do dogs belong in job interviews?

A reader writes:

I work for a company that allows pets to be brought to work. In fact, we have a “Dog of the Day” program and a coordinator. Did I mention the pooches get their own company name/ID badges too? But I digress.

Recently, I was part of a panel made up of a VP, two sales managers, a customer service manager, and myself (also a customer service manager) to interview a candidate for a position in our newly formed sales organization. My cohort in customer service brought her dog into the interview. I was appalled by this, as I perceive it to be completely unprofessional and disruptive as the dog, a larger German Shepherd mix was constantly moving around under the table and doing what dogs do throughout the interview.

What’s your take on pets in interviews?

I answer this question — and four others — over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

Other questions I’m answering there today include:

  • How honest should I be with new hires about a blow-up before their time?
  • My interview was canceled 10 minutes before it was supposed to start
  • What to do with company swag when you’re leaving your job
  • How to connect a friend with a business contact who’s hiring

{ 285 comments… read them below or add one }

    1. fposte

      I would think sites would start to include that in filterable searches, in fact, since people who want it really want it.

      Reply
    2. Lindsey

      Search Google! I feel like every other week I see an article about pet-friendly workplaces (i.e. “Top 10 Places Where You Can Bring Your Dog to Work!”

      Reply
    3. Lucy Honeychurch

      I work with a bunch of blind/VI people, and our office is dog-friendly in general since we have service dogs around anyway. So maybe try blindness orgs? (You can’t pet service dogs, obvi, but there are some non-service dogs who come in too.)

      Reply
    4. gmg

      Move to Vermont. It’s like take-your-dog-to-work paradise here. (I don’t own a dog, but I love it … it’s like I have five or six surrogate puppers.)

      Reply
    5. Suz

      My sister works in the nursing home/assisted living industry. Every place she’s worked at was dog friendly. It’s a morale booster for the residents they started doing it years before it became thing in other fields.

      Reply
  1. Cute Li'l UFO

    I showed up to work on a short-term contract in an office full of dogs. Said dogs were aggressive, the owners did not handle it well (“He only does that to bad people!”), I am fearful of dogs, and I am VERY allergic to dogs. I was livid. I don’t make the assumption that all offices have dogs because it’s not exactly the norm.

    Regarding swag, I still have some of the nicer things. The backpack a tech company gave me that I never used ended up going to my dad because I sure as heck did not want to remember my time there. He loves it.

    Reply
    1. SQL Coder Cat

      Ha! I’m sitting at my desk in AwesomeNewJob, using the very expensive water bottle they gave us for ’employee appreciation day’ at ToxicOldJob. I use it to remind me that even on the stressful days, this job is 1000x better than there.

      Reply
      1. The OG Anonsie

        My ex and some of his friends worked for a big, popular website. I would wager that at least 75% of the time when I saw any of them, they were wearing a swag shirt either from work or from a partnering company or vendor.

        Reply
        1. Corey

          I don’t know how to answer that question. I assume the fear affects her life if she is mentioning it here.

          Reply
          1. NGL

            She’s mentioning it in a conversation about dogs in the workplace – she didn’t mention it out of the blue. It’s totally possible to live a life that is largely dog-free and thus there’s no need to “treat” a fear of dogs. (And even if she has taken steps to treat her fear, it’s really not the business of an internet commenter to be asking for personal details!)

            Reply
          2. Liane

            And she’s allergic to them as well as fearful.
            Which doesn’t mean, Corey, that you may ask what she’s done to treat the allergy.

            Reply
            1. Blurgle

              As if allergies were curable!
              Then again, there are still people foolish enough to think you’re just crazy and neurotic, and if you’d just petted the nice dog (or, worse, tried the food because it tastes good and obviously that’s all that matters *shakes head*) you would get over your fake lying neurotic attention-seeking “allergy”.
              Want to bite people like this.

              Reply
      1. Specialk9

        You think they should reduce their fear of something to which they are ALLERGIC? I mean, it would be an inappropriate question anyway, but with allergies, weird.

        Reply
        1. Corey

          Well yeah, her allergy doesn’t eliminate her exposure to dogs. Obviously she avoids them more than those who are not allergic.

          Reply
          1. MassMatt

            Corey, please stop with this, it’s not adding to the conversation and you are just digging yourself in deeper.

            Reply
              1. Super Anon for This

                It’s really not. And people who allergic to a certain thing really avoid it too. Hives aren’t fun, even if that is the extent of your reaction, it’s still pretty bad, says she who speaks from experience.

                Reply
          2. Blurgle

            So you think allergy is a fake lying neurotic attention-seeking lie and not a medical matter easily testable by evidence-based medical practitioners?

            Reply
      2. Biscuit!

        I’m not the earlier poster, but I also have a fear of dogs I don’t know. I don’t think your question is appropriate at all. It’s perfectly reasonable to assume that someone can be afraid of something without it affecting their everyday life. I have a fear of strange dogs, therefore I do not go to dog parks. It doesn’t mean I have to change my entire schedule to accommodate that fear. I, personally, would be pretty pissed if I showed up to a job interview and someone had their german shepherd there. If I’m taking the time to prepare and show up to an interview, a dog is not something I’d want sprung on me. I think if it’s the culture, that’s one thing. But that should be disclosed up front so that there’s no surprises.

        Reply
        1. Cute Li'l UFO

          Exactly. I have friends who I trust as dog owners versus someone telling me that the pup is giving me mouth hugs and trying to rip my leg off.

          I unfortunately haven’t found the magic allergy pill that I can take pre-exposure. When I was trapped in that contract I remember frantically searching to see if taking my entire bottle of claritin would be a teensy bit bad. Friends who have wood floors and vacuum on the reg I can generally visit with less issue but I’ve still been out for a couple days after visits.

          So far only Sudafed (with ephedra) seems to work post-exposure. I mean, benadryl does too but then I’m just asleep. At least I’m up and bouncing off the walls with Sudafed.

          Reply
      3. Falling Diphthong

        Something unusual and possibly allergic about the environment should be addressed by the employer, not the new employee who merely expected the office to be average: “There are cats in the office, do you have an allergy?” “The office is very into aromatherapy which causes trouble for people with asthma.” “Friday is peanut war day, when everyone throws peanuts at each other.”

        I love dogs… meaning I have no patience with dog owners who let their dog growl and lunge at passersby, telling the lungee that they must be a bad person to have triggered this response. If she would flashback-terror-flee the office on seeing a puppy video, it makes sense to get that treated, but being uncomfortable around badly behaved dogs–or cockatoos, or robot vacuums–is not a problem people are obligated to correct.

        Reply
        1. Cute Li'l UFO

          Oh lord, you got me laughing with peanut day. Another office I worked in people swapped the tongs on sushi day, meaning the vegan sushi was contaminated with crustaceans and I was having a major reaction. Another place I was more than happy to leave, after being told “but was it really ~that~ big a deal?”

          Seems it would be kind of cathartic to throw peanuts at each other. Maybe it could just be those biodegradable ones though.

          Reply
    2. Elizabeth West

      I don’t mind using things like a padfolio (I have a very nice leather one I got at Exjob), but clothes are a no. I can’t wear them anywhere else. I don’t want to buy any more company clothing. Dear offices, please don’t make me do that.

      Reply
      1. Irene

        “clothes are a no. I can’t wear them anywhere else” — okay, for just half a second I thought you meant you couldn’t take a job that required you to wear clothes. ALL RIGHTY, THEN. :)

        Reply
  2. Lemon Zinger

    Dogs don’t belong in the workplace unless (a) they are service animals or (b) you work directly with dogs (i.e. at a groomer, doggy daycare, etc.).

    I have a dog and love him to death, but I am terrified of large dogs. I would never subject anyone to spending protracted periods of time around my dog, knowing that many people are scared or allergic. There’s just no good reason to have a dog in the office unless it’s performing a service for someone with a disability.

    Reply
    1. paul

      I kind of have to agree. I’ve loved my dogs over the years–sadly my last one is dying and I think I wn’t have another for a while. But I see dog friendly and I kind of picture a host of issues–dog allergies, phobias, dogs getting snarly with each other, dogs getting underfoot, the odd puddle on the floor…eh, not for me.

      Reply
      1. Screw the pooch

        @Lemon Zinger, who appointed you to speak for everyone? I would love to work at a dog-friendly workplace and would change jobs in a heartbeat if that opportunity became available. Friends who work at dog-friendly workplaces say it’s the best perk the company can offer. I understand that not all companies will or can offer this perk, but your blanket statement that “dogs don’t belong in the workplace” is your opinion not holy writ.

        Also, PROVIDED that the dog-friendly nature of the workplace is disclosed up-front I have no problem with ostracizing employees who voluntarily join a dog-friendly workplace and then try to get the perk eliminate for everyone else.

        Reply
      1. Xarcady

        I think I posted about this once before, but it is pertinent here.

        A friend of mine works for an organization that works with people with disabilities. My friend has a disability and she has a service dog, as do many of the people working in that office. A new hire was brought in who announced on her first day that she has a phobia of dogs, severe enough t count as a disability/medical issue.

        Eventually, after several false starts–a dog-free workplace was just not going to happen, however much she wanted/demanded it– a compromise was reached where all the people with service dogs work on one corridor of the building and the phobic woman is never expected to walk down that hall. People with service dogs can’t bring them to meetings that she will be attending and have to use a side entrance to the building so that she won’t have to see them, both at some inconvenience to themselves. And apparently some of the dogs are very unhappy when they are left behind in their human’s office, and some of them have had behavior issues because of this. They just don’t understand why they aren’t being allowed to do their jobs.

        This does not solve the problem that clients frequently bring service dogs to the office, but anyone could expect to meet up with a dog or two during the normal course of their day, so that is not something the office can control.

        Needless to say, many employees of the organization wish she had taken herself out of the running for the job when she first saw dogs in the office, and also wonder how she dealt with the interviews, as there was at least one dog present at all her interviews. And they all heartily wish she’d leave.

        Reply
        1. WellRed

          Wouldn’t forbidding people from bringing their service dogs to a meeting run afoul of the ADA? (not sure if you are in US).

          Reply
          1. Callalily

            I know in Canada this would violate some laws too… you can’t tell people with legal service animals to leave them behind in certain situations – the dog goes where the person goes. Even if you ban the person AND the dog from the meeting you run into legalities of discrimination based on disability.

            I had to run some seminars on the disability laws for my employers after some legitimate service animals were denied entry to one of our retail storefronts (staff assumed it was a pet and the documents were forged), it is shocking how many people mentally equate these working animals as nothing more than a pet rather than a disability aid.

