tiny answer Tuesday — 7 short answers to 7 short questions

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

1. Asking about start time at a new job

Last week, I was offered a job (after being unemployed for nine months) that I’ll be starting this week! I have a small question but one I want to make sure I approach correctly. I work out with a trainer a few days a week in the morning (6:00 – 7:00 AM), which makes it hard to arrive at the job by 8:00 but not hard to be there by 8:30 or 9:00. When is the best time and what is the best way to bring up daily start time with my new boss? My position doesn’t require a specific start time, such as a receptionist, to open office doors or anything like that.

The first day, I need to be there at 8:00. I worked at this company once before, for a six-month contract (same department, different manager this time) and it seems like the managers have some leeway in terms of granting different start times for their employees (last time we had team members showing up anywhere between 7:30 and 9:30). It’s a health insurance company, if that helps.

I’d show up at the same time as everyone else for at least your first week. Skip your trainer or reschedule the appointments for that week; your priority this week is getting off on the right foot at your new job.

After that, it’s fine to ask your boss about coming in at 8:30 or 9 and explaining why. Just be sure that you’re asking if it’s okay, not announcing that you’ll be doing it. If your boss seems in any way uncomfortable with it, I’d reschedule the training appointments.

2. Disclosing that I’m colorblind

I’m a student in public relations, seeking my first full-time job. In my internships, I’ve sometimes had to design marketing items, which I enjoy doing. However, I recently found out that I’m partially colorblind. I can only see three shades of purple. A friend showed me a sheet of Pantone purples because she couldn’t decide which she liked — it looked like a solid color sheet to me, but she insisted there were 24 distinct squares of color. Most people can see about 100 shades, and most designers can see 150 shades. (I can see 150 shades of orange.) Do I need to disclose this to interviewers?

No. It’s not something that’s going to perform your ability to perform the essential functions of the job, so you can wait until you’re on the job — at which point you can mention that you’ll need a second pair of eyes when purple is involved. It’s not going to be a big deal.

3. Applying for a job with organizations that fund my current employer

I’m on the job hunt but I have not told my current employer. The nonprofit I work at is completely grant-funded. I found two job positions I am interested in submitting applications for. The first position is at the organization that provides the grant funds for my salary right now. The second position is at the organization that I just submitted a grant proposal to (for projects at the nonprofit I work at). Is this okay ethically and professionally, or do you recommend avoiding these organizations due to the ties I have with them through my current position?

There’s no ethical issue in applying, but you’d need to be prepared for the fact that they might mention to your current employer that you applied. If you have contacts there, you can try reaching out informally first to gauge if they’d be willing to treat your application confidentially.

4. Negotiating pay when managers want you to transfer to a new location

My brother is almost 30 and has worked in the restaurant business his whole life, primarily as a bartender within walking distance to work. He’s been at the same restaurant for about 9 years and the owners really like him. The owners of the restaurant are in the process of opening a new one in the city and keep asking my brother to be the lead bartender there. My brother might be interested if the pay was worth it.

The problem is the commute into the city would be long, costly and might require him to move closer to public transportation. My brother has no experience in negotiating, so how should he go about negotating that raise for that position?

Or do you think it’s worth asking for an arrangement that wouldn’t require my brother moving, such as a bonus in exchange for doing the training? The new lead bartender can be trained at his current restaurant for a few weeks, then work the rest of the time at the restaurant in the city.

He can certainly lay out what he wants and why. If they really want him to take the new job enough, he probably has some negotiating power.

5. Should I list my work as a stay-at-home-mom on my resume?

I have been searching for work for a little over a month, and I am starting to get interviews. I have military experience before my kids were born and that was the last full-time position I had. With being out of the professional workforce, what is the best way to handle an interview with that 4-year gap on my resume? Should I list my stay at home mom experience as it really is a full-time job? I get a lot of “it’s going to be tough to find a job with your lack of experience for the last 4 years” and “do not put that on your resume”. . . Do I refer to the challenges of being a stay-at-home mom, or should I just stick to my past professional employment?

Don’t list being a mom on your resume. As much as it’s hard work, it’s not professional work, and it’s going to come across as a little naive to most employers. (Here’s a good article that talks about why.) Your best bet is to network and do some of the other things described in this post.

6. I accidentally asked a job candidate a taboo question

My husband is in academia and, as you know, it’s common for the people being interviewed to have day-long interviews with a lot of people. We just got back from a department dinner with the newest candidate. There were plenty of people at this dinner that weren’t on the interview committee and just meeting this candidate for the first time, including my husband and me.

So if one of us happened to be chatting with the candidate and asked him a taboo interview question, is that a problem? I asked him if he is married. Of course, I have no say whatsoever if he is hired, but my husband will probably be asked his opinion whether or not he thinks the guy meshes well with the department. I’m just worried that if he isn’t hired, now he will have a possible discrimination action because of my big mouth.

