an employer sent me rude, critical emails but now wants to interview me

A reader writes:

I work as an associate director for a Jewish nonprofit. I have been employed with this nonprofit for 5 years, and while I do love what I do, I have reached a glass ceiling as far as how high I can go.

Although I am NOT desperate for a new job, I would like one very much and have been looking on and off for 3 years. I have it good now, but most of the time I am not challenged and have very little to do, I have very little growth opportunity, and, well, I think the organization is seriously falling apart for several reasons, all having to do with dirty politics.

When I apply for a new job, it has to meet the following criteria: I have to be passionate about the mission, I would have to have a better financial incentive that I have now (with flex time and work from home options; I have it good now); I would have to feel as if I fit in; and I would have to love the job description.

Recently, I applied for a job where I fell in love with the job description because I identify with the mission and the job is one that would keep me very, very busy and happy by utilizing my strengths.

The first thing I did after I sent my resume was to check on LinkedIn to see if I was connected with anyone who could help me connect to someone affiliated with the organization. I found such a person: my former president, who knows the president of the organization I was applying to. He agreed to serve as a reference, as had worked well together.

Well, the next thing I know, the executive director called me for an interview. I know that it’s because she received my resume and not because she heard from the reference. She asked me when I would be available for an interview. It was a Wednesday, and I said I would be in the area the following Tuesday. She said that wasn’t good for her, so I suggested the very next day and she agreed, but then she changed it and asked to talk by Skype the following day. I suggested Facetime instead because I prefer it over Skype, but she didn’t know what that was, so I agreed to Skype.

However, she then canceled on me with this email:

“Actually, let’s put the interview on hold. I’ll let you know if I want to reschedule.”

I replied, “Okay.” She then sent me this:

“I’ll be honest. I don’t think you have the right interpersonal skills for this job. You should give some thought the professionalism of your personal presentation and communication.”

I sent this back:

“I appreciate your candidness and just wanted to suggest that you are making quite an assumption about me without ever having met me. And all because I asked for Facetime instead of Skype? Best of luck to you in finding the right candidate.”

She emailed me this in return:

“No, it was every interaction. You’re too aggressive and pushy and unnuanced and unaware of your own subjective context. Too many assumptions, not enough listening, not enough gentle professionalism. No professional demeanor at all, actually, that I can tell, in the sense of knowing how to communicate with a potential employer. And I say that despite the fact that on paper, you look great. Your resume got my attention. You know how to present facts in an interesting way on paper. But in person, I felt like I wouldn’t want you coming near a donor…. That was my impression. I’m taking the time to tell you just in case it will be helpful to you in your job search. First impressions are important. If I change my mind, I’ll let you know.”

Then, three weeks after this exchange, she called me because she had received an excellent reference from my contact who reached out to her, and wanted to Skype an interview. It went well and she asked for my writing samples. I sent them to her, and she said someone would contact me about the next steps.

In case we move forward and I interview more and even get a job offer, what is your advice on how I should handle her earlier comments? I want this position, but I don’t want her to supervise me and she would be my direct supervisor. How would you handle this?

I would handle it by getting in a time machine and going back three weeks ago and turning down her request to interview you after she’d heard from your reference, because at that point you already knew everything you needed to know about her.

Look, for all I know, her assessment of you is right on the money. Maybe you are “too aggressive and pushy and unnuanced” and all the rest. (And frankly, asking to use Facetime just because you like it better doesn’t thrill me, and your single-word “okay” response to her original cancellation wasn’t the most professional or eloquent communication in the world. So it’s possible she was picking up on something that’s worth giving some thought to.) But her emails to you were unnecessarily nasty. There’s a way to give feedback to a candidate without being gratuitously harsh, but her language was the opposite of that — it reads as if she was practically taking glee in giving you a talking-to.

(And I love “If I change my mind, I’ll let you know,” as if it’s entirely up to her and she can lay into you like that and then reserve the right to change her mind and expect you to still be interested.)

This is someone who’s a little too comfortable laying into strangers. And if she’s like that with strangers, guess what she’s going to be like to work with? So yes, you’re absolutely right not to want her to manage you. But she manages the role you’re interviewing for, and you can’t get a job offer and say, “sure, I’ll accept, but oh — you’ll need to give me a different manager.” It doesn’t work like that.

You’re very clear that you’d only leave your current job for something that meets some very specific criteria, and this job fails that. It fails it because you’d be working with someone who has shown herself to be fairly nasty.

This one is poisoned. Move on from it.

{ 262 comments… read them below }

  1. Molly*

    This email — “I appreciate your candidness and just wanted to suggest that you are making quite an assumption about me without ever having met me. And all because I asked for Facetime instead of Skype? Best of luck to you in finding the right candidate.” — makes me think that the manager, and not the OP, is correct. Both may be at fault, but I believe the manager in that the original emails sound a bit pushy and entitled, given that the OP is the one job seeking and should be overly deferential and accommodating with both a potential employer and a donor.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I agree that I don’t love that email from the OP — there are much more artful ways of saying the same thing — but I can’t agree that job candidates should be “overly deferential and accommodating.”

      First of all, hiring is a two-way street; candidates should be assessing employers just as much as employers are assessing them. And the OP happens to be someone who’s already in a job she likes and isn’t in a hurry to leave; she has options. Also, a good employer doesn’t want a candidate to be deferential; professional and polite, certainly, but not obsequious.

      1. Dave*

        OP does sound like a higher maintenance type. The onus is on the prospective employee to take reasonable steps to accommodate the employer during the interview phase. Yes, you’re looking for a good 2-way fit, but the initial steps of this search are essential to handle well. And, well OP flubbed in the very likely biased overview provided to us. I would love to see the actual e-mail transcripts for an unfiltered look at what actually happened between the 2.

        1. Sourire*

          ” The onus is on the prospective employee to take reasonable steps to accommodate the employer during the interview phase. Yes, you’re looking for a good 2-way fit, but the initial steps of this search are essential to handle well.”

          Agree. I don’t think one needs to be deferential per se, but best behavior should be used. The analogy of job hunting being like dating is used often here, and I think that is a great way to remind us all that it is a 2-way process. However in this economic climate, it’s more like “The Bachelor” than regular dating. The company who is searching has quite a few potential suitors, and thus has the luxury of being quite demanding and picky. It is the job seeker/suitor’s job to make sure what they are competing for is worth it though.

        2. Vicki*

          I’m missing something here.

          The OP sunds like a higher maintenance type? Why? Because she first suggested a “good day” for an interview, then willingly backed off to another (implied less convenient) day, then willingly backed off of in-person to Skype?

          Because she suggested a program she’s more familiar with and then agreed to Skype? (“I like better” often means “I know better” or “I already have installed).

          I can’t find any reason, in OP’s initial contact, to account for the interviewer saying “Actually, let’s put the interview on hold. I’ll let you know if I want to reschedule.”

          OP seemed quite willing to play along with the changing whims of the interviewer up to that point.

          1. Dave*

            You’re fixated on my initial lead-in to the “meat” of what I wanted to say. Perhaps it was worded a little strongly, but reading the body of my argument hopefully should shine some light. If not, I apologize.

          2. AB*

            I’m currently interviewing candidates for a couple of positions, and if I suggested we used Skype and a candidate told me they’d rather use Facetime, I’d definitely take that as a negative for them.

            If there were a technical reason not to use Skype (other than “I prefer the other tool”) then I’d be fine with a request like that. I have on problems with asking for a different interview date when I’m the candidate, but I’d never ask to change the suggested method of contact unless it was a necessity, and that’s the behavior I expect from the people I interview as well.

            So yes, I’d immediately make a note “high maintenance” next to the candidate’s name in this case.

            1. bob*

              High maintenance because someone prefers a different software tool that doesn’t snoop the text and links you send?

              That’s as silly as dinging someone for using a land line instead of a cell phone.

              1. AB*

                Bob, it’s not the same thing as someone using a land line.

                I’m interviewing 10-20 people. Imagine if one wanted to use Facetime, another Google Hangout, and so on.

                Sorry, but I’m going to stick to whoever is adaptive enough to use the tool they will have to use while at work: Skype.

                1. Jamie*

                  Exactly – because using a land-line doesn’t require the interviewer to change their method.

                  Count me among those who would have a high maintenance red flag over this.

                2. Adam V*

                  In which case you respond back “Sorry, [other tool] isn’t available to us here. Skype is our company-mandated video chat program” and the candidate can either deal with that or drop out of the running. No one’s saying that you have to change your policy and use a different tool for everyone; I just don’t see why it’s a strike against someone for even suggesting something different.

                3. Jamie*

                  It’s a problem because the candidate is asking for accommodation for her personal preference at a time when convention dictates otherwise.

                  If an interviewee comes to my office and I ask if they would like some coffee or water and the reply is that they would like carbonated water with a twist of lemon and one ice cube …they are showing that they don’t understand how the convention works. Sure, I would tell them they could either have a bottle of Ice Mountain or use the cooler, but I’m still going to make a mental note of an unusual and off putting request.

                  It’s exactly as someone mentioned upthread, if they request your resume in PDF don’t ask if you can send it in Word. The employer is dictating the terms at this point and negotiating over meaningless things can’t help.

                4. Melissa*

                  I don’t think your comparison works, Jamie. It’s more like asking a candidate if they want water or coffee and they ask if they can have a Coke. FaceTime is not inherently more complicated or high maintenance than Skype, as the alternative was in your example. It’d be weird, to me, if someone asked if they could have a Coke when I only offered them water or coffee, but it’d be neutral at best, and I wouldn’t let that get in the way of potentially finding a great worker.

                5. Jamie*

                  It has nothing to do with it being complicated. If it was an option the interviewer wanted to offer they would have. She didn’t, so asking to use what is their preference over the already stated preference of the interviewer is off putting.

                  Some people may not mind, but there are enough of us for whom that would be a raised eyebrow and wtf that people should know it could hurt them when interviewing.

              2. Sarah G*

                Another thing — Facetime is a Mac application, and in the nonprofit field let alone in the majority of offices in general, people do NOT have Macs. I have never owned anything but a Mac for home use, but would never suggest/request that an employer use a Mac app, which they are very unlikely to have access to at the office. To me, that request, even putting everything else aside, is a red flag that someone is high-maintenance and self-involved.

            2. Melissa*

              Why would you take it as a negative if a job candidate suggested another tool to use that does essentially the same thing? That seems like a very neutral thing to me. Not an awesome thing to do, but not bad either.

              1. ARS*

                I have to agree. If you ask to do an interview in Skype and I ask if we can reasonably use another program, I’m not sure YOU’RE being reasonable if you hold that against me. Especially if when you say no, I immediately go with the program you originally recommended.

