when your interviewer weighs you

A reader just sent in this story:

I was with my client “Katie” at the doctor’s office. We were in the waiting room, waiting for her to be called back. The nurse called for Katie and another woman got up. We assumed that there was another Katie who was seeing the doctor that day (it’s a pretty popular name).

About ten minutes later, the nurse called my client’s full name. She explained that the first Katie was actually there for a job interview, but the nurse had assumed she was a patient. She had taken her weight and blood pressure and asked her about most of her health history before that Katie finally asked what was going on.

I guess the job market is bad enough that people are willing to go through stuff like that? The nurse was just glad that she didn’t give her any shots.

Half amusing, half tragic, right?

{ 53 comments… read them below }

  1. Dave*

    Sorry, who takes a “client” to the doctor’s office? Caretaker? Or personal injury lawyer?!

    1. Malissa*

      People who work with the mentally disabled, elderly, etc.. Not really all that uncommon.

      1. Dave*

        Cool, thanks for the clarification. I’ve never heard of someone being called a client at a doc’s office.

  2. Malissa*

    I find this odd.
    I know of a company that does collect this information on every new employee, for their wellness program. I can understand that. But to put yourself through that kind of screening for an interview and not question it? Wow.

    1. Anonymous*

      I could see them questioning it in a rather tragicomic way: “Is this really necessary?” “Oh yes, the doctor will want this information” “but what about my privacy” “don’t be silly, you’re seeing a doctor”

    1. Bridgette*

      You just never know. Maybe she was interviewing for a nurse or medical assistant position and thought she had to go through the evaluation she would be giving to patients.

    2. The Other Dawn*

      Some people just don’t speak up about things, either because they don’t want to appear they are giving someone a hard time, or it just doesn’t occur to them. They assume it’s normal or part of the process.

  3. Anonymous*

    I don’t think the company meant to do this – it sounds like a mix up but the interviewee thought it was for the job. I would be so mortified.

  4. Lisa*

    I’m surprised any company can afford to do this to someone who’s not already working for them.

      1. Lisa*

        Oh, OK! I need to read better, I thought it was really happening! I guess I’m just like that lady who accidentally got weighed.

  5. Lilybell*

    I think this is hilarious. Some people are timid and just aren’t going to question weirdness. I know if someone tried to weigh me during an interview I’d run away screaming.

    Somewhat similar but not during an interview: I was just out of college and had never been to an expensive salon before. I decided to try one out and went to a really fancy place for a haircut. When they directed me to go change into one of those bib-things, I put on this mumu-like thing that was on a hanger in the dressing room. I walked out and all of the hairdressers looked at me in horror and one grabbed me and rushed me into the back. I accidentally put on another client’s shirt! She was very heavy so I thought it was the smock. I felt so bad and was grateful she never saw me. Now I just think it’s funny (since there were no hurt feelings).

    1. Lils*

      lol, I did the EXACT same thing when I went for my first perm as a teenager. I was *mortified*! I feel better now that I know I’m not alone. hahaha :D

  6. Erica*

    I work in the health care industry (but in corporate – not a clinician or a provider), and this has happened to me. It either has to do with the health insurance, or it has to do with studies based on aggregate population. From what I understand (and I would personally hear differently) this information is kept entirely separate from any employment info, and only used in the aggregate, with personally identifying information stripped out.

    1. Student*

      I worked in Germany for a summer, and they wanted to do a full physical on me. My boss prevented them from going through with it because it was a very temporary position ( an internship, essentially).

      I don’t speak any German myself, and one day I got a company note in my mailbox about this physical. I couldn’t translate most of it, except the word “blood,” and then promptly freaked out and asked a native German co-worker what it said. He looked at the letter, looked at me, and said in a very embarrassed manner, “I have no idea what it says, let me talk to your boss about this.” Apparently it was a rather graphic description of the physical (which involved taking blood samples!) and he was too flustered to just tell me what was going on. Luckily the boss’s common sense overruled the corporate policy in my case, so I didn’t have to find out what so embarrassed my poor co-worker in the letter.

      1. Anonymous*

        Its not uncommon in some industries to do a health assessment when your first hired to have as a baseline and then to do a follow up each year. The point is to ensure that your health is not being compramised on the job. As far as I know this is mostly for jobs that potentially involve exposure to hazardous materials.

  7. Anonymous*

    Or maybe the job applicant was just waiting to see at what point the nurse would realize she messed up.

  8. Charles*

    We really don’t know what took place in the exam room; But, my question is were they looking at her chart when they started all this? Besides the first name were the two Katies that similiar?

  9. Samantha*

    A lot of people don’t speak up about things. I know – it’s weird but a lot of people don’t.

    1. mh_76*

      Always speak up. I was nearly given a vaccine that I’m allergic to and am very glad that I saw the label before the tech (nurse?) put the needle in my arm!

  10. Student*

    The nurse is to blame. Every time I step into a doctor’s office, I have to verify my first and last name and birth date before anything useful happens. Some of them also use photographs to keep patients straight. If it isn’t standard procedure at this office, it darn well ought to be. Most first names are not very unique.

    This is exactly how you end up accidentally operating on the wrong person or killing someone with the wrong medication, and there’s no excuse for it nowadays. Everyone involved should run screaming to a different doctor’s office.

    1. bob*

      Have to agree the nurse slipped up here. Every sentence from any staff member while I was in the hospital a couple of times for surgery started with “what’s your name and birth date?” then they looked at my wrist band to double check.

