 at 4:20 pm

Don’t feel badly! AAM and the experiences you’re having in the work world exist to help you navigate these issues and learn to have a different mindset. It’s all part of the education we receive about life in general and the work world in particular.

As for handling this in the correct manner, you are in fact doing that because you wrote in to Alison and you’re open to the advice she has given you and that the rest of us are contributing.

Not handling it well would be calling this guy’s office multiple times and/or showing up with a cake that had your resume in frosting on it. That’s not handling it well. What you’re doing is seeking out advice so you can handle it well and feel better. +1 to you for that!

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nyxalinth July 20, 2013 at 12:37 pm

Wow, not one person seems to agree that it’s odd and sucky that this seems to keep happening, and they keep focusing on the words the OP is using and whether or not he sounds bitter. I start sounding bitter too when I think the main point I’m making is being ignored.

I get it: it does suck when interviews keep getting cancelled. Kind of feels like the universe is yanking the rug out from under you, sort of a cosmic trolling thing. Have you noticed a particular pattern? Picked up on any cues on the phone that means they might be disorganized or just downright not a good match? Interviewing goes both ways: you’re allowed to back off from something if it feels off.

I say this because without casting blame, the one constant here is you. Take a look at all the places that cancelled out of the blue, weird reasons or not. What do they all have in common, that you might have overlooked because you wanted a job? Sometimes things happen out as they do to keep us from screwing ourselves over.

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nyxalinth July 20, 2013 at 12:43 pm

Also, ‘losing out or ‘didn’t make the cut’ is a less bitter way of saying the same thing.

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Not So NewReader July 20, 2013 at 6:42 pm

Speaking of common threads… OP, perhaps the answer lies in the pattern you use to pick companies to apply to, or perhaps the sources that you find job listings. It could be something totally benign thing that is not obvious until you sit down and look for it.
Change something that you are doing and see where that puts you.

I have found this really hard to change- but once I mixed in a few new ideas with my old standbys I got different responses.

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Galimatisen July 21, 2013 at 8:16 am

This makes complete sense! I, in no way, thought I was sounding entitled or anything, now everyone is making me feel bad. :( But it’s happened a couple of times before, it has left a bitter taste in my mouth. And I left my comment here to see what others thought of the situation and if I’m handling right. Which I guess I’m not.

The company I applied for is very small, so it would make sense that if something came up, it would cause some distress. The other jobs this has happened has ranged from small, family-owned jobs to large corporations. Most of them saying that they needed to hold off on the position or that they didn’t need anyone like they thought, then I come to find out they just hired someone else. I could be doing something wrong, I will have to evaluate myself on how I interview to why this happens.

But as I said in other replies, I am going to see what happens Tuesday, email him, and if I don’t hear from them or anything, I will move on to the next thing.

Thank you so much for helping me out. :)

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Anon July 21, 2013 at 2:43 pm

I don’t think you sound entitled or bitter at all. I don’t know why others keep saying that. You’re just frustrated by the job application process and are responding as such. I feel like people on this website expects everyone to be perfect and to have the perfect mindset and reactions to everything but that isn’t always going to be the case. You’re allowed to be upset. The important thing to remember is to let go and move on and to keep a positive mindset going forward

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tcookson July 21, 2013 at 4:01 pm

feel like people on this website expects everyone to be perfect and to have the perfect mindset and reactions to everything but that isn’t always going to be the case.

I don’t think most people on here expect anyone to be perfect, and most of us have felt similarly to OP about various situations that we’ve encountered at work, but this site is about having peers point out when they think that what a person is doing (or an attitude that they may be projecting) may be holding them back professionally. It’s a way to get the kind of behind-the-scenes peek into what other people truly think of one’s actions that we’re not usually privileged to have. Barring anyone being downright ugly about it (which doesn’t usually happen and hasn’t happened in this case), I hope to get the same sort of uncensored feedback to anything that I post. It might not always be comfortable to hear that others think one is off-target about something that one has already done, but hearing it can certainly help going forward.

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tcookson July 21, 2013 at 4:06 pm

As a matter of fact, not too long ago, I myself posted some stories about some of my past reactions to requests from my current and past bosses for personal errands (when I am their professional assistant), and some of the posters on here who are also professional assistants kind of “lined me out” about my attitude. Hearing it from them made me realize that I might not be coming across at work as I would wish to, and I’ve changed my attitude accordingly. That is what this community of commentators is great for!

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Helen July 20, 2013 at 9:37 am

#4 I wouldn’t tell them you want to work from home so that you can take your kids to after school activities. That doesn’t make it sound like you will actually be working…

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The IT Manager July 20, 2013 at 10:02 am

+1

I think you need to be really clear on what you mean to do when you work from home. My organization is very clear that working from home time cannot replace child care, elder care, allows you to run errands, etc. (I do believe that it is different for older kids with whom you just need to be there as a parental influence to keep them from doing stupid things and they can care for themselves.)