I wouldn’t worry too much about it. The question itself isn’t illegal; choosing not to hire him because of answer would be. Plus you’re not even involved with the hiring. And he’d need to prove that his answer to the question was the reason he wasn’t hired — fairly unlikely in academic hiring, where (a) many people have spouses and (b) the hiring process is often rigidly documented. If your husband is worried, he can mention to the hiring manager that this happened, but I wouldn’t give it too much thought.

7. Applying for a job with an employer when I backed out of their internship a year ago

About a year ago to the date, I was offered an unpaid internship with a great company. The day after I accepted it, I received an offer for a (temporary) full-time job filling in for someone who was going on maternity leave. I decided it was best to take the paying full-time job. As soon as I had made this decision, I called the woman I was to work for at the internship and while I’m sure she wasn’t happy, she said she couldn’t blame me and would have done the same thing if she were in my situation. Now, a year later, this company is hiring for an entry-level position that I want to apply for. The woman who offered me the internship still works there, but is not the hiring manager for this position. Should I reach out to her with a “no hard feelings? I still like this company and want to work here” message? Do I address this in my cover letter to the actual hiring manager, saying something like, “it was a mistake to pass up an internship with this company but your agency did want to hire me before, so please consider me again”? Or, since it’s been a year, would it be best not to bring this up at all? Do I have a chance at being considered for this job?

I’d definitely mention it, since if the hiring manager knows about it and sees you haven’t even acknowledged it, she may assume you’re being weirdly ham-handed about the situation. I’d say that you were offered an internship last year that you ultimately had to turn down in favor of full-time work, but that you’ve remained eager to work with the company.

As for whether you have a chance or not, I have no idea — but you don’t have anything to lose by trying.

{ 79 comments… read them below }

    1. Mike C.*

      I have a few thoughts on this. Having been there nine years, it seems to me that there’s a good working relationship between the owners and your brother, so I think the two can sit down and work something out.

      Have your brother write down a few things that would make the complication of the lead job easier to deal with – higher salary, maybe paying for public transit, a more flexible schedule, that sort of thing. The point here is to solidify what would make this problem be less of a burden for your brother without having to come up with stuff off the cuff. From the business perspective your brother is a known quantity and is being recommended for increased responsibilities, so bringing up some of these suggestions won’t be entirely out of line.

      Then your brother asks for some time with the owners, and says something along the lines of, “Hey I think it’s really flattering that you want me to take this on, it sounds great” etc then say, “Right now I work just a few minutes from home and changing locations would be a huge change for me. Could we discuss some ways to make that easier?” then have a talk about some of the items on the list.

      They might be easy about it, they might not, but when you’re talking about a long working relationship, I think it’s best to just have a chat like adults, no “negotiation games” or anything like that. And frankly if your brother is going from a normal bartender to running the bar at a new place, that’s a whole lot of new responsibility, which usually means more pay and benefits. So why not turn some of those increased benefits into something that would lessen the burden of increased travel?

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        I agree. If he’s been there for nine years, my guess is he has a good enough relationship with management that he can say, “I like my life the way it is right now, but I’d consider doing it if [insert what would make it better here — more money? different hours?] were involved.” If they value him enough that they keep asking him to help get their new location up and running, they value him enough that they’re not going to punish him for asking, even if it turns out they can’t give him what he needs to move and he ends up staying put.

  1. Dawn*

    For #5. I did list being a stay-at-home mom on my resume when looking for jobs several years ago. It had been 16 years since my last job. However, my circumstances were a little different than most. I have a super sized family-7 kids and I home schooled them for much of that time. I listed being able to coordinate the schedules of 9 people and the other skills I used to home school my children. My boss and our division’s vice president commented that they were pleased that I had listed that experience on my resume and that being able to manage my large household showed many of the skills they were looking for. Maybe my experience is just a fluke though.

    1. CJ*

      What area of business did you go into and in what capacity? That would also have influenced whether your skills in coordinating family schedules was relevant.

      If you applied it to administrative work, where scheduling and coordinating are important, it may have been relevant, but someone else might not be able to do the same for a career in HR or IT.

    2. AnotherAlison*

      First, I’d say your experience is different. A SAHM of 7, coordinating homeschooling is much different than a SAHM of 1-2 kids who stays home until they go to kindergarten. But, I’d also say while it worked for you, listing your particular SAHM experience definitely reveals a lot about your lifestyle and values that might not line up with all hiring managers’. In my neck of the woods, families like yours usually have fundamentalist Christian beliefs, which you may or may not want to have employers assuming you have. (As Alison says, it’s a matter of whether you can be selective to pick a job that is a great culture fit, or whether you need a job asap.)

      Now more to the OP’s question: here’s what you would face if I were you’re hiring manager. I have raised two kids while working full-time. I am going to have a problem with you telling me being a SAHM is a full-time job. I still have to shop, clean house, take care of kids, make dinner, juggle dr. appts, clean up dog poop, etc. with 50 fewer hours available in my week. I’m not saying being a SAHM isn’t important or valuable, but please don’t tell me how it’s like a job, because I can’t see it that way. I read the HBR blog post AAM linked to a few weeks ago, and I felt it aligned with my thoughts on the issue quite well.

