terse answer Thursday — 7 short answers to 7 short questions

It’s terse answer Thursday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. Is it better to be the first or last interviewed?

My husband was recently invited to interview for a position he applied for. He was told that they were conducting two sessions of five back-to-back 30-minute initial interviews. Since he was the first one they contacted, he was able to pick his time slot. In a situation like this, is there an any difference or advantage in picking the first slot, or the last? He chose the first slot on the first day, because it worked best with his current work schedule, but I was just curious for future reference.

Nope. You’ll hear all sorts of theories, like it’s better to go first so that you’re the bar against which they judge everyone else, or that it’s better to go last because they’ll remember you more, but honestly — it’s all pretty much BS. If you’re a great candidate, they’re not going to forget you, and if you’re not a great candidate, it won’t matter anyway. Schedule interviews when it’s most convenient, and don’t worry about trying to game the order.

2. Using vacation time when you’re resigning

I’m intending to leave my job in June, to go to grad school. We have a very generous vacation policy, with loads of days each year (and they don’t even count weekends!). The only problem is that it’s use-em-or-lose-em: the company will not pay out for unused days. I currently have 19 days left, and even though I do have a couple of long weekend trips in mind before I quit, there’s no way I can use them all up. One idea I had was to book the remaining time off after I wanted to leave– so my official last day in the office would be June 1, but my last day of employment would be, say, June 15. Is that reasonable? How would I go about it? I have quite a bit of responsibility in my job, and I know when past employees in similar positions left there were often a number of questions they left behind: wouldn’t having a couple of weeks of holiday, where I still am technically an employee but my replacement has taken over my responsibilities, fix that? Although I’d have left I’d be happy to be available for phone or email queries during the transition.

Does that sound reasonable? What’s the best way to pitch this to my boss? Do I book the holiday now without saying anything, and then quit, or wait till I quit to bring it up? Or does quitting mean I’m forfeiting my holiday time? By the way, if it helps, I’ll be giving 4-6 weeks notice.

You can certainly ask your manager about this, but be prepared to be told no. A lot of employers have policies that you can’t take any paid vacation days once you’ve given your notice. Also, the whole point of a notice period is to give them time when you’re still there to wrap up your projects and help with a transition. If you’re on vacation, it defeats much of the point.

One option is that you could offer to give a longer-than-usual notice period with the understanding that you’ll be on vacation at the start of it — and then return for a few weeks and wrap up your projects. If they say no, then you can just have an earlier ending date.

3. Mentioning temporary blindness when applying for a job with an organization that works on vision issues

Last year, I had an eye inflammation which made me temporarily blind for a couple of months. I have completely recovered and my vision has come back to normal. However, this experience had a strong impact on me and I became very interested in the prevention of avoidable blindness. As I have extensive experience as a researcher and policy officer in the not-for-profit sector, I thought I could use my skills for this cause. I am about to apply for a foundation whose main goal is to provide all people with the right to high quality and affordable eye care. I was wondering whether it is appropriate to mention in my cover letter my temporary blindness and my desire to help people in the same situation. Of course, I would usually never mention in a cover letter something so personal and related to my own health problems, and I know that it can definitely be a big turn-off. However, I thought that perhaps this case might be slightly different. Any advice on this would be much appreciated.

Yep, mention it. It’s nearly always worth mentioning any personal connection you have to an nonprofit’s work; it’s part of explaining why you want to work there.

4. Interviewer asked about my interview processes with other employers

I just finished up a phone interview that I thought went well. Toward the end of the conversation, the interviewer asked me if I was interviewing with other companies and if so, where I was in the process. I told her I had another phone interview scheduled with Company A in a couple of days. I am also waiting for for a second interview to be scheduled with Company B within the next week or two (the people I am meeting with next are on PTO so the interview can’t be scheduled until they return to the office). She then pressed, “Where would you say you are in the interview process with them? Are you in the beginning or final stages?” I told her I was in the middle, since I know there’s a third interview to follow.

Ordinarily I wouldn’t read too much into this, but the fact that she pressed me about my interview schedule with Company B got me thinking: is there a reason she was so concerned about my other interviews? I’ve been in plenty of interviews throughout my career, but have never been asked this question. Have you asked a candidate this question and if so, why? I’ve been unemployed since December, so I’m trying not to let the “I really want this job!” mentality cloud my judgement.

Generally employers ask these types of questions when they think you’re a strong candidate and want to assess how likely they are to lose you to another offer, and how quickly you might need things to move on their end. You don’t really need to answer with as much detail as you provided; it’s fine to say that you’re talking with several other companies, are in the final stages with one, and expect them to make a decision in the next two weeks (or whatever the case is). No need to get into the specifics of phone interview scheduling or anything like that.

5. Fired after a coworker punched me

I was fired from a job I loved in September. I am a professional makeup artist, and while working on a client, in a busy upscale retail store, I was punched by a coworker in front of my client and other customers. We had a heated argument and ended the confrontation quickly. A week later, I was fired; I was told that I knew this person had a bad temper and should have been more careful around her. Crazy, huh?

Although I’m still dealing with this shocker, I have no idea what to put on job applications. When they ask “were you ever fired or discharged,” what do I do? Mark no and hope they don’t find out? Mark yes?

I’ve had interviews with a couple companies I felt were a perfect fit for me, only to never hear back from them. What’s happening? I can’t afford to stay home and I can’t get another job no matter how I fill out my applications or tailor my resume. Is my past employer causing this problem for me (even though they’re not supposed to)? What are my options?