Even with a company with a not so strict policy that only cares about accomplishment and not hours, you still might have to be available for meetings or calls during the afternoons. I think you’d to be very clear about what you’re asking for which sounds like it maybe being able to leave the house and drive your children places during the afternoons.

I’m not saying this is impossible, but people have aside variety of understanding of the terms flexible schedule and work from home.

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The IT Manager July 20, 2013 at 10:05 am

Oops! I think I actually disagree with Helen … you absolutely should ask them if their work from home policy allows you to leave your home office to take your kids to after school activities.

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fposte July 20, 2013 at 11:55 am

Agreed–a workplace isn’t going to be happy to find out that the work at home time is driving kids time. I also think it’s worth thinking about the actual goal and exploring the possibility of other flexibilities to meet it. If the goal is, say, availability from 3:30-6, then maybe you can do 7-3 in the office two days.

If any of those activities are medical, that’s also worth mentioning; even in advance of FMLA eligibility, a workplace is likely to cut you more slack for taking Junior to physical therapy than for taking him to t-ball.

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EM July 20, 2013 at 12:03 pm

FWIW, I read that question like she works from home on a flex schedule so she can already be at home when her children need transport/etc to after school activities — so she is working let’s say 7-3 pm at home and then she is right there (no commute) to be free for the kids.

I suppose that might not be the case, but I thought that was what was meant.

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Sourire July 20, 2013 at 5:34 pm

Commute time may also be a factor. If the kids needed to be somewhere at 4:15 and your work day ends at 4, that works just fine for telecommuting, but not at all when you have a commute.

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Julie July 21, 2013 at 12:22 am

Also, some jobs are OK with having work interspersed with personal errands, as long as you get your work done and/or put in the right number of hours. I work from home quite a bit, and sometimes I need to be available by phone, IM, teleconference, etc. at particular times, and sometimes I don’t, so I plan my days accordingly.

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periwinkle July 20, 2013 at 10:45 am

#1: This Dilbert strip immediately comes to mind:
http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/1994-11-27/

I do love how the office manager would “try” to find you another space. And the alternative would be what? A desk on wheels? That could be awesome, though, especially if you motorize it to cruise the corridors. We won’t judge you if you “accidentally” run over the office manager’s foot on occasion.

#4: Send a polite e-mail next week to express your continued interest in the position, and move on with your job search. If the hiring manager is still interested and contacts you to reschedule, terrific. If not, you’re already working on the next application/networking opportunity/etc. Easier said than done, I know, but it gets easier with practice.

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Chinook July 20, 2013 at 3:00 pm

#1 I think you need to follow up with your manager to find out who has the authority to assign offices/desks, if she is aware you are being moved and if she knows where your new office is. Don’t be surprised if a third party, like an office manager or facilities management. This is literally a turf war because your manager realizes how hard it is to reclaim lost office space and may not care that the other manager currently has to double up their staff. For the sake of sanity, try to stay neutral and not take any moves personally.

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Jessa July 20, 2013 at 7:08 pm

I agree, right now the best thing to do is toss this at your manager, with a “other person lead me to believe you were on board with me moving, as this is not so, I’m staying put til you let me know what’s up. Please follow up with me on this, because I seriously feel in the middle of this and I know it’s totally not your fault at all. ”

Because seriously your boss is responsible for YOU. If you’re to move, it’s really on your boss to tell you this. Turf wars need to happen above your paygrade. And you need to NOT be put in the position of moving and then being against your boss because you were tricked by someone else. I would totally back off this and let them fight it off.

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Julie July 21, 2013 at 12:25 am

For various reasons, I’ve been working from home for a couple of months. Just prior to the start of that period, I had to move my desk to the room next door, and the people in that room weren’t thrilled that I was taking up the last vacant spot. I hope my stuff is still there when I go in on Tuesday… :)

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NotMakingMyselfTooComfortable July 21, 2013 at 12:59 am

It’s funny you mention above my paygrade, because I’ve been told to use that exact line in the past when I get into certain conflicts, usually with insurance companies (I get a lot of authorizations, and the process can be contentious).

Ultimately, I’ve decided that I’m not going to say no to requests – even from people outside my departmental hierarchy – just because I realized at some point that I sleep better at night that way.

I don’t really know who is higher up on the organizational chart, or if that really even matters in this case.

But I feel like my first loyalty has to be to my direct boss. If he’s calling the plays then I want to do my part.

Just as an aside, I’ve noticed that people at my workplace like to give you bad news at the very end of the day. Is that a pretty well known management tactic?

