short answer Sunday: 7 short answers to 7 short questions

It’s short answer Sunday — seven short answers to seven short questions. We’ve got a frustrating interview question, last-minute job applicants, and more. Keep reading…

1. What’s up with this interview question?

In an recent job interview, I was asked this head-scratcher (well, it’s a head-scratcher to me): “When assigned a project, do you think it’s more important to make deadlines and submit work that is not perfect or do you feel it’s acceptable to submit work late, but make sure it’s perfect?” So, this is one of those “it depends” answers, and it depends on many factors, but the interviewer just wanted my opinion only on those two options. I was wondering what your opinion is on this. And what is an interviewer looking for in the answer? Seems to me one is screwed either way you answer.

I hate these false dichotomies. Frankly, the right answer (to me) is, “It would depend on the project itself and my boss’s preferences.” Sometimes a deadline has flexibility and it’s more important to get the work perfectly right, and sometimes a deadline is utterly inflexible. And often it’s essential that it be both perfect and on-time, and you just do what you need to do to make that happen. Setting up the question as an either/or without further details is silly, and I’d refuse to pick one of those two options.

2. Applicants who apply at the last minute

How do you feel about job applicants who wait until the very last day/minute to apply for a position? I’m hiring and have had a posting up for just over three weeks and received plenty of applications, but received a mountain on the very last day (and I find this happens often). I have a hard time not regarding these applicants as procrastinators who may just as easily turn in their assignments at the very last minute. Granted a couple *could* have just discovered the posting but I somehow doubt that’s the case for all of them (and sadly I won’t know who’s who). If I decide to interview one of these applicants (and I often do), I do work in questions in some way or another about their prioritizing skills. But, with so many applicants who appear to be somewhat qualified (and inevitably I’ll need to weed some out in some way), is it wrong to count this as a strike against them?

Yes, it’s wrong. If you give a deadline, applicants are entitled to take you at your word that that’s the deadline. If you want their applications earlier, say so. After all, if you assign an employee a piece of work with a deadline of Friday, are you secretly penalizing them if they don’t turn it in by Wednesday? I hope not.

Plus, some of your best candidates are likely to be people who have a lot of other things going on in their lives (like focusing on achieving in their current jobs), and there’s no reason they should drop everything to apply when your job posting tells them that they have plenty of time.

(And I know that there are commenters who are going to be itching to jump on you for this, so let’s take this as a test of my recent call for civility.)

3. My high school changed its name

My high school changed its name the year after I graduated. Should I use the old name (the one I graduated from) or the new name? I don’t want the company to think that I am lying about my educational background if they do a search and cannot find my school. I also don’t want to disqualify myself on online applications.

Why are you mentioning high school at all? It certainly doesn’t belong on your resume. And if online applications are asking for it — wait, do they do that? What the hell? Well, if they do, use the current name, as that’s how the institution is now known.

4. My store locks us in at night

Each department in my store is “checked out” before you can leave to clock out for the night. However, the front doors are locked and we have to wait until everyone is checked out until we are let out of the store, I have always waited at a minimum of 5 minutes but have waited up to 20 minutes. This is unpaid and if we do attempt to leave we are terminated. Is this legal?

Nope. Federal law requires that you be paid for any time that you’re required to be at work. They owe you for every one of those minutes. Plus, if they’re truly locking you in, they’re also violating OSHA laws.

5. Awards from high school and college

I am a minister (a degree and everything). At age 15, I began working in ministry positions (paid summer staff at a Christian camp). From age 16-19, I was also in professional radio (mainstream “Hits,” DJ, morning show programmer). In high school and college, I won awards for speech and acting (dramatic, comedic, improv). Now I’m 31, and I feel my communication experience in these areas is still valid and useful, but I’m struggling with how to position these in describing my experience. I haven’t won any awards since college (chili cook-offs not withstanding). Any ideas or suggestions? A different perspective? I want to look my best on paper, and I’m not sure how to do that.

You can’t really use the high school stuff. You can probably get away with including the college stuff for a little while longer, but a hiring manager is going to legitimately ask, “What have you achieved since then? And if not much, why not?” And that’s what you have to figure out how to work around.

6. Is salary history the new discrimination?

I have been in sales, a sales manager, business manager, operations and business development professional, among other things. I have a wealth of experience and history to be a viable candidate for many roles in and outside of my industry. However, over recent years I have found it difficult to find employment for a variety of reasons. One that baffles me among the normal under/over qualified, wrong industry, etc. is this — I have either made too much money or did not make enough money in my previous positions. I actually applied for a few roles where the company mentioned that if the applicant did not make a certain salary at the current or previous role, then they need not apply.

Does this not sound like a hiring manager’s new mode of weeding out applicants based on salary since it cannot be done on sex, race, etc.? I believe this is an issue that needs to come to light.

There isn’t really a connection between weeding out applicants based on salary history and weeding them out based on characteristics like sex or race. Employers who weed people out based on salary history are doing so because they’ve decided that your previous salary indicates your worth on the market — and that if, for instance, they’re hiring for a job that pays $80,000 and your previous jobs haven’t paid you more than $40,000, you’re not yet at the level where you could do the work they need. Now, I happen to think that this is wrong-headed for a whole bunch of reasons (they should judge your worth for themselves, different sectors and geographic areas pay differently, etc.), but this is just about poor reasoning, not bigotry.

7. My boss wants me to keep interning … and interning … and interning

My boss offered me a 6-week internship, and told me at the time, that after those 6 weeks were up, we’d talk about a full-time job. After 6 weeks, I heard nothing, so I kept on working my hardest. After 9 weeks of the internship, they offered me a full time job. The catch? The full time job starts in 4 months, and they want me to continue my internship until then. Quite frankly, at this point, I need an income, and can’t pay for the gas to or from work (and there is no mass transit in the area). How do I tell my boss that I need pay, and can’t continue my internship, but still show interest in the job? Also, I couldn’t get the offer in writing, so how do I know I’m just not being taken advantage of and am going to be told “just kidding” at that time?

Say this: “I’m really excited about taking this job, especially after having been working here and seeing what a good fit it is. However, our original agreement was that I’d intern for six weeks, and I can’t afford to continue for another four months. Can we move up the start date?”  If you come to an agreement, your next step is to put it in writing yourself. Send your boss an email that says, “I just wanted to summarize what we agreed to, to make sure we’re on the same page. Does what’s here look correct to you?” And then list what you’ve agreed on — start date, title, rate of pay, etc. You can do this informally while still getting it in writing.

{ 151 comments… read them below }

  1. moe

    #6: But there *is* a connection between salary and sex and race, so it very much has a discriminatory effect if you use past salary to weed out candidates.

    It’s a big reason why it’s so tragic that women tend not to negotiate for a higher salary when they start a new job, while men do… the difference doesn’t go away, rather it’s entrenched and magnified over time.

    1. Josh S.

      This can definitely work against age too, especially if they are looking for a salary that’s low enough. Salary often correlates with age (which also correlates with experience). It’s not necessarily age discrimination, but it could be a way of weeding out people who are ‘too old’ for the position.

      1. SJ

        Josh, excellent point, very true!
        @ OP#6, I’d sure like to chat with you!
        @AAM, I find the same thing – I’m willing to take $20k less (or a little more) than what I was making just to get a decent job with some possibility of growth, but I’m either OQ and they assume I’ll jump as soon as I can, or I’m UQ (here I find it’s because I’m trying to change industries and my skill set is not a straight line up, i.e., this software vs that software).

