should I create an Instagram for my dog to make me stand out to interviewers, and more

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

1. Should I create an Instagram for my dog to make me stand out?

I was recently informed that I didn’t get a job that I really wanted. I ended up asking the hiring manager for feedback and one thing she told me was that one candidate wrote a book outside of work hours about how they dissolved their student loan debt (they also hand-wrote a thank you note, which apparently they appreciated more than my emailed thank you note).

I’m now trying to think of ways to set myself apart from competition. I’m still in my first job out of college so I don’t have too much experience I’d be able to refer to. Some applications I’ve come across request websites you’d make for yourself outside of work, like a blog. Would creating an Instagram for my dog be a good idea, as a way to demonstrate that I can market something well and use social media in a more professional way than a personal account? I was thinking of trying to gain a following so I can refer to it in an interview, as something different they’d remember me by. For reference, I am in the marketing field.

There’s a danger in putting too much weight on a single hiring manager’s feedback, because some hiring managers have unusual preferences or opinions. (For example, there are a lot of hiring managers, including me, who will tell you they don’t want handwritten thank-yous, because this is business correspondence, and because so little of importance arrives by postal mail these days that they may not even check their mail inbox for weeks, long after the hiring decision has already been made!) I understand the impulse to put a lot of weight on what she told you because it can be hard to get any feedback — but I don’t think hers was very useful advice to follow.

It’s true that having work samples to point to is helpful, and it’s not a terrible idea to have a website that shows your ability to write, create, etc. And sure, if you created an Instagram for your dog that became incredibly popular and had a huge following, that could be something you could mention in an interview, as evidence of your ability to gain eyeballs online. But the odds of it paying off like that are pretty slim, so it’s not something you should do as a job hunting strategy; you should only do it if your primary motivation is that you genuinely want to build and maintain an Instagram for your dog.

Unless you have some big idea that you’re dying to do because you want to do it (not just to mention it in interviews), you’re likely to have better luck with the more traditional ways of strengthening your candidacy: taking on more responsibility in your current job, volunteering, writing an awesome cover letter, etc.

2. How can I get a colleague to coach his team instead of getting angry with them?

I have a question about how to help a colleague better manage his team. He doesn’t report to me, but we both report to the CEO and I’m tasked with improving team management and workflow in general. If his team turns in low quality work or misses deadlines, he’s vocal in his “displeasure” and makes a point of noting to our boss and to me that he’s mad/frustrated/disappointed/etc. and that he’s made those feelings clear to his team. He never takes ownership of any mistakes/failures of his team. (I should add that he’s also quick to pass on praise to them, so that’s consistent.) How can I help coach him that being “annoyed” about errors isn’t really managing his team, that they need more than “this was a mistake/I didn’t like this” to figure out how to improve, and he needs to feel/take ownership of their work?

If you’re explicitly charged with helping him manage better and he knows that, you absolutely can and should address this. Point out to him that generally managers shouldn’t be taking staff members’ work personally and that getting angry or disappointed is injecting emotion into his management in ways that won’t be effective for him or for his staff. Explain that if he’s not happy with someone’s work, that’s a flag for him to dig in on his own management and figure out what he needs to do differently: Does he need to lay out clearer expectations at the start, check in more frequently, coach someone on their skills, address a performance issue, etc.? Tell him that that’s where his energy should go in those situations, and talk him through what that could look like in a few recent situations where this has come up. (And probably offer to work with him on it the next time it happens so that he has closer guidance in doing this.)

If you don’t fully have the authority to give him that kind of direction, you’ll need to loop in your CEO — but this is the basic message he should be getting from one of you.

3. Can I revise my response to a timed assessment test?

I got to do a technical assessment yesterday for a data analysis job I really want. The hiring manager set up the assessment well in advance and gave me 24 hours to respond to four out of six questions, which included some basic stuff like finding typos in data entry and calculating totals, and some more advanced stuff interpreting what’s going on and writing a mock memo describing the findings. I sort of also accidentally did a fifth question by including data visualizations in my response to the fourth question. Anyway, the hours passed by surprisingly quickly, and to save time I found myself doing it all in the software I’ve been using since before the last ice age (Excel and the SPSS license on my laptop) rather than in SQL and R, which I’m newer to and slower at. I also wish I could go back and tackle the analysis question from a different angle, which would vastly improve the interpretations drawn in the memo. The third thing I’m mad at myself about was realizing that I’d typed in the wrong numbers with a significance test after the fact. I emailed the corrections, which at least demonstrates honesty and got a “thanks for the corrections” response rather than radio silence, so that was probably the right move. Maybe this is just perfectionism from spending most of my career to date in academia, but I really wish I could create a better version of it all.

Should I refrain from mentioning any extra work unless I make it to the next round, since it wouldn’t be fair to count work done beyond the 24 hour limit? Or do I put it in a Google Drive folder and write her saying “I know you can’t really look at this until after Monday because it’s done beyond the 24 hour time limit, but FYI here’s a link to extra work in SQL and R plus an improved memo”?

I think it’s worth doing polished up versions just as coding practice anyway. So, maybe demonstrating my enthusiasm is good, but on the other hand there’s the issue of whether I’d be creating extra work for her or not demonstrating an ability to stick to the time constraints of the test or sending too many emails. What do you suggest?

It would be too many emails, and yes, you’d be creating extra work for her. It’s true that there’s some benefit to her being able to see what you can do with more time — but that’s not what this exercise was. This exercise was “show what you can do in X amount of time.”

Sometimes you can get away with “whoops, please use this version instead” or “here are corrections to the exercise,” but you’ve already done that. You can’t do it a second time without looking flighty/disorganized.

You don’t really get multiple bites at the apple with this. You’ve submitted it, and now you really just need to wait and see what happens from here.

4. My interviewers sounded like they had a problem with the job I was interviewing for

I recently interviewed for a position that seemed like a complete dream job. As one of three final candidates, I was invited to do a series of eight back-to-back interviews over the course of an entire day. The first seven interviews were invigorating, positive, and overall a great experience — but the last one was incredibly odd and I didn’t know how to navigate it. The interviewers seemed to have some sort of problem with the position I was interviewing for (possibly a bad experience with the person in the role in the past, or a dissatisfaction with how the job description was finalized, or who knows!) and their questions all seemed like strange back-handed ways of expressing their dissatisfaction. Questions like, “What do you see MISSING from this job description? What do you see as problematic about this role?”

Neither of these interviewers is on the search committee for this position, but I’m worried about how this strange interview (and my attempts to navigate their questions) may have impacted my candidacy (I’m still waiting to hear back). In the end, I wrote an email to the chair of the search committee to tell her that this particular interview had a very different tenor than the rest of the day and that I had found it difficult to navigate, but that I remained very excited and positive about the position. I would love to know how you would recommend responding to this kind of situation, were it ever to happen again.

When something in an interview is confusing you or feels out of sync with what you’ve previously heard, it’s okay to ask about it! In this situation, it would have been okay to say something like, “I’m curious about the questions you’re asking. It sounds like you might have some concerns about how the role is structured — am I reading that correctly?” Or, “I’m curious to hear your thoughts on that question too — do you think there’s something problematic about the role?” You want to be pleasant about it, of course; your tone should sound genuinely curious, not annoyed. But you’re there to collect information just as much as they are, and it’s okay to ask directly about what you’re hearing.

{ 246 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. EE

    OP #4

    One of the interviews for the job I accepted earlier this year was like that! The reason given was to ensure that I had fully taken in the fact that there’d be grunt work.

    Reply
    1. LouiseM

      This is a really good point. Another possibility is that they are trying to get a sense of your overall knowledge of the field. Somebody who has a strong sense of the industry might be able to say something like “I know at Llamas R Us the llama herder is also responsible for shaving the llamas and that works really well because it gives them a more personal view of the llama.”

      Reply
    2. Mystery Bookworm

      Particularly if this is a position or industry that many view as exciting or glamorous, they sometimes make an effort in interviews to ensure that the expectations of the canidadate are in line with the realities of the role.

      Reply
      1. College Career Counselor

        Agreed. Also, sometimes candidates get asked what they think are the challenges in this position to determine if they’ve understood the role fully and the complexities that it may have. Put another way, it’s inviting you to comment on the job and how you might approach it, to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise.

        OP 4, you say that the interviewers weren’t on the search committee, but these people still might work with the position or be asking (admittedly in a roundabout way) to see how you think it fits together with the rest of the organization. (the use of “search committee” and “chair” leads me to think you’re interviewing in higher ed administration)

        Finally, sometimes interviewers will adopt a certain manner with their questions to see how candidates do with people who aren’t….conversationally accommodating. For example, I am generally very easy-going, but I have a reputation (at least in the student life division) for asking challenging questions–and not giving a whole lot of cues about what I think about the answer in the moment. Was there any of that going on in your final interview of the cycle?

        Reply
      2. GreyjoyGardens

        +1 – I’ve definitely seen this in fields or even just companies considered glamorous and/or highly desirable places to work. It separates the realists (who know that EVERY job has grunt work and that no job is just like it’s portrayed on TV) from the naive and starry-eyed (who have a tendency to quit or sulk when confronted by reality).

        Reply
  2. Bea

    #1 that feedback is weak AF and if they hired someone because they handwrote a thank you instead of sending an email, they’re stretching so far for reasons, please don’t take it to heart. Continue to email your thank yous.

    You sound like you were just up against someone who dazzled this person with odd one off things that this particular hiring manager drank right up. It happens, her feedback is still garbage!

    Reply
    1. OP#1

      Your comment made me feel so much better! I thought the writing a book thing was a little weird, especially for an entry-mid level marketing job…

      Reply
      1. Leela

        It also raises red flags for me that they’d get so excited about something like this, not because it’s not a legitimate accomplishment that shows good things about a candidate (it is, and it does), but because I’ve worked at places with all sorts of odd hires that impressed the hiring manager with something random.

        I also work in games now and it’s very common for hiring managers to push strong for candidates who are the most knowledgeable about that company’s games/really like those games, and while I understand that, it can be frustrating working with people who aren’t strong in their roles but happen to know a lot about X game. It makes me question the effectiveness of the hiring manager so much!

        Reply
        1. Snark

          DING DING DING. If an employer is making hiring decisions on the basis of factors that are, at best, not related to work (and at worst are game-playing gimmicky bullshit) they have no idea how to hire people and are not sorting applicants rigorously before they have to make a decision. If you hire an entry-level marketing person because they wrote a book or have a dog instagram, you’re doing it wrong.