            At the basic point of view – it is no different than telling a blind person to leave their cane in their office because you worry they might hit you with it!

            Reply
        2. fposte

          Another one I’ve posted about appeared on Reddit. Somebody has a service dog in a smallish office and the new hire was allergic. No space-sharing compromise of dog-washing frequency or anything similar was accepted, so the service-dog user was put in remote space. This turned out to be a pretextual move and she was given four weeks’ notice to wrap up the big project with their biggest client. She quit on the spot, they lost the client and a ton of revenue, and the subsequent layoffs included the allergic co-worker. I believe her office was below the ADA threshold but was still covered by the similar Michigan statute, and she was exploring her legal options.

          Reply
          1. paul

            That just sounds rough all the way around. I mean, I don’t usually tend to side with companies, but what are they actually going to be able to do there? They don’t have a ton of space, there’s two legitimate ADA issues that butt heads…yuck.

            Reply
            1. fposte

              In the abstract, yes. The actual description suggested they were kind of duplicitous jackasses who caved to the louder person there and were unwilling to engage in any problem solving, aside from making the foolish choice to antagonize the person on whom their business depended. But who knows what allergy co-worker would have said?

              Reply
    2. Government Worker

      I’m not a fan of (most) dogs at work, but this seems a little harsh. Some people get a lot of happiness out of having dogs around, either their own or others.

      I don’t think hyper yippy puppies belong in open-plan corporate office buildings, but there were faculty members at my university who had calm dogs who chilled in the professor’s offices most of the day and it worked out fine. A coworker brought her dog in sometimes at a job at a 5-person nonprofit with a laid-back atmosphere, and while I wasn’t fond of that specific dog, it wasn’t a big deal to me and made my coworker much happier with her job. It’s not one-size-fits-all.

      Reply
      1. Anon here

        I think the 5-person non-profit is a unique case, same as a barber shop or mechanics shop might be. I would also be happier with a comfy couch, TV, working in gym clothes, access to free candy, and maybe the occasional late afternoon whiskey, but that doesn’t mean any of those things are going to become part of my office anytime soon. Generically, a company needs to make sure people are not unhappy by providing a clean and safe work environment, good management, job opportunities and staying profitable/in business. They don’t need to recreate a happy home for every employee.

        Reply
        1. Jesca

          I think it is also important to note that you could be driving people away by this practice. The talent t may be lost can be pretty substantial. I am saying this as my SO does have a service dog. You would be surprised how many people FREAK because they are so scared. And that is a trained, clearly marked service dog. It happens many times every single time we go out with him. So there are a lot of people simply afraid of dogs. We need to all respect that. Unless the dog is needed, it probably shouldn’t be in an office. Private places like Government worker described ae fine because the interaction is way low. But yeah, in offices, it can’t work despite the overall culture of the current employees.

          Reply
          1. fposte

            I totally appreciate where you’re coming from as a responsible dog person with a dog in public, and in that situation I completely agree. Pragmatically speaking, though, I don’t know that we all do need to respect people’s fear of dogs when it comes to workplaces; if it’s important to me that the (hypothetical) company I run allow dogs, I get to do that, same as I get to decide I want it to exist in a cabin in the woods where people can only get there with four-wheel drive. There will be losses, but they may well be losses I’m willing to accept in exchange for the gain of the kind of workplace I hope to build.

            Reply
            1. Screw the pooch

              Exactly. You’ll lose some employees who are afraid/allergic to dogs. So what? You’ll also attract new employees and gain the undying loyalty of existing employees. It’s all about tradeoffs and this is a legitimate call.

              Reply
          2. Liane

            “You would be surprised how many people FREAK because they are so scared.”
            I wouldn’t. A college friend, whom I met when I read tests for her, had a lovely, sweet Seeing Eye boxer, who happened to be brindle. The number of strangers who were terrified of “Galahad” because “Eeeeeekkkk! A pit bull!” was appalling. Yup, even when he was in harness (“on duty”). This was on top of people and businesses not getting that Lisette could take Galahad anywhere.
            (Now, those of us when knew him understood that he was a gentle animal whose favorite off-duty activity was Being Petted and Adored.)

            Reply
          3. Anon here

            I’m pretty sure we would allow a service dog. I’m just countering the point Govt Worker was making about dogs and promoting worker happiness, and the free-for-all dog culture.

            We’re one of the top companies in our industry (like Google-level name/culture recognition for the type of work we do), so I highly doubt this is a talent or retention issue. If you’re the type of employee looking for a laid back culture, we’re not it anyway. You’ve got to go with your company’s strengths and culture.

            Reply
        2. Corey

          “I would also be happier with a comfy couch, TV, working in gym clothes, access to free candy, and maybe the occasional late afternoon whiskey, but that doesn’t mean any of those things are going to become part of my office anytime soon.”

          It’s not an argument against those things that they are not going to become part of your office. We don’t know why or whether they would be right for your office. I’ve worked where we had them all, and it is really nice.

          “They don’t need to recreate a happy home for every employee.”

          But wouldn’t you want them to if they could?

          Reply
          1. Anon here

            No, I would not want them to add all my personal preferences. My company has employee shareholders, over 10,000 employees in the US, Canada, and Mexico, and 1,000 employees in my location. The cost to give everyone what made them happy would be ridiculous, and I think it would hinder our ability to operate and be productive. That may vary for some businesses, and they would have improved productivity, but the nature of our work requires a lot of procedural compliance, lots of meetings, lots of desk moves (1x/yr or more). It makes me happy to know everyone is focused on work and not comfort.

            Reply
            1. Screw the pooch

              Ya, ‘cuz a $500 couch to “keep employees happy” is going to be a “ridiculous” cost. Gimme a break. I’ve seen LAW FIRMS where couches are available for a power nap.

              Reply
          2. SarahTheEntwife

            There are some things I find relaxing that I wouldn’t want at work because it would be a distraction from getting stuff done. My workplace is dog-friendly in the sense that every few months someone brings their pet in, and that’s a nice treat, but I think it would be awkward having them around all the time if I didn’t work at a vet or something.

            Reply
          3. Humble Schoolmarm

            I think for me the analogy is more like ‘I would be happier playing Broadway show tunes over a good speaker system and spontaneously bursting into song. I would also be happy with monthly catered seafood chowder lunches.’ Those perks would certainly make me happier, but would a. annoy the heck out of anyone who doesn’t like show tunes, or singing, or extraneous noise and b. make someone who is allergic to seafood very sick. I can certainly say that’s the kind of imaginary teapot manufacturing company I want, and I’m going to hire only for seafood-loving Broadway fans, but if I’m making teapots, not singing chowder bowls, I think I’m just shooting myself in the foot.

            Reply
        3. hbc

          But some places *do* strive for that, and that’s their prerogative. Lots of places have free candy and no clothing restrictions beyond what’s actually legal. Some places choose to have uniforms which some people will love and some people will hate.

          Yes, a dog-filled company will limit your pool if candidates, but you may also have employees who are thrilled to be there. Of course, whether the particular benefits of any unusual arrangement are worth the downside (allergies! telling someone his dog is too badly behaved to come! wet dog smell!) is up for debate.

          Reply
      2. Falling Diphthong

        On the example in the letter, I think there’s a big difference between bringing a German Shepherd who promptly curls up in a corner and goes to sleep, and bringing one who wanders around. Like if your assistant sits quietly and takes notes that’s fine, but if he crawls around under the table and paws at things and investigates the garbage, that’s distracting.

        Reply
        1. KTB

          That is precisely why I don’t bring my dog to work with me. I work in an open plan office, and my 10 year old Lab would want to say hi to everyone as soon as we got in, would nap for thirty minutes, and would then want to say hi to everyone all over again. Lather, rinse, repeat…NOPE!

          Reply
    3. Me too

      I agree. Unless it’s a service animal or the workplace is an animal-related organization as you mentioned I don’t believe dogs should be in the workplace. I respect the reasons why people really like it (especially if say they need to care for the animal, there’s no one to watch it, etc.) but I really don’t think it’s appropriate.

      Reply
    4. HRChick

      Here’s the thing, though: some people don’t think people should ever wear casual clothes in the office. But, depending on the office, that could be totally appropriate – even for positions for which casual clothes aren’t typical and there’s no “good reason” for the different standard.

      The office gets to define its environment. This one is dog-friendly. I think it’s much better to be up front about this for people who do have an issue with that. But, just because some people have an issue, doesn’t make it wrong.

      Reply
      1. KR

        Yeah I have to agree, as someone who brings her dog to work sometimes (he sleeps peacefully beside my desk, with an occasional break for water or pets from my coworkers when offered, and only needs to be let out for a short jaunt around the building once a day). We have no carpet in the building, rarely have visitors, and he is a terrific comfort to me.

        Reply
      2. B

        You said what I was thinking beautifully!

        To me it sounds like they are showing the workplace culture upfront so people can self-select out of consideration.

        Reply
        1. Falling Diphthong

          Yes, I think the dog was a touch out of line, but as far as accurately conveying the office culture it was an excellent kinetic demonstration and so, weirdly, especially appropriate in a job interview.

          Reply
      3. myswtghst

        The office gets to define its environment. This one is dog-friendly. I think it’s much better to be up front about this for people who do have an issue with that.

        Yes, this. Granted, I think the fact that an office is dog-friendly (or has a casual dress code, or has beer on tap in the break room, or whatever) is something best demonstrated during a quick office tour or a “what you should know about working here” blurb in a job listing or phone interview, but regardless, it’s certainly something to learn before accepting a job there.

        Reply
    5. M-C

      From an interviewing point of view, I think what the OP describes is -great-. I’m allergic to dogs enough that I can’t handle them indoors, long term, so I’d like to know about that dog policy (and not everyone thinks to tell you). But a large, unruly dog is a perfect reminder of why you don’t want to allow just any dogs at work, and allowing this one to misbehave is a crucial hint to company culture. I wouldn’t feel uncomfortable in this interview, I’d feel happy to get such a clear signal that I don’t belong there. And it’d be even better if I can get a practice interview in, and then an offer I can gracefully decline on the basis of the dog..

      Reply
    6. Geneva

      Agree 100%. This whole dogs at work phenomenon is very strange to me. Plus, it’s inconsiderate. What one dog owner thinks is adorable, can be super uncomfortable for everyone else. And even if the dog is well behaved, I hate feeling like I have to interact with it or risk looking like a jerk.