          3. Bwmn*

            I think that you’re missing that this is not just about using Skype or another internet tool – but essentially all of her communication. While we don’t know the OP’s tone on the telephone, someone who would be working with donors and who would respond to a cancelation meeting with just “Ok” would be a huge red flag to me.

            I work in a nonprofit that has only two native English speaking employees and we have largely English speaking donors. A very important part of my roll is making sure that English written emails directly sent to donors are editted/rewritten – because the style of the majority of the employees’ written English comes off as very abrupt and borderline rude. It’s not intending to be rude, and in their native tongue it isn’t – but it often reads that way in English. Issues like this is why that despite having a very professionalized nonprofit sector in the country where I work – fundraising/development jobs, 9 times out of 10 go to foreign native English speakers, even if they speak nearly none of the native language.

            Depending on how much this job wants the OP to work directly with donors, a few bad phone calls/emails would send up red flags for me. It is the rare donor that responds well to antagonism.

          1. AB*

            Couldn’t nest a reply under Jamie’s, but I think what she wrote is worth repeating:

            “If an interviewee comes to my office and I ask if they would like some coffee or water and the reply is that they would like carbonated water with a twist of lemon and one ice cube …they are showing that they don’t understand how the convention works.”


            Adam said:

            “No one’s saying that you have to change your policy and use a different tool for everyone; I just don’t see why it’s a strike against someone for even suggesting something different.”

            If you *can* use the suggested tool, and tell me you prefer to use another just because you happen to like it better (as opposed to having a good reason for the request, which I wouldn’t mind), I can’t help but feel it’s a sign you’re high maintenance. And I’m not the only person who would get this impression, so it’s obviously your choice, but you should be aware of the potential consequences of acting that way during an interview process.

            1. Julie K*

              It would be helpful to know the reason the OP prefers Facetime – and whether s/he gave the reason when making the request to the interviewer – AND whether the request was made as a request for a favor (“would you mind if…”) vs. something more presumptive (“I’d prefer to use…”).

            2. Barb*

              I, too, agree with Jamie (but couldn’t reply under her comments). The OP was showing that she does not get how the convention works. You can call it “high maintenance” or you can call it “self-absorbed” or say she “just doesn’t get it”. But “not understanding convention” really puts a fine point on it.

              These were the very same qualities that should have been clear to anyone who bothered to read the four paragraphs of irrelevant personal information at the start of the OP’s letter, so I have no doubt it was clear to the hiring manager.

          2. A Bug!*

            If you expect to get “jumped on”, maybe you could think about why that might be, and then address that in your comment, rather than making a presumptive, dismissive snipe that discourages actual discussion by pre-emptively labeling disagreement as piling on.

            1. H. Vane*

              Hey now. He’s entitled to his opinion, and in general, a dissenting opinion is not a bad thing.

              1. A Bug!*

                I didn’t say it’s a bad thing to have dissenting opinions. I said that prefacing his opinion with “I’m going to get jumped on for this” discourages actual discussion on the topic. If he has an opinion, he can share it without making snarky comments on how he expects his comment to be received.

                1. The Snarky B*

                  I agree, and I think I’ve seen it before here with similar results. It’s kinda like someone on Jezebel going, “you’re all gonna hate me for this but…” (And the entire commentariat prepares for misogyny, given the context of that site).

    2. Mike*

      >should be overly deferential

      Sorry but I’m not going to be overly deferential with a potential employer. It is a two-way street where we both want something from each other. If I have an issue with a potential employer’s request I’ll freely suggest an alternative.

      When I’m job searching I’m looking for the right employer as much as they are looking for the right employee.

      1. JM in England*

        Totally agree Mike!

        The current economic climate seems to make employers think that they can treat jobseekers how they like and not expect them to be as rude back (mainly out of fear of losing potential opportunities on the jobseeker’s part). In short, they seem to forget that respect works both ways and that it is earned more by a person’s actions than their words.

        I too think that the employer/employee match needs to be mutual for things to work out on both sides.

        OK, so the OP’s email could have been worded more diplomatically; however, I can understand the frustration that might have prompted that wording.

        1. Rob Aught*

          I don’t think it is an excuse for rudeness, but the job seeker does have more of an obligation to be deferential.

          Even in a good economy, the employer is the one who pays the money. They are offering payment for services rendered. They lived without you before and they are the ones trying to run a business and build a team.

          Part of that is hiring people who can handle being part of a team, taking direction, and knowing how to work with their potential boss. Giving your boss feedback is fine, but ultimately the employee is the one who takes direction. If they can’t do that for an interview it doesn’t set a good precedent for a working relationship.

          1. Ellie H.*

            I don’t think the job seeker has more of an obligation to be deferential – the job seeker has more of a potential to benefit from being deferential.

          2. Jessa*

            I think maybe the issue is the word “deferential.” I think what the job seeker does need to do is be as accommodating as they can to what the potential employer-to-be needs. They have to interview scads of people and their methods and scheduling are probably far more sticky than the applicant’s. Now that doesn’t mean bending over backwards and doing just anything.

          3. Melissa*

            So the business is the one trying to build a team – they are also the one who is in need of good people to fill a particular position. The worker is the one who gives the labor. They are offering services for payment given. They lived without the employer before…do you see where I’m going?

            Part of being a good manager is understanding that lording your authority over your workers isn’t likely to inspire loyalty or a good work ethic. It’s like Alison says; authority is just another tool to get work done, not a way to exploit people.

            1. Rob Aught*

              Funny, I didn’t say anything about lording their authority over them. I know there are a lot of responses here, but I actually acknowledged earlier that the emails from the hiring manager were enough to convince me I would not report to that person. Ever.

              That said, the employer is the one who decides to offer the position. Interviews are a two-way street in that the candidate can walk away and if the employer was interested and drove them off, it is their loss. That said, if a candidate is coming across as difficult it is going to make me reluctant to bring them onto the team.

              Let me put this a different way. Try to see it from a manager’s perspective. You are likely to have more than one candidate you are interviewing. You are trying to schedule interviews with everyone you are interested in, reviewing resumes, calling recruiters, and also having to line up any other staff you want to talk to candidates. You are doing this AND your day job. If a manager is serious about getting the right candidate, and I admit they don’t always seem to be, then they are going to try and work with them as best they can. Which is why you shouldn’t counter their offer of time and place unless you have a specific reason for why you can’t make it. Personal preference just indicates you may be difficult to work with. Not just with the hiring manager, but how will you deal with co-workers who don’t have authority over you?

      2. Bwmn*

        If the job involved working with donors – then not showing the ability to be deferential is not good. Not the point of being obsequious, but even so – not being offended by the reality that it may come to that.

        I work for a nonprofit with donors, one of our (very large) private donors is an absolute pain. And in her eyes, I am her pet and either there to be ignored or contacted at whatever time of day she wants. Part of a donor relations job, particularly with private donors, means being able to deal with people and situations like that.

    3. Kate*

      I had a similar reaction. It sounds like the OP is overly confident of their position as a happily employed person who can be choosy, and that led to escalating the situation. The hiring manager was way out of line, but the OP handled the situation poorly.

      1. -X-*

        I thought the OP’s closing “best of luck” line expressed an appropriate level of annoyance.

        1. Jessa*

          I thought the best of luck line came over snarky to me. Now that’s a reading issue, some people may have read it in a polite voice and thought it was okay. There are issues with putting things in print, that saying them live/video/phone, do not have.

          1. Lindsay J*

            I thought the two emails were both a little questionable. The one word “okay” is okay when it is communication with a coworker you know well, but if I were communicating with a potential job lead I would have likely fluffed it up a little bit. And I definitely ready the whole”best of luck” email as snarky.

            Now, I would have responded in the same way. However, that would be because I had entirely written off working for that place when they decided they did not want to move forward with my candidacy based on an email interaction. The snark probably wouldn’t be good for my career, but I would feel justifiably annoyed with the experience.

            However, at that point I would also have been annoyed enough to decline any further invitations to interview as well and would have told them not to bother notifying me if they changed their mind on wanting to interview me as I no loger was interested in working for them (though I would phrase it a little more politely than don’t bother).

          2. VictoriaHR*

            I read it the same as Jessa did. I’ve received email responses to my rejection emails that say “Good luck finding someone as awesome/hard working/great/punctual/snappy dresser as me!” It definitely reeks of sour grapes.

          3. tcookson*

            I thought the best of luck line came over snarky to me.

            I thought so, too . . . it’s like in period movies when one character, offended, will flounce away with a haughty, “Good day, sir!” There’s nothing necessarily snarky in that phrase, it can be used in all politeness, but it’s all in the tone and delivery.

      2. KayDay*

        I completely agree. The hiring manager completely blew the OP’s slight smuggness (maybe not the best word…) out of proportion, but at the same time, I do think that there was something legitimate motivating the hiring manager. The not-so-well-put email gave evidence to what the hiring manager was saying.

        It would have been much better for the OP to say something like:
        “I appreciate your candidness. I am surprised that you felt that way, as I did realized that my suggestion to use Facetime instead of Skype would come across as unprofessional. Again, I think you for your feedback and wish the best of luck with your search.”

          1. fposte*

            Because you’re the candidate. In applying, your task is to meet the needs of the organization’s process. If you instead say “I like my way better,” you’re the person dropping off an email by hand instead of using the online application system.

            1. MrsKDD*

              Have to agree with this one. Though I think the manager was way too eager to give all that feedback, OP would definitely have a note next to their name in my database (the one-word reply email and Facetime suggestion). But that’s me.

            2. Kelly O*

              I have to agree with fposte on this one. You’re coming out of the gate as “well my way is better” rather than just using whatever the organization already uses.

              It’s really no different than saying “you want this emailed but I would rather fax it” when you boil it down to the basics.

            3. V*

              Totally agree. Also, we’re not talking rocket science here. These are both programs that pre-teens use on a regular basis. For someone to express a preference between these programs based on knowing one better than the other would also raise some questions in my mind about their ability to use technology. And if it’s just their preference – not the time or the place.

              1. Jessa*

                I think there are better ways to phrase what may be a security issue than what the OP used about using FaceTime instead of Skype. It’s less…self absorbed to say “I worry about all the things I hear about security with Skype, do you use FaceTime?”

                1. fposte*

                  It’s a little better, but it still would get an inner “Seriously?” from me and a high-maintenance ding. It’s Skype, which is widely used, and it’s a job interview, which doesn’t exactly cover launch codes. Somebody who’s worried can install it an hour before the interview and dump it right afterwards, and they should make sure their Java is disabled on general principles anyway.

