It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. Changing into workout clothes at the office
I’ve been working here for 10+ years, but recently started going to a local yoga studio. The studio has inadequate changing facilities for the after-work classes, and my workplace is generally relaxed about health/fitness (for example, my boss sometimes jogs during lunch, so he leaves the building in jogging clothes and comes back gross; we have showers though!).
Normally I would just follow my boss’s example and think it’s fine, but yoga clothing tends to be tight and I’m obese (over 200 lbs at 5’3″). Is showing my fat as I walk to my car (CLEARLY dressed for a workout) unprofessional?
If others are doing it, especially your boss, I’d say it’s fine. I’m not going to pretend that there isn’t sometimes a double standard where things that are okay on one body type are suddenly considered objectionable on another body type, because I know that happens. But we’re talking about workout clothes while you’re on your way out of the office at night, in an office where there’s already been a precedent set — so I think it’ll be fine.
2. My interviewer was trying to figure out my age
This week during an interivew at a well-known, privately held biopharma company, the hiring manager asked me, “When did you graduate from college?”
I thought this was odd and could indicate he was trying to find out my age (I’m in my 50s but look much younger). I danced around the question without actually answering it. But he would not let it go and kept asking it more directly (“How long and where did you work after college?” and “In what year did you graduate?”). My resume indicates only the last 10 years of experience which is directly related to this job.
What is the best way to avoid answering a potentially illegal question around age, race, sexual orientation, whatever? Should you call them on it or dance around it? Thirty minutes into the interview (shortly after asking me the loaded collge questions), he abruptly ended the interview saying he didn’t want to waste my time. I’m not sorry because I would not have taken this job given the hiring manager’s interview tactics.
I would have asked this guy directly, “Why do you ask?” You want to say it in a friendly way, not adversarially, but being direct about it might have gotten him off that line of questioning (or not, depending on how shameless he was). In other cases where you’re being asked about things like age, marital status, parenthood, religion, or so forth, sometimes you can figure out what they’re really getting at and answer that instead of the direct question. (For instance, if you think they’re concerned that parenthood will get in the way of your job performance, you could say something like, “There’s nothing that would interfere with my ability to work the hours needed and get the job done.”)
By the way, despite widespread belief to the contrary, asking the question itself isn’t illegal — but basing a hiring decision on your answer would be, which is why smart employer don’t ask this kind of thing.
3. Asking to interview by Skype instead of in-person
I recently went to Austin for an interview. I want to find a job there before relocating, because it would be easier, financially speaking. Please give me tips on how to ask for interviews via Skype, because last trip was extremely expensive.
I’m a big believer that people should do phone interviews before ever traveling from out-of-town for an interview, because so often a phone interview will reveal that it’s not a match and will save the time and expense of traveling. I think employers should be phone-interviewing everyone before in-person interviews, but it’s especially crucial for non-local candidates.
That said, it sounds like you want to only interview by Skype. Some employers may agree to that, but others aren’t going to — they’re going to want to interview you in person, at least at some point in the hiring process. Plus, even among those who agree, it may put you at a disadvantage; most people don’t build the same rapport over Skype that they will in person.
The reality is, you’re already at a disadvantage for most jobs since you’re not local (unless you’re pretty senior or in an extremely in-demand field). I wouldn’t give yourself more obstacles. This is part of searching for a job long-distance; you generally need to make it as easy as possible on employers or risk getting written off in favor of local candidates.
4. My manager and my manager’s boss are married
I just recently had a change in management, and I’ve been having a hard time adjusting to my new director. My SVP (director’s boss) informed me that she is always available to talk to if needed, but I recently found out that my SVP and director are married! I didn’t see any policy against it in our company handbook, but is there a standard protocol for working with coworkers who are married to one another? I don’t really feel comfortable going to either of them now that I know they’re married to one another.
It’s up to the company to decide if they want to allow this or not — but it’s really, really bad practice to let someone manage someone who they’re married to, for all the reasons I talk about here. And yeah, of course you wouldn’t feel comfortable going to your manager’s boss about issues with your manager since they’re married — you wouldn’t be able to assume it would handled impartially or even confidentially. It’s weird that your company allowed it.
5. Cancer follow-up appointments when starting a new job
I am a Stage 4 colon cancer survivor and my disease is stable. I look and feel healthy and even work out at the gym most mornings before work. My current employer has been incredibly supportive and understanding when it comes to doctor appointments, as I was diagnosed while in this job.
I just landed my dream job and start a week from today. I made no mention of my health situation during the interview process, but am concerned about how to handle upcoming doctor appointments. I’m seen by my oncologist every 3 months, and my next appointment is scheduled for less than 2 months into my new job. Where possible, I can try to schedule my appointments very early so there won’t be a conflict, but that won’t always be doable, including this next appointment. How do I handle this without raising concerns with my new employer?
A medical appointment every three months is so infrequent that it’s unlikely to even come up as an issue — you can just leave it at “I have a medical appointment on Tuesday so may be a little late” and that will be that. No one is likely to even blink. But if the appointments were much more frequent, you’d just say something like, “I have a doctor’s appointment every two weeks — is there a day of the week that’s better for me to schedule them on, or a day that I should definitely make sure they’re not scheduled for?” (This is basically what people do for any kind of standing medical appointment — therapy, allergy shots, physical therapy, or whatever. There’s no need to give details about what it’s for!)