          Reply
          1. Cassandra

            Well, I think there can be exceptions to this; I linked a “dog [and cat] Instagram” to my handle that certainly impresses me about the photographer’s marketing savvy. (The photographer takes sponsorships. Check out the ‘gram anyway, though; the photos will brighten almost anyone’s day.)

            But this is certainly the exception rather than the rule.

            Reply
              1. Anonymoose

                The cat HIKES IN SNOW (well….in a cushy backpack). Check out the other ‘gram name link on the insta profile.

                Reply
            1. Snark

              I’m not saying an instagram account or book can’t be impressive on its merits – I’m saying that if it’s the differentiating factor on which you base a hiring decision, you’re hiring people wrong. And there’s a difference between getting a lot of followers on Instagram and traditional marketing as usually understood, though there’s some overlap.

              Reply
            2. Cousin Itt

              Yeah, I think having any sort of popular and polished Instagram presence would help for a (digital) marketing job because it shows you know how to use the plaform well and gain a following. But it would need to be very popular and show off your photography/copy skills.

              Reply
          2. Specialk9

            Yeah but the candidate didn’t create an Instagram for their dog, they wrote a personal finance book. That’s really impressive! It nods toward a lot of general business and financial knowledge, ability to learn on their feet, and sticking to something hard through to execution. Those are all really impressive traits.

            None of those are things that would occur to me about someone creating an Instagram about their dog. In fact, as a hiring manager, an Instagram dog account would be mildly negative until proven otherwise (‘ok, I was wrong, that dog actually has a witty and incisive take on the geopolitical trends’). It’s far more likely to be seen negatively. (And I adore my dogs!)

            The fact that OP jumped from ‘published a personal finance book’ to ‘created a pet social media account’ would also raise my eyebrows. That’s a strange leap. But since they’re at entry-mid, that could just be an early on business disconnect.

            So OP, what really impresses people is industry specific certifications and willingness to learn relevant business skills.

            Reply
            1. Gazebo Slayer

              The fact that someone *has* an Instagram about their dog shouldn’t reflect badly on them, but specifically mentioning it in the context of applying for the job is, yes, a minor negative.

              Reply
            2. Stephanie

              In the era of anyone being able to write and publish a book, while what they did is admirable, it still doesn’t mean it’s a well written, or well researched book. It might also be full of advice that’s not duplicatable. It sounds impressive, but it may not actually be.

              Reply
        2. Dust Bunny

          This was my first thought, too, and I was just getting on here to see if I were totally wrong. I’m not sure I’d want to work for a company that’s so easily distracted by shiny objects. I mean, does this carry over to their assessment of employees? Does the person who sparkles the most get credit even if s/he didn’t do most of the work?

          Apply to some places that don’t hire based on gimmicks.

          Reply
        3. Jana

          Agreed. I live in an area that people flock to in search of work and networking opportunities. As a result, competition for entry- and mid-level jobs is stiff. Employers keep coming up with new hoops for candidates to jump through that are in little to no way related to the actual work they’ll be doing. But they know they can get away with asking candidates to do just about anything because everyone’s willing to do it (and for low pay!) in hopes of gaining access to “important” people. Eventually employers end up being in the neighborhood of hiring someone for a policy analysis role because their favorite color is yellow.

          Reply
        4. Anion

          Yes. It’s kind of a strange thing for a hiring manager to get so excited by, unless it was commercially published and/or sold over 20k copies.

          Reply
      2. Media Monkey

        i honestly wouldn’t worry. I work for a media agency (so marketing adjacent let’s say) and social media is one of our areas we work in for clients. an IG for your dog would barely make an impression about you if you interviewed well, especially in a junior role. i’d say if you were applying for a job in social media content, or managing influencers for example, showing that you can do this job and understand what it takes to create and push content successfully might be interesting (a lot of our social media team do have blogs/ you tube channels/ popular IGs), but not for general marketing.

        I recently interviewed and hired in an entry level role and the interviewee had an instagram and has done paid sponsorships with brands (so i guess a decent sized following). other than being a brief talking point in an interview, it made no difference to the hiring decision!

        Reply
        1. Media Monkey

          oh and if not for an entry level job, i’d rather hear about your experience and expertise from your previous role rather than a random tangential thing!

          Reply
          1. Falling Diphthong

            The random tangential things are going to be very hiring manager specific. It’s sort of the inverse of picking one extracurricular and trying to develop it into a balm for all managers.

            OP, I think the main lesson here is that you were up against a candidate with experience they considered more relevant, who meshed better personality wise with the manager. That happens to the most qualified of charming people, too.

            Reply
        2. Penny Lane

          I have to be honest – IGs for your dog (or dogs in general) are so common. Plenty of people with no particular social media skill find and post pictures of cute dogs – it just doesn’t demonstrate any expertise. If you like doing it as a hobby, great – but it’s kind of the equivalent of posting pics of your vacation on FB – nothing wrong with it but it’s not demonstrating any marketable skill.

          Reply
          1. GreyjoyGardens

            Same with cats, and even rabbits and small pets now. An instagram for a pet just shows you have a cute pet and love animals – which is nice, but not really relevant unless you are working for the SPCA or getting a job in a veterinary practice.

            Reply
      3. else

        It sounds weird to me! And the topic makes me wonder if there isn’t something kind of fellow-political-traveler in it to me, as there is such a huge emphasis on being debt-free (using that specific phrase) in some US religiopolitical subgroups. Not that everyone doesn’t value this, but this segment views it as a holy calling…

        Reply
        1. Specialk9

          Lots of us who aren’t in cults want to be out of debt. But yeah, fellow traveler may still apply – I do get excited when I find someone else who likes personal finance blogs.

          Reply
    2. LouiseM

      Agreed. Maybe the hiring manager was just reaching for feedback and that was the first thing that came to mind, so she said it. I wouldn’t put a lot of stock in it.

      Reply
      1. Jesca

        I agree. They went with this response as opposed to “there were a lot of really qualified candidates and we had to make a tough choice”. Instead, I guess they took OP’s question as they *had* to give some level of negative feedback when in fact there was none. It just came down to a personality decision particular to that hiring manager just because they had a really decent pool of candidates.

        Reply
        1. Sam

          But they didn’t give negative feedback; they just stated some things they liked about the chosen candidate.

          Reply
          1. Luna

            Exactly- there was no feedback about the OP, it was all about the other person. Which really doesn’t do much to help the OP.

            Reply
    3. Engineer Girl

      I don’t think it was about the thank you note. The other person wrote a book and demonstrated that they had expertise in a subject (personal debt management). That’s a very different skill set from social media.
      The same for a blog. You’d need a topic, and then demonstrate knowledge. You’d need to sustain it across time.
      But I think these are bigger discriminators than they appear. And was it really about the book, or the marketing of the book?
      Again, that’s slightly different from Instagram. Not that you couldn’t have subject knowledge on Instagram, or that you couldn’t sustain it across time. But they seem like apples and oranges to me.

      Reply
      1. Mookie

        Yeah. If it sold fairly well for what it is, garnered decent reviews, and/or the other applicant demonstrated how she’d successfully marketed it (particularly if it was self-published), I could just about see the book thing having some minor amount of relevance.

        Likewise, a particularly charming thank-you note might score somebody half a point within a certain pool of candidates, but why, in a marketing role of all things, it being “handwritten” gave her a leg up, I’ve no idea. I hope this wasn’t the kind of note you write beforehand and then present after an interview, because that is always weird and deeply impersonal to me.

        Reply
      2. Mystery Bookworm

        Right. Someone who wrote a book, and marketed it, even if it wasn’t especially successful, could probably speak passionately about how they feel on a topic, and how they mobilized that into action and overcame obstacles. Assuming other things are fairly equal, it makes sense that this could tip the scales.

        But it doesn’t follow that you should have to ‘compete’ with that, per se! It sounds like you were both good canidates.

        Reply
      3. Snark

        Your point is valid – an instagram is different than a book and says different things about the author – but I think it’s ultimately not a good way to pick people.

        I’m an environmental scientist who makes a mean taco. If you hire me to do environmental work because you were tickled by my skills as a taquero, whether or not I sustained them through time or demonstrated expert knowledge, you’re fairly nuts, because that’s not a valid selection criterion for that position.

        Reply
        1. Bea

          Someone once listed their baking skills on a resume and tied it into everything…for an accounting position and the company was in no way affiliated with baking. Doh!!

          Reply
                1. else

                  Snort out loud – why isn’t there a thing for that? – and you are revealing that you ARE very knowledgeable about baking because that one isn’t well known

                2. teclatrans

                  Or else watches the Great British Baking Show/Bakeoff, as that’s where I learned about it, and that show is the very best!

              1. Falling Diphthong

                See, this is why these things are so fraught! There you are selling yourself as a person with a passionate extracurricular interest in trapeze work, and the hiring manager wants a contortionist for the yearly talent show.

                Reply
        2. Mystery Bookworm

          Sure, but it doesn’t necessarily sound like she was picked FOR her bookwriting skills. There were likely a number of different factors, and – all things being relatively equal – this helped tip the scales. I think Engineer Girl is more pointing out that we can’t really conclude these people are bad at hiring. People are making a lot of leaps off of what might have not been (for the hiring manager) a pretty off-hand comment.

          This is doubly true if OP was a really good applicant, up against other really good applicant. Sometimes it can be really difficult to articulate why one person gelled more than another.

          Reply
          1. Snark

            In my experience, all things are almost never relatively equal. There is always something that meaningfully differentiates the person we end up hiring from the person we don’t. If you can’t differentiate two leading candidates and make a decision based on their merits vis a vis your position and its requirements, and are forced to differentiate based on tenuously-related outside hobbies, you haven’t gathered enough information about each candidate.

            Reply
        3. Just Employed Here

          I think most AAM readers would hire you in order to get invited to your pizza parties we’ve heard of, nevermind the tacos.

          Reply
        4. Specialk9

          Snark, you’re deliberately making it an apples-to-spaceship comparison. I can see lots of ways that writing a book on finance can be directly relevant to a marketing role – finance for project management, writing skills, actual real world experience with marketing their product…

          Reply
      4. Bea

        We had this come up before about how writing a book is something a ton of people do. It doesn’t show much about your true talents or knowledge unless this interviewer also read her debt busting masterpiece of course. Who knows she may be Suze Orman for all that goes. I have seen far more hacks who try to give advice on finances than those who actually have anything to say, let alone putting a book together.