          2. KayDay*

            oops, that should have read “did NOT realize” (I assume that the OP would not send an email knowing it was unprofessional).

            In general, I do NOT think that suggesting to use a different program is inherently unprofessional, it all depends on how you go about it. I do think this hiring manager blew things out of proportion, but I don’t think the OP handled it very well.

            (and I think I got all my negatives and positives correct that time.)

            1. urban adventurer*

              Neither party is the “good guy” hear–I think the OP’s responses were poorly worded at best. It’s not a good idea to answer a prospective employer’s email with “Okay.”

              At the same time, the hiring manager seems to have escalated the situation beyond what was called for. If she thought the candidate was being rude, fine. But no need to make a personal attack.

              After receiving an email like that, I can’t imagine agreeing to an interview. Unless the manager ate some major humble pie.

              1. urban adventurer*

                *here! not hear. ARGH! my grammar nazi mother would kill me if she saw that…

              2. Lindsay J*

                Though at that point she was no longer a prospective employer, since she had already cancelled the interview and told the candidate that she would let her know if she wanted to reschedule.

                The “okay” is definitely not the best, but it is something I could see myself doing in that case if I was annoyed at the sudden decision not to move forward with the interview.

                However, I would have likely written that company off as a potential employer by that point – as they had already changed the day of the interview and then the method, and then they had decided I was not a fit without actually progressing to the interview.

          3. Cassie*

            Well, Facetime is only available to people who have iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, Macs), whereas Skype is available for the 3 standard operating systems (Windows, iOS, Linux). I wouldn’t get all upset if someone suggested Facetime over Skype, but it would indicate that the person lacks a little understanding of those programs.

            Maybe it doesn’t matter for the position in question, but if I were the candidate, I’d check first to make sure I wasn’t asking for something that may be inconvenient for the employer. (I may be stretching here – maybe the OP knows that the employer uses iOS products).

            1. tcookson*

              I wouldn’t get all upset if someone suggested Facetime over Skype, but it would indicate that the person lacks a little understanding of those programs.

              I wouldn’t necessarilty get “upset” but a lot of what the OP said, including this, would set off high-maintenance red flags for me. I realize that she’s in a situation where she doesn’t have to take a job that doesn’t meet some specific standards, but she seems a little over-the-top full of that fact — as if the typical conventions don’t apply to her because she has the upper hand . . . it comes off as being overly gleeful /smug about displaying her status as someone who Isn’t Desperate For Another Job. Just offputting, even if true. A little restraint is still in order.

              Anyway, about the Facetime . . . we use Skype here, too, and I’m hearing about Facetime just now for the first time in this post. So if a candidate wanted to use Facetime, that would require me to first Google up what that even is, and then go to all the trouble of creating a new account, installing it on my computer . . . I’d want to know that the person really needed that accommodation vs. just arbitrarily having people jump through hoops for her convenience.

    4. Kerry*

      I agree with this (broadly – not so far as ‘overly deferential and accommodating’ but certainly being cordial and polite). And it’s not out of line for the manager to be making that kind of assumption based on email contact, IMO – if the OP presents poorly in email, it’s correct to be concerned about that in donor situations.

      1. Meg*

        It may not be out of line for the manager to make that assumption, but I agree with AAM – it’s completely out of line for them to reply to the OP like that. Both sides were unprofessional, but the hiring manager was just nasty in her reply.

    5. Neeta*

      The snarky reply, is what struck me most, as well. It seems unnecessarily rude, not to mention immature. My first thought on reading this was “and it all escalated into a catfight”.

      1. Kelly O*

        Glad to know I’m not the only one who thought “well that escalated quickly.”

        There truly was fault on both sides. Perhaps it’s a nice way of knowing you dodged a personality fit bullet?

    6. fposte*

      I think it’s a moot point as far as proceeding goes, though; this is really unlikely to be a position where the OP has full confidence in admin and where admin has full confidence in her. It’s certainly not a situation to leave a good current job for.

    7. Miss Research*

      I totally agree. Being confrontational about using Skype and sending the one word “okay” email was unprofessional. at the point of the “Okay” I don’t think I would have responded back at all, but I guess the manager thought criticism might help the OP in the future.

      The OP jumped to an overly harsh conclusion about the cause of the manager’s interpretation without reflecting to see if the tone of his/her own communications could have been better, then further proved the manager’s point with the follow-up email which seemed quite sarcastic and nasty. I probably would have written what the manager wrote to get it off my chest, but then quietly deleted without sending so I wouldn’t be accused of responding in kind with the same unprofessionalism. I can’t believe that the manager even reconsidered.

  2. Rob Aught*

    I just want to point out that if you had Skype or could easily use Skype, it was a bad idea to ask to do Facetime just because it is your personal preference. Despite Skype not being a new technology there are still plenty of businesses that do not take advantage of remote tools like it and would prefer face-to-face when they move past a phone screen. The fact they were willing to use Skype rather than have you come to the office was already a nice gesture on their part. Asking them to be flexible for you before you’ve even started working there is a bit off-putting. I don’t let candidates set the venue.

    Keep that in mind for future employers. You are trying to demonstrate that you’re a great hire. Appearing picky or inflexible is not a good first impression.

    That said, if a potential employer had laid into me like that I would probably thank them for their feedback, make a mental note that I might need to work on my communication or presentation, and then move on to pursuing a different position. There is no way I am going to report to that person.

    1. EnnVeeEl*

      +1. I didn’t think it was necessary for the potential employer to go there. Sounds like the kind of person that enjoys this type of confrontation, or any confrontation at all.

    2. Brandy*

      It’s also not a good idea to suggest some other technology. You wouldn’t want an interview messed up because the interviewer was trying to accommodate you and couldn’t figure out how to work the requested technology. IF it were a huge issue for you, phrase it something like, “You don’t happen to have access to Facetime, do you? If not, no worries–I will find a way to make Skype work. I’ve just had [insert actual reason aside from personal preference] with Facetime.” That assumes you have reasons like you have had major technical issues with Skype in the past, it doesn’t work with your computer and you’d have to borrow someone’s, etc. etc. If it’s just that you like it better, don’t burden an interviewer with that request. Suck it up and Skype.

      1. Miss Research*

        Not to mention that I have never heard anybody other than Mac / iPhone users talk about Facetime as if it is something that everybody has. If my business works with PCs, the last thing I want is a whiner who constantly complains about the company’s need to use products that aren’t Apple-specific.

    3. Cimorene*

      I just sort of assumed that the OP said something like, “Would you mind if we used Facetime instead, if you can? I find [whatever reason it’s better].” And then if the other person said, “No, I don’t know what that is,” the OP could have just responded, “Ok, got it. Skype it is.”

      I’m just saying that there are ways of suggesting other platforms that are entirely unobtrusive and not rude.

      1. Melissa*

        This. If phrased politely I don’t understand why people are considering this such a big deal.

      2. tcookson*

        From the tone of OPs letter, though, it seems likely that the tone of the request wasn’t read as “unobtrusive and not rude”. It seems like OP is a little tone-deaf to how some things come off in email . . . Which problem I’ve seen in a lot of people’s emails in this and previous jobs . . . some people just don’t seem to think about how their email comes across to the reader. I read somewhere, I wish I could remember where, that ” it’s not good enough to communicate to be understood; good email communication comes when you communicate so as not to be misunderstood .”

    4. Julie K*

      That said, if a potential employer had laid into me like that I would probably thank them for their feedback, make a mental note that I might need to work on my communication or presentation, and then move on to pursuing a different position. There is no way I am going to report to that person.

      I completely agree!

  3. Anonymous*

    Is it wrong to say they both sound like pains in the you-know-what to me? I wouldn’t want to work with either.

    1. CoffeeLover*

      Agreed. Both seem unnecessarily confrontational. Can you imagine the blow ups that would happen with two such people directly working together?

      1. Anonymous*

        I mean, if it comes to this BEFORE THE INITIAL INTERVIEW … geesh! Duck and cover, people!

      1. tcookson*

        I can’t decide if they are oil and water or a pot and a kettle./blockquote>

        Sounds like a pot and a kettle to me. OP is a smaller, medium-to-dark gray pot, and the interviewer is a big ol’ black kettle.

  4. Anonymous*

    Also, Allison, is there a second seat in your time machine? I need to go back to a college keg party and undo some damage.

      1. fposte*

        I’m thinking pot and kettle. They both find it really important that the other person know when they’ve been irritated.

          1. LJL*

            At least you’re not wasting a time machine wish on going back to put it under the other thread. :-)

            Mine would also be biggies. :-)

        1. Eva*

          fposte: “I’m thinking pot and kettle. They both find it really important that the other person know when they’ve been irritated.”

          Yes! It’s like a battle of the wills between two people each of who have to get the last word. The similarities are really striking – including how both were willing and able to do an interview after having had this exchange!

          OP, good on you for being so receptive to feedback! Do let us know what the manager replies to your withdrawal (if anything, but see above).

  5. Chinook*

    “it was a bad idea to ask to do Facetime just because it is your personal preference”

    I think this needs to be pointed out more, especially since iPhones and iPads are so prelevant. Facetime only works with Apple products. As far as I know, if you don’t have an Apple, then you can’t do it whereas Skype is available for many operating systems. It would be the same as me requiring all my friends to BBM me rather than text me because it is cheaper and more convinient for me. it basically shows them that my convinience and technology is more important than theirs.

    1. Emma*

      +1. I have never worked in an office (non-profit, private- or public-sector or otherwise) that had Apple computers. I doubt this employer had access to such technology unless she used her own personal laptop, iPhone or iPad for the interview.

      1. Melissa*

        Many of the workplaces I’ve been in had either Apple computer or company iPads. It’s still less convenient than using Skype, but FaceTime and Apple aren’t some obscure or ancient platform.

    2. Katieinthemountains*

      Many people do have tablets, and I’m typing this comment on my work Mac. FaceTime doesn’t use as much bandwidth, so it cuts down on lagging, freezing, etc. So I think this is more, “works better if we can use it” than “my personal preference.”

      1. Rob Aught*

        I understand what you mean from a technical standpoint.

        However, I don’t think it is a good idea to suggest the venue to an employer unless you have a good reason to do so.

        For example, when I was travelling and interviewing I had to ask for a phone interview instead of a face-to-face unless they could do the interview on Fridays. I didn’t want to do that, I didn’t like asking, but for my situation it was the only way it would work.

        I had a candidate ask if we could schedule his interview after 4pm because of his current job. Asking us to be flexible so he could still maintain his current duties seemed fair. We actually stayed after hours to conduct the interview. It was worth it.