Well, first, don’t assume that you’re not getting hired because of them. People often have interviews where they feel they’re a perfect fit but still don’t get the job — someone else was just a better fit. That said, call your former HR department and try to work out a reference that won’t harm you. (See tips here.) Ideally, you’ll get them to agree to say that you resigned, so that you can mark “no” when job applications ask if you’ve ever been fired.

6. Applying in person

I ride my bike all through town and pass places I would like to go in and ask if they are hiring — coffee shops, bike shops, some retail stores, flower shops, restaurants, and offices (medical, insurance, law firms; I have been trying everywhere). But then I look down and see I am in my cycling attire. I live in a town where cycling is somewhat accepted. I want to know if it would be rude to go the hiring office and ask if they are hiring if I am in my cycling attire. Of course, if I get an interview I would dress appropriately and take the bus.

And how do I handle job applications? Many times when I go to a place, they say to apply online or that they are not hiring and sometimes I want to say out loud, “Can you at least put me in for an interview?” Is it ok to do that?

No, you should not job-search in biking clothes. Moreover, while it’s okay to go into the retail stores, coffee shops, and restaurants and apply in person, you absolutely should not do that with offices (in any attire, let alone biking gear). That’s not how people get office jobs; you need to email them a resume and cover letter.

And no, you definitely cannot ask for an interview when they tell you that they’re not hiring or when they instruct you to apply online! If they tell you to apply online, that’s what you need to do.

There’s a ton of info in the archives here that will tell you a lot more about how to handle these situations; read them!

7. Manager won’t give me my performance evaluation

Our company re-organized in June, and I have a new boss (Vice President) and am part of a newly created subsidiary. At the beginning of December, the president of my subsidiary requested our self evaluations in preparation for doing annual performance evaluations. I sent him my current self evaluation — as well as last year’s evaluation since he wasn’t the person who conducted the eval. Then I waited, and I waited. I sent him an email at the end of December asking if he did receive the evaluations. I sent him an email reminder about once a week, I called and left a voicemail for him. Two weeks ago, he finally sent an email with a brief apology and said that someone would be scheduling the evaluation soon — probably the VP — which is fine. But still no meeting invite or email. I honestly think they are pleased with my performance, (they are good about communicating when there is a problem) but I find this very frustrating. I have been with this company for 12 years — and have moved up nicely — but I’m beginning to think it may be time for us to part ways.

This is extraordinarily common. I’m in no way defending it — it’s ridiculous — but it’s really common, and you’re probably better off not continuing to pursue it. Ask for feedback about how you’re doing in your next meeting with your manager, but stop waiting for him to do your formal evaluation. He may not, and meanwhile you’ll just get more and more frustrated. I’d just ask for feedback informally and then drop it. (However, if raises are tied to evaluations, then ignore all that. In that case, you need to meet with him and politely make your case for a raise, totally aside from the eval.)

{ 99 comments… read them below }

  1. girlreading

    #2- I would be surprised if they said yes, but I’ve also had bad employers who get mad at people for resigning like it’s a personal affront. I definitely understand your reasoning and we’ve seen several posts here on AAM where people are being bugged for help from weeks to months after leaving an old job, so I can see how it would work out for both sides. Honestly, if you really want to use that time, you’ll probably need to request vacation time prior to giving notice (you may not be able to use it all) and then give notice when you return. But beware that your employer will probably be on to that once you give your notice and may be annoyed-though frankly I think you’ve earned your vacation time and deserve to use it.

    #6-Agree with Alison. If you do want to ride your bike to apply at retail shops, consider how much you’ll sweat/smell or be unkempt once you get there. And don’t wear casual or biking clothes, wear business clothes down to your shoes. In places in Europe, people ride bikes very often to work and everywhere wearing business suits or nice dresses and so on, so it may be doable where you are depending on the climate (can’t imagine doing that in TX, I’d be sweaty, disgusting mess).

    1. kasey

      You are not really going in place with say like competition spandex with the chamois and all? What? No. Or too bike messenger-y? But your likely just bothering most places (esp the offices) by showing up.
      People can look normal when riding, I do it all the time ;) and actually will be getting a different bike to better accommodate that. Yup, in Holland people look professional on bikes: dresses, suits, real shoes and nary a helmet, either. Depends on your bike though… In the US we tend to over gear.

    1. Josh S

      I don’t comprehend how that conversation could have possibly gone:

      Manager: “I’m sorry, but you’re fired.”
      Employee: “What? Jane punched me! In front of customers!”
      M: “Yes, but you had it coming. You said something inflammatory, and you know that Jane has a temper.”
      E: “So, you’re saying that physical violence is permitted in this workplace if it is instigated by some verbal comment?”
      M: “Yes. We find that to be an entirely reasonable policy. Your words are no longer welcome here. Also, I find that question subversive and offensive, and you know the kind of temper I have….” *PUNCH* “Now get out.”

      I mean…what?!?!

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Not at all. Try this instead:

        Manager: “You had an heated altercation with Jane in front of customers, so I’m sorry, but we have to let you go.”
        Employee: “But Jane punched me! She should be fired.”
        M: “What Jane did isn’t acceptable, and I’m dealing with her as well. But the fact remains that before that happened, you got into a heated verbal argument with Jane in front of customers, which isn’t acceptable.”
        E: “But she punched me!”
        M: “Yes, and again, that’s not okay. But you cannot get into arguments in front of customers.”