        Reply
        1. Engineer Girl

          Actually it was working on a book. That’s a whole lot different than actually finishing and publishing a book. And that’s different than marketing the book.

          Reply
    4. PB

      I agree, 100%. This sounds like a hiring manager who liked flash over substance.

      FWIW, I had a candidate recently send in hand-written thank you cards instead of emailing. It was kind of nice, especially since getting cards in the mail is a rarity nowadays, but 1) it didn’t do anything to help her candidacy, and 2) it arrived after I’d submitted my recommendations. I definitely agree with sticking to email.

      As for publishing a book? If it shows expertise in the field you’re interviewing for, great! If it’s a widely read book in our field and the person has name recognition as a result, even greater! If not, then it’s not going to affect their candidacy one way or the other. And even with a well-known, significant book, I’d be weighing it against a lot of other factors. Not a deal breaker at all.

      Reply
      1. OP#1

        I’m even wondering if it wasn’t about the book or the hand-written note and more about someone who knew someone? I had an one in-person interview and when I asked about next steps, they told me that they would be doing second interviews for the final people. I never got called for a second interview but the hiring manager did tell me that I was one of the top three candidates.

        Reply
        1. Bea

          I think they’re not being very forthcoming with you here. That’s okay, it’s difficult being a hiring manager and making these decisions for a lot of reasons. They’re trying to be kind but also very limited in what they can tell you.

          Sometimes it comes down to “these 3 people have exactly the same skills, experience and education. This one was a lot more timid in their way of speaking, this one seemed to spark with our team…so the spark wins out.” It’s difficult because you will never ever have chemistry with everyone, I sure don’t and it still counts even when you’re just in accounting pushing numbers like me or you are an administrative assistant to someone who has an off setting personality.

          I think it’s great you’re trying to take stock in her feedback, you asked for it and seriously want to use it to better yourself. You’re on the right track here, you will learn to weed this stuff out yourself as you progress in your career.

          I once didn’t get an admin job right out of high school because the dude just didn’t like that I wasn’t going to college. I had the skill set but he was like “nope, everyone needs a college education, this is a job that you should only be in for 2 years to then move onto bigger better things!” That was a seemingly killer day to me because I was poor and had no way of navigating myself through the university system, my mom wouldn’t sign a FASFA thinking it would harm her credit rating, truly awful.

          I couldn’t take his advice if I wanted to. I got in on a whim elsewhere due to knowing someone. Now I run things. You are going to be okay, I know it’s scary AF right now.

          Reply
          1. OP#1

            It kind of sucks because I took on SO MANY things in college in order to prepare myself for situations like this where I can refer back to what I’ve done in the past and I was still beat out by someone… but I guess c’est la vie.

            Reply
            1. Bea

              The world is huge and there will always be competition. Thankfully you’ve done the hardest thing about working, you got your first job. Now you’ll find your next shot too expand into.

              I went from having to do temp gigs to patch through to getting interviews and offers on the lions share of the places I apply. Master your craft any way possible and your skill and enthusiasm will get you places.

              Reply
              1. JB (not in Houston)

                Yes, no matter how many things you took on in college, you will never be the best candidate for every role you apply for (not to mention that you won’t be anywhere close to the only person who took on so many things in college). You apparently did well in this interview. That’s good! Don’t let it get to you that you didn’t get this job.

                Reply
            2. Fleah

              OP1, I’ve been where you are and I get it. Job searches are so tough and it’s really frustrating (and to me, hurtful) when you’re SOCLOSE and still don’t get a job offer. Especially when such little random things come into play!

              For me, it was helpful to reframe it. Instead of being “beat out” by someone, consider it as just not the right fit.

              If you’re interested in creating something to set yourself apart, maybe make an online portfolio? Either way, eventually you will find the right job for you and you’ll kick butt when it happens!

              Reply
            3. H

              Job searching totally sucks and you don’t ever know! It sounds like you’re a strong candidate and you take feedback well, and that’s what’s important to good employers. I will say the second round stuff makes sense because I was that “inside candidate” once (got SUPER lucky), and after my interview the second round was just kind of …canceled.

              One thing you COULD do is approach a small non-profit/church/community organization with a mission you believe in and ask them if they might like you to donate your time to professionalize their social media presence. I got all my social media experience because that was a niche I was able to fill at my first internship in grad school at a nonprofit with a paid staff of one! They really appreciated whatever value volunteers could add and especially appreciated well-timed emails asking what help someone could give. It isn’t a huge time commitment but could lead to a reference/interview talking point! (Also, keep in mind it has to be the right place—local contacts you have an IRL connection to go a long way!)

              Reply
          2. Falling Diphthong

            “So the spark wins out.”

            This. It very probably was not This One Weird Trick that all the unsuccessful candidates could have used if they’d only known about it.

            Reply
          3. Rusty

            Hiring is a subjective process, all things being equal between candidates (on paper & interviews), sometimes people just go with their ‘gut’ instinct for a decision on close calls.

            Reply
    5. LJL

      I have to say, though, that regardless of the career implications, I think the answer to “should I create an instagram for my dog?” is always YES. Because doggies.

      Reply
  3. Someone else

    #3, if part of what they were assessing was “can you do this in SQL and R” and you did most of it using other tools because you’re faster at that instead, and they can tell, then you’ve probably already answered what they were assessing, which is both can you do it and with the tools they asked and in the time limit. So even though you may be able to do better than what you did, in general, the ship has sailed. If I’m hiring a T-SQL person who, for example, clearly uses Access to do the bulk of an assessment and consequently sends me back pseudo-SQL autogenerated in Access rather than something they wrote themselves, it doesn’t matter if they could do a great visualization and analysis of that data. They’ve shown me they don’t have skills in the tool I asked for. I don’t know if that’s exactly what went down with your assessment, or if they didn’t care so much about the tools as the results, but it might be helpful to think of the assessment as them asking a question, and how you complete the assessment answers it. So if the answer is “you’re more comfortable with other things besides SQL and R”, that may be what they were hoping to figure out, and they probably have at this point.

    Reply
    1. KatieK

      It’s also possible that they just wanted to see a result and didn’t care as much about the method, but that OP is projecting their own insecurity about their skill set into the assignment (ie having more recently started picking up SQL, they think it’s shinier and that the interviewer won’t be interested in skills that OP him/herself has deemed less impressive).

      The crux is really whether they were instructed to use a certain method, which OP didn’t say. If the task was to do it in SQL and R, but you didn’t, that’s one thing. If the task was to do it however you prefer, and then the hiring manager judges the candidate for choosing a method that’s not what they secretly wanted to see, then that’s a poorly designed assessment.

      Reply
      1. OP#3

        I wasn’t explicitly instructed to use those methods. The instructions just said to include detailed explanations of thought processes and tools used, which may include excel, google sheets, or anything else you’d like. There were a couple of SQL-specific questions like ‘what is this snippet of code doing?’ and ‘is there an error, and if so, how would you fix it?’ and I think I did fine on those.

        Reply
        1. KatieK

          To me that’s a success then! If you did okay on those questions and your analysis is generally good, you should be fine. If they advance you they may specifically ask about methods (or give another task) or you can proactively bring it up and offer to send the second sample. If they don’t advance you it won’t be for choosing one specific tool from their list over another.

          (I work in this field but have never interviewed for it, got where I am through internal promotions and on-the-job skill building, so feel free to take my perspective with any grain of salt you’d like.)

          Reply
    2. Youngster Joey

      Agreed 100%… if they mentioned specific tools, and you did them in something else, then they got what they needed out of the assessment. Even if they didn’t prescribe what you were supposed to use, and SQL and R are just “would be great-to-haves,” I still don’t know if I would follow up… if you were pretty conversant, you’d have gone with them in the first place.

      I find that some of my colleagues will continue to work on a solution even after it’s been solved, just because it bothers them that they didn’t find the “best” way the first time around. I appreciate people like that; those sort of programmers tend to be more creative and enjoy learning for learning’s sake. I could see following up after an assessment maybe being acceptable if you optimized a complex algorithm or something… just more of a “FYI I thought of a better way and thought I’d share”, maybe, if it was really significant and you posed it in more of a “it was gnawing at me” sort of way. But rewriting in another language and/or changing the analysis communicates more of a “I couldn’t do it the right way in the allotted time” message. At least, that’s the way I perceive it.

      Following up more than once, no matter the reason, doesn’t look super great in my opinion. You have to have confidence in what you provided and accept that it is what it is.

      Reply
    3. olives

      This question was really fascinating to me, and I was surprised to see so many people who would think poorly of submitting it again.

      Perhaps this is more from a coder perspective than a data analyst perspective, but as someone who’s hired in tech before, I’d actually appreciate seeing the second attempt in SQL and R. Jobs requiring these skills often vary widely in how they expect you to get the job done, and depending on the job market you’re in, it’s possible your data analysis skills are needed more than the skills from the specific tools (which you might be expected to learn on-site). That’s something you can’t know from the outside, though.

      Many tech job postings talk about skills in particular languages, and then hire people who only know half of them and have to learn the others. I don’t know if this applies to data analysts or not. Because of that, I’d definitely look twice at a candidate who said, “I was really fascinated with this problem and wanted to play with it in SQL and R, so here’s the Github link for what I did if you’re interested.”

      It would not push them ahead of a candidate who knows the skills already, necessarily! But I’d see it as a strong sign that the candidate would care a lot about getting things right on the job.

      Very interested to see all this contrasting feedback, though!

      Reply
      1. Lil Fidget

        I’m not in the tech field so you might be right about the difference, but to me, this would be too many emails / too much back and forth over what should have been a fairly cut and dry process. Yes, one later email might be okay. But more than that, assuming this employee, if hired, would continue on as they’ve performed in this test, would would indicate to me that they a) are likely to disregard deadlines and instructions b) can’t let things go c) don’t have the self-awareness to manage these tendencies even in a first impression situation. Don’t get me wrong, in some fields these traits might be just fine, and it’d be more important to prove the coding, but in my field, this would make them a PITA.

        Reply
        1. Tuxedo Cat

          That’s what I was thinking, too. The letter writer is revealing other information than just their coding skills.

          For me, that wouldn’t fly if I had options for my next hire.

          Reply
        2. Luna

          Yeah I agree, the OP’s motivation for emailing again is not because she finds it really fascinating, it’s purely about her own insecurity and second-guessing herself. For all she knows the manager thinks the initial submission was just fine, but by sending so many emails highlighting her inability to let it go she might lose out on the job just because of that.

