can my interviewer push me to answer personal questions?

First, a broken foot update, and then we’ll get to the question … I’m off the Percocet because it was making me dizzy and nauseous, and the pain has gotten reasonably bearable. I bought an amazing knee scooter like commenter Cheryl recommended earlier, and it has been revolutionary!  I was hating the crutches (and really don’t have the upper body strength to use them with any degree of ease), and this scooter is pretty damn awesome. Anyone with a leg or foot injury should get one. And I got a second opinion today, and it looks like there’s a pretty high likelihood I’ll have surgery next week. (It’s a Lisfranc fracture, and those are quite nasty.)

Also, people are really remarkably nice, which I’m learning all over again.

Okay, on to the question.

A reader writes:

I’m am trying to transfer to another store with the same company I’m currently working for and have worked for for 8 years. I recently interviewed for a position in another state, and the HR manager pressed me for personal information. Before I even interviewed, she asked me why I wanted to relocate. I told her I simply wanted to move from the East Coast. She asked me why I could only work part-time, and I told her I wanted to go back to school. She then asked me what school I wanted to go to, and I told her I didn’t know yet. She wasn’t satisfied with these answers and continued to press me for more information.

I feel none of this information is my employer’s business. It wasn’t like she only asked once, she continued to ask and ask, pressing and pressing. I finally had to stop speaking to her and file a complaint with her boss. I filed the complaint before I interviewed with her and a store manager. I was not given the position. What personal questions — aside from the main gender, age, race, etc. — are employers not allowed to ask? Did she do anything illegal or wrong? Do I have a claim against her or the company?

Um, no. She didn’t do anything illegal, and it doesn’t sound like she necessarily even did anything particularly wrong. And of course you didn’t get the job after you filed a complaint with her boss. I wouldn’t hire someone who had filed a complaint before they were even working with me!

It’s perfectly reasonable that an employer would want to know why you’re interested in relocating. They’re often looking for evidence that you’re likely to stay in your new city for a good long time. For instance, “I’ve always thought X had beautiful mountains” is less reassuring than “My family is in X” or “I used to live in X and always planned to move back when I could.”  That doesn’t mean that “I’ve always thought X had beautiful mountains” is a deal-breaker, but they’re going to listen for how you talk about it and whether you sound like you know what you’re getting yourself into.

It’s also reasonable to want to know why you’re looking for part-time work, and to know what schools you’re considering and why. They’re hiring a person, not a robot. When someone doesn’t work out in a job, it’s not always because of a skill set issue; it’s often because the person is flaky or has bad judgment or has a weak work ethic, or whatever. So yes, employers will probe around and ask questions designed to help them figure out what you’re all about.

Honestly, the fact that you filed a complaint against her for trying to figure out who she’d be hiring, and that you’re now wondering if you have a legal claim against the company (!) — well, I’m sorry to say it, but I’d stay far, far away from hiring you.

Look, I’m not saying that you should have to open your heart and soul to an employer and let them strip-search you and read your tax returns — you shouldn’t — but this was far from that. These were questions about your availability and your academic pursuits. Maybe they weren’t gracefully asked. Maybe she wasn’t particularly nice. I don’t know. But the questions themselves are 100% fine, and if you were confused about why she was asking them, the proper response was “Why do you ask?” not “I’m going to find a lawyer.”

{ 115 comments… read them below }

  1. Joey*

    Why can’t kids figure this stuff out on their own? I mean if you ask yourself I would think you’d come up with something reasonably close to Alison’s response. If you’re going back to school you can’t be that naive.

      1. Anonymous*

        I’m surprised you don’t have a column like Dear Abby in the newspaper – but obviously for the workplace and not so much on common etiquette!

        And yes I know you write for USA Today, but I think you understand what I mean.

    1. Anon.*

      There is no indication that the OP is a ‘kid’.
      1. The OP has worked for the same company for 8 years.
      2. Wanting to return to school is not an indication someone is ‘a kid’.
      3. That’s pretty condescending.
      4. Nope, I’m not ‘a kid’. Not by a long shot.

      1. Joey*

        Sorry to the kids for assuming the op was a kid, but this is the kind of question I’d expect from someone who is lacking in basic adult common sense.

  2. Anonymous*

    I’ve been asked these questions before and in no way did I ever felt offended or felt as if they were interrogating me. In fact, it was more of an open leeway for a casual conversation.

  3. Julie*

    It might also be an issue of the company wanting to ensure that you’ll still be working for them during and after you got your degree. If I were a hiring manager and found out a long-term employee was planning on going back to school in a different city, I think it would be entirely reasonable to ask whether that employee was planning on using their newfound skills at the same company or was planning on jumping to another company or another industry.

    Also, if you don’t know which school you’re going to (as you state in your letter), there’s no guarantee that the school you eventually find will be in the city with the position you’re interviewing for, which would cause you to move again. School admissions, particularly for prestigious universities, are highly competitive, and there’s no guarantee you’ll get a position at your first-choice school or even in your first-choice city.

    So I think the HR manager’s questions were entirely reasonable, given the circumstances.

  4. Sydney*

    If the reason for your relocation was really private and something you didn’t want to share at all, it would probably have been best for you to say that but also state your commitment to stay in the new state for at least a reasonable amount of time.

  5. Kelly O*

    First, I’m glad the knee scooter thing worked out and hopefully they can get your surgery settled soon so you can really start to recover.

    Now, for the question – really? Asking why you want to be part time is not unreasonable. Asking what school you want to attend is not unreasonable. You know what seems weird to me, and maybe it’s the first cup of coffee talking, but how do you not know what school you want to attend? Even if you’ve not been accepted, don’t you have a preference?

    Well, Bob, I’d like to attend State University and major in Underwater Basket Weaving, but I’ve also considered Swanky College’s Clay Pot Throwing program.

    It’s like I pointed out in a response a couple of weeks ago – if you start off being That Guy who files complaints (after an interview, no less) and you DO get hired, you have a reputation from day one that has nothing to do with your abilities, work ethic, or what you produce. “Oh, that’s the guy that filed the complaint about Bob and got hired anyway. Be careful what you say around that guy.”

    Naturally then you feel like people are being cold and unfriendly to you, so do you start complaining about that to your supervisor? And if the supervisor doesn’t do what you want, you just keep going up until someone does something about the unfriendly coworkers? I mean, I know it might feel a stretch, but I don’t think it’s an unreasonable line of thought to take if you’re with that company, looking at a complaint filed by an interviewee and you talk to Bob and find out all he wanted to know was why you were moving, wanted to be part time, and where you wanted to go to school.