      (Fully owning that some people will consider me a huge jerk for how I feel.)

      1. Andie*

        +1 I agree with what you said and you are not a jerk for feeling that way. Being a SAHM and choosing to have children is a personal choice and you do not receive performance reviews for being a parent (although I know a lot of women feel judged).

        I agree with AAM you should not put something like that on your resume. It is not like you were hired to be a SAHM. I think you could address it in the cover letter saying after xx years of raising a family I am re-entering the workforce.

        If you have been volunteering or have held a position of leadership at a nonprofit as a volunteer, I would highlight that on your resume.

      2. Jamie*

        Not a jerk – I was a SAHM for 15 years and it’s a different world than a professional job.

        When I entered the workforce for the first time I was 15 years behind my peers – but I didn’t mention the SAHM thing at all on my resume or in interviews.

        I had done a lot of volunteer work in education advocacy for special needs kids (speaking to groups at the behest of the school district, working with parents one on one with technologies for their child, attending IEP meetings of other parents/children as a lay advocate, etc., lobbying the school board for FM trainers and other assistance technology for the classrooms, and I had some some training for care givers of the terminially ill regarding technology and research online – very new at the time. Donated computers don’t help if you don’t know how to use them, etc.) – that I did put on my resume.

        In addition to some freelance stuff it was all I had.

        I was concerned people would rightly assume from this I was a mother of a special needs child so I opted to address it myself in the interview to let them know that wouldn’t impact my job and explained why. Maybe the wrong way to go, but I was new at the whole thing.

        Because the freelancing brought in money but it was very informal. I felt I needed something to show I’d still been working in circles of professionals – just in an unpaid capacity – and this gave me references as well.

        After being home for 15 years I couldn’t very well pretend it was just because I forgot to get a job.

        But as important as being a SAHM was to me – it was the availability to schedule therapy and doctor appointments, etc. for my son (and collaterally the other two – just as important but not special needs to fewer scheduling issues.) I loved being home – I think I did important work there. I loved being able to take care of my house to a level I only dream about now. (Cleaning baseboards weekly – sigh – I loved that.) Sometimes I miss it – although no one needs me so it would be silly at this point.

      3. khilde*

        I work outside the home full time and a mother of a preschooler and one on the way. So I’m in your boat.

        But after reading your post, particularly the second paragraph, it made me wonder this (and I’m not being combative, I am truly curious about this for disscussion’s sake):

        Even though those of us that work outside the home have a full 40 hours we put in, then have to come home and do all the domestic chores – SAHM’s are doing all the domestic chores plus they are taking care of their kids all day. So to me, that’s like putting in the 40 we are at the office. They’re meeting others’ demands’; we’re meeting others’ demands. They’re dealing with little people’s shit; we’re dealing with big people’s shit. :)

        But in all seriousness, I think what your post made me realize is that even if I were at home and would theoretically have the time to get the housework and domestic tasks done, I still would probably feel just as crunched for time since I’m chasing after my damn kids. I have a small inkling of what kind of a circus my daughter’s daycare is like (corral kids, keep them occupied, feed them, stimulate their brain, etc.). That has to be hard work, too.

        I’m really not trying to start mommy wars here; I am just curious if anyone else can see it the way I’m seeing it? Everyone’s reality of how hard they work is relative, isn’t it? Particularly when it comes to parenting and working.

        1. AnotherAlison*

          I think the HBR article illustrates the differences well. . . at home, you’re managing small , captive people who have to do what you tell them at home vs. at work where people have their own agenda and will to do what they want. (Exp: I tell my teenager to study, and I can basically force him to go and stare at a book, or I can take his phone or car. I ask my coworkers to add some data to a spreadsheet, per our boss’s boss’s instructions and the response is *chirps*. I’d like to try to take their phones or cars! Obviously I eventually get the work done I need done, but it’s not the same management technique that I use with my kids. At home you don’t manage up or sideways much, either.)

          I can understand your point about time. I know kids can be a time suck when you’re home with them (I don’t mean that quite so negatively). But, somehow my SAHM friends have time to crochet hats and post pictures of them on facebook. Their shopping and laundry gets done during the day. Maybe the actual watching of kids part, separate from when you can multitask that with chores and arrands, is 20 hrs vs. 50 hrs at work? (I also had to prep snacks & lunches for my kid in summer daycare last year, so I feel like even at work, I don’t get away from some of the daytime child-related responsibilities.) This whole equation blows apart with 4+ kids, I imagine, where no one can be entertained simultaneously, but I also think people who choose large families vs. people who choose full-time careers are different kinds of people.

          I don’t want to start mommy wars either, but I don’t personally say I am as good of homemaker as someone who only has that to worry about, and I don’t say my business skills translate to managing the family, so I don’t need to be sold that homemaking experience is on par in the workplace with actual professional experience.