          Reply
        3. Risha

          Yes, exactly. Being unable to let finished, if not “perfect”, work go is a huge negative in many jobs, including a lot of programmer jobs. A follow up email with a better solution to a timed test would be a big red flag to me if I was hiring, because it would say that they’re more concerned with non-existent perfection than they are with doing a task well by a deadline and then moving on to the next piece of work.

          Reply
          1. Baby's First Employee

            YES! Thank you! I have my very first non-intern report and sometimes he is VERY VERY focused on doing something that I have specifically told him to STOP working on because it’s good enough.

            Reply
    4. dbAdmin

      Yeah, I get the impression people here aren’t exactly catching the nuance of what’s going on with this skill test because they aren’t in the tech field. If I did a skill test that said they work with SQL and R you’re damn right I’m going to be working in SQL and R regardless of how much experience I actually have with it. The recruiter probably gave options for google apps/Ms suite and other programs because of the report writing; doing the bulk of the database work over in Excel just makes you look super incompetent no matter how you try to argue it.

      To the LW: SQL Server, Azure, Oracle, MySQL and even Visual Basic Studio have options to create databases that use SQL coding. Install that over the weekend and level up your skills appropriately if you want a better chance on the next skill test you’re given.

      Reply
  4. Mark132

    I can’t even tell you where my inbox is at work for snail mail. I’ve moved a couple of times, and I can’t recall the last time I got something that I didn’t immediately file in the trash can.

    Reply
    1. JHunz

      The only mail I have ever gotten at my current position is Amazon packages I ordered myself. If I got a letter I’d find myself asking what year it was.

      Reply
      1. PB

        I did get a letter in my work mail once, from someone sending an information inquiry. The whole thing was weird. Who sends a letter for that? They could have emailed, used our “Ask Us” link on our website, or even called and gotten an immediate answer. Instead, they wrote a letter, printed it on letter head, spent money mailing it, and then waited several days for it to arrive here. Sending a snail mail letter might have been the right approach in 1960, but it isn’t now. In addition, I was not at all the right person to contact.

        Reply
        1. Bea

          There are a few large corporations that still mail out informational things, I get requests for W9s all the time via mail, which is funny because they ask me to “fax or email” them. You could have faxed or emailed me that request though, the majority of companies do just that.

          We get supplier information updates from these folks as well.

          I think they do it to cover their butts because there are still places that do not email and rely on faxes, those are fun folks to do business with.

          Fun fact, there are also still people who mail in their purchase orders.

          Reply
          1. PB

            This is true! In this case, the letter was from a professor conducting research, so job-related, but not like a W9 request. I’m guessing this is how she learned to make this kind of request when she did her PhD decades ago, and just never updated it.

            Reply
            1. Bea

              Does she hate technology? I bet she has an AOL email address ;)

              I joke but I have worked with these folks for so long, I just giggle and if they added a pre-paid stamped envelope, I’ll mail it on back without much more thought.

              Reply
    2. PB

      My mail box is about to move down a floor from my office. This worries me, because I almost never get mail, but when I do, it’s important. Right now, I check it as I walk by. I’m pretty sure I’ll never remember.

      Reply
    3. Risha

      I work in an actual office (not from home or anything) and have neither a snail mail inbox nor a work phone number.

      I suppose if something got sent to my office in general, and not the main office 45 minutes away, it would probably eventually get to me. Especially if it came via FedEx or UPS, not usps, since packages do come in daily, are signed for, and get piled into random corners until someone goes looking for them.

      Reply
      1. Risha

        Ironically, FedEx just delivered what looks like a letter for my boss (I signed for it because I was the first person they found), and when I crossed the room and handed it to her, she looked at it like it was a snake about to bite her. “Nice to get presents, I suppose,” she said in a doubtful tone of voice.

        Reply
      2. mark132

        I barely have a phone number anymore. It is connected through my computer (mac) and it is flaky. It random selects output devices, for instance my monitor rather than my headphones. And I have to move windows around to find the answer button. Very annoying

        Reply
  5. OP#1

    Thank you so much for answering my question! I definitely won’t ever hand write a thank you note, especially in the age of digital marketing. The fact that someone in marketing actually preferred a handwritten note actually turned me a little off.
    I did end up making an Instagram for my dog and it’s actually helping me learn more about improving social media strategy, which is a fun for me!
    I ended up applying to another job I really want (this one has office dogs!) and used this instagram in my email to them, saying that I have gained # of followers in a week (they requested links to accounts you’ve created content for so this seemed perfect. I also sent a link to some design work I’ve done in my current job). Fingers crossed that I hear something – though I’ll still continue looking in the meantime.

    Reply
    1. LouiseM

      Love this update! And love that you have an instagram for your dog. I have been trying to make my cats internet famous for years and it has never worked…you’ll have to tell us your secrets :)

      Reply
      1. AvonLady Barksdale

        I have an Instagram for my dog. I wish he had more followers, and it’s growing slowly but surely, but it’s certainly fun. I write in “his” voice, and he has his own cadences and vocabulary. A lot of people shake their heads at me, but I DO NOT CARE. Harrumph.

        Reply
        1. Hey-eh

          I have an Instagram for my parrot and honestly the bird owning community on Instagram is tight. I made it as a place to put all the cute pictures I was taking but it’s ended up being so much more. People definitely shake their heads at me but they don’t have to follow him if they don’t want to!

          Reply
      2. Turquoisecow

        I have a Twitter for my cats. They’re not super famous by any means, but have a small number of followers, and get a decent amount of likes. I only post once a day; possibly if I put more effort into it there would be more popularity, but oh well.

        Reply
      3. Malory Archer

        My cat has instagram too! Not a lot of posts or followers, but it’ s fun to write in his voice sometimes.

        Also, earlier this week I got a notification that a former boss of mine had followed me on instagram. He got my cat’s handle instead of my standard one, and I’m not sure if I should tell him.

        Reply
    2. Pam

      My sister Instagrams (pretending this is an actual verb) her dogs, and is online friends with others who do the same.

      Good luck!

      Reply
      1. chersy

        I’d love to have another dog Instagram account to follow! They brighten up the otherwise “sponsored” and curated scroll.

        Reply
        1. OP#1

          I’m so tempted to post it! I have a coworker that I know reads AAM, though, and I just don’t want them to know about my job search.

          Reply
            1. OP#1

              Oh yes, definitely! It’s actually kind of killing me because now I feel like I’d get quite a few followers from here haha

              Reply
              1. PB

                Maybe you could post it after you land your next job? Granted, you wouldn’t get followers before your next round of interviews, but you’d get them later, and we’d get to see cute dog pics.

                Reply
      2. ket

        How ’bout y’all have an Instagram-dogs section in the open thread and you can all post the best dog-Instagrams? That could provide some cover for OP :)

        Reply
    3. Quoth the Raven

      My Instagram account is not exclusively dedicated to my dog, but there’s a lot of photos of her. I follow a lot of accounts mostly devoted to dogs — I’d totally follow you.

      I hope everything works in your favour, and I’m glad to see how you’ve been able to use your dog’s Instagram in your job search.

      Reply
    4. Bea

      The world needs more dog and cat Instagram pages, then I’ll stop dreaming of the day it’s appropriate to just roll around in the streets with all dogs I meet. I won’t actually stop that dream though…what a world that would be.

      Reply
  6. Llama Grooming Coordinator

    LW1: Doesn’t this REALLY depend on your specific focus, though? Like, if you’re in public relations, it’s a lot closer to “yes” than…like, if you’re selling pots and pans. I almost feel like the answer should be “no” UNLESS you work in social media, and even then it would be a “maybe.” You’d have to find a way to stand out from all the other pet social media accounts.

    LW2, if you’re my boss, I’m sorry I’m such a jerk. (And I guess I have an awkward meeting to look forward to later on today.)

    Alison’s actually entirely on base, though – even if he’s passionate about his project (and it sounds like he is), the project isn’t really about him. By making it about his emotions, the focus isn’t on providing the best work possible, it’s on making him happy. One thing that I think wasn’t mentioned that I’ve been trying to do is to actually hold off on feedback until I’m more emotionally detached from it (so, let’s say, an hour to a day – in my case, there are relatively few issues where I need to address things exactly at that moment). If that’s possible, that would give him some breathing space where he doesn’t feel like he needs to respond in the moment (if he is immediately responding to issues).

    (So. in my case, like…I can be angry as hell that Lucinda let ten herds of llamas run through the mud and now they need to be shampooed all over again, because – I mean – Lucinda should know better by now! But my emotions aren’t going to solve the problem of having ten herds of filthy llamas.)

    Reply
  7. Kitty

    Whoah, 8 back to back interviews in one day? This sounds like a lot! Is this normal for some industries? I haven’t heard of this kind of hiring practice before.

    Reply
    1. So Very Anonymous

      Standard for academia, although I think it’s more common for us to just consider it a “full day of interviewing” rather than breaking it down into multiple interviews like that.

      Reply
      1. LouiseM

        Whoops, commented without seeing yours! I’d agree about the full day thing, but this may just be an attempt to translate into “normal” job vocabulary.

        Reply
      2. Nesprin

        I recently did a 2 day academic interview- I talked to over a dozen people and gave a lecture to a room of 50. It was rough even by the standards of academia, but I got the job.

        Reply
    2. LouiseM

      In some corners of academia it can be normal (especially for faculty positions). It’s usually more a mix of meetings and traditional “interviews” and presentations, but I can see eight back to back interview type things.

      Reply
      1. AcademiaNut

        Yes, this (or more) is standard for faculty jobs. But for a faculty job, you’re essentially hiring a senior employee for life – firing faculty for anything short of gross misconduct can be difficult or impossible. So you want to make a good choice, and pick someone is is reasonable to work with and is going to strengthen the department beyond their own papers.

        Typically, you’d fly them out, they’d give a general departmental colloquium, and maybe a more focussed talk to specialists in their field. You’d get a tour of the department and university. Then there’d be discussions with the hiring committee, department chair, various senior faculty, faculty who do research that is related to what you are doing, maybe a session with the postdocs and grad students. You’d get taken out for lunch and dinner. If the job involves moving countries, you’d probably want to talk to some other transplants about local life and issues for foreigners.

        Typically, this would be done for the short list, so about three people, over a period of a few weeks to a month. That way, if your top candidate takes another position, you don’t have to start arranging another visit.

