tiny answer Tuesday — 7 short answers to 7 short questions

It’s tiny answer Tuesday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go …

1. Current manager seems to have hurt me with prospective new manager

I have gone for an internal interview with my firm. My current manager had a meeting with my prospective future manager (also his manager) regarding his concern for my leaving the department and my future wages. My prospective manager then proceeded to call me in before my interview to tell me that the new job will not benefit me financially, and that perhaps if that’s all I’m interested in, I should cancel the interview.

I have to admit that I had hoped for better wages, but the opportunity to better my career was what had attracted me to the position. My current manager has made many comments on how I will hate the new job, etc. I’m sure he’s just a little nervous that I’ll leave, but surely he shouldn’t have spoken about what my prospective wages could/should be?

I don’t know what your manager said to the prospective new manager, but yes, in most cases it would be a little inappropriate for him to discussing your future wages with the other manager. (Not illegal, just weird.) However, if he’s come to genuinely believe through managing you that you’re primarily motivated by money and wouldn’t be happy in the new job, it would make sense that he relayed those impressions to the other guy, since this is an internal interview and it’s generally expected that managers involved in an internal move will be pretty candid with each other. Regardless, though, I hope you told the prospective new manager that your primary interest is in taking on new responsibilities, rather than allowing your manager to set the other manager’s impressions of you.

2. What to say under “reason for leaving” on job applications

In networking or in interviews, I’ve discussed my reasons for leaving past/current jobs (e.g. left job to go to grad school full time, or job was limited term appointment) at whatever length makes sense for that conversation. But in the inevitable employment application form that I fill out during the hiring process, what should I put in the little box under “Employment History” for “Reason for Leaving”? Do I need a detailed reason here, or do they just need to know whether I resigned voluntarily or was laid off/fired? I’m sure that conversations with humans count more than files in HR records, but I just wanted to check what is expected on such forms.

It’s fine to just indicate whether you resigned, were laid off, or were fired. You can certainly add additional explanation if you want (“left for new job,” “returned to school,” or whatever), but generally, if they want more information, they’ll ask for it.

3. How many interviews is too many for an assistant position?

How many in-person interviews would you deem excessive for an assistant position? I am heading to my third of what I was told will be four.

That’s slightly higher than normal, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. If the interviews aren’t particularly effective — not thorough, not probing the right areas, repetitive or rambling — then they’re just wasting your time and theirs. But if the interviews are good, it means they’re concerned about hiring the right person and are proceeding cautiously — which makes a lot of sense. Frankly, it’s pretty silly how many employers hire people after only talking to them for an hour or two.

4. Dealing with a negative, narcissistic boss

I’m dealing with a boss who is negative almost all the time. Every conversation I have with him starts out with a criticism of someone who sent him an email, someone he had a meeting with, something that happened in our firm that he doesn’t like. He overtly criticizes his peers to me and everyone below his level, but never his boss. He has favorites on our staff, and announces things like “Staff Member A or B is my favorite employee.” Alternatively, he will come back from lunch and he is happy, or as happy as he can be. The difference is so startling sometimes that I wonder if he had several cocktails at lunchtime. His reactions are hard to predict….sometimes he is amenable and will agree, other times he will say no and go off on a rant. He is somewhat of a narcissist — only his jokes are the funny ones, he doesn’t really like or pay attention to other staff unless he needs something or unless they are one of his favorites, he doesn’t even acknowledge staff with a “good morning” unless they are one of his favorites, etc. He has never given me a compliment on my work (which my former boss praised often and which other people in the organization acknowledge) and I have never heard him compliment others, except for his favorites.

I wonder sometimes if this is just his personality or if he is bipolar. Any suggestions on how to deal with this? I don’t see any signs of him leaving the firm anytime soon (unfortunately) even though the rumor circulating is that he is seriously job-hunting.