          1. khilde*

            Thanks for your perspective. Your examples make sense – I’ll have to check out that HBR article you referenced. I think it’s probably all relative and no one really knows another person’s day-to-day realities. I saw the greatest quote on something the other day and think it might fit here (at least for me it does): “Resist the urge to compare your insides with other people’s outsides.” Your point about your mom friends that still have time to post their cute projects on FB or Pinterest made me chuckle. I’d like to live in their world for a day just to see how they do get those things done! And your comment on kids being a time suck is reality! I guess, though, if a person is going to have a time suck then little people are the best kind to have! :)

          2. Anonymous*

            Hahaha. Sorry, I think it is a lot easier to convince someone who is getting paid to fill out a spreadsheet, than it is to convince a 14 year old to study or a 2 year old to go on the potty. You can take things away from them, sure. But they also know they’ll get it back; you have much more leverage over an employee, who wants to keep their JOB!

            I hate when FT working moms say well I work 40 hours a week and am a Mom, being a SAHM isn’t hard. However you are not watching children you have to discipline all day; this is just as time consuming as sitting in an office. And if you have an employee you need to discipline as often as you do a child, you have some management issues. Also, don’t you think a SAHM’s house is a bit messier that a working mom’s, considering their children don’t leave the house for 8+ hrs a day?

            I am saying this as a FT worker with no children, so no I am not biased.

              1. Jamie*

                I think that’s exactly it – it’s just comparing apples to oranges.

                Asking which is harder is like asking what is more important, good schools or paved roads. Depends if you want to educate the populace or drive somewhere.

                IMO they are just too different to ever draw like to like comparisons.

              2. Anon*

                Did anyone else find the linked article vaguely insulting? I can definitely understand how being a SAHM is vastly different from being an employee in a professional workplace, and obviously when one is out of the workforce for a while one’s field-specific skills can fall behind–I’m not going to argue against that. But the idea that SAHMs lose all ability to function in a professional capacity after being a “family manager” seems ridiculous! Just because someone is a SAHM doesn’t mean their brains turn into play-dough and they lose all common sense about how to act in a professional capacity. I would be much more likely to blame poor hiring decisions and managing on an individual just being a bad manager rather than their years as a SAHM. As a young woman without kids it seems crazy to me that if/when I do have children and if I should choose to be a SAHM, I will just naturally forget how to be professional…but what to people with children think?

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  It’s not that they lose common sense.

                  But many argue that the skills they gained by running their homes are comparable to professional experience, and the author is explaining why that reasoning is wrong.

                2. Elizabeth West*

                  I didn’t find it insulting. I know most people won’t actually forget how to be professional, but it’s possible perhaps that in such a different situation, the professional skills may get a little bit rusty. For sure some of their more technical skills will, unless they find a way to keep up.

                  I liked some of the suggestions in the article’s next-to-last paragraph. With the college part, evening college is specifically aimed at adults who are busy during the day (work, etc.). Many of those I attended with on my last go-round were SAHMs who were either leaving their kids with Daddy and coming back, or whose kids were older and were coming back.

            1. khilde*

              This is where my line of thinking was going, too. So I understand what you’re thinking here.

              Though I do take Alison’s & Jamie’s arguments below and I think that’s exactly the point. They are two different realities, two different skill sets–some overlap, but really comparing two different things. After having this discussion I can see that as being the bottom line. Makes sense to me.

              Though at the end of the day….I think we can all agree that women in modern society just work damn hard, no matter the path they took. Am I right?!

              1. Jamie*

                Well from what I can see of my husband’s life as he hauls himself into the shower at 3:45 am every morning and puts in a full day of protecting and serving and comes home to do more than his share of the cooking and shopping and driving and fixing everything.

                (It evens out – with the exception of loading the dishwasher which apparently I do “wrong” cleaning is all me – we divided stuff up by who hates what the least.)

                So I think it’s fair to say we all work too darn hard! :)

                Seriously, isn’t it ironic that 100 + years ago they didn’t have most of the time saving inventions we do, yet they had exponentially more leisure time? They had to wash all their laundry by hand and still had time for things like quilting bees. I totally have no room in my schedule for any kind of work-bee!

                1. Your Mileage May Vary*

                  Yeah, but back in the day, the quilt-making was work too! If they didn’t do it, they’d be cold in the winter. So it wasn’t really leisure.

                  I’m interested in the history of knitting and have found out that people (men and children as well as women) were in the habit of taking their knitting everywhere and even could knit a few rows while they were walking home from the day’s work in the fields. No down-time ever!

                2. khilde*

                  Yes, that’s true, of course men work hard too! We all do! I was just trying to tie up the mommy wars in a neat little, kumbaya package that when you compare women to women – we’re all doing our very best and working hard.

                  I am pretty lucky, too, to have a husband that does his fair shair of the household duties. He has such high standards for tidying up that I don’t have to do most of it! haha.

