managing a heavy breather, rejected for getting frustrated with HR, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Let’s revisit sending chocolate to an employer

I’m a recruiter in Chicago with about 10 years of experience. I started in financial and legal, and now all advertising agency searches.

I had a lawyer candidate who was placed in a temp position. After the project ended successfully, the recruiter at a big search firm did not return his calls. I suggested that since a Fannie Mae Candy shop was between him and the recruiter, that he stop in and buy a small box, attach his card and a thank-you note, and drop it off at the recruiter’s office. When he got home there was a voicemail and a new assignment from the recruiter.

So in the right situation, chocolate works! (Said the guy whose mother won a national baking contest.) Your thoughts?

It’s not that gimmicks like sending candy to an employer never work, ever. On rare occasions, they might. But the issue is that for every hiring manager or recruiter who’s receptive to that kind of thing, there are hundreds more (if not thousands) who are totally turned off. It also means that you’re screening for managers or colleagues who reward the wrong thing, and screening out people don’t make work decisions based on chocolate.

You could also find a handful of people out there who also would hire someone because they received a nude photo, or a stuffed unicorn, or a delightful prank phone call from the candidate. That doesn’t make those smart things to do.

However, in the case you described, it sounds like it was more of a thank-you after an assignment. That’s different than sending a gift to someone who you’re interviewing with. I still don’t like it — and I don’t think that you as a recruiter should be recommending it to people — but it’s different than the “send chocolate to a hiring manager” advice that keeps floating around out there.

2. How to give feedback to a heavy breather

I have one member of staff who I have just started to manage remotely. Her standard of work is good. There’s just one problem and I don’t know if a) if I am being unreasonable and b) how to approach it (if I should!). The problem is that whenever I am on the phone to this person, I can hear her breathing really, really heavily. A few times I’ve actually lost concentration on what we’re talking about as it is so loud and wet and snuffly. I am pretty sensitive to sounds anyway, but I can’t be the only one to have noticed and this person is customer-facing. Honestly, if it was an incoming call I’d assume it was one of Those Inappropriate Late Night Calls all callcentre workers will be familiar with. SO. SO. SO. LOUD.

I’ve never had this issue before so I really don’t think I’m being crazy. If I was just oversensitive surely I would have experienced this with other people in the last 20 years? But… am I being crazy? Is this something I can really raise with her – and if so, how?

If she weren’t talking to customers, I’d say you should let it go. But since her position is customer-facing and heavily phone-based*, I think you could say: “This is a strange thing, but for some reason, the phone you’re using picks up your breathing really loudly. It might be that the phone just needs to be further from your mouth. Would you experiment with that, since I imagine it could be distracting for customers?”

That might take care of it. If it doesn’t, you’ll have to decide how much of an issue you want to make of it. Also, be aware that if she tells you it’s linked to a medical condition, you probably need to accommodate it. But there’s a decent chance that she’s just a heavy phone breather; they exist, and pointing it out can sometimes help.

* Wait, is her job phone-based? I just assumed that but don’t actually know. If it’s not and you’re just worried about her doing this in person, I’d worry less. It’s usually more distracting on phone calls than in-person.

3. HR rejected my friend for getting frustrated with them

A friend of mine with a superior resume that includes a top business school, work experience, and volunteer work and athletics, applied to a large Atlanta television company as a senior analyst. He jumped through hoops for them with video interviews and finally was flown to NYC to meet with the top people on the team, and he interviewed all day. He was told told by them to be careful of the HR department in Atlanta, since they were slow and can be a bit incompetent at times. They were very interested, and the HR director called and told him everyone is very excited about him and she needed him to complete another online application. He did this, and missed a section that needed him to list the last seven years of employment and employers.

At this point, she needed to reset the application so he could fix his mistake. He witnessed emails between HR people condescending to each other. After four days of calling and emailing them to reset this application, which they could have easily copied his resume and pasted into to the section, he got a call from the same woman who was once saying he was great only to get attitude from her for not completing the application correctly and not being patient for her to reset it. He became frustrated and said he would prefer to end the phone call since it was not getting them anywhere and the application was not reset. (He also had a large NYC bank waiting for an answer all week to accept a position with them.) He chose to wait for the the television company since the interviewing was going so well and he wanted to work in a different industry.

She agreed to end the call and the next day he got an email that stated, “Based on the way we ended our conversation yesterday we have decided to move on with other candidates. Thank you and feel free to call me with any questions. Regards.”

My question, when this person will not return a call of his, how does he proceed? She was obviously offended that he was calling each day to help move things along. He is from Boston and a fast talking northeastern person. She speaks much slower I am told and took offense to his fast speaking. He had been asked to repeat things several times.

Well, getting frustrated with her and saying he wanted to end the call because it wasn’t getting anywhere wasn’t the smartest move, warranted or not. I don’t think I’d choose to continue on with a candidate who did that either. If a candidate can’t roll with the punches and be reasonably patient and pleasant during the relatively limited contact of a hiring process (especially when it all stemmed from needing to fix a mistake on his end), I wouldn’t be all that interested in hiring them.

The only possible saving grace here is that the NYC people warned him about HR, which might mean that they’d go to bat to reverse the decision. He could try reaching out to his contact there and saying something like, “Jane Smith in HR let me know that she won’t be moving me forward in the process. I really enjoyed our conversations and would love to stay in touch.” (Note: That deliberately isn’t giving them the whole saga or asking them to reverse it; it’s just letting them know in case they didn’t and in case they want to get more involved. They may or may not. They also may already know, and have been the ones to make the decision.)

But it sounds like his attitude may have been an understandable deal-breaker here. (Also, keep in mind that you’re getting all this second-hand and don’t know exactly what he said or what his tone was like.)

4. Is this outfit sufficiently “business casual”?

I have a very simple question that I’ve searched your site for and can’t seem to find the answer! I have an interview Wednesday for a job I am very excited about. I am working with a recruiter and the hiring manager said the dress code for the interview was business casual. I’ve never heard this before!

Currently, I am leaning towards a dress that looks like a pencil skirt / short sleeved turtleneck shirt (black top, dark grey skirt) with a suit jacket but I’m a little worried I’ll be overdressed. (It looks somewhat like this but isn’t sleeveless or as form fitting.) Is this too professional?

What would you wear to an interview that has a “business casual” dress code?

Yep, I think that’s too solidly on the “business” side of “business casual. If they’re telling you business casual, you really want to listen to that. Pants and a nice top (no blazer) would be the way I’d go.

5. Should I message this recruiter on LinkedIn?

I recently applied for a dream job at a dream organization that I am confident I would be great at (but it’s a high profile job and will receive tons of applications…). Two days later, the person in charge of recruiting the position added me on Linked In. Of course I accepted them. Should I send them a small message on LinkedIn? Something along the lines of “Thank you for connecting with me, looking forward to any possible future steps in the recruitment process at your organization!”

Does not matter either way, seriously. I wouldn’t, simply because “fluff” messages like that are annoying, but it won’t hurt if you do (but it also won’t help).

{ 405 comments… read them below }

  1. BadPlanning

    OP#2 made me think of when we have a heavy breather on a conference call, someone usually comments something along the lines of, “Hey Darth Vader, go on mute.” Not helpful for the OP, I know.

    You could generalize it, “I’m getting a lot of extra noise, maybe your mike is too close.”

    1. Cautionary tail

      OP #2, I’m a heavy phone breather. I do two things: (1) use mute when I’m not talking, and (2) when I use a headset I rotate the mouth piece away from my mouth so my breath isn’t rushing across the little screen at the end of the tube. Good luck.

    2. Elysian

      If the person in #2 is using a computer for calls (which I am assuming she is, since this sounds like a call center?), the mic might be set up to be too sensitive. I play a lot of video games that use a headset, and that happens all the time to people I play with. If I can hear someone else breathing, usually the answer is that their mic is set too high. This is a pretty easy fix in the Windows “microphone settings” menu.

      1. Marty Gentillon

        Alternately, the problem is that they have their microphone in front of their mouth and are breathing into it. If you do this, then it will pick up the air flow. The right position for the microphone is below your mouth, and perhaps off to the side, near your chin. That way, you speak over it rather than breathing into it.

        1. Mal

          Hey, #2 OP here! Thanks for replying – this lady doesn’t use a VOIP phone, just a standard headset, but perhaps where she is working is too noisy and she has turned up the volume too far? Definitely didn’t consider tech issues so thank you!

          1. Marty Gentillon

            Even with a standard headset position can matter. Also, many standard phones support headsets, Do you might be able to help the issue with one of those.

    3. AnotherAlison

      This got me wondering about my cube neighbor, who is a heavy breather. I wonder if it is amplified when she’s on the phone? I’ve never heard anything like it before. She’s a very petite female, but I think it’s allergies or something.

      1. Stranger than fiction

        The comments about technology being the culprit are interesting, I hadn’t thought of that. Your comment about a petite female with allergies though, got me thinking about medications in general. I’ve known a couple people, also petite females, that take pain medications regularly (narcotics) and they tend to also breathe heavy, I’ve noticed in person. So if it’s not technology, it could definitely be something medical in nature and/or side effects of medication.

      2. Lanya (aka Camp Director Kim)

        *raises hand* I am the petite female with really bad allergies year-round. I normally can’t breathe through my nose even on a good day. I have to consciously remember to manage my breathing on the phone. (Hard to remember on an especially long/boring call.) I try to use speaker function when I can, but it’s tough in an open office environment.

        Heavy breathers generally know who they are, and a gentle nudge like “someone sounds like they are too close to the phone” will be enough to get the person to realize they are breathing too hard while helping them save face.

        1. MsChanandlerBong

          I used to have such bad allergies that I could barely talk on the phone. I’d have to talk REALLY fast so I could finish my sentence before my postnasal drip kicked in. I also couldn’t breathe properly, so I’d have to mute the phone and take big gulps of air while the other person was talking.

      3. Ad Astra

        That’s an interesting question because my husband is a ridiculously loud breather but I never have noticed it over the phone.

      4. stellanor

        I have bad allergies and a deviated septum. I never realized how loud I breathed until I was taking cell phone videos and could hear myself wheezing… yikes!

    4. Whawhat

      I’ve got to admit I am surprised that anyone thinks this is a big deal.

      I worked for an org that had headsets and all it takes to become the heavy breather is to have your mike pushed to close. No one ever blinked an eye or hesitate to say “Hey I am hearing some heavy breathing, can everyone check there mikes?”

      Or conversely: “Jane you are pretty quite. Could you turn up your volume or move your mike closer?”

    5. KH

      Press the mute button. Press the mute button any time employee is not talking. Press the mute button and problem is solved. Coach the employee to do this. Easy.

  2. Denise

    I’ve done a lot of temp work and think that rules for working with recruiters are slightly different. With recruiters, you’re kind of competing for their attention amongst many different candidates and assignments. Sometimes you just have to remind them that you still exist, are available and interested. They get paid when they get you work, so the dynamic is a little different. Not that I’d send anyone candy. I just don’t think it’s on the same level of awkward with a recruiter versus an in house hiring manager or HR person.

    1. BuildMeUp

      Yeah, I wouldn’t do it either, but I agree that it comes off a little less weird when it’s someone you already have a relationship with!

    2. Merry and Bright

      Yes, I’ve never sent a temp recruiter chocolate or other gifts, but I agree that the relationship with them is different. You do need to check in with them and let them know you are available. Not OTT, just professional communication.

  3. ancolie

    1 — I’m not totally sure if I’m reading it correctly, but was the recruiter who received the chocolates working at the place where the lawyer candidate temped? If so, I’d say there’s a difference between sending chocolates to a hiring manager where you have just interviewed and sending chocolates to a recruiter where you have just finished a temp assignment.

    I still wouldn’t do it in either case, to be clear! Too much of a chance that it would be seen as brown-nosing at best or an attempt at bribery at worst. But if I had to rank the two, I’d say the situation in 1 (again, if I read it correctly) is (slightly) LESS worse of an idea than the other.

    1. David

      As the recruiter who wrote that, the intent was to have the lawyer candidate both say thank you for the past assignment that was completed successfully and to get the recruiter’s attention since the recruiter was not returning his calls. The search firm he was using is fairly large so getting attention can be challenging. And yes, I see the issues others are worried about, but this was a thank you gesture.

      Not many candidates send thank you notes so the thank you chocolates was a way of standing out in the talent pool. At worst, it was a “Hail Mary pass” to get the recruiter’s attention and for the candidate to show appreciation for the recruiter getting him the assignment. Bottom line: It worked – he got another assignment and lived happily ever after.

      1. ancolie

        Ah, okay! I think your letter is a great reminder that everything is shades of grey, not black and white. :) Most people probably won’t be in a similar situation, but for those who will be, I totally get your reasoning. It … kinda seems a bit related to a vendor-client relationship, in a way.

      2. Green

        Lots of companies have gift policies that would require the present be tossed in the trash in addition to the candidate being dropped from the running. Especially in legal departments.

  4. Manders

    Ooh, #1 is tricky, because I could see this working if the person wasn’t trying to be hired as an employee, but was trying to get business from the law firm in some other way. Law firms do sometimes send and receive chocolates to companies they work with, especially around the holidays. I’m an admin who deals with law firms and I had a few clients who sent chocolates or holiday cards to the office, and it was a nice reminder that there was someone on the other end of the phone. There probably were times that I went the extra mile for those clients when I didn’t have to.

    It’s not appropriate for a potential employee, though–a hiring manager who can be swayed by chocolates is probably not doing a great job evaluating candidates.

    1. Not The Droid You Are Looking For

      I once had to awkwardly refuse a thank you gift from a temp who was finishing an assignment. Our company policy said we could not except those kinds of think you gifts.

      I was pretty confident it was a sincere gesture, because we had been very clear that this was a three-month assignment with no potential to go full time. But I kept thinking, even if I did want to hire you on full-time I would now have to jump through so many hoops to explain why the gift bad nothing to do with it.

    2. Koko

      Vendor holiday gifts are a bit different, I think, than random gifts. There’s more of a traditional convention around sending gifts to your clients in December. My department has several outside vendors and we usually have a designated desk all November-December for the pretzels and cupcakes and chocolates and cheeses and booze that we get on behalf of the vendor’s company. There’s no doubt in my mind these holiday gifts are being paid for by the vendor’s company as a business expense.

      But if any of that showed up in Seotember, from an individual person we’d worked with operating as a free agent and paying out of pocket…I’d find it extremely weird.

    3. Green

      Even vendor gifts we have to place in a break room (if it’s small) and return or throw away if it’s expensive or not something one can share at work (i.e., wine). Many law firm clients (legal departments at companies) have gift policies in line with anti-bribery and corruption policies. The firms just don’t know we throw it away.

      1. David

        Green,
        You’re conflating this:
        It was a Thank You gift, a small box of 4 chocolates.
        Not exactly a bribe.

        There was an existing relationship between recruiter and candidate.
        It happened in 2009, before the Great Recession and all the new rules that it spawned.
        The Chicago office was part of a large, national search firm which may or may not have had gift policies BUT it wasn’t a gift – it was a Thank You.

        And you want to know where the idea came from? One of my candidates sent me a small box of 4 chocolates as a thank you (only it was better chocolate!).

        David

        1. Green

          Most of these policies don’t distinguish between “not exactly a bribe” and a bribe. Gift policies typically include gifts from anyone in a position to benefit from your position at the company regardless of when in the process it occurs (and sometimes/often there’s no de minimus threshhold).

          Anyway, I wouldn’t want someone to place a lawyer in my department whose distinguishing feature was giving chocolate to the person placing them. If you’re a strong candidate, there’s just no need for these kinds of gimmicks.

  5. ancolie

    Oh, and 3 — We only have one side of the story here (and second-hand, at that), but I’m side-eyeing the LW’s friend pretty hard (maybe a bit towards the LW, too). ¬_¬

    I get the feeling that friend and LW are kind of looking down at the Atlanta people and it shows. Most of this is from subtext (some word or phrase choices, what was included and NOT included, stuff like that), so I may be totally off-base here.

