short answer Saturday — 6 short answers to 6 short questions

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

1. Bringing a camera to a job interview

I’m going to interview with a company in the gaming industry next week in their headquarters. Their headquarters are a monument to nerd-ism, and I’d love to bring a camera and take some pictures! Do you think it would look good if a candidate says: “Can I take a picture of this 5 feet tall statue of a game character?” Or I ask for a picture with one of my interviewers, who works as a game designer on a title that sold 25 million copies the same day it was released?

I’m so excited about this opportunity, and I don’t want to ruin it because of a silly mistake.

Don’t do that. You’ll look like you’re there as a fan rather than a serious candidate. And they are making time to talk with you as a job candidate, not a fan who wants to take pictures. While some people might not be put off by this, enough will that it’s too much of a risk. (Read this for a longer explanation of a similar situation.)

2. When you’re rushed through an interview and then made an offer

I had an interview for an internship with a direct service healthcare agency. The interview was a rushed 20 minutes and after I asked two questions, the interviewer cut me off to see the next intern-hopeful. I didn’t even get to learn some basic things about their agency like their preferred modality of treatment! I waited for a while and then the two of us were shuffled into a room where the interviewer said a little more about the agency, then offered 2 spots to both of us right there and started to talk about the next steps. As he was talking he said, “If you’re accepting the position..?” And looked at us each for an answer. Thankfully, the other candidate just looked back at him with me and let him finish his sentence as if he hadn’t expected a response.

Is there a way to ask those outstanding questions without (1) making it seem like I don’t know how to “go with” the rushed pace of health and human services these days or (2) rudely pointing out that he didn’t allow for a “complete” interview?

Also, the interviewer wants an answer “as soon as possible, like tomorrow.” But I have already-scheduled interviews through Friday. I feel like if I don’t respond soon, I’ll lose the spot, but I do want to see what all my choices are. If I can’t afford to be picky (and thus can’t afford to out-right reject a place that is throwing up a few at least pink flags), how should I respond? Because of the power differential wherein interns have almost no leverage (flooded market), other friends of mine in the same situation have agreed and kept looking anyway. Full disclosure: I can see why they were tempted to do that.

When you get an offer but still have questions, it’s fine to say, “I have some questions I’d love to get answered. Is now a good time for that or should we set up a phone call later in the week?” As for needing to give a decision right away, you can reasonably ask for up to a week to decide, but if they need an answer before then, well, you’ve got to decide if you prefer a certain job offer over a not-certain hypothetical offer somewhere else. But you really shouldn’t accept it with the intention of continuing to look — first, because of integrity (something you don’t want to start your career off without, by the way), second because you’ll burn bridges and potentially impact your reputation if you leave shortly after accepting an offer, and third because if your new employer hears through the grapevine that you’re still interviewing, you risk losing that offer AND not getting other ones.

3. Explaining a move when job searching

I have an issue I’d love your help with. My boyfriend and I are talking about moving to the west coast from the northeast after we graduate from grad school next spring. My boyfriend is from Southern California, and we want to be closer to his family. I’ve never lived on the west coast (born and raised in the northeast, attended college in the mid west and grad school in New England), so I’d like something short that I can write or say that will convey that this is a permanent move. I don’t want to come across as flighty (New Englander wants to live in the sun for a year before returning home!), but I also don’t want to reveal too much of my personal life.

“I’m moving to ___ to be nearer to family.”

4. Pre-planned vacations and internal moves

I recently got offered and accepted a new job, but it is with the same company, just a different segment of the company — I’m transferring positions. I will have a new boss and coworkers; I start my new position in 2 weeks.

I have 2 pre-planned vacations for this summer — one in July to see family back home, and another in August for my grandparents’ 60th wedding anniversary celebration. Flights have been booked for both, although I could get out of the July trip, if necessary. These were both approved by my current boss. Do I email my new boss now telling (asking) her about these 2 weeks and if they are okay, or should I wait until I’m physically at my new position, and ask about them then?

Ask her about them now. It’s far more courteous, because if she’s assuming you’ll be there during those weeks, she may make plans that depend on that (such as approving vacation time for someone else then, or signing you up for a conference). If you wait to check with you, you’ll look cavalier about it.