        1. Josh S

          Yes, having read the comments below that assumed that the ‘heated argument’ preceded the punch, that makes a lot more sense.

          I understood the OP to be saying “I got punched, then we had a heated argument that ended quickly.” Which would be bizarre to my mind as a reason to get fired.

            1. Jamie

              I really hope the OP chimes in with more detail on this – because I’m super curious.

              It could be read either way, from the wording, I guess just logically I can see a punch being thrown during a heated argument than out of the blue. And if someone punched me out of the blue I really don’t think my response would be to argue – I think it would be to yell OW and immediately put some furniture between me and the crazy person throwing punches.

              And then – the police. I can’t think of any instance where I wouldn’t press charges if assaulted.

              But it’s all speculation without more details.

  2. Neeta

    Re 1: totally agree.
    I’ve only just recently started interviewing candidates for the company I work for, but since we do a lot of hiring in “bulks” I got to interview quite a few people.

    In general, just like Alison said, I remember candidates who were good. But even if I don’t necessarily remember a candidate off the top of my head, I’m still taking notes. So people are definitely not “forgotten”.

    Re 4: I have an additional question to ask about this issue.
    What happens if you lie about this? I.e. You tell them you are currently interviewing with others even though you aren’t.

    I did the above once… more because I somehow figured it’d make me a more attractive candidate. Not sure if it did or not, but I got a response in less than a week.

    At another job, I was truthful and mentioned I was not actively interviewing at the time. I ended up getting a response 3 months later.

    I can’t say now whether any of this had a definite effect on getting faster replies, but I’m wondering: could such a thing backfire on me? After all, I suppose I can always claim the name of the companies where I’m interviewing is confidential.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      You risk them passing on you, because their timeline is longer than the timeline you say you’re on with other companies. (Or you have to go back later and report that none of those other companies hired you, which isn’t great.)

      1. I am #4

        Exactly. Which is why when she pressed me about my timeline with Company B, I hurriedly explained that they are moving very slowly (their words) and that I didn’t even have the second round interview scheduled yet. I wanted to make sure she understood that I was no where near an offer. I think she’s concerned because they aren’t calling candidates back until the first week of March. (Fine by me!)

    2. Chloe

      Plus being untruthful can get really confusing, remembering what you said to whom is too hard. The truth is easier to remember. Its tricky because based on your experience I’d imagine you might be tempted to do the same again in future, because it kind of looks like it worked, but of course you’ll never know if that was the reason you got a better response by saying you were interviewing – could have been for a totally unrelated reason.

      1. Neeta

        Actually, I’m not really sure it worked.

        In the first case, I was in a real slump and had just decided to change jobs, but was contacted before I had time to start looking elsewhere. That, and the company was also in a hurry to find someone.

        In the second case, I didn’t really care that much. I mostly went to interview because they “begged”.

        I was just wondering how it looks to interviewers when you say you’re not interviewing with anyone else. Does that make you a less desirable candidate? Or do they just think something along the lines of “Phew! We don’t need to hurry up quite so much with giving this one a reply”?

        1. AdAgencyChick

          The latter. And especially if *they* called *you*, it REALLY doesn’t matter — they probably think you’re happy where you are and will need to work extra hard to impress you unless you tell them otherwise!

        2. Ask a Manager Post author

          It depends on how you frame it. If it comes across as, “I’m taking my time and being selective about who I speak with, and I was especially interested in this role” or “I’m not really looking to leave my current job but I was so intrigued by your position that I applied,” then it doesn’t make you less desirable — it might make you more desirable, if your background justifies that.

        3. Anonadog

          When I was very selectively applying for new positions, I mentioned that when asked this question. I positioned my lack of interviews with other companies as being picky about the companies I applied to. It was the truth, and I think it makes you seem *more* desirable because you’re not just applying to anything that comes along.

  3. Kat A

    #6 – Please follow Alison’s advice. It’s spot on.

    But I also noticed that your job search is unfocused. Medical offices, law offices, retail stores, coffee shops, etc. You don’t seem to know what you want to do or what you are good at.

    Try asking yourself why these places should hire you. To you, the job may be about money or other reasons. But to them, it’s about what you can do that will benefit their business.

    1. Tasha

      It might not be that unfocused, particularly if they are unemployed. Many people can have multiple skills. If I got fired today, I would be applying to office, food service and retail jobs because I have alot of skills in each of those areas. I just wouldn’t mention the irrelevant ones in cover letters.

      1. Chloe

        Me too – having skills in retail, hospitality and general office work would be pretty common. I did all three when I was a student, and would apply for anything I could get.

        I never applied in cycle clothes though. That seems like a good way to be remembered, but not for the right reasons.

          1. Neeta

            Well… they’re not obligated to interview anyone at all. It would be very hard to prove that they didn’t just find a genuinely better fit for the job.

          2. SC in SC

            I hate to be dense but you’re kidding, right? Of course they can. Wearing biking clothes is not a protected class.

          3. Legal Eagle

            Yes, it’s legal. Attire is not a protected class, and employers factor in clothing choices all the time.

          4. Esra

            Well, I laughed at least. That would be an amazing class action case, courtrooms filled with spandex and neon.

  4. Anonymous

    #5 – wondering did that person get charged with assault? i would sue them, for both lost income and punitive damages. What a stupid thing for an employer to do – how they get away with that I will never understand.

    1. Joey

      They probably ‘got away with it’ because he engaged in a heated argument in front of a client and other customers. I’m sure the puncher got canned too.