  6. anth*

    Sometimes I wonder about these people. You should save up the “can they do that” questions for one post and then be all “PEOPLE, YES now stop being silly!”

      1. Steve*

        True. Another auto response could be to explain the difference between discrimination (the act of choice) and illegal discrimination, specific legal categories which cannot be weighed or used in making a choice.

  7. Eleanor Malloy*

    While I think the OP definitely over reacted, I would have found these questions intrusive also, especially when the HR manager kept asking them over and over. I probably would have just lied to get her to shut up.

    It doesn’t even occur to a lot of people that these questions are a sneaky way to find out how long the job candidate plans to stay with the company or in the area. Why couldn’t the HR manager just ASK why she wanted to know? A direct question would have avoided the whole problem.

    1. Julie*

      Alternately, though, the OP could have just answered the implied question: “I understand that you might be worried about my commitment to the company, given that I’m asking to downshift to part-time, but I assure you I have every intention of staying with Jim’s Widget Company and ideally moving back up to full-time in 3-4 years. Moreover, though I know it seems that a major in Underwater Basket Weaving isn’t directly relevant to my current job description, the manual dexterity I’ll gain will be extremely helpful in my role of Widget Assembler and will give me a boost if I want to apply for a promotion to Senior Widget Assembler.”

      Not all interviewers are great. Sometimes you have to answer the implied question that they may be too polite/naive/inexperienced to ask.

    2. Joey*

      You’re kidding right? There are too many people that will tell you what they think you want to hear. The only way to find out is to probe around a little. Do you think I really want to hire someone who is moving here without any kind of logistical plan? If I plan to hire you I want to know what your availability is going to be and be comfortable that you won’t flake out. What’s so intrusive about that? And do you really think I can ask you if you’re a flake?

  8. Anonymous*

    I just…I can’t.

    I mean, seriously? If someone was being dodgey or awkward about answering “why are you looking to relocate to x” (which for what it’s worth is one of the first questions I ask anyone looking to relocate), it sends up red flags.

    If someone won’t disclose why they want to go back to school or what they’re hoping to learn, I think they’re not serious about it orrr that they’re hiding something and are being dishonest. No recruiter in their right mind hires folks to fall under the dishonest or dodgey categories. And to file a complaint for…actually being interviewed? I just…what exactly do you think you have a right to? $10000 because they asked your reasonable questions? Did you expect that you would just be granted the transfer? I’d appreciate hearing a bit more from the OP about what their expectations in filing that complaint were and what the ideal outcome would look like.

    1. class factotum*

      I had started dating the man who is now my husband after I was laid off from my job. I was in Memphis, he was in Milwaukee. I looked for a job in Milwaukee and every single interviewer wanted to know why I wanted to move to Milwaukee. With the first few, I didn’t want to tell them because my boyfriend was here (I don’t know why! I was dumb!), but I couldn’t bear not being honest, so I finally told the subsequent interviewers. They were delighted.

      I finally figured out that they could not understand why someone would move from a state with nice weather and no state income taxes to the frozen, expensive, nanny state north and were suspicious, but the boyfriend was a solid reason.

      1. KellyK*

        I have heard advice not to mention relocating to be with a significant other because it will have the interviewer wondering if you’ll leave if the relationship ends. But if that’s your reason, it’s your reason, and it looks worse to hedge or b.s.

        1. kristinyc*

          I’ve mentioned a significant other for the relocation question, but it wasn’t just about him.

          “I’ve dreamed of living in NYC my entire life, and I’ve been saving money for a year so that I can make the move. My boyfriend just finished his master’s degree in a film program, and there isn’t really a market for his line of work in the Midwest, so we decided to move to NYC.”

          I think that’s pretty reasonable. It doesn’t look like I’m just following some guy, but also shows that I’d have solid reasons to stay in the city.

    2. That HR Girl*

      Bingo on the whole “not being serious” thing. Here’s what I see going on here:

      Remember that we’re talking about a store, according to the OP. This is retail, not corporate. And OP wants a part-time job, across the country, so that s/he can maybe kinda sorta go back to school at some point, probably.

      I would absolutely doubt his/her seriousness and would be afraid that after going through the entire process of setting up the interviews, conducting the interviews, talking to store managers, filling out paperwork, that this person would just say “Never mind, I decided to stay here, I don’t really think I want to move”.

      And the fact that OP “filed a complaint” BEFORE the actual interview is just over the top.

      Someone needs a lesson in protected classes and discrimination… Not hiring someone because they were a douche is completely legal :)

      I doubt there is a lawyer out there who will allow 5 minutes of their precious time to be wasted even consulting over this BS.

      1. Jamie*

        I thought the same thing, but I don’t think it’s clear what kind of job it is. One the one hand it’s retail and dealing with customers…but on the other hand she moved out of state previously because they transferred her to open another branch.

        Unless I’m mistaken it’s usually a higher level position where your company will transfer you to another state.

        Then again, this position is one she’s held before – so if I were an interviewer I’d be interested in why the move backwards even if it’s lateral.

  9. NonProfiter*

    Every question you get asked in an interview is an opportunity to show you’re the right person for the job. Can the OP really have been so oblivious? If the interviewer was pressing until the OP felt uncomfortable (which, ok, may have been done rudely) the OP should have clued in that their answers weren’t satisfying. I can picture the interviewer’s side, though, where he/she has mounting frustration because the candidate is being defensive and flaky.

    Mr. NonProfiter is in a field where basically any job change is going to be accompanied by a move to a new location. Even in his field, where this is common, where you have to go where the job is, where searches are being conducted nationally, being able to give satisfying reasons for your commitment to the move is important to the potential employer. Saying you have family in the area, you’re looking for a good place to raise your family, or that you’re ready to live in a city/the country after x number of years living in the country/the city is a good, polite, reasonable answer. Mentioning opportunities for your spouse’s career in the area, whatever. It’s ok to let employers in on your personal life a little bit, while keeping it professional.

    AAM is right: weak as the answer “I have always wanted to live near the mountains,” is, it is a decent answer, although you might want to say, “there are so many wonderful recreational opportunities near X, and as an avid backpacker, I’d look forward to enjoying the natural beauty in the region.” Two sentences in your cover letter is a great place to do that.

    Even if the OP wasn’t sure where she wanted to go to school, she could have given a polite brush-off answer. It’s called having social graces. Filing a complaint is just bizarre.