    … but MAN! It just sounds like friend and LW think friend is hot shit and the Atlanta station should be thrilled to get someone as amaaazing as him. I also detected a whiff of NYC/NE Corridor superiority (from the NYC employees as well), looking down on a large southern city much like dismissively referring to anything between the coasts as flyover country.*

    It’s late, so my thoughts aren’t coalescing as clearly as I’d like, but does anyone else get this vibe?

    * I loathe that term SO much. ::Sideshow Bob grumble::

    1. Flyover Resident

      I think I picked up on it too. LW’s friend isn’t covering himself in glory on his side of a one sided story. He made a mistake on an app AND he got snippy on the phone. Personally, I’d be mortified if I did either of those in a job seeking situation. Also, I think in most situations, a candidate would raise an eyebrow at being told HR is incompetent in an interview, then raise the other if there was bickering in email. Major red flags of a highly dysfunctional workplace!

      PS: I don’t mind the term “flyover country”. So rarely in life do people give us instant warnings that they aren’t worth our time. Someone who displays such snobbery by using this term does just that. I consider it a huge favor.

        1. Flyover Resident

          Where did I say that it was?

          Badmouthing a different department during an interview process speaks to the culture of a company.
          Seeing an email chain of internal bickering as a candidate speaks to the culture of the company.

          Most people would acknowledge these as red flags. If they are enough to cause one to think twice about working for a company is going to depend on the individual. But instead of recognizing this as unprofessional behavior that is possibly indicative of the company’s culture, LW’s friend seems to use this as evidence to support how he’s been wronged in the situation.

          1. BRR

            I completely agree with you. I’ve had interviewers bad mouth other parts of the company or even department and it was a real turn off. They should be trying to sell you on the work place as well and that’s a lot of negativity to put out there.

          2. Not The Droid You Are Looking For

            I have warned candidates in the past that HR can be slow in responding (24 hours instead of 1-2 hours) due to volume, and then heard back that a rejected candidate was telling people they didn’t get the job because our company’s HR department sucked and “the person I interviewed with even told me.”

            Knowing that the problem that caused this delay was something the candidate did (skipping a section) and that application systems can be a PITA to edit on the background…I just keep wondering if HR is really incompetent?

            1. Ms. Anne Thrope

              But the ‘application’ was filled in *after* the interviewing! They would have all that info already, and if they didn’t, then that’s their fault for having a stupid process.

              1. Not The Droid You Are Looking For

                But as several people have pointed out, resumes might not have the seven year job information the system was requesting and this information is often used for final background checks.

                I appreciate companies that don’t make me fill in all that info just to submit a resume.

                Even if you don’t agree with their process, there is still the fact the candidate skipped a section and then was rude when everyone didn’t immediately jump to fix his mistake.

                1. Lindsay J

                  This.

                  I have a conditional job offer right now that I received after submitting my resume and having a phone interview and the in person interview.

                  After they decided that they wanted me, then I had to fill in the computer based application with my 7 year address history and 5 year job history. And a paper document with 10 years of each (I felt that the computer and the paper were kind of redundant, but the computer one was so they could run a criminal record check quickly, and the paper one got Fedexed back so they could run a full 10 year background check calling references etc). For my position it’s required by law that they do this. I don’t know if it would be required for a news company, but I can see how it might be.

                  But I much preferred filling this all in after I had the conditional offer, vs a lot of other companies where I have to fill all that stuff in in the initial application before anyone ever looks at my qualifications (making it a complete waste of my time when they don’t call me for an interview).

                1. Barney Stinson

                  Agreed. At the bottom of that submission will be a statement saying that the applicant attests that the information is all correct. If HR ‘fills in’ any info for him, that’s a major issue.

              2. Juli G.

                We have you fill out a second application after an offer and get the info we don’t want pre employment – like social security number, birthdate, or if you commited a felony. In fact, our “stupid process” is necessary for compliance purposes.

          3. Stranger than fiction

            Yeah, I got a little of the vibe Ancolie got too. And, normally I would agree that behavior by the company raises red flags, but the Op said it’s Television, so I can imagine it’s a more cutthroat industry where there’s a lot of competition between the stations in different cities.

          1. Mike C.

            I’m countering this idea that since HR was throwing up red flags that the candidate should have left the process on their own anyway and it’s their fault for what happened. As seen here:

            Also, I think in most situations, a candidate would raise an eyebrow at being told HR is incompetent in an interview, then raise the other if there was bickering in email. Major red flags of a highly dysfunctional workplace!

            There are tons of places where HR gets in the way of hiring but doesn’t interfere with the company at large when it comes to day to day operations.

            1. Kate M

              But I think part of the problem is that the people on the team he would be working with (in the NYC location he interviewed at) spoke negatively of HR. Which, to me, is a red flag about the team in this case (as well as maybe HR). Like, who badmouths other people in your company to someone you’re trying to hire? Sure, say that the process is slow, and HR might take a bit of time to get through all the steps. But don’t call them incompetent. That’s a red flag for the company for me.

              1. Anna

                I agree with that being a red flag. But I did wonder how HR has the power to reject a candidate for being a jerk. I can understand them going to the hiring manager and saying “hey, this guy was a jerk” but I was under the impression HR didn’t have the power to override a hiring manager for anything other than failing background or similar.

                1. Ask a Manager Post author

                  They shouldn’t have that power, although sometimes they do. But it’s likely that they talked to the hiring team about it, and the hiring team agreed it was fine to reject the person because of the rudeness.

                2. Mike C.

                  I agree here. I’ve just seen (and recently experienced!) cases where an outside HR group has over-ridden the actual stakeholders.

                3. Green

                  We don’t know what happened here on the backend. There’s a good chance that the HR Manager informed Hiring Manager that Candidate was a jerk to an employee and they agreed to nix the candidate. Being rude to secretaries/assistants/security/HR is problematic in the employment context, but if you can’t manage to be on decent behavior during the INTERVIEW process it’s a complete non-starter at lots of companies. If you have lots of candidates, that’s a good enough reason to take one out of the running.

      1. Mreasy

        I always say “flyover country” affectionately & usually in conversation with Midwestern friends! I also often remind people that most of California is way more like my rural hometown than like LA.

      2. Dr. Johnny Fever

        That’s the other thing that bothered me – why would the NYC people warn LW’s friend about HR? That doesn’t reflect kindly nor make sense. Smells like revisionist history.

        1. Lindsay J

          Yeah, I’m thinking it’s blown out of proportion. I’ve been warned (and warned other people) that waiting for HR to put together an offer can take awhile.

          My most recent job search I even saw it in action. I got told that HR would take awhile. I waited about a week and didn’t hear from them. The hiring manager reached out to me and asked if I had heard from HR yet. I said no, and I guess he got on the phone with them because they called me with my offer about an hour after that.

          But “Hey, HR is kind of backed up right now, so you’re going to have to be patient. It’s going to take awhile to hear from them,” is a lot different than, “HR is mean and incompetent.”

    2. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon

      I don’t know anything about area stereotypes in the US, so I maybe didn’t pick it up, but the “fast speaking” jibe was enough even for me to go ‘woah’. I can understand why OP’s friend was getting jittery, with another offer waiting, but the way to deal with that is to explain to HR that you have another offer which you are considering and understand it’s awkward for them but you’re afraid you need to ask how long this will take. It isn’t to say that they talk too slowly.

      1. Koko

        As someone with family in both the northeast and the southeast I keyed in on this too. It’s true that southerners speak a bit slower and will notice how much faster others talk, and may even need to ask for something to be repeated. But they don’t get offended by it. They know that’s how northerners talk and it’s a lot closer to being something they mock them for behind their backs than it is something that upsets or offends them. (I recall one of my Georgian cousins who teased me mercilessly after I’d been living in the northeast for a few years about how I was “talking just like a Yankee!” He thought it was hilarious that I’d lost some of my southern drawl, not offensive.)

        But what will offend them is if the fast-talker is brash, impatient, and ignoring polite social conventions. Interrupting, talking over, asking rapid-fire questions without waiting to hear the answers. Those things do bother southerners a good deal more than they bother northerners (for whom it’s a fairly standard way of communicating that they may not love but don’t bat an eye at dealing with). OP mentions he was calling “each day.” It’s possible he was just harassing the crap out of them by wanting to move things–not just his speech–much faster than their office culture moves things.

        That OP and/or his friend think that HR didn’t like him merely because he talked fast tells me that he’s doing some uncharitable projecting and/or looking down on southern culture. “Those backwoods yokels couldn’t even keep up with a normal speaking pace and kept making me repeat myself!”

        1. the gold digger

          My grandmother (from Wisconsin) used to tell me (raised abroad on military bases and then in Texas and Memphis most of my adult life) that nobody would want to marry me because I “talked faster than a Philadelphia lawyer.”

          I have never met a Philadelphia lawyer so I don’t know what they sound like.

          1. Krystal

            As a Philadelphia lawyer, I can assure you that we don’t speak any faster than any other Northerner. It’s those New York attorneys you need to watch out for ;)

          2. neverjaunty

            Lawyers are notorious for having too-fast talking as a bad habit, but the Philadelphia thing baffles me (although it’s funny).

        2. Spooky

          Exactly! Speed has nothing to do with it – it’s the attitude that we’re offended by. (And when we’re mad, we can talk just as fast as Yankees.)

        3. Not me

          Am southern, +1.

          But what will offend them is if the fast-talker is brash, impatient, and ignoring polite social conventions. Interrupting, talking over, asking rapid-fire questions without waiting to hear the answers.

          You’re right. Getting to the point quickly is fine; impatience, interruptions, and being too eager to talk to listen comes off as weird and pointlessly aggressive to me.

          1. Dr. Johnny Fever

            I’m a fast-talking Southerner – get me going and I sound like an auctioneer. The trick is to adjust to your audience, not to expect your audience to adjust to you. Fast-talking is my problem, not the other person’s problem.

            1. Not So NewReader

              This. This. I was told to match the person who is talking to me. If the person is slow and deliberative, I need to try to match that pacing. This means using ordinary conversational tone but slow the pacing of my words. And it is just a good life habit to have an awareness of the other person’s pattern of speaking. That awareness has helped me to better see when a person is empathizing, or considering what I am saying. I would have missed those clues if I insisted on using my pacing not theirs. I think OP’s friend missed some clues that cost him in the long run.

          2. T3k

            As a born and raised Southern who has a conflicting personality to most Southerners, I have to constantly find that balance between being polite when I really just want to go “just tell me what you want!!!” I also speak really fast and I remember for years as a kid, teachers and friends alike kept asking me to slow down. I’ve slowed it down some, but if I get really excited, my words take off like a race car once more.

            1. Not So NewReader

              I am chuckling. I had a friend that spoke so fast her words ran together. Usually a fast pace does not bother me, but, man, she talked fast and I was kind of baffled at to what to say to her. Then I hit on, “Can you talk a little faster? I am falling asleep between your words.” She laughed and said “Yeah, I know. Slow down.” Which gave me the opportunity to say, “It’s important to me that I understand what you are telling me.”

        4. Laura

          “But what will offend them is if the fast-talker is brash, impatient, and ignoring polite social conventions. ”

          As someone who just moved from the Northeast (Philly-born, spent the past 2 years in MA) to the South, this has not been my experience. The speed of my speech is taken as an indicator of whether or not I am being polite, regardless of the tone of my words or their content. Conforming to social expectations in the South has been *exhausting* and frustrating.

          1. Lindsay J

            As a New Jersey native that moved to Texas, I didn’t find this to be true at all for me.

            I did have to learn to watch other parts of my speech (and conversation skills) because I definitely came off as too brash at first and I think volume, intonation, how long of a pause I allowed before I jumped in, my tendency to jump in or sometimes even talk over people, etc had a lot to do with that.

            But nobody ever remarked on the speed of my speech (except once in a joking way when I was talking to another person from the Northeast).

            1. Lindsay J

              But yeah, at first it was very frustrating because I knew I was coming off badly but I couldn’t pinpoint why and it was exhausting to try and change something that was at the very core of how I communicate.

              It’s take a few years and I think I’ve adjusted mostly. But I’m pretty sure there’s still a marked difference in the aggressiveness of my communication compared to a native Texan.

        5. anonanonanon

          Interrupting, talking over, asking rapid-fire questions without waiting to hear the answers. Those things do bother southerners a good deal more than they bother northerners (for whom it’s a fairly standard way of communicating that they may not love but don’t bat an eye at dealing with).

          I’m going to have to disagree with this. As a lifelong New England resident, most people I know do not interrupt or talk over other people and find it just as irritating or rude as anyone else would.

          Besides, it’s really hard to generalize language patterns and speech styles for an entire region of people. Not everyone in the Northeast talks quickly and not everyone in the South talks slowly.

      2. Afiendishthingy

        Yeah, it was weird how that regional bias snuck in there. I don’t know that LW intended it this way but it seems to conflate being incom

        1. Mallory Janis Ian

          Yeah, when I first my husband’s family twenty-some years ago, they had all recently moved here from southern California, and they conflated a LOT of negative things with being southern. They would openly express their negative views to the locals and then complain about how the locals were being so rude to them. I’m guessing that everyone they ran with in So Cal held the same views, and they didn’t have the self-awareness to realize that those view wouldn’t be welcomed by the targets thereof?

          Back then, I thought that maybe that was just how Californians speak to each other and that they didn’t consider the same things rude that I did. So when my parents-in-law moved up to a small town in Colorado, I tested them by making a similar remark about it (something fairly innocuous, but that I would have been too polite to say if I weren’t conducting a social experiment). Well, it turns out that they were VERY quick to recognize when *they* had been insulted; they just didn’t think there was anything wrong with their insulting other people. So I quit giving them the benefit of the doubt and started countering their insulting pronouncements about the south whenever I heard them (things like racism doesn’t exist in California, only in the south, etc.).

          1. AvonLady Barksdale

            The most racist comments that have ever been directed at me have been from Southern Californians saying they don’t understand why we “Easterners” care so much about race and background and how that’s offensive because we are all one race, or something like that. I have heard this several times from people who have never met each other. I try very hard not to turn this into a personal stereotype about Southern Californians!

          2. Anna

            I laugh and laugh and laugh at that last sentence. I live in Oregon, the only state to be intentionally marketed back in the day as a whites-only paradise. And you can see the repercussions of that to this day.

            There’s no way to know, but I wonder how much the NYC people’s “warning” about HR colored the friend’s interactions. If you’re warned that HR is incompetent, you are probably more likely to think it’s okay to treat them with contempt. Note to applicants: It is NEVER okay to treat anyone with contempt, no matter what you hear or observe from other people you might work with.

            1. Not So NewReader

              I agree that a seed was planted and it did impact his thinking. We have to watch what others tell us and deliberately decide to take a “wait and see” approach for ourselves.

              I used a wait and see approach with one job years ago. It was a place where everyone maligned everyone. Gosh, it was awful. But my wait and see approach helped and I had a working relationship of some type with most of the people around me. It. was. so. draining. Which leads me to believe that OP’s might have dodged a bullet, this might not have been that great an environment to work in. I am not saying OP’s friend was without error, but I think it might have landed okay overall in spite of the various details of the story.

          3. the gold digger

            things like racism doesn’t exist in California, only in the south, etc.

            Having lived in Memphis, which does have its problems, and now living in a northern city that is one of the worst places for African Americans in the US, I do get tired of the “racist south” refrain. This place is way worse than Memphis ever was. I am always shocked when I go to Memphis and see white people and black people eating in the same restaurants. Doesn’t happen much up here.

            1. Buffay the Vampire Layer

              Very much agreed. I moved to SF about two years ago and am still shocked at how segregated it is here. It’s awful and the worst part is that no one thinks anything of it.