      I had something similar happen. Two guys arguing and threatening to kick each others asses. One got punched. We canned both. The punchee felt that since he got the black eye he was the victim. But what he had a hard time grasping was that being punched doesn’t excuse his behavior. It’s not a license to act however you want.

        1. Joey

          Oh I agree I’m just saying its pretty reasonable to conclude based on what the op states that he was fired for engaging in a heated argument and the coworker was fired too.

          And I’m curious if the op is a female or male. I’m conditioned to assume male, but in this case I really have no idea.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Agreed — getting in an heated argument in front of a coworker could easily get you fired, whether you got punched or not. I’m assuming something happened to the coworker too.

        1. Jamie

          Yes, and the OP said the heated argument happened while they were working on a client. A make-up artist working on you means they were physically close so this argument had to be even more uncomfortable for the clients than a regular store.

          I cannot imagine being in the chair while a heated argument broke out…and escalating to violence. That would really freak me out.

        2. Josh S

          Oh, the way I read it was that the OP was working with a customer, the Puncher walked up and punched OP, and then they got in a heated argument over that. So the physical altercation resulted in a verbal response.

          If it was a heated argument that escalated to a physical altercation — that seems reasonable to fire both parties. But it does not preclude filing charges against the Puncher for battery, since Puncher was the one who escalated to physical violence.

    1. JM in England

      I second that AG.

      Always thought that punching a coworker was a summary dismissal offence, falling under the gross misconduct umbrella…….at least it is here in England.

      It’s almost analogous to getting punished for standing up to the school bully……………I too am mystified by how the perpetrator got away with it! Friends in high places perhaps?

      1. Jamie

        The OP doesn’t say the other person got away with it. As Joey mentioned in another comment, it’s likely they were both fired.

      2. Ask a Manager Post author

        I’m not sure this is about standing up to a bully. The OP said she was in a heated argument with the coworker in front of a customer, something that can often get you fired.

        1. HR Pufnstuf

          Many companies have a “zero tolerance” policy when it comes to fighting. Termination for the puncher and punchee is standard.

          The argument is often made “what if someone is assaulted for no reason?” The simple truth is that is very rare within the workplace.

          1. JM in England

            So what does happen in these rare cases…..?

            Will the puncher then claim provocation by the punchee, even if it’s not true?

            1. HR Pufnstuf

              It would also be rare if there were no witness in that situation.

              If it did happen then it’s a management call which way to go.

              I’ve worked 28 years in the Alaskan commercial seafood industry, the last of the wild west. I’ve never seen nor heard of one worker randomly striking another for no reason.

          2. BW

            Is there ever really a reason to assault someone aside from self-defense? I don’t are how heated the argument got, the puncher is an adult and could have made a choice to walk away from the argument rather than hauling off and punching someone. The employer telling the punchee that she should have known not to provoke that particular co-worker because she “has a bad temper” is just victim-blaming. The OP should perhaps handled the argument differently, but the puncher, in any case as an adult in a workplace needs to exert some control over her “bad temper” or choosing to leave a iresome situation before she starts punching people over a verbal argument.

  5. PEBCAK

    #1: I agree that it doesn’t matter in same-day time slots, but in a longer process, I would definitely try to schedule something in the first week. If a company has several weeks of interview slots, and you take a late one, you definitely do risk them finding and moving on a good candidate earlier in the process.

  6. Anne

    #2: At my workplace, when someone gives their notice, it’s worked out how much leave they have left pro-rata. So for instance, if they get 20 days for the year and they’re leaving in the sixth month after the leave calendar resets, then 10 days. If they’ve only used 6 days so far, then the other 4 gets added on to the end of their notice period in the way you suggested.

    I’m not sure whether this is just my employer being awesome – I think it might actually be standard for the UK?

    In any case, maybe your employer would be more open to something like that (taking your leave time appropriate to the time you’ve worked this year) rather than taking all of your leave time for the year before you leave.

    1. Neeta

      It’s not just you. This is actually the law in Romania, where I live.
      On you leaving a workplace, they calculate the number of vacation days you were allotted till that period (from the current year) that you haven’t yet taken, and they pay you for them.
      Then again, we have 20 mandatory paid days off, regulated by labor laws.

      1. Anne

        Yeah, 26 is the base leave allowance at my workplace, but that includes bank holidays and things. I wonder if this is down to EU labor regulations then?

        Makes me very happy to have moved from the US. :)

        1. Neeta

          Hmm… could be. Though as far as I know, lots of countries have even more free days.

          My company mandates 21, plus bank holidays. Some years they can be less, because we don’t get extra days if they happen to fall during the weekend. If you’re lucky and they all fall on working days (that means 9 extra days).

          1. Anne

            I imagine it’s something like state/federal laws in the USA. The EU hands down mandatory minimum requirements, but if your country has a law which is even better, then that’s the one that applies. So there would be variations but hopefully no one would be COMPLETELY out in the cold.

            Of course, I’m just making assumptions here!

        2. Henning Makholm

          The EU working time directive requires at least 4 weeks paid leave per year, but the precise implementation is up to national legislation, which sometimes provides more. For example, Denmark requires 5 weeks in addition to national holidays.