    2. Sally

      Where in the world did you hear that women tend not to negotiate salary? Was there a study on this? Were they in “less professional” positions?

  2. KayDay

    re: #3 – @AAM: a lot of on-line applications do require including the name of your high school. Even a major research institution that hires mostly PhDs requires HS on their online system. @OP: I would just put the name that matches your actual diploma (and if you have space you could put “now called New Name High School”). It’s unlikely they would do a background check until after you have an interview, so you could let them know at that time that the name has changed.

      1. Josh S.

        It happens All. The. Time. on online applications. Particularly for large companies that have a standard application no matter if you’re applying for Janitor or CEO. It’s stupid, particularly when it lists High School as a ‘required’ field.

        I’m almost to the point where I won’t submit applications for companies that require you to fill out their hour-long online form. I don’t understand why they make that a requirement when all the same information is included in my resume.

        1. Laura

          I’ve seen this on standardized applications for state jobs. Whether you’re applying to be president of a college or a janitor, the same application is required. Of course, the president’s application requires a lot more, but state institutions are quite rigid in their requirements (often of necessity).

      2. AJ

        I’ve had this happen on most applications I’ve filled out, especially for defense contractors who want your last 7 years of employment history and residences. They typically ask for education history back to high school too. Here, it’s understandable because you need a security clearance to work for them but I can’t understand why it’s needed for all jobs.

        1. Snippet

          Yep. I just accepted a job at a large corporation, and their online app required high school information for all applicants. It also requires that you cut-and-paste your resume into all of their fields, in addition to attaching your PDF.

          I can’t figure out why they need high school info, other than they use one blanket application for everyone who applies, and may need that info for lower-level employees.

          1. chinookwind

            I sure am glad I haven’t run into this in my job hunts. My K-12 school changed to K-6 10 years ago. Somehow, I don’t think it would impress anybody that I graduated a school that only goes to grade 6!

          2. Another Anon

            Me too! My current employer insisted on seeing *every* job I had ever worked in my application, and every school I had attended from high school on. The interview then skipped over 25 years of experience in my field to a crazy job I took on a whim 30 years ago because it promised travel. It was really odd defending my youthful whimsies one minute and answering “why aren’t you retired?” the next, with nearly nothing in between about my skill in the field. And all this in front of a panel of eight people. I got the job. I’m not exactly sure why.

      3. anonymous

        Are we sure the OP graduated college? I took the letter to mean the high school changed it’s name after the OP graduated from that HS. When I was applying for jobs out of high school, that was the only education I had, so that’s what I put.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          I think, judging from her email signature, she’s currently in college, so I’d think she’d just put her current college info, and that would imply she had indeed graduated high school. But it’s a fair point if someone is young and not in college.

          1. Anonymous

            Hello, thanks for answering my question. I recently graduated from college. I have not taken the time to change my email signature.

      4. Just Me

        Do you think that most companies verify that? My husband did not finish H.S. ( going for it now, has one last test.. math.. ugh..) and he has been honest on his applications. He states it is in progress. He doesn’t want to lie because, well, it just isn’t right but would they really check anyway? He is 44.

          1. Just Me

            Thanks. He just told me that a place ( major company in the area.. auto indusrty 2000 + employees ) kicked everyone out of line that did not have the GED card in their hand, literally. Got that from a friend that already works there.
            Can this be just because of the sheer volume of people applying? An easier way of weeding people out?
            Would a smaller company care as much, say one hiring only 1 or couple of people?

              1. Just Me

                Thanks again. I was just curious as to your take on it. He didn’t apply.
                He just keep plugging away at job apps.
                It is a little discouraging that having the GED/H.S degree some of these places insist on having has NO impact on salary or your duties anyway. Aarrg,,,,,,

      5. Mike C.

        I could also see this coming up in a background check. The big thing for them is “is the applicant lying?”, so a discrepancy like this could turn into a huge waste of time or a big deal.

      6. Long Time Admin

        I’m an administrative assistant. Over the years, I’ve had a lot of training and education, but not much of it is “official”. I started working as a clerk/typist and worked my way to Executive Secretary/Administrative Assistant.

        The high school question has been on almost every single application I’ve ever filled out, paper or electronic. It’s always required, even though I graduated during the hippie years, and is actually no longer relevant (I wasn’t a good student then, either, so I didn’t have good grades).

        I agree with AaM that it’s insane to require that information from a college graduate, a college student, or someone with relevant job and life experience.

        But there you go! Leave it off the application, and you die.

      7. Kelly O

        I’ve seen this a lot on all sorts of different types of employers’ online applications. They also want to know your high school GPA and “program of study.”

          1. Anon.

            Oh yes, the program of study is “very important.” Or at least it was when I graduated from high school 7 years ago. They taught us that we were to write “General Studies” in the Program of Study field. HOWEVER, we could further differentiate ourselves by saying “General Studies – Advanced Placement track” or “General Studies – College Preparatory.” I can’t imagine anyone would have written “General Studies – Remedial Track” but I guess they might have been teaching those girls to write that as well.

            Thankfully I understand that my high school did little to prepare me for life in the “real world” and I went to an amazing college which did, but job applications still ask for the Program of Study and I can’t stop myself from listing General Studies.

            1. Jamie

              Program of Study is relevant when coming from a vocational high school.

              I’ve had applications from young people just out of high school and they list it – because welding, automotive, carpentry…whatever. In those cases it does matter. For the majority who didn’t go to a vocational school General Studies or College Prep works.

              I personally think it’s ridiculous to have to list my high school, but I’ve had to one some applications as it’s mandatory. My high school experience is about as relevant now as my old Poms uniform. Unless I plan on coming into the interview in a ripped flashdance inspired t-shirt and three swatch watches on one wrist (and I don’t) – I don’t think I should have to wrack my brain trying to remember the freaking street address of the place I used to go to check in before cutting class.

          2. Kelly O

            Yeah; I mean, I was Miss Perfection Nerd-Tastic 1996, so I was taking every AP class and knocking them out while holding down the part-time job and doing all my extracurricular activities.

            But still. I am 34 years old and putting my high school on applications. Because it’s clearly so relevant to what I do now. Never know when you might need your admin to set up a chemistry lab, or tell you how to correctly crop pictures for journalism. (Interesting note – the only class I truly BS-ed my way through was Spanish. I live in Houston. Had I paid attention and done well, I might be bi-lingual and able to apply to a lot more open positions. But, I can still take a derivative and tell you about the Battle of Agincourt… what the brain remembers.)

            1. Jamie

              I hear you. Six years of French and I know nothing. In France I could ask for directions, but on the off chance someone could understand my butchered pronunciation I had no idea what they were saying to me because it was so fast.

              If I had it to do over I would SO have taken Spanish and then paid attention.

          3. Amy

            Haha!! Too funny. I always put “General” Maybe I should put cookies and diet coke, as I ate that for lunch every day.

        1. JT

          Is there a standard way GPA is calculated? My high school didn’t tell us our GPA so I don’t know what that really means.