It doesn’t really matter if he’s bipolar or not since the end result is the same — he’s negative and difficult to work with. You need to decide how much you care, and whether or not this is a deal-breaker for you. Assume he’s not going anywhere and he’s not going to change. Do you still want to work there? If so, you’ve got to look at this as part of the package and be clear in your own head about what you’re getting in return.

5. Is there a point of diminishing returns for internships?

I recently completed a professional masters’ degree and am looking for full-time work in my field. Everyone in my field recommends doing internships until you can find an actual job, which I’m totally prepared to do, although, as someone in my late thirties, I have to admit that I’m a little unenthusiastic about working for free or very little for the forseeable future. Is there a point of diminishing returns when it comes to internships on your resume? I’ve seen statements from people who hire in my field stating that they are more interested in proof of a stable work history than fancy internships. But my very stable work history is clearly not getting me anywhere right now. Is there a point where it just looks bad for you that all you can get are internships rather than “real work”? I’m starting to get worried about competing against next year’s graduates at this point.

In general, regular (non-intern) jobs in your field are better than internships in your field. And yes, years of internships after you’ve graduated are going to raise questions. But even so, internships in your field are better than no work in your field, or unrelated work. Assuming your choice is between another internship in your field or something totally unrelated, and assuming you want to stay in your field, go with the internship.

6. Someone competing for the same job as me gave my name as a reference

I was laid off back in February, and I have had a hard time finding another role. I am currently a finalist for a position that I would really love. Today, I found out that a former colleague of mine is up for the same position, and without letting me know, he wrote me down as a reference. When the recruiter called me, she let me know he was one of their top candidates before she realized I was the same person who was also in the running. I was a bit upset and caught off guard that he had put me down. It came across as I was talking to her, and I felt terrible. I sent her an email afterwards, stating, “I am sorry I was caught off guard by your voicemail. I was unaware that Brian had put me down as a reference for the same job I had applied to, I would have politely declined if he did. Unfortunately I don’t think it would be right for me to be a reference for him for this position. I apologize for the confusion, I hope you understand. Thank you.” I also found out he found out about the position by looking on my LinkedIn profile and emailing someone I was connected to. He also lied on his resume, which puts me in a bad position.

I am not sure if I handled the situation correctly and I am hoping to save face. I know she is in the process of contacting my references as well, but is there a better way to handle this? Should I just walk away?

Why would you walk away? You’re a finalist for a position that you think you’d love. You were candid with the recruiter about the fact that you didn’t feel comfortable providing a reference for this guy, and that’s all you need to say. As long as you weren’t inappropriately emotional or negative when you were speaking to her, you shouldn’t need to worry.

7. How much work history do you need to include on a job application?

I’ve heard lots of conflicting advice regarding the “work history” section of a job application. Some say you need to include your complete working history since you’ve started working; others say you only need include your most recent 3-5 jobs or most relevant jobs. What’s your take on this issue?

If the application doesn’t specify how complete a history it wants, then give whatever casts your candidacy in the strongest light. For most people, that’s roughly the last 10 years of work history, but that can vary depending on your specific situation. However, many applications ask for a complete work history; in that case, you need to decide if you’re willing to play that (often ridiculous) game or not.

{ 64 comments… read them below }

  1. Nodumbunny*

    OP #6 – you didn’t do anything wrong, don’t walk away! What has happened is going to reflect badly on Brian, not you. And if you are asked about whatever Brian has lied about on his resume, you aren’t under any obligation to cover for him by lying. I would also be tempted to contact Brian to tell him explicitly NOT to use you as a reference and you don’t appreciate him putting you in this position.

    1. EngineerGirl*

      Agree. What you wrote is truthful and reasonable. Brian behaved inappropriately by listing you as a reference without speaking to you about it. Also don’t lie for him. He did this to himself. Don’t get emotional and if asked just stick to the facts. If answering questions factually exposes his lies then it’s his problem for lying in the first place.

    2. AG*

      Although this was an awkward situation, it probably will have a positive effect on you because it will make Brian look unprofessional. It’s poor etiquette not to ask someone before putting them down as a reference.