        When potential employers are already trying to be flexible, like being willing to do Skype instead of insisting on an in-office interview, it shows a certain lack of grace to suggest something else unless there is a good reason for it. For most non-technical people, they won’t really care about the differences in bandwidth usage or even image quality. Skype is a known quantity to them.

        Don’t get confused. It’s not a Facetime versus Skype issue, it’s about setting the wrong tone with a potential employer.

        1. fposte*

          I totally agree. Techwise, it’s akin to asking if you can send something in a PDF because you like it better when they’ve asked for it to be submitted in Word. It’s a needless resistance on a straightforward request.

    3. Ellie H.*

      I didn’t even know what it was (not an Apple person) and I’m pretty tech-savvy.

  6. Brandy*

    This whole situation got out of control. At the end of the day, walk away. Even if the manager was correct and you left her with a rough first impression, you’ve now got a bad taste in your mouth. Even if things move forward, you’re bound to run into other points of contention-either during the hiring process, or once you start at the organization. And you don’t need the job anyway.

    As you continue your search, I’d take feedback to heart. Specifically, I’d have written, ““I appreciate [or “Thank you for”] your candor. Best of luck to you in finding the right candidate.” And totally axed all the stuff in between those two lines.

  7. Anonymous*

    I agree with Alison that you do not need to be deferential as a job seeker, but I think asking to use Facetime instead of Skype was probably annoying to her. As far as I know, Facetime is only available on Apple products, and while I also prefer it, not everyone can access it. If you are already stepping outside the boundaries of normal interviewee behavior (which I believe you were), then what will you be like as an employee? As someone who has been on hiring teams, people who ask for things like this that are so inconsequential (since Skype is freely available and people are more accustomed to it), I am picturing in my head all the coworkers I have had who would get caught up in things like this when we had bigger fish to fry.

    The manager was inappropriate in her emails and lacks the gift of tactfulness, but I do think you could evaluate what you consider to be professional behavior in the interview process. This aside, I would not want to work for her so you may have lucked out by seeing her true colors before becoming her subordinate.

    1. Adam V*

      To me, though, if the issue is “I don’t have access to FaceTime”, then I respond saying so and we go with Skype. I see that others would see this as a strike (or at least a red flag) and it’s kind of odd to me.

      I will say, though, that I have security concerns about Skype, so that may be coloring my vision of the situation.

      1. Emily*

        I see what you’re saying, but I think if FaceTime were as readily accessible as Skype for the employer, she would have included it as an option: “could we interview over videoconference using either Skype or FaceTime?” If someone is going to have to download different software, it should be the candidate, for a couple of reasons, once of which is that the candidate isn’t using a company machine that may or may not be a Mac and is probably programmed with restrictions on installing new/unapproved software. And then there’s the “my court, my rules” principle.

        This is a weird example, but: if my 86-year-old grandmother told me she’d learned to use Skype and wanted to video chat with me, I wouldn’t say a word about FaceTime or Google Hangouts or whatever. I’d download and set up Skype just because I’d want to make it easiest on her. That way, she could focus on our conversation, which is basically what you want an interviewer to do.

  8. Brandy*

    While I definitely think this – “I appreciate your candidness and just wanted to suggest that you are making quite an assumption about me without ever having met me. And all because I asked for Facetime instead of Skype? Best of luck to you in finding the right candidate.” – could have been worded better, I think the correspondence on the part of the manager was ridiculous.

    I believe Maya Angelou said “The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them.” This manager has most definitely showed you who they are and how they operate. Unless you want to be put down and corrected in this sort of way (and as Alison said, probably a lot worse as an actual employee) on a regular basis, please back away from this job ASAP. If they contact you again it really isn’t going to be horrible to say “Thank you for your time but I’ve come to the conclusion that this isn’t the position for me at this time”. You’ve been polite and professional but have made it clear it’s not going to work out.

    Obviously only you can know if this is a position you just can’t walk away from but I can’t imagine trying to work for someone after this type of interaction. Good luck!

    1. EnnVeeEl*

      Yeah – it seems like a personality conflict right off the bat – and just via email. Yikes!

      Not everyone was born to get along with each other. I don’t like the OP’s emails, either, but I think the hiring manager sounds like a piece of work. There was no need to go there. She wasn’t OBLIGATED to give the OP any feedback. All she had to do was decide maybe this wasn’t the best candidate and keep it moving. But no. She had to give the OP what-for. And that is what bothers me about this. It was all kind of unnecessary.

      1. Revanche*

        Agreed EnnVeeEl, the whole exchange seemed quite unnecessary.
        I’ve had candidates where a lot of what they said or did really bothered me. I’ve had people stringing along my recruiter because “I have plans,” “I’ll be on vacation” with no accompanying useful suggestions, where a simple “I have conflicts on those dates but how about X, Y, or Z” would have saved her a lot of work trying to catch up to them, or people who were totally off on another planet during interviews trying to interview for every other position except the one they were interviewing for.
        Nevertheless, in no way did those generally annoying behaviors mean that I could be rude to them: I still had a responsibility to be professional. The same way I don’t expect (or want) any candidate to suck up to me, I expect and extend basic courtesy. This isn’t a fiefdom, for the love, it’s a potential working relationship that began when you contacted the candidate.

      2. some1*

        That’s what I thought, too. It seems like the Boss was understandably put off by the Facetime suggestion, which is why she decided to put the interview on hold. I think the Boss was trying to bait the LW into asking why, because there was really no reason to respond further after the LW said, “Ok”.

        To me it’s like if a guy asked me out, but changed his mind and said, “You know, I’m really not feeling it and don’t think I’m interested in going out with you after all”, and I responded “Ok” and he said, “I just thought you should know for future reference with going out with guys, you don’t come across as very attractive or smart, and a mutual Facebook friend told me you were a dork in high school.” Ouch.

        1. Sourire*

          Hmmm, really interesting take on it, and you may be right about the manager trying to bait the OP. I do still have issues with okay in this context versus the scenario you presented. One is a personal interaction whereas the other is a professional one, and thus professional communication should be used. OP really should have at least added some sort of thank you into their email, though who knows, the manager may still have given the same response.

          1. Lindsay J*

            Thank you for what though? For choosing to not interview her?

            I definitely agree that the one word “okay” is not very professional. However, putting myself in the OP’s position, I can see why she responded that way. I would have likely done the same thing, however, as the same time I would have likely written off that employer as someplace I wanted to work at in the future and would know I was acting out of annoyance.

            It would not be the best move for my career if those were people others in my field were likely to interact with, but I can definitely see where the response came from.

            1. Sourire*

              Possibly too late to for you to read my response, but just in case. Thank you would be for the manager’s time/consideration. All the manager had said at that point was that she wanted to put the interview on hold (which could have been for a number of reasons- what if the manager had just been informed that the hiring process was being changed/put on hold, or if she had a sudden personal issue come up, etc).

              There was no reason (at this point in the interaction) for OP to assume the job was DOA or to be particularly annoyed, and thus the answer should have been more polite than a simple okay (in my opinion).

        2. Meg*

          This is a really interesting analogy. I never thought of it that way, but it totally fits.

    2. Anonymously Anonymous*

      Interesting that you quoted Maya Angelou because I was thinking about another quote of hers after reading the letter which is perhaps just as befitting. ‘Words mean more than what’s set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with deeper meaning.’
      I wonder how this situation would have played out over the phone. The back and forth scheduling conflicts and preferences for one piece of technology over the other may have all been harmless interactions without any undertones.

  9. Kimberlee, Esq.*

    I gotta say, I disagree. I think it’s *possible* that the manager could have put their objections more, I dunno, artfully, but at least in the first email, there was absolutely nothing objectionable to me. Frank, but then, candidates always SAY they want frank feedback. To which OP replied in a very passive-aggressive and rather rude way. I’m astounded OP got called back at all; the manager must have gotten both a glowing review from OP’s reference and/or (and I suspect this is more likely), realized that they didn’t have any other candidates that were anywhere near as good as OP on paper.

    The followup from the manager was detailed, but in direct response to an apparently false assumption by OP; like, I kinda feel that OP was really asking for that second response. Not “asking for it” in terms of deserved it (though a little of that too), but in terms of deliberately prompting a follow-up that, looking at the original letter, was certainly not going to be a bashful back-pedaling by the manager.

    It sounds like it would be good if these two did not work together. But I don’t think that that manager sounds particularly bad. Being forthright and honest and, on the whole, fairly tactful are things I like in my managers.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I like forthrightness and directness more than most people, but there’s a difference between directness and unsolicited nastiness. There’s no way that this manager isn’t a pain to work with — people just don’t write/talk like that if they’re not. (And I say that as someone who has sent fairly frank feedback to candidates, solicited or not. There’s just no reason to use this wording.)

      1. Jessa*

        This, I’ve seen you be forthright and frank, and I’ve never seen you be NASTY to anyone, even when provoked. There’s a huge difference between the two.

    2. Kerry*

      The followup from the manager was detailed, but in direct response to an apparently false assumption by OP; like, I kinda feel that OP was really asking for that second response.

      I agree (mostly). I thought this:

      “I’ll be honest. I don’t think you have the right interpersonal skills for this job. You should give some thought the professionalism of your personal presentation and communication.”

      was a totally fine thing to say, and that she wouldn’t have sent the last, longer email if the OP hadn’t responded with their (IMO very unprofessional) email.

  10. Stacie*

    While the tone of the manager’s email is frank, I think the OP’s responses were sarcastic and came across much ruder (at least to me). I wouldn’t be surprised if a similar tone came across from previous interactions as well. Honestly, I would consider this one bridge burned and bow out of the hiring process.

    1. JL*

      While the tone of the manager’s email is frank, I think the OP’s responses were sarcastic and came across much ruder (at least to me).


    2. CoffeeLover*

      I agree. OP should simply have thanked the manager for the advice and moved on even if she didn’t agree with it. Instead she was unnecessarily confrontational. Can’t believe the manager still wanted to interview, lack of candidates or not.

    3. Lily in NYC*

      I agree. And from reading her letter, I wouldn’t be surprised if OP made it very clear that she didn’t NEED the job and would only consider it if her wish list was met. I get it – I have a golden handcuffs job and it’s so difficult for me to leave these amazing benefits. But a new employer doesn’t care about your current perks, and if you come across as arrogant or demanding, your goose is cooked. Which is what I think really happened. Regardless, it is obvious these two people are never going to get along and OP should not take the job if offered.

      1. Emily*

        I’d never heard the term “golden handcuffs” before! Is that what these things are called? ;)

  11. Ruffingit*

    I would not have interviewed with the manager after that e-mail exchange. I can’t imagine how awkward that interview would be. The OP says it went well, but after that kind of e-mail exchange, the whole situation is already tainted.