        In my field, at least, they pay all your expenses, plus an honourarium for the colloquium, and you would be encouraged to stay up to a week, to give you a more relaxed chance to talk to people about research.

        Reply
        1. curly sue

          Yup. We just went through this in my department with two short-listed candidates. In my field there’s usually also an open lecture or studio class for undergrads as well as a student-only Q&A. It’s quite the process.

          Reply
      2. Science!

        Even for more junior positions, like post-docs or associate research scientists (positions that require a Ph.D but don’t involve running your own lab) can involve all day interviews. My post-doc interview involved flying in on a Thursday, dinner Thursday night with my prospective faculty, interviews all morning with faculty, scientific directors and other managers of some of the major lab projects and members of the lab, an hour talk with time for questions, and then a formal tour of the lab and facilities. Finally a second dinner with my prospective PI. I flew home Saturday.

        That was my longest post-doc interview. The shortest one was an hour long talk with a prospective PI, but in that case I actually flew in to meet with one PI at that institution and had had a full day of interviews the day before; but I was also interested in this other PI’s lab and she had a smaller lab so we just met the two of us and it was less formal.

        Reply
    3. Zombeyonce

      Especially since they’re putting 3 people through that. Something that intense should be saved for finalist, not the top 3, IMO. I’ve definitely heard of an entire day of interviews but not for more than one person. That’s a huge amount of people’s time to use for more than one person.

      Reply
      1. Lurker who knits

        US academia does this because the department with the opening does the main interview, but they don’t (typically) get full authority to hire, only rank the candidates. Final decision is made higher up the chain. Candidates also get interviews with university admin higher up. At my uni (I’m a grad student), some of the events with a candidate are structured to allow time with students and later students submit feedback.

        All day interviews are greuling but for tenure track, it makes sense. On the recieving end, I’d rather have as much contact with as many different people as possible to be able to assess if I could fit in there.

        And, it’s possible that a candidate who did well in a phone interview will come in to teach and present and suddenly the candidate is no longer a good fit. It takes time to set up travel (uni pays), so there’s no time to wait candidate-by-candidate set up the next interviews.

        Reply
      2. Artemesia

        It is usually 2 or 3 in academia unless you are going after a particular person who is renowned. But for standard openings, you are always competing people. People who look the same on paper do not necessarily look the same when you see them deliver a research seminar, teach a class, interview on their research etc. Two days of non stop interviewing, teaching, presenting and going to dinner (and breakfast) with a faculty member or two is typical. It is not uncommon for schedules to be developed without the apparent awareness that the candidate has to get from office A to B or may need a break here and there either, so the schedules can be crazy backbreaking if you don’t have a competent scheduler putting them together. Lunch might be pizza with a dozen undergraduates.

        Reply
      3. It's hard to hire in the middle of nowhere.

        When I was in grad school, I was the student rep on the search committee when my department was hiring for a tenure track position in my subfield. We ended up doing something like seven of them because the first round of 3 did not impress in their campus visits, then the next candidate turned the job down, then we did another round of 3. It was a nightmare.

        Reply
    4. Kuododi

      Oh it has been quite common for DH. He’s in a specialized area of health care and it can routinely be an all day + adventure in interviewing. (I don’t want to get into his.specific arena as it is quickly identifying for him. ). I have had some complicated interviews….(once was thrust into a committee interview of 25 people!!! Gack!) I’ve fortunately never experienced anything like the 8 interviews back to back, or some of the stuff DH has experienced. ( I’m in community mental health as a licensed therapist)

      Reply
      1. A mouse

        I’m in a (probably different) very specialized area of healthcare and I just got my first job out of school with a full day interview — I had to meet the whole team and spend some time getting to know them. It definitely took energy, but it was absolutely worth it to figure out that I’ll fit in well! (And I suspect they felt the same.)

        Reply
    5. Sherm

      Please, interviewers, don’t make your applicants do all-day interviews (unless you’re academia). I once had all-day interviews lasting non-stop from 9:00-5:30. Even lunch was an interview. I knew that an offer from another organization was very likely pending, but despite knowing my job search was probably over regardless, it was still oh-so-stressful to do the all-day interview. I heard the same things over and over. I said the same things over and over. I wondered if they were perhaps a little full of themselves, as if they had thought “We’re just so amazing and complicated and important that you need a whole day for a proper interview!”

      Icing on the cake: After that day, that was the last I ever heard from them.

      Reply
      1. Mookie

        I always wonder about how the hiring team can even function when at any given point one or more of their colleagues and managers are unavailable because an entire working day is devoted to a single candidate. Depending on the pool at that point, that could last for a week or more!

        Reply
        1. Antilles

          I won’t speak for everyone, but my first company out of college had a similar full-day interview. And it worked reasonably fine because it actually wasn’t the hiring team for the entire day.
          Basically it was more like a series of 30-minute interviews with various people within the branch – and it was cross-divisional and multiple levels, so you’d go from meeting with an engineer 2 years out of college to meeting with the (non-technical) branch manager to meeting with the department head of marketing. Every interviewer got a copy of the resume, academic transcript (for new grads), and cover letter, but it was really up to each interviewer how they wanted to run their 30 minute session so it varied just based on the personality of the interviewers – Some interviewers were naturally very technically-focused people, so they’d spend most of the time asking specific technical questions about your skillset and knowledge; other interviewers with relational personalities would spend most of the allotted time just chatting with the candidate to figure out if they liked the person/cultural fit/etc; one guy who moonlighted as a college professor would spaz out about your college transcript and probe the details of your college classes.
          Near the end of the day, the hiring manager and the department head would walk around the office and chat with everyone, sort of collate the feedback and compare it to their own personal impressions, and decide whether to make an offer.
          It was time-consuming and kind of awful for the candidates, but from the management side, it was somewhat beneficial to get a lot of different perspectives…though from what I could tell, it didn’t seem like the turnover rate was significantly better than any other company in our industry, so idk whether it actually mattered or not.

          Reply
          1. LBK

            Wow, that sounds like a huge waste of time, especially for an entry-level position. Who cares what someone in another department thinks of your potential hire when they have no idea what the job will entail?

            Reply
            1. Antilles

              In fairness, the branch had enough cross-pollination of work that the other departments had a pretty good idea of what most jobs entailed – I might not be able to do the chemistry design side myself, but I interact with them enough that I have a decent enough background. So that actually wasn’t as big of an issue as you’d think.
              But yeah, for entry-level, it’s definitely a little excessive. Especially since, it didn’t seem like there was a noticeable improvement in outcomes compared to industry standards – if they had far fewer failed hires or something, then you could make a very good argument for it (spend a few more hours today to avoid months of aggravation later!), but there wasn’t any real indication that was the case.

              Reply
        2. Kris

          In the legal field, big firms frequently do all-day call-back interviews of law students. They are generally a series of 30-minute one-on-one interviews with various attorneys from the firm, as well as a lunch interview with two attorneys, and a dinner interview the night before with another two attorneys. Not all of the interviewers are on the hiring committee, but at least some are, and the hiring committee makes decisions based on the feedback from the interviewers. Because this process is usually used to hire a summer associate (intern) rather than a permanent attorney, it’s less problematic if the process produces a poor hire. As someone who went through this process as a student oh so many years ago, and then sat on the other side of the process as a non-hiring committee interviewer and later a hiring committee member, I think it benefits the candidates. The student candidates generally have similar academic credentials and legal-related work experience, so the opportunity for them to make an impression through a really good conversation in an interview is important. The more interviewers there are, the more chance there is of having that really good conversation.

          Reply
      2. Easily Amused

        Here’s my all-day interview story: I was living in LA but wanted to come back to the East Coast. I got an interview for a company I really wanted to work for (I was a lighting artist for animated movies at the time so I had a very specific skill set with a few big films on my reel – meaning that all they really needed to know about me was already on that reel). I told them that I would be in the area in a week and a half as I was coming home for Thanksgiving but they insisted that they needed to have the interview right away so they flew me cross country the day before, had a car drive me to a hotel where they put me up for the night, then the car picked me up the next morning and brought me to the office. I had a full day of interviews, office walk through, lunch, etc. all went well. The car picked me up and drove me back to the airport and I flew back to LA. Didn’t hear anything for weeks after until I finally got a response from HR that they weren’t hiring for my role on that movie yet. Hold ups like that happen all the time but it was so odd that they insisted on the immediacy of it. Anyway, I got a call from a recruiter asking if I wanted to work for them about a year and a half later but I was already booked up and in a relationship and didn’t want to move at that point. I ended up marrying the guy so I guess it all worked out!

        The moral of the story: all-day interviews are the worst and seem to be a huge waste of time, money and resources for everyone involved.

        Reply
      3. Maude Lebowski

        Sherm, you mean they didn’t even send back a, “Thanks for exhausting yourself listening to our self indulgences all day – we’ll get back to you”?

        Reply
      4. Jam Today

        I interviewed with a company that pulled a similar stunt, having my interview over lunch. They provided lunch, which was a turkey sandwich (which is fine) but then didn’t actually let me eat it, because I was being asked questions the entire time. Not only that, but they moved me around from room to room so I had this plate with a sandwich on it, with no offer to either let me finish it (I was only able to take two bites of it), or throw it out (I’m not going to throw out food in someone’s office garbage can) so I wound up carrying it around with me from interview to interview. It was so awkward and uncomfortable (and they ghosted on me in the end, even after explicitly having a conversation with the HR lady where she promised just to send me a note if they went with another candidate, so I could know what was going on.)

        Reply
      5. Nerfmobile

        All-day interviews are not uncommon in my field (design). The candidate presents a portfolio review to a group of people, then trots around to 1:1 or small group interviews for 3 to 5 hours. Somewhere in there they also meet with the hiring manager for at least an hour. Lunch is usually, but not always, with the hiring manager or the closest co-workers to the position.

        Reply
    6. Former Producer

      In January, I had a full day (8 am – 8 pm) of interviews for a producer position at a TV station in Vegas. They flew me out at the crack of dawn and I didn’t get back home til nearly midnight. I basically interviewed with almost everyone at the station, and even lunch and dinner were interviews. It was exhausting to say the least and I wasn’t super excited about the role anyway. I’m not sure how common it is in my (former) industry, but I was flown out in 2015 for an interview at my previous job, and I spent a good chunk of the day (11 am to 5:30 pm) at the station, but it wasn’t nearly as exhausting, and they put me up in a hotel that night which was nice. But yeah, I don’t agree with full day interviews outside academia.