      Reply
      1. Screw the pooch

        So don’t accept a job at dog-friendly workplace. For those of us who would like a dog-friendly workplace your view is inconsiderate so it works both ways.

        Reply
    7. Alton

      I think this is something that’s largely up to the company’s discretion, with the caveat that they need to be mindful of things like possible risks and accommodation issues. A lot of workplaces have perks or culture choices that wouldn’t work everywhere (or for everyone). I agree that pet dogs can be too much of a disruption in the workplace, but if the company doesn’t find it to be an issue, it’s their call.

      Reply
    8. this is my name (required)

      That’s how I feel about small dogs. Give me a large Gentle Giant over a small dog any day of the week. They just want to sleep and be near you. Small dogs who yip and lunge make me nervous and I actually avoid them in the street.

      I’m against implementing dogs in the office at existing places, but if it’s a new business and the owners decide that’s part of the culture from the start, I think that’s different because that’s what they want their business to be.

      Reply
      1. Chinook

        “Give me a large Gentle Giant over a small dog any day of the week. They just want to sleep and be near you. Small dogs who yip and lunge make me nervous and I actually avoid them in the street.”

        I have two dogs, one gentle giant and the other a hyper small dog in a boxer’s body (she is all muscle). Gentle giant got the privilege of attending community meetings with my husband the cop because she was happy to be cooed over while sitting in the corner (and helped to acclimatize someone who was scared of dogs but needed to interact with as part of doing street patrols). The boxer, on the other hand is such a bundle of energy that, as much as I love her, she irritates and distracts me at home and never gets to interact the same way with the public.

        One of these would be a wonderful office dog and the other would get me fired. It also confirms to me that, unless there is a good reason for the office to allow it, that dogs shouldn’t be allowed during office hours because not every pet owner is willing to acknowledge their failure to control their own dogs,

        Reply
        1. Lora

          Awww, I miss my Newfoundland. She was mostly a furry speed bump, but she LOVED giving people big drooly kisses – had to have her put to sleep four months ago. I have a Pyr and he’s a honey, but everything within 10 feet of him becomes instantly covered in white dog hair. Neither would make good office dogs, between the slobber and shedding and demands for attention. The Newf used to roll over for a tummy rub, and if you ignored her she started wailing and crying like she was SO SAD. The Pyr puts a giant paw in your lap or on your arm.

          Reply
  3. Mb13

    Op 1 I think the real question is how should you deal with all the doggies running around the office. Surely they must get sad from being deprived physical attention. I think the only solution is to hire me specifically to be the office full time dog petter. I really can not see any other compromise and the dogs’ happiness depends on it.

    Reply
    1. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo

      If there’s that many dogs in the office, I don’t see how one full-time dog petter could handle the workload. I think there needs to be at least two full-time dog petters, and one of them should be me. : )

      Reply
      1. Lora

        Also the dogs need frequent playtime in addition to pats. You need a frisbee/ball-thrower. I have excellent rubber toy-throwing skills, by the way.

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      2. Jaydee

        You know, the dogs will need walkies too, and trying to take them all on walks together will just result in tangled leashes and two dogs trying to go in opposite directions (Bowser: “Squirrel!!!” Muffin: “But this fire hydrant smells soooooo good!!!” Bowser: “But squirrel!!!” Muffin: “I’m not moving!”)

        I should probably be hired to take each of the dogs on individual walks/runs/mosey-and-sniffs.

        Reply
    2. nhb

      Just think: with happy dogs, their owners would feel relieved of the worry and stress they previously felt about their dogs’ unhappiness and how to solve it. Productivity would skyrocket!

      Reply
      1. Bibliovore

        The only time a dog should be in an interview meeting is at New Skete.

        Even in a dog friendly environment. If a dog is in the room it shouldn’t be roaming. It should be in down stay for the duration.

        Reply
  4. ArtK

    OP#4. Just donate the stuff. I have tons of swag from previous employers that I’ve kept, but there is some that I got rid of. Electric green polo shirts (two!) for a conference? No thank you.

    Reply
    1. paul

      Yep. I’ve got lots of USB drives that were swag, I’m keeping those. Shirts? Eh maybe one or two for grungy house work.

      Reply
    2. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo

      OP 1: I’m a total dog person, but I don’t think dogs belong in interviews unless the dog is a service dog or the job requires working with dogs. Too much of a distraction for interviewer and interviewee, plus you don’t know if the interviewee has allergies or a fear of dogs.

      OP 4: Keep what you like and donate the rest. I got a very nice fleece jacket from a former employer that I still wear frequently.

      Reply
      1. Kyrielle

        This, but on the flip side, the dog-friendly office *should* be mentioned in the interview.

        That would be a deal-breaker for me, and if I found out before accepting the job, we could avoid a lot of unpleasant moments having to deal with it because I could just keep looking.

        Reply
        1. Justme

          Job listing even before the interview. I wouldn’t want to come to an interview having a dog phobia. Then their time and mine was wasted. I don’t have a dog phobia, just using it as an example. Ir even a severe allergy would be awful to not know ahead of time.

          Reply
          1. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo

            Oh, absolutely this. The dog shouldn’t be a surprise for a candidate walking into the interview!

            Reply
          2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

            I agree with this. I worked in an office where my boss brought his dog in, so he included, explicitly, that the office was dog-friendly, had a dog on site most days, and that people should be aware of the dog’s existence/presence prior to applying. Some people who were allergic or averse to dogs still applied, but it was many fewer than before he put up the warning in the job posting.

            Reply
      2. Erin

        I used to work at a place for a summer job with 2 German shepherd guard dogs. I loved it, my favorite task was feeding and checking their water. They loved me because I was another food person. But I love dogs and German shepherds in particular. I don’t think dogs or animals should be at a work place unless it’s part of the job, or a service animal.
        But I could never work at a place with cats. I had an interview where they were testing out an office cat. One I’m slightly allergic and I don’t like cats on me, this one was crawling all over me and it was a big distraction.

        Reply
    3. Amber T

      When I left my OldJob (horrifically toxic, just awful, definitely thrilled to get the hell outta there), I burned my shirt and business cards. Very cathartic, and fire is fun.
      – Amber the Slightly Burnt

      Reply
    4. SarahKay

      Definitely. Keep what you like, or that you think would be useful for days when you’re cleaning out the attic/basement/other grubby area, and donate the rest.

      I have two uniform shirts from my retail days that I keep specifically to wear when I’m dying my hair. I have a lovely thick fleece that is rather too large for me from my current employer that I use when doing garden tasks in winter as it fits over even my biggest winter sweater. The polo shirt from an event, in a men’s cut (thus a very bad fit on me and my hips!) I cheerfully donated once the event was done.

      Reply
    5. In Wisconsin

      Check your company policy before donating. I worked at a large multinational that specifically banned donating logo wear to charities for fear someone would get it and impersonate an employee. Didn’t seem likely, but it was called out there. And if you’re leaving, maybe you no longer care if you follow company policy.

      Reply
      1. Beachlover

        How did they know if someone donated clothing? does the clothing has the employees full name on it?

        Reply
      2. SweetTooth

        I was going to say something similar. At my company, there are definitely tshirts and such that could definitely be donated. If it’s more on the uniform/says “staff” for a company that has enough of a public presence or where there could be any kind of concern that someone would try to convince someone that they were an employee, that’s where they might have an issue. Most regular swag is perfectly fine to donate.

        Reply
  5. ginkgo

    Hah, a couple of weeks ago I commented in the open thread about a job interview I had where the interviewer brought in her little chihuahua, and as I sat down to begin the interview he jumped up into my lap. I felt like I’d been blessed by the dog fairy. That said, I think Allison’s answer is the right pne (and I’m not sure how I’d have felt about a German Shepherd!).

    (Ah, San Francisco… where dogs are allowed in your workplace but not in your apartment. Sigh.)

    Reply
  6. gator32301

    To be blunt, I find the response to #1 too passive. There is no reason whatsoever to bring a dog into an interview. Companies shouldn’t come to an understanding on the topic – they should not allow the practice for the potential distraction, let alone all other reasons stated. What purpose does it serve? If it’s to express how friendly the company is to dogs, that can be clearly communicated and shown prior to the interview. I find it mind boggling that someone would even think this was appropriate at any level.

    Reply
    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      One purpose it serves is to give candidates a first-hand look at company culture so they can opt out if they don’t like it. (With all the caveats about warning people first since they may have allergies, etc.) Witness: the letter-writer a couple of years ago who ended up in a dog-friendly office because she never saw the dogs during the interview process.

      Reply
      1. Steve

        Also peop,e should have the freedom to run a business however they want and not have people who don’t work there telling them what to do.

        Reply
        1. gator32301

          My advice would be to follow and read a different website as that is essentially the purpose here.

          Reply
          1. Steve

            I think the purpose of this website is to help people navigate work, not tell people who didn’t ask, how to run their business.

            Reply
            1. gator32301

              Thanks for sharing your unwarranted opinion on how I shouldn’t share my unwarranted opinion, Steve. May the rest of your communications today be more pleasant and not as antagonistic as what you’ve provided here.

              Reply
                1. gator32301

                  perhaps reading into it too much, but both comments are of the “mind your own business” sort, which is odd for a comments section.

        2. addiez

          I don’t disagree – however, if your goal is to hire and retain the best people you can, having a policy that could scare a lot of people off or rub them the wrong way might not be the best decision. Having a policy that’s balanced – allowing people to bring in dogs but not in a way that could cause problems for people who are allergic, scared, whatever – would maximize your potential there.

          Reply
            1. Yorick

              I don’t think so. I love dogs but I would hate to work at a place that was full of dogs. If someone brought their dog occasionally it would be cool, but constant dogs would not. Everyone thinks their dog is very chill and well-behaved, but most of them are a huge distraction.

              Reply
              1. seejay

                Yep, I’m a total pet person, I love them, but one of the things that grinds my buns to bits is when people bring their pets* into stores that are *not* intended to have pets in them (grocery stores, open food, etc).

                * pets as in non-service pets, and this includes those who buy “service animal” vests online to get around the legal definition of a service animal. I get it, there’s a lot of emotional therapy animals out there, but random pets don’t belong around open food in stores or widdling in the aisles or snarling at customers.

                Reply
                1. Dankar

                  Why would someone think it’s even remotely okay to bring a dog into a grocery store?! I think the concern about dog germs on food that’s (for the most part) wrapped and sealed to the point of waterproofing is a bit silly, but it’s a thing that’s just so Not Done that I wouldn’t even considering trying to bend the rule.

