short answer Saturday — 6 short answers to 6 short questions

It’s short answer Saturday — six short answers to six short questions. Here we go…

1. Explaining why I’m leaving a slow-paced company

I have been in the same position for the last 6 years. When I took the position the main reasons were that it was an interesting technology, and it was a less than 10-minute commute (vs 1.5 hr+ round trip for my previous position) and surprisingly flexible and family friendly for my field. However, I quickly learned there just isn’t enough work to go around. It is very much a culture where people sit back and don’t do much during the day. In addition to handling my usual responsibilities, I have done some “busy work” projects that relate to our technology. I’ve finished a master’s degree and a project management certification. I’ve read a lot of books using the kindle cloud reader.

I’ve carried out a back burner job search for a while and recently spoke with a recruiter about a position that looks like it could be a great fit — fascinating technology, dynamic/growing company, great location. This once again raises the issue that when I talk to recruiters or hiring managers, I feel at a loss for explaining my current work environment, and my lack of measurable achievements within it. I usually end up saying things like, “It’s a small company” and “It’s a niche product line” (both true) to explain why I’m looking for a change. Any tips for talking about my current work environment without sounding as negative as I often feel about it?

Your reasons for wanting to leave speak well for you — you want to do more work. Employers like that. I’d be honest about that rather than coming up with a cover story. Say something like, “It’s a very relaxed environment with a lot of downtime. I thrive on being busy, so I’m looking for a more fast-paced environment where I can juggle more than my current role allows.”

2. Asking for feedback after a phone interview

I know you recommend asking for feedback when you aren’t ultimately selected for a job. Would you also recommend doing this if you had an initial phone interview but didn’t get to the next step?

Sure, you can absolutely try that, especially if you had a rapport with the interviewer. Be aware that, as with any time you ask for feedback, some people won’t give it to you, just as a matter of course, but some will — and you won’t know who will and who won’t until you try.

3. Why is my old role suddenly paying so much more?

I recently accepted a new position within the same division of a state agency. It was my understanding that this was a promotion. The new position is highly specialized with a complete set of new duties and, thankfully, a pay raise. I viewed the advertisement for my old position and was shocked to find out that my successor will be getting nearly double my starting salary when I was in that position and significantly more than I’m getting now. My manager did tell me they were reclassifying the position higher, as it would no longer be entry level, so I was aware that would increase the pay. But over 30% more than I’m earning now seems excessive and unfair for a non-specialized position, performing the same job duties as I did before.

I’d like to know why a $20k pay increase is necessary when the duties of the job haven’t changed, only the classification. How do I receive a promotion, but get paid significantly less than the person filling my old position? Why was that increase an afforded to me when I was in that position? I’d like to talk to my manager or HR about lowering the pay grade for that position. Does this fall into the “life’s not fair, mind my own business” category or should I talk to my manager about it?

You can certainly ask what’s changing about the position that’s increasing the compensation so significantly, but you’d need to ask that out of genuine curiosity, not with an agenda to get the to change the pay grade — since the pay grade for a job that’s no longer yours is really none of your business, and you have no standing to push for them to change it. But if the position is less responsibility than you have now, and it’s going to pay more than you’re getting paid, you can certainly point that out and ask if your own pay grade should be reconsidered in light of that.

(Keep in mind, though, that’s it’s entirely possible that they’ve revamped the job in ways that make this make sense — and you wouldn’t necessarily be privy to that.)

4. What does unresponsiveness say about this hiring manager?

I had a great in-person interview two weeks ago, and was told I would hear something last week. I had not heard anything by late Friday, so I emailed the hiring manager to see where they were in the decision-making process. While I know that this point in the process often takes longer than originally thought for a number of reasons, I am miffed that she has yet to respond to my email at all! What does this say about her as a manager, if anything? Prior to this, she had been very communicative. It does make me think I’m out of the running. I am doing my best to put out of my mind, as you have stated…but as you can see, I’m definitely struggling with this.

It says that she’s like tons of other hiring managers out there, many of whom take far longer to respond to status update emails from candidates than those candidates would like. Some do that because they’re swamped with higher priority work, and some do it because they’re waiting until they have something to report. (And some do it because they’re rude and don’t plan to ever respond at all, but there’s no reason yet to think that’s the case here.) You can take issue with it, but you’re going to run into it with so many other interviewers that you’re better off accepting it and not letting it irk you.