      Reply
    7. lamuella

      I once had an all day 9-5 interview for a management job once where there was a formal “big interview” with presentations followed by a full day of meeting with people I would be working with if I got the job.

      The thing was, I was pretty sure I’d blown it from the point of the “big interview” onwards. My answers were OK, but it was a change of specialism for me and I got the impression they really wanted someone with more skills from the specific area I was interviewing in. Plus, my second meeting of the day was with the deputy manager who was temporarily filling this job and was a) amazing at it and b) clearly who they were going to pick. I’d have picked her over me too. What this meant was that I had five more hours of pointless meetings with people who I definitely wouldn’t be working with.

      To add a surreal element, this was the day after the 2016 US presidential election, so some people were in the grip or the wake of some very strong emotions.

      Overall not an experience I’d want to repeat.

      Reply
      1. Mookie

        To add a surreal element, this was the day after the 2016 US presidential election, so some people were in the grip or the wake of some very strong emotions.

        Yikes. My condolences to all of that including this.

        I also interviewed that day (though, praise be to the lard, not a full day by any means) and there wasn’t a single person involved who didn’t hate everybody else to the point of mass mania. Questions and answers were delivered with a snarl or dry, contemptuous chuckle. Somebody who didn’t look hung over went to go dry-retch in the corridor and then left the building and drove away (across from where I was sitting I could see the employee parking through a bay of windows).

        Reply
      2. Hope

        Oh man, I was on a hiring committee that had two interviews scheduled for the day after the 2016 election. One candidate called that morning to cancel on us; the other was fortunately an internal candidate who had to come in to work anyway. That was a surreal day for interviewing.

        We’ve all vowed to never schedule an interview for the day after an election ever again.

        Reply
    8. Naptime Enthusiast

      We do something like this now, but it isn’t 8 back-to-back interviews and we’re normally interviewing for a ton of positions in different departments. We invite the candidates in for one of our interviewing days and it starts with a breakfast buffet and a presentation from HR, followed by 3-4 interviews, then lunch with a Q&A from some of our Employee Resource Group volunteers to learn about the culture of the company. It wraps up around 2PM I believe, which is still a long day but more manageable IMO.

      Reply
    9. cataloger

      I’m in academia, our faculty interviews are TWO full days for each candidate, and we often bring in two or three people. The two days include a presentation by the candidate, four meals, tours of work areas and the city, and meetings with different groups (the search committee, the manager alone, the promotion/tenure committee) only a few of which are formal “interviews”; they’re mostly a chance for faculty/staff to get to know the candidate, and for the candidate to get a good sense of the position and the community.

      Reply
    10. NW Mossy

      I did an all-day when I interviewed at my company back in ’09. I was an out-of-town candidate, which was the main driver – they wanted to make sure that everyone that had a need/desire to meet me got a chance to do so before the final decision. If I remember right, there were also other openings in addition to the one I was hired for, so some of it was probably assessing which area was the best fit.

      It wasn’t totally interviews, though – one section was a skills assessment modeled after the professional designation exams in our industry. Thankfully I’ve always been a good test-taker and I’d also just passed the designation exam a few months prior.

      Reply
    11. EB

      Even IN academia I think that the all-day interview can be excessive. I applied for an got an entry-level role five years ago at a university– I had to travel back to the campus twice (it was an hour drive for me at the time), once for a preliminary screening that can and should have been a phone screening. The second time was the interview day where I met with 11 people over the course of the day. Of course, those were 11 people I ended up working with… but even so, there was really no good reason for me to meet with most of those people in retrospect.

      As for OP– I had one BAD interview of those 11– I honestly thought I wouldn’t get the job. Turned out that person was upset that my position would replace the freelancer the department had been using– a close personal friend of his. Naturally nothing I said in that interview would have made a difference!

      Reply
    12. Mrs. Psmith

      This is fairly common in journalism. Because many people applying for reporting and editor positions are not local, they are brought out for two days (second day is usually just a morning wrap-up and then they leave for the airport) and proceed to meet with multiple people in the newsroom one-on-one. They aren’t typical “Tell me about a time…” interviews except with the main editors, it’s usually more of a conversation and the interviewee will usually ask about the culture, city, beats, etc. I think that’s mainly because reporters are naturally going to ask a lot of questions regardless of the situation they are in, it’s so ingrained in them.

      Reply
  8. LouiseM

    For #2, I think that even if the OP isn’t tasked with giving the coworker feedback, she can still say something in the moment. If he’s telling her he’s angry with them, for example, Alison’s script about taking things personally might be effective. I’ve certainly had coworkers give me advice when I’m venting about a work problem that changed my approach and made me more effective. The key is to sound collaborative rather than like you’re handing down an order.

    Reply
    1. Triplestep

      I actually think the manager in question is just saving face. There are people who have really juvenile ideas about what managers say and do, and when they become managers, they put those things into practice. My own manager is constantly invoking the names of executives – both with her staff and in meetings – presumably to add more weight to her point. When its out of context (and it is more often than not) it just comes off as weirdly obsessed with “importance”. She also says things like she would defend her staff to the ends of the earth, likely because she thinks that’s what a manager says. It is not true.

      I could totally see her expressing to her peers or boss that she is “angry” with us because she uses vocabulary like “I got yelled at” (referring to her own boss, who is not the type to raise his voice). I’m not saying there shouldn’t be heirarchy in the workplace, but some people have really childish views of what that means and what it should sound like.

      Reply
      1. OP#2

        Thanks to you both! LouiseM, it’s a bit tricky because I’m tasked with “making everything work better” by our boss, but this coworker has been defensive about feedback in the past. Alison’s language is really useful though and I’m going to give it a try.

        Triplestep, I do think there’s some face saving involved. It definitely feels like he feels the need show the anger to the rest of us to say ‘don’t worry, I know this is serious, and I’m mad about it’ but it isn’t very productive and doesn’t solve the underlying work problems.

        Reply
        1. Triplestep

          Are sure he is expressing displeasure to his staff? Unless you’ve heard it, I wouldn’t be so sure he speaks to them that way. He may just think that’s how someone in his role is supposed to sound to his peer and boss.

          That’s not to say he’s not exhibiting other “characature of a boss” behavior with his staff. I am sure my grandboss has no idea my boss invokes his name (and those of other VPs) as much as she does, or that she portrays him as someone to fear, and someone who scolds her when she is bad.

          Reply
  9. MyBossSaidWhat

    OP#1 – YMMV but I used to work with a woman who was actually dismissed in part because she’d written a book. The choice of whom to lay off in a restructuring came down to me or her… she had more tenure and credentials but management felt her writing a book about something not directly related to our job showed a lack of dedication to her role.

    Reply
    1. Mookie

      Wow. I bet that scares you off from ever writing a book yourself. Was that a particularly valid criticism, under the circumstances?

      Reply
      1. MyBossSaidWhat

        No to both. We live in a state where unemployment is high and abusive employers are common, so that encourages me to have a side hustle. The issue was – IMO – that her success in a realm outside the office unsettled people. The expectation here is that hourly employees will work for free off the clock, be available 24/7, and fund their own job-related training. This woman did none of that and I really think management saw her evening/weekend time and effort in writing the book as being “stolen” from the company.

        Reply
        1. Bea

          I’m relieved to hear that you know all this is BS and not to fall into their trap of intimidation. What a nightmare!

          Reply
    2. Delta Delta

      This was something the person did in their not-at-work time? That strikes me like saying “Jane eats breakfast at home with her kids instead of at her desk so she’s not dedicated to work.” Unless I’m misinterpreting.

      Reply
      1. Mystery Bookworm

        Yeah, I think that – generally speaking – those sorts of out-of-the-office endeavours help more than they hurt, since they can demonstrate tenacity and work ethic.

        Reply
    3. Bea

      No…they let her go because she was making more money probably given her tenure but will stick to her “book” until they die so they cover their asses.

      Reply
    4. Gazebo Slayer

      I hope she becomes J.K. Rowling-level successful from her writing, buys their company, and fires everyone who made that decision. Wow.

      (Vanishingly unlikely, I know. But nice to imagine.)

      Reply
  10. Justme, The OG

    Op#1: If your dog is cute, by all means create them an Instagram. Pets are about 80% of what I follow on IG.

    Reply
    1. OP#1

      That was my thought! When I first got my dog, I immediately went and followed a ton of breed-specific IG accounts.

      Reply
  11. WorldsWorstHRPerson

    Lw1 – keep in mind when you are at the final stage of interviewing that you are typically against 2 – 5 people who have already demonstrated that they are qualified for the job and great people.
    The hiring manager probably wanted to tell you something more than the cliche it was between you and someone else and we picked the other person. Nine out of ten times that is what really happened.
    Hand written thank you notes can easily backfire. If you don’t have good handwriting or make spelling and grammar errors, that will be held against you. Also, showing you outside of work actitivies could hurt you. I once had two strong candidates and ended up not choosing the one who sent the hiring manager and me a link to her YouTube channel that had nothing to do with the job; there was nothing wrong about the content but we were concerned that our opening may just be a side hustle until she got a following large enough to make posting videos her full time job.
    Just keep looking and showing you are the best person to be hired.

    Reply
  12. Argh!

    Re: #1

    Writing a book is on a significantly higher plane than creating an instagram account, and paying off student loans is significantly more difficult than having a cute dog.

    Hobby interests need to be in line with your job interests. If you are applying for a job at a veterinarian’s office, your dog’s instagram would show your dedication to a pet, which would be great. If you want to be a web master, instagram won’t impress the hiring manager in the least. I’ve seen a lot of resumes, and not one of them has included instagram.

    Reply
    1. Artemesia

      Writing a book is not a huge big deal. Getting a book published by a major publishing house whether it is an academic niche thing or a novel IS a big deal.

      Reply
      1. Goya de la Mancha

        This. So much self-published work out there these days. Also, writing a book doesn’t qualify it as a “Good” book. It could be full of editing issues or be 200+ pages of “I lived with my parents and ate Ramen for 5 years”

        Reply
      2. Nanani

        I’d say writing a book – a whole book, with edits and proofreading, as opposed to a perpetual work in progress- is also a big deal.

        Reply
    2. Trout 'Waver

      I think creating a successful instagram account with a good following would be more important in the field of digital marketing than writing a book.

      As Artemesia points out, there’s a big difference between writing a book and getting it published by a reputable publishing house.