  10. Anonymous*

    Two things:

    1. The OP is paranoid about something with her personal life. Maybe someone has pressured her enough in the past that when someone asks questions to dig a little deep is considered a trigger for her to shut down. Maybe someone had pointed out to her in the past that she is indecisive, and she felt she was going to be accused of that here.

    But that doesn’t excuse the next point:

    2. The OP shot herself in the foot by making that complaint. What does anyone expect to get out of filing a complaint against the interviewer? A job. Hell to the no! Let me guess, OP, if someone told you to A only for you to go and do B, and they reprimanded you for it, are you going to file a complaint then too? OP, what were you planning on accomplishing with that complaint? And what are you trying to accomplish by sending your question into AAM? You are letting yourself be totally criticized. I’m waiting for the complaint against AAM and the rest of commenters soon!

  11. Anon*

    “What personal questions — aside from the main gender, age, race, etc. — are employers not allowed to ask?”

    Yes, OP, you’re correct. Employers are not allowed to ask what gender you are.


    1. Julie*

      As far as I’m aware, they’re allowed to ask, they’re just not allowed to base hiring decisions on the answer. Therefore many of them don’t, because they don’t want their ultimate decision to be construed as discrimination.

      (People are free to correct me if I’m wrong on this one.)

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes — with the exception of disabilities, employers are allowed to ask about religion, ethnicity, race, age, etc. They’re just not allowed to use those answers in a decision. Of course, smart employers don’t ask anyway — both because they don’t want to risk the appearance of using the answers and because they don’t want to make candidates uncomfortable. Well, and because hopefully they shouldn’t care about such things.

        (This gets problematic when someone makes innocent small talk — “What a pretty name. Is it Chinese?” — and ends up creating the appearance of discrimination.)

        1. Anonymous*

          Are employers allowed to ask “Can you perform the duties of this position with or without reasonable accommodation?”

            1. Joey*

              Not so. I’ve interviewed a few that could have done that old SNL skit ‘Pat’. The first time I must have asked every question at least twice because I struggled to stay focused. I kept wondering if it’s possible to be guilty of gender discrimination when you don’t know the persons gender. I still don’t know.

              1. Anon*

                That’s why I said it’s one of those things that you “generally” don’t need to ask about.


            2. Jamie*

              For some of us, gender can be a surprise on the initial phone screen.

              Back when I was looking I’ve had a couple phone screens where they commented that they were surprised that I was a woman. Not in a bad way – I wasn’t offended – but a unisex name in IT they tend to assume male.

              I was asked once why I didn’t change the spelling of my name so people who didn’t know me wouldn’t be confused. I don’t change fundamental things about myself for strangers – so that’s a big no.

            3. Heather*

              Yes, I’m dating one of those people who you’d be hard pressed to tell what gender she is (and you’d be wrong unless you chose genderqueer or transgendered). And yes, it does lead to employment (and other kinds of) discrimination since people get so freaked out that it stops any rational conversation about abilities. Because genetics she can’t help but look between genders, and even if she had a choice it’d be like asking a manly man who dressed in suits to wear a dress to an interview–imagine how uncomfortable that would be for him!

  12. Anonymous*

    Alison, I’m sure you don’t want my opinion, but stick to the crutches as much as you can bear it!
    I broke my ankle a year ago and didn’t think I had the upper body strength to move around either, but 4 weeks on ‘the program’ and I had gorgeous Michelle Obama arms – best boot camp ever.

  13. MLHD*

    You know what happens ALL THE TIME with employees who work part time, go to school, and aren’t from the area? “Oh, I have midterms next week, so I can’t work at all.” “Oh, I’m leaving town for the holidays to visit my family.” “Finals are next month, I can only work 4 hours for the next month!”

    THAT’S why they ask those questions!

    1. Julie*

      MLHD, I’d be interested in knowing how much of this attitude applies to mature students (i.e. people who have been out of school for a number of years and go back to school after being in the workforce for a while). Yes, I appreciate that 19-year-old full-time university students will prioritize their education, and frankly that’s what we expect of them. It’s why they’re in school in the first place.

      Someone returning to school after being a full-time employee for a decade, I suspect, will understand that they can’t say “finals are coming up, I can only work four hours next week” without explicit prior arrangement with their employer.

      1. Anonymous*

        Re-entry students also tend to “prioritize their education,” no? I think the presumed maturity that is supposed to come with age does play a role in this, but going back to school, working part-time, and relocating are still, well, going back to school, working part-time, and relocating. These will be red flags to any employer if the potential employee cannot clearly articulate how these things may impact their work.

      2. Malissa*

        Who say’s you can’t say that? I am a person who is back in school after a decade of working. I took a day off for finals last quarter and will do the same this quarter.
        My very nice boss, knows where my priorities are, and also knows not to question them. Right now they’re School, Family, then work. Does this mean I’ll use school as an excuse to slack off? No I was hired to do a job, and I still do it. It’s just that sometimes my schedule needs to flex.

        1. Julie*

          Precisely my point: you made a prior arrangement with your employer. I’m not saying that mature students can’t get accommodation and flex for their courses/finals/assignments, I’m saying that (I think) they’re more likely to be sensitive to the fact that they also need to do their job.

          Please note that I have no hard data one way or the other for attitudes of full-time students right out of high school and part-time students returning to school after being in the working world. This is all speculation on my part.

    2. That HR Girl*

      “You know what happens ALL THE TIME with employees who work part time, go to school, and aren’t from the area? “Oh, I have midterms next week, so I can’t work at all.” “Oh, I’m leaving town for the holidays to visit my family.” “Finals are next month, I can only work 4 hours for the next month!””

      -Exactly. Totally this.

  14. Anonymous*

    Red flags! Unfortunately, there are a lot of psychos out there, and I have run across my share.

    I generally like to start with open ended ice-breaking type questions: Tell us a little bit about yourself? What do you like to do for fun? Something to flesh out a cold resume. One candidate said, “I don’t feel comfortable talking about my personal life with you and I am not going to answer that.”

    I said, “Well, we are a pretty small group here and we do tend to spend more waking hours with each other than we do with our own families. We would just like to get to know you a little bit.” The response, “Getting to know me is irrelevant. You should focus on whether I can perform the job requirements.”

    “Getting along with others is a job requirement. Thanks for coming in. Please see the receptionist to get validated.”

    Hey psycho – Do you really think I want to work with you every day for the next 20 years?