You’re also better off putting this job out of your mind and moving on, so that you’re not agonizing over when you’ll hear something.

5. Doctor’s wife gets unfair treatment

I work at a dental office where the doctor’s wife is the office manager. She is never on time, always an hour or more late. She takes off multiple days at her own leasiure. In December, she took off the whole month but the first 4 days. There have been numerous occasions where she doesn’t come to work for days. When she is at work, I often find her on her iPad or iPhone, talking on the company’s phone to friends, gossiping, or casually checking emails. She has only been office manager for two years, and we as employees are not awarded with time off every pay period.

Is it okay for her to do these sorts of things just because she is the doctor’s wife? We are barely allowed to take days off without being disciplined or written up. It’s unfair to the rest of the staff for us to see our manager behave in such a manner where she believes she can do whatever she wants when she pleases. It actually bothers me to the point where I want to go file a complain for unequal employee benefits. Am I overreacting or is it normal for an office manager to have such privileges?

Assuming the doctor is the owner of the practice, he’s allowed to let his wife do all this if he wants to. It’s his practice; he can run it however he pleases (assuming he’s not violating any laws). It’s not illegal to give her benefits that the rest of you don’t get. It’s unfair, certainly, and I’m sure it’s frustrating … but there’s no law being broken here and thus no complaint to file. Your options are to accept that this is how the doctor runs his practice, or to look for other work. (If you do the latter, I would recommend looking for an office where the owner’s spouse doesn’t work there.)

6. Why do I have to interview with HR?

I had an initial phone interview for an executive administrative coordinator position with a recruiter for a large accounting firm (1,700 employees), followed by a computer skills test, then a face-to-face interview with the office manger of the four offices located in my area. I had not yet sent out a note reiterating my interest in the position to the office manager when the recruiter called me early the next morning to invite me to a final interview with the other two executives I will be assisting, plus a half-hour meeting with an HR manager. What is the purpose of meeting with the HR person if I haven’t been offered the position and I am not done with the interviewing process?

It could be that HR does their own interviews as part of the hiring process. (That would be lame if true, since hiring managers should do their own hiring, but it’s not unheard of). It could also be that the meeting is for HR to go over their benefits package (also common).

{ 77 comments… read them below }

  1. De Minimis*

    #1–I’m going to disagree with AAM here, I’d be a little cautious about how I portrayed my current job, you don’t want them to get the idea you haven’t had to work that much in your current position. I’d just focus on the idea of wanting to take on a new challenge, work with emerging technology, etc. I would not say anything about my job being “slow paced” or about not having enough to do, that might raise a concern that you might not be able to adjust to a more demanding environment. I think I’d emphasize the desire to develop professionally, and would just say something about wanting to move on to a bigger company that may give more opportunity to develop professionally.

    1. AB*

      Having just left a job similar to what the OP describes, I can confirm that AAM’s advice works.

      I wasn’t sure that talking about how I was looking for a job that would have less down time was even a good approach (now with AAM’s endorsement I’ll continue to use this explanation as why I left my previous job in future job interviews)

      I’m in a fast paced job now, and couldn’t be happier.

      1. Colette*

        My concern with this response in the OP’s case is that she stayed in that job for six years, so she needs to be ready to address why she stayed so long. if she likes a faster paced environment.

        1. EM*

          That’s a good point. Maybe the OP just needs a “normally-paced” job rather than a fast-paced one. I left a painfully slow-paced job for a fast-paced one, and I couldn’t be happier, but I was there just under 3 years, and I was very picky about which jobs I even applied to for about a year and a half. In a down economy.

          I know it was definitely a positive in my interview when I said that my last job really didn’t have enough work for me to do.

          1. OP #1*

            Thanks for the responses! It’s really helpful to hear it all.

            A normally paced environment would be a fantastic improvement.

            As for why I’ve been there for nearly 6 years, it’s not for lack of trying to move on and I do worry that I’ve stagnated for too long. The industry I’m in does not have a large presence in the area I live and I’ve worked in an even smaller segment of it. (Hence the PM certification to diversify my skills a bit.) For family reasons I can’t pack up and move to follow a position out of state.