    3. Bridgette*

      Yes, I think you did everything right, OP! Your email was very professional. It was not respectful of Brian to use you as a reference like that. Your professionalism will shine through.

  2. Fatigued*

    In an off-topic response to #5, I wonder if I’m the only one suffering from “professional fatigue” lately.

    Just a couple of days ago, we had the networking-group post where the LW described herself as “a professional with a professional degree.” Now this LW just completed a “professional master’s degree.” Is there even a such thing as a non-professional master’s degree?

    I find it grating when people feel the need to describe themselves as being professionals without specifying what they actually do. I could see if someone said they were a professional artist or something, because they’re specifying that they actually do this for a living as opposed to a hobby. But why would someone need to say “I’m a professional” and leave it at that?

    I might be having a stronger than usual reaction because I’ve been using Craigslist lately to find a roommate, and I keep seeing “Professional female with her own house” or “Professional BM who works at home,” etc, and then you talk to them and it turns out she’s a receptionist and he’s a self-styled musician…and their behavior is anything but professional. Don’t tell me, show me. And if it’s not relevant, leave it out.

    To me it just smacks of trying too hard. It’s like people who have to carry the Coach bags with huge, obnoxious C’s all over them instead of the leather ones where the stamp can barely be seen. People from real money know they’re wealthy and don’t need everyone to see the label. It’s the same with work; a doctor or lawyer needing advice wouldn’t feel the need to start her letter with “I’m a professional.” The only people who seem to need to say this come across as desperately insecure.

    1. Xay*

      My understanding is that professional master’s degree = terminal master’s degree, ie. a degree that is earned without the expectation of continuing to a PhD at that time and generally related directly to training in a specific profession. So someone with a MA in political science is likely to be or have been enrolled in a doctoral program, but either earned the MA along the way or was unable to complete the PhD, whereas an MPH is a terminal degree focused on training in some area of public health and is generally not earned on the way to a doctoral degree.

    2. Liz in a Library*

      I assumed she was specifying a “professional” master’s in opposition to an “academic” degree, i.e., a master’s that ties directly to a non-academic profession rather than one that is a stepping stone to an academic career.

      1. fposte*

        Exactly. I work in a field of professional graduate degrees, but my degrees aren’t actually professional ones.

        So this is just an educational terminology issue, not any kind of inflation.

        1. LPBB*

          I’m the OP for that question and the degree is in fact an MLIS. I was using “professional master’s degree” in the sense that that degree was both terminal and, more importantly, a base requirement for the positions that I’m seeking. “Professional” master’s degree is the terminology that I’ve always seen used, but I can certainly switch to “Terminal” in order to avoid being perceived as “desparately insecure.”

          1. Zed*

            I wondered if you had an MLIS. :)

            In my experience, it is pretty rare for LIS internships to consider people who already have an MLIS, unless they are specifically designed as post-MLIS work experience. So I’m not sure that focusing on applying to internships would be the best use of your time… Instead, depending on your career goals, it might be worthwhile to look for jobs that are part-time but “professional” (requiring the degree). That way you’ll have some librarian-level experience to leverage in future applications.

          2. Heather*

            I’m a library hiring manager, and I won’t hire librarians who don’t have library experience. Whenever I talk to potential librarians I stress how important it is for them to get work in a library before they actually get a graduate degree and certainly when they are getting a graduate degree. I can think of a few positions where that might not be the case (like you need a copyright specialist and your background was in intellectual property or a digital specialist and you worked doing that in a different field), but for the most part you will need library work to get a librarian job. There are library fellowships out there for recent grads, but yes… it’s going to be harder to break in to librarianship when you have an MLS and haven’t worked in a library.

            1. Jamie*

              I was thinking about the librarians here the other day.

              My son, who is a senior in high school, is among the many kids volunteering at our local library on weekends in order to get the community service hours needed to graduate.

              (Nothing like waiting until senior year to worry about it.)