  7. Nelly

    You have my sympathies with not getting a performance evaluation. Mine is now 8 months overdue. Our problem is that they are around 12 pages, and all have to flow from our bosses down to our staff in a five step ‘flow’ where we need to all agree along vertical – sometimes horizontal reporting lines. We also have 360 evaluations on top of that. I have to do them for all of my staff, my boss has to do them for me, and they can take upwards of two weeks to complete as full time paperwork projects. “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”

  8. AdAgencyChick

    #2: You are probably SOL on getting paid days off after you give notice. Even companies I’ve worked for that have treated their workers very well in other ways, get very stingy once they know you’re leaving. Vacation, after all, is something they don’t legally have to give you, and is really something companies offer because they want to attract and retain talented employees. So once they know they’re not retaining you, poof! There goes the incentive to pay you on days you’re not working. At least, that’s been my experience at every single place I’ve worked. At my last company, you couldn’t take any paid time off after resigning. Two companies before that, I was docked pay for being a day over my vacation allotment, even though I had been working nights and weekends for several weeks and had been told verbally that I’d earned comp time for that. (Whoops, sorry, it’s not in writing! SUCKAAAAA!) My current company, when you request time off through an electronic system, requires you to tick a box saying that if you resign, you’ll get docked for any overage.

    I also find that this is true no matter how good your work experience was with the company. Your work experience is determined by your boss and your colleagues, but policies about what happens when you resign are written by HR/accounting types who don’t work with you every day and are looking at the bottom line, not the bad taste in your mouth when you leave.

    There’s a few months between now and June — even if you can’t swing a trip, I’d suggest at least one staycation to use up as much of the time as you can. I wouldn’t hold my breath on the idea of getting paid past your true end date.

    #7 — not to make excuses for your boss, but to help you understand why performance reviews sometimes move at a glacial pace:
    1. Getting people to write peer reviews is like herding cats. Seriously. I’ve never written a review for one of my reports without having to nag the hell out of at least two-thirds of the people I’ve asked to write one. (Multiply this x1000 if reviews all occur at the same time of year, which it sounds like they do in your company.)
    2. Your boss is new. S/he may feel uncomfortable writing the evaluation given that s/he hasn’t really gotten to know you yet. (This should not be an excuse, because your new boss should be talking to your old boss if that person’s available, and to your peers if not — but it may be an explanation.) Your boss is also probably still getting to know the ins and outs of his/her new role, and considers that a bigger priority right now than writing reviews.

    Honestly, in my experience, two months isn’t THAT late. (I know, that’s sad, right?!) Especially since you’ve said your company is quick to let you know when there’s a problem, I wouldn’t sweat it until it drags on to, say, four months or more, unless, as Alison said, a raise is involved. If it is, try to negotiate to have the raise made retroactive to the date the review was supposed to have been given.

    1. Jamie

      Vacation, after all, is something they don’t legally have to give you, and is really something companies offer because they want to attract and retain talented employees.

      Something to keep in mind is that this is totally right when it comes to the law – but you may have additional protections if it’s spelled out in your handbook.

      For us all new employees sign that they have read and agree to the terms in the handbook. If there is a change to the handbook everyone gets the amended version and signs that they have read and understand the changes. The handbook is binding for us and ours indicates that upon separation from the company vacation time is cashed out.

      A lot of companies do this, that’s one big reason for doing vacation accrual – so if you hire someone and they quit in 3 weeks you don’t have to cash out a lump sum of time. It’s also why a lot of places have a use it or lose or cash out policy.

      For us we either use the time or are cashed out at the end of the year so everyone goes into the new fiscal year with zero time on the books. This is to avoid someone going years and years without taking much time and having tens of thousands of dollars of accrued liability for if/when they leave.

      For my husband it’s a use it or lose it, and he has so much time it’s almost as if he works PT from October through December trying to burn time.

      1. Nikki

        Ugh, it just occurred to me that if I ever job search, I’d have to figure out how leave is accrued and handled at the end of each year.

        I rarely take vacation (I’m not a workaholic, I just don’t really go away much), but it is nice having the time. We earn leave each pay period and can carry over X hours from year to year. So if you never take a day off, you still only get to have X hours of leave, it doesn’t accumulate indefinitely. Sick leave does, but that’s a different ball of wax…

      2. Sam

        Agree with Jamie’s idea: check your company’s handbook. And check state laws too! Although no states require that vacation time is given in the first place, about half of the states have laws requiring employers to pay out accrued, unused vacation when employment ends.

          1. Sam

            Hmm, I pulled the “about half” figure from the Nolo website. I didn’t go back and check each state, just assumed Nolo knew what they were talking about.

            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              I suspect they’re lumping in states that have laws like “it has to be paid out unless the employer has a written policy stating that it won’t be.” (There are seriously a handful of states with the law, odd as it sounds. So, “this is the law unless your employer chooses not to.”)

              1. Sam

                Ahh, that makes perfect sense. And I admit I probably have a biased view since I live in a state that has very few worker-protection laws but does require employers to pay out unused vacation. So I guess I’m making the incorrect assumption that if my employer-friendly state has the law, many other states must have it as well.

                In any event, I still think the OP should check state laws, even if it is a bit of a long shot.

    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      Not being able to take vacation after you give notice: While part of the reason definitely is that paid vacation is a retention device and they don’t need to worry about retaining you anymore, at least an equally large part of the reason at many organizations is that the point of the notice period is for you to be wrapping up your work, answering questions, etc. If you’re away for a week during that period, it defeats the purpose. They want you there for a reason, since your time is limited.