            2. Lindsay J

              Yeah, grew up in New Jersey and it was a lot more – segregated I guess would be the right word – where I grew up compared to where I am now. Like in my high school marching band of 150 people there was one black girl and in our entire school of 2000 people there were maybe a dozen. Our town was overwhelmingly white, and the black kids there were encouraged to “act white” and would likely have been ostracized if the spoke in AAVE or dressed or participated in activities that are culturally non-white. There wasn’t really overt racism that I witnessed up there, but there was a lot of coded language, and a lot of the kind of *wink wink nudge nudge* “You know how those people are,” type of comments where it seemed like people assumed that if you were white you automatically shared their racist as hell viewpoint.

              Down here you have the idiots that fly confederate flags, etc, and of course some terrible things like the Sandra Bland incident. However, a lot of the neighborhoods and schools seem to be a lot more integrated and people in general seem to be a lot more accepting of different cultures without having to whitewash everything. I also haven’t been met with the assumption (by other white people) that since I’m white I must share their racist viewpoint.

          4. non-profit manager

            Having lived all of my life in California, and most of it in Southern California, I can assure you that racism is alive and well in California. In addition to stereotypes, often negative, about other parts of the country. It’s embarrassing, the superior attitude that some Southern California residents have about being Southern California residents. Heck, I am coastal Southern California and there is a very negative stereotype about inland Southern Californians. It’s sad.

    3. MK

      I agree. It’s almost funny that the OP puts emphasis on how very qualified her friend is and how the HR department is known to be incompetent, and then goes on to say the whole problem happened because her friend made a mistake in filling an application. While trying to ascribe the friend’s (at least bordeline, but probably outright) rudeness to cultural differences.

      1. Elysian

        Yeah, I was also confused about how much emphasis there was on the friend’s qualifications – especially friend’s athletics. Is athletics something anyone cares about after you went to a top business school? I know some places really value the firm softball team, but it seemed weird to me that this was even mentioned.

        1. AndersonDarling

          My eyes rolled with the athletics detail. I thought that the LW and the candidate must be fresh out of college to think HR is drooling over their football achievements.
          And if the candidate had a great offer from a bank, why even care if this position fell through. He has another job lined up…unless the bank talked too slow and he cut their conversation short as well.

          1. Three Thousand

            That confused me, because if they are fresh enough out of college to think anyone cares about their college athletics, why would the friend be qualified for a “senior analyst” position? That part didn’t add up for me. Maybe the OP mentioned it because it’s something they personally associate with the friend and not because they would expect the friend to bring it up in an interview or something.

            1. Ad Astra

              I’m wondering exactly what a “senior analyst” does in this context. I would only think athletic achievement is relevant if the job is like a sports analyst, but this doesn’t sound like the typical hiring process for on-air talent. And he had another offer from a bank, so I’m wondering if he’s more along the lines of a financial analyst. Do large TV conglomerates have those? It’s possible OP is just trying to make his friend sound generally impressive, even if some of his accomplishments are irrelevant to the job.

              1. Three Thousand

                Yeah, I’m really missing something here. If he’s a senior-level financial analyst being offered a position at a bank, he has maybe 5-10 years of experience in the financial sector. Unless “senior analyst” means something totally different at this broadcasting company than what it means at most companies, it doesn’t sound like a job someone who’s been working in finance for years is qualified to do.

                Not to mention, once someone has been working in their field for several years, that’s what you say when explaining why they’re qualified for a job in that field, not that they have “work experience” and “athletics.” The most charitable assumption I can make is that the OP isn’t that familiar with their friend’s qualifications for this job and is just stating random positive things they know about the friend’s background.

        2. Bostonian

          I was a little confused by this as well, but I also assumed that a large television company based in Atlanta with an office in NYC (so not a local station) is a particular cable network. I have the vague sense that the company owner also owns the Atlanta Braves baseball team, but I do know for sure that the network broadcast all of the Braves games all over the country when I was a kid (as opposed to only in the local market like what most stations do for most sports teams outside of playoff season). Haven’t paid attention recently so I don’t know if they still do.

          So it’s possible that athletics might have some relevance to either the company culture or the particular job in question.

          1. Dr. Johnny Fever

            I believe you are correct. I think the local split from the national, and the national is based in NYC. They air a lot more than Braves games nowadays.

            Athletics might be relevant there, but at the large bank where he had the other offer?

          2. HRish Dude

            The Braves have not been owned by Turner in 20 years. They’re owned by Liberty Media who owns QVC.

            However, I googled and Turner does indeed have senior broadcasting analyst jobs.

      2. KT

        Agreed-I don’t care you played across, show me what results you can get for a business.

        I find it amusing he’s supposed to be such a rockstar, filled out the application incorrectly, then is aggravated they aren’t moving heaven and earth to accommodate him.

        Reminder to job seekers: you are not benevolently doing a favor for applying to companies. Courtesy is imperative.

      3. Stranger than fiction

        Yeah, it goes to show you the old adage to treat everyone at the company you’re interviewing with respectfully is true. I will give some slight leeway to the Op’s friend in that they had kind of planted a seed in his head, so to speak, that HR was awful, so that may have contributed to his frustration/impatience. But I agree he screwed up and the Op and him seem overconfident in his resume and that all this superfluous stuff shouldn’t matter when it comes to getting a job.

        1. Beebs the Elder

          “Yeah, it goes to show you the old adage to treat everyone at the company you’re interviewing with respectfully is true.”
          So true. It’s more common that I would hope that job-seekers are sweetness and light with me and then are unpleasant to my office peeps or to the HR staff. HR knows that if that happens, they should call and let me know. I revoked a (temporary) job offer last year for just that reason.

      4. HusbandOfPreSchoolTeacher

        That especially stood out to me because televisions is a ridiculously competitive industry. I suspect they had dozens of people with similar super shiny resumes. Otherwise they wouldn’t be interviewing in NYC/Atlanta, they’d be interviewing to do the weather in Altoona.

    4. BRR

      I’m not sure if it’s as much NE superiority as thinking the south has something against the north. I also think it’s trying to place blame and grasping at straws to do it. But there are two sides. Like that it might not be a talking fast thing but a Boston accent thing. And the more obvious calling and emailing repeatedly thing.

      1. BRR

        It sort of reminds me of when my husband called to say he was in a fender bender. Now he doesn’t like to be at fault for something wrong (as we all do). But as he described what happened, trying to make it sound like it was the other driver’s fault, he couldn’t even tell his side of the story to make it sound that way.

      2. Not The Droid You Are Looking For

        I was thinking this as well. The OP’s friend calling and emailing everyday is a huge problem.

    5. Suzanne

      I probably would have gotten a bit snippy, too, and I’m a non-confrontational Midwesterner. After applying and interviewing multiple times in different ways, they want him to fill out ANOTHER application? What the heck? Agree that the guy goofed by missing a section, but by this point, there is no excuse for the company’s HR dept not to have his information. I would have been ticked to have to spend another hour (or two) sitting in front of a computer imparting information that I had already imparted.
      In my experience, even if he thought this would be a great job, if the HR dept is that incompetent, that incompetence will eventually spread around to other parts of the organization, if it hasn’t already. He should just be glad he didn’t get the job.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger

        Yeah, like Flyover Country, I’d be mortified that I screwed up part of the application, but I also think I’d be pretty annoyed at having to enter my information into an online application at that stage in the game. Is it really elitist to say that I was fine with doing that when applying for entry-level jobs? I mean, I still would do it, but I would find it kind of irritating also.

        1. Stranger than fiction

          I’ve always thought having an application on file was mandatory for most jobs, no matter the level, as it also give the company permission to perform the background check. I also didn’t see where it said he had done more than one application, but I’ll go back and read it again.

      2. MK

        So, because the hiring process was too long and bureaucratic, it’s understandable that the candidate messed up a simple application and was rude to the HR department by demanding they correct his own mistake right this minute and then almost hang up on them? No, not really. If he felt he was being made to jump through hoops, he could have withdrawn from the process and taken the other job. And you never get to be snippy when other people are saddled with correcting your own mistakes.

      3. Allison

        I have to agree, that’s super annoying, but I wonder if it wasn’t so much an application as it was a background check form. When I got my first job they ran a background check, and made me e-mail the background checkers with the information of every employer I’d worked for in the last 7 years, and then they e-mailed me for documentation to prove I worked for some of them. I did wonder why they couldn’t just use my resume, but I know some people leave jobs off their resume to keep it relevant.

        1. Suzanne

          A background check application would be a bit different, so if that’s the case, I’d cut the HR people some slack. But it does make one wonder how many good candidates companies lose by having too many hoops to jump through and a ridiculously long application/interview process. The record I’ve heard of is a friend of mine’s daughter who had 8 interviews for a job. Eight. And then was turned down.

          1. Anna

            Normally I would agree, but this is with a pretty BIG media company. Like the kind of media company people really want to work for, so I’m willing to bet most people would understand it was a pretty coveted position and be willing to overlook onerous processes. (That doesn’t excuse onerous processes. Get your ducks in a row, media company.)

          2. Lindsay J

            The process as described didn’t sound too onerous, though.

            Presumably apply by submitting a resume. Do a video interview (or possibly two since I guess it does say interviews. One may have been an initial screening and then one more in depth before the decided to fly him out). Come in and do an in-person interview. Since he was a finalist, he was contacted to fill out an application/background check form.

      4. some1

        They didn’t necessarily have all of his info, though. Not everyone lists all of the jobs they have going back 7 years on their resume.

      5. Elysian

        Because they wanted 7 years of work experience, it sounded to me like the “other application” might actually have been a background check or security clearance or something. So even if the company had it, it was probably something he would need to fill out himself.

        1. INFJ

          I came to the same conclusion. Between the timing and the information asked for, it sounds a lot more like a background check.

      6. AndersonDarling

        My husband just applied for a job where all you did was submit your resume. After the interview, when they knew they wanted him to continue with the process, they sent him the link to the application. It was an intense application, so he was grateful that they didn’t want him to do it up front. I wish everyone would use this method. No reason to waste the time of 100 applicants when 90 of them will be thrown out.

        1. Not the Droid You are Looking For

          ^ This.

          During my last job search I filled out so many online applications that wanted “every single job I have ever had” and my high school’s address and phone number.

          The company I went with asked for a few things pre-offer and then had me fill out the official application to finalize the process (I later learned they send the info from the online application directly to the background company).

          1. Suzanne

            I filled out a few of those apps, too, that want high school info, including my GPA and diploma type. LOL! I graduated high school in 1976! I have no memory of my GPA and there were no diploma types. You either graduated or you didn’t. You have to fill out these fields or the app won’t let you continue. I despise apps that make you fib to move through them. Ridiculous!

            1. Anna

              This is why I’m glad I went to school overseas. Nobody is going to contact a high school on a military base in Europe and nobody is going to lie about it. I just put X Base, Y Country as the address and mentally dare them to contact the Department of Defense to verify.

            2. Not the Droid You are Looking For

              Yes! What the heck is a diploma type?

              Also, does it really matter that I was involved with the Key Club and Madrigals nearly 20 years ago???

              1. Ad Astra

                I’ve heard some high schools offer specific diplomas like International Baccalaureate or maybe something that reflects an arts-based curriculum or something, but it seems to be the exception rather than the rule in the U.S.

                In other countries, I think there’s sometimes a difference in the diplomas given to “academic” track (likely college-bound) students versus “professional” track (likely entering a trade) students.

                1. Anna

                  Probably technical schools with technical training components have different types of diplomas. You’re not only getting your high school requirements out of the way; you’re also learning a trade.

                2. Editor

                  In New York State when I graduated in the 1970s, high school graduates received high school diplomas. If you took all the Regents exams in the courses you were eligible for and passed them (I can’t remember if there was a specific score, but probably), you received a Regents diploma.

                  It was the mark of a more successful, “college-bound” student. So I have two high school diplomas in a nice folder that, when it is opened, has one on the top and the other on the bottom. I don’t know if the state still does that or not.

          2. Lindsay J

            Yeah, in my field it is federally required that you have a 10 year background check done. A lot of companies make you fill out the form at the time of your initial application and I hate it. They’re not going to submit it unless they interview me and want to hire me, so why not wait until at least after the interview to make me fill the darn thing out? I’ve wasted so many hours of my life filling these things out for jobs I never got a call-back for.

      7. RG

        Not necessarily. I mean, you don’t list every single job you’ve had on your resume, just the ones that highlight how great you would be for the position. That’s not the same thing as employment history. My resume for a software developer position is going to include an internship as a web developer. It’s not usually going to include my work study job as a file clerk. So I expect you to know the former, but not the latter.

        1. Lindsay J

          Yeah, I have apparently worked 12 jobs in the last 10 years (one of my main jobs was seasonal so I would pick up temp jobs during the holiday season and I sometimes worked two jobs at once because I was poor). My resume lists 4 of those (the full time ones) that essentially cover the 10 year period by themselves.

      8. Lindsay J

        Every job I’ve had, even if I was hired off of a resume I had to fill out an application at some point to keep my information on file.

        And the 7 years thing does sound like a background check thing to me. I just filled one out the other day after I received a conditional offer for a position and needed to do 7 years of addresses and 5 years of job history. (And then after passing that check I needed to do 10 and 10 years for the final check).

        I could see a news broadcasting company wanting a background check done.

    6. Ani

      Really? I assumed the OP was talking about a prize job at CNN the friend desperately wanted and didn’t read any of what you’re reading in the letter.

    7. Spooky

      YES! That attitude was aaallll over this post. It’s especially funny to me, because OP clearly thinks Southerners are idiots who just can’t keep up, and somehow does realize that it’s not the “fast talking” that Southerners don’t like about Northerners – it’s this exact same attitude. The friend is condescending, overbearing, and insanely pushy. Calling every day? Getting frustrated with them for a mistake YOU made? Stay up north – you’re never going to cut it in the south.

      (sincerely, an Atlanta native now living in New York.)

    8. Just another techie

      I got the same whiffs you did. Story time, my dad got fired from a job on day 3, because he threw a hissy fit about the IT staff not having his computer set up yet. And yes, it’s frustrating to show up for a job and not have a computer and to be told the two IT staffers are both on vacation, but like, he rarely uses a computer at his job? He always has (and had at this job) a private secretary who managed his email and appointments, typed his dictation notes, entered patient data into the electronic medical records for him, etc. At most of his jobs he only uses his computer when his secretary is out sick. And even if he did *need* the computer, saying rude things about how all southerners are morons is pretty messed up. And he had been actively recruited and poached from his previous job. *no one* is hot shit enough to make up for being an abusive jerk to support staff.

      1. Suzanne

        He threw a hissy fit for not having his computer set up when he started? LOL! I haven’t had a computer set up when I started in 4 out of the last 5 jobs I’ve had. A friend of mine didn’t get email access for 6 weeks after starting a new job. So, yeah. Not having a computer up & ready to roll when you start is now the norm.

    9. Hiring Mgr

      I agree with ancolie. I’m from Boston and while it’s true we are better educated, more intelligent, generally superior, etc.. we ALWAYS go out of our way to be kind and polite to those from other places, especially when we are interviewing with them. It’s one of the first things we’re taught and Choate and Exeter

      It’s just common sense…I would move on at this point if I were the LW’s friend

          1. TootsNYC

            ha, ha!! (anecdote is not data, but the 2nd scaredest I have ever been on the road was in Boston. Albert Lea, MN, is the 1st–I seriously thought I was going to die before I got out of town)

    10. happymeal

      Agree x1 million. I especially like that this LW is singing the praises of “their friend.” Top B School! Anyone should hire them immediately because they are the most impressive person I’ve ever known! HR sucks!

      BTW, I don’t think they mean an Atlanta station. I think they mean CNN.