              It’s a pretty easy way to get hours and I was thinking it’s kind of a shame our local library benefits so much from the community service requirement via the steady stream of free teen labor…because I know from reading here there are tons of people who would love to get the volunteer experience because they want a career in the library field.

              Although on the upside he now thinks librarians are pretty awesome because they say please and thank you and always have donuts.

              Makes me want to work there, too.

              1. Anon*

                The libaries in my city give priority for volunteer positions to teens that need to fulfill community service hours and to senior citizens. With the high demand for these positions, it pretty much leaves out anyone not in those age groups.

                I wanted to apply for MLIS but I refuse to do so without being in a volunteer position or a related job. I know the job market for MLIS is so so difficult and I feel that I need to be working/volunteering before I enter a program, so I’m prepared for entering the job market after graduation.

                It is a shame but I see the real benefit the volunteer positions provide to teens. I volunteered for four years as a teenager at my local library and I absolutely loved it.

                1. Zed*

                  Relying on volunteer experience to help get a job after graduation is difficult, too, because in most cases the duties of a volunteer do not overlap with the duties of a degreed librarian.

              2. Heather*

                Well the work done by volunteers is not the kind of work that you do as an employee. However, these teens will probably be more likely to be hired for a workstudy job at a university, those who have college working experience in libraries will have an easier time finding a paraprofessional position, and those with paraprofessional positions will find it easier to get work after their MLS than those with none (I started as a workstudy student, but had previous work experience while in school… and not as a volunteer).

            2. Kinrowan*

              I have had post-MLS “interns” – in general, the intern approached me wanting to learn a new library skill that they did not have and gain library experience. Having an intern, even a post-degreed one, is a lot of work because you are training the person but at the same time, you do not get most of this training in library school, so I tend to be sympathetic, esp. in this market. We planned this as a regular internship with fixed hours and an understanding of what the internship would entail.

              The best of such have been when the person is genuinely interested and does treat it as an educational opportunity. It is understood they are looking for work but this is really an opportunity to grow and ask questions. This can result in a reference for example but also recommendations, if I know colleagues at other libraries who are hiring. One time we were able to hire the person part-time on a temporary basis and that was great.

              The other thing I would do in seeking such opportunities is to be very clear why you want the internship. This will help you get the most out of it but also would be something that would encourage me to invest my time in your training. If you just seem to want to have some amorphous library experience, well, I’m not so interested.

              1. Zed*

                Kinrowan, you make some great points, and I think this applies to volunteer experience as well. I know some relatively recent grads who have volunteer experience all over the place – in different types of libraries, doing different things – and I suspect that this raises red flags when applying to jobs… both because they haven’t had a paying job in the field for two years AND because their unpaid work doesn’t demonstrate a strong career path and a steady accumulation of relevant skills. “Amorphous library experience” is a great way of putting it.

                People who are looking to volunteer or intern after graduating with an MLIS really need to be able to “sell” their experience – if they are such wonderful workers, prospective employers will say, why are they working for free? But if you can say things like “I volunteered with X library because there I had the opportunity to teach computer classes to senior citizens, and that will make me a better Adult Services Librarian at your library” or… “I interned at the Y University to get experience providing reference services at a busy four-year university library’s reference desk, and so I am already familiar with all of the databases your library subscribes to.” Or whatever. But being able to directly connect your volunteer experience to the sort of job you want is really important. Shelving books in the local public library is just not going to get anyone a job in an academic library.

                1. LPBB*

                  I’m currently working on a temporary project processing an archival donation to a museum, but this project will end soon and I’m trying to figure out my next best move. I really am not averse to volunteering full-time or creating another internship (I was a little worried that I came off as whiny or entitled in that question), I just want to make sure that I take steps in the right direction. Hindsight is always 20/20 and I am the queen of self-criticism; the past few months have been very rough for me. And of course, since I’m uninsured I can’t get a prescription for anti-anxiety meds so that makes it all a lot worse.

                  Thanks for everybody’s input. You’ve given me a lot to think about and a better sense of the direction to go in.