      1. Julie K

        Exactly! I had a team member give me her notice and then tell me she was taking two weeks’ of vacation, so I ended up with 1.5 days of notice from her. This did not make me happy. :( (This person had already exceeded her allotted vacation time for the year, so the time off she took – instead of giving me adequate notice – was unpaid.) I’m not as angry about this now (four years later), but I’m not going to forget about it.

        After seeing her at a professional association meeting a few months ago, when she contacted me through LinkedIn and asked me to be a reference, I didn’t reply because it’s not possible for me to be a positive reference for her. (She was actually very good at the specific job she was hired to do, but there were other issues with her seeming to be completely unaware of [and/or unconcerned with] how distracting, disruptive, and annoying her behavior in the office was to everyone else. And she called in sick a lot at the last minute, forcing other team members to cover her client appointments.)

        1. AdAgencyChick

          Oh, for sure! I also would not look kindly on a direct report who gave notice and expected to take vacation days during his/her standard two-week notice period.

          I meant this is a reason why OP should not expect to be able to get a notice period in which she works part of that period, and gets paid for the other part even though she’s no longer doing any work for the company (even if the “work” portion of the notice period is two weeks or more).

  9. class factotum

    We have a very generous vacation policy, with loads of days each year (and they don’t even count weekends!)

    Wait. There are employers who count weekend days in vacation? I work at the place where I almost have to bring my own toilet paper, but vacation days are used only against work days, not weekends.

    1. Jamie

      I wondered about that as well. I’ve never heard of counting weekends either. That’s why a lot of people take vacay time around holidays – so you can get a lot more time off and burn less time.

      1. Judy

        The only place that I’ve heard of in the US that people have generally M-F schedules and they count weekends as vacation (leave) time is in the military.

        My colleagues in Brazil, however have weekends that count in their vacation, and legally they have to take a 2 week vacation every year. The companies can be fined if they don’t. As in the company has to prove that they don’t log in to the network during the vacation. And our HR in Brazil takes that seriously.

        1. The IT Manager

          Yes. When a US military member takes leave the weekends count as a day of leave. IMO it’s something of a fairness issue trying to apply a consistent policy to people who work a normal M-F, 9-5 hours and to people who do not. Also there’s the idea that all military are exempt and it’s not unreasonable to be called in outside normal duty hours. If you are on leave, you can’t just be called in without you’re leave being cancelled. Fortunately the military is very generious with its leave.

          Also sick leave in unlimitted although it essentially requires a doctor’s note.

        2. Cruella Da Boss

          It must be a retail environment or some other business that is open 7 days a week (restaurant, hotel, food service distributor, etc….)

      2. HR Pufnstuf

        My industry has seasonal periods where 7 day work weeks are the expectation. If they take time off during the peak times, it’s at 7 days of PTO, if scheduled during no peak, it’s 5 days.

    2. Runon

      I had the same thought. Use-em-or-lose-em depending on the company culture also might not be generous at all. If the culture is you can’t take a week off in a row ever or face time with the boss is all that matters. Then the number of days is sort of worthless and irrelevant. At least if you have that culture and get to keep them and can cash them out you get something from it.

      I also wanted to mention if the OP there is in a union or other environment where there is a set of regulations (not laws) that are to be followed taking the time off at the end might be acceptable. I know at my org lots of people, especially those retiring will take a month or more off as they close in on retirement. But people resigning will too.

      1. fposte

        I think I once gave two weeks and a couple of days’ notice, with my last two days technically being vacation. So I got paid for vacation days but didn’t interrupt the departure schedule. I suspect that’s pretty unusual (the company was getting reorganized and people didn’t much care what head office thought) but maybe it’s more common than I realize.

        1. Runon

          I think it may be common in some environments (the union one I know here and other places makes an impact). I think when it is acceptable either by contract (like union contract) or by general business practice (we want everyone to feel comfortable giving as much notice as possible so they never take a vacation and then give a 2 week notice when they could have told us before) it is very common. But outside of those specific environments I highly doubt it.
          When it is a thing, it happens a lot. When it isn’t a thing…it never happens?

    3. Sam

      I figured that the bit about weekends referred to this distinction:

      2 weeks vacation = 14 days of vacation
      vs
      2 weeks vacation = 10 days of vacation

      1. Lisa

        I agree, find a way to get that time in there, once you give notice theywon’t let you, hell, ask if you can get it paid out before you give notice as in ‘i need the money’, but still plan on coming in

    1. AdAgencyChick

      THIS.

      I have now given notice the day I returned from a long vacation at three different companies, precisely to avoid getting screwed.

  10. LoneContractor

    Thanks for answering my questions re: not getting an evaluation. I really appreciate your perspective. Raises are tied to evaluations- I think that is why they are dodging me, frankly. No money for raises- but I’d like to hear that instead of guesing…

    1. Lisa

      There usually isn’t a reason like avoiding a raise, but more about them being happy about you and see no problems. If there isn;t a problem to address with you, they will push it off. But you can’t help but think it is deliberate, when they are outright avoiding it at all costs. Go to HR, and ask that they set the date, and resend the materials after the date is set. If you work at a big company, then you should have an HR dept that can facilitate this better. You can point out the # of times it was pushed off, and ask if there is a specific reason related to your performance that your boss is avoiding the eval. Put it back on them that you see the avoidance as a ‘should i be looking elsewhere?’ question based on the avoidance.