                  I mean, who would even have that thought?

                2. seejay

                  @Dankar: Because I live in San Francisco and people here think they can bring pets everywhere. :|

                3. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo

                  I can’t even imagine bringing my dog to work. All the people to see, new scents, new territory…I’d be spending so much time trying to keep him out of trouble that I wouldn’t get any actual work done!

                4. Wendy Darling

                  I love dogs. I actually love most animals. My dog is ridiculously well-mannered and unobtrusive (he’s short, quiet, and reserved with strangers so he pretty much keeps to himself in public). When I worked in a dog-friendly office people would be like “You said you were going to bring your dog today, where is he???” and I’d have to point him out snoozing under my desk. He is awesome. (I can’t take much credit, he was 3 when I got him and he pretty much came this way.)

                  Even when I was in a dog-friendly workplace, I did not take him to meetings (or interviews) because conference rooms were a no dog zone at my workplace. I don’t take him to shops or beaches or parks that don’t allow dogs. I don’t let him off leash in public unless by “public” I mean “the off-leash park”. I *definitely* do not bring him into restaurants or anywhere that prepares or sells food unless dogs are explicitly allowed (some farmer’s markets and restaurant patios are dog-friendly).

                  I like taking my dog places but I feel like 1. the less of an entitled jerk I am about my dog the more people and places will be cool about dogs, 2. I don’t want dog hair in my food either and I definitely don’t want to worry about someone else’s less-indifferent dog shoving their head in my grocery basket, and 3. not everyone has to like my dog or want to be around him. I love him enough for all of us.

                5. Gadfly

                  Well, and legally buying a vest doesn’t work. It just makes enforcement even more difficult. Especially since those emotional support/therapy animals usually don’t have a legal right to go in (state and local laws vary, federally the ADA specifically rules them out as NOT being service animals–they are covered under things like housing and aircraft/flight rules, but they are very different legally from a service animal. Which, by the way, is not required to have any sort of vest or special license to be a legally recognized service animal.)

              2. Katniss

                Yup. I love animals but I don’t want them in the office. I just have no interest in being around them that much. I would not work in an office where dogs were frequently there.

                Reply
              3. K.

                I’ve opted out of two situations where I would have worked in an office with dogs. In one, I was working with a recruiter and she asked how I felt about chihuahuas. I loathe them and said so. She was like, “OK, so the CEO has two that he brings to work every day.” I was like “Nope! Next.” In the other, I saw a position that I loved but when I Googled the company, one of the first things on their website was that they were dog-friendly and there were dogs in the office every day. I like dogs of a certain size but I don’t think dogs belong at work (barring service dogs), and I don’t want to work in a pet-friendly office. Pets (and kids) don’t belong everywhere.

                Reply
              4. oranges & lemons

                Yeah, I love dogs too but my former coworker’s dog used to drive me nuts. She barked at everything, got angry when clients came into the building, and bit people on multiple occasions. Plus people would hang out and talk baby talk to the dog all day long, and throw things over my desk and down the hall for the dog to chase.

                Reply
                1. nhb

                  This dog…BIT people while at your worklace…and was welcomed back to do it again? What the…?

                2. Wendy Darling

                  I think one of the only reasons my pet-friendly workplace worked was that they were downright draconian about what dog behavior was permitted. If your dog was noisy, aggressive, or made messes you were asked not to bring it back.

                  I love dogs at work but I would have had a giant fit if someone’s dog acted like that in the office. I’d rather no dogs at work than poorly behaved dogs at work.

                3. oranges & lemons

                  Technically the dog wasn’t supposed to be there in the first place but no one wanted to deal with telling the coworker that.

                4. K.

                  Bit people? What? I’d quit. Did she bite clients and cost the company business? If I showed up for a client meeting and was bit by a dog, it would be the last time I’d set foot in the building at the VERY least.

                5. oranges & lemons

                  She only bit employees, or that might have been the end of her tenure at the office. She did once bark really aggressively at a celebrity while my coworker was out of the office, and I had to try to explain to him why she was there.

            2. krysb

              It would totally attract me. And trust me, misbehaving dogs would not remain untrained around me for long.

              Reply
              1. Jesca

                I am not trying to snark at all, so do not take it that way. But I don’t think your employer would be paying you to train unruly dogs. I think that in itself would be too much of a distraction. I could not work in an environment with dogs. As we see on this site all the time, many people struggle with maintaining their own behavior at work. Add in their fur baby, its just adding drama and distraction I do not really feel I could function well in.

                Reply
                1. Hedgehog

                  Not to mention their owners would probably take your training about as kindly as parents of misbehaving kids take it when people discipline them.

      2. gator32301

        I can appreciate that, however a 5-minute conversation and office walk-through prior to the interview can accomplish the same.

        Reply
        1. Yorick

          I think a walk-through would be a better indication too, since you would be able to see how many dogs there were (if a couple people bring dogs versus everyone) and how they’re behaving while in the office.

          Reply
        2. hbc

          But if dogs are in 90% of meetings and not just hanging out with their owners solo, I’d say it’s important for both sides to keep the interview realistic. If I’m going to have to take meeting minutes while Snoopy wanders around, you might as well see if I can cogently answer interview questions while the same thing is going on.

          Reply
    2. Peanut

      I agree that a dog doesn’t belong in an interview, and I say that as someone whose first reaction to letter #1 was to immediately demand that Alison contact the LW to find out where s/he works so I can apply there.

      You can make sure people know about the dog-friendly culture by having dogs elsewhere in the office and/or explaining it to the applicant.

      Reply
  7. ZenJen

    I like dogs, but dog hair can get EVERYWHERE unless you’re vigilant about vacuuming (when I bought my house, there was dog hair in the FRIDGE, from the previous owner’s dog). I wouldn’t want it on my work clothes, especially since I have allergies.

    Reply
    1. fposte

      I suppose if the office is that dog friendly you might get haired up anyway, but that’s a good point–even somebody who likes dogs may only have the one interview suit.

      Reply
    2. seejay

      not gonna lie, there’s totally cat hair in my fridge. But it’s the price of living with three cats (two of which are very thick furred).

      My coworkers know that any food I bring in to share may have cat fur in it and they’re duly warned. I do my best to clean my food prep area, but you can’t get all cat fur under control.

      Reply
      1. Chinook

        I have found cat and dog hair in sealed Rubbermaid containers and sealed bags (which is where I store sheets for my parents when they come to visit. My mom is allergic and she appreciates that the room she sleeps in has been scrubbed free of fur and dander and the sheets will remain fur free as long as she remembers to close the door behind her).

        I have tried to fight the good fight but have also conceded that certain fabrics that soak up fur and certain colours will never be bought again because it is a loosing battle.

        Reply
    3. Wendy Darling

      You have to be really hypervigilant with the vacuuming to keep the dog hair down. I’m a dog lover with a mild dog allergy and a small but sheddy dog, and I just ended up getting a roomba so something can vacuum daily and it doesn’t have to be me, because that’s the only way to not have dog hair in the fridge and between the piano keys and in my tub of hair gel and on the ceiling and and and.

      Reply
    4. MechanicalPencil

      This is why mine are nonshedders, minus that little bit of winter coat that I can easily brush out within a two week span outside. Mutts/mixes may not be as shfancy as purebreds, but they don’t get hair everywhere.

      Reply
  8. David S.

    I would say generally dogs don’t belong in interviews. But in this company culture it’s probably fine. Unless dogs aren’t allowed in other meetings.

    If the interviewee doesn’t like it the interviewee would definitely not be a good fit for the company. But I definitely do think that applicants should be warned about the company culture ahead of time.

    Reply
    1. k.k

      I agree. If the applicant is told ahead of time, and it’s stressed that it’s a super dog-centric work place, they can opt out if it’s not a fit for them due to a fear, allergy, or personal preference. If the office is as dog friendly and focused as it sounds, anyone who works there is going to have to get used to it. It might be a good thing to see how the applicant deals with the distraction, assuming that’s a regular thing there.

      Reply
      1. Horse Lover

        Yeah I agree. I think because the workplace is super dog friendly to begin with it’s okay as long as the interviewee knows about it ahead of time.

        Reply
    2. The OG Anonsie

      Yeah, that’s pretty much how I feel about it. If your dog is going to disrupt the interview then it’s probably too disruptive to have at work in the first place. Aside from it being a weird and unusual thing, I can’t think of a specific reason why this is something that should be absolutely avoided.

      Reply
    1. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo

      I would be so distracted petting it and talking to it. “I have a background in teapot painting and experience with – OH LOOK AT YOU YOU’RE SO CUTE I LOVE YOU!” Somehow I don’t think that would go over so well in an interview. : )

      Reply
      1. ginkgo

        Ha this was totally my problem when this happened to me. The entire time in my head I was like “OKAY BE CHILL.”

        Reply
      2. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks

        +1. That would be me, too. *Pets dog* “huh, what was that last question?” *Pets dog again* “and what was I saying??”

        Reply
      3. tigerStripes

        I think a lot of dog owners would be pleased that you like their dog. Of course, you would still have to answer some interview questions :)

        Reply
    2. Amber Rose

      I would require at least a solid five minutes of dog cuddles prior to being able to get my thoughts in order.

      Reply
    3. Havarti

      Yes, I’m definitely someone who forgets people exist as soon as I spot an animal so that interview would have been complete failure. Who’s a good boy? You are! Yes, you are! :D

      Reply
    4. k.k

      At my workplace there are several employees and clients who have service dogs and I’m so distracted by them in the best way. I know that you’re not supposed to interact with a dog while they are working and am careful not to. But anytime there’s a dog in a meeting I can’t help but silently think “Oh my god, the dog is looking at me! The dog brushed against my foot! This is the best day!”

      Reply
      1. Amber Rose

        One of my coworkers’ wife breeds dogs, and for some reason he brought a chihuahua puppy in one day. It ran under some shelves and I went in to fish it out. I picked it up and it licked my nose.

        I was in THE best mood for the rest of the day.

        Reply
      2. Matilda Jefferies

        Last time I was at the airport I was approached by a drug sniffing dog. My head was saying “stand still and let the dog work,” and my heart was saying “But the doggy is sniffing me, which obviously means it wants to say hello! I want to hug him and squeeze him and love him and call him George!”

        Reply
        1. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo

          Some years ago, a friend and I were at the Staten Island Ferry terminal (I think it was the Staten Island side) and we saw a cop with a drug-sniffing dog. (a very friendly lab) As we passed by, the dog made it obvious that he wanted us to pet him. We weren’t sure if we should since the dog was on duty, but the officer told us that he liked and encouraged people to pet the dog, since it made it easier for the dog to do its job.