            1. Erica B*

              I have a similar situation with my work. I often have more downtime than I would prefer and the pace of the work isn’t fast. I have been at my job 9 years, and haven’t moved on because the benefits are good and I can tweak my hours to accommodate my family schedule with very little issue, and often without notice.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yep. She’ll need to explain that she’s been able to find her own projects to stay busy, but that she wants to move to an environment where the culture is more in line with how she prefers to operate.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            I think that OP can demonstrate good use of her time, when she explains it like she did here.
            I don’t think she will have too much trouble explaining the six years because of her other professional accomplishments. Having invested in her own professional development, it seems natural that she would be wanting to move on and “spread her wings” so to speak.
            If they are concerned about her being able to handle the faster pace, then she can simply say “Of course there is an adjustment period for any new job, but this is what I want and what I enjoy.”

            1. Anonymous*

              In this economy, why does anyone have to explain an inability to advance their career? I certainly hope they don’t have to. In my case, I’ve been in a stagnant, brain-dead position for almost 5 long years at a firm with absolutely no room for advancement. No one really knows where I’ve gone to school and done before because I came in as a temp and ‘surrendipitously’, the person in my current position was abruptly fired and they desperately needed someone to take it over. The CEO called me in and offered it to me. I never showed him a resume, and the recruiter who had brought me in had already left the firm.

              No day has gone by without my conducting a job search for something else to do. No day. Within this 5 year period I’ve had 3 interviews: one in-person, one va skype another over the phone.

              Which brings me to the advice that the OP should say she needs to do more. This, I believe, might work magically in an interview with an HR rep but potentially disastrously with a hiring manager who might start envisioning you wanting to take his/her job one day or the job the hiring manager is eyeing down the road.

              1. K*

                She has a job right now; if you’re not desperate to put food on your table, I’m not sure you want to work with someone who seeks to hire lazy workers so that they won’t someday be usurped. That’s a recipe for a toxic and disastrous workplace.

    2. BW*

      This is what I have done. I have framed it as wanting to take on new challenges and more responsibilities not available to me with my current employer. Jobs in my field tend to be high-demanding, and hiring managers are looking for people who have experience in this kind of environment. My last job was not “slow-paced”, but if it had been and I’d have said that, it would probably have not been in my favor to say that outright.

    3. Steve G*

      This was me in 2008/2009 I had 5 jobs in 2 1/2 years. I kept getting the next job by explaining how the past one is slow pace and there is no room to even find side projects because business is slow (well, that was true for jobs 1-3). That didn’t mean I didn’t get new experience to discuss. In fact, the 1st of these was the job I found out what excel macros were and learned my first “advanced” functions such as pivot tables and vlookups, and lord knows I had all day to play with them. So by the end of 2009 I could package my resume as a junior analyst type and got into a good job with that involved doing a bunch of fancy stuff in excel all day for more money.

  2. Mike C.*

    OP #3: Why is it that you wish to have the pay of someone else lowered rather than having your’s raised?

    1. AB*

      I was thinking precisely the same thing! Weird that instead of focusing on justifying a bigger raise the OP wants to penalize the person taking her old role.

    2. Toast*

      Because of loss aversion. We’re more prone to dwell on losses than gains, even when the loss may be infinitely smaller than the gains.

    3. The IT Manager*

      #3 Your instinct are leading you wrong. Wanting someone else’s salary to be lowered because you’re hurt that they will make more than you is such sour grapes. What Alison advised is correct except you seem really mean spirited about the whole thing so it may be best not to bring it up.

      The question for you is why you didn’t make more in the previous position? Is it because you never asked for a raise? If that’s the case, that’s what you need to learn from this. Not to ask them to lower someone else’s salary which is pretty odd.

    4. Anonymous*

      Im speculating that since it’s a state agency maybe degree requirements changed on OP’s old position thus raising the pay grade and she was able to go into the new position because she’s internal. I’ve watched a few state agencies in my state do this–which is esp frustrating for outsiders trying to get in the door.

      1. Anonymous*

        OP also said her new promotion was an understanding. So she assumed she was leaving old position and old salary for something way better in terms of responsibility and salary. She should have fully understood what her promotion entailed as well as the reclassification of her old position before accepting. Also did the reclassification change the qualifications therefore she wasn’t able to stay in the position and management sold her the new promotion as a great thing? It just seems like she thinks the whole thing is unfair and to try to challenge the op and new salary isn’t right.
        You learn something new from this site everyday. Take away for today: negotiate with full understanding!