5. Employer wants a bio, in addition to a resume

I am being called back for a second interview and they asked me to send them a brief bio prior to coming in again. Since they have my resume, what would the bio include?

That’s weird. I’m not sure why they want it, but write it the same way you’d write a bio if you needed to submit it for something else — your background in narrative form.

6. Reprimanded for calling off two Sundays in a row

Should I recieve a reprimand or a write-up for calling off two Sundays in a row? Does this constitute a pattern of abuse?

I can’t answer that without more context. If your manager doesn’t trust you or has reason to think the call-outs weren’t legitimate, then sure, that could constitute a pattern of abuse. What were you reasons for calling off? What’s your attendance history previously?

{ 84 comments… read them below }

  1. Jennifer

    #6 – I am also curious if you had previously asked about getting the time off and were denied, if maybe you were overheard talking about wanting the time off for some reason or if either or both of the days you called off coincided with vacation time or other scheduled time off. Any of those would throw up red flags. I hope you come back to provide some more background.

    1. C4T!!!

      #1 – Don’t do it.

      The link Alison posted in her response to you was my question. As someone that blew it, please read her responses as well as the readers that commented along the same lines.

      Doing, or even trying, to will prove to them that you are focused on what YOU WANT, and not what THEY NEED.

      1. Cat

        Do you mind giving us an update on what happened and what specifically went wrong?

        1. C4T!!!

          An update from: https://www.askamanager.org/2012/09/interviewing-with-a-company-youre-in-awe-of.html

          So I did end up getting an interview(!), and as I expected, I was absolutely “geeked” about just being there. I did my best to control my nerves (THANK YOU SO MUCH TO EVERYONE THAT COMMENTED!) but that actually wasn’t the hardest part of the interview…

          So I was interviewing for an HR position at a software company, but over 75% of the interview was with the people I would be serving – the engineers, sales and marketing, artists, programmers, producers – even someone from IT – at this company. They would all ask me about my previous experience, which was fine, but I was absolutely stumped when they asked me “Do you have any questions for us”. I had plenty for my would-be-boss, but for some reason I hadn’t prepared myself with technical questions for my would-be-coworkers and I didn’t know how to ask HR questions to non-HR people. It was really awkward and embarrassing. At the end of the day I was able to ask one group, “How can my position best support yours” but by then I already knew I had bombed it (confirmed 4 days later when I was notified I wasn’t selected).

          Here’s a link Alison sent me to for next time…
          http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/outside-voices-careers/2012/04/18/the-10-best-interview-questions-to-ask

  2. Jen in RO

    #1 – if that’s Blizzard, I’m extremely envious and I would totally sneak a photo of the orc in the courtyard :) (But not of the interviewer, that would be weird.) Good luck!

    1. Jessa

      This is totally what cellphones are for on the way OUT of the building. If they’re in public spaces that is. Even a small pocket camera, but after the interview and only in public spaces and discreetly. You don’t want to come over as a fan type OR an industrial espionage-ist. Seriously. If it’s a gaming company it’s probably okay to say you’ve used their product in an interview, but mixing business with that kind of stuff…doesn’t usually go over well on the “they can work here like professionals” scale.

      1. Chinook

        I second the fact that you don’t want to look like an industrial espionagist. If there is even a chance of that happening, complete yourself with the fact that, if you get the job, you will get to see this stuff EVERDAY!

      2. EngineerGirl

        I was going to say that too. Brining a camera to work is an easy way to get fired in certain industries.

    2. Kit M.

      I saw a job for Blizzard recently in which one of four requirements was “absolute passion” for their games. (Actually, that’s the only reason I didn’t apply.) I wonder if that fact would affect Alison’s answer?

      1. Nancie

        I’m wondering that myself. Some gaming companies want (or claim to want) employees who are also fans of the product. If it becomes reasonably clear from the interview that they do want fans, then a little bit of sincere fannish behavior might not be out of line.

        But is asking for a photo with the interviewer over the line? I have no idea.