          1. Evan the College Student

            Yes. Weight each course by the number of credit hours, if they tell you; if not, consider everything equally. Then, weight them by the grade you got, converted into a number by this table:
            A or A+ : 4.0
            A-: 3.67
            B+: 3.33
            B: 3.0
            B-: 2.67
            C+: 2.33
            C: 2.0
            C-: 1.67
            D+: 1.33
            D: 1.0
            F: 0

            If it’s an honors course, the grade-number conversion is sometimes bumped up by 1 point (that’s what’s called a “weighted GPA.”)

            So, if I got an A in a 3-hour course, and a B+ in a 2-hour course, and an A- in a 4-hour course, my (unweighted) GPA for that semester would be:
            [(3 hours)*(A) + (2 hours)*(B+) + (4 hours)*(A-) ]/ (9 hours total)
            = (3*4.0 + 2*3.33 + 4*3.67)/9 = 3.7 GPA

    1. Anonymous

      I think they do it to verify you have graduated high school? I had a co-worker who was almost fired because they found out he did not actually have a HS diploma. They did allow him time to finish his GED.

      1. moe

        Yep, seems like an easy way to document a candidate’s representations about his background should a question ever arise. Easy for the employer, at least.

        And it is possible to enroll in a number of college programs without completing high school (same with a master’s or PhD program, actually), and not out of the realm of possibility that one could slip through the cracks and graduate without completing the previous degree.

        For those applying online: are you using autofill? I’ve found that Chrome’s in particular is “intelligent” enough to save me a lot of time… of course, it’s Google–so you’d be smart to question the privacy of it.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Except … no one should care that someone didn’t finish high school if they then went on to graduate from college. (And no one should care if they didn’t finish high school if they then went on to have a successful career/life anyway.)

          1. moe

            Why not? I think it says something about a person’s ability to complete a goal in front of them. Certainly it should matter less if they went on to graduate college, but why not just finish out a GED at least?

            Not the most important of criteria, but I wouldn’t dismiss it out of hand, especially not in a job with typically young applicants. You don’t have that much data on them yet.

            1. JT

              ” I think it says something about a person’s ability to complete a goal in front of them. ”

              Why is graduating high school a goal if someone is doing more advanced things anyway?

            2. me

              i think a GED is important. Some jobs I am trying to land require a HS diploma, as I am “working my way up” through the industry. I have several degrees from universities, but the HS diploma was required. (I’m talking about radio or media promotions) to get the big shot job you need the degrees but they don’t hire you off the street without experience, you have to earn it. I’m with you

            1. Liz in a library

              Me too. My subconscious is still terrified someone will find out that I flunked Algebra 3. ;)

            2. JT

              I was in a meeting with the chairperson of the place I went to work after finishing grad school and got a phone call from the grad school’s registrar’s office saying I hadn’t really graduated because a paper I’d handed in a few weeks ago was lost…..

    2. Liz in a Library

      Yep. It’s totally weird. I’ve actually been asked to provide high school transcripts once for a job that required a graduate degree.

  3. Anonymous

    For the person who is locked in until the other employees are finished “checking out”:

    Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, March 25, 1911, New York City

    Granted you probably can push your way through the doors, but what if you couldn’t?

    Oh, and of course, the advice regarding the pay, but there’s a safety issue too.

  4. human

    Wow, that interview question in #1 is beyond dumb. If I don’t know how I should prioritize speed vs. accuracy on a given project, I just ask my boss. Isn’t that what everyone does?

    1. Long Time Admin

      I *love* AaM’s answer and have it written down. I’m going to add it to my page of “good anwers to stupid interview questions” and review before any job interviews.

      1. Student

        I took a project management class recently, and #1 sounds like something out of the textbook. It’s part of their “good enough is good enough” mantra. I work with a bunch of scientists who don’t generally have to abide by deadlines, and sometimes it leads to very… bad… results when they have to interact with the outside world because they’ll try to be perfectionists. Cost and scope tend to spiral out of control for everything here. If this interviewer recently learned “project management” from a similar class, then the “correct” answer is probably to say you’d turn it in on-time but less than perfect.

        Personally, I think the interviewer was trying to get your priorities rather than a blanket answer for every project you’ll ever work on. They want to know if you’re a perfectionist or not, or if you’re a procrastinator or not – something like that. I think there are a lot more “bad” connotations with turning stuff in late than with turning stuff in that’s mediocre, if you’re just trying to appease the interviewer instead of giving a more nuanced, realistic answer.

        1. Mary Sue

          Yep, this is a question used by psychologists too who are trying to determine if you have a perfectionism problem that will keep you from ever finishing stuff (because when perfectionism is an issue, you *never* get things done because they’re *never* perfect).

          I know this because I’ve had to deal with my perfectionism issues keeping me back professionally and personally in the past.

          So having a nice pat answer about goals and expectations is good, but there’s always the interviewer comeback, “Give me an example.”

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      If she’s at a nonprofit, it’s legal. If she’s not, the law is that the *net* benefit has to be to the unpaid intern, not the company. So the intern has to be getting *more* out of it than the company does. So, for instance, an internship that was very heavy on training might qualify. (However, in reality, companies violate this law all constantly; unpaid internships are very common, in large part because the interns themselves want the experience and know it will help them get a paying job.)

      1. not quite

        Net benefit isn’t the right test. Two factors in the DOL’s test are 1) the intern benefits; and 2) the company receives no benefit (and might even be disadvantaged) from having the intern.

  5. Jef

    Re: #2 I would also add to the list people who simply don’t see the job posting until the last minute. As a current job seeker who also works part-time, I usually am checking multiple job boards, but I’m usually not checking them every day. So I sometimes come back to a job board and there will be a job I hadn’t seen posted and the deadline will be looming. It seems like there are a number of reasons why someone wouldn’t apply until the last minute that don’t have to do with laziness. I’m sure some are procrastinators, but I don’t imagine all of them are.

    1. Anonymous

      And really, as AAM said, even if they ARE procrastinators but still make deadlines, what’s the problem?

    2. Meredith

      That was precisely the scenario I was thinking of. Also, there are a lot of jobs that pop up (though not in this LW’s case, but other ones) that have a week-long window or less. In that case, depending on what else I have going on that week, I very well might not have time to get to it until the last moment (which is usually the end of the week when things have calmed down academically for me).

      Also agreed with reply from Anonymous. If they are procrastinators but still make deadlines, what’s the problem? I’m biased because I’m a procrastinator, but I tend to work better under pressure because it helps alleviate the crushing anxiety that I otherwise have to be compulsively checking it until the last moment anyway. Work expands to fill the amount of time you give someone to do it. Obviously you have to give someone *enough* time to do it, but too much time can also be a bad thing if they’re like me and might not turn it in early so they can get on to focusing on other stuff instead of prolonging the agony.

    3. Anonymous

      The OP did mention that near the end – “Granted a couple *could* have just discovered the posting but I somehow doubt that’s the case for all of them (and sadly I won’t know who’s who).”

      As a self-professed procrastinator I can say I’ve always wondered employer’s stance on last-minute applications. I think it’s better to be safe than sorry on this (as we can see the conflicting views of the OP and AAM – so I think it really depends on the employer and you never know what their viewpoint will be).

      1. Long Time Admin

        My employer looks at the first 20 applications, and tries to hire from that batch. If you’re the best at what you do, will work cheaply, and will fit in the corporate culture, and you’re # 21, they won’t even look at you.