    1. Joey*

      Although “I’m not talking about that” is never a good response exactly how does “what do you like to do for fun?” help you make a hiring decision? And “tell us about yourself ” I’m sure you know can easily be misinterpreted to mean tell us about your life. If that’s your intent you’re walking through a minefield. There are plenty of ways to get to know someone without making people feel obligated to talk about family, health problems, religion, etc.

      1. jmkenrick*

        It sounds like the issue was more that the candidate responded so intensely.

        I think most anyone can come up with a few generic responses to “what do you do in your free time?” The fact that this person couldn’t (or wouldn’t) says something about what they’d be like to work with.

        1. Anonymous*

          What do you do for fun? = what do you do outside of work that will prevent you from being a ticking time-bomb at work?

    2. Anonymous*

      Well any job that expected me to spend more time with them than not would raise flags in my eyes so that would certainly be a spot where as an interviewee I’d go hm Thanks but no thanks.

      That said you don’t have to go into detail about every single hobby, spare time activity and other thing you do. I generally bring up the sport of the season I engage in because it helps fight some other things people might assume about me on first glance (I’m overweight but I participate in a lot of silent sports so I usually use those as a tell me about yourself not work thing).

      1. Julie*

        I think spending more time with colleagues than family is just a fact of life. Let’s say you sleep eight hours a day, that leaves 112 waking hours a week.

        Even if you don’t put in any overtime, you’re likely spending 40 hours a week + 5 hours for lunch in the office; that’s 45 hours you’re spending with colleagues.

        Let’s say you spend a half hour each way on your commute, that’s another 5 hours a week. And let’s assume your hours in the morning before work, in which you’re rushing around and getting everything ready and you’re probably pre-caffinated is another 5 hours that aren’t spent as quality with your family.

        So even if you spend all your weekday evenings and all your weekends with your family, that’s 57 hours, which isn’t really all that much more than you’re spending with your colleagues. If you hang out on Saturday afternoon with the guys/gals, or you go to the gym a few times a week, or you spend a few hours running errands, you could easily get down to parity.

        So I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think that if someone is working full-time, they’ll see their coworkers about as much (or maybe more) than they see their family. And given that you’re probably spending over 2,000 hours a year with your coworkers, it’s probably reasonable to expect them to see whether they can get along with you before hiring you.

      2. Joey*

        You’re opening yourself up to things you don’t want to know. What if I my hobbies are church, women’s rights organizations and volunteering at mosques. Trust me you don’t want candidates making assumptions when you don’t hire them.

        Non profiter,
        Just because tell me about yourself is a common question doesn’t make it a good one. Don’t you already see the qualifications on the resume and/or app and can’t you ask a more pointed question like “why should I hire you” or a variation of.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I tend to agree that there’s no reason to ask about out-of-work activities. I do want to get to know something about who I’m hiring, but that doesn’t mean I want to know their hobbies — it means that I want to know what they’re going to be like to work with (which has nothing to do with their weekend activities). I want to know things like: Are they smart, flaky, calm, manic-energy, confrontational, egotistical, shy, unassertive, tactless, pleasant, etc. And those are all things that you can pick up just through a good interview.

          1. Anonymous*

            I agree — the answers to the question are for the most part irrelevant. I don’t really care if you like college football, or are involved in your kids soccer, or enjoy scrapbooking (although I would rather not hear that you have 50 cats). It is more about giving you a chance to talk about something in which YOU are interested and have passion and then seeing HOW you say it. Honestly, if you get flustered by “Tell me about yourself,” you are in real trouble.

          2. That HR Girl*

            I agree… I think that, although most people are approaching it innocently, the question “Tell me about yourself” is a little TOO open-ended. I think “tell me, what about our job posting made you interested in this position?” or (because I am fortunate enough that my company has an awesome career site that does a great job of explaining our culture) “Have you had some time to poke around on our career site? What kinds of things did you see that you liked?”

            You can ask “starter” questions without being totally bland, or worse, inviting too much personal info.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Yes! I often start (at least on phone interviews) with, “So, what led you to apply for this position?” People answer that in different ways — some by talking about why they’re looking, and some with what attracted them to the role, but it’s always interesting.

              1. That HR Girl*

                Exactly. And this is also a good reminder of why a behavioral style of interviewing is best (especially interviewers who struggle with coming up with questions on the fly – or need some guidance to keep from tip-toeing into potentially inappropriate territory). Asking about specific things that have happened in the past, how that person dealt with it, and what the outcome was.

                To make it as easy as possible for our interviewers, my company has an interview guide where we’ve basically taken each one of our values and each one of our core competencies (for all you Leadership Competency lovers..) and based behavioral questions on those. “Tell me about a boss you found hard to work with” or “When you’re working on a project, what kind of direction do you find helpful from your Supervisor”.

                Now – in the beginning I will expressly tell the candidate that I’m looking for very specific answers, and that if they need a minute of silence to think of an answer, that’s fine, but that I will need them to be very specific. If they can’t give me specifics, then that is a red flag for me.

                The positions I recruit for don’t really involve a whole lot of transfers/relocations, but I would definitely go a little off-book if that were the case.

                OP, I think your overarching problem here is simple – you became too much trouble than you are worth. Is that unfortunate, given your tenure and standing in the company? Maybe. But for a part-time retail position, multiple interviews with multiple managers, without the ability to articulate why you really want to make a major move across country, coupled with (what I assume is) a bit of a ‘tude about the whole thing, made them just raise the white flag and give up.

                It was probably a million times easier for them to just sift through their stack of local applicants, screen a few, and find one that will fit the position. THAT’s who got the job.

                Remember that they were doing YOU a favor by considering your request for transfer when they could have just as easily said that the position had plenty of local applicants and they weren’t considering any transfers.

    3. NonProfiter*

      “Tell me about yourself” is a common first question in an interview and the correct answer for most interviewers is not details about your personal life or hobbies. It means, sell yourself and your qualifications to me.

    4. Jamie*

      I hate the “tell me about yourself” question. If asked that in an interview I would launch into an elevator speech about how I got into IT. In other words – I’ll tell you about my professional self.

      “What do you do for fun?” would be even worse. If I answered those questions without a professional filter this is how it would sound:

      “I’m a mother of three who loves Van Halen. I collect Hello Kitty toys and have way too many pairs of pink sneakers. I’m so emotionally attached to my Mustang that I view my commute as the two of us spending time together. My husband is okay with that relationship.