            3. LPBB*

              This is what I’m running up against. I’m really kicking myself for some of the decisions that I made over the past two or three years.

              When I started school I had what I thought was a stable job and I hate financial insecurity so much that I wasn’t willing to quit it to go to school full-time. I thought about looking for work in a library setting, but this job was very flexible and I knew that I was going to need to do an internship in order to graduate, so I voted for stability and flexibility and stayed there.

              Unfortunately, midway through school I was laid off. Luckily I had just started a 10 hr/wk paid internship that was able to offer me 32 hr/wk and that ended up lasting for a full year. Sadly, they were not able to offer me a job. I really enjoyed that internship and learned a lot, but I was also working on a fairly esoteric project in a small subset of special librarianship, so it didn’t really give me the library skillz I need for my resume. I did another, slightly more practical internship, for my exit requirement, but I know nothing beats actual paid employment.

              1. Kinrowan*

                I think on top of the practical skills, what also helps one stand out is an understanding of the library profession as a whole – what are some of the big issues we are dealing with now? not in a cliche way but in a thoughtful way.

                For example once I interviewed a recent graduate who had very little practical experience with copyright in libraries but could talk about it in an articulate, in depth way, who was well informed about some of the major recent cases, and was up to date on some big new cases. That was way more impressive than other people interviewed who did not know about a big recent case for example or who saw the job as following the rules with no larger understanding or interest than that.

                So in addition to volunteering/interning, I would suggest really trying to read up the library literature, the blogs, be on email lists, go to local professional groups if there are any …

                Good luck!

          3. danr*

            No, don’t say “terminal”, it will sound like the end of the line. And our field certainly isn’t the end of the line.

          4. JT*

            If you’re talking with most people, “professional” is a better term – has a more positive feeling than “terminal.”

            The only time I think would be useful is in academia, where sometimes just having a masters degree makes it sound like you couldn’t wrap up a PhD – in which case saying “Oh, it’s a terminal degree” makes it clear you accomplished what you set out to do.

    3. Drew*

      I’d like to say that in some cases, the term professional is part of the degree itself. For instance, my graduate degree is a professional science masters. It is a professional degree in the sense that it was not research based, but rather emphasized business in the scientific world. I use professional to accurately represent my degree, which I suspect is also what the OP is doing.

      That’s not to say there aren’t people who abuse the term, just that not everyone who uses it is “desperately insecure”.

    4. Bridgette*

      Sounds like the spam I get from the Professional Network of Networking Professionals. I have been issued final warnings of deadline notices for about 5 years, and yet to claim my reward.

    5. LL*

      In the academic world, professional degrees are specific to the field and do not end in “… of art” or “… of science.” For example, a MBA (master of business administration) is a professional degree and an MA (master of arts) is not. Generally speaking, professional degrees are more focused on the applied than the theoretical.

      Terminal degrees are not synonymous with professional degrees. This gets murky because the definitions vary by country. In the U.S., for example, it is possible to obtain a terminal academic degree (ie master of arts in sociology with no intent to continue into doctoral studies) or a non-terminal professional degree (ie master of public policy with intent to continue into doctoral studies).

      All of this academic terminology, however, does not explain why so many people feel the need to self-identity as a professional.

      1. fposte*

        As with anything in academics and in the US, this isn’t always true–our school’s professional degree is a straight-up MS.

        1. LL*

          Fposte, that surprises me. I was in academia in the U.S. for 12+ years in a variety of positions (admin, research, and later as TT faculty) and I never saw a MS referred to as a professional degree. Ever. Terminal degree, yes, but not a professional one. I wonder if this is a school-specific misclassification, or if the definition has broadened so much that the traditional distinction no longer applies.

          1. LL*

            Just realized that I sound like a pompous ass in my reply. Let me rephrase:

            I never heard of a professional MS in my experiences in academia. Perhaps I’m just flat-out wrong in my definitions.