        Whenever we have an opening, I tell my friends to apply immediately. If they don’t, they won’t have a chance at all.

    4. Anonymous

      If I have time, I like to pull together a draft and then set if aside to let my back brain work on it. Often I’ll remember something I forgot, or come up with better wording, So yes, I’ll hand things in at deadline minus margin for technical difficulties.

      1. Kelly O

        I will have to add my name to the list of those who don’t necessarily check every outlet every day because of my schedule.

        I would hate to know that I was excluded from consideration because I didn’t submit my application within the first couple of days an opening was posted, or because it was felt I was “too close” to the deadline.

        I’m of the opinion that if you really want something by a certain date or time, please just tell me. Quite frankly, if I knew that about an employer, it would make me not want to submit that application – if they want someone who doesn’t even work there yet to just know when the real time frame was, what is is like to work there? Just an observation.

        1. ThomasT

          My experience is that if you have an application deadline, the best applications come in at the end. That’s mostly where the people that took the time to write a good cover letter, tweak their resume, and generally make the effort to stand out are.

          Conversely, the apps that come within the first day (and especially the first few hours) are almost universally terrible, often lacking any cover letter (when we always specifically ask for one), or offering poorly crafted stock one, often referring to another position that they recently applied to.

    5. Student

      When I saw this question, the first thing that came to mind was the “37 pieces of flair” scene from the movie Office Space. If you want your candidates to wear 37 pieces of flair, then make that a requirement. You have every right to post jobs for less time. But, if you only ask for 10 pieces of flair, then you’re only getting 10 pieces of flair, and you shouldn’t be shocked and upset by that.

  6. fposte

    I actually have a little sympathy for #2; one of the jobs we regularly hire for involves a great deal of organization, and I’m pleased by the people who pull together an application in the early days, indicating their ability to organize speedily (and it also helps keep the process from being too overwhelming at the end). But ultimately we’ve found just as much merit in the people who apply toward the end of the posting period, so it’s really just a bit of mental fiction.

    If you really don’t want to hang around till the end of the period, you can of course post that you’ll take applications until the job is filled. But then you risk even more missing somebody who didn’t see the announcement at first, so you have to decide what’s most important to you in the process.

    1. Ariel

      I am *very* organized (if I do say so myself), and when I was applying for jobs I had a definite organizational system — I had a spreadsheet that included each job I was going to apply for, the requirements, and the closing date. I would often apply for jobs in the order of their closing dates, so, often, even though I was applying for jobs in a systematic and organized manner, I wouldn’t get to some jobs until the “last minute”. Thankfully big, governmental employers are so locked in to systems of lists, qualifications, and points that I don’t (think) it hurt me too much.

      1. fposte

        Yes, I think it’s one of those logical function things: while the early applicants are likely to be organized, it doesn’t then follow that the only organized applicants apply early. And I’m hiring an individual, not an average of that day’s applicants, so it doesn’t really matter if there’s a higher flake rate later (and, honestly, I’m not sure that there is anyway–I’m just hypothesizing).

  7. Josh S.

    Regarding #4–I had a retail sales job at a book store several years ago. When we closed, it was pretty typically a schedule like this:

    11pm –doors closed, people kicked out, front doors locked.
    11-11:30 –store cleanup and straightening, reconciling the cash count, shutting down computers, etc.
    11:35ish –everyone clocks out, grabs their coats and heads toward the front door.
    11:40 or 11:45ish –Manager does a bag check, unlocks the front door, lets everyone out, sets the alarm, leaves and locks the door behind her.

    Pretty consistently we’d be there for 5-10 minutes between clocking out and walking through the front door. I can’t imagine getting paid for time that I spent gathering my coat/belongings and waiting for the manager to do the same and do a bag check. I also don’t remember it being more than a couple minutes; we weren’t waiting around for hours… And it wasn’t like we were locked in, it was more like the public was locked out. To be any more accurate, you’d have had to have the time clock and employee tags right by the front door, which is just silly in a retail environment.

    Should I *really* have been getting paid for that time?

    Depending how the OPs company does this, I don’t think it would be actionable. (Though 20 minutes seems a bit long.)

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Technically yes, although I can’t imagine anyone disputing it over a few minutes. 20 minutes though? That seems like enough that the company should make sure they’re paid for it.

      On the locked door thing, the rule is that employees “be able to open an exit door from the inside at all times, without keys, tools or special knowledge.” In other words, it’s totally fine for the store to lock people out (of course), but they can’t lock employees in, unless those employees have a way to override the lock. Wal-Mart got in trouble a while ago for doing this, if I recall correctly.

      1. Ariel

        Most places I have worked where you had to do a bag check before you left also had the rule that time paid was measured in increments of, I believe, 7 minutes? So if you clocked in one minute late it was rounded back to the even hour, but if you clocked out at say, three minutes after, you were paid for six minutes. I think that, most of the time, the five minutes or so you waited around ended up being subsumed by that buffer?

        Or am I totally wack? That’s possible, too.

      2. ARM2008

        My dad made a couple thousand dollars on that one this year… Work was asking everyone to clock in 10 or 15 minutes early, and it went on for a couple of years before they were taken to task on it. That time added up, especially at overtime and holiday pay! Of course they had the documented time to back it all up. He just retired, and they sent out 2 checks to him, each over a $1000!

    2. Kimberlee

      I worked at a store where that was more or less the routine as well. Legally, its not a gray area at all: if you are at the location and under the power of your employer (ie, you can’t leave), then you need to be paid. Its different for breaks, where you can be compelled to stay in the store but not be paid, but end of shift… yeah, its’ pretty much illegal for that time to not be paid.

      At my retail environment, the clock-ins were in the registers, so it was very easy to wait around and then clock out once you were actually being let out, but that was a very small amount of time… the manager had to go to the back of the store to set the alarm, come back up and open the doors, and then everyone left.

      I bet such places get away without violating OSHA because most such places are legally required to have fire exits. So you can’t leave through a regular door, but there will be an exit you can take without a manager’s permission.

    3. ncd

      I had the same type of situation as Josh, also at a retail bookstore. We weren’t permitted to leave the store until all of the employees were ready to go for safety reasons, but the door was only locked to outsiders; all you had to do to leave was push it open. I remember my manager adding the time to our paychecks if we had to wait for more than a few minutes, though.

      1. Anonymous

        I also worked in a retail bookstore through high school and I never thought that the time spent waiting for other employees to gather their things and be ready to leave should have been paid. Too bad I’m discovering this 6 years later – I could have made a lot of extra money!

    4. KellyK

      I think that if you are required to be present, you need to be paid, in accordance with whatever rounding system is being used, based not just on labor law but on a general sense of fairness. Standing around waiting for a bag check is required by the employer and benefits the employer, so the time should be paid for.

      From Joey’s comments below, it sounds like the DOL requires that it be the quarter hour.) So if you’re required to be there for 10 minutes, yes, you should get paid for that 10 minutes (or 7, or 15, however the rounding works.

      I wouldn’t necessarily complain unless it was 15 or 20 minutes routinely, but if the business doesn’t want to pay for that time, either have people clock out when everything has been checked and the manager is ready to go, or get the bag check done faster.