        Either way, a discreet picture of the statue using a camera phone on the way out, would probably be ok.

      2. Ask a Manager Post author

        I am all for expressing passion about the games — just not for going over the top and behaving more like a fan than a job candidate!

      3. MovingRightAlong

        I think there’s a difference between passionate and star-struck, though. I understand where the OP is coming from, because I’d feel the same way; however, the company wants an employee who’s there to work, not a fanboy/girl who’s there to gawk. Taking photos risks crossing that line in the interviewer’s perception of the OP. It might end up being just fine, but is a photo or two really worth it?

        I’m sure when Blizzard, or any other company, says they want someone passionate, they’re still looking for a certain level of professionalism. Taking photos smacks of tourism to me.

        1. Zahra

          Exactly, you can be a fan without being a groupie. They’ll want to see that you can recognize some flaws and recommend reasonable solutions in terms of manpower and outcomes.

    3. nyxalinth

      Until recently, I would have been envious too, but the way they’ve been allowing trolls to run rampant and they themselves have been ignoring their own ToS when it comes to dealing with such trolls in favor of moar moneez has given me pause. That, and the Diablo 3 fiasco. But still this is exciting for the OP, and good luck!

      Also, was wondering if it was Bethesda, or even Valve, which are both pretty cool too.

      1. Evan the College Student

        they’ve been allowing trolls to run rampant
        Isn’t it the gamers’ job to kill trolls?

        (Okay, okay, I understand… ;) )

        1. nyxalinth

          LOL good one :D

          I was also thinking the Trolls (in game player race) would say “What be wrong wit da trolls, mon? We have da mojo!”

      2. Jen in RO

        Thing is, I don’t know what they could do really. The amount of legitimate tickets they get is staggering (my friend used to be a GM and she worked on 2-3 tickets at a time for 8 hours a day) and, no matter how much I’d love for them to be able to temp-ban a lot of the douchebags, I understand it’s not feasible…

        On topic, if it’s Blizzard I’m sure they would love to know that you’re a fan, especially if you’re a fan of the game you’d be working on… but asking for a photo with the interviewer is over the top.

        1. VictoriaHR

          Ha, I used to volunteer for SOE back in the day (makers of EverQuest) for 4-5 years in their customer service program. Then after I left, a company called Sigil Games started up and they were making a game called Vanguard, and so they sought out and brought on those of us former volunteers of a specific level to help build their customer service program. Too bad the game was lousy. But what fun I had while it lasted!

    4. Elise

      Blizzard is doing a lot of hiring right now. Check their site if you are really interested. 143 jobs in Irvine, CA; 15 in Austin, TX; 1 in Mexico City.

  3. LPBB

    #6: Are Sundays part of your normal shift? Were you told that this job would involve working on weekends? If you accepted a job knowing that Sundays and weekends in general were part of it, then I see nothing wrong with a written reprimand for calling off two Sundays in a row.

    Nobody wants to work on weekends. When I was a retail manager, we made it very clear to potential hires that they would be required to work at least one weekend day a week and some unlucky souls would be required to work two weekend days a week. (Usually, we would try as hard as possible to avoid that scenario, but things happen). Sunday was an especially difficult day to staff for a whole variety of reasons.

    If I hired someone with the expectation that they would routinely work Sundays and they called out two Sundays in a row, then yes, I would sit down and have a talk with them. I don’t know if I would elevate it quite to the level of a formal reprimand, but it would not pass without something being said.

    And I am one of the least hard-ass managers you’re ever going to meet.

    1. Jessa

      Exactly. I’d have an easier time with someone who asked off for instance for Wed, and took it anyway because well doctor’s appt, or kid’s caregiver not available. Sometimes this stuff happens and you try to do right by the company and you have no choice.

      But two Sundays in a row without a reasonable excuse (OP doesn’t say why they took them, so I have no idea if it was two emergencies it could have been.) but most companies will not go straight to write up unless they think they have a reason for it. This also like Alison says has a lot to do with what your normal attendance is like, how long you’ve worked for them, etc.