    11. Atlanta Native

      Yeah, so a few things here:
      1) I can see the “large Atlanta television company” from my window right now, and my husband worked there for nearly 10 years.
      2) Their HR department is awful, but completely beside the point, given this person’s behavior.
      3)My husband, who from the sound of it would have worked with this applicant, is from the NE, but he spoke very highly of many of his colleagues, regardless of their geographic background, so please stop acting like we Southerners are somehow unable to comprehend your fancy NE talk and that the company would be oh-so-privileged to have you work there.
      4) This company has been through so many reorganizations in the past ten years, I lost count – win #1 for the applicant in not working there.
      5) Applicant sounds like a jerk, and regardless handled this situation very poorly. At the end of the day, while the interview process is a two-way street to decide if both sides like the other, you’re the one looking for a job. There are a wealth of candidates in this space, and if you can’t keep your cool through something as minor as this mix-up, I’d hate to see how you would handle the very real stress that is an everyday thing at this company. I’d consider this experience tantamount to a writing test or other hurdle you have to make it through to get the job. Sorry, you failed. Did I say that slowly enough for you?

      1. Bwmn

        I basically came here to say that given who this likely is – the idea of this being some cultural difference feather ruffle seems so unlikely. It’s more a case of that no matter how qualified and awesome the OP’s friend was during the interview, the next candidate was also likely pretty qualified and awesome, and if that candidate could also handle HR – then that’s a huge plus.

        1. RHo

          I took it that it was CNN and that this had little to do with cultural differences — in fact, everyone jumping to that conclusion is really putting me off. I think the OP’s friend clearly took a big misstep here.

          But I also think this is almost certainly CNN, and that the interviews in New York City went very well, and that what killed the dream job prospects were a very unfortunate bureaucratic HR thing rather than actual qualifications. Again, I’m in no way saying CNN made the wrong choice. I’m saying that I didn’t read cultural differences in the email but extreme frustration after being THISCLOSE to a job at CNN that fell through for all the wrong reasons, even though the friend handled this poorly.

          This is an aside but CNN really ought to take a look at its HR too if the friend (1) was warned by NYC and (2) this really is how highly regarded candidates are getting kicked out of the running. I mean, there’s certainly some elitism going on there too in that attitude that CNN’s HR is too much above every other HR outfit that it can and does put top flight candidates — you know these are top people across the nation vying for these positions — through such ridiculousness.

          1. ancolie

            Well, I want to clarify that I actually don’t think this is about cultural differences. I think there’s actually probably very few differences (especially considering its the media industry). I think the problem is that one side assumed there are vast cultural differences — with their side clearly being smarter, better, etc. — and treated the other side accordingly.

            I’m not from the South and have never been to the South, but holy shit, the amount of … vicious derision it gets from basically everywhere else in the US is absurd and ugly.

              1. Bwmn

                TNT (and some other networks like TBS, Cartoon Network) are sister networks with CNN – so how that works related to HR – I could see it being a case where the Turner Broadcasting System has one HR set up for everyone. Or perhaps some kind of maze of loosely connect HR departments that can serve to further protract processes.

                But this still fits with my original thoughts – a company of this size has often has bureaucratic issues, and HR is often not seen positively.

            1. Three Thousand

              I’m not from the South and have never been to the South, but holy shit, the amount of … vicious derision it gets from basically everywhere else in the US is absurd and ugly.

              I was born and raised in the South and have lived here my entire life, and much of that derision is largely deserved. It’s easy for non-Southerners to blame everything backwards and reactionary about American culture on the South, but that doesn’t mean the South hasn’t contributed more than its fair share.

      2. Anon Accountant

        Yes I’d guess there are a LOT of qualified candidates who applied for this position and it sounds like the friend’s attitude came through during his frustrations with the television company and it removed him from consideration. And while most of us readers agree having to re-do the application is frustrating it’s definitely NOT the most frustrating thing that will happen on that job. The applicant screened himself right out.

    12. Bwmn

      If the company is the one I’m thinking it is (perhaps there are other large Atlanta based television company’s I’m disregarding) – I think another part of this reality is that I’m sure they’re a) swimming in highly qualified resumes and b) facing a reality of being a large company with a large HR department and possibly lots of bureaucracy.

      From my experience with a larger the company, the more likely HR is slow to the point of being irritating and easily appearing incompetent (if not actually being incompetent). Given the size of this television company, I’m sure that HR being slow in response isn’t the only bureaucratic issue present in the job – and being able to finesse those departments is as much a job skill as on camera testing.

      Given who I think this is, I see that as being far more problematic than Northeast/Southeast mannerism differences. This is a huge international facing media company – and I would be less likely to presume some regional US differences in manners are at play compared to not getting that dealing with company bureaucracy is an issue.

    13. Ad Astra

      I really do try not to parse these letters to closely, and it’s important to keep in mind that many people write these letters when they’re upset, so they aren’t presenting their calmest, coolest selves all the time.

      But yeah… it sounds like OP and his friend think this HR department is oversensitive and totally crazy to turn down such a fantastic candidate “just” because he got frustrated with them. I realize that Bostonians are likely to be more direct and less deferential than Atlantans, but I don’t think that’s terribly relevant here. Becoming visibly (audibly?) upset with someone you barely know is going to reflect poorly on a candidate in any region. And when that person has the power to decide whether you move forward in the hiring process, you really need to watch your tone.

    14. grasshopper

      Yeah, I definitely felt that there is a feeling of superiority and entitlement from the candidate/LW. I’m not American so I didn’t pick up on the north/south issue, but the description of the candidate’s qualifications and the other job offer that he has lined up made it seem like any employer should be throwing themselves at his feet and grateful that he should deign to work there. Sure the HR process might be flawed, but the candidate’s attitude of entitlement is worse. I suspect that this might be the first time that this golden boy hasn’t gotten what he wants.

    15. justcourt

      I see a lot of people above me discussing how rude and unreasonable the applicant was, and I think he was a jerk, but I’m not so sure he was completely unreasonable.

      I’m not sure why the applicant missed a section of the application, but I know I’ve had difficulty with online/electronic applications, either because of unclear instructions or a confusing interface. I imagine it’s pretty common for HR to have to reset applications or make some kind of correction.

      Four days also seems like a long time to wait for an application to be reset. It’s not clear if the applicant told HR he was holding off on responding to another job offer, but job seekers often apply to more than one job at a time, so it’s hardly out of the blue that one applicant might need a faster response than HR normally provides.

      If we can believe the LW, HR was also rude in taking so long to reset his application and then calling him impatient . Additionally, I’m sure the applicant knows he was the one who didn’t fill out part of the application, does HR really need to point it out? It seems unnecessarily rude to point fingers for a harmless error.

      That said, the applicant was a jerk, and I probably wouldn’t offer him a job. I just know how accurate it is to place all the blame on him.

      Am I off base in thinking HR at this company seems pretty bad?

      1. Mike C.

        This is pretty much where I am. I think this HR group and their various processes are getting in the way of hiring candidates.

      2. So Very Anonymous

        This is what I was thinking too. I read it as that this was also a known issue and that’s why the NY office mentioned it. The cultural differences vibe the OP gives off is blurring things a little — it seems entirely possible that HR just isn’t great because it isn’t great, not because it’s in the south.

      3. AnonAnalyst

        I think there was plenty of blame to go around. HR doesn’t sound like they were particularly easy to work with; however, as someone mentioned up thread, ultimately the candidate is the one who’s looking for a job from that organization. If he wants the job, he needs to figure out how to work with them during the hiring process.

        It seems to me like HR could have moved the process along faster, or, if they really couldn’t move any faster, communicated that better with the candidate. I also think this is a good glimpse into what it might be like to get things done within the organization, and if this candidate is that impatient, perhaps it wouldn’t be a good fit for either party long-term. It’s also not clear to me if the OP’s friend told HR that he had another offer during all this, so if he didn’t, that’s totally on him.

        Having said all that, if the OP’s description of what happened is even close to accurate, I wouldn’t have hired the guy. I guess maybe if he were leagues ahead of all of the other candidates, but given that this sounds like a pretty desirable position, I doubt the organization was hurting for highly qualified candidates. I’ve certainly had frustrating conversations during my career, but you have to find a way to remain professional (especially during the hiring process, where it’s generally expected that everyone is on their best behavior!) That alone would have been enough to make me question the fit, and if there were plenty of other candidates that I liked just as well, I’d just move on to those.

      4. ancolie

        Oh, I agree that the HR department comes across quite badly. I don’t think either party acted all that great; I just think it’s likely the friend was a bit worse in comparison. I’d be impatient after four days, too, but I’d remember that the delay is entirely because of a mistake *I* made, that they now need to fix.

      1. Ad Astra

        I think there’s plenty of good stuff to see in Flyover Country. It has some icky or boring parts, but so does California.

        1. neverjaunty

          Seriously. I cannot believe anybody would sneer about ‘flyover country’ if they’ve ever had to drive through the hot, agricultural areas of California. At least when I fly over Kansas, I don’t have to scrape a thousand dead bugs off my windshield afterward.

      2. ancolie

        That attitude is honestly what I hate. There’s nothing in over a million square miles of land? There are no cities like Chicago, St. Louis, Atlanta, Austin, Detroit*, Denver, Minneapolis & St. Paul? No Grand Canyon, Yellowstone National Park, Cahokia Mounds? No Route 66?

        C’mon, son.

        Every place has its own unique history and story to tell and hidden treasures. Just because they aren’t as big and flashy doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

        * I’m a Detroiter and I WILL defend it. For all of its problems, there are still amazing things, like a rich and deep music scene, tons of different ethnic cuisines, a symphony orchestra, is a car nut’s dream, great sports, and fantastic museums and cultural centers, like the Arab American National Museum and the Detroit Institute of Arts (its collection is in the top six** in the US).

        ** Which pretty much means 6th, since otherwise you’d say “top 5”. ;)

        1. Anna

          Not there aren’t wonderful things to see in just about every city in this nation, there is also a LOT of flat empty landscape, too. Like…a lot of the middle part of the country. You can only see so many fields before you’re ready for something else.

          1. justcourt

            Yes! I drove solo cross country for a move, and I saw a lot of awesome things. In Oklahoma, though, I was just about dying of boredom.

            I’m sure there are fun things to do there, but the scenery was monotonous.

        2. Elizabeth West

          Cahokia Mounds! I’ve been there! That’s near St. Louis. It’s pretty cool, I admit.

          What I don’t like about the middle part of the country is the cultural isolation. In the large urban areas, sure, you get a lot more diversity. But Missouri, for example, only has two big cities and a smaller one, and the rest of it is very rural and insular.

      3. Mephyle

        A few years ago circumstances sent me on a road trip along Highway 80 from Nebraska to Detroit and I was just blown away by how many interesting sights and sites there were to visit in supposed “flyover” country. I had to skip about 4/5 of the things I had on my “maybe” list, but the places I did visit were fascinating. I wish I could do it again, but taking 4 weeks instead of 5 days and seeing everything on my list.

    16. Dr. Johnny Fever

      I got the same vibe from the opening sentence:

      “A friend of mine with a superior resume that includes a top business school, work experience, and volunteer work and athletics”

      First of all, athletics is of zero relevance to the job. Volunteer and work experience are important, but a superior resume based on what? These are factors to get you into a good college, but not necessarily a good job.

      I’m also curious about the skillset from the top business school that translates from the financial sector to the telecommunications sector so easily.

      LW’s friend did not handle this well, and LW is not presenting her friend in the best light despite the intent. LW screwed up big time by giving lip to HR and not adjusting to their needs – as if someone from a top business school is above that.

      1. Three Thousand

        Also, the way they say “work experience” really and truly makes the friend sound like they’re just out of college, where having work experience might not be a given. I just can’t align that with someone applying to be a “senior analyst.” Something is off here.

        1. Editor

          Maybe they went to the top business school after working for a few years or at the same time they worked. The wording may be unclear, but a lot of people don’t reread what they write and don’t always perceive that what they intended to say isn’t obvious to others.

          As someone who grew up in the liberal northeast and lived in the rural south, too, I’d say there’s plenty of blame to go around. But my first thought was that the software interface for the application form was crap if it allowed someone to submit without filling out a section. All else follows from the mediocre software.

    17. Lindsay J

      Yeah, I definitely picked up on it. I don’t know why there would be a need to mention that the people from Atlanta spoke slowly, otherwise.

  6. Crystal

    OP#2 – I suggest you let your coworker know and volunteer to listen while she adjusts her headset. During a busy season at work, I was wfh while sick and stuffed up, and a client told me I sounded like Darth Vader. It was really embarrassing, and I couldn’t figure out how to adjust my headset so that I could be heard but not sound like Darth Vader. I would much rather have found out from a colleague.

    1. Merry and Bright

      That was pretty rude of the client because you can usually tell someone has a cold bug even if you don’t know them.

      1. Elizabeth West

        I would only do that with someone I knew would think it was funny. “Dude you have a cold? That sucks. But you sound like Darth Vader, which is cool.”

        If someone said that to me, I would say, “NO. I AM YOUR FATHER.”

    2. Mabel

      This is a good suggestion. I have been on conference calls with someone who is breathing RIGHT INTO THE HEADSET MICROPHONE. Sometimes, depending on the type of meeting and who’s on the call, I have mentioned that it’s happening and could folks please check their microphones. Other times I just have to suck it up and try to not go out of my mind with annoyance.

      I am recorded during training sessions quite a bit, and I edit those recordings, so I have learned that if I keep the headset microphone a bit above my nose, it won’t pick up nose or mouth breathing while I talk. I have to be careful, though, because sometimes that means I need to talk a bit louder in order to be heard.

    3. Mal

      #2 OP here – I would have been so embarrassed if a client had said that to me, assuming it wasn’t someone you knew well and they weren’t also saying “oh, you poor thing!”.

      I definitely have to speak to her about it, you are 100% right…

  7. It Might Be

    #1-why does the OP think the chocolate is what ‘worked’-could be a coincidence and the recruiter would have called with work regardless. Some recruiters only call or return calls when they have work available so it is possible that is what really happened. I think the best advice is the advice given. Did the recruiter say that the chocolate was the reason? I hope not-the idea of referring work based on a gift rather than merit is uncool.

    1. Zillah

      Yeah, this was my thought as well – I doubt it was about the chocolate as much as it was about the OP getting back on the recruiter’s radar at all.

    2. Excel Slayer

      This was exactly my thought.

      (I’m imagining the recruiter phoning up the candidate for work and then discovering the chocolates and being kind of freaked out. I’m quite happy that seems unlikely.)

    3. hbc

      Exactly. It could easily be that the recruiter hasn’t been getting messages, so dropping off a card in person was the important factor, not what it was attached to.

      Also, if the recruiter was aware and just behind on reaching out to people, having someone physically stop by can guilt or shame them into taking action. (Especially if there are managers, colleagues, or customers around who might hear “I’m stopping by because my phone calls from the past two weeks haven’t been returned.”) Again, no bribe required.

    4. Dr. Johnny Fever

      I have a recruiter I work with fairly often, but not in a regular way – I reach out to him for availability on specific people. I would never presume to give him chocolate as a thank you for finding my requested candidate, I would never advise the candidate to give him chocolate, nor do I think he would even receive it well.

      The best way to get attention with recuriters is to work with them, give feedback, and be specific about what you want. Chocolate != repeat business. A thank you note would probably have worked just as well here and would not leave any qualms about being a professional response.

  8. Nutella Fitzgerald

    Am I the only one who thought “Fannie Mae Candy” meant the candidate dropped off a sweet little mortgage along with the note?

    1. Jean

      Native-born Midwesterner* here. Fannie Mae is a Chicago-based candy company. Some people find their chocolate mints (not chocolate-with-a-mint-interior but smooth-minty-chocolate-all-the-way-through) irresistible. I remember them as tasty but not compulsively delicious.

      * Yup, that’s “flyover country.” If people want to dismiss this place, I say it’s their loss. :-)

      1. A Dispatcher

        I remember being very confused at the whole Fanny Mae/Freddie Mac thing when it first hit the news because I had always associated Fanny May with the chocolates and was wondering what the heck a chocolate company had to do with mortgages.

        Also, I believe the chocolates are May and not Mae, which even the letter writer got confused, so I see why people here who haven’t heard of it in that context would be wondering.

        1. JB (not in Houston)

          I wondered if the OP was a fan of the comedian Kathleen Madigan, who has a Fannie May/Fannie May candy/mortgage bit in her most recent special.