    2. Julie K

      I have had two annual reviews in about seven years. I never got one from my previous manager because he was waaaaaaay too busy (he was so stressed out, he ended up in the hospital for a few days). My current manager was appalled that I hadn’t had a review in so long, so I had two annual reviews with him, but we didn’t meet in 2012. In late 2012, the company unveiled a new system for keeping track of people’s goals, etc., so maybe that was why there was no review at the usual time (Sept-Oct). In any case, I’m an on-site contractor, and I do get plenty of feedback on a consistent basis from my manager at the client company.

  11. I am #4

    Thanks for answering my question! You gave me the answer I hoped for (strong candidacy) and not the answer I thought you’d give (uh, she was just asking, that’s it).

    I find myself a wee bit too earnest and honest in situations like this. You’re right – I didn’t have to give the specific details (phone vs. round 2). They aren’t doing callbacks until the first week of March because the hiring manager is out of the country, which is why I felt the need to be very clear. I wanted to reassure her that I wasn’t going to get an offer next week.

    I’m really hoping this organization works out. Of course, being unemployed since December (yup, less than two weeks before Christmas) helps fuel that, you know?

  12. Anonymous

    #7. I worked for 8 years at a job that never game me or anyone else a written evaluation. Seeing the writing on the wall early on, I decided to take matters in my own hand and pretended I was considering going back to school part-time and needed a recommendation. I got it, several copies sealed.

    Of course, recalling to mind the lessons of “The Invisible Man,” I made sure I opened one of them to make sure of the contents. Whew! Glowing. That’s my only evidence I have of my performance there. Not sure how useful it will be in the hiring process, but it is what it is.

  13. WorkingMom

    #3: I would strongly advise you to explain the temporary blindless just like you did in your post – leave out details about the what caused the blindness, etc. Just state it like you did and move on to your skills or something else.

    I say this because I interviewed a women once (for a health-focused organization) and I asked, “Why do you want to work here?” She mentioned that had gestational diabetes with her daughter and that experience really made her focus on her health. (Great, right?) But then she went into horrific detail of all of her medical issues, a previous miscarriage, a verbally abusive ex-husband, etc.

    I realize that probably won’t happen… but I could imagine one trying to explain that the cause of the temporary blindness is now gone – and it’s a slippery slope before you get into details of medical conditions…. :)

    1. Mortadella

      OP #3 here. Thank you so much, Alison, for answering my query, really appreciated! And thank you, WorkingMom! I am definitely not going into details (least of all, horrific details :)), but I know what you mean… it is a thin line and I can easily risk to end up saying too much in the attempt to clarify that now everything is fine and reassure them that I can perform the job with no problem. Thanks for your “warning”, I will keep my mouth shut! :)
      P.S. Luckily I have never had any other medical or family issues! :)

  14. anon-2

    #4 – this is generally a very GOOD sign. First of all, I wouldn’t divulge details of interviews with other firms. You can always say “well, I think I should keep the details confidential, just as I am keeping our meetings as such.”

    NOW – that doesn’t mean that you can’t use that to your advantage.

    – If a company that’s asking you this, and you are “the one” they want, they may go higher on their offer.

    – If this company is your “dream job”, “first choice”, etc., and the other guys extend an offer – at that time, you can call them back and say “you’re my first choice. I’d rather go with you. But, I have an offer from another company, and they are pressing me for a decision. I’d like to know my status, so I can go forward in either direction.” One of two things is likely to happen –

    – they’re probably going to let you know right then and there that they’re going in a different direction – or –

    – they will ask you to hold off. If you’re their top candidate at the time and they don’t want to lose you to another company – they probably will stop dilly-dallying and dragging their feet and extend you an offer, at least verbally, before the next day is over. They may even ask you what the other company is offering you for money.

    It is a competitive marketplace, but the “competiveness” can work in a candidate’s favor.

  15. BW

    #5. WTF???!!! What. The. F…. Did anything ever happen to the violent co-worker? I’m guessing probably not, since your employer took the blame the victim mentality. That’s really outrageous.

    1. JM in England

      Agreed BW

      However, as other commentors have said, we need more information from OP #5, especially about what happened to the coworker and whether the OP was warned beforehand about their temper.

  16. Madame X

    #1- I’ve thought about this question a lot. I agree that if you’re a standout, you’ll be remembered no matter what time-slot you occupy, but what if competition’s tough and there are several potential standouts besides you? Then, I think, there could be some benefit to picking your time-slot strategically, but you have to pretty much know where you stand compared to other candidates. My theories presuppose situations where all the “on-paper” factors are likely to be objective and basically equal and the decision is based mainly (as it generally is once things reach the interview phase) on subjective considerations. There are arguments for being one of the FIRST and for being one of the LAST, though I’m hard-pressed to think of a circumstance where being in the middle would be to best advantage. (If anyone can think of any, please post them, as I’m curious to hear them.)