    I think, as Alison suggested, the manager enjoys laying into people. I get that sense from her e-mail. It was unnecessarily harsh and, in my view, unprofessional on its own. However, I think we can always glean helpful things even from those kinds of exchanges. Clearly, something in the OP’s demeanor is not working so the OP should think about that. Given that the OP has been on her current job for a few years, it may be that she’s lost touch with what the appropriate etiquette is for an interviewee (that is, don’t ask for Facetime over Skype for example).

    So, my advice would be to take the good from this situation and walk away. There is no point in continuing with this. The manager sounds harsh and unnecessarily bitter with the enjoyment she appears to get from laying into people. Not worth it to work for her or interact further IMO.

    1. Jamie*

      ITA – no way would I have agreed to an interview.

      I am a huge fan of direct and forthright – but that doesn’t mean tactless and rude which I see on both sides here.

  12. anonymous*

    I am the OP in the above letter and I truly appreciate all your feedback and comments and listened to your constructive criticism. I was truly taken back by her initial hostility and even if I could have it worded the facetime vs. skype issue better, her comments were still unwarranted. You helped convince me not to take this any further and I thank you for that.

    Would you all give a reason why? Would you tell the board why? If so, how would you word it?

    1. fposte*

      I wouldn’t give a reason why. I would say “Thank you for your time, but I’ve decided to withdraw my name from consideration for this position.”

      1. Ruffingit*

        This, exactly!! You do not need to give a reason and I’d strongly suggest you not do so because any reason given could open up more nasty exchanges. Just use fposte’s comment and if asked further, just repeat it until they stop contacting you. It’s not worth opening up a dialogue about why you’re withdrawing your name. Just withdraw it and move on.

      2. Kimberlee, Esq.*

        I agree with fposte’s wording, but I’d even go a step farther in terms of being totally exceedingly genteel:

        “Thank you very much for taking the time to talk to me on x day. While this seems like a wonderful position, I’ve decided to withdraw my name from consideration. Thank you, again, for your time, and I wish you all the best in your search.”

        When you’ve been accused of having bad/aggressive communication skills, it certainly can’t hurt to kill them with kindness. :) Who knows, maybe the same position will be open a year from now with a new manager!

        1. fposte*

          I was thinking about a nice “wish you the best” last line and was too lazy to assemble the wording. I like yours a lot.

    2. Lily in NYC*

      Hi OP, thanks for being gracious about our comments. I’m curious, was there more to your exchange or do you think the Skype thing is what annoyed the manager? Because if was just the Skype thing, then RUN. Otherwise, I can see a bit why the manager was put off if you had certain parameters that you wanted met before you agreed to interview. But either way, you will not get along with her – Alison was right that she seemed to get a kick out of scolding you.

      I would probably say something to the board because I’m mouthy. But I’m sure I’d regret it later. If these people are in the industry you work in, you should probably keep it vague. However, if you hear through your grapevine that the board has issues with the Director, you might want to say something. I think other people here will have better advice on that subject.

    3. Anon*

      Nope. It would be so gratifying and satisfying to let them know that they’re losing out on a great candidate because their manager is so unpleasant–I FEEL YOU (and then maybe they’ll fire her AND hire you! Win-win! /magicalthinking)–but this is one where you just have to enjoy it inside. Be diplomatic; say nothing of substance; give no specific reasons. “Not the right fit at this time.”

      She sounds deeply unpleasant to me. Maybe you weren’t the perfect supplicant-applicant, but I think it’s pretty clear you’re the one dodging the bullet here.

      1. Jamie*

        I don’t think it’s even just a matter of diplomacy – but to explain that she’s withdrawing because of what happened before the interview would beg the immediate question of why waste their time with the interview at all?

        It’s not logical to bother if that was the reason, and if the OP was open minded during the interview process than it’s disingenuous to make it about the previous communications.

        I don’t see how this would get the OP anything except branded as difficult.

      2. The Realist!*

        I see what Anon is saying here, and it’s probably the best idea – and yet, the Board needs to know that their manager’s attitude toward potential candidates is agressive and adversarial. If the Board asks for more information, they may looking to confirm that the manager has issues that need to be addressed.

        1. Elizabeth*

          “the Board needs to know that their manager’s attitude towards potential candidates is agressive and adversarial.”

          This might be good information for them to have, and they might appreciate it – OR they might write off the OP as bitter or overly touchy and not do anything with the feedback. (After all, most companies will, fairly logically, trust their own long-term interactions with an employee over the impressions of a stranger who has interacted with that employee only briefly.) In the first case, it doesn’t especially help the OP, and in the second, it could actively hurt their reputation.

          I would only offer up feedback about the manager if asked directly – like if a board member got in touch with me and said, “How were your communications with Chelsea during the hiring process?”

          1. Rana*

            Yes. After all, we don’t know if this manager is difficult across the board with everyone, or whether it was just the OP who provoked this particular response. If she’s got a good reputation with other people, they’re not going to accept the OP’s interpretation of things.

          2. Lindsay J*

            This. I would have likely been annoyed with the whole interaction, but going to the board to complain makes it look like you are the overly adversarial one, and/or pushy or bitter. Nothing is likely to come from going to them in this case because of that – they’ll think the director was in the right all along and it will do even more damage to the OP’s reputation in the long run.

            If a board member gets into contact with her that is completely different, as if they are asking that specific question it is likely that they already have concerns about that director’s communications and they are actively seeking more information.

        2. fposte*

          They really don’t need to know this, though. In fact, if a board were to ask for information about job search candidates before the in person interview stage has even been reached, I would consider that a really bad sign of a micromanaging board.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Yes, very much so. This is not something the board should be involved with, and the OP will look bad if she goes to them (in part because they’re not going to see this as egregious enough for such a report, because it’s not). Someone being rude to you doesn’t meet the egregiousness bar for reporting to a board.

            1. Laura uk*

              Plus also, a lot of the comments here about how the OP either was possibly difficult or escalated (not withstanding the fact the manager has baited and been personally nasty). All that happens if she goes to the Board is “Definitely Difficult”.

    4. Jamie*

      I have no experience with non-profits – but is this something that you would ordinarily communicate to the board? It reads to me like your communication has been with her so shouldn’t your withdrawal of candidacy be with her also? At least that’s how it would work in my sector – you’d decline to the person with whom you’ve been speaking.

      I just hope this didn’t also taint your relationship with your former president who had spoken highly enough of you to get you an interview after such a contentious beginning.

      1. fposte*

        Yeah, there’s no reason for there to be any communication with the board. Maybe if there’d been a later stage when you’d actually met them, but doing it now would basically prove the executive director’s point.

    5. Ask a Manager* Post author

      No, don’t give a reason why, and there’s no reason to communicate with the board. Was the board involved in the hiring in some way, or were you thinking of complaining to them? I wasn’t sure from the above. (If you were thinking of complaining to them, definitely don’t — that will hurt your reputation more than hers.)

      1. annie*

        OP said her former president served as a reference to the president of this new company’s board… do you think she should mention it to that person, since they went out a limb for her? If it were me, and my reference asked how it went, I would feel like I would have to be honest… but maybe I wouldn’t proactively bring up the situation and hope it just never came up?

    6. KayDay*

      I agree that there is no need to offer a reason why, but if asked, I would just say that you don’t think you would be “the best fit for the position.”

    7. Andie*

      I am so glad to read you are not going to take this job. It is not a good match! Having a strained relationship with your supervisor is never a good thing. This has BAD written all over it!

  13. Christine*

    I think both the manager and the OP crossed the line in their communications. The first flag that went up for me was the OP saying she preferred Facetime over Skype; unless a prospective employer specifically asks (e.g. we have access to Facetime and Skype, which is easier for you?), it is never appropriate to try to control how an interview will be conducted. I’m a little familiar with Skype, but have never actually used it, but I would’ve found a way to quickly learn how.

    I do agree that the manager went overboard too, especially since the advice was unsolicited.

    I’d definitely move on from this position–the first impression is already tainted on both ends, and I’d personally be afraid to have this manager supervise me for fear of evoking overly-harsh criticism (even if it is warranted, I’d still appreciate a more tactful, gentler approach).

  14. Sourire*

    Everyone else has pretty much covered most of my feelings/thoughts on this, but I am really confused about why OP would answer the interview-on-hold email with just an “okay”. I get that OP can be picky about leaving his/her job at this point, but I can’t imagine a more cavalier response. I would be extremely turned off by such a curt response and by someone who couldn’t even muster a polite/standard “thank you for your consideration” type of thing. The manager was obviously already feeling a little wary of OP’s interpersonal skills, and I’m sure that was pretty much the nail in the coffin/confirmed the manager’s suspicions.

    1. nyxalinth*

      I had the opposite happen last year. A recruiter called me about an awesome position, and I told her I had to check the bus routes and get back to her. sure enough, I couldn’t even remotely get there on the bus, and so I emailed her to let her know.

      “Okay. Thanks.” was the reply.

      Other people have said it wasn’t rude of her, but I’m used to something a lot less curt, so it rubbed me the wrong way.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit*

        Eh, yeah, I don’t think that’s rude.

        I know where you’re coming from, and it’s something I’ve had to overcome. My last boss would write “thanks” (no period, no capitalization, no commentary) as response a lot of what I’d send him and it always felt crappy to me. But it was just his way of communicating and not my problem. I put exclamation points on “thanks!” just to make it seem… I dunno… enthusiastic, and I’m sure there are people who think that’s strange/young/unprofessional/etc.

        1. Jamie*

          I think communication between people who work together and have a relationship is different, though – shorthand is okay. A one word response is fine in many cases from a co-worker/boss when that’s all you need.

          and I’m a ‘thanks’ person for the routine stuff. I have worked with Thanks! people and they are generally really sweet and sunny…but it always makes what ever they are thanking me for is a bigger deal than it was.

          Me: “That kidney I donated for you is ready to go.”
          Them: Thanks!

          Odd to me:
          Me: The file is on X drive > Y folder
          Them: Thanks!
          Me (wondering in my head): That was a lot of enthusiasm…it wasn’t a kidney.

          1. AnotherAlison*

            You should practice reflecting the style of the Thanks! people when you communicate with them. It’s a great opportunity to build a better working relationship.
            If you say “thanks” to them, you might as well say “you suck.”

            (This whole thread has me lol because of my MA Journalism coworker who believes you have only 8 exclamation points to use in your whole life, or something like that. I pepper her emails with as many as possible!!!)