    5. HRPufnstuff*

      I see something similar with hiring managers I work with. They can’t understand why we’re offering a higher wage today then when they started 8 years ago in the same position.

      1. Anon*

        To be fair some companies are a little backwards. My company has set rules on how much of a raise can be given – even when switching positions to something with significantly more responsibility.

        As a result, someone who enters the company vastly under employed (not unusual in this economy), who then applies for and gets a much higher job in the company that they were qualified for all along – may only get a 10% pay bump even if the difference in pay between the positions is normally 20%

        This results in some very funky things – and means it’s much easier to get a higher salary coming in rather than climbing the ladder in the company.

        On this blog I’ve heard of all sorts of odd HR policies, so I wouldn’t be surprised if something like this could be happening.

        1. Josh S*

          What a clever way to encourage people to find employment elsewhere! Turnover must be quite high where you work (unless there is somehow another perk that makes being underpaid worth staying…)

          1. r*

            It was my understanding that this sort of (foolish) pay practices were the norm. I know in some industries, jumping back and forth between competitors is the only way to get a generous salary bump. It’s

          2. Not So NewReader*

            This is done in retail, too. You start a job and find that you are making as much if not more than your highest paid cohort.

          3. Sandy*

            My last company had the same policy. And yes, they had a lot of turnover there. People would come in right out of school, or with limited experience, work a year, and then leave for a 50% raise. When I left, I received a 20% increase with my new job.

        2. Angry Writer*

          Worked in higher ed (state schools, so a state job) and this was the norm. They’d revise the pay rate periodically for your position in order to solicit good talent, but not raise those already in the position. I worked for a major university for 6 years, by the end of the 5th year I had almost completely fallen out of my pay grade range because they kept revising it yet refusing to give raises to those already in these positions (not just me!). So you had new folks with at least 5 years less experience than you coming in at more, while you had been there 5 years just to be at the very low end of the range. Completely frustrating and why people would leave. Stupid way to run things, but it happens.

  3. Anonymous*

    6. I had an interview with my 2 bosses, an HR rep, and the VP for my current position. I think the HR interview was to figure out if I was crazy or not then go over the benefits package so it wasnt a shock later on.

    1. EM*

      Is it an especially large company or even government? Those places tend to have more bureaucracy and require multiple people/departments to stamp something for it “officialness”. When I worked for a city government, my (future) boss, someone from the Office of Chocolate Teapots (I was applying for a Teapot Specialist position in another department), and a HR rep were present at my interview.

      1. BW*

        In my experience it has been with both smaller and ginormous companies. It may depend on the position and field how many people you interview with. Typical for my field, where you’re almost always working with a cross-functional team, is a half day (4 hours) of interviews with everyone and their mother, followed by an HR rep. It might be a little less strenuous for entry level positions, but once you are not entry level the in-person process get more elaborate and encompasses more people including Directors and VPs.

    2. HRPufnstuff*

      As an HR Manager I’m very involved in many of the hires. That value comes from a few areas,
      1. Explain benefit packages
      2. One more set of screening eyes
      3. Prompting follow-up when decision time comes. We hear so much this here and fortunately I help take care of that.

  4. doreen*

    #3 Although the duties may not have changed since you held the job ( and you wouldn’t necessarily know) it is also possible that the job could have been reclassified while you held it, if you had taken the proper steps. Classifications are based on the job duties and the classifications/salaries of related jobs at a fixed point in time.Those details often change over time. The classification, however, is not going to change unless and until there is a request, either by the incumbents (because there has been some change to justify a reclassification) or by management (because they cannot find anyone to fill the job under the current conditions). My peers and I are currently involved in an attempt to have our positions reclassified to a higher salary grade, mainly because our unionized subordinates have received raises for the past four years,while we have not. Our justification is that the upgrade is needed to “promote proper salary separation” (and that may also work for you) but there is no way on earth that the state would just upgrade us because we deserve it. The thought of reclassifying a position isn’t even going to cross their minds unless someone makes a request.

    1. Anon*

      Gosh, it’s almost as if being in a union has some sort of benefit or something… (Not to be snarky at you, but this shows that it’s nice to have a union at your back.)