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jesicka309 July 21, 2013 at 1:16 am

I’ve heard it is – if they think you might get angry/emotional over the issue, they wait until the end of the day so you can go home and be frustrated, instead of sitting at work fuming for the next 9 hours.
When I was rejected for an internal transfer, I got told at 4.45 – only 45 minutes to hold in my emotions before I went home to rage it out. If I’d found out at 8.45 am…that’s 9 hours of me simmering on the verge of tears. I’m not productive, and I’m peeved that I have to sit in my desk like a chump all day.

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JustCallMeVic July 20, 2013 at 1:12 pm

#2, I think it’s partly the fault of the OP. With those questions, I always answered with, “Well that is a similar situation that I faced when…” and “In my previous role, I addressed that type of issue by…” Always discuss how prior experience relates to the desired role. Don’t wait for the interviewer to come right out with those questions. My two cents for the day!

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Anonymous July 20, 2013 at 2:57 pm

I agree. It sounds like OP thought because the interviewer asked “how would you do…” she just answered “I would…” rather than “I did…”

You can always answer those questions by referencing similar situations you’ve encountered and explained how you handled these in the past.

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PuppyKat July 20, 2013 at 4:13 pm

I was just about to leave the same type of comment.

Once or twice over the years I’ve also answered with something along the lines of, “Here’s what I did in that situation, but now I might handle it this way instead.”

Good luck on your next interview!

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Julie July 21, 2013 at 12:28 am

I agree. Sometimes you have to figure out how to tell the interviewer what you want her to know, even if she doesn’t ask you the right questions. Having interviewed people myself, I can tell you that many interviewers (myself included, unfortunately) don’t know how to interview. I’ve learned a lot from AAM, but back then, I made a lot of mistakes and ignored a lot of “red flags” that I shouldn’t have.

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Anonymous July 20, 2013 at 2:04 pm

#1 I work in academia and turf wars like this are common, and the reasons why I think also apply to OP#1 situation. I think it’s because since there isn’t well defined goals, with objective measures of success, resources get allocated to who appears to “need” it more, with need being subjective. Also the upper admin wants to appear to treat all departments equally, when in fact they don’t and can’t because departments have different needs, while in business departments get treated in relation to the value they add to the company. I’ve seen people threaten to leave, just to get more space, which often works (and I also wonder if that’s another factor in this case). OP#1 should ask if they need that office to work efficiently, and if they do then they need to push back and communicate why they need the office, so the office manager and their manager can better decide who “needs” the office more.

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NotMakingMyselfTooComfortable July 21, 2013 at 12:21 am

There’s definitely an element of territoriality going on here.

I feel like I need to be gracious and accommodating, but I also feel like I need to demonstrate my willingness to get in the trenches and and fight for scarce resources on behalf of my department.

Unfortunately, that’s definitely not my strong suit.

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Construction HR July 20, 2013 at 4:37 pm

#5. Your boss didn’t want to be bothered with getting you a locker; lied about availability and others having been there longer; and you inadvertently caught her in the lie. She’s about to make your life miserable, find another job.

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Ask a Manager July 20, 2013 at 4:51 pm

Whoa, those are some pretty major assumptions that I don’t see grounds for in the note!

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Construction HR July 20, 2013 at 5:05 pm

Indeed.

Just seeing who’s here :-D

But, based on my assumptions, it is a possibility. We do see all kinds of bad managing here.

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Jessa July 20, 2013 at 7:09 pm

Yeh, I agree with Alison. I think the OP needed to ask the boss “look how do you get a locker, I need one because of X. If there’s a list, I need to get on it. If it’s first come first served, can we look at that because maybe it needs to be by need? As some people have access to desks or other things and I do not?” But end running the boss, not so good, unless you are absolutely sure that whatever the actual procedure for getting lockers is being ignored.

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tcookson July 20, 2013 at 4:59 pm

I don’t think so . . . His boss told him that there were others in line ahead of him for a locker, and then she caught him trying to jump the line in a sneaky way. She was justifiably annoyed, but I don’t see any sign that she is going to declare war on him.

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tcookson July 20, 2013 at 5:01 pm

BTW, my “I don’t think so” is in response to Construction HR, not AAM.

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Vicki July 21, 2013 at 3:48 am

No. The OP wrote “[there are] associates who have worked longer than me who do not have lockers themselves.” That doesn’t mean they can’t get lockers. That doesn’t mean they are in line. It doesn’t mean anything more than “they’ve worked there longer” and “they do not have lockers”.

The OP can then ask if there’s a list, what the procedure is, etc.

I read the manager’s response as a brush off. Apparently, the OP did too. There needs to be more conversation than Q: “Can I get a locker” A: Other people don’t have one either.