            1. Jamie*

              I LOVE that 8 exclamation points rule! I love it so much I’m using two in this comment! :)

            2. fposte*

              My journal has an official limit on exclamation points. It’s really, really low.

            3. Cat*

              I shamelessly use exclamation points in e-mail, especially when communicating with people who just did something helpful. I’d rather they think I’m overly enthusiastic and stupidly grateful than that they think I’m demanding and don’t care about their help. Tone is hard to convey over e-mail.

              I do think it’s possible to cross a line and come off as patronizing (“Oh my God, I can’t believe you just double spaced that document correctly! That is SO AMAZING!!!!”) and I try to be conscious of that, but in general, I’d rather err on the side of too friendly.

            4. Christine*

              Oh goodness, I was the queen of exclamation points in casual communication up until a few years ago. Even in my private journal when I was younger, I’d use many, many exclamation points whenever I was super-excited.

              Actually, at a previous job, sometimes replied to emails from people looking for information. I started it off by saying, “Thank you for contacting the Chocolate Teapots Association!” but was told not to use the exclamation point. (I think I’d seen my coworker start emails off that way too, so I figured it was okay).

          2. Christine*

            I’m with you for the most part, Jamie. I reply to those I know well with that same “okay” or “thanks” type of response. But for someone with which I have a more formal relationship or for whom I want to make a positive impression, I’ll go the extra step and say, “thank you for letting me know” or “I appreciate your honest feedback”. That happened to me 2 years ago when I resigned via email from an (unpaid) summer internship; all I got back was “best of luck to you”….it just felt so cold at the time.

          3. Ellie H.*

            I actually feel the exact opposite way. I think that “Thanks!” is less serious sounding than “Thanks” and therefore more appropriate for more minor instance0 of gratitude. If I legitimately want to thank someone, or to sound extra polite, I say “Thank you.” For small matters of little importance I say “Thanks!” or “Awesome, thanks!”

          4. Sandy*

            I had a coworker once who loved punctuation. She would send emails like this.
            When is that new hire starting?!?!?!?! I need to book the training room!!!!! ASAP
            I always assumed she was in her office having a panic attack.

            1. A Nonny Mouse*

              OMG, sounds just like my ex-boss. “Where is the thing I asked you to print???!!!!” or “I NEED A DIET COKE NOW!!!!”

              My favorite is the “high importance” email that isn’t really high importance. Again: “I need a Diet Coke” isn’t high importance to anyone but YOU.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yeah, that response bothered me too. It’s the sort of thing you’d feel ridiculous rejecting a candidate over, but I have to say, when I think of the great employees/coworkers I’ve known, I can’t imagine any of them sending that response in that context. So it’s a flag, small as it seems.

      1. some1*

        I have to admit, I would not what to say if I got an email saying my confirmed interview was on-hold and I wasn’t given a reason. I would probably have to go with. “Thanks for your time and let me know if anything changes on your end.” or something. It’s definitely the kind of thing I’d ask a friend’s advice about, most likely.

        1. AnotherAlison*

          +1 I was thinking the same thing. I would have written 7 different emails, and then just gone with perhaps, “Okay,” after failing to find something that didn’t seem overly pushy.

          1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

            A “Thanks for letting me know” is always good in this type of situation. A follow-up of “I hope to hear from you soon” shows that you are, in fact, interested in the job (after, a cancelled interview with a “i may or may not reschedule) is kind of a big deal!

            At this point, it makes me think that the manager was looking specifically to how OP responded to that cancellation to decide whether or not to reschedule. If that’s the “sign” that you’re looking for, a response of “okay” is soooo far from what you’re looking for!

          2. Lindsay J*

            Yeah, I would have probably wound up going with “Okay” after deleting a lot of drafts that were either more supplicating or more snarky.

            (Though I do know I have a problem with being a little snarky/snotty at times and at that point I would have likely written off the job entirely anyway.)

      2. James*

        If it was me, I might not have responded to the e-mail at all just because it didn’t seem to need a response. Is that less bad? Or is it worse? I am not sure any more :-)

  15. annalee*

    Whether or not the OP was out of line, the best course of action is the same: Run. Away.

    A lot of people take jobs where they find one aspect or another less-than-ideal. Mostly, we work around it. But bad chemistry with a supervisor is pretty hard to work around.

    If there are lessons the OP can learn from this that’ll improve their job search going forward, great. But the best gift you’ve gotten here is the chance to find out just how bad a fit this job would be before you signed on the dotted line.

  16. FD*

    Perhaps the OP did come across a bit too strong or unprofessional. I have to admit, I do wonder a little about a job search that takes three years, even in this climate–but to be fair, that could just be looking in a niche area or not wanting to relocate, or simply only looking very casually (all of which are entirely reasonable). I do wonder if perhaps the OP might be well served to work on trying to sound a little more professional in her correspondence.

    Still, there are better ways to provide the feedback. She could have provided much of the same information by saying something like:

    “I certainly understand your frustration. I know this is a difficult market for job-seekers. However, this is a position which involves a great deal of public contact with donors, and which therefore requires a high degree of professionalism, especially in written correspondence.

    While your resume and qualifications are excellent, I did have some concerns about how you might interact with donors, based on our correspondence.

    Once again, your resume and qualifications were very impressive, and I wish you the best in the future…” etc. etc.

    1. Jamie*

      That’s very well said. And that’s a reply that would never generate an email to AAM.

      1. FD*

        Thank you for the compliment!

        I dunno, I’m sure someone could find an “Is it legal” question in there somewhere…

        1. JessB*

          “Is it legal to offer me an interview and then say that they’re ‘putting it on hold’?”

          Tee hee!

    2. Ruffingit*

      Yes, this is a much better way of putting the concerns in writing. It’s ironic that the manager is complaining about the impression the OP is making while the manager herself is making the same bad impression in her correspondence.

    3. Flynn*

      See, I think the original version would have been difficult to read but at least spelt out the issues (and therefore, hugely valuable feedback). This one would just leave me confused about what I *actually* did wrong. It’s worse than not giving feedback at all.

  17. Erica*

    I think we’re all in agreement here, but I am so curious about that actual interview? You say it went well — but did either of you acknowledge the previous exchange? Did you find her curt and dismissive then? There are just … so many questions.

  18. Leslie Yep*

    Given the role of the strong recommendation in this particular case, is there anything you’d suggest communicating back to the recommender?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yes! I’d send the person a note saying something like, “I want to thank you for recommending me to ABC. It seems to have really made a difference — they called me for an interview because of it. Ultimately I ended up thinking it wasn’t quite the right fit, but I so appreciate that you took that time to do that. It means a lot to me.”

  19. anonymous*

    thank you for your comments. I will write a note to the recommender when I hear back from the organization. I do want to say that our skype interview went well despite the initial email turmoil. I just didn’t bring it up and neither did she. She asked me some very relevant questions like why I was looking to move on and I told her because I reached as high as I could in the organization and was looking for new challenges. We did discuss some interesting developments in her organization that I brought up and it was very cordial. She ended it by asking me to send her some writing samples, of which I promptly did and now am waiting to hear back from her. There is a good chance she won’t call me back or is not interested and that’s fine, but if she is does call me back with further interest, I will politely withdraw my candidacy. Thank you again.

    1. Anon-Mouse*

      IMO, if you know you won’t accept the position, you should really contact her right away and let her know you’re withdrawing your candidacy. You should certainly let the organization know before you notify your recommender that it wasn’t the opportunity for you (what if the recommender mentions it to somebody in that organization and you’re still under consideration???).

      Waiting until she follows up, possibly with a rejection, possibly with a request for another interview, possibly even with an offer, is not only unprofessional behavior (and right up there with all of those employers that don’t bother notifying candidates that they’ve interviewed but don’t hire) , but it’s a crummy thing to do to the other candidates who are waiting in line for this opportunity.

      1. fposte*

        Seconded. If you’re withdrawing, withdraw. There’s nothing to be gained from waiting for them.

        1. Anonymous*

          The gain is in avoiding potential further nasty exchanges. If OP gets rejected, then everyone moves on.

          1. Anon-Mouse*

            Nasty exchanges often happen regardless. The only thing we have any control over is our own professionalism, and it’s just as unprofessional for a candidate to string an employer along as it is for an employer to string candidates along.

          2. fposte*

            I don’t think there’s any change in the likelihood of nasty emails if she waits until later. And what if she isn’t rejected? She’s wasted quite a lot of time and, as earlier Anon notes, impaired the timeline for serious candidates.

            1. CoffeeLover*

              Ya, I’d be a lot more angry if a candidate waited for me to waste my time picking them before telling me no. Plus how is she going to explain that to her reference.

  20. Colette*

    “I appreciate your candidness and just wanted to suggest that you are making quite an assumption about me without ever having met me. And all because I asked for Facetime instead of Skype? Best of luck to you in finding the right candidate.”

    This is an example of an e-mail you should write and never, ever send.

    It sounds snarky, and the fact of the matter is that potential donors may never meet you in person. Written communication may very well be a crucial part of the job.

    Even if it’s not, though, I always wonder about people who receive feedback and argue with it. That’s a red flag, too.

    (Questioning is different – “Oh, I didn’t see it that way, how would you have preferred to handle it?” – but this is basically telling her she’s wrong.)

  21. ProcReg*

    I worked for an employer that made fun of me in my interview. That should’ve been a red flag to not accept, but right out of college, there aren’t many choices.

    The OP’s initial email was sarcastic, but understandable. The hiring manager’s response was totally, in her words, “[you don’t] have the right interpersonal skills for this job.”

    Call and back out with a smile, and watch the hiring manager melt down!!!1

  22. Joey*

    Maybe I have particularly tough skin, but I’d much rather have a boss that tells it like it is even if its rough. I didn’t see any particularly personal attacks. To me it appears as though it was meant to be constructive criticism, but just conveyed without polish.

    Maybe its because I believe that although employers should show basic respect for potential employees executives deserve some extra latitude. Some may not agree with me, but to me, as long as its meant constructively and the person is in control of their emotions I give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe that’s because I’ve worked for some really smart, successful people who had a reputation of being an a**hole, but I found their harshness to be well intentioned and once you got to know them they weren’t nearly as bad as I imagined. Sort of Simon Cowell-ish-really tough, but constructive and almost always right on the money.

    1. fposte*

      I think we had a case of Mutually Assured Destruction here, though; we had two people who were unwilling to tolerate being on the receiving end of their own communication style. To get value out of the kind of person you describe you have to be willing to shrug it off. There was a shortage of shrug it off across the board here.