          Reply
    5. Fiennes

      To me it would be such a welcome icebreaker–a safe, pleasant, neutral thing to connect over. That said, I realize not all job candidates would agree.

      Reply
  9. Amber Rose

    I mean, bringing a dog to an interview would help prevent the situation that one LW had, where they didn’t know the office was full of dogs until after they accepted the job, and everything went downhill from there. But then, so would saying in the interview, “everyone brings their dog to work. We are overrun with dogs. If you don’t like being around dogs, you should probably opt out.”

    Better to not have them there, they are distracting and more importantly, they would be happier elsewhere.

    Reply
    1. INTP

      Yeah, the ideal situation would be that they disclose the dog situation as you’ve written. But if they aren’t willing to be that brutally honest verbally – and most companies wouldn’t, for fear of being accused of discrimination against people with phobias, asthma, mobility problems that make dogs underfoot a danger, etc – dogs in the interview is second-best, since it functions as a pretty clear signal to stay away if you don’t love dogs. (Maybe in theory the company is willing to accommodate special situations, but my experience with intense dog people is that it would never be a good work environment – that person would still be seen as the mean meanie ruining all the fun who is probably a sociopath anyways because everyone knows that good people love dogs.)

      Reply
      1. Horse Lover

        I’ve actually seen some job descriptions that clearly stated if you were allergic to cats, dogs, or horses you need not apply. They were for jobs where you’d reasonably expect to find those animals though.

        Reply
        1. Recruit-o-Rama

          In a work environment where there are animals as a rule (vet office, kennel, etc..) then I agree. But if it’s in a normal non-animal related business I would be pretty miffed that my legitimate extremely severe allergy excludes me from consideration. I really think that people like me have a legitimate ADA level medical condition. Luckily for me, I’ve never worked in an environment where this was an issue but I don’t think it’s ok to exclude people based on an allergy is any more right than excluding people who are in a wheelchair.

          Reply
          1. PoorDecisions101

            I don’t see it any differently than a wheelchair user applying for a job as a high rise window washer – they’re not suited for the job, and similarly, you’re not suited for certain environments.

            Reply
            1. Boris

              Mobility and high rise window washing are intrinsically linked: there is no accommodation that can be put in place to allow someone with limited mobility to do the job. Dogs and office jobs are not that intrinsically linked. Plenty of offices don’t allow dogs and function perfectly well.

              Reply
            2. Recruit-o-Rama

              No, if I applied at a vets office, THAT would be like a person in a wheelchair applying for a high rise window washer. If I apply for an HR job at an accounting firm and I am excluded because of my medical condition, I’d be pretty miffed. I get that people like their pets, I think animals are great, but being around animals makes my eyes and nose burn and run, my throat swell and hurt and my lungs close up. My right to get a job where I can breath trumps anyone’s right to have their dog sitting under their desk.

              Reply
              1. Hedgehog

                This is what makes me wonder if dog-friendly workplaces are. Good idea at all. It puts me in mind of Allison’s explanation of why it’s a bad idea to run offices where people are making inappropriate jokes and no one minds. Eventually someone is going to come along for whom it will be a problem, and then they end up known as the office killjoy or you drive them off because they are not a good fit culturally. And actually, I wonder if the fact that the cultural fit aspect may disproportionately affect people of certain ethnicities may make it even more questionable.

                Reply
              2. The OG Anonsie

                I go back and forth on this. I’m terribly allergic to cats and couldn’t work anywhere with cat that lived in the business. That’s not super common, but I have seen it exactly enough times that it’s something I’ve had to consider before.

                On the one hand, it seems silly to have a facet of the business that will put a lot of people off. On the other hand, that’s true of a lot of other more standard things that will drive various people away from various job circumstances. I don’t think it’s an issue of my rights for a small number of businesses to have setups that are perks for some people but a health problem for me, causing me to self-select out. Buuut at the same time, I do have a chronic illness for which a lot of other dumb requirements that aren’t necessary for business purposes but are very frequently job requirements would preclude my candidacy, and that is regularly infuriating for me. In that case, it’s another piece of the big fat puzzle that is an overall culture of disability issues in the workplace and companies as a whole just not wanting to employ or accommodate sick people under any circumstances. If that problem was rare and businesses with that issue were as unusual as businesses that allow animals, I would not feel as strongly about it. The anger comes from the scope of the effect, I guess.

                So I think the line between it feeling like an issue or not is the volume of businesses doing it. As it is now, animals in the workplace are pretty rare, so it’s unlikely to affect the career prospects and trajectory of anyone with animal allergies in a serious way. If it became more common, then it would be more limiting and more problematic IMO. Or if, perhaps, it was common in a specific industry or region, that would also have a disproportionate affect due to health. But then I waver on that– is it ok to preclude some people from a job due to health reasons that aren’t business related just because you’re doing it less often? I would probably say no on the logical front, but when given this specific scenario I lean towards thinking animal friendly workplaces are fine. I’m really ambivalent and I don’t know why.

                Reply
          2. Erin

            In a few years when I get my commercial greenhouse/farm going I will have animals around. Mostly livestock, but I will have my dogs there because they are farm dogs they keep away other animals from my chickens. my dog is also much more effective at cornering loose chickens so I can catch them and put them back in their pen. Also the snakes in my garden will stay because they eat pests in the garden, same thing with lady bugs and praying mantises. It’s a critical part of a farm. As a small business I can’t hire someone who is afraid of these things or allergic. It would be a waste.
            On another note people are weirder at home than at an office setting about almost everything. My husband works as a commercial painter going into people’s homes, which he’s always dealing with others pets. and has been told his service would no longer be needed by people who don’t want to keep their animals out of the way. I mean someone had a goat that was eating the dry wall they were supposed to paint. Another lady threw a screaming fit because she didn’t want to keep her cat out of the room they were working in. If someone was severely allergic to whatever pet the homeowners had or had a phobia they couldn’t do any job that meant working in someone else’s home.

            Reply
            1. Recruit-o-Rama

              Yes, not everyone can eat sandwiches. In an office where animals have no function should not be a place where people with medical conditions should be excluded. Obviously a farm would not be a place where people with animal allergies could reasonable expect an ADA accommodation. I not allergic to animals AT anyone, I’m not doing it on purpose and my medical condition should not exclude me from jobs just because some people want to have their dogs under their desks.

              Reply
    2. Murphy

      Yeah, the dog situation definitely needs to be made clear during the interview but an actual dog in the interview probably is not the best way to accomplish that.

      Reply
    3. Sunflower

      I’m not sure why this stuff isn’t listed in the job posting! That way it would save everyone’s time.

      Reply
  10. Dr. Speakeasy

    I had an interview where someone brought a dog into the question and answer portion (the most interview-y part of the 2 day academic interview). I took it as an opportunity to show I wasn’t much phased by anything (useful for teaching) AND that dog loved me, wouldn’t leave my side. I didn’t get the job though. For reasons unrelated to the dog. I don’t think it was planned by the department though – just a senior retiring faculty member who brings her dog everywhere.

    Reply
  11. Here we go again

    Growing up, I had a huge phobia to dogs. I’m talking screaming, crying, crawling into my mom’s arms. Exposure therapy helped me a lot, where I can gradually adjust to individual dogs over time, but I am still scared of ones I don’t know.

    Reply
    1. Case of the Mondays

      I saw the saddest scene play out in an airport recently. There was a very nice TSA agent with a very nice black lab standing in the area by the screening lines to get through security. This poor child (6 years old maybe?) was having a complete meltdown about the dog. Screaming, crying, climbing her mother like a tree. They were trying to find a way to get the family through the line without removing the agent entirely (because you really can’t or else someone could use a child and fake a phobia to thwart security). The agent would move to the complete other side of the large room, promise to keep the dog on the leash, promise to move to the other side as the child’s line snaked back the other way, but the child wasn’t having any of it. We were heading the other way so we didn’t see it all play out but I think they just pulled the family out of line and moved them up to the front while the agent stayed on the other side of the room. Mom had to basically drag the poor screaming child. The other sad part is the dog looked so sad. It couldn’t understand what all the commotion was about. I was extra surprised because black labs don’t look inherently scary. I felt bad because the poor child likely had some prior trauma with a dog.

      Reply
      1. seejay

        actually black labs were what my mom was afraid of, due to a large black lab attacking her at our mailbox when I was a kid. The one that ran at her was unruly, untrained and essentially aggressive due to pups (this was back in the 80s) but due to that encounter, my mom would have a minor panic attack and meltdown whenever large black dogs came near her and it would escalate to a near major panic attack if it was a black lab in particular.

        She’s mostly worked her way out of it now, 30 years later, but for at least 10 years she couldn’t deal with any large black dogs or black labs at all, no matter how friendly they were.

        Reply
      2. Here we go again

        20+ years ago, this totally would have been me. It wasn’t related to past trauma or anything, it was just something inside of me that scared me to death when it came to dogs. Big, small, friendly or not… didn’t matter. They were all the same to me. I think dogs can sense the fear and they try to show you they are friendly by coming close, which made it worse…

        I have also had bad experiences as an adult, which hasn’t really helped the situation… a dog grabbed my leg a few years ago when I was out for a run (he didn’t bite down and I wasn’t injured, but it came out of nowhere) and another time while on a run a pitbull kept pouncing on me… Would run away a few hundred feet and pounce again. I seriously could not tell if it was playing or trying to kill me. I stopped a garbage truck that was driving by and the driver was nice enough to drive me home.

        Reply
      3. tigerStripes

        I worked at a daycare when I was a teenager, and the daycare had 2 large, very relaxed dogs (German Shepherd and lab mix). Some of the kids started out scared of the dogs, but these 2 dogs were sweet, gentle, and they weren’t all that interested in interacting with the kids (maybe mildly so sometimes), and the kids got comfortable with the dogs. Almost aversion therapy, I guess, but it would all depend on the dogs.

        Reply
  12. Mr. G

    Is no one going to address this line?

    “Did I mention the pooches get their own company name/ID badges too?”

    Because it’s the most adorable thing I’ve read all year.

    Reply
    1. Wannabe Disney Princess

      I squealed when I read that. Well. Internally, as I didn’t wish to cause alarm to my fellow coworkers.