      Also some companies have really annoying very strict attendance policies, where even if a boss does NOT want to write you up, they have to. But normally you get that vibe from them if that happens, and those policies usually drop those write offs between 90 days and 6 mos depending on their policies, and those policies are really, really explicitly made clear to the employees. Most people in companies like that KNOW they’re going to take that hit when they make the call.

      (Occurrence based attendance systems, I’m looking at you and HATING that garbage.)

      1. Lacylady01

        I work as the store manager of a company with a very restrictive attendance policy. If you have more than one absence occassion (which is defined as either 1 or more days if necessary, so if you were out for a week for instance, it would count as 1 absence occassion) within a 30 day period or 3 within 90 days, it’s an automatic write up. It may sound harsh, but in the 15 years I’ve been with them, I’ve seen so many people try to abuse it, but with it very clearly written, it
        leads to termination with those individuals that try to work the system. There is no excused or unexcused absences either. It’s all attendance related if you’re not at work as you’re supposed to be. A lot of people don’t understand that a doctors excuse doesn’t alleviate your responsibility to your job, it just says yes, you saw a doctor. BTW, I’ve seen a lot of doctors notes for extra time off, when the employee themselves say to their coworkers, that it was a minor illness or such, but they asked the doc for a couple of days off because they just didn’t want to work. I’ve seen a lot of it and had to write up, suspend and terminate a lot of people in those 15 years.

        1. anon-2

          Back in my early computer days, I worked an overnight shift- midnight to eight, Tuesday morning through Saturday morning. It couldn’t be done Mon-Friday due to the nature of the work.

          Friday night/Saturday morning sick call-ins were common. One of my “Dinner Table Stories” involves ME – being out on vacation – as the root cause for work not getting done because I didn’t answer my phone – I was 1500 miles away from home. My arm is not that long. This was in the 1970s, no telecommuting, no cell phones, not even answering machines were prevalent.

          My other two co-workers both called in sick. I was chewed out – I should have been home, not away, and be ready to come in. So it was my fault that the work didn’t get done.

          Huh?

          LacyLady01 – be VERY careful if you’re going to horse around with that. The above place I mentioned tried to do that. My doctor was ready to legally testify that I was too ill to work, and that was enough for my managers to back down.

          Like the hand jive song “A doctor and a lawyer and an Indian chief”… you don’t want the first two to come in on an illegal termination suit flanking a terminated employee. In that battle of wits, you might find yourself unarmed.

          1. Anthony

            To be clear though, it isn’t illegal to fire someone for missing work due to an illness unless they qualify for FMLA. Unless that was the case your managers didn’t HAVE to back down, even if your doctor was willing to testify, they did but it doesn’t mean that all employers will or even have to.

            1. anon-2

              OK, let me ask you this.

              If you were a manager, would YOU fire someone who was bed-ridden with influenza, under a doctor’s care, and facing hospitalization?

              Maybe you could technically get away with it — but — I don’t think I’d tread down that path, no matter how draconian a policy I have. You might win but man, would it be messy!

              1. Jessa

                If they’re always calling out for everything, it could be the final straw.

                But I still do think that the occurrence thing is a BAD way to do attendance. Because it DOESN’T select out the people who are just taking time off and gaming it from the ones who are genuinely ill and FMLA only works if the company has more than 50 employees and the employee has been there more than a year.

                Honestly if someone has a pattern of absence, the HR discussion for relevant proof should happen even if the job does not qualify for FMLA. And this needs to be HR because that information needs to be kept confidential. Also since a lot of the jobs that have occurrence based systems also tend to be places that have a lot of employees and schedules (I know a lot of call centres, data entry places, bank after hour jobs, etc.) If there’s a reason for a constant Sunday call out, there is probably a reasonable request to switch to working SATURDAY in there somewhere. Unless they’re off Sat, in which case there’s a different issue playing And that’s something you can address. You can address patterns without any real attendance policy at all.

                1. Jessa

                  I had a boss who actually punished me for not calling off 2 hours before my shift, when I was taken to hospital by ambulance. So attendance stuff can come up really stupid.