      Reply
    3. Elizabeth West

      I think you mean if you’re putting it on a resume or in your cover letter, then yes, it should show interest or skills related to the position.

      I’m reading this as though all outside interests should be tailored to your job interests (nooo LOL) and thinking I know people who would love to get a job where they could knit all day. :)

      Reply
  13. WillyNilly

    OP1 – I volunteer on 3 local Boards (my CSA, my Civic Association, my Homeowners). We *always* welcome more volunteers. And two of those 3 boards are lacking in websites completely, and while they have social media, they are far from robust. We work with many local volunteer groups that lack any web presence at all.
    All the Boards are made up of community leaders though; a great networking opportunity.
    If you want to show off skills, practice slills, and network, try offering your services to a local volunteer org. Pet shelters, volunteer ambulance corps, small historic sites,
    environmental and beautification clubs, etc all can gain from increased web presence.

    Reply
    1. OP#1

      This is a GREAT suggestion, thank you! I actually have been considering going to a new local pizza shop and asking to help them with their social media accounts. I’m not too savvy on where to find local volunteer groups, though, especially without an online presence. How should I go about finding them?

      Reply
      1. Washi

        In my area, a lot of groups that are too small for a website do have facebook pages, so you could try looking there! Or for rescue groups, you could ask a larger regional rescue (Humane Society, etc) whether they know of smaller specialty rescues. Our local shelter works with a lot of breed-specific focused rescues to place dogs and are a good resource for what’s out there.

        Reply
      2. Bea

        I’m old so my suggestion is going to recreational places and checking their bulletin boards for cards and pinups on what’s going on in the area. Most small places will still use the old basics to get their name out and you can research to see if they have an online presence yet.

        Reply
      3. WillyNilly

        LOL that’s the big conundrum isn’t it? Mostly word of mouth, and looking for old fashioned marketing like signs, flyers, ads (or articles) in small/local newspapers, etc.
        For example, my local volunteer ambulance corps just has a sign outside their building, and they do old school snail-mail mailers soliciting donations, as well as having a physical presence at local events, in parades, etc. A Facebook page with weekly simple health & safety tips, a website with how to donate and or volunteer, an IG showcasing the tools and items used on the ambulances, etc would be awesome.
        If you have a local Chamber of Commerce, or local larger non-profit, asking them could yield leads.

        Reply
      4. SarahTheEntwife

        If you have a local library, they often have community bulletin boards. (They also may want help with their website!)

        Reply
      5. GG Two shoes

        Definitely check facebook, but also your local United Way may have a website that has a skills matching page where member orgs put their needs. Also, Volunteer Match website may also be helpful.

        Reply
      6. On Fire

        You might also contact your local chamber of commerce or hospital; they are likely to know of various charitable organizations. For example, if you’re interested in helping a domestic violence shelter, a hospital or law enforcement agency will probably have their contact info. A veterinarian’s office will know of animal-related causes. Think of what causes interest you, but don’t have a good online presence, and then think of who works *with* those groups, to get their contact/network info.

        Reply
      7. Temperance

        I work in a major city, so this may not apply to you, but I would honestly just google causes you care about and/or “Young Friends” groups for nonprofits. There are so many cool orgs that could use your help!

        Reply
      8. Guitar Hero

        OP1, you should also look into starting up an online portfolio. Keep screenshots of sites you built and track key metrics for the various social campaigns you work on that show improvement/impact over time. That way you don’t lose track of everything you’ve done if your volunteer relationship ends or if the organization folds or shuts down its social accounts or whatever.

        Not every hiring manager will want to go fishing around an organization’s facebook page trying to glean useful information about you, but they will investigate a well done online portfolio. Plus it allows you to feature YOUR contribution without the added distractions of what other people might post on a social media page.

        Reply
      9. Nanc

        Local libraries, especially any type of a Friends of the Library organization. Also, Senior centers and retirement homes. While not all seniors are on social media, their kids and grandkids are and it’s a great way to get the multi-generational thing going. Do you take your dog to a groomer? Do they have a lack of social media presence or need a website? They might do a service swap.

        Go old school and read the activity calendar in your local paper. A lot of groups still rely on good old press releases, especially in smaller towns. You might spot something you’re interested in attending/doing and could offer your services. If it’s too late for this year and you’d like to help at next event you could sign up with the org, which doesn’t really help now . . .

        Reply
      10. zora

        Ideally, think about things you are interested in and look for groups that do those things. What do you find interesting? Animal rescue? Look for local shelters or rescues you can get involved in. Transportation? Education? Arts? etc. And then start looking around, and reach out to organizations telling them who you are and that you would like to volunteer your marketing skills, and I guarantee you will find at least a couple of orgs that will jump to get your help!

        Reply
      11. BusinessCat

        This may not help with finding local volunteer groups, but it might if you live in a big city and it will definitely help with finding relevant volunteer opportunities that may be remote – Taproot is a website that nonprofits post on looking for pro bono skilled volunteers. I’m doing one right now and having a really positive experience. It’s directly using my skills to help a Puerto Rican non profit. It’s rewarding, gives something for my portfolio, and takes a very reasonable amount of time.

        Reply
    2. another person

      Yes! I am heavily involved in an organization that does STEM outreach and this year we got a marketing student in our group of organizers and she has done SO MANY AMAZING things that we just didn’t know were possible in promoting our events and getting donations and generally looking like a well-put-together organization.

      Reply
      1. WillyNilly

        This is it, so much.
        So many people think of volunteering as roll up your sleeves, physically be out there work – and it is that. But there are so many “office” jobs that need to be done behind the screens to even get to the physical stuff.
        Holding an event is great, but well marketed events are much more successful.

        Reply
  14. Kate

    3. “Should I refrain from mentioning any extra work unless I make it to the next round, since it wouldn’t be fair to count work done beyond the 24 hour limit? Or do I put it in a Google Drive folder and write her saying “I know you can’t really look at this until after Monday because it’s done beyond the 24 hour time limit”

    I think the chances of her wanting to revisit the test after the interview are about as low as her wanting to do so before. It’s not really about ‘fairness’, it’s about whether you can do good work quickly. You seem to be acting like this is real work she wants done, rather than a test- there’s no point doing extra now. I think the best idea would be to have a list of things you would do differently in mind in case she wants to discuss the test at interview.

    Reply
    1. Falling Diphthong

      This is sound advice. If you get a second interview and it comes up then you can return to something from the skills test–ideally in the “this niggled at me, and I thought of a much more elegant solution” sense suggested upthread. But the test is done; don’t keep trying to relitigate it.

      Reply
      1. OP#3

        Thanks for the advice. Yeah, after sleeping on it more, I know it definitely wouldn’t make sense to send extra work – I was just succumbing to anxiety with that. I can definitely articulate an idea for a ‘more elegant solution’ / additional analysis step that would clarify the interpretation.

        Reply
        1. J.B.

          If it comes up in the interview though, being able to describe what “more elegant solution” would look like might help.

          Reply
  15. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister

    I’m so interested to hear people recommending against handwritten thank you notes! I’ve always done email follow ups after the initial phone interview and handwritten cards after a final in person interview (written and mailed the same day of the interview so they arrive within 2 business days). I’m in fundraising though, which has a big focus on developing personal relationships and thus sending handwritten notes to donors or whoever is pretty common.

    Reply
    1. Bea

      Given your industry, I think that it makes the most sense to continue to do things the way you have been! It makes sense to send a handwritten note when this shows even more so about the follow up and professionalization required in fundraising.

      I’m in manufacturing and the hiring managers do not check their in-boxes frequently if ever. I have always been around to hand deliver their mail so I would give them cards that appear but I know so many people who sort the mail and would bin it or put it somewhere the person never would see it. Also it’s still fair to say that mail is very slow in a lot of areas. My hometown, you can mail something to someone on the other side of the town and it takes no less than 3 days. It has to go all the way up the capital and back down because they restructured the post office years ago and do not sort mail in town any longer, it has to go out of town to be sorted at the master facility! So in our case, we make a decision within a day or two of the final interviews, your card will not arrive in time.

      It’s a dated practice in most ways, think about how frequently you see job postings in the newspaper asking you to mail or fax them your resume. Ah the golden days of job hunting, how they still scar me to this day!

      Reply
      1. Oxford Coma

        I live in BFE and have the same problem with snail mail. In fact, for my last two jobs, I had either a rejection e-mail or an offer voicemail waiting for me by the time I drove home from the interview, so e-mail wasn’t even fast enough! (I didn’t send thank yous at all for those two jobs, because it seemed weird to do so after the decision was made.)

        Reply
    2. LBK

      I think it makes a little more sense in the context you’ve outlined, but generally it comes off a little antiquated and almost too personal for a business exchange.

      Reply
    3. Bettsie

      Coming in late, but as someone who is a fundraising VP and does hiring for a lot of fundraising jobs, DEFINITELY continue sending handwritten notes. Yes, send out the email thank-you ASAP, then follow up with the handwritten notes. The development department in any nonprofit is a place where the postal mail is ALWAYS checked every day (or multiple times a day!). Never know when you’re gonna get a big check or a surprise estate notification! I wouldn’t automatically NOT hire someone if they didn’t, but someone who got me a quick email thank-you and followed up with a handwritten note, and was able to make each of those tone-appropriate for the situation and the 2 mediums would get plus points since that’s exactly the kind of thing you would be expected to do as part of your everyday work, so I would appreciate seeing it in real-life action.

      Reply
  16. it_guy

    #1 – You could always set up a work related blog. I follow quite a few of my ex colleagues tech blog’s, and they are really handy when I’m chasing down a tech issue at my job. I’ve set up a work related twitter account that I only use to tweet tech issues and other IT related things.

    Reply
  17. Alice

    OP5 — if the person in this role will need to work closely with the 8th interviewer (the one who’s not on the panel but seems to have strong negative opinions about how the job is structured), think carefully about whether you want to walk into this situation. Will you be able to turn the relationship into a productive one? Maybe. Will the interviewer actually not have many shared responsibilities with the person in the role? Maybe. But try and get some more info. Good luck!

    Reply
  18. Fleah

    Op4, the only time I had an experience like that, it turned out to be a NIGHTMARE of a toxic job. This was a one off interview with two soon-to-be coworkers. Is it possible the last interviewers have a different manager or are in a different department? Or heck, maybe it’s even a personality thing – two negative Neds after a bunch of enthusiastic people will definitely stand out!