        2. AndersonDarling

          I’ll admit it, I was confused at the beginning of the real estate crash. How could good chocolate turn so evil?

          1. Zillah

            That reminds me of my confusion as a kid about Jamaica. I grew up in Brooklyn, and Jamaica is a neighborhood in Queens – I couldn’t understood why there were ads all over the place to fly to Jamaica when you could just take the subway.

        1. Windchime

          You can still get Frango mints at Macy’s out here in the PNW, especially around Christmas. Yum.

        2. Applesauced

          I love Frango Mints! My dad used to get them on business trips to Chicago, and last time I flew through there I looked all over the airport… they’re still made but now sold only at the main Chicago Macy’s and online

  9. Brooke

    To OP#4 – I love the dress picture that you linked, but agree with Allison that it is too formal with the blazer.

    But if you still want to dress (either because you feel awesome in it or because you don’t have other good options in your closet), you could soften the formality by wearing a cardigan over it instead of a blazer.

    I often think of business casual as wearing only one piece of the suit at a time. Literally one “business” piece and one “casual” piece. Businessy slacks with a blouse or sweater. Blazer with nice jeans (where jeans are permitted). Dress with flats and a cardigan. Colors and patterns are fine and often help loosen up a more serious piece. At least that’s my $.02.

    Good luck in the interview!

      1. Marzipan

        #4, a real-life version of the nude photo is certainly one way to go, but if you go for it, don’t forget to accessorise the look with both chocolates AND a stuffed unicorn for maximum impact.

        Otherwise, yeah, I was going to suggest maybe pairing your favourite half of the outfit with a slightly more casual other half? And maybe choose something other than a suit jacket to go over it; that’s a pretty formal item of clothing. Good luck!

        1. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon

          “#4, a real-life version of the nude photo is certainly one way to go, but if you go for it, don’t forget to accessorise the look with both chocolates AND a stuffed unicorn for maximum impact.”

          Bwahaha.

          This is a real eye opener for me. Perhaps because I can’t wear heels, so that always helps make it more “casual”, I would have said that that was perfectly business casual. I would never think of wearing jeans or non-suit trousers to an interview, even if it was ‘business casual’ (non-suit skirts, maybe, just because it’s much easier to find skirts which bridge the gap) I guess it’s such a vague term that it’s better to seem a bit too smart than a bit too casual in an interview.

          1. Ad Astra

            I’ve known many offices that consider nice jeans (especially the ones with more of a trouser cut) to be “business casual,” but I wouldn’t recommend wearing them to an interview unless specifically instructed to. The rules for business casual have always been no denim, but it’s trickier now that “dressy jeans” are a thing. I think when the original standards were set, pretty much all denim looked like it was designed for farm/factory work or hanging out at home on the weekends.

          2. Mabel

            …it’s such a vague term that it’s better to seem a bit too smart than a bit too casual in an interview.

            And this is why I wish interviewers would not mention a dress code and just assume that all applicants will show up in business attire. “Business casual” can mean so many things and be different from one company to the next. I don’t understand why they would specify what the applicants should wear. And that’s not rhetorical – I really don’t understand it, so if someone can explain, I’d appreciate it.

            1. Mabel

              I’ve noticed that I can wear a skirt suit of just about any fabric or pattern, and it is considered business attire, but when I wear a trouser suit, even if it’s obviously of better quality than my skirt suits, people comment on how I must not have wanted to get dressed up that day. What?! I’ll admit that I’m surprised that people still think skirts/dresses are more formal for women than pants. I don’t know if that helps the OP – perhaps wearing pants will make her outfit more “casual.”

            2. Evergreen

              I suspect they might mean “don’t go to the trouble of a full formal business suit” rather than “we expect you here in business casual” – I think they’re trying to help the candidate relax (which is ironic in this case)

            3. OP 4

              Yeah, I really wish they hadn’t said anything. It really threw me off… I was worried about being underdressed, or being overdressed and looking like I can’t follow directions!

    1. pony tailed wonder

      Another two cents, perhaps a cardigan instead of a blazer? This is coming from someone who works in a library so that is what I see a lot of.

    2. Kate M

      I was going to suggest the same thing, a cardigan instead of a blazer. Although, in my line of work, business dress is a full suit. Anything less than that is business casual. So to me, this would have worked (as long as the blazer didn’t match the skirt part of the dress). So I think anything short of a suit should be fine.

      But yeah, if it were me, I’d wear the dress with a cardigan.

    3. Beancounter in Texas

      I really like your analysis – one piece business, one piece casual.

      I’ve hitherto broken business & casual down by fabric – cotton is casual, silk & synthetics are business, although this rule isn’t unbendable. Cotton Incorporated has made strides to bring cotton into more formal clothing. I’ve also seen business casual as button down poplin shirts with cotton khakis and almost any closed toed non-athletic shoe, but this leans towards more casual than business in some views.

    4. Development professional

      +1 This is almost exactly what I came here to say!

      Also, think about getting a little more informal with jewelry – no pearls, more like beads.

    5. OP 4

      Thanks for your input! I went for a brown blazer with black pants and a flowy pink patterned button down. I was leaning towards a cardigan, but my recruiter talked to the secretary and suggested an outfit like that!

  10. Mike C.

    If you’re HR department is so terrible that you have to warn candidates ahead of time that they’re incompetent, you have serious issues. Others have already covered the call itself, but frankly having to wait four days for a simple fix is nuts while folks email each other back and forth is just nuts. Once again, a bad application system rears its ugly head.

    I mean come on, they decided for the hiring managers not to go on with the candidacy? I can only wonder how many good candidates were chased away because of delays liked this. If this is the “large Atlanta station” I’m thinking of, it clearly shows in their coverage.

    I just hope they one find that plane one day.

    1. MK

      Badmouthing part of your company to a candidate is extremely unprofessional in my opinion, even if it’s true. Especially if it’s the part one will be working with closely. It would make me think twice about the company.

      Also, I don’t know how nuts it is to wait 4 days for the mistake to be fixed; we don’t know how simple it would be to correct it (some online systems lockdown after you hit “submit” and making changes can require a specialist) ans I would assume the HR person has other things to do besides dealing with the application of a “superior” candidate who makes a basic error in a simple application and then calls you every day to bug you about fixing it NOW.

      And it’s not a given that HR decided to reject the candidate on their own. It’s possible that they explained the interaction to the hiring manager, possibly the local one who would work with the candidate instaed of the higher-ups in NY, and this person authorised the rejection.

      1. Mike C.

        Yeah, I guess we can’t know that, but I have a hard time believing they were suddenly organised to have a meeting with the hiring managers and make this decision together.

        1. Koko

          At my company there’s no way HR would have the power to terminate candidacy for someone we’ve already interviewed and liked. Their job is to do initial resume screening and first phone screen and then send us the candidates they think are best. We also reserve the right to look at the resumes they were rejecting, decide HR is bonkers and has no idea what we’re looking for, and force HR to phone screen those candidates as well, or skip the phone screen and just bring them directly in for an interview.

          Once we have a shortlist for in-person interviews, HR continues to manage the logistics of scheduling and communicating with the candidates, but we’re entirely in control of the hiring decision.

          The hiring manager may not have initiated the decision but he almost certainly had to agree with it. HR wouldn’t have the power to overrule him if he still wanted to hire the guy.

          1. Mike C.

            They changed things where I work so that hiring managers aren’t allowed to look at rejected resumes. I have a lot of managers that would previously sit at home with a glass of wine or whatever and look through all 300 or so and were rather upset that they couldn’t do this anymore.

            At the same time, the system was passing on resumes that had simply copy/pasted the job requirements, so it’s clear that SOMEONE out there is still using word matching.

      2. KT

        It sounds like it could have been a background check–for my previous employer, that application went directly to the security company we hired to do background checks for us. Once it was submitted, we didn’t have any power to retrieve it/correct it, the security company would have to reject it.

        1. Mike C.

          This seems nuts to me. The last time I had a background check, the company simply asked me fore more information when they needed it. Why reject it outright for what appears to be a dumb mistake?

          1. KT

            I didn’t mean the security company would reject the candidate…I meant that if a mistake was made by the candidate, we’d have to reach out to the security company and place a formal request for the application to be rejected so that it could be fixed and resubmitted. That company was in a different time zone, so it did sometimes take some time.

            1. BuildMeUp

              I was thinking this, too! Four days does seem like a while, but if someone in HR is also having to get in touch with a separate background check company, that would definitely add some time.

              1. Mabel

                Even so, it would have been nice of the HR folks to tell the OP’s friend that they were working on it.

                On the other hand, I could see the HR director telling the hiring manager(s) that the applicant was “calling and emailing them to reset this application” every day for four days, and the hiring manager could have decided the applicant wasn’t going to be a good fit based on that behavior.

                1. Lindsay J

                  He was part of an email chain about it so presumably he knew they were working on it. He just wanted them to work on it/get it done faster.

        2. Lindsay J

          This. I just filled out a 5 year work history 7 year address history background check.

          The HR department sent me the link and instructions on how to create the account, I filled in all the information needed, and submitted it directly to the company. They do the check, and provide a recommended action (pass or fail) to the employer.

      3. AndersonDarling

        It is possible that the HR rep was on PTO, at a seminar, or just in meetings for the 4 days. I wouldn’t be surprised if an auto response went into the candidates junk mail.
        And I don’t want to get really picky, but was it 4 business days?

      4. AnotherHRPro

        How an employee treats every single person they interact with (HR, the receptionist, security at the gate, hiring manager’s admin, etc.) should be taken into account when making a hiring decision. If the OP’s friend was rude, dismissive or argumentative with HR then HR should have explained that to the hiring manager and that would probably be enough to have their candidacy withdrawn.

    2. Juli G.

      When I was a lowly HR systems person who dealt with the applicant system, I advocated rescinding offers.a few times for particularly awful acting candidates. And usually, the manager agreed but was too cowardly to make the call themself so that was up to me.

      1. Not The Droid You Are Looking For

        Being rude or snippy with anyone during the hiring process was always a dealbreaker for me. So I was always happy when HR or recruitment passed along concerns.

        I have yet to meet a candidate so valuable that being a rude or condescending to a potential coworker could be overlooked.

        As a hiring manager, my first thought is with this guy and also calls or he got frustrated that way.

        1. Not The Droid You Are Looking For

          *what if this guy ends all calls where he got

          Sorry, trying to use voice-to-text as I get ready!

        2. Mabel

          Yes! We have a policy of “no jerks” because even if someone has awesome skills, s/he won’t be an awesome employee if s/he can’t get along with co-workers.

          1. Not the Droid You are Looking For

            I’ve worked with some “super stars” whose behavior was overlooked by management.

            At the end of the day it usually turns out that they are not all that better at the job, and the cost of not getting along with co-workers and other departments makes them low performers.

      2. HRChick

        We do this as well. If someone is rude or aggressive to us, we let the hiring managers know. It rarely happens, but when it does, managers appreciate knowing ahead of having to work with someone who treats others in the company that way without a second thought.

        We also have post-hiring paperwork we need filled out in order to process a background check. It includes some of the information in the OP. We use an online application system to get the information, but it’s not technically an application. It’s just the fastest, easiest way to get the information to us.

        We have it set up, though, so that it can’t be submitted without all the information being filled out.

    3. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.

      Plane. LOLd. Love you Mike C.

      On the topic: Lookit, bad fit. I wouldn’t fit in somewhere with the kind of red tape either, and it would be better for me to be knocked out than have to work at a place where that was acceptable and the norm.

      1. Mike C.

        I absolutely lost it when I saw that they were openly and seriously speculating that a miniature black hole had opened up and swallowed up the plane.

    4. BRR

      If you have a bad hr dept the. You should gently try and be the go between for candidates. That would be a more professional way of handling it in my opinion.

      And yeah ” large Atlanta station.” That’s like when I we watching house hunters and it was for two lawyers who “worked for a large Seattle online retailer.”

      1. Juli G.

        Ha! I like Jezebel’ “Behind Closed Ovens” series but that drives me crazy about the stories. “I worked for a seafood chain… let’s call it Blue Crustacean.”

        1. Kelly L.

          I really think the whole internet has forgotten why people obscure the names of companies, so they’ve started thinking you have to do it for all companies at all times! LOL. It makes sense when you’re applying there or still work there, because you have something to lose if the company sees your post. But people will garble the names of places they worked 15 years ago, or places where they were a customer, which is kind of silly.

          1. F.

            Actually, there ARE companies that are suing customers for posting unfavorable (but true) reviews on Yelp and other sites, so obscuring the name of the company is not necessarily a bad idea. Some companies do troll the internet for their name and search for anything negative in order to control their public image. Even if you win the lawsuit, the legal fees can bankrupt you.

                1. The Other CrazyCatLady

                  Sort of. I think Mike meant anti-SLAPP laws, as SLAPP suits are “Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation.” They’re lawsuits designed to punish generally the little guy for saying anything bad about the big guy because the little guy can’t afford the legal fees and thus will have to take down whatever article/blog-post/negative review they had posted, no matter how factual or honest it was.

                  The laws vary by state, obviously, but I think in most of them, the little guy gets to slap the big guy in the wallet – from what I understand, a number of these laws force the legal fees back on the party who filed the suit if the suit is found to be nonsense.

            1. Stranger than fiction

              If it’s true and not libel or slander (I always get the two mixed up), how can they win? I mean, freedom of speech and all that.

              1. The Other CrazyCatLady

                They don’t have to actually “win.” They just have to be able to out-money the reviewer on legal fees until the reviewer caves.

                1. Mike C.

                  That, and the “fear” of being sued is a great deterrent. I remember hearing on an episode of “On The Media” that one could get a rider to your Renter’s or Homeowner’s policy for defamation insurance for a few dollars per month, but I’m not sure if that’s widely available or not.

            2. Ad Astra

              That’s a weird (though, I agree, not unheard of) strategy to go about repairing your company’s reputation. As soon as customers and prospects find out you’re suing someone over a Yelp review, they’re turned off. A high-profile case would do a lot of damage, and these suits are so ridiculous that it’s hard to believe they wouldn’t all be high-profile, at least locally.

        2. grasshopper

          +1 for Jezebel. I think that the Behind Closed Ovens stories try to include the companies to put it in context and then try to obscure the names (mainly unsuccessfully) to prevent any slander/libel. In this case it was totally unnecessary for the LW to include the clearly identifying details about the company. I’m not sure if they LW was trying to brag about how impressive they think the candidate is or trying to shame the company, but if anyone from the large Atlanta TV station HR department reads this and recognizes the candidate, you can bet that it won’t reflect well on him.

      2. K.

        Ha, I remember that one. I also saw one recently with a couple in Bentonville, AK who both worked for the corporate offices of “a major retail store.”

    5. Liane

      Also, asking for one’s complete work history in an application, online or not, is so common, that missing it says “Pays no attention to details &/or cannot be bothered to double-check important work” as surely as his way of ending that call say “This is a rude person no one would want to work with.”

      1. Mike C.

        So you’d disregard every other detail that was followed to the letter, especially after a prior successful interview? That doesn’t make sense to me.

        1. F.

          We don’t know that every other detail was followed to the letter, but even assuming that they were, yes, I would think twice about hiring this candidate. Being employed means being able to work within the established systems at a company and being able to get along with your coworkers – all of them – even those lowly HR minions in “fly-over country”. This applicant screams “I’m a prima dona!!” and no company needs that.

          1. Spooky

            And given how one-sided this whole letter is, I’m inclined to feel like there may be other mistakes that just got glossed over. Plus, it seems like his background might not have even been that close of a fit, given that OP mentioned he was trying to switch fields. But yeah, the attitude alone is enough to warrant cutting him loose. HR made the right call here.

        2. Koko

          No, but it would be one black mark. Hounding me relentlessly with daily calls and an attitude that my fixing of his mistake should be my top priority, especially if condescension about the slowness of southern culture was dripping through, would be a giant black mark. Across his name as I cross it off my candidate list.

