It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. My coworker misuses words and it’s affecting how she’s seen
I co-manage a small group of seven employees within a large organization. On a personal level, I really like my co-manager and we talk outside of work quite a bit. We have always managed as a team, and I really like that. However, her grasp on speaking well is, well, almost non-existent. Instead of using “mostly,” she will say “morely.” Instead of “best,” it’s “bestly.” I think you can get the picture – she just makes up words, and then repeats them constantly. She says these things when speaking to executives, customers, suppliers, and when interviewing people. She’s really not dumb, but I think she sounds incredibly stupid when speaking to people. I brought up the “morely” thing once, and her response was something about her family being from the south. No matter where her family is from, it’s not a word. Also, she herself is not from the south. I want to help her not sound so stupid, but I also don’t want to offend. Any suggestions?
It’s probably not your place, and it sounds like she wasn’t very receptive when you did try to bring it up. Really, this is something that her manager should be addressing.
That said, if you have a good rapport, I could see trying one more time and saying something like, “Could I give you some input on something that I’ve noticed that I think might be affecting the way you’re perceived by colleagues? I’ve noticed that you’ll sometimes use words in a non-standard way, like saying ‘bestly’ rather than ‘best’ and “morely’ rather than ‘mostly.’ I know that you do great work and that you’re smart and accomplished, but I worry that misusing words like that will impact the way people who don’t know you as well will see you.” But again, you should only do this if you have a really good rapport and you think that you’re someone she’s open to hearing feedback from.
And if that doesn’t work, then I think you need to drop it and let her manager handle it (or not handle it, which might be the case).
2. What should I keep when a hiring process is over?
I’m a new manager and will be hiring to fill a few positions soon. Should I keep any notes I take during the interview process? I know to ask open-ended questions, to make sure I ask all candidates the same questions, and to steer clear of race, religion, etc. But I don’t know what I should keep or how to document to justify who was hired and why. We don’t have a very strong HR department, so I want to make sure I do the right thing.
Federal law requires employers to keep job applications and hiring-related noted on file for one year from the date the application was received, and for two years for applicants who you’re aware are 40 or older (which means it’s easier to just keep them all for two years, rather than having separate rules for some). The purpose of these laws isn’t to require you to do anything with them after your initial review; rather, the point is because if you’re sued under one of these law, the applications may be looked at as part of the legal action. You don’t need to keep written justifications of who was hired, although you certainly could if you wanted to (and risk-averse lawyers would love you for it).
Also! You’re right that you shouldn’t be talking about race, religion, etc. in interviews, but you’re absolutely not required to only ask open-ended questions or ask all candidates the same questions. If you restrict yourself to asking everyone the same questions, you’ll really hamstring your ability to interview effectively. You might have some core questions that you ask everyone, of course, but you should also be asking follow-up questions that you won’t be able to predict ahead of time, as well as questions specific to each candidate’s experience.
3. Tech problems interfered with my performance on a hiring test
I’m in the process of interviewing for an attorney position with a technology company. I have undergone two interviews so far and recently completed a one-hour timed writing assignment that consisted of responding to a request the company received. While drafting my response, I encountered some technical issues. I had zero to very slow internet connectivity and my computer froze. My work product was therefore not as good as I am capable of — even considering the time pressure restriction. While the gist of it was decent, it had several typos I would have corrected had I had a few minutes — minutes wasted dealing with the internet connection and my frozen computer.
I considered explaining my situation to HR and asking if there was an opportunity to complete another assignment, but I’ve decided that since I didn’t royally mess up, it would work more to my disadvantage to be perceived as making excuses. However, I can’t help but be really, really disappointed. Do you agree that I shouldn’t contact HR?
Ideally you would have said something at the time you were submitted it, like “I had some technology issues while drafted this — my computer froze and cut down on the amount of time I had to edit this once writing it. I’d be glad to provide more polished writing samples too if you’d like!” But I agree that doing it after the fact won’t come off as well. I think at this point, assuming it’s no longer the day of the test, you need to let it lie.
4. Should a working lunch be unpaid?
I work for a CPA firm, and we have to fill out time sheets to see billable time and what client it is for. There have been issues with the time sheet in general before, but not quite like this. We had a Lunch & Learn added to our calendars. It was never said or understood if it was optional or what exactly it was about. The speaker was with a life insurance company, so we thought it had something to do with the company offering some life insurance opportunity for us.
The day before the talk, we received an email stating that since they would be providing lunch, this was to count as our lunch time. We are already at 45 hours minimum. So many of us are taking short lunches and coming in early to be able to leave at the same time. When we got to the Lunch & Learn, we were all surprised that it was one of our partners talking (the other guy had something come up, apparently) and they gave us a rundown of some services we offer in another branch of our company and how to spot people who might be potential clients and how to give them the information if presented with an opportunity. I am salaried, but not all of the people in the room were, so we were told to count that hour as lunch (not get paid) even though we just listened to a presentation about the company. None of us would mind learning about this, but it seemed to be sneaky and rude that it doesn’t count towards our paid company time. Should I file a complaint with the state or does this sound reasonable?
I was with you until you jumped straight to filing a complaint. The first thing you should do is to talk to your employer: “The Lunch & Learn ended up being work time — we listened to a presentation from Fergus on company services and how to generate business. I’m assuming that since it changed to this, we should mark it as work time, right?” And if you get push-back: “I think we’d run afoul of the law for non-exempt employees, since it was so clearly work-related.”
If that doesn’t change anything, then the non-exempt employees at the lunch could indeed talk with your state department of labor if they want to. (In reality, it might not make sense to do that if only a single hour is at issue. But it’s their prerogative either way.)
5. Employer keeps saying a job offer is coming, but it hasn’t shown up
I got a verbal job offer right before the holidays. It’s been three weeks now and I have yet to get an official job offer. I’ve spoken to the HR coordinator several times on the phone and he has insisted that my letter would be coming three different occasions. I feel as though it is too abrasive for me to contact them again. He has assured me I am the final candidate and that I am not being strung along.
What in the world could be taking so long? They have already gone through my references, background check (I’m assuming)… I’m at my wits end and finally stopped applying for other jobs since I got a verbal offer!
Well, it could be lots of things — decision-makers out of town, higher priorities that need to be dealt with first, possible budget issues or the question of a looming reorg, someone else leaving and throwing their staffing plans into question … all sort of things, and it’s impossible to know from the outside. The thing you can know from the outside if that you don’t have a job offer yet, regardless of what promises they’re making you. Hopefully it will come through, but it’s very possible that it won’t, and the worst thing that you can do is to count on it as a sure thing. Instead, protect yourself by proceeding as if there’s no offer yet — because there isn’t.
If you still haven’t heard anything in another week or two, it’s reasonable to check back in (this time, specifically ask what timeline you should expect), but meanwhile, keep job searching.