    The arguments for being one of the FIRST are: 1) your interviewers are more “fresh”, “alert”, have had their coffee, have yet to be wearied by the repetitious nature of their screening process and the repetitious nature of the way many candidates present themselves in these situations [YAWN at yet another crisp French Blue oxford shirt; YAWN at the umpteenth use of the phrases “skill set”, “results-oriented” and “my biggest flaw is that I’m a perfectionist”]; 2) because the interviewers are “fresh” and likely in a more upbeat, positive, less jaded mood, if you come in and impress them positively, they are likely to be somewhat more emotionally engaged by that, solely as a function of their higher energy and mood levels at the time; these positive feelings are likely to stick and give a slight “halo effect’ advantage; 3) If you’re pretty sure you’re at least a solid, above-average candidate, the positive impression the interviewers have of you will set a bar for other candidates to live up to. If the positive impression of you is good enough, even other equally-good candidates will be seen as not exceeding the standard you set, and that is what the interviewers will be looking for: someone who surpasses a candidate already deemed viable– that’s why they keep interviewing. This is a reason why I’d think being in the middle would be the worst case scenario, because the interviewers are likely to have already seen at least one candidate they like well enough, they’re starting to get the mid-day blahs and a little tired and hungry and bored with the whole process, but not so much that they’re ready to lower their standards and “just pick someone already” as they may be at the END of the day. In general I’d say it could be advantageous to be among the first candidates if you’re not sure you’re really all that stellar compared to other candidates. This is because the main advantage of the early time-slots is that, due to early-in-the-day enthusiasm, your interviewers will perceive you as somewhat more exciting and original than other equally exciting and original candidates they see later in the day. On the other hand if you’re TOO un-original and forgettable, they’ll do just that and forget you by the end of the day.

    If you are pretty sure you can bring something to the table that actually IS more likely to be truly original and exciting than other candidates, then I think it would be better to be among the LAST. This is because the crux of the advantage afforded by the later time-slots is: “Just when you thought you had the position filled, here *I* come to blow all those other ho-hum clones out of the frickin’ water.” Thus, the arguments for being one of the LAST are: 1) If you really are stellar, the interviewers will realize just how repetitious and clone-like their candidates have been so far, and moreover they will actually resent that stream of candidates a little for being so clone-like and making them feel so weary at the end of their long hard day. They will start to re-think things and this will get them percolating; 2) because they will now be percolating and perkier because of it, they will feel some gratitude that their day wasn’t a total yawnfest and they will affix the same positive perky associations to you as they might with an early-in-the-day candidate who caught them at perky-morning-time– except that they will be even more grateful for it after being bored stiff all day; 3) this gratitude may even extend into an eleventh hour “It Must Be Fate” effect wherein they say amongst themselves or to their spouses or bar buddies: “OMG, every candidate today was a total frickin’ clone. We thought we had one or two viable ones and they would’ve been fine, I guess. But I swear: AT THE LAST MINUTE, just like in the movies, she strode in and was so awesome and that’s who we’re gonna hire. It Must Be Fate.” People want their lives to be exciting and generally prefer scenarios that make a good story. People like having something to mull over and chew on and make them feel like the decisions they make are really important and “fateful”. This includes, perhaps especially, hiring managers. Truth. So being among the last candidates seen is best if you think you have what it takes to be the star of that particular daytime drama.

    All of this may sound crazy when typed into plain English, but whether they’re consciously aware of it or not, this is how many people make decisions— influenced a lot more by mood and biology (and biology-influenced mood) than they care to admit. This doesn’t always mean they will literally make their formal, final hiring decisions based on these things (though sometimes it does), just that it’s a POSSIBILITY that, other things being equal, some of these factors and biases may affect the outcome more than people realize. This may be particularly true of interviewers who habitually make decisions more with their emotions and who place a premium on whether or not they “felt good” in the candidate’s presence. Note that they may not be at all consciously aware of these biases, nor the fact that simple things like caffeine can influence how much they “feel good” with a given person. Again, the significance of all these factors presupposes a baseline level of candidate qualifications which are more-or-less equal— it’s not likely to ever happen where an obviously underqualified candidate is going to get hired over a very qualified candidate simply due to the time of day.

  17. Libby

    Hi everyone~
    I am the worker who was punched on the sales floor in Nordstrom in California of all places. FYI-I have contacted Blake Nordstrom (CEO) through letters and messages about this situation only to be ignored. He is obviously too big and famous to deal with the little people. Anyway…the day I was working on my client the other co-worker came up behind me and told me to “hurry the f— up”….she needed a spot to begin working on her client and I was almost done. She and I were friends at the workplace and I thought we got along. I joking told her to wait her turn. When I turned around….BAM! She sucker-punched me right in the middle of my back (where I have had previous surgery)…I never had a chance to defend myself. My client shouted OMG! Are u okay?! I sorta growled at the co-worker what is wrong with u have u lost ur mind? She then started yelling…”no one F—en talks to me like that bitch!….My head was spinning and it took a moment to realize this was really happening. I was able to finish my shift but was in pain. This was a Saturday and I went to the dr. the following Monday. I missed 2 days of work due to the punch. My doctor told me to report it in case I needed any medical care. So when I returned, I reported it. To the manager that ended up firing me! At the time she pretended to be so concerned for my welfare, saying she would make sure I would never have to deal with that type of thing again. Well, she was right on that….I worked the rest of the week. Then the next Saturday this manager called me into HR (just the 2 of us) and said based on watching the video of the incident I was being fired. That I instigated it, deserved it and that was it. I demanded to know what I did wrong and why I was being treated like this…all I got was an eye-roll & blank stare. I was walked out to the parking lot like a common criminal shaking my head. This Manager is well-known for being horrible to people and Nordstrom lets it continue. I have even contacted lawyers about wrongful termination but because of the even exchange argument…I’m told I have no case. If anyone has any thoughts or advice on this one…I’d love to hear it!

  18. JM in England

    You have my deepest sympathies, Libby……..this well & truly sucks!

    Like other posters have said, this company seems to have a blame-the-victim mentality. Have you considered reporting the puncher to the police? Or taking your story to the press?

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