          1. Rita

            We don’t know what the context of his calls were. We don’t know if he demanded them to be fixed or simply asked what the status was. There’s nothing in the letter that says he was telling them it should be a top priority.

          2. Kate M

            Exactly. And it seems to me that since the NY office he interviewed with badmouthed HR and told him they were incompetent, he thought he could get away with treating them badly. He probably thought, “well, they told me HR is incompetent, so HR obviously has no standing here. So I can condescend to them and hound them to get things done on my timeline, and the NY office will totally back me up.” Which is obviously a mistake.

            1. cuppa

              It wouldn’t shock me, with the attitude from the rest of the letter, that the “HR is incompetent” feeling was gleaned from a less direct statement. NYC could have said, “it takes longer for them to respond” or “be sure to send this to so and so or else it might get lost” and the candidate read incompetent.
              We don’t know for sure, of course, but still.

            2. Stranger than fiction

              Yes, that’s exactly what I was trying to say upthread, but you did so much more eloquently.

      2. the gold digger

        Not defending this guy’s behavior, but if I were designing an online application system, in addition to having “English” and not “English Studies” as the major, I would make the required fields required. There would be no way to submit the application unless all the information were complete.

        1. blackcat

          The only problem with systems like this is that sometimes, they ask for more jobs than you’ve had. My husband ran into this problem recently–he only had 2 previous employers and one had gone under (and was in another country). The background check wanted 7 (!) previous employers… which he just didn’t have. I instructed him to enter in N/A into all of those required fields, except for the salary field where I told him to enter in $0 where a numeric answer was required. He (a very highly educated person) was totally baffled as to how to deal with this form.

          (There was also a whole issue with the foreign company–the background check company demanded W2s since they wouldn’t call a foreign phone number (he gave the phone number of his former supervisor, who is now in a 3rd country) to confirm employment. And, it being a foreign company, they didn’t do W2s! The person he called at the background check company SAID ALL COUNTRIES HAVE W2s! Gah. Poorly designed systems are painful.)

        2. Editor

          Yes, this. The application shouldn’t have been able to be submitted without reminding the applicant to put something in there, and double-checking that it was there.

          Given the amount of nagging I experience during guest checkouts at online retailers, you’d think that job application designers could also manage to find a way to prevent the problem this applicant encountered.

    6. Bwmn

      I think the reality that we all presume to know what the station is I think also gives them a degree of cover that other companies don’t have. “Journalism” in it’s most broad definitions is a very competitive field as is, and you add to that a major international brand….for better or worse, they don’t need HR to win awards to get great applicants.

      If anything, honestly – I think the heads up is to reassure people that HR slowness/weirdness/irritating behavior does not mean disinterest in the applicant.

      1. Ms. Piggy

        @Bwmn – this is what I was thinking. I assume the NYC managers gave the candidate a heads up that HR could be a little challenging. I can’t imagine the NYC team said HR was terrible or really bad-mouthed them. If I had a great candidate at the final stages of hiring, I’d want him to know to expect that HR was a little brusque in their manner or slow to respond or what have you.

      2. Stranger than fiction

        That crossed my mind too – Journalism/Television + Competition = a little dramatic flair that came across in the letter?

    7. Dr. Johnny Fever

      I’ll come out and say it – I don’t think the NYC folks gave a warning about HR.

      From a pure literary analysis standpoint, LW recounts a secondhand story, making herself an unreliable narrator. LW is emotionally charged and telling the story to his friend, also making him an unreliable narrator. I’ve seen people go back and revise the version of events to match with the outcome in the minds, as if to fill in gaps, but completely subconsciously. The story changes subtly over time and gets locked after everything is finished.

      I’ll allow that there are no absolutes in life and I am a bystander, so it is entirely possible the warning was given. However, I don’t understand why the NYC folks would behave so ungraciously toward their own employees in front of a potential candidate. It makes no sense to me. I think it’s inadvertent revisionist history.

      1. Three Thousand

        Agree. I think sometimes people will also exaggerate and stretch stories in their friends’ favor when they wouldn’t do the same for themselves.

      2. Mike C.

        However, I don’t understand why the NYC folks would behave so ungraciously toward their own employees in front of a potential candidate. It makes no sense to me. I think it’s inadvertent revisionist history.

        I certainly would if I had lost good candidates in the past due to their incompetence. I mean look, how many people here can point to personal experience where a terrible HR person or team has gone way outside their role and has seriously interfered with a hiring situation to the detriment of the team, the hiring manager or the company at large?

        Despite the work of good HR folks (many who post here), this is a major reason why HR departments have a bad reputation.

        1. Dr. Johnny Fever

          Oh, I’ve run into incompetent HR – but there are more diplomatic ways to handle the issue:

          “When you speak with HR, please ensure you give them X, Y, and Z so they can process your paperwork as soon as possible.”

          “Turnaround time can be about 3-4 days for HR to call you to confirm details.”

          “If you receive information from HR that differs from our conversation, please let us know so we can close the loop.”

          Each of these alerts the LW’s friend that some info will be required and time needed without saying that HR will mess up your app and expect it to happen or is otherwise incompetent. That’s what I mean about not understanding the ungracious behavior from the employer – maybe LW’s friend got such a warning, but I have trouble believing it was phrased so negatively by the employer.

  11. Tara R.

    #4 sounds like she doesn’t really know what business casual means to begin with, and I have to say I’m right there with her. What kind of pants? What kind of sweaters? I’m assuming t-shirts are out… What kind of dress is too formal vs too casual?

    1. nofelix

      Business casual is always vague and variable. Same with smart casual. Trying to pin it down is impossible, and that’s kind of the point. The idea is that you should be dressed smartly enough to conduct business but which means your appearance shouldn’t be distracting. What distracts one person vs another is always going to change, but generally this means neutral colours (greys, earth tones, dark colours), well fitted clean clothes, no tie, minimal jewellery.

      My personal uniform has developed into slim black jeans, black boots, soft plaid shirt, crew neck cable-knit sweater. This fits into my office which is more on the casual side. For a touch more business, I’d swap the plaid shirt for a dress shirt, and maybe wear khakis instead of black jeans.

      Dresses come in so many styles that it’s hard to say what is appropriate, but I would stick to matte fabrics, neutral colours, nothing too flashy. But in keeping with the origins of business casual, it’s very personal and what one person may be able to get away with, another can’t so much. Yes this is unfair, and is the price of flexibility and less formality. The good news is, going slightly too formal is rarely a faux pas, so it’s the safe option if you’re unsure. Personally, if I’m worried then I’ll dress fairly formal but with a knit cardigan to soften the look up, which I can take off if necessary.

      1. nofelix

        Oh, also, dressing more formally than those around you is not always a mistake. Match what you wear to how you want to be perceived. If your CV makes you look too junior for the role, dress more formally than you would otherwise. If you’re worried they’ll think you’re overqualified then dress more casually.

    2. F.

      If one is in doubt, try to inconspicuously visit the building near lunch or quitting time and see what the employees are wearing. Business casual can have different meanings depending on the part of the country, the industry, the weather, whether the office is in the city or the suburbs, etc.

    3. AnotherAlison

      I would not personally be a fan of the business casual interview attire request. My office is “business casual” but most people show up to interviews in suits.

      90% of the time I wear dress slacks and a button down shirt or slacks and a sweater and flats, but other people wear leggings/sweater/tall boots, maxi dress/cardigan, khakis and sweater, etc. Almost anything but jeans goes, but if I was *interviewing,* I would definitely feel like I needed to step up the accessories and put myself together better than I normally do.

      1. Anonicorn

        Absolutely. I thought you were supposed to dress better in the interview than your daily on-the-job attire.

      2. Not the Droid You are Looking For

        We are the same way…you can always spot the applicant, as they are the one in the suit!

      3. Ms. Piggy

        I would appreciate being informed suits were unnecessary. While job hunting a few years ago, I had to buy multiple suits that I will never wear except to interviews. Having one suit in your closet, good. Having to go out and buy a 2nd and 3rd suit for subsequent interviews, not so good.

      4. Stranger than fiction

        See that’s what I always thought and did too. But seems to becoming more common that they tell the candidates to dress business casual for the interview. I’m wondering if it’s because it makes it easier for them to picture working with them on a daily basis if they “look the part”?

        1. Lynn Whitehat

          They’re trying to prevent a lot of needless stress and running around. Do I have an interview suit? Does it still fit? Is it clean? How am I going to change in and out of it stealthily so my current employer doesn’t see me? (If you must wear a suit to an interview, fast food restaurant restrooms are good for this.) So they’re saying “you know what? Just come in normal work clothes.”

      5. Ad Astra

        I don’t own a proper suit, so I’d be relieved to find an interview is business casual, and I’d still wear my very best, most polished-looking business casual outfit. I think it makes sense in a more casual office, where a suit would stick out like a sore thumb and maybe make candidates feel sort of conspicuous.

    4. Kate M

      I mentioned this upthread, but in my line of work, business dress is a suit. Business casual is just short of a full suit. So like, a pencil skirt and blouse (with possibly a blazer or cardigan), a dress with a blazer or cardigan (if it doesn’t have sleeves), pants that aren’t jeans with a top/blazer/cardigan/sweater, etc. Basically, I think you’re going for the same shape/silhouette as if you were wearing a suit, but just not have the pieces match like with a full suit.

    5. TN

      I changed industries and had a hard time initially with business casual as well. I work in a bank which typically can skew towards the more formal side and I wanted to look professional and nice but definitely did not want to have to rock the 3-piece business suit daily. You would be correct is assuming tee shirts are out but honestly, business casual can be almost whatever you make it.

      The keys to business casual are: everything should fit pretty well. I don’t get anything tailored (too expensive) but make sure to buy things that fit well. I also agree with another poster who said take one formal piece and go from there. Slacks, blouse, jewelry, heels/flats. Pencil skirt, blouse, cardigan, heels. Because we go on business calls, sometimes I rock a blazer (which are just great completer pieces anyway!).

      My only disagreement with some other posters is on colors. I agree that you need to have a neutrals in there but don’t be afraid to wear color. Right now I’m wearing a mint green sweater with a collared shirt underneath and the best fitting pair of slacks from the Gap. I look great. I always play with color somehow – a bolder necklace over a gray dress, a cranberry cardigan with a white pencil skirt, etc. It helps me stand out in a good way and I always feel confidant going into work.

      Got to the blog Hello Gorgeous! She is a style genius. And frankly, Pinterest has helped me quite a bit to put together looks. I wish you luck but you’ll be fine, business casual is not terribly difficult to do!

      1. Ad Astra

        I work in a pretty conservative office (dressier than business casual, but you don’t have to go full-on business professional every day) and people still wear quite a bit of color. I’m sure there are some places where neutrals are preferred, but I would think that would probably be an uber conservative workplace.

    6. JL

      I can highly recommend this tumblr: http://girlsdressingcuteforwork.tumblr.com
      Lots of women are sharing their best work outfits, most of which fall under ‘business casual’. I find it helpful to have examples from “real people” (not that models are imaginary, but we don’t all have stylists and make-up artists available to help us look nice) when I’m not sure how to dress in some occasions.

    7. Stranger than fiction

      I wouldn’t say she (or you) doesn’t know what it means, it’s that it can mean a dozen different things, and varies widely across industry and region. I’ve noticed East coast business casual is more businessy than West coast business casual. But I think her dress sounds fine, and maybe pair it with kitten heels instead of high heels. It’s always better to be slightly over dressed than under.

  12. Ruth (UK)

    My boss was once sent chocolates with an invoice. She thought it was pretty funny. She wondered if they thought she’d pay quicker if they sent chocolate. On the upside, I got to eat it as she didn’t want it and no one else was there at the time. Woo!

    1. blackcat

      I can see doing that if I thought that “packages” were given more attention than just regular old mail.

    2. AndersonDarling

      When I worked in fashion, one of our China vendors would send their samples with hard candies. We would get a stack of boxes and shake them like presents on X-Mas day. The ones that rattled were opened first, and they received their feedback first. It works!

    3. Elizabeth West

      We used to get vendor samples all the time from companies–some we worked with, some who wanted us to–both at the materials lab and at Exjob. The samples at the lab were the best. My boss there usually let me have them, except once they sent sunglasses and she wanted those.

      Lab:
      –A foam stress squeezy shaped like a cow (I still have it)
      –A mug
      –A really high-quality t-shirt (that was from Fisher Scientific; I wore it until it fell apart)

      Exjob:
      –Planners
      –Countless pens with our company name on them (samples)
      –Key chains
      –Stickies, flags, tabs, labels, and other office samples from Staples

      Doing the mail means you score quite a lot of stuff. :)

  13. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.

    #1

    Okay, when you are using chocolate this way, it is marketing/sales and not hostess gift gracious manners. Marketing *does* work, but can misfire mildly to badly in the wrong hands.

    The reason I’m 100% on board with Alison’s blanket advice about gifts or gimmicks to Land You That Job By Showing Ingenuity is chances of success are low and backfire high. Critical element number 1 is knowing your audience, which, is impossible if you’re still trying to get Your Foot in the Door, and not likely if you’ve just had one interview. Critical element number 2 is tests & trials. We do a lot of testing, measurements, etc., and that requires numbers even hordes of failures. And! We consider single digit percent returns successful!

    None of that is acceptable or appropriate for a job candidate.

    To the actual post: this situation is marginally different. There was an existing relationship and the chocolates can be viewed as a thank you gift for the previous assignment which, is marketing-ish, but not inappropriately over personal. Also, to the “know your audience” part, recruiters like that are also sales people and they literally do this same thing, have leave behinds at firms that include food or chocolate. Whether the chocolate actually worked or not, this particular set up was statistically much more likely to work than most any other.

    1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.

      P.S.

      Even in a business context, I get pissed off when people I don’t know send me gifts of any value to get me to get on the phone with them. I had this one guy who was trying to get me to put his teapot whistles on our sites and he sent me wine and, later, a sushi tray to try to make me talk to him.

      Good lord was I angry. Turns out he had badgered my receptionist to find out “what I like” or whatever. Please yes, use our staff time to try to forward your agenda.

      Now, people send me gifts all the time. I KNOW THEM. I am happy to receive thank you gifts! Especially cookie trays! Sending me gifts that I haven’t asked for with the implicit “now you have to talk to me because I sent you this” is angering. And this is the risk that job applicants run by sending inappropriate gifts. It is high potential angering.

      (In related news, as long as I have a breath in my body, we’re not selling his teapot whistles.)

      1. Three Thousand

        Yeah, it’s basically buying someone a drink in a bar without asking them first so they’ll “have to” talk to you. Creepy.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.

          Plus, now I was stuck managing a party platter of raw fish!!

          I think it took two hours out of my day between receiving, attempting to make sure it was still good (it was delivered from a sushi place half an hour away), answering all the questions from people about where this came from and did I think the fish was still good, and then watching the clock to make sure it didn’t sit out too long!

          omg.

          Fine, send people chocolate all you want but do not send them raw fish.

        2. the gold digger

          A realtor showed me a few houses. I didn’t really like her but I needed to find a place to live – I was in town only a few days for my new job. She asked what I was doing the rest of the day. I told her I was going to the Vietnamese restaurant I had seen and she said, “Oh! I’ll go with you!”

          I should have said, “No thanks! I need to do a, b, and c, which require my full concentration,” but I was caught off guard. So instead of getting to eat my lunch in peace, I had to eat with someone I didn’t know and didn’t really like. And then she paid for my lunch, which made it even worse – feeling obligated to someone I didn’t like. Ick.

          1. Elizabeth West

            Companies that mail you stuff you didn’t ask for–that’s also free, no strings attached. I scored a really nice umbrella with little cartoon cats and dogs all over it from some humane society org. They just randomly sent it. I couldn’t contribute anyway, as it arrived when I was unemployed and skint, but I enjoyed the umbrella all the same.

            After several mailings like that where I got a datebook and address stickers, they stopped (since I wasn’t contributing). I probably wouldn’t have anyway–I would have wanted my money to go to help kitties and doggies, not for mailing out marketing junk.