    5. Anonymous

      I currently work retail and it’s the same thing – bags must be checked before you can leave. At my company it is policy for the employee to have their bags checked before clocking out (to prevent this). We clock out at the registers as well. At the end of the night we all clock out together after checking bags then leave through the front gate at the same time. The only waiting time is when the associates are waiting for me to close and lock the gate – which is all of 60 seconds max. the system seems to work well as I haven’t had anyone complaining about it yet.

  8. Caspar

    Re: Procrastinating Applicants.

    I would focus much more on the quality of the person’s application package (readability of resume, evidence of effort and understanding of the job in the cover letter, etc.) than the time frame in which they submitted. The time frame is yours after all. As mentioned before, if you want the applications in earlier, you should list an earlier deadline.

    I would much rather see a high-quality, well-thought-out application/resume turned in on the last day, than an early response from a “shotgunner”. People have busy lives, and job hunting can be extraordinarily labor intensive. That aside, I don’t think butting up against the end of the deadline has any bearing on a person’s work habits. I don’t think I’ve ever worked in an environment where any work product was completed early to any appreciable degree. Most of the time, most work products are never really finished, they are tweaked and improved upon until the deadline and the project team simply has to stop working on it.

    Not to be too critical of the OP on this one. I fully understand the desire to find an additional metric to help weed through the dozens/hundreds of applications they must receive. However, based on my own job searching experience post-Great Recession (and the traffic I see on this blog) it often seems like employers are grasping for any reason to NOT hire someone based on poor inductive reasoning and leaps of logic. You will serve your organization, and yourself, much better if you get out of the negative business of discarding applicants based on dubious psychological constructs and stay focused on the positive business of finding the best possible applicant. Also, think real hard about ambiguities/flaws/assumptions in your job posting. This is, after all, what your applicants are responding too…

    1. ThatHRGirl

      Exactly… my first thought was, what if the applicant just got laid off today, and they went online to look for jobs right away and your deadline is tomorrow? I don’t think people are procrastinating as much as OP thinks.

  9. Ellen M.

    Re: the first question – maybe the interviewer (also?) wanted to see how someone handles a question that doesn’t have a clear-cut “right” answer, and/or how the interviewee handles stress, or whether he/she can answers such a question with diplomacy… perhaps the goal was to see *how* the person handles being asked that type of ‘no-win’ question.

    That being said, I think the best response would be something along the lines of, “I’d need more info”, as AAM said.

    1. The gold digger

      I tried that answer when I interviewed with a big consulting company. The recruiter laughed and told me although he loved me to death, I didn’t have enough problem solving ability. I think what they were looking for was people who can give some kind of answer when on the spot, even if the answer isn’t perfect. (I.e, can the person BS believably – and that is a skill!)

      I am definitely not that person, so the question was a good tool for weeding out those of us who prefer to say, “I don’t know but I’ll find out” and then do it.

  10. noah sturdevant

    For #1, I probably would have said something like “I personally like to make sure everything is perfect, but I realize this isn’t always possible with deadlines and I would be happy to follow whatever procedures the company has in place.” That way you are giving an opinion, but still kind of covering your bases.

  11. Anonymous

    Re: 2. Applicants who apply at the last minute

    I don’t think it’s fair to judge a candidate as a “procrastinator” just because someone sends their app in the last day. First, at least they are making a deadline. Second, I agree with AAM that you shouldn’t have a “secret” deadline. At least put on their that those who apply earlier will have better consideration. Plus, even doing this I don’t think it’s fair either.

    I am OCD about being early but sometimes, I come happen to come across a job posting and it’s 1 or 2 days away from the closing date. Well, I can’t help that this is my first time seeing it and that I never came across it before. Good candidates are not always actively job seeking.

    1. Anonymous

      Off-topic, but I hate it when people say “I’m OCD about X.” If someone has obsessive-compulsive disorder, then the acronym is incorrect anyway… but that’s easier to let go. A lot of people say that just to mean they’re nitpicky and extremely attentive to detail, and that’s not really what OCD is about at all. It can be a debilitating disease for those who have it. When I was in college, we had to visit the career center as a class, and a couple students did mock interviews in front of everyone. One of my comments was exactly this – a comment like that may offend someone who either has OCD or knows someone who has it. I’d be careful saying things like that if you’re not actually affected by the disorder.

      AAM: This isn’t meant to be rude or inconsiderate, or anything you mentioned in your post yesterday. I just don’t think people really think about that much, as I hear it really often (people flippantly saying they’re “OCD” about something). I’m just hoping to give others something to think about.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        This is worth saying. It’s tough because it’s become a shorthand in our culture for something that doesn’t really mean OCD at all, of course, but it’s worth remembering that it can be painful for people who really do struggle with OCD.

        I’m guilty of misusing the term myself and I should be more sensitive about it. (I actually once got an upset email from someone who heard me misuse the term in a radio interview. I’d actually used it to avoid using the term I originally wanted to use, which was “anal retentive,” which I decided I shouldn’t say on the radio….)

        1. khilde

          “…the term I originally wanted to use, which was “anal retentive,” which I decided I shouldn’t say on the radio….)”

          I had to stop myself from saying that a few times in one of my training classes. I have a very casual, informal style of speech when I’m training (I think of it like a big conversation, not like I’m talking at them). Anyway, there are times when I want to say “anal retentive” but I have to stop myself. Then I get flustered and can’t think of another good descriptive, fun word to replace it. I wonder if “Type A” would be a suitable substitute? It’s not nearly as fun to say, but I don’t know if anyone would be sensitive to it? It’s (“Type A”) not an actual psychological condition or disorder, is it?

  12. Anonymous

    To roughly translate Voltaire, perfection is the enemy of good. So I’d choose schedule over perfection since the latter is an impossible chase when people are involved.

    I can see value in how prospective employees answer #1, even though I’d never ask that in an interview. My guess is that interviewer has been burnt by perfectionists who revel in the whooshing noise deadlines make as they rush past.

    I’d caution against trying a “none of the above” answer in hopes of not making the “wrong” choice. I’d be more apt to sway toward a candidate who can logically defend either position over one who wants to waver and say it depends. Pick a position and defend it. Don’t try to second-guess what the interviewer wants to hear.

    After a candidate presents a solution, I’ll try to point out logical issues with it. If a candidate suddenly does an about-face and starts agreeing with me just because he thinks I disagree with his original answer, I’m less inclined to want to hire him. I may very well agree with his answer but just want to see how well he can defend it.

    1. Anonymous

      My answer would be deadlines trump overall perfection, but there will be a subset of items where perfection trumps deadlines, because if those are not right, they will cause much, much greater expense and delay downstream.

  13. Alex Beamish

    Regarding the first question (broken and on time, or perfect but late), you could reply with an Agile answer, which would be ‘parts missing, but all of the parts that are present work correctly .. and delivered on time’.

    To me, the essence of agile is that you always have a working system; you never add stuff that’s broken, then try to fix it before deadline. Fix the broken stuff off-line, and only merge it in when it works.

  14. OP for Q #1

    Thank you Alison and the rest of the posters for your insight into Q #1 – this has been eating away at me for 2 weeks! My initial response was something along the line of what AAM had written, however they asked if you only had the choice between one or the other, which would it be? I chose deadlines vs perfect work. As I said it seems you’re screwed either way and in many ways it’s a dumb question to ask without any kind of context.

    1. Just Me

      Yes, Silly question.