          3. Job seeker*

            I was a stay-at-home mom for a long time. I feel I was very good at being mommy and chief house cleaner and errand boy. I wish I had went back to work a few years earlier part-time though. It is much tougher to re-enter the market after as many years as I was home. I am someone that had three small children and not a lot of help at all. My husband’s job was very demanding and I was the homework parent, school volunteer, dinner maker, etc. It was so busy during this time and I learned how to manage my time, keep things in place and put first things first. I always had someone in diapers and pull-ups and bottles and sippy cups. I was the one with eyes in back of my head trying to keep one eye on a toddler and one eye on the baby with the bottle. When they were older I was the one going to the games, helping with things they needed. I am grateful for that. I am now trying to help a family member that is older and figure my own life out. Someone told me to mention I was helping my mom because I too will have a gap. I did go back to work part-time and back to school but there will now be a gap again. I just wish I had went back in the work force a little earlier. Lesson learned and I hope it helps someone else.

  2. Anonymous*

    #1. I’d think long and hard before requesting a later start time. My recounted my sister’s experience at a famous bank (it has the name America in it). She needed just a few extra minutes to drop off her son at God forbid, private school. Her manager gave her the approval and she enrolled him. Once her colleagues got wind of that, many of whom were single mothers themselves, they revolted and the manager caved. My sister then had to pull him out of that school and return him to the public school she hated.

    You might suffer the same fate as having a personal trainer is considered a ‘luxury’ as does attending private school. Jealousy and envy will rear their ugly heads. You’re perhaps trying to get skinnier and more attractive, thus reaping the ‘rewards’ of being skinny and attractive, just as my sister was trying to get her son reap the rewards of having her son attend and graduate from a private school.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      This seems like an overreaction. There are many areas where working out with a trainer is common and totally unremarkable.

      Plus, she can just say “I go to the gym early in the morning.”

    2. PEBCAK*

      Oh. My.

      First of all, let’s not equate “skinnier” with “more attractive”. Second of all, people work out with trainers for many, many reasons that would not be considered “luxury”…I worked with one when I was coming back from an injury to supplement my physical therapy, for example.

      1. KellyK*

        With the luxury thing, I think Anonymous is talking about other people’s perceptions, not necessarily his/hers. And if a coworker would begrudge a kid the education that they and their parents felt was the best fit for them, I would not be at all surprised if the same person viewed (someone else’s) personal training as an unnecessary “luxury.”

        I think the real takeaway from Anonymous’s comment is that there are plenty of workplaces where a completely reasonable request turns into a nightmare because coworkers are petty or mean, especially if they perceive someone else as getting “special privileges.”

        So, when you’re a new employee, it might be prudent to verify that your boss and coworkers are reasonable people before asking for anything out of the ordinary.

    3. Ellie H.*

      It seems really illogical to move a child from one school to the other due to not being able to start work on a slightly later schedule. This doesn’t really have much to do with anything. There are a million reasons someone would choose to either enroll his or her child in private school or work out with a personal trainer. Many have to do with physical and mental health as opposed to social climbing.

      1. Heather*


        I’m not quite getting why the kid couldn’t be dropped off a few minutes earlier so the mother could get to work on time, if the private school was that important and her boss was that unreasonable.

        1. KellyK*

          I wondered about this too. Some schools have requirements on how early a kid can be dropped off, to prevent kids hanging around for long periods of time unsupervised, so that could be the issue.

        2. Morag*

          It really depends on the kid’s age and the school’s procedures. My kindergartner (at a public school) is not allowed on his own on-site until 7:30am at which time there are adults available to monitor the kids until school starts at 7:50am. Dropping him off “just” 10 minutes early would create a number of potential problems. Similarly, our preschool is ready for kids at 7:45am. Planning to drop our 2-year-old off early would be an imposition on early arriving teachers assuming anyone was there at all.

    4. Anne*

      “You’re perhaps trying to get skinnier and more attractive, thus reaping the ‘rewards’ of being skinny and attractive..”

      Wow. So, so many things wrong with this statement.

      -People (even women!) who go to the gym are not necessarily trying to get skinnier. I am a weight lifter. And yes, I am female.
      -People (even women!) who go to the gym are not necessarily trying to become more attractive. There’s this little thing called “health” a lot of people are worried about. Including mental health.
      -“Skinnier” is not the same as “more attractive”. Maybe you think so. A lot of people think so. A lot of people also think otherwise. (Although it’s not my main goal, yes, I do think that putting on some healthy muscle has made m more attractive.)
      -What exactly are the ‘rewards’ of being skinny and attractive supposed to be? The idea of ‘rewards’ for making yourself skinny really worries me.

    5. jesicka309*

      I agree with this sentiment. I go to gym of a morning (6 am-7 am classes) and then try to get to work by 8.30 am. I leave my class between 10-15 early, missing any cool down stretches and sometimes the last exercise. I rush into the changerooms to get changed, and try to be on the road by 7.10. Sometimes, due to traffic, I’m between 2-5 minutes late. Usually I’m 5 minutes early, sometimes 10.

      This came up in my performance review on Monday. They said that while it wasn’t a bad thing (as I always texted once I parked to let them know if I’d be late) the other people in the office may percieve it as me ‘getting special priviledges’. Of course, everyone else in my office is there 20 minutes early, so even if I got there 15 minutes early, it would look like I was ‘late’.