      1. doreen*

        It does- if you don’t know what happened next. When it came time to renegotiate, the governor was unwilling to agree to any raises in the first two years of the new contract but was willing to agree to not lay anyone off for budgetary reasons for the life of the contract. The executive board of the union agreed to this contract, but the members didn’t ratify it, even knowing that thousands of layoff notices would go out the day after the vote if ratification failed. Lots of people decided that they weren’t going to be laid off , didn’t care if the person working next to them was, and had no problem voicing that opinion. Many of them found out differently, and the next proposed contract (which still had no raises) was quickly ratified but the rift within the union won’t be healed for years. Unions aren’t what they used to be.

  5. Josh S*

    #2. Requesting Feedback after phone interview.

    I just did this. Found out yesterday that I didn’t get a job after 2 phone interviews (one with hiring manager, one with internal recruiter). I had gotten “other people were a better fit” as the reason for not moving forward in the process. Disappointing, but whatever.

    I asked the recruiter if he thought I might be a strong candidate for two other similar positions with similar descriptions, but on different teams, suggesting that I’d like to apply to them if he thought I was a strong candidate. I asked the hiring manager if she would keep me in mind and for feedback on what would strengthen my candidacy.

    That was Friday at 4:45pm. We’ll see if I get any response from either of them.

    The point is, though, that there’s no harm in trying, so long as you aren’t defensive about getting passed up for the position, you’re professional in your request, and you don’t hold it against them if you don’t get a response.

  6. Kimberlee, Esq.*

    Regarding #2: Others may disagree with me, but I’d actually advocate asking for feedback regardless of what stage you got to. I’ve never had someone ask me for feedback, and I’d be happy to give it! Even if the person had not advanced at all, I’d be happy to tell them why as long as I had time (and I’d make time if they were an obviously promising candidate that was making stupid mistakes in their cover letter or resume). But I won’t give this kind of feedback unless solicited… as much as I’d like to.

    I’d be different if EVERYONE were asking for feedback, but since like nobody does, I think asking is fine regardless of what stage in the process you made it to.

    1. MP*

      What’s frustrating is that you often don’t hear back, or it’s a month or more, and after you’ve “moved on” mentally. If someone can’t get back to me for a month, they might not remember who I am or why they rejected me!

      I interviewed with someone almost three weeks ago, and provided work samples a few days after the interview. It’s been silent since then.

      Last week, I cared. But by next week, I wouldn’t bother with feedback if I ever did hear back because I think it’s kind of rude when companies don’t get back to you. I know they weren’t interviewing a large pool of candidates for the job (due to fairly open discussions with the team members who interviewed me & HR manager), so why not just give some closure already.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I can almost promise she will not win if she tries to talk to the dentist. Moving on is probably the best bet. A show of self-respect more than anything- don’t let yourself wallow in this mess.

      1. mirror*

        What this OP described is exactly what was going on at a place I worked at a few years ago, only in a different medical field. Among all the bad behaviors, she was also incompetent but thought she was smarter than all of us because she had taken an “office manager certification” class in the 80s. She killed morale in our very small business. My real office manager would have long conversations with the boss. He was really nice and appreciated all that we did, but his wife completely had him by the balls.

        He eventually fired his wife. In front of all of us. The poor morale, us constantly fixing her mistakes, her bad behavior and her constant complaints about everything we did–even though she was only there 2 hours/week–got to him. I think what motivated him to change something was that I gently talked to him from the perspective of what’s “good for business.” Whereas my office manager and his wife were coming to him from the “she is so annoying and listen to my drama” viewpoint. I think it also helped that I was one of his favorite employees who did my work and tried to stay out of the drama. He took me more seriously than if I had gossiped and complained to him every day.

        So, depending on the dynamics and your approach, I think it can work. But it is a fine line.

        1. Job seeker*

          I am very surprised your approach worked. Regardless of the drama at this office his wife was the one he lived with, had a life with and slept with. She has more influence than just a regular employee. You case is very unusual, most times a husband will always side with his wife.