      1. Joey*

        Absolutely. But, I honestly think the Op was more out of line. Why? Because the person that’s harder to replace and is worth more will always get more latitude. That’s usually the person higher up the food chain.

        1. Anon-Mouse*

          I have to say, this point of view (not to target you, Joey, since you’re definitely not the only one that holds it) irks the hell out of me, and it’s so incredibly pervasive the higher up you go in business hierarchies.

          My business is in negotiating deals between major parties with seriously conflicting interests, and only in the rarest of instances do I have to deal with a**holes. And guess what, when they’re a**holes, that reflects poorly on the negotiation, which is exactly how it should be. Bad behavior–no matter how ‘indispensable’ someone may be–can and should beget consequences.

          It’s “House-syndrome,” this glorification of nasty behavior just because somebody has an ‘Officer’ at the end of their name. It’s not okay, folks. Rude is rude, nasty is nasty, and there is never an excuse for it. There are too many nice (or even neutral) ways of delivering criticism for a bad attitude to ever be okay.

          Blegh, there’s just something that smacks of bad-old-fashioned-‘isms’ about this kind of expectation, a latent sort of ‘well, they’re your betters so just suck it up’ vibe.


          1. Joey*

            See, but if you always allow yourself to stress about the “how it should be” and cant accept the “how it is” you will never be happy. I’m not saying you should lie down and always take it, but the more you can let roll off your back the more opportunities you’ll have to get what’s really important to you.

          2. Liz*

            Yes, I hate this attitude too. Being great at your job and being kind and tactful are not mutually exclusive. Being an a**hole is a choice.

    2. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      I do think that’s interesting, that we should be looking at it differently because it’s not just any hiring manager, it’s an executive. It’s an idea that’s not without warrant.

    3. SW*

      Honestly, I think giving executives more “latitude” just because they outrank people worsens their behavior and leads to unhappy employees or employees who don’t respect them. There are great managers/leaders/CEOs who understand how to communicate well and treat their subordinates with respect, so I don’t think a-hole executives deserve to be excused for being a-holes. I don’t respect anyone who is nice to their colleagues and superiors, but jerks to anyone beneath them.

      I would agree with not taking things personally from any coworker, though, and trying to understand peoples’ intentions.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I think ultimately you’ve got to judge people on the totality of what they get done*, and it’s true that there are some execs who are able to accomplish incredible things, beyond what most people can do. And sometimes that means it’s a reasonable calculation to put up with less-than-ideal interpersonal skills. (I worked with someone like that, and I continue to believe he deserves his role — even though it can mean putting up with some crap from him because of his talents. However, over time I absolutely came to lose significant respect for him because of his interpersonal challenges.)

        * By “what they get done,” I mean in the long-term, and that’s key. You might be able to achieve a lot in the short-term by ruling by fear and running roughshod over people, but you probably won’t be able to sustain it in the long-term because you’ll lose great staff members and have trouble attracting new ones, and your long-term results will probably be compromised as a result.

        1. SW*

          I should clarify my perspective — just because I don’t think “s/he’s an exec” is a valid excuse doesn’t mean I would act hostile towards them or recommend that anyone else do the same. And I’d certainly have a higher opinion of an a-hole exec who’s great at what he does than an incompetent a-hole exec.

          It’s just that, given the choice, I would much rather work for a company with a No Asshole policy than a company that suffers from House-syndrome (TM Anon-Mouse).

        2. Anonymous*

          From what I’ve heard, working for Steve Jobs wasn’t the easiest thing in the world for some folks, but in retrospect, because of what he accomplished, how cool would it be to be able to say you worked for Steve Jobs?

  23. Another Reader*

    OP, If you wanted a good example of how NOT to give someone feedback, that note is it–so how aggressive is “too aggressive” compared to “aggressive enough”? What exactly does “unaware of your own subjective context” mean anyway? “Pushy” is in the eye of the beholder, and the definition can vary by culture/context–that woman is pushy, that man is just aggressive enough. And based on this note, I’m not sure if the writer knows what gentle professionalism really is. You might want to count yourself lucky that you got a heads-up on the boss before accepting the position….

    1. -X-*

      “so how aggressive is “too aggressive” compared to “aggressive enough”?”

      This go me thinking about gender. And yes, I know the interviewer was a woman as well.

      1. Anon-Mouse*

        Also true. Some serious gender issues are highlighted in that critical note (and it doesn’t matter whether the interviewer is male or female, as I think–but don’t quote me–studies on this very issue have shown). “Gentle professionalism” stands out to me as code for ‘not feminine enough’ which is code for ‘pushier than women have traditionally been socialized to be.’

        1. fposte*

          It certainly could be. Though when you’re talking about work with donors, you really don’t want somebody who’s pushy, so I can see it as a legitimate concern with any gender.

  24. cncx*

    Oh GURL. I had a crazy interview like that and took the job anyway. Wound up in crazy town. Don’t let people talk to you like that.

  25. Maire*

    I’m really surprised at the amount of people siding with the interviewer. The response the interviewer gave was insultingly personal and unwarranted: the OP did not make any personal attacks in her response. Also how pretentious is this:
    “You’re too aggressive and pushy and unnuanced and unaware of your own subjective context”
    What does “your own subjective context” even mean? Sounds like something out of an undergraduate Sociology essay.

    1. Maire*

      By which I mean: completely meaningless waffle. So not constructive criticism at all.

    2. Emily*

      I agree. Constructive criticism needs to give concrete examples of things to improve on if you really want to help the other person. For example, “One word responses can be perceived as rude by some people.” Telling someone you don’t like their “subjective context” doesn’t tell them anything constructive. It’s just rude. Good idea to walk away.

      1. LJL*

        My problem is that it is non-specific. It needs to point to specific examples to be effective (as mentioned above).

    3. Zed*

      I thought “unaware of your own subjective context” was very clearly code for “self-centered.”

      1. Maire*

        Maybe it was but it doesn’t actually mean that if taken literally. It doesn’t mean anything if taken literally.

  26. Anonymous*

    A single word like ‘okay’ can be frought with sarcasm and other unpleasantries. When I was working in Japan, I was advised never to say ‘No problem’ to a manager’s request that something be done. In Japan, ‘no problem’ translates as ‘there is no problem/issue to address’ which the manager will receive as insubordination or argumentation, as opposed to the intended meaning of ‘I will address the problem as described.’

    1. Maire*

      Yeah, I always feel wary of putting “Thanks a lot” in emails because I associate it with sarcasm.

    2. fposte*

      “No problem” is a questionable phrase in English, too. Its underlying meaning really isn’t appropriate in a lot of work situations, because it’s suggesting that there was the possibility it *could* have been a problem and that its being a problem would have mattered. People for whom it’s ingrained don’t parse it like that, of course, but there are a lot of English speakers, especially 30+, for whom it isn’t ingrained and who find it disconcerting to be informed that it wasn’t a problem to have their business request met.

      1. Anonymous*

        The same issue comes up in service situations too. “No problem” does not mean “You’re welcome.” When I thank you for refilling my iced tea, and you tell me it’s “no problem,” that implies that my thanks are unwarranted and unappreciated since it was no problem for you to refill it. Just say “you’re welcome” and move on.

      1. Chinook*

        Mmmm…Pocari Sweat. I always wanted to know what a Pocari is and why its sweat tastes so darn good!

  27. anonymous*

    I am the OP writing another comment and update. Since this is my first time on this board posting a question, will someone please let me know what OP means? Thanks.

    I reread all your comments and highly appreciate it. I just wanted to let you know why I prefer facetime to skype. First of all, I rarely use skype and didn’t even know if I my account was still active (but it is now) and the reason I rarely use it is because in order to use it, I have to be at the laptop rather than roaming around multi-tasking with Facetime. But I was very open to skyping and let her know that. I don’t think that the facetime issue was the only thing bothering her. I also took the lead and asked her if she would be available for the interview at my preferred time. That’s because even though I work in the same city she does, (I don’t live in that area), I work remotely from home alot and interviewing initially with her means that I would have to travel in just to interview with her. 3 hours of my day just for traveling and then the interview. So the days I do go is when I prefer to interview unless there is no choice. I would have for sure accommodated her if she had articulated that it was the only possibility. She didn’t.

    Many of you commented that it was unprofessional of me to give one word answer “okay” and you are correct. I live on my iphone and use it all day and prefer it over the laptop, unless I have long emails to send for business. I erred.

    No way was she even justified by articulating those negative remarks before she even met me. Even though I am trying to woo her more, she still has to come across as a decent person, and she failed at that. That is not acceptable and unbeknown to her she did me a great favor by showing her true colors to me.

    I agreed to a skype interview because I really wanted to hear what she had to say and sell myself in the best possible light by impressing her with my knowledge and skills and I wanted to see if she would bring up our earlier exchange. She didn’t. For a few days I thought, maybe it could work. Maybe it was just a bad start. Maybe we can put this behind us. But most of you convinced me that it would be a disaster to take this job. Thank you.

    I sent her the following email a few hours ago:

    “I just wanted to notify you that I am withdrawing my candidacy for this position as I do not think it will be a good fit.

    Best of luck in finding the right candidate and thank you once again for the time on Friday.”

    While many of you advised not to give a reason, I felt that giving her a general reason without the nastiness, without attacking her character, people skills, etc. would demonstrate the right way to give proper feedback.

    Thank you all again for your putting the time into this discussion and now I am hooked on this website and board.


    1. KimmieSue*

      Hi E,
      OP is “original poster”. I have to commend you. You took all the comments and feedback (even the contrary and negative stuff) quite graciously. No, the hiring manager was not justified in how she treated you. But I think you could have handled some of the initial interactions differently.
      My only advice, which I think you are getting, is that although the interview is a two-way street – they are not exactly even. Candidates (even those with really great jobs and security) may have to do more of the “selling”. I learned (from an awesome boss) about ten years ago; that I have to type, read, walk, read, edit, walk, read, edit and then hit “send”.
      Good luck in your search.

      1. anonymous*

        thanks. Although I edit like crazy before I send emails at work, I tend to slack off in the job search.

        1. Cara*

          I understand it’s harder to type long messages on an iPhone, but sometimes it’s worth taking an extra five minutes to compose and type out a longer response. Especially when you are applying for a job where the tone of written communication is important. I would assume that most hiring managers feel that job candidates are on their best behavior in the job search, not “slacking off,” so she was justified in judging your communication style based on your emails to her. She probably figured that if your emails were blunt out of the gate in a job search, they would probably be even more blunt in the actual job.