            1. fposte*

              I’m in a library school, where the master’s is inarguably a professional degree, but that’s also a field where the actual name and initials of the degree are quite variable; there’s MLS, MLIS, MIS, MS-LIS, straight MS, and probably a few more. And that’s an old history, so it’s not so much a misclassification as one that precedes any attempt at regularization.

              I don’t know if it’s unique to this field or not, but it’s often the joker in the pack, so it wouldn’t surprise me.

              1. Liz in a Library*

                I’ve seen MIS (Master’s of Information Science) and MSIS (Master’s of Science in Information Studies) as well.

                The irony is that we’re a field that deals so heavily in standardizing information…

          2. JT*

            I have a professional degree that my school calls a master of science in library and information science. It’s a little redundant, so I (and many people) call it a masters of library and information science.

            I also have a terminal masters degree from a different school that wanted to have a professional degree program, but couldn’t quite accomplish in their institution structure. Most of our classes were truly academic, mixed in with beginning PhD students in various disciplines. Never sure if I could call it professional or academic.

      2. Rana*

        All of this academic terminology, however, does not explain why so many people feel the need to self-identity as a professional.

        I think that it’s because, culturally speaking, “professional” is code-speak for “white-collar and educated.”

    6. some1*

      “I might be having a stronger than usual reaction because I’ve been using Craigslist lately to find a roommate, and I keep seeing “Professional female with her own house” or “Professional BM who works at home,” etc, and then you talk to them and it turns out she’s a receptionist and he’s a self-styled musician…and their behavior is anything but professional. Don’t tell me, show me. And if it’s not relevant, leave it out.”

      I read this the same way I would read it in the context of a personals ad: “I work conventional business hours, Monday-Friday, 8:00-5:00 PM and don’t want to live with/date someone who gets off work at 2 in the morning” vs. “I’m trying to make myself sound like more of a big-shot than I am” I could be wrong regarding your two examples.

      1. fposte*

        I’d agree–I think Fatigued is confusing “professional” the judgment of behavior with “professional” the categorical description.

      2. Natalie*

        My experience has been similar, sometimes with an added hint of 25+ and/or college educated and/or culturally “middle class” and seeking same.

    7. AnotherAlison*

      I’d always heard the term “professional” used for doctor, lawyer, and engineer. It’s commonly used for jobs that require a special license.

      I am specifically a professional engineer — which means I have a PE license, rather than simply an ABET-accredited degree in engineering. (Important in my field, useless in many others. You can be a PhD engineer working in defense and not have a PE, and hence you are not technically a “professional engineer” although your profession is clearly engineering. You can’t advertise yourself to be “professional engineer” to the public. It’s against regulations.)

      Like others already said, I’ve also heard it used along with a degree to describe someone getting an MBA rather than an MA or MS.

      1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

        Additionally, there is a “professional” category for being an exempt employee — aka, for being exempt from overtime, etc. So there’s a reasonably specific federal classification for what counts as “professional.”

        1. JT*

          At a very coarse level, the distinction between a professional and academic degree is that work toward a professional degree is aimed at a career in a particular profession. Whereas work toward an academic degree is about advancing human knowledge through research done in obtaining the degree.

          Of course there is tremendous mixing of those activities – professional degree programs can involve research work, and academic degrees are often extremely useful or even required in getting certain types of jobs. But that’s the conceptual dividing line.

    8. Elizabeth West*

      I’m sick of people being all “you can’t possibly be worth anything if you’re a receptionist.” I’ll just lie on my resume and then go jump in the lake. Since I’m obviously not professional enough to ever find a better job.

      1. Anonymous*

        Well, I’m a receptionist, and I’d feel weird going out of my way to describe myself as a ‘professional’. I’m definitely valuable to my company, but I used to run the returns desk at a retail store and I don’t feel like this is much of a step up from that.

        If someone described themselves as a professional and I found out later they held an admin-type job, I’d wonder why they described themselves that way. I’d feel like they were trying to make themselves feel better about not having a better job and looking down on blue-collar types, even though these days you can have two doctorates and work at Starbucks. So I’d see that as being an incredible snob.