      Reply
      1. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo

        My dad was in the hospital recently, and all the therapy dogs there have their own little trading cards that their owners give to patients when they visit. The cards have the dog’s name and picture on one side, and information about the dog’s breed, age, likes & dislikes, etc. on the back. They are too cute!

        Reply
  13. INTP

    I feel like dogs in an interview is unprofessional. At the same time, I think it’s a good idea for this workplace given how enmeshed in office life the dogs seem to be. It’s only fair for the interviewees to know just how much of a dog-oriented office they may be joining, and it’s beneficial to the company to be able to rule out people who won’t be okay with it. There’s a big difference between “We are a dog-friendly office and some people take advantage of this perk” and “the dogs have their own ID badges and employee-of-the-week program” and I’d want to know what I was dealing with. In my experience there’s not going to be any way around dealing with dogs in this sort of environment – even if in theory they are willing to accommodate, the way it would actually play out in a phobia or allergy situation is that the person would be treated like they were ruining all the fun and possibly even untrustworthy for not loving dogs. I don’t want to walk into that thinking all I actually have to deal with is the occasional dog sleeping under a desk.

    Reply
    1. Sarah

      Agree. I don’t have anything close to a medical reason, but I just generally am not a huge fan of dogs, except a few that I happen to have gotten to know well over the years because they belong to close friends/family. Working in an office where there were constant random dogs around every day would raise my stress level a lot, and I would just generally hate it. But, this office is CLEARLY at one extreme end of the spectrum in pet-friendliness, so it’s very easy for me to find a job that doesn’t have this environment. For example, I’ve worked at what I would consider fairly pet-friendly places where people will occasionally bring a calm pet into their private office and close the door, which does not bother me at all and is a totally different situation. I would definitely want to opt out of this particular office environment and the interview is as good a time as any!

      Reply
  14. Marillenbaum

    Of course you have to have a dog in the job interview–isn’t the whole point to prove he’s a good boy?
    13/10, Employee of the H*cking Month.

    Reply
  15. animaniactoo

    I walked into a meeting with a client and froze because they’d brought their dog with them – and I am allergic. Serious can-put-me-in-the-er depending on the breed and how long I’ve been exposed allergic.

    I’m pretty sure I offended the client even though I did my very best to be professional and simply make sure there was 10 feet of space between me and the dog at all times, explaining that I was allergic and it didn’t matter how well behaved she was, I COULDN’T be in contact with her at all.

    If you’ve made it clear in the job application/listing that dogs are part and parcel of working in the office, then I wouldn’t worry about pre-notification for the interview. However, I disagree that it’s about what meetings or other office activities the dog is able to be brought into. I think the focus needs to be on behavior of the dog in the location. Laying down in the corner? No problem. Restive and actively moving back and forth among people and areas? Needs to be removed because they are actively distracting in that moment. Much like a movie theater showing a G rated movie. Kids there to watch are fine and are welcome customers. Kids having a temper tantrum or crying loudly should be walked out to the hallway so that they can get a break from the situation that is upsetting them and so that they are not being disruptive to everyone else there for the show.

    Reply
    1. Government Worker

      I think the problem that comes up in many offices is that dog owners and parents can be really bad judges of how well-behaved or distracting their dogs and kids are. I’m not a dog person but I have two young kids, and when people without young kids visit I realize just how much distraction and disruption I take for granted when they’re around. The interruptions to conversation with my spouse are almost invisible to me sometimes, but they’re really glaring to someone who isn’t used to the rhythms of life with toddlers or preschoolers.

      Same with dogs – if you live with a dog you may not get distracted by it sitting in the corner with a squeaky toy or circling around sniffing things or whatever, because it’s just the background soundtrack for your life. But your coworkers (and interviewees!) may find it super-distracting. Everyone agrees that only well-behaved dogs should be in even dog-friendly offices, but a lot of people have bad judgment about whether their own dogs meet the relevant definition of well-behaved because they’re so used to that particular dog’s behavior.

      Reply
      1. animaniactoo

        Yeah, but there are ways around that – part of the setup for allowing and enjoying the dogs being there is steadfast adherence to the rule that if someone asks you to remove them, you do so without complaint or lose the privilege of bringing the dog to work, and such.

        Reply
        1. Government Worker

          I agree, though this can be hard to implement in practice. I worked in a 6-person office where I sat in the main open area, and one coworker sometimes brought her dog. I’m not a dog person but don’t mind them, but this dog was pretty distracting. She wasn’t badly behaved, but she had energy and liked people – not one of those “you’ll never even know she’s there!” situations, given the layout of the office. It wasn’t frequent or distracting enough to complain about it, given that it would have been impossible to be anonymous and my coworker was really happy about being able to bring the dog in sometimes, so it would have caused tension in that work relationship.

          That office also had a couple of people who would bring their early-elementary age kids in occasionally. One was fine and would read quietly in her mother’s office (and her mother would never bring her in for more than an hour or two), but the other would sometimes be there for hours when school was closed and would try to chat with all of us and was really distracting. But the level of distraction wasn’t high enough for me to make a big thing out of it, and there was no way to address it without it being a big thing.

          There are no easy answers on being dog- or kid-friendly. It’s an enormous benefit to the people who want it, but it’s really hard to do without impacting everyone else.

          Reply
        2. INTP

          That can work if everyone is mature and objective about their own pets, but ime, people are as emotional and defensive about their pets as they are about their children. Putting it on the employees to tell their coworkers to remove their animals is kind of a cop-out, requiring employees to deal with the conflict and resentment involved when people think their precious snowflake has been unfairly banished by an intolerant meanie. Imagine if you gave everyone the right to bring their kids to work, and told everyone that if a kid is being distracting, you have to tell its parent that it’s too annoying to be at work and needs to leave. This wouldn’t happen without hurt feelings and chaos.

          Reply
      2. Yorick

        People really have no idea about how well-behaved their dogs are. I have a friend who believes her dog is great with other dogs even though he wants to fight about half of them, and thinks he is so well-behaved even though he gets in people’s faces constantly (even when they’re eating).

        Reply
        1. k.k

          I’m always shocked how people can’t know this. I have two dogs who are my pride and joy, love them beyond words, etc. But they’re jerks. Multiple training classes and hundreds of dollars later, still jerks. I would love to work in a pet friendly office in order to be around dogs, but I would never dream of taking either one of my smelly idiots to work.

          Reply
          1. Chinook

            Heck, the dog may not be a jerk, just dumb as a post. I love that hyperactive bundle of muscle, but when they were handing out intelligence, she was too busy trying to find someone to play with.

            Reply
    2. Dankar

      I agree. I mean, I love dogs. I bring my dog to work sometimes and professors in the building have asked that I leave the baby gate at home and let her wander the building (so they can sneak her cake!).

      You have to make that obvious to anyone who’s applying, though! No surprise dogs. The only private company I’ve been tempted by has “office dogs” and advertises all over their job postings that dogs are a regular part of the culture there. No one would be going into that interview unaware, and that’s how it should be.

      Reply
  16. BTW

    OP #3) The fact that he said “another location TODAY” already suggests to me that he’s an inconsiderate jerk. Did he really not know prior to that he would be gone? The wording also made it seem like he was already there so why not call you when he found out he would be leaving? I don’t think this is any indication of an issue with you as an applicant but as Alison said, I would use the interview to find out if this is a red flag like I think it is. 10 minutes? Not respectful of your time in the least, especially if you had to take time off work or shuffle a schedule around to accommodate.

    Reply
    1. Jessica

      My dirty lens had me imagining some sort of fire that he had to go put out at the other location, and which he was still dealing with when he looked at his watch/got his Outlook notification and realized he was about to miss a scheduled interview.

      Once could be a fluke, twice is a pattern. I would want to see how they handled rescheduling and if that went well, then okay…probably a fluke due to an unforeseen circumstance. If they waste your time twice, that would definitely be a red flag.

      Reply
      1. tigerStripes

        Yeah, in this case, it would be understandable. Otherwise, it seemed odd to me that the interviewer didn’t cancel the meeting earlier.

        Reply
    2. Havarti

      Maybe he was hoping to make it back in time? It still speaks of poorly of him, not having a back-up plan of some sort.

      Reply
    3. Murphy

      That’s what I thought at first, but it also could be some kind of miscommunication. Like he knew he was going to be gone that whole day and someone else who did not know that scheduled the interview.

      Reply
    4. Fiennes

      Depends – I can easily imagine a business crisis at another location that might draw the boss off-site, and turn out to be something that would require a full day’s attention.

      Reply
    5. TM

      OP-3: There are several reasons he could have not called sooner. He could have had an emergency and was called to the other location at the last minute (or it could have been such a large emergency that this was the first chance he got to call). He could have had a human moment and gotten his days mixed up. I’ve gone whole days thinking it was one day only to figure it out when a meeting alarm on my calendar goes off 15 minutes before the meeting (please tell me I’m not the only one on the planet that this happens to!).

      If he’s asking to reschedule your interview, it probably means that it has nothing to do with you. But it could say all kinds of things about the interviewer. How he responds now will be key.

      Reply
  17. Lumen

    If the GSD in the interview was not representative of the company culture, that was a really bad move. It sounds like dogs are a big part of the culture, though, so maybe Alison is right. But it sounds like it was still distracting and unnecessary.

    I mean: you can just tell someone about how dog-friendly you are without literally bringing the dog into the interview. What if the candidate had a phobia of dogs, a severe allergy to dogs, etc?

    Reply
  18. voluptuousfire

    OP#4, keep the tshirts. Random or old tshirts are great to have on hand for anything–cutting them up as cleaning rags, making a cat cave (all you need is a tshirt and a box). Google Cole and Marmalade cat cave and you’ll see the how to video.

    I keep a few spare random tshirts for when I dye my hair at home. Also good to keep around for various home activities– painting, renovating, etc. Always good to have some clothing laying around that you don’t care about getting dirty.

    Reply
  19. Lynn Marie

    Re: OP 1 Dogs in Interviews: Weren’t we just talking about is it ever appropriate to end an interview midway? Here’s the one I’d end as I walked in the door. Doggy daycare offices should let candidates know ahead of time. I can’t be the only person this would be a dealbreaker for.

    Reply
    1. Lynn Marie

      Respecting fear and allergies seem to be predominating as reasons not to have dogs in the workplace. I’m neither afraid nor allergic. I just don’t like dogs and don’t want to be involuntarily subjected to them while I’m trying to work. For some reason, that’s not considered acceptable.

      Reply
      1. Lehigh

        It’s totally acceptable. It just cuts down the pool of offices you want to work in, just like a conservative dress code or a strict schedule or any other company policy might do.