          1. mirror*

            Well, it didnt happen right away. It took about a year of drama between the wife and office manager before I talked to him, then several more months for him to stew over it. He actually told his wife “you either work here more so you can defend what you’re talking about or you leave.” He was probably sick of her telling him how to run things when she only worked there 2 hours/week. Plus, I bet he knew she would be a lot happier at home if she stopped trying to run things, and he would be a lot happier at work because the office manager could finally do her job and stop arguing with his wife. I only gently encouraged him to think about how the business could run better if everyone was on the same page and was at the workplace enough to know how it should run.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Excellent move on your part and very well played.
              I have been that person that comes in, does the job and goes home. I know for a fact that after a while, a person who behaves in this manner can have huge credibility with the boss.
              Am chuckling- I had one boss almost fall out of his chair. I knew that A, B and C were going on. He had NO clue that I knew all this stuff. I gave him no basis to believe I had even noticed. When I finally gave notice and included A, B and C as part of my reasons, he turned to mush. This bear of a boss sat there and said “So now what do I do?”, in a voice that sounded broken and defeated. It was actually kind of sad.
              But A, B and C were things of his own choosing- he could have chosen not to get involved in those things. I heard he later ran away with one of my coworkers that he had been seeing. He left behind his wife and kids. That was Item A, gives you and idea of what Items B and C might have looked like.
              My take away is- it was not worth it to me. I should not have stayed in the situation as long as I did. If you hang out with turkeys you tend to become a turkey. Better to move on and find people who are interested in being professional and growing themselves professionally. Just my two cents, though… YMMV.

          2. Jamie*

            I agree with Job Seeker – I think that was a one in a million situation.

            I can’t imagine what would prompt someone to fire their spouse publicly – but I would assume that’s not a typical dynamic.

            The doctor owns the practice, he wants to allow her more leeway to come and go as she pleases. I can see how it could be frustrating, but it’s not uncommon in small family businesses.

      2. PEBCAK*

        I think that once she has something else lined up, though, she could *consider* being candid about her reasons for leaving. This obviously depends on her relationship with the owner, and you don’t want to sour a reference, but there may be a diplomatic way to talk about morale.

    2. Anon*

      You know…this kind of thing happens at those small, family-owned businesses. I know there may be some examples of someone speaking out about this and it working out, but…I don’t think I would want to get involved, in essence, in someone’s marriage. It’s bad enough offering feedback on how someone is running their business. In this case, it would be both. I think OP.5 should just consider finding a more professional place to work. The risk is too great here. At the end of the day, she needs to worry about her own career and paying her bills. And that can be accomplished at other doctor offices.

  7. FiveNine*

    HR where I work is critical to the vetting process for certain professional positions — HR is the first to get a glimpse of a candidate’s resume and can on the spot determine that the resume will not go beyond HR (a fact not usually included in advice about cover letters and resumes, and maybe that’s because our HR is different from many? But I find that hard to believe.). HR tends to offer the requesting manager a nice but small selection of candidates for the interview process.

    1. SCW*

      I work for a division of the county government, and while we have our own HR team in the division, we only get candidates after they have been screened by county HR. I had a friend who didn’t get to the interview stage for a position for which she met all the qualifications and more. I think she didn’t work at laying out her qualifications as clearly as the county HR team needs, since they are not in the field. After she found out about this, she was able to change the wording on her resume and got interviews!

    2. Jen in RO*

      I thought that happens everywhere. In my company HR screens the resumes, then conducts an initial interview, and only if they pass this interview do candidates move on to meet with the hiring manager. (In most cases there’s also a written test before the HR interview.)

  8. Kim*

    Wow…I’ve always known that HR was generally looked upon as “rubber stamp,” “paper keepers” but am surprised by YOUR answer AAM.

    I have several years of HR experience and am behaviorally interview trained. I feel that when I interview a candidate I am adding some value to the process. My perspective is that the hiring manager knows what makes a good “widget maker” while I am able to help in determining a good “employee.” I have been involved in more that one situation where I found a “red flag” that had been overlooked by a hiring manager.

    Hiring managers are sometimes so focused on what they need for the job that they overlook asking the tough questions about internal motivations and/or interactions with co-workers/clients or customers. I guess I have always thought of my input as more than a benefits overview.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yeah, in general I’d like to keep HR out of interviewing altogether. Hiring managers, who know best what they need (or should), should be the ones interviewing and making hires. I’ve seen HR too often get it wrong because they don’t have a nuanced understanding of the needs of the role. (But then I come at this from the hiring manager side of things, not HR, so that’s probably not surprising.)

      1. class factotum*

        Are you saying that HR shouldn’t even do some initial screening? Because our HR has been sending candidates to my boss who are completely unqualified, which means my boss’ time is wasted (and so is the time of the rest of the team, as we, too, interview the candidate).