      I do have pet peeves. I hate being told to relax, I really hate being told to smile…and my greatest wish would be to never have to see/hear anyone eat in my presence again.

      For fun I obsessively play Words with Friends or Angry Birds, while simultaneously yelling at my TV and reading the forums on televisionwithoutpity. I also really enjoy folding laundry.. Really, I find it viscerally satisfying, somehow folding socks makes me feel like I’m caring for my family. I know they can fold their own socks – but if they do I take it personally – as if they no longer need me. Yes, I know it’s crazy – but I can live with that.

      Hmmm…what else…I love to work. To a ridiculous degree I love what I do. Sometimes I get fed up and have fantasies about starting a goat farm/IT consultancy firm…and sometimes I want to drive into a pole on my way home – but more often than not I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I think it’s my OCD coupled with some serious control issues – but either way I rarely whine about it and I’m salaried – so, bonus for you the employer.

      That was 100% honest and 200% crazy…so that’s why it’s good to have an interview filter.

      1. Anonymous*

        Just wanted to say that I also love Televisionwithoutpity. I’ve been giggling at the posts since high school.

  15. mc*

    My current job is a relatively informal/relaxed environment, and I really appreciated the interviewer’s interest in my personal life and background during my interview process, which reflects the fact personality and culture compatibility is a huge thing my company takes into consideration when selecting staff. After I was hired, my boss told me that he was initially skeptical of my experience but felt that I had a good rapport with the staff and seemed adaptable and that my personality fit in well with the company, and therefore was the best fit.

    There are obviously different levels of that — an office where people know nothing about you, or one where they know where you’re from and what your interests are, or where your coworkers know all about your sex life and what your siblings are named — and that level of informality is part of how different companies work, I think. And there’s no way for an interviewee to determine that without asking a few personal questions (though obviously detailed personal questions about sex, etc would be wildly inappropriate.)

    So perhaps the interviewee ought to also think of this as a difference in office culture expectations — if they are more comfortable in a very rigid environment where they are able to keep their personal life entirely separate, they are going to be better off at another office anyway.

  16. fposte*

    If I’m following the OP’s timeline correctly, it sounds like these questions may have been asked at a contact prior to the interview rather than at the interview itself, and that the actual interview was subsequent to the filing of the complaint.

    While the OP doesn’t say, I’m wondering if she was taken aback by being questioned thoroughly at an earlier stage. Which doesn’t change the responses, but I wanted to make the point that they’re valid whenever the manager asked the questions, and that a phone screen isn’t an uncommon hiring tool. As NonProfiter excellently points out above, a contact is an opportunity to show you’re the person for the job, and that’s true whether it’s in the interview or not.

  17. Anonymous*

    I understand what you say about her just trying to get to know me, but it was past trying to get to know me. It was just invasive. She wasn’t asking, she was demanding. I explained to her several times I just wanted to leave the East Coast, and I couldn’t make any other decisions until I was moved and settled in. I answered her questions, but my answers weren’t enough for her. She just kept pressing for more information. When we spoke, she had no interest in my work history with the company or my experience. She asked me nothing regarding these. Her only questions were about why I wanted to move, why I could only work part-time, what I was going to study and where I planned on going to school. Every time I tried to steer the conversation to my experience with the company, she would steer it back to one of these topics. She would say things like “Well, I still don’t understand why you want to move here?”, “Did something happen there that made you want to move here?”, “I still don’t understand why you don’t know where you want to go to school?”, “I don’t understand why you can only work part-time?” It had nothing to do with her getting to know a potential employee, she was just being nosy and invasive. The second manager I interviewed with asked me the same questions and I gave him the same answers. He asked only once and once I answered he said okay, and moved on to my work experience and history with the company. I’ve been with this company for 8 years. If I’ve invested 8 years with this company, I’m not just going to up and walk away as soon as I move. My work history and work ethic are impeccable. I’ve never had a bad review, they have always been outstanding. I’ve never even had a write up. I had to submit to a background check when I started, and every year there is random drug testing. All of my work history, work reviews, background check, and drug tests are available for her to see. She is even able to speak to any one of my current and past managers at any of the three stores I’ve worked at. I’m not someone coming from outside the company that she can’t get an idea of how they work. Not only have I been with the company for 8 years, but the position I applied for was a position I’ve held before, in a department I’ve worked in before. I filed the complaint against her because even during my interview she was more interested in my personal life than my work. From the little I got from her boss when I spoke to him, I’m not the only person who’s had problems with her or has complained about her. I didn’t know legally how much personal information an hr is allowed to ask for. When I asked if I had a claim against her, I didn’t mean with a lawyer, I meant with the company itself. If I was treated unfairly during the interview process or if I was given a fair chance at the position? And is there something I can do, like maybe request another interview with the store manager or another hr manager? At what point does asking questions cross the line and become harrassing someone for information?

    1. fposte*

      OP, there’s no right to have a fair chance at the job. There’s no right to have *any* chance at the job–so long as they’re not refusing you because of the handful of legally verboten reasons or against a union or other contract. I don’t know what you mean by differentiating “with a lawyer” from “with the company itself”–the law, either by statute or contract, is what gets you the right to a claim or grievance. And finding a hiring manager offputting isn’t a basis for that. Her being unpleasant doesn’t give you any compensatory rights at all, and if you’d handled it better, it might not have kept you from the job.

      You’re acting toward this company as if you’re entitled to something from them that you’re not, and honestly, I think you should be in damage control mode rather than indignation mode if you want a future there. If they thought you should have a second interview, her boss would have offered you one when you spoke.

      1. Anonymous*

        You’re right, I am acting like I’m entitled to something. I’m entitled to be seen based on my work history and experience with this company, not my personal choices in life that have no effect on my work in the company. The first time I spoke with her she began to explain to me how the new hire process worked. It clearly states on my transfer application that I’d been with the company for 8 years. She asked me if I knew what the position entailed. I said yes, because I’d worked that position before. She said, “Really?” She told me I may not want to transfer to that store because there were a lot of Spanish speaking customers and that may give me a hard time. It clearly states on my transfer application that I’m fluent in Spanish. Not only was is clearly stated on my transfer application, it was clearly stated on the intra-net email I sent her with my resume. She was more interested in my personal life than my work life. She didn’t even take time to read my resume and familiarize herself with it once she saw she knew nothing about it. All her focus was on my personal life.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          The thing is, you’re not entitled to an interviewer who asks the questions you think she should ask. You not even entitled to a fair shot at a job.