        Reply
  20. not so super-visor

    LW#1: if I was being interviewed and had not been pre-warned of the dog, I would probably panic — especially with a large dog. I had very terrible experience with a large dog as a child, and I can’t imagine that I would perform well in an interview. Even if I had been pre-warned, I can’t imagine that I’d interview well in that scenario.

    Reply
    1. Teach

      Yes! I would hope they would pre-warn candidates about dogs being present. I do not have dogs, can appreciate other people’s well-behaved dogs, but I was bitten by a German Shepherd in the face and arm when I was in middle school, and there is no way I could have sat at a table being interviewed with a big dog moving around unseen and unoccupied. If I had been pre-warned, I would have self-selected right on out of that opportunity. (Cat-friendly offices though? Totally a great fit for me!)

      Reply
  21. Stellaaaaa

    Dog owners are often very accepting of certain “good dog” behaviors that non-dog-people are not going to be okay with. So if this dog was well behaved for a dog, simply walking around under the table, he was probably still touching his wet nose to the applicant’s legs/nice work pants and possibly stepping on her nice interview shoes. I can’t tell you the amount of times a dog has lunged at me but the owner has said, “No he’s nice! He just wanted to say hi!” so yeah, I don’t take it at face value when dog people say that their dogs are well behaved and not distracting. Dog owners also sometimes have a certain blindness when it comes to perceived acceptable levels of property damage. That hole in your dress from your dog’s teeth that you don’t think is a big deal? It would be a huge deal to me and I don’t want to risk coming out of an interview with a licked shoe or a chewed purse strap when I probably wouldn’t accept the job anyway. Don’t put people in the position of having to be gracious about scuffs on their nicest clothing.

    Reply
    1. many bells down

      My dog’s idea of “friendly playtime” is to sometimes chase your ankles as you’re walking by. He doesn’t actually bite, but he definitely lunges. It’s funny to us, because he’s small, but it’s certainly distracting! Plus if he accidentally bumps into your foot he’ll scream like you’ve kicked him so he’s definitely not a dog I’d bring to work.

      Reply
      1. Stellaaaaa

        I mean…I wouldn’t consider that funny. To people who aren’t dog people, a dog who plays at biting your leg and then howls when you finally drag your leg away, making the person think that they’re going to get blamed for hurting the dog…that’s not an adorable joke to anyone except the owner of that specific dog.

        I’ve ended friendships with people who insisted on hosting get-togethers in their homes but refused to shut the dogs in a yard or room for a few hours. A whole host of weird human behaviors and excuse-making emerge where pets are concerned and ugh I would never want to deal with it at work.

        Reply
        1. Dankar

          It’s definitely your prerogative to walk away from friendships like that, and I know there are some people who feel strongly about pets being loose during social events, but it always makes me chuckle when I see suggestions that pet-owners put their dogs into crates or other rooms when company is over.

          I send my pup to daycare if I think it’ll be too stressful for her to be at home for the party, but that’s for her comfort–she lives in the house too, after all! I wouldn’t put my partner up in the extra bedroom if HE were annoying my guests. Though maybe that’s not such a bad idea…

          Reply
          1. Dankar

            To clarify, I chuckle because I picture tossing my partner into the spare room, not because I don’t understand the desire to bow out of parties where dogs will be present.

            Reply
          2. Stellaaaaa

            I honestly feel that if you’re having guests over, especially if food is involved, it’s rude to allow a dog to move around uncontrolled. It is very strange to me that people will prioritize a dog’s sense of ownership of a home over their human friends’ comfort.

            Reply
            1. tigerStripes

              I think it depends on the dog and how the dog behaves. Some dogs can be pretty chill at get togethers.

              Reply
        2. Lehigh

          Hmm. I am not going to put my dog “away” when hosting social events, but I also don’t insist on hosting–I’m happy to go to a friend’s house instead, and would be fine with the explanation that she won’t be visiting because she doesn’t like animals. (Or is allergic, phobic, etc.) Would we be able to be friends, I wonder?

          Reply
      2. this is my name (required)

        Well….that’s not great behavior. Letting a dog lunge, even in play, is something you really shouldn’t let them do. There’s a reason people avoid “ankle biter” dogs and it’s because a lot of owners think it’s cute because they’re small and seem harmless, but it’s anything but. Small dogs who lunge can be pretty dangerous. There are so many awful ways this “cute behavior” could turn out.

        Reply
    2. krysb

      I have really big dogs, so I’m extra-conscious of their behavior. Luckily, one is the most chill dog in the world, the next is neurotic, but doesn’t both (or go near people) unless they’re offering him food and would spend 95% of the day sleeping, the third however… will never make it in an office setting. He has little control over his body (if his face isn’t knocking something over, his tail would get it) and doesn’t care about personal space, at all, whatsoever. I don’t want to be in the position to pull that 110+ pound bony dummy out of someone’s lap (seriously, I don’t know why he does this, because it is not allowed behavior at home, but damned if he’ll try to be a lap dog if the option is open to him).

      Reply
    3. Anon attorney

      Yeah… I dislike dogs immensely and I find it super annoying how some dog owners minimise their pet’s annoying behaviour simply because it doesn’t annoy them (the implication being that I am some big meanie because I don’t think Fido is super adorable). I’m not scared your pooch will tear my throat out, I just desperately don’t want him to drool on me or my clothing. I would never want to work at this place and frankly if I went for interview I’d be pissed that you didn’t make this clear even before that stage.

      Any law offices with cat employee programs can however call me when hiring.

      Reply
      1. Hellanon

        Right? I get so. tired. of having to deal with dogs in grocery stores, at restaurants (everywhere it seems these days) that I want to get a badass Norwegian Forest cat and let it terrify a few poodles.

        Sadly, the current cats in the house are not down with this plan…

        Reply
      2. Horse Lover

        “I find it super annoying how some dog owners minimise their pet’s annoying behavior…”

        I think though, that you could insert any type of pet and even children into that sentence.

        I still think the main thing is for these kinds of offices to be upfront about it and their culture so the interviewee has warning and can opt out if they so choose.

        Reply
  22. Tau

    OldJob gave us company swag in form of those retracting ID badge holders that you can clip to your belt. You will pry mine from my cold dead hands. There were also frisbees.

    That said, if you don’t want to keep the swag and none of your coworkers want it, I figure you can toss it guilt-free.

    Reply
  23. KR

    But what if …… The do I’d an interviewer???? “How did you like the candidate, hiring team?” “He seemed qualified but he didn’t tell me I’m a good boy, which I clearly am. I’m concerned he won’t be a good match for our office culture.”

    Reply
  24. Frances

    I would hope any office where people brought their dogs into the office would also bring them into the interview room so that I could nope right out of there. Hanging with one dog at a time at a friend’s house? Fine. Having to spend 40 hours a week with multiple dogs? Sounds miserable. Bring the dog in so people like me can self-select out.

    Reply
    1. gmg

      Reading all the comments, I am having second thoughts about the extreme dog-friendliness of my own office. I know there is nothing I enjoy more here than being interrupted by a canine colleague in search of skritches (like I said, it’s a way to get my dog fix without actually having to own one), and my human colleagues are likewise all either dog owners or dog lovers. But if we were to hire someone with an allergy or phobia, I am assuming the policy would have to be be adjusted because of the small size of the office. There’s a general understanding here that the pups do not get to wander the whole office freely all day long (as opposed to brief pop-ins while their humans are having a hallway convo with colleagues etc), but people do bring them into the conference room for meetings sometimes.

      Reply
  25. Miss Ann Thrope

    I wonder if the person had asked someone, who told them they could bring the dog to the interview, and OP just didn’t know about that conversation.

    Reply
  26. Delta Delta

    Seems like it would be good for the company to mention during the interview scheduling processs (the call or email to schedule it) something like, “this is a dog-friendly office. we currently have 25 employees and 22 dogs in our office every day. we wanted to let you know up front.” Then the candidate knows There Are Dogs. But I don’t think I’d have the dog in the interview.

    I once worked with someone who brought a dog to the office fairly regularly. Colleague would meet with customers but not mention the dog until they were in the room and the dog was there. I think the script went something like, “come on in, hey are you ok with dogs?” That put the visitor at a disadvantage because by that point they were already in the room with the dog (who, let’s be real, stank to high heaven, so anyone would know there’s a dog in there). But it would make people feel like they couldn’t say no.

    On the other hand, I went to a professional appointment the other day. As I was waiting in the waiting room, all of a sudden a very well-groomed Pomeranian was in my lap, demanding snuggles. I obliged, and it was delightful.

    Reply
  27. Jady

    I completely disagree with regards to #1.

    I *would* agree that the interviewee should at least be notified ahead of time that dogs are in the office and s/he may see some when they arrive.

    But the described culture is obviously heavily based on animals. It sounds like they will be there frequently and in numbers.

    If I were allergic or afraid, I’d want to know just how intertwined the animals are with the culture. Because as the interviewee I either know immediately it’s not the place for me (and may want to just walk out of the interview), or at the very minimum realize how big a fight I may be walking into if I have to be the person that causes animals to be restricted/banned or needing special accommodations.

    The alternative is so much worse where the interviewee might never be told, gets hired, and THEN finds out.

    Bringing in the dog communicates a lot immediately.

    But as I said at start, the interviewee should be told at minimum they might run into animals before scheduling the interview.

    Reply
  28. EnergyChick

    On the swag question – I’d check with your employer before donating or, sadly, err on the side of the garbage if your logo can in any way be misused. For example, I work for a utility company and we do not donate items with our logo to minimize fraud (“I’m with your utility, give me your credit card/SSN/access to your home” is incredibly common, and we don’t want to inadvertently help by giving them a polo with the proper logo).

    Reply
  29. Moonlight Elantra

    I absolutely love that this question about a dog in a job interview comes directly above the “I bit my coworker” entry. :)

    Reply
    1. paul

      Just watch them turn out to be the same workplace–they’re around dogs so much they’re starting to act like them :P

      Reply
    2. Tau

      I know a lot has to be left out of the letters, but I feel that that OP should have mentioned they were in fact four-footed and furry. This seems like highly pertinent information that would have changed people’s reactions…

      Reply
      1. Chinook

        “but I feel that that OP should have mentioned they were in fact four-footed and furry. This seems like highly pertinent information that would have changed people’s reactions…”

        Not really, – two legged or four pawed, I think Allison would still recommend that any employee that is working in a place where they are unsuccessfully fighting the urge to bite people should look for a new workplace ASAP.