        1. Professional Admin*

          “If someone described themselves as a professional and I found out later they held an admin-type job, I’d wonder why they described themselves that way. I’d feel like they were trying to make themselves feel better about not having a better job and looking down on blue-collar types, even though these days you can have two doctorates and work at Starbucks. So I’d see that as being an incredible snob.”

          That’s kinda a weird comment about not having a better job because someone is an admin. Why can’t you describe yourself as a professional because you’re an admin?? I’m an admin (EA) and it is a very good job, and it’s my career of choice. And I actually make lots more $$ than lots of other occupations or my team members. Yes I know, because I get the spreadsheet of everyone’s salaries before they get approved by my boss.

          1. Anonymous*


            I am an admin. I have been for close to 20 years. I very much consider myself to be a professional in my field!

            I also do things outside of the scope of my job as an admin that are definitely professional pursuits.


  3. Anon*

    #7 – Yes it’s ridiculous. In my opinion, resumes should include recent positions that show what you can do related to the one you’re applying to.

    I know one HR department that counted anything done in college as half time. It lead to ridiculous situations:

    Let’s say they wanted 5 years of “experience”. You had 4 years of work out of college and held a full time job related to your field for a year in college. They would count it as 4 1/2 and not pass on your resume.

    Now let’s say you had the 3 years of experience but a string of work at fast food places over 4 years in college. They would count it as 5 and pass on your resume.

    This is how they worked… so sometimes, you have to play the game.

  4. Chinook*

    OP #3 – Are the interviews with the same person or different people? When it comes to being an assistant, “fit” and “personality” count for a lot. As a result, it is important for both you and them to meet everyone you will be assisting if possible, to ensure that you can work with them and that you are on the same page when it comes to expectations. This type of thing can’t be done over the phone.

    1. FB*

      The interviews were with different people, and the final interview will be a second meeting with the direct supervisor. I absolutely understand their desire to be thorough and make the correct decision, I just wish they would have scheduled meeting several people in one day, then a second/final round. I am glad they are being so calculated in the process, but as a candidate who has a current job an hour away from this perspective job’s location, it is difficult to make it there several times during the work day without causing disruption in my present office.

      1. Anonymous*

        I agree that they should all take place in one or two (spaced out) days! My company will generally have a candidate come in and meet with everyone on the same day.

        It makes for a long day, but it makes much more sense to do it that way.

  5. Not So NewReader*

    For OP#1- Does your boss have a habit of doing this to people when they try to move on?

    To me he sounds like a drama queen. He could not stir up anything else- “She is a lousy worker” OR “That is a crappy department”, so clutching at straws he decided FOR you that you will not like the rate of pay.

    The response to this, of course, is to have a firm idea of a pay range that is okay with you and forge ahead with your quest.
    I am thinking the hiring boss told your current boss he would reeeally like to hire you. Your boss got desperate and this is the best drama he could come up with.

  6. Jamie*

    #4 – This advice isn’t for everybody, but in the past I’ve worked for someone who was universally deemed..difficult would be the kindest euphemism. For some reason he just didn’t get under my skin the way he did for almost everyone else. Looking back I think he was so grateful to have a work relationship with someone who didn’t dislike him, that it was one of the best working relationships I’d had up to that point.

    Don’t get me wrong, I could easily see why other people quit because of him and when he told me he was once punched in the face by a former employee that made perfect sense. I would have been surprised if he hadn’t been decked a time or two.

    But he was as powerful and as brilliant as he was abrasive and crazy and I learned so much from him – and I was never on the receiving end of his anger.

    I’m just saying that people who are universally disliked can sometimes present a unique opportunity to forge a different kind of working relationship…if you can look past the dysfunction.

    1. fposte*

      I think that’s where knowing yourself helps. Being prone to obtuseness, for example, can be a godsend that allows you to prosper where others don’t. I worked for a while for a legendarily difficult woman, and mostly it just went over my head, so it didn’t really bother me. I think I’ve become too touchy to work with somebody like her now, but at that point it was all just shrug-offable weird boss stuff.