          They can turn you down for any reason they want (aside from the small number of legally prohibited reasons, like race or religion), or no reason at all. They can give you an incompetent interviewer (though I still don’t know that that was the case here). They can ask whatever they want (again, as long as it doesn’t violate the small number of relevant laws, none of which are in play here).

          You can’t change this by filing complaints; all that will do is negatively impact your reputation in this company.

          The reason some people are calling you entitled is because you’re sounding like you think you’re entitled to the interview questions you want, and that you’re entitled to challenge that if you don’t get them.

        2. Jamie*

          Her focus on her personal life is because your responses are so unheard of.

          Hypothetical: Alison is hiring for an IT position and calls me in for an interview based on my resume (and awesome cover letter which I would owe to AAM). I show up in KISS make-up. Or I speak using a British accent even though I’m from Chicago. She isn’t going to move on to asking me about my experience or my skills…not until she gets past the weirdness.

          Totally reductio ad absurdum to illustrate the point that something very uncommon, like moving with no objective, will bring everything to a halt until it’s addressed. I would have just addressed it.

    2. Steve*

      “I explained to her several times I just wanted to leave the East Coast,”

      So I was not present for the interview but perhaps I can take another try at explaining why this issue was pursued. If I am interviewing someone, and they are relocating, and the only answer I get why someone is doing it is that “they just wanted to leave” their last place of work what I am thinking is that they might continue this same behavior in the job I am trying to fill. That someday they will walk in and say “I have decided to leave and move away.” Now, I may be wrong in this assumption but it doesn’t matter. It counts against you. In pushing the question the interviewer was doing you a favor, they were (I assume) trying to give you a chance to give a reasonable answer to the question. When the interviewer stops asking on a topic it means one of two things 1. You have succeeded in answering in a fashion that they are comfortable with and you have “passed” or 2. They have decided that despite several tries, this is the best you will do in this area.

    3. The Retail Raptor*

      Basically, she can ask you however many times she needs to in order to get either a satisfying answer or give up. Asking questions during an interview is not harrassment. It’s an INTERVIEW. If she started calling you at home after hours to continue asking the same question, THAT would be harrassment. But if you’re both in the context of the interview, she can ask the question as many times as she has to until she is either frustrated or she understands you.

      For next time, if someone says, “I just don’t understand why you don’t know where you’re going to school/wanting to move/etc.,” that is the time for you to ask them how you can clarify.

      As for this transfer situation, I’m sorry to say that I think you’re done. You had your fair shot, with the interview you were in. It’s over. And as for your complaint… when they follow up on that, regardless of how many other complaints she has against her, what is the rest of HR supposed to do, exactly? Fire her for… doing her job? And then this begs the question… if you can file a complaint against her for doing her job, does she get to file a complaint against you for not answering her questions?

    4. Anonymous*

      Oh dear…you sound terribly immature, whiny and ‘privileged’, nevermind how old you are. You are the ultimate recruiter’s nightmare, and to be honest, it sounds like the hiring manager is a glutton for punishment for continuing the conversation with you after your responses. The other guy who interviewed you was pretty reasonable in saying ‘ok’ and moving on, because he probably figured out you weren’t worth the aggro. If you love this company enough to want to work with them in the future, perhaps you should begin building bridges rather than being hell bent on burning them, or you’ll have no choice but to leave after the 8 years you have ‘invested in them’, because they’ll throw you out – and no, it won’t be illegal, unlawful or unfair. Whiny and annoying are not protected classes.

      1. Anonymous*

        Yeah, I was thinking it sounded like the other guy was just willing to take down her non-answers, but the aggravating lady was trying to wheedle enough information to give the employee a fair shot.

        1. BiCoastal Curious*

          I thought the two interviewers might have been doing a clumsy version good cop/bad cop to see how OP handled different situations.

          I’ve been on both sides as both an interviewer and interviewee for cross-country moves, and I find the questions about plans perfectly reasonable. The OP’s shiftiness in explaining her schooling and move along with the delusional sense of entitlement would have raised red flags with me as well. And forget it about getting hired after tattling to management. Last thing I need is a high maintenance complainer on my team.

      2. Anonymous*

        If I were “priveleged”, why would I be worried about transferring my job? I would just up and move with all the “priveleged” money I had coming to me. You need to get all your information straight about a person before you accuse them of being anything. Whiny? How is expecting to be interviewed and hired based on the resume I already have with a company whining? My resume wasn’t even looked at. Everything I mentioned about my resume was a surprise to her. She was supposed to be interviewing an employee for a company, not a B.F.F. Immature? You throw out insults to someone you don’t know and I’m immature? Sounds like something 5 year olds do in the play ground. You are just plain ignorant if you have to use insults to get your opinion across. The other guy was satisfied with my answers because he actually was looking for someone to fill a position. He took the time to look at my resume and focused on my work experience and questioningf. me on different work scenarios. He wasn’t looking for a new B.F.F.

    5. L*

      “I’m not someone coming from outside the company that she can’t get an idea of how they work. Not only have I been with the company for 8 years, but the position I applied for was a position I’ve held before, in a department I’ve worked in before.”

      OK. So, did it occur to you that maybe the reason she wasn’t asking you about your background/experience was because she already knew all that? Presumably she’d already read your employee file and maybe had even spoken to your previous managers. So that means that the main thing she wants to know, understandably, is why you’re moving and what your plans are.

      And the next time someone asks you a question and you want to know why they’re asking, try actually saying, “Why do you ask?”

      1. Anonymous*

        No, it didn’t occur to me that the reason she wasn’t asking me about my background/experience is because she already knew that. She didn’t. The first time I spoke with her she began to explain to me how the new hire process worked. It clearly states on my transfer application that I’d been with the company for 8 years. She asked me if I knew what the position entailed. I said yes, because I’d worked that position before. She said, “Really?” She told me I may not want to transfer to that store because there were a lot of Spanish speaking customers and that may give me a hard time. It clearly states on my transfer application that I’m fluent in Spanish. Not only was is clearly stated on my transfer application, it was clearly stated on the intra-net email I sent her with my resume. All this before she ever once asked me why I wanted to move, why I could only work part-time, or why I didn’t know where I wanted to go to school. And many more surprises she had that were clearly stated on my transfer application and resume. If she had read my resume and employee file, why were some many things a surprise to her? I explained my plans to her. I want to leave the East Coast and go back to school. There are only 3 stores in the state I want to move to, so I have to wait until I move to make decisions about school. Where I live has to revolve around work, and school has to revolve around where I live and work. I explained all this to her. What more is there to understand? There is nothing in my work history that indicates I have a pattern of leaving jobs at the drop of a hat. And there is nothing in my work history with this company that indicates I come and go on a whim, or that I’ll quit once I move. I’ve worked for the same company in 2 different states. I didn’t leave the first time I transferred, what indicates I will if I transfer again? I’ve never been out for more than 5 days in a row for my vacations. What does my life outside of the company have to do with how I work inside the company? Nothing. PS- I was asked to transfer to open a new store, before everyone goes crazy with “See, you have a history of leaving and transferring!!!”