        Reply
  30. MassMatt

    I like dogs but there’s a time and place for everything, it sounds like this workplace thinks it’s a dog-sitting business or something–they have an employee coordinator for the dogs? Do they not have enough work to do?

    Are companies that don’t simply allow dogs, but encourage them in the workplace really thinking through the potential negatives? Some people are allergic, or afraid of dogs, or come from cultures where dogs are not pets and interacting with them as though they were people/children is considered bizarre. And what about when someone gets bitten, or dogs get into a fight? Who is going to be liable?

    As someone pointed out above, many dog owners are clueless about their dog’s actual behavior. I remember visiting someone, her dog bit me during the visit, blood was drawn, she was there, removed the dog. But a week later she talked about how great he was around people. Um, except for the lunging and biting, sure!

    IMO dogs in the office is at best a distraction, at worst a huge liability.

    Reply
    1. Dankar

      A corollary question: Who’s liable in today’s other workplace query, where the OP bit her coworker?

      Also, you never know, the employee coordinator’s whole job could be to keep the dogs entertained. If so, sign me up! I’ve obviously been wasting my time pursuing the wrong career.

      Reply
  31. Borne

    I’d say definitely no to dogs in an interview.

    Apart from whether people might be afraid of or allergic to dogs, who wants to risk having dog drool on their perhaps expensive interview suit.

    Reply
  32. rageismycaffeine

    Would love to see some discussion about question #2. I’ve both been the new hire coming into a bad situation and someone in a position of working with/training new hires who are entering a bad situation, and in both cases the line from management was very clear that we were Not To Discuss what happened. At all. Ever. Which was super delightful because the new hire (both when it was me and when it was someone else) was more than perceptive enough to pick up on lingering tensions and weirdnesses. And then didn’t know if they could ask about it, and it ended up being danced around until someone finally blurted it out just to get the pressure out of the way. Not awkward. At all.

    Coming from that background, I found Alison’s advice to be surprising – and refreshing! But I am SUPER curious about how her second paragraph would play out – being transparent in the interview process before you even make a hire. How do you manage that without scaring off the new hire/making them think they’re coming into a drastically dysfunctional workplace?

    Reply
    1. OP #2

      I was initially quite confused when reading today’s post because I was the OP for #2, and it was about three and a half years ago! Admittedly, I’m struggling a little to remember how exactly it played out.

      We did not hire for both positions at the same time (hired one first, then that person participated in the second hire). Only the first hire was aware of both positions having been open at once. I think the reason it all worked out is that it was overall, a very respectful and professional work environment. I’ll try to paraphrase as anonymously as I can… We had one employee who was a bad match and a bully, and a process that required a long PIP period that I couldn’t get around. The other person wasn’t someone who stepped it up in general, so my counseling boundaries and patience with them didn’t help–they left first. I think in a lot of cases there is a remaining or surrounding cultural problem, but in this case I’d say there wasn’t.

      I think I told the first new hire that there had been a personality conflict and both people left, and we were starting fresh. She turned out to be totally phenomenal, especially at customer service and communication, and turned that unit around in about a week. (Other staff probably filled her in about the backstory, but again, because it was a healthy workplace, they would have been matter of fact about it.) When we got around to hiring the second person, about 4-5 months later, it didn’t require any explanation. I remember being *so*relieved* to hear them laughing and chatting together outside my office.

      I found this blog when trying to cope with the initial problem and I can’t believe that it was only a few years ago! I have since moved on to another job, but both of those people stayed on, and they were both great. The whole thing was certainly a trial by fire for me as a manager.

      Reply
      1. rageismycaffeine

        I just saw this – thanks for the update! Really interesting to read and like Elizabeth I’m really glad it worked out!

        Reply
  33. TM

    I love the idea of all these dog friendly workplaces. Now I need to find a cat friendly office. I have extensive experience as a professional cat petter. I’m sure my feline overlords would give me great references.

    Reply
  34. Doctor What

    Why is this so hard for people to understand…there are people who are allergic to your dog. It doesn’t matter how friendly, awesome or well behaved said dog is. I know that sucks, but that’s the way things are sometimes.

    Reply
    1. Former Admin turned Project Manager

      There is an alarming tendency for people to downplay an allergy based on other positive attributes of the allergen itself.
      -My cat is very well behaved, so you shouldn’t have an issue. (except that even an aloof cat has dander)
      -Well, this was just the canned shrimp on this pasta salad, not a jumbo shrimp, so I didn’t warn you that I’d added it (Thanks goodness you brought your Benadryl)
      -These flowers came from the best florist in town (as though the arrangement techniques remove all pollen traces)

      Even though I like dogs just fine (although I haven’t had one since we had to put ours to sleep almost 6 years ago), I’d want warning up front if there was to be a dog in the interview or workplace. Put the dog-friendly atmosphere in the job posting, or provide the info when the interview is scheduled.

      Reply
  35. Free Meerkats (formerly Gene)

    One question in our hiring interview is how the applicant feels about cats.

    I’ve talked about our office cats in the past. They are semi-feral, fixed and ear-tipped, but do come in the office from time to time. As our office is remote, we need them for rodent control, so they aren’t pets; though they have tamed significantly and are starting to think they just might be pets. The female is sleeping on a spare chair in an unused office right now.

    Our animal shelter (a quarter mile from us) has what they call their “Blue-Collar Cat Program.” It’s for cats that are brought in, usually trapped, that aren’t suitable for adoption, but will make fine barn cats. Thus, the cat don’t need to be euthanized and someone gets rodent control.

    Reply
    1. LBK

      I am wildly jealous of your having cats wandering in and out of your office. The closest I get is my pet cat wandering in and out of my home office/her bedroom when I work remotely.

      Reply
  36. Trash Panda

    I love dogs and I love having them at my work! But this is why I specifically chose to work in a veterinary office :). I think it would be very distracting, regardless of if you like dogs, to have them at your job interview unexpectedly.

    Reply
  37. Elizabeth West

    1. Dog: Not in the interview, but if there are dogs in the office normally, the interviewers should absolutely mention it to candidates. Some people really cannot be around dogs because of allergies or phobias and should have the information up-front so they can self-select out.

    2. I’d say it like you did in the letter: “The positions are open because of a personality conflict between two particular people who aren’t here anymore.”

    3. If this happened to me, I’d reschedule once and see what happens; if they worked with me on the rescheduling and it didn’t happen again, I wouldn’t worry about it too much.

    4. T-shirts from Exjob: I saved a couple to work out in, but the rest went into the rag bag. I hate company clothes because if I leave the job, I can never use them. Never again am I going to be pressured to buy any. If my own clothes aren’t good enough, I don’t want to work there.

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  38. Colorado

    I have 4 dogs (and 3 cats, horses, chickens, etc.). My break from them all is coming to work. I personally don’t think dogs belong in the office but then again, we make sterile, injectable products and are heavily regulated by the FDA. Hell, we can’t even have live plants but it’s the only work life I’ve known.

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  39. unemployed_again

    One of my interviewers at [previous job] brought a dog, and I think she handled it very reasonably. She emailed me beforehand asking whether I was OK with this, and was clearly prepared to arrange something else if I preferred. The dog turned out to be a very well-behaved Golden Retriever that curled up quietly under the table for most of the interview, and I think meeting and petting it a bit at the start was a good ice breaker that distracted me from my usual interview panic.

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  40. Government Mule

    “… because not everyone is comfortable around dogs (some people are even afraid of them)”

    Awww… But who could be afraid of a fuzzy face like that??? Awww…

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  41. Candy

    I don’t think you should bring your dog to an interview just because the workplace is dog friendly. That would be like bringing along a sandwich and eating your lunch while you’re being interviewed because the office has a kitchen and provides free food to staff as a perk. There’s a time and a place for everything and an interview is the time to show off your best self. You wait until you get the job before you start taking advantage of all the perks.

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  42. zaracat

    #4 as someone who is exceptionally thrifty, I’ve found that a good way to get around the high-quality-and-good-fit-but-has-company-logo clothing items (provided the logo isn’t too big) is to sew something over the top, such as one or more printed or embroidered badges.

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  43. annuity

    Re OP4 – my OH has a ton of company t shirts from his old job. He wears them around the house / doing odd jobs. Also can be used as cleaning rags if you don’t want to wear them / can’t donate. I always try to reuse clothing, instead of tossing and contributing to landfill :)

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  44. CrazyCattleDogMom

    I love dogs, and I love my dogs. Even though I think it’d be great to work in a dog friendly office – I would definitely be put off if there were a dog in my interview for all of the reasons y’all have mentioned. On a side note.. can we have a thread one day of nothing but our adorable pups?

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  45. Wintermute

    @ 4–

    My industry combines two swag-heavy industries (telecom and IT networking) so we get an above-average amount of swag (As an aside Motorola makes good cell phones, but their pens are really outstanding, and their chapstick is even better) and the norm is that typically you keep what you’ve been given. I’m not sure if the concern is just “I have no use for all this tacky crap” or “I don’t want to be thought of poorly for keeping their property” but usually unless you’re in a very unusual or highly-regulated industry, it’s yours to dispose of as you wish.

    CAVEAT DONATOR! A lot of people are suggesting donating to charity. Be very careful with this, depending on the nature of the business. When I worked for a construction company, for instance, after I quit all the employee shirts were torn up for scrap or cut up and thrown away– a construction company shirt and a clipboard and you can case any neighborhood for good robbery targets with impunity. Same goes for vendors that work with many different companies, they’re a foot in the door of most office buildings that could be used for nefarious deeds.

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  46. Mrs. Fenris

    So I work in an industry that is dog-friendly by nature (veterinary medicine). So it will sound strange for me to say that I’m not a huge fan of people’s dogs running loose in the workplace. It’s obviously pretty common to bring your dog to work when you work in an animal hospital, but it’s common courtesy to keep them out of other people’s way. If they are very well-trained and they stay put, fine. I had a boss who did not allow employees to bring their dogs to work, but she brought her own small dog every single day and let her run loose in the treatment room. She got into people’s chairs and lifted her lip if you tried to move her. She ate patients’ food that had been taken out of cages for a minute to clean the cage. She stuck her nose in people’s bags looking for snacks. Once she was standing right behind me and my foot brushed against her when I took a step back, and she howled like I had cut her tail off. And anytime you brought a potentially dog-aggressive dog to the area, you had to stick your head in first and find out if she was in there. Nobody was really allowed to say anything about her except to gush about how cute she was.

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