        I don’t think HR should be making the hiring decision, but I think they should at least be looking at resumes and doing an initial phone screen (for good employee, as Kim noted) before they send a candidate to the hiring manager.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          That’s exactly the problem — I continually see instances where HR sends unqualified candidates and overlooks good ones. My trust in HR to screen well is ruined.

          1. BW*

            That happens, and I think it is because HR isn’t making the chocolate teapots, and therefore doesn’t really know what to look for in a Super Awesome Chocolate Teapot maker. So you end up getting some crap candidates. That’s why I think their role should be limited in initial screening before any interviews have taken place, and more at the latter end of the process, looking at candidates who the HM has already determined are qualified enough to interview in person. At that point they would be looking at general things like workplace fit and the marks of a good vs. potentially bad hire, not trying to evaluate chocolate teapot making skills.

          2. -X-*

            HR at my organization plays a role because they want employees to fit well with the company culture and they play a big OD role in my organization.

            Our HR also does some screening, or at least draws the hiring managers attention to people they think are top picks.

          3. class factotum*

            And yes – it is now dazzlingly clear! I hadn’t thought that they might be screening o ut the good people and sending us only the bad ones. But obviously, the screening that my company’s HR is doing is not working!

      2. BW*

        As a candidate, I have found it actually helpful to meet with an HR rep as part of the interview process. While they are asking questions and presenting information to me to get a sense of fit and what kind of employee I am, I am also interviewing them for the same reasons – to get more input to determine fit and what kind of employer the company is. It works two ways.

        I think there is a place for HR, but it’s less in which candidates get any consideration at all, and more in the in-person interview and post-interview process when it comes to checking references and verification of credentials, and the other things Kim speaks to. I also think it makes sense for someone to weed through resumes and toss the ones that don’t even meet the basic qualifications for the position, but I think it becomes even more important once the in-person interviews are happening.

        There was an unfortunately incident at one place I worked at that caused the HR department to revamp their pre-hire screening and reference checking process. Those things had been done by the hiring managers who were not really trained or given the resources to look for any more general red flags. I think what Kim says is very true, hiring managers and other people who interview a candidate are good at determining what makes a good “widget maker” but they may not be able to see outside of that and miss things that may make someone a more or less desirable hiring choice.

      3. HR Pufnstuff*

        You are a good hiring manager, one this HR guy has faith would make good hiring decisions. Unfortunately this is not always the case and why I was recruited to my current company two years ago.

  9. S*

    I had a phone interview before HR after having my in-person interview. The questions from HR were along the lines of what are you expecting in terms of compensation, in terms of benefits. How do you feel about relocating to where we are, et c. I think it may also have included a few more generic questions about how you handle conflict, et c.

    But my interview was I’m sure different than most jobs. My in-person interview was a full day long and with about 8-10 of my future coworkers. Based on the work done, it’s not really possible to have a ‘hiring manager’ as a full time job, because only people who have held the position are fit to interview and evaluate a new candidate (the position requires a PhD in a specific scientific field), and the department is small enough that there’s not enough work to have a single person as a hiring manager full time. I don’t know exactly how the company handles selecting interviewees from applications, but once an interview is scheduled, everyone in the department is capable of being one of the interviewers.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      A hiring manager is the person who will be managing the person once they’re hired. They are the manager of the position being hired … hence, “hiring manager.” They are not “the manager of hiring.”

      So every position has a hiring manager, assuming that the job reports to a manager.

      1. S*

        I see. But I have a manager (who was one of my interviewers) as well as project leaders (who were not), and in terms of project leaders, I could conceivable work under any number of people, and they are the ones that set the week to week goals and assignments. Because of the collaborative and fluid nature of our assignments, it’s important that multiple people think a candidate would be a good hire. The person who gets the final say is my manager’s manager’s manager, who as a new hire I meet with once a year.

        1. BW*

          This is typical for my field as well. We work in cross-functional teams, so it is important for multiple people to come interview candidates from their perspectives to help determine fit. One person may get the final say, but getting the feedback from all parties is an important part of the decision making process.

        2. fposte*

          “Chair of the search committee” would be roughly equivalent to “hiring manager” in many such cases.

      2. Darcie*

        I was assuming all the time I’ve been reading you that when you used the phrase “hiring manager”, you meant “person who manages the hiring”, just as I call my “greenhouse manager” the “person who manages the greenhouse”.