      I’d hate to have to give up my gym class (I’ve already started driving instead of taking the train as it’s more reliable, though much more expensive), but it’s looking like I’m going to have to do it. All because my stupid office doesn’t want to give me the ‘priviledge’ of getting to come in 5 minutes late every day!

      I wish I worked in an office where we weren’t treated like five year olds who can’t tell time.

      1. Jen in RO*

        This is mind boggling to me. Are you in a position that requires you to be there, working, at 8.30 on the dot? Getting “the talk” about being 2 minutes late is ridiculous.

        1. jesicka309*

          I’m not in a forward facing position, if that’s what you mean. I’m in data entry… though there’s a chance that sales *might* call on 8.30 on the dot. But it almost never happens, and there are days that I get no calls whatsoever.
          And I’m almost always ahead…I rush in and am at my desk by 8.35…then have very little work to do for a few hours. You would think that if your staff was consistently ahead you’d do a restructure or rethink the way you’ve got them doing work, but no. Apparently it means watch their office hours like a hawk.

  3. Andy Lester*

    The question itself isn’t illegal; choosing not to hire him because of answer would be.

    Thank you for saying this. This can’t be said enough. All too often people froth and say “illegal interview question!” when it’s not that simple.

    From the EEOC website (emphasis mine):

    Employers are explicitly prohibited from making pre-employment inquiries about disability.

    Although state and federal equal opportunity laws do not clearly forbid employers from making pre-employment inquiries that relate to, or disproportionately screen out members based on race, color, sex, national origin, religion, or age, such inquiries may be used as evidence of an employer’s intent to discriminate unless the questions asked can be justified by some business purpose.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Marital status isn’t a protected class on its own at the federal level, although it is at the state level in many states. But at the federal level, the EEOC has ruled that questions about marital status (as well as questions about children) are frequently used to discriminate against women and therefore may violate Title VII if used as a reason to not hire someone, even if the question is asked of men as well.

        1. PEBCAK*

          Thanks for the clarification! I know that my HR people have told me not to ask about marriage/kids, but I don’t think I’ve ever really thought about why.

          1. Jamie*

            Although unfortunately not everything I dislike is illegal, I’ve been asked in interviews about marital status and at times it’s been followed by inquiries as to what my husband does for a living.

            I got the distinct impression it was being factored into the range available for the job as it pertained to me before salary was discussed.

            I have a huge problem with salary being based on anything other than the value of the position and what one brings to the table. Spouse/partner income, if you live at home, if you have kids, how many…none of that should matter at all when it comes to setting the salary.

            I won’t work anywhere where people are paid based on need or lifestyle as opposed to value and merit to the company.

            1. KellyK*

              +A Million

              Your financial situation might determine what you’re willing to accept, but it shouldn’t have anything to do with what someone is willing to pay you.

            2. Monica*

              I worked briefly at a company who had on a list of interview questions for truck drivers, “how tall are you and how much do you weigh” and “are you currently employed and what is your salary?” Scary thing is, that document was dated 2011.

        2. Your Mileage May Vary*

          Thanks, Alison, for answering my question!

          The discrimination aspect is what I was worried about. This is a university in a very rural, isolated area and they have a hard time retaining professors that they’ve hired because there just isn’t anything to do here. They have hired single people in the past who became very frustrated that they couldn’t meet anyone for romantic reasons. Those people usually quit after their first year of teaching. So even though this was a man to whom I asked the question (really, what do they expect us to chat about at these events anyway?), I was concerned it might be an issue that they didn’t want to hire a single guy.

          My husband says he remembered later that the hiring committee asked him if he was married when he applied years ago because they wanted to know if they needed to fit in a trailing spouse if he was hired. So they may already know this candidate’s marital status.

          1. Seal*

            As an academic who’s been on several search committees, my feeling is that if this is a question that came up during a dinner with the candidate – which is be definition a more social event, but still part of the interview – you’re probably fine. My experience has been that the candidate will more often than not bring it up themselves – seems a bit rude to not acknowledge it by refusing to ask follow-up questions because you’re afraid of breaking some rule.

          2. Runon*

            I may have gone to that university!

            I think that when factoring in the trailing spouse I’d be surprised if this wasn’t known in university hiring situations. Especially in a situation like yours where there may well be more students than people in the entire “town”.

  4. CoffeeLover*

    I just feel the need to tell a somewhat off topic story. I worked at an optometrist once upon a time, and I had a little boy come in who turned out to be colour blind. Colour blindness (especially in men) is pretty common, and really doesn’t matter. The boy’s (obnoxious) father was acting like A: his son was pretending not to be able to see the colours, B: that it was a really big deal (freaking the poor child out) and C: that I didn’t know what I was talking about. I had to repeatedly tell him to stop telling his son the answers and showed unbelievable restraint in not slapping him. He wasn’t the only parent I kicked out of the testing room. I truly feel for the teachers out there. I could never do your job, because I’m pretty sure I would end up in a brawl with an obnoxious parent.