      1. The IT Manager*

        A true statement. I feel that way about myself. What I call my “autistic tendencies” can be both blessing and curse.

  7. Jesicka309*

    Ugh OP#1 I feel your pain. A situation like internal interviews is one you want to keep on the down low, and while you assume the higher ups are going to talk amongst themselves, you don’t want to know!
    I’m in the running for an internal lateral/slightly downward transfer. The hiring manager and his team work closely with one guy on our team, who is on the same level as me in terms of seniority. I informed my managers about the interviews, as per procedure. I expected the hiring manager to ask his team about me… But was horrified to find out his team had told the guy on my team, who emailed me to find out more! :( he’s a blabber mouth too, and one of the reasons I’m looking to get out of the team because of fit and bullying issues.
    It’s ruined the whole process for me because now I have to get it or I’m going to be mortified, and forever wondering if the reason I didn’t get it was because of this asshole on my team who told them things!

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Am willing to bet that other people know this guy is an AH, too.
      I hope you get your transfer!

      1. jesicka309*

        Ugh that’s the worst part. They think he’s the bee knees. The job he has liasing with the team I am trying to transfer into is one I would have KILLED for. Except, they didn’t hold interviews for it, they just created the position out of nowhere and gave it to him, completely disregarding his status as the laziest on the team, because he was ‘more personable and outgoing, and perfect for the job anyway.’ Nevermind that they were essentially rewarding the class clown for doing nothing.
        I wish more people would recognise his ‘personable’ attitude as ‘disruptive and attention seeking’, but alas, it’s not going to happen.
        Thanks for the nice words, and I hope the OP gets their transfer too!

        1. Anonymous*

          “I wish more people would recognise his ‘personable’ attitude as ‘disruptive and attention seeking’, but alas, it’s not going to happen.”

          I have one guy on my team who is like that. He’s not 1/10th as amusing as he thinks he is, and it’s getting on my nerves. I know I need to just get over that, since he’s also seen by management as a “golden boy”, and I do have to work with him. “I am a willow – I can bend” -Lily Tomlin, 9 to 5.

  8. AnotherAlison*

    #1 – This is so frustrating. . .no advice, but I feel your pain. I transferred internally due to a manager who didn’t seem to want me to learn anything new. I would say I’d like to go to (the included in our licensing fee) XYZ training on ABC software, and he would say that the training was useless and you really couldn’t learn anything from training. Yet, he wouldn’t train me either, even though he had “years and years” of experience using ABC. Every time I tried to improve myself, there was some similar excuse why it wouldn’t be worth it. >: – ( Hope things work out with the potential new position in spite of your current manager.

  9. Shrink*

    #4: To clarify the terminology used in the OP’s letter (speaking as someone who has a Psychology degree), the behaviors mentioned are often thought to describe narcissism or bipolar disorder, but they’re much more representative of Borderline Personality Disorder.

    I’m not trying to diagnose the boss over the internet, just increase awareness. The average person has never heard of BPD but after some cursory Google searching is surprised to find that they know someone who is at least at the mild end of the spectrum, or possibly even at the severe end.

    Caveats, since if I don’t someone else will: Almost everyone may demonstrate and/or experience behaviors associated with almost any disorder at one or more points in their lives, but this does not automatically mean that they have that disorder. Only a qualified medical professional can etc., etc.

  10. Anonymous*


    I work in contract research. That means that each group or study area within my company works on different projects and contracts. It is not uncommon for anyone seeking work with a given project area to have multiple interviews with different team members, mostly management and task leads, but sometimes other staff, as well. Why? This type of work is complex, and if you are supporting, say, 10 different people, then you may be touching on 10 different aspects of that team’s project.

    It may be similar in academia, depending on who you’re supporting.

    Other than that, I’d think (personally) that any more than 3 would warrant a “WTF?” but maybe that’s just me.

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