    Reply
    1. EB

      I posted a similar comment above but this kind of happened to me as well. My bad interview over the course of the day was a person who had a close personal relationship with the freelancer I was replacing. I was applying to my alma mater and he asked me some particularly odd and combative questions– essentially “tell me why you’re qualified… besides having gone to school here” because the freelancer had not been an alumnus.

      I definitely bombed that interview but got hired anyway since I got great feedback from the other 10 people I met with that day. The semi-comforting twist I can provide the OP is that once I got there, understood why the interview went the way it did and dropped a couple of compliments about the work the freelancer had done in the past… he DID warm up a bit to me. But we were never particularly close, that’s for sure.

      Reply
  19. required name

    #1: Oh man, I totally understand this mentality. Interviews are relatively few, feedback is even fewer, so it’s so tempting to hyperfocus on it and target your behavior based on it. But the thing is? That hiring manager is telling you how to appeal to her, for this one position. It doesn’t necessarily mean it would help with all hiring managers. So, yeah, if you apply for another job with this specific person, for sure do all of those things. But for other people? Just keep doing what you’re doing.

    Reply
  20. Dancing Pangolins

    This is a mildly related question, but in the case of all day, back to back interviews, how many thank you emails are you supposed to write? I know best practice is to reach out individually to each person, but almost always, those interviews are with multiple people…. I once had three back to back interviews with 3-4 people each. Writing all those thank you emails was so painful especially after all the work I had to do prior to the interview (in my industry I typically have to create a custom portfolio).

    Reply
    1. Triplestep

      I have the text of every thank you email I’ve written in the recent past saved in a single plain text file. I refer to it any time I have to write a new one, but I always personalize and edit to fit the job and interview.

      I recently had back to back panel interviews and I wrote the 10 thank you notes by opening that text file, then starting 10 plain text files and copied/pasted/tweaked/refined all 10 until I was satisfied with all of them. Only then did I start 10 emails and paste the text content into them and hit “send”. You never know when a phrase you’ve used in one might work better in another, so even if I only have two or three to do, I use this method and don’t send until I am happy with all of them.

      I ALWAYS only paste plain text. You never know how someone’s email client is going to show pasted, formatted text. I told this numerous times to a friend I was helping in her job search, but never drove the point home like I did after sending her a screen shot of a pasted up email she had sent me. She was shocked to see the two fonts and colors when it has not looked that way on her screen.

      Reply
    2. LBK

      Assuming there’s some cross-department interviewing occurring there, I’d say at most just the people on the specific team you’d be working on. If most/all of the people you met with were actual coworkers, I’d say just the hiring manager and maybe their direct boss if you also met with that person.

      Reply
      1. Triplestep

        My general rule of thumb is to thank everyone who has any influence at all on the hiring decision. So … Everyone. They would not be asked to take time out of their day to meet you if their opinion was not valued.

        Reply
        1. zora

          But sometimes the interviewee isn’t given full names/emails of everyone they meet with.

          Recently a few candidates for jobs at my office sent one email thank you that they emailed to the HR contact and the hiring manager they had emails for, but in the body of the email they thanked the whole team. We then circulated those emails so that everyone who interviewed saw them. That makes the most sense to me, if you meet with a lot of different people.

          Reply
          1. Triplestep

            If their email addresses aren’t available online, you can email the recruiter and get them.

            Sorry, there really isn’t a good reason not to thank everyone personally. Think about it: as a candidate, would you rather have someone forward a unique, heartfelt, personalized email to your hiring manager? (People will do this). Or do you want to risk that same person feeling “meh” about you after having received a mass email that didn’t show much creativity or effort?

            Reply
  21. Temperance

    LW1: instead of creating an Insta for your dog, why don’t you join a volunteer org or nonprofit to help them run their social media? It would help set you apart from others and give meaningful experience. I mean, I love pictures of dogs, but I would be way more impressed with a candidate with actual experience.

    Reply
  22. Jam Today

    I guess it depends on the industry or job responsibilities, but I can’t think of many things I’d rather do less outside of work than maintain a website or a blog, *especially* one related to the industry I work in.

    Reply
  23. SpaceNovice

    OP2:

    I suspect he needs management skills training in general. He does pass on praise, you said, which means there’s potential he might just be over his head and not know how to manage properly instead of him being a complete jerk. The fact he can’t address mistakes or problems properly and instead is angry is a potential red flag, but the only manager I’ve experienced like that before had his behavior corrected beautifully when his new boss started mentoring him.

    You could look for books on management philosophy and work on the curriculum together to make you both better managers. (There’s also training, but I can imagine sorting through what’s good training and paying for it is way too much.) That way, you’re not singling him out and you both get the benefit of improved skills. He probably thinks that he’s SUPPOSED to express his displeasure that way. Since you’re tasked with improving team management and workflow already, this shouldn’t be too difficult to get approval for.

    Reply
      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Well, there is this, which I co-authored! (It’s for nonprofits, but 99% of it will still apply.)

        https://www.amazon.com/Managing-Change-World-Nonprofit-Managers/dp/1118137612

        Also, the Management Center has training courses based on the book:

        http://www.managementcenter.org/trainings/

        As well as an ongoing skills-building program for managers that you can run internally (and which I wrote!):

        http://www.managementcenter.org/trainings/management-workout/

        Reply
      2. SpaceNovice

        I can’t remember the ones people have been recommending since I’m not a manager myself (yet), but the ones Alison suggested sound good, and the Difficult Conversations one someone else recommended I’ve heard is a good one.

        But I think if other people drop their suggestions here, that’d be great. I haven’t managed myself, so even if I had read books, I wouldn’t have had a chance to put them into practice to give feedback.

        Reply
      3. Oranges

        I love The Seven Pillars of Servant Leadership(?) because it gets the boss’s job correct. My job is to make my boss happy. Their job is to ensure I can do my job.

        Reply
  24. CM

    OP#2: You might also tell him that it’s ineffective to tell people he’s mad or otherwise express negative emotions — this will make them feel anxious and that won’t help them improve. Are you familiar with the book Difficult Conversations, about delivering and accepting negative feedback? There are lots of similar books and articles out there too. They teach you how to focus on the solution and turn it into a mutual goal, rather than just criticizing. It might help to use some of these techniques, both for your conversation with the manager and to coach him on how to talk to his employees about improving their performance.

    OP #3: I would not want to hire you if you kept coming back with more corrections. I would think you would be a difficult employee who would not be able to let things go, and might be hung up on perfection. Like if you made a mistake on an assignment, rather than taking feedback and trying to do better next time, you would keep wanting to go back and make corrections to prove to me that you could do it, beyond the point where it was useful to me. I would rather hire someone who was thinking about how to productively move projects forward, which would also make my life easier as the manager.

    OP #4: I don’t know if I would have mentioned this in my email to the hiring manager — it seems a bit like complaining. But I think raising it in the moment as Alison suggested, with “Why do you ask” type questions, is a good approach and can tell you a lot about what the person is thinking.

    Reply
    1. OP #4

      Thanks for mentioning this, CM– I really didn’t know if I should mention the dynamic in my “thank you email” to the hiring manager (search committee chair). The chair overheard a bit of that final interview and seemed confused herself so it created a strange dynamic at the end of the day that I felt should be addressed– but I’m not sure that was the right call. I’d be so interested to know what others think on this.

      Reply
      1. Naruto

        I wouldn’t advise that approach. But it’s over and done with, and only you were there to get a feel for everything, so you used your best judgment. Which is fine!

        But I think the point of a follow-up email is to sell yourself, not to criticize their process. I agree it’s a totally fair criticism, I just don’t think that’s the best time or place to raise it (assuming you still want the job).

        Reply
  25. Jill

    OP #1 – Unless your pup has some remarkable talent (Think Boo the world’s cutest dog or Grumpy Cat), an instagram account probably wouldn’t do much good. Yes it shows off your talent but not necessarily in the best way. Also things like this can backfire and ultimately may not be a deciding factor. Best way to stand out from the competition: technical skills, well polished resume, references (if you can actually get your references to write you a letter of recommendation that would be ideal) and a killer portfolio. I’d also suggest that if you wanted to further demonstrate skills to put together a portfolio website (wordpress or wix are great, easy platforms), put up samples and information about who you are. Your goal is to sell you (not your dog).

    Reply
  26. Massmatt

    #4–What strikes me about your interview experience isn’t the length of time and number of people involved (though both seem pretty excessive) but the hostility of the final group of people. If people are taking passive aggressive digs at you or the position during an interview what are they going to be like working with when they aren’t on their best behavior? If they aren’t working with you and you are unlikely to interact with them, why are they interviewing you in the first place? It sounds like there are hurt feelings or nasty office politics involved that got taken out on you. It’s dysfunctional, and I would take it as a big red flag about this employer.

    Reply
    1. OP #4

      Thanks, Messmatt. That seems right on— like some significant history/bad feelings were getting misdirected onto me which undoubtedly would be a big challenge in working there!

      Reply
  27. overcaffeinatedandqueer

    OP#1: I have Instagram for my pack of four cats and the fosters my wife and I take in. I’ve definitely mentioned the fostering, planning, and fundraising I do for the shelter in interviews, but I wouldn’t mention the Instagram unless the job was really focused on social media.

    (By the way, the shelter is Feline Rescue, Inc. in St. Paul, Minnesota, I am doing a fundraiser for my birthday next week, and my Instagram is @thatqueercat). But I do this because they’re adorable, and to promote fostering and the cat(s) I am trying to get adopted out, not for my resume.

    Reply
    1. OP#1

      I just followed you on my dog’s Instagram! In case anyone felt like trying to find it haha, by the way I love the name of your Insta!

      Reply
  28. jo

    OP1, go ahead and make an Instagram for your dog! I for one am always happy to find another adorable dog Insta. :)

    On a more serious note, it sounds like that hiring manager was looking for a candidate who seemed like a creative type, a self-motivated go-getter, an offbeat sort of person, or something like that. Don’t read too much into it, because not all hiring managers in marketing will place great emphasis on those specific things, especially compared to your professional qualifications. But it couldn’t hurt to put some of your leisure time (if you aren’t already) into activities you can talk about in interviews that will show what kind of person you are and how you see yourself. Do things that are important to you, talk about your interests outside work, and you’re more likely to land in a job where people are excited about you.

    Reply

Leave a Comment

Before you comment: Please be kind, stay on-topic, and follow the site's commenting rules.
You can report an ad, tech, or typo issue here.

Subscribe to all comments on this post by RSS