    1. -X-*

      Color blindness shouldn’t matter for the people who have it.

      For those of us that work in design, it’s important to be aware of it and make sure that what we create works even for people with commons forms of color blindness.

    2. businesslady*

      another OT story (that’s also gross, so click away if you’re eating or faint of stomach).

      a few years ago, I had a horrible gastrointestinal illness that required an extended hospitalization, & on one fateful day they put me back on a liquid diet when my body wasn’t ready for it yet. I woke up in the middle of the night & immediately threw up everywhere, necessitating a visit from one of the many really kind nurses.

      after helping me get cleaned up, he said, “I need to note what color this was on my chart, but I’m colorblind. can you help me out?” I guess my art major wasn’t useless after all, because I responded with, “um…ochre?” & he thought it was the most hilarious thing he’d ever heard. (also…I wasn’t wrong. sorry; I warned you it was gross!)

      1. Rana*

        I had a dentist who was colorblind, once. All of the folders and boxes with moulds of teeth in them were marked with pink dots of different shades (light pink, medium pink, dark pink) rather than different colors (red, green) to accommodate it. It must have been interesting being his clerical staff!

    3. BL*

      I worked at a printer company in college. My entire department did a lot of tests where we printed pages of colored squares and determined which ones were acceptable quality and which weren’t. After a year there, I learned my boss was color blind. He could tell which squares were good quality just not what color they were. He was also the reason we talked about square 7 instead of the cyan square in the bottom row.

  5. Mad Quoter*

    1. The trouble with being punctual is that nobody’s there to appreciate it.
    — Franklin P. Jones

    2. I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.
    –Alice Walker

    3. If I, taking care of everyone’s interests, also take care of my own, you can’t talk about a conflict of interest.
    — Silvio Berlusconi

    4. Most people work just hard enough not to get fired and get paid just enough money not to quit.
    –George Carlin

    5. Motherhood was my career. I’m totally satisfied with that.
    –Ann Romney

    6. You can’t have a university without having free speech, even though at times it makes us terribly uncomfortable. If students are not going to hear controversial ideas on college campuses, they’re not going to hear them in America. I believe it’s part of their education.
    –Donna Shalala

    7. Having a second chance makes you want to work even harder.
    –Tia Mowry

    1. Andy Lester*

      I’m certain that George Carlin did not say or write “Most people work just hard enough not to get fired and get paid just enough money not to quit.” Huge numbers of quotes are attributed to him, especially on quote websites, that aren’t.

      From his website, quoted on his Wikiquote page:

      Floating around the Internet these days, posted and e-mailed back and forth, are a number of writings attributed to me, and I want people to know they’re not mine. Don’t blame me. Some are essay-length, some are just short lists of one and two-line jokes, but if they’re flyin’ around the Internet, they’re probably not mine. Occasionally, a couple of jokes on a long list might have come from me, but not often. And because most of this stuff is really lame, it’s embarrassing to see my name on it.

      1. Mad Quoter*

        The trouble with quotes on the Internet is that you can never know if they are genuine.
        –Abraham Lincoln

  6. AdAgencyChick*

    OP #1, I agree with Alison — you have to observe when people typically come in and model your own behavior on that. I’d also take when your boss comes in as the most important indicator. If s/he rolls in at 10 AM every day, I think you’re fine to ask whether 8:30-9 is OK (and you’ll probably get a “sure, just get all your work done!”) but if s/he gets in at 8 on the dot every morning, you might be SOL.

    That being said, I totally sympathize…I’m an early-morning worker-outer too, and my whole mood changes if I have an early client meeting that prevents me from doing that!

    1. B*

      Definitely agree with this. Look around and see when people come in, as well as if your boss is more of the straight and narrow or relaxed personality. If they are more straight and narrow I would ask if coming in at 8:30/9 was ok. I would not add in because you have a trainer. If they wanted to know a reason why then mention it. But be prepared for them to say for you to move the trainer either earlier or later. If they are more relaxed, then perhaps mention the trainer when asking.

      As someone who got a job that does not allow them to work out anymore, I understand wanting to get the training session in. But, unfortunately, paying the bills has to come first :-/.

      1. Jamie*

        I would add training to the timing. In a flex schedule environment (which is my favorite kind) I don’t see anything wrong with asking – but I would probably not until the active and intense training period was over.

        Most new jobs you’re kind of reliant on co-workers to show you various ropes and there is usually some scheduled formal training – I would keep my hours to work with whomever is training me until I was working independently.

        I wish more companies knew what a great perk allowing people some flexibility in their schedules is. It’s great to know I can get here at 5:30 am if I need to leave earlier or I can come in at 9:00 am if I have something going on where I need to be here later. It costs them nothing and garners them a lot of good will from me – which translates into my working more than I technically have to. Win-win.

        1. Heather*

          Yeah, as long as the job doesn’t need to be done during specific hours and you’re not inconveniencing anyone else (i.e., you show up late and they can’t leave until you get there), I will never understand why more companies don’t support flexibility.