          We never saw the verbatim emails you sent about the interview schedule and FaceTime v. Skype, so it’s hard to tell whether her response and tone to you came out of left field or were natural responses to your tone in your emails to her. I think her “feedback” email to you following the “okay” response was not very helpful as it didn’t give you any concrete examples of what you did to set her off, but it is clear that she was set off. I am not ready to indict her as a bad manager just yet. It sounds like you two really just did not click, and maybe if you both had acknowledged that and agreed to put it behind you, you could have started over on the right foot.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Totally agree. “Slacking off” on emails in your job search (or sending one-word ones because you’re typing on your phone) is a good way to ensure that the best jobs — the ones you want — won’t want you. It sounds like you have a slightly skewed perspective on how this stuff works — just because you have the option of staying at your current job doesn’t mean that you don’t still need to make an effort in your job search, if you ever want to change jobs. You do. And it sounds like you’re currently not quite realizing that.

            1. Julie K*

              It sounds like you don’t make as much of an effort in your job search communications because you currently don’t need a new job. However, your interactions with other people still make an impression on them, and not making a good impression can negatively impact your professional reputation over time.

    2. Not so NewReader*

      Well done, E. One idea that hit me about this whole story is that you started out by saying something about dirty politics at work.
      I got to wondering if you had a caustic work environment. Perhaps you are used to “snappy conversation” meaning quick back and forths or having to defend yourself or take preemptive strikes.

      If yes, then you might want to find a way to wind down from that before an interview or communication with perspective employers. A family member worked in such a caustic environment that he took a week off – no pay- between jobs, just to help with mentally shifting from old toxic environment to new PLEASANT environment. As you are saying- his former work place was rather unethical and therefore really negative. Even after doing, this he still found it hard to let his guard down.

      You dodged a bullet, E. I suspect this new place is not much better than the environment of the job you have.

    3. HR Pufnstuf*

      Good for you OP, declining was the right call. I want to note too that your requests wouldn’t have soured me to a good candidate, for me it’s not an issue to reply “We only have access to Skype at the office”.

      Also, I do a lot of out of office travel and use my Iphone to respond to emails, I know my answers and many others are more succint when answering from a smart phone, I take that in as a factor when evaluating responses.

      1. Joey*

        You may not take offense to a candidate who makes those requests or responds succinctly, but there are a lot of execs that will.

      2. Anon*

        I agree with you on both points, and am somewhat surprised that most commenters don’t. Eh. Buyers’ market, I suppose.

    4. Anonymous*

      Now I could be wrong, but from your post it sounds like you might be a non-native speaker of English. If so – and I’m not suggesting this justifies the hiring manager’s actions in any way – it may be a good idea to take some workshops (or something) on conveying the appropriate tone in English. I know some languages, by their nature, are more direct, and perhaps that difference is causing your words to come across as more blunt than you intended sometimes.

    5. Flynn*

      “No way was she even justified by articulating those negative remarks before she even met me. ”

      That’s an awfully sweeping statement. This thread has come up with multiple ways in that it might have been justified, and differing opinions on whther her feedback was utterly out of line or just blunt, and acceptable criticism. Assuming that it absolutely, definitely has to be all their fault is a red flag to me.

    6. Joey*

      To me, in context with your other emails giving a reason comes across like you’re trying to win. Sort of “I’ll show you”. Is it really necessary to “demonstrate the right way to give proper feedback.”

      1. fposte*

        Totally agreed. The inability to let something go without feedback is the source of the problem on both sides here. I’m at least pleased the OP was able to keep it as restrained as she did, so that it’s vague enough that it really isn’t feedbacky.

    7. Jessa*

      I don’t think it’s appropriate to be “roaming around multitasking” during a job interview. This should be something that you’ve planned for and are sitting down giving all your attention to.

  28. Andrew*

    I think physicians are a great example of allowing dysfunctional behavior to be tolerated because of their rank and “what they accomplish.” As a result, we have significant medical errors and even patient deaths because staff are too afraid to speak up. So yes, this can be a big deal I think.

    1. Elaine*

      +100 Additionally, for all their training they often aren’t trained to be managers, and some scoff at those they work with who have been. My most dysfunctional bosses have been physicians.

  29. Andrew*

    Congratulations to the OP for sending her follow up email. It sounds like you learned alot which is great. I certainly learned alot reading thru the comments.

    I also learned that it’s hard to post comments here from my phone, and I have an android. I seem to have weird glitches and it takes forever!!!

  30. A reader*

    OP, it’s good to hear that you took yourself out of the candidate pool and realize that having a positive working relationship with your manager can sometimes trump all of the other things that are important to you in your next job – believing in the mission, having a flexible work arrangement, pay, etc. At the end of the day, who you work with and who you work for can make all of the difference.

    With that said, I can somewhat see how suggesting a date/time to the interviewer can seem a bit pushy. While I understand that you made that based on your particular schedule, I think it’s good to keep in mind that many recruiters, hiring managers and interviewers have a limited schedule and time frame to bring candidates in and meet with them. While it would be an inconvenience to come to the area on a day that you weren’t planning on, that’s the reality involved in a job search. Of course, once the interviewer/recruiter suggests a date, you can always suggest another one that works better for you and usually they’ll try to accommodate if they’re interested. In general, I feel that it’s better form to let them lead the direction in terms of when and how to meet and take it from there.

    Best of luck finding the right combination of ‘must-haves’ in your job search.

    1. Neeta*

      ” I can somewhat see how suggesting a date/time to the interviewer can seem a bit pushy. ”

      I don’t see why. The vast majority of people who ask me for an interview generally ask me about my availability first. Keeping that in mind, I don’t think it should be counted against the OP.

      … unless of course, you meant to say software not date/time. :)

  31. VictoriaHR*

    To me, the bottom line is that, if the OP really truly wants that job, and the hiring manager said that she had not liked something that the OP said/did, the OP’s first response should have been an apology. “I’m truly sorry if I’ve offended you. I shouldn’t have asked for Facetime instead of Skype (or said “okay” in an email, or whatever it was that was offensive). I apologize and hope we can move forward.”

    1. anonymous*

      good advice if I was desperately seeking work. Not the case here. I want a good fit. However, I understand that I will never find the perfect job and will have to give up one or two of my criteria. Right?

      1. LJL*

        I don’t know why you would need to give up criteria if you’re in a comfortable position now. If you want to, sure, but I don’t think it’s a requirement given what little I know of your situation.

  32. Penelope Sims*

    Weird! I’ve used Facetime and Skype to do multiple interviews and Skype is harder to use! It’s harder to sign up for, the app loads slower, the picture quality is much worse, sound quality is okay.
    Facetime loads quicker, is easier to use and has better picture quality.
    Skype was cool like 5 years when we didn’t know any better.

    The OP should run from this company: cancelling a last minute request to use an antiquated app for a video interview is immature and frankly, so 2007.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Except that far more businesses use Skype than Facetime (or Apple products, for that matter, which are required for Facetime). It’s not really realistic to expect that businesses used to using Skype will switch just because a candidate asks for it.

      1. Kevin*

        Agreed, but it’s not grounds for the unprofessional response from this hiring manager. At worst, it’s a minor blip that any hiring manager should expect when hiring. All she had to say was that her organization is set up only for Skype.

        Her response was not only inappropriate and unprofessional, but grounds for disciplinary action because of the strain her behavior can potentially cause with whatever organization the OP lands in.

        Sure OP probably shouldn’t have suggested FaceTime, but if a hiring manager sees that as a big offense, and responds that way, that manager won’t be in their position for very long.

  33. evr*

    My “abusive office people” radar is on high-alert, raging code red after reading this — I think this person is bully, and going to the interview would signal that you’re an easy target to repeat a pattern of abuse on. Without going into detail, there are many subtle BPD/NPD types who play this cat and mouse game. Assert yourself, avoid this place, and seek interviews elsewhere. Your gut already is telling you this is situation is bad. Try you hardest to never compromise yourself by taking interviews or job offers in a state of desperation (because if you felt no little sense of desperation at all, you would not even consider for one second going to waste your time interviewing with a person who has made all these statements toward you in this manner).

    1. anonymous*

      thank you for a comment well put. I sent her an email expressing that I am no longer a candidate.

      1. Nelly*

        Let us know if she replies! You may need your big girl panties on for a blistering response. Or she may surprise us all and be very polite about the whole thing (I doubt it).

      2. Kevin*

        Did you happen to receive a response from her after sending her this email? I’m genuinely curious to see how this train-wreck of a hiring manager handled it.

  34. Maraca*

    I love this thread! It’s another reminder why I love this blog. I haven’t found another part of the internet that is near this respectful. OP – thank you for your follow-ups and for being so open and gracious. And thanks to you all for your great conversation. I seem to feel better about the world after reading AAM!

  35. Adey J*

    The fact that you even ask the question about this employer says it is wrong for you. You should walk away and no play pony to this women’s person opinions of how you should behave. She is not going to turn into a wonderfully co-operative and supportive person, if anything you are setting yourself up for bullying and worse. You take the job, she knows you will take abuse from her and still bend over.

    I have learned that its best to walk away from jobs with a bad smell as soon as possible with as little further interaction as possible. They need you, that’s why they are employing – not the other way round.

  36. Kevin*

    I was a recruiter for years. If I’d taken the approach that this hiring manager had taken, I’d have been fired or at least suspended for unprofessional conduct.

    This hiring manager not only overreacted to what amounts to very minor “offenses” such as scheduling or communication platform, but she did so in an unprofessional way that risks any relationship her organization may have with whatever organization the candidate works for. Business 101 is that you never burn a bridge, and she torched it happily.

    The proper responses to every “issue” that arose:

    1) “We’re required to use Skype, so that’s the only way we can do this remotely.”
    2) “We’re currently interviewing other candidates, please be patient while we continue our scheduled interviews.”
    3) “Here are the times we have available, let us know which works best for you.”
    4) “We’ve chosen to go in a different direction. Thanks for your time, and best of luck in your search.”

    None of these are difficult to say or do, and all are things you learn at entry-level. For a hiring manager to behave this way displays woefully improper conduct.

    Obviously a candidate should try to accommodate a prospective employer, but any hiring manager worth their salt doesn’t want an employee who abandons their current job’s duties to interview with a prospective new employer. And any employee worth their salt knows not to take a position in which personal attacks are considered professionally acceptable.

    It sounds to me that while the candidate could possibly have been more accommodating RE: Skype, the hiring manager was so remarkably unprofessional that her employer would be wise to read over her correspondence with donors and partners for the same behavior. Something is seriously wrong with how comfortably she violates the basics of professional conduct and decorum.

  37. Krystal*

    Did I miss something? I know we are in an age of technology but Skype or FaceTime for an interview?! I am old school at my tender age of 44. You dress up and show up.

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