  14. BRR

    #3 Not only was ending the phone conversation not a great move but calling each day would was likely a turn off (and you mention emailing as well). Also they couldn’t just copy his resume because a resume might not include all jobs from the past 7 years. It sounds like you’re really trying to pin this on the HR department for being unreasonable but I’d be turned off by a candidate who repeatedly called and emailed me and then ended a conversation that way. And while mistakes happen, they reflect more on you while you’re a candidate because employers don’t have as much information to go on. Not to rub salt in the wound but that also sounds like a pretty big section to miss.

    1. Spooky

      ” Not to rub salt in the wound but that also sounds like a pretty big section to miss.”

      That was my thought as well. That kind of section usually gets its own page, and usually you have a chance to review the whole application on the the last page before you submit.

      1. BRR

        I also think it should be a mandatory field for submission. I’ve submitted incomplete applications because fields weren’t mandatory and accidents happen. If you don’t have it set to be mandatory and a candidate is already interviewing and has to fill it out, I think it should have been reset quicker.

    2. cuppa

      I had the same thought, but then later when the LW said that they could have gotten all that info from his resume, it sounded to me like maybe he just didn’t bother.

  15. A Dispatcher

    #3 – I don’t really want to pile on here so I’ll avoid the parts of the letter that make me think maybe both parties dodged a bullet and stick to this:

    “(He also had a large NYC bank waiting for an answer all week to accept a position with them.) He chose to wait for the the television company since the interviewing was going so well and he wanted to work in a different industry.”

    Did your friend mention this when he was calling to check in on the reset of his application? It’s important to do this in the right tone, but mentioning to a company that you need the timeline sped up due to other offers is usually helpful in this situation. Not a guarantee (there may be many factors why they can’t speed up a hiring decision), but at least it gives them some context for why you need the process to be moved along. From the outside, calling AND emailing EVERY DAY to follow up about this looks kind of crazy and needy to be honest, especially if the candidate hadn’t mentioned why he was in a such a hurry.

    Next time, if he find himself in this situation he should mention at the outset why is requesting quick action and minimize the follow-up a bit.

      1. Kate M

        No…it’s only going to get your application thrown out if you weren’t one of the top candidates anyway. If they had 3-4 people they liked better than you, then they would be doing you a favor by telling you you’re not getting the job earlier than they had planned, to free you up to take the other job. If you’re their top candidate, it could speed things up to where they would make an offer.

      2. Ad Astra

        Why would you disqualify an applicant you liked for telling you he has another offer? That can be really helpful information if the company wants to make an offer but is waiting on some administrative detail.

      3. Not the Droid You are Looking For

        Not in my experience.

        In one case I had the #3 applicant from our final interviews call and say they had received an offer. I knew they were likely not going to be our hire, so I was upfront that there were candidates ahead of them.

        In another case our top candidate called, I asked for 24-hours to see what I could do, and immediately called my boss who was on vacation to have him log in to our system and sign-off on the terms of the offer.

      4. Elizabeth West

        Not if they’re interested in you. I did that with my job. I was waiting for them to get back to me after the second interview, and another company I had applied for called me and asked if I would temp for them while someone was out on mat leave.

        I put them off until the end of the week; then I emailed my now-boss asking about the timeline and mentioned the other offer and had an offer from her a day later. It didn’t hurt that I had done well on both interviews (thank you, AAM!) and aced the skills test that got me the first interview to begin with. So yeah, if they want you, they won’t bin it, unless you’re a complete ass.

      5. AnonAnalyst

        Not in my experience. Maybe this is the case if you were a weak candidate to begin with, or if you’re competing for a position where everyone has fairly standard and equivalent skills. In the jobs I’ve applied for and hired for, there’s more variance among candidates, both in terms of skill level as well as the combination of skills people have, so generally there’s one candidate that rises above the others during the process. It would be shortsighted to remove that candidate from consideration just because they had another offer if there’s an opportunity to speed the process along and possibly bring them on board.

        If that person were a weak candidate, or if you have 15 other candidates that all have equivalent skills and are all equally good fits for the position, then I can see it. But I’m still not sure it hurts the candidate in that situation either since it will get them kicked out of a process sooner where they would likely not be successful anyway.

    1. INFJ

      Yup, I know someone who recently did this. The hiring process at her top choice was going very slow; she told them she had another offer waiting and needed an answer by x day x time. She got the offer at exactly the day and time. If you’re the top candidate and the reasons slowing down the process are within control, the employer will speed it up if they know you have another offer on the table.

  16. Em

    #3 – “He is from Boston and a fast talking northeastern person. She speaks much slower I am told and took offense to his fast speaking.”

    This sounds like you or your friend are applying some weird southern stereotype here. If this woman took offense to his “fast speaking,” she probably has a problem with a lot of people she works with. Most Atlanta residents aren’t from the south, and don’t have heavy, slow southern accents.

    1. BRR

      I’ve said it before but I think it’s grasping at straws to transfer blame. We shouldn’t be piling on the lw. I’ve also said I think it might be the Boston accent. I hope this isn’t trying to excuse behavior too much but it might have been super uncomfortable to ask the lw’s friend to keep repeating themselves.

      1. The IT Manager

        Here’s the problem “she took offense at his fast speaking.” That’s ascribing a very negative reaction to someone who most likely just asked him to repeat himself more slowly. Most likely she couldn’t understand his fast speaking. That makes me think we’re getting a very, very biased side of the story.

    2. Britt

      FWIW, I’m from south of Boston and when I used to travel for work to GA and FL, I was always told that I spoke really fast. Maybe it was just personal to me but I hear that a lot about this area in general, and not just from Southerners.

      1. moss

        I live in Kentucky but didn’t grow up here and I’ve been told I talk fast. Nobody took offense though. People normally only take offense when someone is being RUDE.

        1. JB (not in Houston)

          Yes, exactly. People might ask you to slow down, but people in the South don’t get offended by fast talkers. I am a Southerner, and I’ve been a fast talker my whole life, and so has one of my best friends, so we exist here, too. Plus, as someone else said upthread, lots and lots of people in the South weren’t born and raised here, so we’d have to be offended all the time if we were offended by fast talking.

        2. Ad Astra

          Yeah, that’s exactly it. People in the South do tend to speak slower, and they might even have a hard time understanding a fast talker who also has a different accent, but there’s nothing offensive about talking fast. The communication breakdown might have made that phone call even more frustrating, but OP is almost definitely wrong about why the HR rep was offended.

          And again, people in cities like Atlanta or Miami or Houston are likely accustomed to dealing with people from all over the country, and may not be from the South themselves.

      2. Collarbone High

        I’m a super-fast talker, and people often ask if I’m from Boston. (Colorado, actually. I’m just trying to keep up with my brain.) Now I live in the South, and amuse people when I combine expressions like “y’all” and “fixin’ to” with my Northeastern Auctioneer speed talking.

    3. edj3

      I grew up in Philadelphia and know I talk fast–so I deliberately slow down when I’m not among friends and family. It’s only courteous.

      1. Elizabeth West

        We had a history teacher in middle school (southern Missouri) who was from New York State–he talked really fast sometimes and we would have to ask him to slow down. Sometimes we’d ask him to talk fast and he’d do it just to amuse us. He was great.

    4. Spooky

      Agreed. I was born and raised in Atlanta, and no one in my family has a Southern accent or speaks slowly. Atlanta is a huge city and a major international market. I mean, shoot – the Atl international airport is the busiest in the world with 94 million passengers a year (seriously, google it.) This is not some rural backwoods town.

      1. Em

        As an Atlanta resident, this is for sure what I’m reacting to. People across the country tend not to realize how big of a city Atlanta is. As the 9th largest metro in the country, it’s not at all what people think of when they think “the south.” We’re bigger than San Francisco and Boston.

    5. Beancounter in Texas

      I was wondering about a regional cultural clash. On occasion, I’ve had to call the Northeast (New York, primarily) for work and I’ve found the administrative personnel who answer the phone to be more abrupt than to what I am accustomed down here in Texas. At first I thought everyone in the Northeast was always that rude, but after a while, I came to presume it was just the custom and it wasn’t intended as rudeness.

      1. Not So NewReader

        I have lived in the NE all my life and there are times where I find a few people so abrupt I consider it rude. For anyone experiencing discomfort with this region, try, try to remember that we do it to EACH OTHER, also. It’s not personal and it’s not everyone.
        I do find it amusing when people are annoyed by, “how are you today?” they chew up more time with their reaction, than it would ever take to say “good” or “fine” or even, “stop wasting my time”.

      2. Collarbone High

        I used to work for a company whose two biggest corporate offices were in San Diego and New York City. There was a huge cultural difference. My contact in SD would chat for half an hour before asking why I’d called; my contact in the NY office answered her phone with “What?” Whenever there was a company-wide meeting there would be a lot of aggravation and hurt feelings over the different styles.

    6. Ad Astra

      True! Atlanta is full of transplants, and I would venture to guess that any HR rep at this large television station is used to dealing with candidates from all over the country.

      1. Stranger than fiction

        Not only that, but I have a hard time with fast talkers in general, regardless of where they’re from. I think it’s due to my ADD, I just can’t process the info coming at me that quickly and will only remember about half of what someone said if they spoke too quickly.

        1. Ad Astra

          You know, I have ADD and am a fast talker myself. I find that I have trouble processing verbal information just in general, though, and fast talkers don’t help. If it’s important, I want it in writing. I’ve actually considered recording some conversations on my phone so I can go back and double check the details and action items.

    7. Laura

      I have high-powered friends who work at this Atlanta station. They would be *amazed* and extremely to hear that someone in HR there couldn’t deal with fast-paced speech, because *they have to deal with journalists* for goodness’ sake!

  17. The Cosmic Avenger

    Re: #5, is it ever a bad idea to reach out to interviewers with a LinkedIn invite? The ones I spoke to recently I really liked, and I would want to add them regardless of how the job turns out, but I’m wary of looking like I’m trying to ingratiate myself. I was hoping they would add me first, as they did with #5!

    1. BRR

      It can seem at times like trying to get around the system, especially if a decision hasn’t been made. I would write a custom message in the invitation and that should help.

    2. Kate M

      I would wait until after you find out one way or the other about the job. But also, people put way too much stock in LinkedIn. I’ve had people who I’ve interviewed on the phone once ask to connect with me on LinkedIn, and my first thought is…why?? LinkedIn is to see who your personal and work connections know. If you’re looking for a job at a company, and notice one of your former coworkers has a connection there, you can ask them to connect you or pass on your resume. But why would I connect with someone I’ve spoken to for 10 minutes? It’s not like I’m ever going to recommend him for something (especially if he didn’t make it past the phone interview). It’s not like I’m ever going to rely on him to recommend me for something. This isn’t Facebook, where it’s fine to connect with anyone you’ve ever met. Networking is a much tighter thing, and a recommendation from someone you barely know isn’t going to help you.

      1. The IT Manager

        +1 to I would wait until after you find out one way or the other about the job.

        Different people used LinkedIn differently. I mostly only reach out to people I am going to be working with. I look for them on LinkedIn when they join to team so I can see what they look like (we all WFH) and take a look at their work history. And then I connect with them because I figure I know them. But I am not currently job hunting or using LinkedIn connections. I rarely look at LinkedIn unless I am specifically searching for someone.

      2. The Cosmic Avenger

        Thanks, that makes sense. But I’ve gotten lots of invitations from 2nd-degree connections there to invite me to working groups or industry Meetups or code sprints. While I don’t usually do much of that kind of stuff, I relatively recently changed my think it might be good to at least acknowledge these “online acquaintances” whose names and postings I’ve come to know, and accept invitations from them.

        Anyway, I did have really good discussions about the details of the work I do at both interviews, and at one of them I did advise them about a problem I had seen that they hadn’t encountered yet but definitely will by the end of next year. I was hoping to keep that kind of communication open whether or not I get an offer from either organization, but now I will definitely wait until I hear back before sending them a LinkedIn invitation.

  18. Jen S. 2.0

    As for #3’s friend should proceed…he should move on from this opportunity. Even if the folks in the other office might have gone to bat for him before, they likely won’t now that the Atlanta folks have told them the story of how he screwed up his application, blamed them for incompetence, acted like they were too slow for his superior Northern skills, nagged them daily to fix his mistake, got an attitude, and hung up on them.

    They’ve told you they aren’t hiring you. You should believe them.

  19. Britt

    Am I the only one who doesn’t think #3 is in the wrong really? If the LW is correct in saying that her friend “jumped through hoops” to go through multiple interviews and then everything got hung up on a technicality for resetting an application, I would be pretty annoyed too. Without hearing the actual conversation, it sounded like the HR person was on a power trip. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say, “Let’s end this call and pick up later” if the conversation is going no where (assuming this conversation might have been happening during work or a lunch break). The LW also said the friend saw condescending emails between the team members so I’m more inclined to assume HR was rude than the candidate. That being said, it sounds like all the candidate can do is reach out to the hiring manager like suggested and then move on.

    1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.

      I don’t think he was in the wrong in this way: it was a bad fit. I don’t think the HR person was wrong in that way either. In their org, rightly or wrongly, it takes that long to reset an application and if you can’t be patient enough to make it through that without pissing people off, he wasn’t a good fit and was going to have a too low threshold for the other BS that you know is hanging around there (if resetting an application was that long a process!).

      I have zero tolerance for red tape. I’d have probably also gotten my ass kicked out of there and for good reason. I’d be a bad fit.

    2. MK

      But it wasn’t “a technicality for resetting an application”, it was the candidate making a mistake and then demanding the HR daprtment correcting it a.s.a.p. and then being rude to them on top of that. Possibly the company in general and HR in particular have issues with bureaucrasy and efficiency, certainly this seems to be a bad fit. But one doesn’t get to gloss over their own mistakes by focusing on those of others and they are never entitled to rudeness.

      1. Phoebe

        +1 – Yes, this! I get that it was stupid and time consuming, but he was given specific instructions to fill out the entire application and failed to do so. If I were the HR rep and I had to deal with a candidate who filled out the application wrong and then was all over my case to fix it for him, I’d be moving that task to the bottom of my pile.

        1. catsAreCool

          I agree. Neither side looks good.

          In the hiring process, both sides are usually trying to be nice to each other. If they aren’t nice then, how rude are people going to be once they feel settled?

    3. BRR

      I think each side made mistakes and instead of trying to argue which side was right and which was wrong by arguing levels of severity for the mistakes we should just discuss better ways to approach the situation.

    4. Phoebe

      But it doesn’t matter. They’re not going to hire him and they’ve told him that pretty clearly. He should forget it and move on.

    5. hbc

      “She was obviously offended that he was calling each day to help move things along.” If that’s the takeaway the friend had, then he was completely in the wrong. (That’s not to say that HR wasn’t in the wrong too–this isn’t a zero sum game.) What are the chances that this guy could actually help move things along? Does he know the secret keyboard command for resetting an application in their system? Did he come up with one unique idea for a workaround each day?

      He wasn’t “helping,” he was impatient. Maybe for good reason, but in practice, pestering someone like this tells them that you don’t trust them to do their job. Then when she told him she didn’t appreciate it, he doubled down and told her that he didn’t think what she was saying was worth listening to. He may have a good background, but being dismissive of someone who holds your job in her (possibly incompetent) hands just isn’t smart.

      1. JB (not in Houston)

        I think you have it exactly right. I know if I were in his situation, I’d be impatient. But he didn’t handle it well.

      2. Pointy Haired Boss

        My guess is he misunderstood why it was taking so long.

        If it was taking 4 days, I’m guessing maybe the HR folks didn’t actually understand the new applicant tracking software, and a reset had never come up before. This seems to happen all the time with employees over 30. Then it suddenly becomes a CYA issue (“I can’t let them know that the last time I even vaguely understood computers was in 1997! I’ll get fired!”) The squeaky wheel only gets the grease if you’re interested in going somewhere — if you’re interested in laying low and keeping quiet, the squeaky wheel gets removed from the car. :-)

    6. Rita

      No, I’m with you. I think there is a lot of projecting and assumptions going on with this letter. Yet another letter that makes me never want to submit to AAM.