        1. fposte*

          Look, it’s your prerogative to choose this hill to die on. But it’s the person who decided it wasn’t worth that, and who rolled with the interview, who got the job.

          I think all this how-important-are-your-school-plans discussion is tangential, because it doesn’t matter if the interviewer had her reasons or not–either way, you got the shot the process delivered to you, and there’s no entitlement to have any other kind. A reasonable question under those circumstances could have been “After a weird interview, how can I improve my chances?” It’s not reasonable to ask “After a weird interview, how do I correct the company’s failure to give me what I expected?”

    6. class factotum*

      “I still don’t understand why you don’t know where you want to go to school?”

      You want to move (partly) so you can go to school but you haven’t even picked a school yet? If the school itself isn’t that important, then why don’t you just go to school where you are? I would take that as a sign of lack of strategic thinking ability and as a sign that school is not the reason, so why do you want to move?

      If someone said to me, “I don’t have any family here. The cost of living is outrageous and I hate the weather. That’s why I want to go back to Memphis – my parents and siblings are there and I can buy a house before I’m 50,” then I would say, “That’s a good reason.” But just, “I want to leave” makes me wonder what’s going on.

      1. Anonymous*

        Having no school picked out, to me, would signal that the employee has invented an ill-thought-out cover story to mask the real reasons for leaving. That, or they’ll be transferring again once they do pick a school.

        1. Anonymous*

          Refer to reply to ‘L’

          Even if there were something “going on”, it wouldn’t be anybody’s business but my own. If I were in trouble with the law, obviously I wouldn’t be able to transfer because I couldn’t leave the state. If I were having problems at my current store, she would find out because any trouble at work is reported in the employee files. And employees with write-ups are not allowed to transfer for 1 year. If something were “going on” outside of work, again, it wouldn’t have anything to do with work and it wouldn’t be anybody’s business but my own.

          Not everything has to have a reason. I want to leave the East Coast. That’s it. Plain and simple. It’s not code for anything or a mystery I have to solve or a riddle I have to explain.

          1. Julie*

            “Not everything has to have a reason. I want to leave the East Coast. That’s it. Plain and simple.”

            I understand you feel that there’s nothing more to explain here, but everyone has reasons. As others have said, even if the reason is “I’m sick and tired of the winters here” or “I realized the big city stresses me out and I want to live somewhere closer to nature,” there’s always some sort of reason.

            You say elsewhere, “Where I live has to revolve around work, and school has to revolve around where I live and work.” And while it’s great that you have such a commitment to your company that your new locale will be based on where you can get a job, it does make it seem like schooling — the ostensible reason you’re moving and downshifting to part-time in the first place — is a secondary concern.

            In short: If you’re moving because you want to go to school, presumably you’d have a school in mind, or at least a handful of schools, and your decision about where to move would be based on where that school is and whether you get accepted. If you’re moving because you just don’t want to live on the East Coast anymore, and you may or may not go to school after your move depending on what schools and what programs are available when you get there, you need to be clearer about why you’re shifting to part-time.

          2. Jamie*

            If I were in your shoes I would certainly be annoyed at the lack of prep work on the part of the interviewer. At the base minimum she should have familiarized herself with the fact that it’s an internal transfer, your history with the company, fluency in spanish, etc.

            Unfortunately I’ve seen it happen more than once where the interviewer had the wrong file in front of them and the phone screens started out badly. Lack of organization on her part and that can’t have helped the situation.

            I also hate when interviewers linger on subjects that I deem irrelevant to the position. So I can understand your frustration.

            That said, I don’t think it’s unreasonable for a prospective employer to try to determine the reasoning behind atypical situations to make sure that it won’t impact the job. The reasons you want to move are totally your own – but as moving involves both expense and uprooting ones life most people have reasons for doing so. Most people are either moving away from something (personal reasons, bad economy) or moving toward something (personal reasons, new job, etc.)

            Not explaining your impetus to move probably raised red flags and she needed to rule out flakiness. I’m not saying you are, but I can see why she needed to rule that out.

            The fact is most adults don’t just wake up one morning and want to move to a different region. Most people don’t move for school without knowing which school they want to attend (and usually one to which they’ve been accepted). Most people don’t move for a part-time job. So she was looking for reassurance that you were looking to land permanently. Your reaction, while within your rights, sounds very defensive, which probably threw up more red flags.

            I’m not suggesting you owe every interviewer every specific detail of your life. But I’m sure you could have come up with answers to these basic and reasonable questions while still maintaining your privacy.

            Being so defensive about it and then filing a complaint makes it look as if you have something to hide – even if that’s not the case, the perception is out there.

            1. Katya*

              I agree totally with Jamie’s comment. I actually feel quite sympathetic toward you, the OP. It must be unbelievably aggravating to feel discounted by the company you’ve worked for so loyally. It sounds like it was a really unpleasant interview experience and I can definitely understand why you were so upset by it. My impression is that most people who are commenting and saying that you should have behaved in a different way, are just trying to give advice about how they would have acted in that interview that could be productive if you have a repeat of the scenario (but of course, they weren’t there and couldn’t see how mono-focused your interviewer was – it may be possible that nobody could have satisfied her).

              Just for example – I recently moved “just because” (and away from the East Coast too), to Austin TX. My reasons were: I wanted to live somewhere I’d never lived before, I love hot weather, and I have several friends who are from here and have said what a great place it is. Also, I recently graduated from college, so I needed to live *somewhere*. I basically answered this in every interview I had and it completely satisfied employers.
              I actually think that your explanation of why school would revolve around where you worked is quite reasonable, and also demonstrates that you’re committed to your company. But, I’m assuming you know and are making preparations to apply to various schools that are in the vicinity of the three stores in the state that you’re applying to. So it seems to me that you could have said something like “I’ve been wanting a change of scenery, and [state] has always been attractive to me for [whatever reason you decided on that state – there must be some reason because you had 49 to choose from and you picked that one!]. Because I very much want to remain with this company, I plan to apply to schools after I know where I’ll be working. If I worked at this store, I’m preparing to apply to [x, y and z schools you know are in its vicinity].” That like a reasonable, accurate description of your motivations from what you’ve shared here, and it seems like it has a lot more potential to satisfy an interviewer.