      I am not sure why the question is posed. Is it to get a real response to those actual questions or to see how you ‘TRY” to answer a silly question and how you handle it.

      Hopefully I have second interview after my phone one last week and hope I don’t get silly questions like that !

    2. Anonymouse

      The right answer is that it depends entirely on the work. Different clients have different priorities. Based on the wording of this question, your answer was technically correct.

      BTW, Quality control has tolerance limits (i.e. perfection is not required, merely something within a specified degree of certainty, such as a standard +/- 3 sigma). They’re tricking themselves by using “perfect” in their own question!

      My guess is that the question stems from a situation where someone was consistently procrastinating in hitting their milestones because they were a “perfectionist” and never really finished anything.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        I bet you’re right. I think people are often haunted by the weaknesses of their last bad hire, and sometimes overcompensate in their attempts to avoid those things in the next person.

        1. Anonymouse

          Amen, sister. It’s like a bad personal ad.

          Unfortunately, it leads to a candidate who is cobbled together from so many opposite legos, and is probably even worse than their predecessor, because there’s nothing real or coherent about them.

    3. Long Time Admin

      You’re right about needing the context to answer that question.

      I work in an architectural/engineering firm and we need to deal with local juristictions for building permits. Deadlines trump perfection with them. There are always changes later.

      However, in engineering, I’d rather wait beyond a deadline for 100% accuracy, since it could literally mean injuries or lives lost.

  15. K. Marie

    # 7. I was in a similar situation, only it was moving to a salaried position from a just-barely-above-minimum wage intern. The deadline was pushed back twice, and then, when the third came around — surprise!! — I was one of 10 employees laid off. Obviously your situation is different, but I’d strongly suggest keeping your options open. Apply to other jobs! Network! Etc.!

    Another thought if you’re sticking around your current employer – perhaps you could ask for a small stipend for gas and maybe even lunch in the meantime?

    1. SM

      agreed, start looking elsewhere.

      I was in a similar situation, where after my unpaid internship ended my boss said they wanted to keep me on but extend my internship. I got advice similar to AAM – tell them I can’t afford to keep working for free, however I kind of feel affording has nothing to do with it. You are doing work for them and you need to be compensated for that work.

      I marched into my boss’s office and when I started my speech he said “I know I know, but you have bills to pay, right?” and I said “no, I value my time and I need to be compensated for the stellar work I am doing for your company, like x, y, and z.” I got a full time salaried position immediately with benefits. The company ended up being a terrible place to work, which was pretty clear based on how they treated their interns.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        I got advice similar to AAM – tell them I can’t afford to keep working for free, however I kind of feel affording has nothing to do with it. You are doing work for them and you need to be compensated for that work.

        Ack, this is such a good point and I’m chagrined that I didn’t frame it that way. I think we often go with “can’t afford” because it’s easier to say, but it shouldn’t be.

  16. Karl

    Re: #1 — My company asks every candidate, “What’s more important — to finish on time, on spec, or on budget?” The goal is not that people pick one, but that they say something like, “It depends on the project and the client.”

    The point is that in practice, you *can’t* do all three — something’s gotta give, and as a web design agency, we need people who are able to adapt to the particular project. It also shows how well they react to a hard-to-answer question. I know my boss certainly stumped me when she asked it during my interview.

    And the candidates who say they’ve always finished every website project on time, on spec, and on budget… well, that’s pretty much impossible, and they’re probably making it up.

    1. Esra

      When it comes to graphic and web design work, I’m a pretty big believer in the “quick, cheap, good: pick two” school of thought for most projects.

      1. NicoleW

        A co-worker had this on a poster by his desk! I love it and wish management would understand you can’t often have all three.

  17. Just Me

    #2
    I agree that it is wrong to say an applicant is a procrastinator or not organized if they apply the last day. A deadline is just that, a deadline. Apply by “this date” should mean exactly what is says and nothing else. I am kind of confused as to why applying at the end of the deadline is looked at as “bad”.

    Just because a person applies ASAP means nothing. Maybe the person that applies ASAP wants to get out of their position really badly and see’s something, anything and applies fast to get an interview fast. Maybe they are blowing off their other work to apply and missed a work deadline or didn’t take calls.

    Me, I see something and I investigate the best I can. I do not apply ASAP. I like to learn a little bit if I can about the job, manager and so on. I have applied internally at the “last minute” got the interview and although I didn’t get the job got a personal call (no standard rejection Email) from HR telling me how well I did, why I didn’t get the job and the manager had a tough time deciding.

    I go on line to look at the company, and I look at how many times I see job posting’s (revolving door company?) and I might even ask around if someone knows the company. I can’t do this all in a day.

    Maybe I need to tweak my resume to better fit the job description.

    I am just saying applying first or last should not matter. It does not indicate anything at all about that candidate.

  18. Deirdre

    Q #2

    If we are going to start interviewing right away, I will not that screening of applications will begin immediately. And it does.

    If I have a search committee that isn’t going to review everything until all the applications come in, then I leave that comment out.

    It takes a while for word to get out, for people to consider whether or not they want to change employers/jobs/locations, so I don’t hold it against last minute applicants.

    1. anonymous

      Right now, I’m waiting to see if my husband gets an offer in another city before I apply for a job for me that’s open right now in the same place. I don’t want to apply earlier because I’ll need to tell my boss, who’s one of my references. If he doesn’t get the offer, I won’t apply at all. And, if he does, it could be close enough to the deadline that I could actually apply on the last day.
      I’ve done plenty of hiring myself and you start forming opinions about who you like and who you might bring in, and it is hard when you get a bunch on the last day. But it doesn’t tell you a thing about the candidates, IMO.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Totally off-topic, but unless you have an unusual relationship with your boss, please don’t tell her you’re applying for other jobs. If you must use her as a reference, wait until they’re at the reference-checking stage, which should be just prior to making an offer.

        1. Jennifer

          Not the poster you answered, but does that hold true even if you will be relocating, as that person states may be happening? When I was relocating to another city, I told my boss and used her as a reference immediately. There was zero chance I was not moving, so what’s the harm in going ahead and mentioning it? My boss certainly appreciated the advance notice, and was helpful in allowing me to take PTO to travel to the new city for interviews.

          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            It really depends on your boss. A really good boss will make it safe for employees to give plenty of notice that they’re planning to leave. The problem is, an awful lot of bosses don’t fall in this category and will penalize you in various ways — from just not giving you good assignments all the way to sticking you at the top of the list if they have to do layoffs. So the key is to know what your employer is like when people resign. Are they shown the door immediately? Pushed out earlier than they would have otherwise planned to leave? If so, assume the same may happen to you. But if your employer has a track record of accommodating long notice periods, has been grateful to employees who provide long notice, and has generally shown that employees can feel safe being candid about their plans to leave, then you can take your cues from that.

        2. anonymous

          I work in academia and they do odd things with checking references. Sometimes it’s before the phone interviews. I do have an unusual boss–she was a military spouse so she knows about moving around for a spouse’s job, and she’s been supportive of other people who are looking elsewhere. It still makes me nervous, though, and I won’t apply or tell her unless I know for sure we are moving. I agree that it could color a boss’s view of someone if they knew they or their partner were looking in another city, even if it were a subconscious thing. Thanks for the advice–perhaps I can find out when the references would be needed from someone at HR at the possible new job and I could delay a bit telling her I’ve applied.