          I don’t think I could take a job where I didn’t have at least a little bit of flexibility in what time I arrive and leave. Or I should say, I don’t think I could *keep* one. I’d probably get fired in a week.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          I love it. Also the telecommute option. It’s great for when there is bad weather or you have a plumber coming over. Meeting the plumber after 5 or on weekends because you’re chained to a desk is about ten times more expensive. :{

    2. PEBCAK*

      I’d extend this to boss and other coworkers. I worked somewhere that the boss was in early/out early, but other people were in anywhere from 7:30 – 4 to 9 – 5:30. The vast majority of people were train commuters, and it was understood that you could tie your schedule to the express trains serving your neck of the woods.

    3. Jay*

      A week into the job seems awfully soon to ask to change. Even if the OP does not need to “open the door,” she still needs to BE there. I would start having second thoughts about someone if she asked on day 6 to change the agreed upon start time.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        She said that when she worked there previously, people arrived anywhere between 7:30 and 9:30. If it’s a professional-level job, in many offices it’s a perfectly reasonable thing to ask about, when it’s already being commonly done.

        1. -X-*



          Don’t let people where make you worry about being perceived as “entitled” or wanting “luxury” or desiring to be “thin.”

          Just ask. It’s not that big a deal. So the boss might say no. Possible. She might say yes. Win. She might say “Whatever, just get your work done.” Win.

          Oh, and my boss arrives 8 to 8:15 every day and I rarely do (maybe once a month for a call with another timezone or something). And she has not problem with people arriving an hour after she does as long as we work a full day (usually) and, most importantly, get our work done.


        2. Wilton Businessman*

          Yes, just ask.

          Just because the environment is flexible does not mean the position is. Most positions in my company are flexible. As long as you are there to cover the core 9:30 – 5:30 hours you are cool. However, some positions in my group have got to be there, ready to work, at 8:00. We have certain lines of businesses that we support that know we have someone available at 8:00 and will call at 8:01 every day.

          The point being that just because “everybody else does it”, doesn’t mean you can. Ask your manager, they will tell you.

      2. KellyK*

        Nothing in the question says that “8 AM Sharp” actually *was* the agreed-upon start time, just that that’s when she had to be in on her first day.

  7. Josh S*

    #2: Color Blind

    It might be worth taking a test (A quick search online will provide several take-it-yourself options) to see if your color-blindness affects other portions of the spectrum. Assuming you’re a guy (color-blindness is much more common in males), it’s typical to not realize that you’re partially color blind since that’s the way you’ve always seen the world.

    Not that it seems to have much of an impact in this job, but it’s worth knowing in case something comes up that might require more of a design emphasis.

    1. Anonymous*

      My husband discovered two weeks ago he was color blind after taking one of those online tests. It really never effected him, though. He’s done all sorts of things in the past that the color blind supposedly can’t do, too, because he just never knew the difference.

    2. The Editor*

      I’m colorblind (and have a lot of fun with it). Most of my employers actually see it as a benefit, and I have _never_ been held back by it in any way.

      The benefit part comes in whenever we produce new content. I always get final say on the color choices, and most of my employers are grateful to have a “resource” on staff that readily identifies those issues.

    3. AnotherAlison*

      It’s also good to share with people you work with. I had to change charts that were in red and green that I had made for the division president after he told me he was red-green color blind. I was glad he told me sooner rather than later!

    4. Jamie*

      Funny aside – I once worked where the materials manager and the QC manager were both color blind – in different ways – so they had to split the color sampling duties.

    5. Elaine in Ark*

      It prevented my grandfather from working on the railroad. To him, red and green were the same.

      1. Josh S*

        And it prevented my grandfather’s brother (great uncle?) from working for the electric company. Couldn’t tell the difference between different colored wires.

        He discovered it at the age of 35, according to the family stories. Also, it kept him out of WWII.

  8. Blue Dog*

    Remember those people who would show up in a van and test your eyes and ears once a year when you were kids? Well, that Mrs. Blue Dog.

    I have seen her test kids for color blindness and it is very frustrating for them and strange for the inexperience observer. They way they do it is to show a picture like this: http://www.tedmontgomery.com/the_eye/colortst/graphics/platexpl.jpg If the person cannot make out the number, they have it.

    Incidentally, there are varying degrees of this. Some people might have problems only with certain colors combos (i.e., cannot distinguish between different shades of red). It is not just black and white, as they say.

  9. Anonymous*

    #2: I’m colour blind and I’m a marketing coordinator and often discuss designs with graphic designers. In the 5 years I’ve been working in this industry it’s never been a problem at all. I’m from a family full of colour blind people (all the men are – dad, grandads, uncle, brother, etc., well, and me – the only woman in the bunch) and it was showing very early on that I have it to. I struggle with red, green and brown and with blue and purple. But as I said, it never caused any problems in my career and bosses and colleagues never seemed bothered by it. In my normal work it just simply doesn’t come up.

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