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SCW July 21, 2013 at 4:21 pm

I don’t know–if I had an employee who’d I’d said no to about something like this, who went around me to try and get a yes from someone else I’d be really annoyed. I was an assistant manager, and people would ask me for things after they’d already gotten a no from the manager, but wouldn’t tell me that. I always felt it was like kids who go to Dad when Mom says no. It would be one thing if I said no and they went and looked into the lockers and found an empty one and came to me and said–I think this one is vacant, what can we do so I can use it?

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Not So NewReader July 20, 2013 at 7:04 pm

For OP 1, my golden rule is to defer to my boss. So exactly as you did, I would have redirected the question to my boss.

The problem is that these types of situations just pop up. I found I had to have the presence of mind to NOT compulsively solve every little thing thrown at me. The first thing I do is make myself answer this question “Do I have the authority to decide here?”

Some questions such as your example are very unsettling- so that means an automatic “Gee, let’s check with the boss.” That way my bias is removed from the conversation. (NO, you can’t have MY space, it has taken me weeks to set up and I am still not done!) I am less apt to look foolish, if the boss handles this matter.

There are times where a boss might say “Anyone who asks you for X, you must tell them NO.” Those are the few times that I give a direct and immediate “no” to something that is not my decision.

OP 5. Just tell the boss that you thought your request was adding additional work to her workload. You never realized it could be construed as “going around her.” You thought you were taking responsibility. Now you realize that you need to ask her about a plan before you go ahead and do it.
Bonus points if you start this conversation and do not wait for her to open the subject. A good boss will realize this issue is over, once you have said this.

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TheBurg July 20, 2013 at 9:09 pm

#5 -
Okay, am I understanding this letter way different from everyone else? It sounds to me like the manager simply said that OP hadn’t been there as long as other people who also didn’t have lockers, not necessarily that those people were “ahead of him” in getting a locker. To me it sounds like nobody has lockers, which in my mind means that the OP was simply trying to find out if he could get a locker for himself, not that he was jumping ahead of others in line or going over the manager’s head. Or am I totally misreading this?

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Construction HR July 20, 2013 at 9:39 pm

I think it’s illegal for him to be denied having a locker.

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Vicki July 21, 2013 at 3:50 am

New people may not understand that this is an inside joke…

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Construction HR July 21, 2013 at 8:22 am

That’s why they should read every post w/comments when they find this site. I should also be illegal for anyone to ask AAM a question without first reading all posts, answers, & comments. ;)

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Vicki July 21, 2013 at 3:49 am

That’s how I read it too.

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Vicki July 21, 2013 at 3:50 am

reply to The Burg.

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lejeune July 20, 2013 at 9:35 pm

Hi everyone! I’m the OP from #2!

Thanks to AMA and other posters for their perspectives.

I completely acknowledge that the onus was on me at the interview to demonstrate whether I had relevant (and sufficient) experience, and again, it could completely be the case where I still don’t have enough experience, based on their assessment.

So, my learning curve from this was being more proactive and assertive in talking about my experience. (I was a lot more nervous at the interview than I thought I’d be, I think that also contributed to it).

I guess, my follow up question is, if I do choose to reapply, how should I go about it? The position is still unfilled, and apparently I’d made a good impression at the interview… But making a lasting second impression, to talk about why I would, this time, be qualified for the position?

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Not So NewReader July 21, 2013 at 12:03 pm

Do you accurately remember some of the “what if” questions that were tossed out at you?
There are probably clues in those questions as to the specifics of what they are looking for.
Hold those questions up next to your resume. If it’s not obvious that you encounter situation X while working at job W then that is something that you can write about.

I have applied for jobs that I thought I would really love and be good at. If you feel strongly this way- let that feeling help you to build enthusiasm and write your cover letter for you. Maybe you left some relevant accomplishments/learning off of your resume, so you can add that in, too.
In short go in for a closer look- what is missing that they need to know about you?

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QualityControlFreak July 21, 2013 at 1:31 pm

These are some really good suggestions.

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Long time reader, first time poster July 21, 2013 at 1:29 pm

I agree with the answer to #6, but I had an annoying experience with this in an interview recently (I graduated from college in December and most of my work has been unpaid) where the interviewer (who would have been my boss’s boss) asked me what positions of mine were “paid and unpaid” (some of them, such as being a board member of a small-ish organization, are obviously unpaid) To me, work is work whether paid or not, but many people seem to think that it isn’t “real” work unless you were financially compensated for it. It’s something I’ve had to struggle a bit with in the job search.

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Ask a Manager July 21, 2013 at 1:35 pm

I do think there’s usually a difference in terms of the level of accountability. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t qualify as real work, but it’s understandable that the two are generally viewed a bit differently.

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Susan July 22, 2013 at 1:37 pm

#1 Turf War — am I the only one thinking of Sheldon Cooper’s parking space?

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