It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. I was invited to a group interview
Several days after submitting a job application, I received this response: “We will be conducting a group interview for the [title] position on [date and time]. Kindly confirm your attendance via email.”
This is a professional job requiring a specialized master’s degree and 4+ years of experience, so the invitation strikes me as slightly insane. I haven’t attended a group interview in years, and definitely not after getting my master’s. Is it normal to conduct group interviews for these types of positions? What does this say about the organization?
That they suck at hiring and don’t mind putting candidates in demeaning positions. No, group interviews are not normal for professional positions, nor are they sound practice. (I’m assuming this is an interview of you and a group of other candidates, not a panel interview where you’re meeting with a group of interviewers. The latter isn’t weird; the former is. This sounds like the former.)
Oh, and maybe it’s this! (If it is, maybe just go so that you can report back to us?)
2. I made a mistake that I didn’t discover and no one has talked to me about
I was responsible for putting together a file with performance metrics for bonus payout purposes. I guess I made a copy-paste error, which resulted in incorrect payouts. I’m assuming a person whose bonus wasn’t correct brought this up to my boss. I only learned of the mistake while overhearing his conversation with his boss about the errors he uncovered in the file I was responsible for putting together. He spent the better part of the day double-checking the numbers in the file and submitting the revised file to payroll.
The mistake is really nagging at me but my boss nor his boss has brought the mistake to my attention. I’m technically not supposed to be aware of the mistake, since I only learned of it while listening in on their conversation (it’s a very small office!). I’m also confused as to why they did not bring the mistake to my attention or ask me to fix it. I feel as if I’ve lost the trust of my boss and his boss and there’s no way for me to even address it because I learned of this mistake through eavesdropping! What should I do?
You weren’t listening with a glass to the wall, right? You just overheard it being discussed in the course of regular business, so it’s fine to say something about it. I’d say this: “I think I might have overheard you saying that there was a mistake in the bonus payouts file I put together. I was hoping you could tell me what happened so that I can be careful to avoid whatever the mistake was in the future.”
To be clear, innocently overhearing something doesn’t always make it okay to bring it up with the person. It wouldn’t make it okay to ask a coworker about their wart removal appointment that you overheard them making or your boss’s raise, but this is something that directly involves you and your work, and you’re framing it as wanting to make sure you’re doing the best job that you can.
3. My coworker refuses to learn how to use a computer or a printer
I have a coworker who refuses to learn how to use a computer or a printer and handwrites everything. Most people in the office are used to it since everyone has worked here for 20+ years. She has worked here for 30+ years and never learned how to use any machine. Since I am the front desk, she hands me all of her work to type up and she has me print stuff out for her all the time. In the beginning, I did not mind and was eager to help. Now, I am finding myself becoming irritated when asked to help. She usually has a million corrections and changes her mind. Plus, it’s pages and pages of things to be typed and, what is more irritating, she will put a rush on it. I honestly don’t know how someone can be employed for that long at a company and refuse technology especially working in a office. I need some advice on how to handle this situation.
The big question here is whether your manager wants you to spend your time helping your coworker like this. If she does, then yeah, it’s part of the job. But she might not, especially if it’s keeping you from other priorities. I’d go talk to your boss and say this: “Jane often asks me to type up large amounts of her work and print things for her. In an average week, it takes about (amount of time). It sometimes keeps me from X or from completing Y as quickly as people would like. Is this something I should continue helping her with, or should I be declining when I have other work that needs to be done?”
It is possible that your company thinks that your coworker is sufficiently valuable that it’s worth having to pay someone to type up her work. There are people who do fall in that category! But you should find that out for sure.
4. We all have to reapply for our jobs, and I’m worried about stealing a job from a coworker
I work as an administrative coordinator for an organization that has been very open to career development opportunities. When I was offered the job, they knew that my primary field was different from this job, but they encouraged me to pursue learning opportunities and involvement in projects related to the work I wanted to do. I also became the back-up for the person they had in the role I wanted to be in, giving me plenty of experience doing their job as well as my own. Fast forward nine months, and that person moved on to another position outside the organization, and I was transferred into that role as the acting coordinator. Because of hiring rules, they ended up having to post the job, and I will have to apply and interview for it. I have a strong chance, being the internal candidate, but of course nothing is guaranteed.
At the same time, they have also had to post the jobs for all of us in my department, including the administrative position that I was originally in (because we’ve all been on contract and union rules require this). They have another staff member acting in my former role now, and she intends to apply for it. I’ve been encouraged by the manager to apply for both positions, but I’m concerned that if I get the admin job and not the one that I’m acting in, I won’t be able to accept the position without looking like I “stole” the job from my coworker. Our entire office is very close, and I’d feel terribly about taking the job from her, but at the same time, I need to work too! Should I even bother applying if I don’t know whether or not to take the job if I get it?
Yes, you should apply for it if you think you might want it. It’s not “stealing” the job from someone any more than it ever is when you’re offered a job. Your employer has put you all in a terrible position where you have to reapply for jobs you’re already doing. Blame that system, not each other.
5. Telling a new employer that I want to give more than two weeks notice
I recently received a job offer I’m excited to take, but my present job would be put in a real bind with me leaving after two weeks notice, whereas a three-week notice would allow other employees to return from their time off and make it easier for me to leave.
How much detail should I give my potential new boss about this? Should I assume they’ll care that I’d be leaving my present job in a lurch? Or would it be commendable that I wouldn’t leave a job in predicament because that would obviously mean I wouldn’t for the new job as well? I want to do the right thing without making the new job feel like I’m not respecting them enough to just run to them ASAP.
It’s really, really, really common for people to ask for more than two weeks before starting a new job. You don’t even need to get into the details of why. Just say, “I’d like to give my current job three weeks notice to wrap up some projects here. Will a start date of X work for you?”