        1. K*

          I was confused about that for a long time too, since I’m used to law firms where the “hiring partner” is indeed the partner who manages all the hiring. (It was cleared up for me when AAM did a handy FAQ/glossary post a while back; actually, I think I ran into it browsing the archives.)

  10. BW*

    #6 – Meeting with HR as part of an interview isn’t unusual. In some workplaces HR handles the reference checks and compensation negotiations for the selected candidate as well as coordinating start date and pre-employment paperwork. This person may also become the contact point after the interview process and will put together the offer package for the chosen candidate.

    In my experience, the meeting with HR is mostly used to review benefits and expectations around compensation, and offers a chance for the candidate to ask more specific questions about those types of things and other general work place policies and expectations that other interviewers may not have been able to answer. It’s also a time where they try to sell you on working for the company.

    I have found the HR interviewer is not as interested in asking questions directly related to specific skills for the position as they are in asking about things like your current and desired compensation, interest in the position after interviewing with the hiring manager and other potential co-workers, availability, and other logistical type questions. They don’t always have much say in who the final pick will be. That decision may be left to the hiring manager, and HR just follows up with reference and credential checking and then the on-boarding process.

  11. SCW*

    I can see good parts and bad parts of having HR involved in hiring. I once worked at a place where the HR manager did all of the hiring and would just tell the manager who they’d hired once it was a done deal. Only occasionally would the “hiring” manager even get to sit in on interviews. This was a disaster, and meant a lot of turnover.

    Where I work now, the HR director was a key part of my intervewing/hiring process for my position. She was one of a panel of interviewers, and she actually saw me in action while I was acting manager and had to work with her in dealing with personel problems. So her imput really spoke to my ability to do the job.

    Our HR is also involved in testing/screening entry level staff members who are required to complete a test at a certain level to be hired, so they do the test to determine who should even be interviewed. It is not a subjective test, so it is nice to have it out of the way and know it when you are considering who to interview.

    1. HR Pufnstuff*

      “I once worked at a place where the HR manager did all of the hiring and would just tell the manager who they’d hired once it was a done deal.”
      I can’t type “bad practice” enough times for this method. It’s imperative the hiring manager have ownership with the decision. Anything else is recipe for failure to them and the new hire.

  12. L*

    #3 – This happened to me after I moved to another state agency. I applied for my old job at the new classification and emailed my old boss to let him know I applied. He was thrilled and I was interviewed by the team and got the job. If you have interest in the position still you could try to apply. If not, it’s tough but let it go and be happy with your new role. Good luck!

  13. RIZ*

    #6 I am kind of new to this board and I am the person that asked question #6. I interviewed last Thursday and what was supposed to be a 1.5 hours set of (2) interviews turned into 3 interviews totaling 3+ hours. The bulk of my time was spent with those making the decisions and spent, maybe, 20 minutes with the HR person. The HR person asked me generic questions about the qualifications I listed on my resume, asked if I had questions about my meetings with the other people but did not touch the subject of benefits or other HR matters.

    During one of my interviews I was told that one point I was the only candidate but two other had been added to the process the day before. Indeed, the position had been re-listed on Craig’s List the day my final interview was being scheduled.

    I sent “thank you” emails to both interviewers except the HR person and both of them REPLIED thanking me for my “kind” and “nice” notes, which was an absolute FIRST for me. Their replies were a shocking yet pleasant surprise. For them to take the time to acknowledge a thank you note speaks very highly of them. That’s my update…now I sit and wait for, hopefully, great news!

  14. Lisa*

    You forget that the doctor’s wife may not be getting paid at all or at least elss than FT counterparts. I worked for a family owned company for 4 years (not my family). The owner’s wife was HR/ AP/AR and office worker combined. She came in at 10 am (did a dunkin donuts run for the office before coming in) and left a 4 pm. We were a 7 am – 5pm office. She got paid $400 a week and it was salaried. They did this for tax purposes, which she was fine with and i guess small family owned companies get away with this if they are owners of a biz. She worked just as hard when we needed it, and I was her boss and assigned things to her when we needed all hands on deck. I once removed her desk phone to keep her from answering calls so that I could keep her on her computer all day during the holiday season. She was pissed at first, but later said she loved it because calls were time consuming, and she wasn’t apt to get up to answer a phone that kept ringing.

    Anywho, you have no clue if she is really an employee or just a helper. So stop trying to make her an equal cause even if she if an employee, she isn’t an equal cause its her business too.

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