          1. fposte

            Yes, that’s happening in other areas as well. It made some sense to me when I got a call from a place that was bringing people in from out of state for interviews and didn’t want to waste time on either side, but it’s really going to be tough for applicants to manage a current position if merely applying is going to mean reference contact.

    2. anth

      OP#2 should consider including this in his/her posting. After doing a contractor search where we had >100 resumes within a week, people who sent in things even 10 days after our post went out were pretty much SOL.

  19. Rachel - Former HR Blogger

    #2 – I think what it comes down to is more education is needed for candidates that while they don’t have to apply the first day, it is better to apply in the beginning than at the end. I might post a job for two weeks but I can tell you that three days in I’ll have the manager asking me what the response volume is and what I think of the candidates.

    1. Kimberlee

      I actually kinda think applying at the end might be pretty OK, and I would tend to think that hiring near the end OR beginning is better than applying toward the middle. I mean, I still don’t think its a make or break, but I feel like those are the times when I’m paying the most attention to the hiring process in general: when I’ve first posted the job and eagerly await the first candidates (who I look at immediately) and when the job is about to close and I’m still not 100% sure I’ve even got a good candidate (I mean, I’ll have good ones, but not necessarily great ones), and every straggler is a potential hero.

      But, again, none of this matters if you’re not a strong candidate to begin with, so start with the basics before you start really spending time on when to submit your application. :)

    2. Just Me

      I do understand that managers want to know the status of the applications, but as the applicant I don’t care. Respectfully, I am unsure on what I as the applier to the job needs more education on? I do understand you are just letting us know your view of the process and that is great.
      But, if the dates of applying are dates 1-6 why should I second guess them? And how could I? As the applier I need to trust that I will get the same attention to my resume regardless if I apply the first day or the last day.
      Whatever your internal issues/policies are as it relates to hiring isn’t for me to worry about. I can’t as I don’t what they are and nor can I assume what they might be and try to be one step ahead.
      You advertise and I apply according to the advertisement is all I can do. Day 1 should be as good of a day as the last day per the ad.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        I think Rachel’s point here is that it’s helpful for candidates to understand how some employers think, so that you can factor that in. Nothing requires employers to be fair in this kind of thing, so if you know that some might favor applicants who apply early, you might use that to increase your chances.

  20. Anonymous

    Re: 2. Applicants who apply at the last minute

    I admit to being more suspicious of the people who apply immediately — like, within a few hours of the announcement being released. My org is not extremely well known, so I would expect candidates would need to spend a bit of time to research it. I think I get bombarded by the most generic applications early on and I assume these people are applying to every job posting they see.

  21. Ellie H.

    To the best of my knowledge, research shows that procrastinators don’t do worse work than non-procrastinators. I’m a procrastinator and I got equally good grades in college as my less procrastinating peers (I don’t really have stuff to procrastinate on at my job). I am a major procrastinator on job applications (because I agonize over them) and I’ve unfortunately missed the window for a few jobs without posted deadlines because of it. I think it does negatively impact my quality of life/stress levels somewhat, and it’s something I’ve improved a lot on with age, but my understanding is that it’s more of a constitutional tendency.

    That said I can certainly appreciate that there are legitimate job functions or even entire jobs where a procrastinating tendency would negatively impact the job – but overall I agree that penalizing those who apply on the last day is wrong because a deadline is a legit deadline!

  22. Flynn

    Re: 1, the interview question.

    I’d answer with something along these lines:
    “well, obviously it depends on the situation, but without better information, I’d choose to hand it in on time. After all, if they really need perfection, they can tell me to keep going if necessary, but if they really need it on time, me keeping it until it’s perfect will stuff them over”

  23. Do you want fries with that?

    When I was 15 I worked at McDonalds. For our breaks: If it was an hour break we were allowed to leave the building. If it were a half hour or less we WERE NOT. This was insane to me, as I hated McDonalds food and brought a bag lunch. The basement, yes basement, we were required to eat in (dining room OFF LIMITS!) had fruit flies up the wazoo and I saw a rat once. So I sat in my car. My manager talked to me a few times about sitting in the car. I explained the issue with said dungeon, and he said “Grow up!” I ended up having important plans soon after my shift, and because I had no real responsibilites I just …left the parking lot, never came back. I picked up my check the next week. Is this illegal?

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Depends on your state. Lots of states allow the employer to require you to remain on the premises during your break, but others don’t (and still others don’t require the employer to offer any break at all).

  24. OP#2

    Just to clarify, I was not trying to say that I have a “secret deadline” that I want candidates to apply by. I also don’t see the need to shorten the deadline even if that were the case, because whether the posting was up a week, 3 weeks, or 2 months, the last day is the last day no matter how long it’s up.
    I very much appreciate the responses and yes, for me it really does come down to the resumes and a candidate’s skills. There has never been a time when I haven’t read each and every application and made my interviewing decisions based on skills rather than when they were submitted. Getting a heap of applications the very last day has been a trend though and I began to wonder what, if anything, this might indicate.

    1. Charles

      As a job seeker, maybe I can shine some light as to why so many folks apply on the last date?

      Given that applying online (the most common way to apply for work today) is like throwing your resume into the black hole of cyberspace – never to be seen or heard about again, job seekers are trying to play the “game.” Really, I should say that we are just trying to learn the “rules” of the game.

      Just what is the game? What are the rules? That’s the problem, we don’t really know. Nobody seems to really know.

      There are so many hiring folks thinking in some bizarre way (admit it you are doing the same thing – calling those who apply on the last day “procrastinators” when you really don’t know why they applied when they did) that we, the job seeker, can never really know what the hiring manager is thinking. As a result, many job seekers think that by being the last resume or at least in the last batch of resumes they might stand out more and have their resumes look at. The same could be said for those who try to be the first. Or by calling instead of applying online, or stopping by, or by sending up smoke signals, or doing whatever stupid thing that they can think of.

      Is this a silly way of thinking? Yep, it sure is; but we, the job seekers, don’t make up those silly “rules” that so many hiring folks seem to think make them good hiring managers. We just try to figure out what exactly we need to do to get interviewed, or at least get someone, ANYONE, to read our resumes.

      The truth is that every hiring person seems to have her own set of rules – rules that we, the job seekers, can never really be sure of (since so many hiring folks don’t bother to tell us what they are thinking and feel that they, their organization, their position, and its deadlines, etc, are the CENTER of the universe and we should just know that what WhateverHiringPerson is doing is “normal” and we are stupid, lazy, ignorant, incompetent , or whatever, for not knowing the unknown)

      Not a reflect on you OP (and certainly not on AAM); but so many of your fellow hiring managers seem to have taken a big fall from the top of the stupid tree and hit every branch on the way down. And it is not just us job seekers who are affected by this stupidity; but also other hiring managers, such as yourself, are affected by it as we all try to figure out the rules to the game. (I’m assuming that you’ve read AAM before and can see for yourself some of the “cowpie on a hot summer’s day” that some hiring managers think make them extra special)

    2. Anonymous

      I often apply towards the last day of an open application process not because I’m lazy or a procrastinator, but because I’ve been mulling over the most thoughtful way to word my cover letter and tailor my resume. At least for me, the earlier I apply to a position with a closing date for applications, the less thought I’ve put into it.