                2. doreen

                  Some occurrence policies are bad, but not all. The one at my agency, although considered to be draconian by employees isn’t bad at all. FMLA absences do not count. Documented bereavement leaves do not count. Medically excused absences are one occurrence no matter how long the absence lasts. The policy kicks in at 8 unscheduled absences within a rolling 12 month period. It never actually requires a particular action to be taken. It requires that the employee’s attendance be reviewed and that any decision must be documented. Although it each step of the policy has a suggested action, it also states something to the effect of ” unless the (title) approves otherwise”. And for the first couple of steps that title is the immediate supervisor. The policy is intended to make the supervisors pay attention to attendance and to standardize how absences are treated as much as it is to discourage unscheduled absences.

                  Why do the employees think it’s draconian? Because before this policy took effect , attendance issues were frequently ignored. I personally know of people who had unscheduled absences for half the workdays in a year (not a single absence- two days here, a week there that added up) and were not so much as spoken to by their supervisor, and others who were so accustomed to calling in the morning and basically saying they didn’t feel like coming to work that they would become irate when that leave request was denied for operational reasons.

              2. Anthony

                Would I fire someone for that if that was their first (or one of very few) abscenses? No. But if it was part of a recurring pattern of abscenses, or there was some question to the legitimacy of the illness, then yes I can certainly envision a scenario where that would be the final straw and I would terminate an individual for that. In some industries (such as theme parks- which is where I work) attendance is a MAJOR part of the job. If employees do not show up it presents a major safety hazard, or a guest service disaster (by having attractions closed). Especially when dealing with younger workers, they often call off for superficial reasons, which when coupled with (even a legitimate call off) present a pattern of unreliability that is unacceptable. The expectations for attendance are made clear from the beginning, and constant feedback (through progressive discipline) is given on the issue. At a certain point though, reliability is paramount, and if the individual is showing a pattern of inability to perform (by showing up) then they will need to be removed and replaced.

          2. Lacylady01

            Just so this is clear, nothing disciplinary action wise such as write ups, suspensions and such are done without HR approval. I have never terminated anyone without having sufficient documentation and it all throughly researched by HR. Needless to say, they literally check everything out before any disciplinary action is allowed to be taken with anyone for anything, attendance or otherwise, so even if I’m the one actually having to issue it, it’s off me.
            I go by the ABCDE theory. Always Be Consistent Document Everything, our wonderful company lawyers taught our managers that.
            BTW we encourage employees to utilize fmla.

  4. Soni

    #1 – Why not call and see if you can arrange for a “fan tour” scheduled for AFTER your interview. That way, you can get the best of both worlds.

    1. just another hiring manager...

      My hubby and brother work in the gaming industry and generally they don’t do “fan tours” or allow an inside peek into their offices, especially at headquarters.

      In fact, most interviewees have to sign a non-disclosure agreement after an interview. Bringing a camera to the interview would be so far outside of industry norm that the candidate would be dead in the water!

        1. JessBee

          Yeah, I really think Blizzard may the an exception to a lot of this advice about not geeking out. Yes, the writer needs to come across as a serious, qualified, job candidate. But he/she can do that and still express enthusiasm about the products and the campus. When a company has a notable “monument” on site (Blizzard’s statute(s), the Facebook “Like” statue, etc), I really don’t think it’s out of line to ask for a picture of or with it, assuming you can do it in a way that’s not obnoxious or totally star-struck. I’d probably ask at the end of the interviews, on my way out.

          Having said all that, I suppose I can see how that kind of geek-out might be off-putting at a lot of companies. I just don’t think it’s true of *all* companies, particularly in the gaming and tech area.

  5. Juni

    If you’re interviewing for a senior-level position, or a position that utilizes board members or leadership staff in the hiring, it’s not to weird to have to provide a bio. Just summarize your career narratively in a paragraph. I’ve actually got a bio in front of me right now, if it helps (not mine):

    {Candidate} has worked in {field} for 16 years, since moving to {city} and pursuing {change from other related field}. Her work highlights include {important project} for {prominent organization} and {meeting important goal} for {other prominent organization}. As a {job title/category}, she has been recognized by the {professional organization} as {prize-winner} in 2009, 2011, and 2012. A graduate of {Bachelor’s Institution} and {Master’s Institution}, she also holds a certification in {Certification} and serves on the board of {prominent nonprofit}.