  18. Cheryl*

    Lisfranc fracture??? This makes me cringe just reading about it, my previous injury pales in comparsion. I couldnt even finish reading about it as my stomach was getting jumpy.

      1. Anonymous*

        Looked up a couple of x-rays of what the fracture looks like. It’s nothing compared to what I had to deal with growing up, which was scoliosis. Now that can be a freaky looking x-ray! But I didn’t have the pain which you obviously had and I would definitely not want.

    1. Dawn*

      OMG I really shouldn’t have taken the bait and looked it up online. I made the mistake of looking at a sample post-op Xray. I’ve never broken a bone and now this is my greatest fear. I feel for you, Alison!

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I know! I don’t know how I’m ever going to go outside again without being covered in padding from head to toe. I’m suddenly really aware of the ways in which horrible things could happen in a matter of seconds.

  19. Thebe*

    The thing is, the interviewer’s possible incompetence is a non-issue here. It doesn’t matter if the interviewer is a giant panda with a lisp, you work around it. I’ve interviewed with shockingly unprepared managers with weird obsessions about how well I knew the lunch scene downtown. You just work around it. You don’t think about what they should be interested in, what they should have read about you, how they should have written the ad, etc. The reality is the person behind the desk or the other end of the phone, and how well you cope with that person will help determine whether you get the job. Obviously it is your right to turn down the job because of an incompetent interviewer — and it is a red flag. But it is not your role to criticize or complain how the interviewer does his or her job. Deserved or not, that person has power here. One big attribute of a true professional is the ability to operate under less-than-optimal conditions.

    1. Heather B*

      Agreed. OP has every right to be frustrated at how the interviewer conducted the interview — but it’s unprofessional to deal with it by getting defensive with her (and us) and then going on the attack by filing a complaint. It sounds to me as though the OP is getting too emotionally entangled with this to act professionally.

      A great tip in a negotiation book I recently read was that it doesn’t matter who’s right — it just matters that all parties can work to a satisfactory resolution of a situation. OP, you’re focusing too much on who’s “right” here. Hard as it is, you need to let it go. Your ultimate goal, presumably, is not to be vindicated but to get this transfer/job — and your behavior is not conducive to that.

      1. fposte*

        And it sounds like there *was* an interviewer who treated the OP as s/he desired. Which means that the failure to get the position isn’t because the other HR person was too focused on the personal anyway–it was lost because of the filing of the complaint, or because somebody else was better.

  20. Anon*

    The OP has a chip on her shoulder that you can practically reach out and touch. I wouldn’t consider her for the job just based on that.

    1. Anon.*

      yeh, i’m going to go with you didn’t bother to read any of OP’s responses in this very long thread. OR any responses from anyone else.

      totally uncalled for.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Really? I agree that the OP has a huge chip on her shoulder, one that has come out more in her responses here. I’d be very wary of hiring someone this defensive and unable to admit she might be wrong.

      2. Anon*

        Listen, I’m just as private a person as this OP clearly appears to be. I can completely understand, for whatever the reasons are, not wanting to have to spell out her life’s plan to an interviewer. However, I also realize how utterly strange and shifty I would appear to an interviewer if the only information I’d be willing to share is, “I just want to move to this state.” So OP needs to buck up, grow up, and take this into consideration when answering these types of questions. Hell, make up a reason for wanting to move; mention a few schools you might be interested in. Give this interviewer SOMETHING.

  21. Anonymous*

    From the original post and onto the OP’s replies to other posts, it really seems like they’re trying to hide something. Even if they aren’t, that’s the feeling they give off. They keep insisting that the company has no need to delve into “personal business” but then says they want to leave for no real reason. Having no reason is worse than a bad reason, in my mind. Why would you hire someone who makes big decisions at random, with no thought or reason put into them?

    I relocated from Florida to DC, and you can be damn sure the first part of the interview was solely focused around why I was relocating. There are a lot of issues that can come up when relocating, and hiring someone is a big deal for companies. There are plenty of local candidates that are good, so hiring someone who is relocating is a bigger risk. When I applied for this out of state position, *I* knew going into it that I had to calm their fears and be the one to convince them that my relocation would not be an issue. Turns out they agreed, and I got the position. I’m positive that if I said I just wanted to relocate 850 miles away “just because” they wouldn’t have taken the risk.

  22. Anonymous*

    On a more micro level: when I interview applicants I *always* ask why they’re looking for a job (if they’re currently employed) and/or (if they’re not currently employed) why they’re looking at our company.

    It’s really easy to spot a bogus answer, and yes, it does matter. Vague brushoffs (or at least, the absence of well-feigned interest) doesn’t cut it. Sometimes people are lying because they’re being ushered out the door of their current employer. Or they absolutely cannot stand their boss and know enough not to say, “Because I loathe my boss with the intensity of a thousand white hot suns.”

    The point is, it’s extremely important for a candidate to have enough savvy to say something credible. If I asked a candidate, “Why are you looking to leave X Company?” and they said, “I just want to leave,” and kept stubbornly insisting that they just wanted to leave and offered no other information, I’d have a terrible time justifying continuing with that person. Knowing people’s motivations is vital to making hiring decisions. And the candidate should know enough to do better than that. If they don’t, they’re probably too immature to work in our company.

    Last point: the hiring employer really holds all the cards. The interviewer can decide what he or she likes in an answer. It sucks, but it’s true. Life is like that: many parts of it suck, and there’s nothing we can do except work with it. You can’t file complaints against life when it’s just doing what it’s supposed to do, and trying to just looks childish.

  23. littlemoose*

    FYI, you’re in good company, foot-injury-wise – the Houston Texans’ starting quarterback Matt Schaub is out for the season with a Lisfranc fracture.

  24. Anonymous*

    Something that I thought of was that maybe the OP had been in some kind of domestic violence situation or something similar that prompted them to be defensive about why they wanted to move and where they might attend school. You’d be surprised what abusive significant others will do to find out information. Calling an employer isn’t unlikely, and sometimes for their safety a person can’t afford to have an employer unwittingly say something like, “Oh, yeah, Nancy attends Such-and-Such University.”

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