    2. Anonymous*

      I could see how this could easily happen. At any doctor’s I have been to, I check in at the desk which is where I provide my info, but then I go sit down and wait until I am called back. When the nurse calls me back it’s a different person than the one who checked me and in and she just uses my first name.

  11. JT*

    Weighing someone is far lower risk than operations or prescribing medication.

    It’d be a waste to spend the same amount of time/attention on avoiding mix-ups like that as for more serious procedures.

    1. Julie*

      I disagree. I think it should be standard for everything, so staff get into the habit of checking every single time. Because if it’s an “only some of the time” thing, or only done for special situations, it’s far more likely that someone will forget. (Just like saving documents at regular intervals while working on them — not super-necessary if all you’re doing is formatting changes, but it’s good to get in the habit, no matter what you’re working on.)

      1. JT*

        “Because if it’s an “only some of the time” thing, or only done for special situations”

        Well, we don’t expect our doctor to wear a face mask when talking to us in his office, but we sure do in the operating room. It’s not that hard to make simple distinctions – re-confirm ID for any cut, needle, or drug.

        Trying to equal levels of certainty in all things is a waste, and insofar was we don’t have unlimited resources, diverts attention/money from improving things that matter.

  12. Sparky629*

    Eh, I could see how it would be an error. The applicant probably came in and told them she was there for an interview. The staff probably told her to sit in the waiting room while they notified the interviewer that she was here (I could see this happening more in a clinic setting than a private physician).

    When the nurse came up to call ‘Katie’ she just assumed that it was her (how would she know what the interviewer would dress like-after all it is a clinic).
    She was probably ridiculously nervous or even new to interviewing and just followed the nurse back to the exam room. She then probably realized the mix up and spoke up that she wasn’t a new patient.

    If nothing else, she will have a very amusing story to tell about her first job interview.

  13. Anonymous*

    When we lived in the South, I was employed once with a hospital helping with patients. We were required to have a complete physical before working there. The hospital paid for it, but we had to have the doctor sign the paperwork. We could pick the doctor of our choice though. We were also required to have a TB test. When I worked as a volunteer here this past fall, we still had to have a TB test. I have never had this happen at a interview though. I can imagine how embarrassed that poor lady felt. I wouldn’t mind someone weighing me because I am slender and in good health, but still this would be embarrassing. That poor nurse probably felt so embarrassed making that mistake. I want to work again for a health system so bad, I probably wouldn’t care either way. But, then again I don’t have any health problems and don’t mind being weighed.

    1. mh_76*

      There are still a few companies (mostly ones that hire for physical labor), a fair number of law enforcement agencies, and a handful of federal agencies that require pre-employment and periodic during-employment physicals. I think that the military does too.

      1. Anonymous*

        I was not doing physical labor. I was admitting patients and working the front desk of the hospital lab. All employees had to have a physical before they started working there.

        I really did not mind. I was young, in my 20’s and that was the requirement to work at that hospital. It was a small town and maybe larger places don’t do this.

        I do feel bad for the lady that was there for an interview though. Maybe she thought this was their policy. I personally would have asked the nurse though.

    2. Esra*

      Lots of places that have patients at risk do the TB test. I worked as an aide at a nursing and retirement home and we had them done at the interview.

    1. sparky629*

      They can’t because of patient confidentiality and not to mention a huge hassle if you aren’t good at pronouncing foreign/differently spelled names.

      When I worked in a doc’s office he strictly prohibited us from calling out names. We could say…’Katie M.’ but not their whole name. The premise was what if the person was there for some confidential thing (STD testing, abuse problems, etc) and someone they knew was also there-they wouldn’t be identified by their name and have the focus on them.

      That becomes especially important in cases of domestic abuse where the patient is trying to retain their privacy and doesn’t want their name shouted across a waiting room and drawing attention to themselves.

      1. Jamie*

        That make sense, but the rule isn’t universal.

        In fact the doctor’s office is the only place I’m called Mrs./Ms. Keyboard-Monkey rather than Jamie Keyboard-Monkey.

        At more than one doctor’s office for my family they call everyone up by Ms./Mrs. or Mr. and last name.

        1. Long Time Admin*


          It’s just all that hard to call Mr. Smith or Ms. Jones. It also sounds more professional.

        2. Anonymous*

          I get the idea behind it, but how large are most waiting rooms that if someone else in the room knew you, they wouldn’t just see you sitting there? I would think they’d visually notice you long before anyone had a chance to call your name, first, last, full, or otherwise.

  14. Anonymous*

    Not only was the mixup an error on the part of the nurse, the biggest faux pas to me is the nurse’s violation of HIPAA! She had no business disclosing the reason for the first Katie’s visit at all, and could be held liable if it came down to it. As far as the reason for it, who knows – I personally would not entertain a job if it was based on discriminatory practices. If it’s for insurance purposes, I would hope they’re doing more than just weighing the patient – they should be doing much more of a workup. Just my two cents.

      1. mh_76*

        But it is a violation of HIPAA to take someone’s weight, BP, and history if she’s not there for a medical appointment, which is what happened to the candidate.

        The nurse should have called last names (Ms. Simpson) and if more than one person had checked in with the same last name, confirmed with the receptionist/clerk re: which Ms. Simpson and made sure that her voice was directed at the right person (the one in the green dress).

    1. Anonymous*

      I studied the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA ) this past year in my Medical Law and Ethics class and this federal law protects the privacy and other health care rights of the patient. One of the reasons for this law was to protect confidential medical information from unauthorized disclosure or use. So, technically someone’s history is a part of your medical record. Physician practices are one of the covered entities that must comply with the HIPAA Standards and Privacy Rule. I am sure the nurse is not giving this information out to anyone.

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