  6. Kimberlee, Esq.

    My boyfriend, who is also a big videogame nerd, totally disagrees on #1. He says request to take the pics AFTER the interview, but that 1) nerds totally love showing off their cool nerd stuff, 2) they probably get that request all. the. time. and 3) People who develop video games, even the most famous video games, don’t get stopped on the street for autographs, but he suspects that the developers would totally love having a fan recognize them and their work.

    Also, a few months ago Valve’s employee handbook was leaked (and then officially released, because it’s awesome) and everything I read in there indicated that a little nerding out at an interview would be totally acceptable. :)

    1. BeenThere

      Yep this. It’s a different culture to other workplaces. They generally don’t want what are perceived to be stuffy suits working for them.

    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      Even on the picture with the interviewer? I would HATE it if someone asked to take a picture with me because I would feel like a jerk saying no, but I really wouldn’t want to do it and would be annoyed that a semi-stranger was asking me to when I was just going about my day at work.

      1. Kimberlee, Esq.

        I think you’d want to feel out how the interviewers might feel about that sort of thing during the interview, but I could see making some kind of offhand comment at the end, like joking “I really loved your work on x, I’m such a fan, I almost want to ask for an autographed picture or something” and see the reaction. I agree that straight up asking might be a bit forward, but if you can tell they’re open to someone going all fangirl on them, I’d say go for it.

      2. -X-

        I’ve had two experience vaguely like fandom – people coming up to me and asking if I was -X-. And it was very very nice both times. Neither time did the person ask for a photo, and neither time was I working, but I was doing something. And it was still great. A photo would only have taken a moment. The best time was in a major train station with my girlfriend and some guy cam up to me. Great.

        And I’ve had tourists ask for photos with me near my home a few times – not as great but if I’m not busy I don’t mind.

        I can see the possible risk in an interview situation, but beyond that I am doubtful the people working would be annoyed unless they were on a deadline or something and super-busy at that moment.

    3. Anonymous

      Yep, I have a friend who does a lot of hiring for a video game company. They expect all employees to be major fans and major players…they won’t hire a candidate who doesn’t play their games, no matter how qualified (and they can do that since they get an overwhelming amount of qualified applicants who do play their games). The bar is high–they expect their employees to be VERY good at what they do AND be major major fans of the game. Nerding out while also being extremely talented in the role is considered very positive. Not sure about photos of the interviewer though.

  7. Hannah

    re #1 – Don’t take the picture. Hopefully, you will be working there soon and can take pictures and bask in the environment all you want. And if you aren’t working there because you don’t get the job, believe me, you aren’t going to want any pictures around anyway.

    1. Jen in RO

      Believe me – any geek would love those pics. Getting an interview at one of the big gaming companies would be the highlight of my year even if I didn’t get the job!

      1. Alan

        I’m the one who send question #1, and yes it is Blizzard, and after thinking it through… I wouldn’t ask for a picture with the interviewer, but I’ll take a picture of the orc statue for sure!

    2. ThursdaysGeek

      It seems to me that asking to take a picture implies that you don’t think you’re going to get the job. You’ll have plenty of opportunities for pictures if you work there, but if you’re only going to be there the one day…

  8. Lori

    I came to tell #1 to not take the photo, and to not even talk/brag/geek out on social media, because there have been instances where companies have retracted offers or stopped the interview process based on someone’s indiscreet Tweet. But since other commenters are saying that it’s different in the video game world, maybe just wait and read the room/interviewer to get a sense of whether something like that would be okay to do before actually doing it. I would still be careful of posting on social media, though. You don’t want to leak any information, like even the fact that you are interviewing with them, if that’s something they’d rather not get out.

  9. Kathryn T.

    OP#1: there is a big sign next to the Mario statue that says “NO PHOTOGRAPHY.” I think that’s your answer. (Assuming you mean NOA.)