    3. Gene

      AAM and OP,

      You know that somewhere out there is a university placement office telling everyone to send in their applicaton at the last minute to Make. It. Stand. OUT!

      And just down the street is another placement office telling them to send in their application as soon as the job opens to Make. It. Stand. OUT!

  25. Liz in a Library

    2. Another thought is that some of the applicants who apply late in the game may actually be exercising strong prioritization skills by doing so.

    If you have many projects in queue, it is perfectly reasonable to determine the time that each will take (make sure you buffer!), and bring that project to the head of the queue only when it becomes reasonably imminent. Many people work best that way (I know I do).

    I tend to get much more done on ALL my projects when I can selectively apply deadlines and shift some things, even things I value, to the end of the queue until they become more urgent. I don’t think there is anything wrong with this; they are still meeting your deadlines.

  26. Liz in a Library

    6. If you are a minister, I’m sure you have had many formal and informal experiences you could draw on to highlight your ability to communicate well. Do you preach to a congregation? Work with parishioner groups (i.e., a youth group, or teach a Sunday school class, etc.)? Have you needed to represent your church to the media at any point? Even one-on-one situations like counseling or mentoring can showcase your ability to communicate clearly and empathetically in difficult situations. I don’t think you necessarily need any formal awards to demonstrate your ability to communicate in a variety of forums (fora? That can’t be right.).

    (Caveat, I’m basing the above on what I’ve seen from family members in the ministry–I have no firsthand experience.)

  27. blu

    From the staffing side I will say that sometimes the longer you wait to apply the less likely we are to look at your resume and it’s not because we have a rule or anything. We don’t wait until the job closes to look at resumes unless we are talking about internal candidates. If we post a job externally, it may be scheduled to go up for a month or more (especially if we think it will be hard to fill), but we start looking are resumes right away. That means if we find someone qualified before the posting is schedule to come down we are going to move forward with that candidate rather than waiting until that posting runs it’s course. So there is a risk to waiting and relying on that date as your guideline.

      1. blu

        This is so true. I have recently started doing some international staffing and came across an overseas job board where 365 days is the only option. That is insane.

  28. Anonymous

    #3 – I do mention my high school, even though I graduated 44 years ago. It’s one line on the resume. It’s a good public school in an upscale town. And I’m proud that I went there. And since the school has a good reputation, what’s the problem?

    It’s one line. And you never know if your interviewer is a graduate of the same high school.

    1. Jeff

      This may sound strange, but I have actually had a couple jobs work out because of a connection with my high school. I also went to a pretty well recognized high school, mainly because of the marching band (they actually marched in the Rose Parade for the 14th time this year). So as long as it’s not taking up that much space, I suppose it’s another opportunity to find a connection if it’s a positive.

      That said, I usually don’t put don’t my high school unless it’s required on an online application. I don’t keep it on my resume.

      1. moe

        Agreed. One other thing a reference to high school can do is establish your hometown ties to a particular area, when that connection may not otherwise be obvious. When I was conducting a job search with the hopes of returning to my hometown, I did include my high school on my resume, and a couple interviewers brought it up. I wasn’t that far out of high school at that point, though (a year or two out of college).

        Geographic preferences can go in your cover letter too… but my experience is that resumes are the first place an employer looks (and many candidates get cut there). Particularly in a location that may be less desirable, it can be a decent “hook” imo.

        1. anon-2

          Exactly. When I was in my 40s I had applied for a job in Atlanta. My Massachusetts high school was listed as a one-liner on the resume, along with my college degrees.

          Turned out that the manager I was interviewing with — her husband had attended the same high school I did, at the same time. It didn’t hurt.

          BTW, I did get the job offered to me.

    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      The problem with including high school on your resume, especially 44 years after graduating, is that it can make you look naive, since the large majority of hiring managers are going to think it’s utterly irrelevant to your candidacy now. It’s also so outside the convention of what people include on a resume that it can make you look out of touch, like including the names of your spouse and kids on a resume or something like that.

  29. RachelTech

    AAM, RE: The High School question, I must respectfully disagree. You and I had a brief email correspondence at one point regarding whether to leave high high on my resume or if it was simply assumed. You’d indicated it’s typically assumed and I removed it.

    Shortly thereafter in an interview, someone explicitly asked me whether or not I had graduated High School because it “didn’t appear on my resume.” (This was not an entry level position, either). Perhaps it’s in the absence of any other formal education that it would be a good idea to leave it on. From then on I’ve always included it wondering if other companies might screen me out for not having it listed.

  30. shelfninja

    Poster #5:

    You don’t need awards to look good on paper.

    The fact is, most people don’t have awards. Maybe they were good but didn’t measure up to the competition, or they never competed for any awards, or they’re in a field of work where awards are uncommon. (We all know the “prestigious Billy Smitts Award for Best Minister” is just a crayon drawing Billy Smitts drew of you fighting a Satansaurus. And yes, we’re all jealous, okay?) This doesn’t mean they don’t do good (or even excellent) work, or that what they do isn’t worthwhile.

    After a certain point, people just stop going out of their way to reward you or affirm that you’re doing a good job (outside of extraordinary events or maybe yearly reviews). So it’s up to you to look at your skills, knowledge, and accomplishments and decide what’s most meaningful and what you’re most proud of. Then you look at the skills, knowledge, and accomplishments that employers are looking for. The overlap between the two is what you should highlight in your resume.

    Like Liz in a Library said, you’ve probably had a lot of experience communicating with people in a variety of settings (sermons, classes, counseling sessions, etc.). You’ve probably also done a lot of organizational and administrative things as well: worked with your church’s organizational structure to set and meet goals for the church, raised funds, managed money, advertised the church’s services and special events, coordinated events with other ministers and volunteers, kept the facility running, followed up with visitors, and more. These are all valuable skills, whether you’re staying in the ministry or moving into a different line of work.

    Once you’ve identified your skills and accomplishments, all the normal rules of resumes apply: use strong verbs, be specific, quantify your accomplishments, and spell-check! So your resume might look something like this:

    Riverside Pastoral Church (2009-2012)
    *Preached weekly sermons on relevant Biblical topics and coordinated ten Sunday night small-group programs
    *Conducted 4-8 weekly marital and spiritual counseling sessions and maintained visitation schedule for sick and imprisoned parishioners
    *Raised over $4,500 in flood relief aid for sister congregation
    *Coordinated and advertised Vacation Bible School attended by nearly 200 children (1/4 non-members)

    Or whatever it was that you did. Good luck! :)

  31. BW

    Re #1: When I’ve been hit with dichotomy questions like the perfectionism vs deadline question, I always pick an option and defend it based on the framework of what the company does and/or my past experience:”Given that this company does X, I would think that Y would take higher priority.” For example if it’s a law firm looking for clerks or entry-level attorneys, and I’ve had most experience drafting pleadings and discovery (read: stuff with hard statutory deadlines), I would definitely say:”I see from the job posting that this position would involve a lot of drafting, so absolutely I would make sure deadlines are met above all else, lest we blow a client’s statute of limitations or waive our objections because we answered discovery late (etc.)” I haven’t encountered an interviewer who reacted negatively to this approach.

    PS I know this is waaaaaaaay late to the party, but I’m still working through the archives. Thanks for this treasure trove of entertaining AND worthwhile reading material, AAM!

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