    7. Ad Astra

      It’s not wrong — or even unreasonable — that he felt frustrated in this situation. There are plenty of things in the story that reflect poorly on this company. But you have to behave a certain way in a job search situation. The candidate’s feelings were justified, but his actions weren’t.

    8. RG

      What makes you inclined to assume that HR is on a power trip, and that emailing someone in HR every day about a major mistake you made isn’t a sure fire way to annoy people.

      1. Britt

        Because there is an assumption that he was following up every single day to say, “Hey have you reset that application yet?” when the reality very well could be that one conversation happened, the HR person said, “Yes, I’ll take care of it” and then proceeded to let it sit for days. I’m not in HR but is this really that difficult of a task to do? If not, I’d be really annoyed that I couldn’t tie up this loose end and move on if it was the only thing holding up an offer, especially when I had another offer on the back burner.

        1. BuildMeUp

          Well, the OP says “after four days of calling and emailing,” which doesn’t like only one conversation happened and the HR person sat on it for a few days. It sounds like he contacted them at least a few different times over the course of four days.

  20. Ms. Anne Thrope

    I’m sorry, but requiring a candidate to fill out *another* application after they’ve been thru an all-day interview? When they have the resume and all other paperwork already? Requiring 7 years of background? That’s just obnoxious. I can see how you’d miss a section by accident.

    How many hoops do employers think they can put people thru before they get annoyed and decide it’s too much trouble? I mean sure, if you only want candidates who are desperate, go for it. People with another offer already? Maybe they’ll decide fuggedaboutit. I know I would.

    1. BuildMeUp

      As others have mentioned, the 7 years of job history sounds like it’s specifically for a background check, and is probably required by the bc company.

      I think the problem is less that he got annoyed and more that he wasn’t able to put his annoyance aside and be professional during the call.

      1. Ms. Anne Thrope

        Well I’m probably cranky bc I went thru an online app a week or 2 ago that wanted not only all info about previous jobs (supervisor, their phone #, etc.) but also salary. Not only is it NOTB what my salary was in 1999, but I have no idea what it was. And no, I”m not bothering to hunt thru my papers to see if I have my tax return for that year. It’s ridiculous. So i put $0.00. Of course I never heard from them–I knew I wouldn’t–I don’t know why I even bothered, except that I’d already started so I might as well finish.

        Next time, I’ll just close the browser. Screw it.

    2. non-profit manager

      I dunno, I hate online applications as much as anybody. I especially hate the systems where you have to enter every.single.thing. up front as part of your application. You know, just in case. This system actually sounds better, saves some time on the front end and only collects the details from strong candidates that are continuing through the process.

  21. Allison

    #3, I do think it’s silly that he needed to fill out another application; they could have explained why they needed him to fill out the form, because as I said upthread, at least part of it may have been preparation for a background check. Usually that’s what the 7 years of employment history is for.

    When he made a mistake and they needed to reset the application, I’m a little confused as to why it took 4 days. True, he shouldn’t have called every single day, and I highly doubt his calling was helping anything, but 4 days? How long does that process take? I work in HR, I know things get busy and I know that any time something goes awry in someone’s interview process there somehow needs to be a bunch of meetings, e-mail chains, and urgent whispers in the corners of the office, but . . . what do they actually need to do? Is there a reset button? Do they have to go through and delete the information? Do they need to call a support person and talk them through it? Did they need everyone on board with the decision to reset? Where they trying to see if there was something else they could do? Or were those 4 days spent deciding whether they even still wanted to deal with him?

    HR is like that group of friends that takes forever to decide where to go for lunch, when you’re hungry as hell and for the love of god you KNOW it’s gonna be the same place as always because it’s the one place they can all agree on, but no, they gotta go down the list of options and discuss each one because they’d really like to mix it up for a change . . .

    Now, I’m from Boston, and I am a fast talker who’s easily annoyed, and when I’m job searching I definitely get impatient, but I also know that when you’re in the interview process things get delayed all the time for various reasons, and you can vent about it to your friends but you need to at least sound patient with the interviewers. And if we’re going off stereotypes, slowness aside, southerners tend to have a lower tolerance for rudeness, so that might have contributed more than the fast talking.

    If he had another offer on the table, he should have said so, since that does motivate someone to hurry up with the process, get off the dang fence, and make decisions.

    But he didn’t, and they’ve rejected him, and at this point the best thing to do is let it go. He can tell the NYC office what happened, but they don’t seem like the best place for him, and while I can see why he was irritated I can’t blame them for being turned off by his attitude.

    1. JB (not in Houston)

      Someone upthread says they have to wait for the company who does the background check to reset it, and they are in a different time zone, and it sometimes isn’t a fast process. Could be the case here, too.

      1. HM in Atlanta

        I have that same issue. Tech support for my background check company is in Australia. The Atlanta-to-Melbourne time difference sometimes makes direct communication hard. If the company reset the wrong candidates background screen form? We’re looking at 3 days lag right there.

    2. Not So NewReader

      Northerner here. I would be so sorely tempted to say, “It will get done 36 hours AFTER your most recent email.” Keep emailing me.
      No, I would not actually do that. But I sure would think about it.

      Maybe this is the friend’s SOP. Or maybe he just got hyper/antsy and decided to push the envelop. Or maybe he did not believe HR was doing its job because of what he was told. But his behavior is closer to that of a stalker rather than an employee.

      That said, I don’t think I would work for this company. Not on the basis of what we see here. I am not clear on why Friend wanted to keep pursuing this with all the red flags that kept popping up in the story. I hope he has had time to think about what he saw and give it serious consideration.

  22. Phoebe

    #3 – Yeah, he kind of did that to himself. I live in Atlanta and know the company you are talking about. I’ve heard that they do have quite an involved hiring process, but your friend came across much to aggressively, especially if he was calling every day. In my experience, “fast-talking northerners” often come across as pompous and condescending to southerners and I think that’s what happened here. I’m not saying it’s deserved, only that I’ve seen it happen enough to recognize it.

  23. LQ

    #2 if you do work in a call center or even if calling out/in is a large part of the job you should definitely be able to have her listen to her own calls. This can help in figuring out what sounds good and doesn’t have the heavy breathing. Mic adjustments, environment adjustments, can make a huge difference here. If she’s in an echoey space and is putting the mic closer to try to cut down on that but it’s increasing the heavy breathing piece that might be changed by things like adding a blanket to the wall behind her or something like that. Then she could pull the mic back.
    She might also be a quiet talker and has the mic cranked up to accommodate that and so is coming off as a heavy breather because that’s all the way up.
    If this is really bugging you, you may want to check with someone else to see if this is just you or if others hear it too. (I’d ask something like “do you have any concerns with Jane’s phone manner” rather than “is Jane a heavy breather” because once you’ve planted it that’s all they’ll listen for.)

    1. Kara

      Yeah. I work remotely and I’m the heavy breather in my group. ;) I’m not actually a heavy breather in person, but my headset mic picks up my breathing like crazy. Even when I turn the sensitivity all the way down it’s an issue – but then no one can hear me when I speak. To counteract that, I’ve learned to work the mute button like a pro – I mute myself when I’m not talking and only unmute when I have to speak. It has led to some humorous situations where I’ve wound up talking to mute a couple of times, but overall it’s been very successful.

      And I was very appreciative when people who were on calls with me would say something. Instead of focusing it on HER (you’re breathing heavily) focus it on her microphone. Say something like “I don’t know if you’re aware but your microphone picks up your breathing and magnifies it over the phone. Can you adjust the mic sensitivity or mute your mic when you’re not speaking?”

      1. Stranger than fiction

        Don’t they also make headsets now that are voice activated? I know I’ve been on the phone with reps and have had to say “hello, are you still there?” because it goes silent unless they’re speaking to me.

        1. Dr. Johnny Fever

          It’s not so much that they are voice-activated since the mic is always live: During silence, the modulation is automatically reduced to eliminate the hissing sound of an empty line. You’ll find this quite commonly on VOIP systems. Headsets have been getting more advanced over the years – even those that still plug into PBX phones.

    1. Development professional

      me too. it’s not that different than calling to “follow up” on your application, in some ways. If they spent all that time meeting with you, and they’re aware of the system problem, then back off. They’re not going to somehow forget about you. They’re going to get back to you as soon as they can. I did wonder from the letter whether the applicant had been crystal clear with the television company about the fact that he had another offer and what that timeline was? Otherwise, I can see the TV people being royally ticked off by his behavior.

      1. Elizabeth West

        This. I would have called once and made sure they had my contact information, and then I would have said something like Please let me know if you need any more information. A system problem isn’t for me to solve.

  24. Friday's cupcake

    #1 – I actually did this after completing in an internship many years ago. I wanted to thank my internship coordinator, so I put together a gift bag of chocolates along with a nice note, expressing my appreciation for the internship, what I learned, etc. I did this when I was still in college (more than 10 years ago).

    Would I do it now? No – I’d stick with a nice note and leave it at that.

  25. Development professional

    #2 please do say something! I think Alison’s wording is great. I am in no way a heavy breather in real life, but I have more than once been guilty of holding a phone handset too close to my face. It gets loud but you have no idea what it sounds like when you’re the one doing it. Any reasonable person will be grateful for the heads up!

  26. hjc24

    #4 — I always follow the adage that it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed. Even though the HR person said “business casual,” that may not be what the actual people you’ll be meeting are expecting, or what other candidates go with. If it’s an office environment and you’re going for a formal interview, I honestly don’t think anyone is going to bat an eye if you show up in a suit or suit-like outfit. Even if they’re all wearing jeans. But if you skew a little too far to the “casual” side (and who’s to say if your interpretation of business casual is the same as that of the people you’re trying to impress), that will make you stick out in a bad way. We had someone come for an interview recently who was dressed a bit more casually than the other candidates we had seen, and somebody actually dinged him for it in the feedback afterwards (not to his face–to the head of the search committee). That’s almost guaranteed not to happen if you OVERdress a little.

    1. OP 4

      Yeah, that’s what I was thinking. I ended up going with a brown blazer/black pants combo on the advice of my recruiter (who talked to the secretary there). :) I was just worried about being TOO overdressed and looking like I couldn’t follow directions!

  27. Marilyn

    This is slightly irrelevant, but several years ago, I was working in a place where a job opened up, and me and a few others were clamoring for it. One girl bought cupcakes for the director above that position. I was thoroughly convinced that they would see straight through it, but apparently they didn’t, because she got the job.

    Granted, it is very possible that she was being groomed for management (since she tended to get promotions, and also was given a lot more responsibility than others who held the same or similar positions), but I ended up finding a job somewhere else shortly after that.

  28. BuildMeUp

    #3 – I wonder if this would have happened if the friend hadn’t gotten the “warning” from the NY office. It sounds like that made him expect complications, and when they arose, made him more likely to assume they were due to HR being incompetent, which increased his frustration.

  29. Stranger than fiction

    Regarding #1, is it equally tacky for your third party recruiter to give a gift of food to your prospective employer? Whenever this subject comes up, I can’t help think about my BF’s current job. When he went on his in-person interview there, his recruiter met him in the parking lot, walked in with him, and took the employer bagels. When he told me about it I was like “what? and did she hold your hand and straighten your hair with her spit too?” I always thought this was weird, and to this day, I still picture the recruiter and my BF holding hands as they walk in! (even though I know that part didn’t really happen)

  30. Bee

    LW #2 – I’ve only skimmed the comments and don’t know if someone else mentioned this, but please consider that the heavy breathing might be the result of a medical condition. We have a VERY heavy breather in our office, and the noise drives everyone up the wall, but it’s a medical condition he literally cannot do anything about. If you address this, please be sensitive to the fact that the person might be well aware of it, and even embarrassed about it, and not be able to really do anything about it.

    1. Mal

      #2 OP here – I am so aware that it might be a medical issue, which makes bringing it up even worse! Maybe she thinks nobody else notices, so if I bring it up then she will know clients know but she can’t do anything! Argh!

      I’m thinking I will say something very casual about asking if she is okay, she sounds a bit congested today… then if she discloses a medical issue I will shut my mouth forever.

  31. Mal

    Hey everyone, I’m #2 OP, thanks to everyone who took the time to reply!

    I casually asked a couple of people today if they had spoken to her recently and before I could ask anything else they both said something that let me know they have noticed… Like, “who? Oh, you mean the one with the weird phone thing?”. So a) it’s not just me and b) this means I have to speak to her about it ASAP.

    A coupe of people suggested it was a medical issue, which it could definitely be and I don’t want to embarrass her if she thinks nobody has noticed. So I’m just going to casually ask if she is feeling okay, she sounds a bit congested *today*. Hopefully if there is a medical issue she can disclose then, but if not, I’ll mention that I can hear her breathing heavily, still with the emphasis on me being concerned for her. Hopefully then she will realise her handset is wrong or something really obvious.

    Thanks again everyone, it is such a small thing but I can’t tell you how much it makes me cringe!

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      I seriously wouldn’t take that approach! Don’t make it about her sounding congested; she needs to know it’s a problem all the time. Make it about her phone.

    2. Wanna-Alp

      All the “hopefully”s sound like you’re going to be very indirect. Please don’t do that. How is she supposed to know you are hinting about phonecalls when you’re asking about her health? Use Alison’s advice to make it much easier to be direct: make it about the phone/headset.

      1. Mal

        My worry is that it’s not the headset and it is a health issue I’m not aware of. If there isn’t a health issue I will follow up with “oh, sounds like your phone is too close to your mouth then – can you fix it?”.

  32. Roberta

    I’m a lawyer in Chicago and recently received a chocolate foot from a legal recruiter (just trying to get their “foot in the door” GET IT) so maybe it’s just a Chicago specific legal recruiting industry thing…

    (I did not contact the recruiter because I have zero hiring authority at my firm and also thought the marketing was weird and gimmicky (not to mention entirely misdirected). I did eat the foot, though.)

  33. Miss B

    So, is any kind of skirt or dress just _always_ going to read as too dressed up, then? Asks the woman who does not wear pants of any kind, ever, in any situation, period? (Not for religious or cultural reasons — I just don’t like pants.) ((But I’m also fine with always being a little overdressed, and it’s never been an issue for me. But I’m just curious if female-presenting people generally need to default to pants in order to fit in the standard “business casual” template.))

    1. Emily, admin extraordinaire

      I think a jean or maxi skirt could fit in business casual depending on what top they’re paired with, but generally, yes, business casual means pants. These days a skirt means “dressy” in almost every context.

      1. appleaday

        I disagree. I think the combination of *pencil skirt* and blazer makes it too businesslike, but a more casual skirt would work fine. I work in a business casual kind of setting and women wear skirts all the time.

      2. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

        I am totally business casual and I rarely wear pants. I have hip pain and find skirts and dresses more comfortable. Women can be in business wear (vs business casual) in either. A tailored top plus a blazer will make you look much more formal, especially if it’s a coordinated set. You can also dress down a pencil skirt to be more casual with a less tailored top and a cardigan vs. a blazer.

  34. HRish Dude

    Has anyone actually bothered to go look at the application for the “large Atlanta station”? It’s not even remotely as complicated as it’s being made out to be. It’s exactly like any other electronic application that you see anywhere.

  35. lexicat

    Exactly. I rarely wear trousers, and I don’t own any work-suitable flats, but I still dress business casual. I wear knit tops and cardigans instead of blazers or button downs with my pencil skirts. When I wear a jacket, it’s not a suit jacket and doesn’t match my skirt. I also find that colourful/patterned/fuller skirts look more casual than dark, neutral pencil skirts.

  36. Pointy Haired Boss

    #3: When it gets to the point where they are rejecting good candidates because they didn’t fill out some form in triplicate, upper management needs to put their foot down. What is it with poorly trained HR people??? It’s like the whole industry is made up of admin assistants suffering from the Peter Principle…

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