  10. WDG

    My fiancé works at a huge game developer, and before his interview, he had to sign several non-disclosure forms. The interview was standard, but he was forbidden from taking photos, kr even asking about projects or memorabilia in “public” areas like the gaming or dining areas. As an employee, the non-disclosure agreements are even more binding and complicated. He won’t even tell me what he’s working on because of these agreements. When I visit him at work, I can only enter and be in certain parts if the office. There’s talk that guests may need to fill out non-disclosure forms, too. Of course, I know nothing about the industry, but if I were to inadvertently spill the beans on something, that could be a problem.

    OP, I wouldn’t risk the photos, and I would be prepared for additional paperwork before your interview and during/after your possible hire.

    1. Jen in RO

      Yep, I was “sneaked in” at Blizzard HQ (in Ireland*) by my friends who said I was a cousin, otherwise I don’t know if I could have visited. Of course, they signed an NDA and they could have been fired for leaking any kind of info to the public… they weren’t even allowed to say where they work, at least in game, to prevent potential abuse.

      (*The office was completely boring and nothing like the Irvine geekfest, sadly.)

  11. Not So NewReader

    #1 As one reader pointed out, some places have “no camera signs” posted around. Some places are even more stringent with signs on the door as you enter AND you are asked while signing in to the building if you have a camera on your person. I have heard of places making visitors leave their cells at the main desk because the cell had ability to take pictures.
    One comforting thought- cameras tend to be a distraction. If you are fussing with a camera you might be missing an opportunity to make points in conversation.

    #2 They asked you two questions and decided to hire you? HUH? Are these folks desperate for employees? I would go very, very cautiously here, OP. Can you find anyone (a friend or a friend of a friend) who works there that would talk with you about the company on an informal basis? This is a lot like getting introduced to a person and five minutes later announcing your engagement to be married to each other. Try to find out something more here before proceeding. If you cannot find out more- run.

    #6. It sounds like you have a retail job? But there are many jobs out there where management runs a tight ship. I know that part of the problem is that you did it on the same day each time. The message they are getting is that you “don’t wanna work on Sundays”. And that will tick some managers off faster than if you had picked two dissimilar days. Although, managers will still be pretty ticked if you picked, say, a Monday one week and a Saturday the next week.
    From what little I know about psychology you have to see something three times before you can establish a pattern. So, no you do not have a pattern of abuse on the basis of two occurrences. Additionally, it’s not abuse to expect employees to show up on their assigned days.
    This is speaking in general terms.

    In my state it is illegal to have less than eight hours between shifts. So if my shift ends at 11 PM and my next shift begins at 5 AM this would be against the law. However, if my next shift started at 7 am I had best scurry right into work and be on time, as this would be 8 hours between shifts.

    1. -X-

      Except it’s an internship. Not sure how long it is, but it’s unlikely to be as long a commitment as a regular job, or a marriage. Those we go into hoping they’ll last a few years, at least. How long is the typical internship? A semester? Maybe a year?

      1. Marmite

        I did a 3-month internship for which I was hired during the interview. I swear the interview was just to check if I was sane and able to hold a conversation, as long as I ticked those boxes they’d already decided to hire me before I even walked in the room. The whole interview lasted maybe 10 mins. It was a non-profit hiring multiple interns and they all had similar interview experiences.

        For what it’s worth, the internship was somewhat poorly managed, but, partly because of that, gave a lot of opportunity for project and volunteer management. For 3 months of my life it was worth doing, not sure I could have stuck it out for a year though.

      2. OP #2

        Yep, it’s a 9 month-1 year internship, and it wouldn’t start til Sept. (hence my willing was to entertain the idea of accepting prematurely – if I had to back out 1 week later bc they wouldn’t give me time, they’d still have months to fill the spot). That said, the advice given was good. I wouldn’t be comfortable going into this field in a less-than-genuine way.

  12. Ali

    I wish #6 had given more info to indicate why he/she called off. Was this two emergencies or two call offs in a row for something fun (i.e. concert, sporting event, etc.). I work from home and am considered self-employed…in fact one of my work days is Sundays, go figure (nature of my industry)…so if I take off two in a row, I don’t get any discipline because of my job status. However, I try not to make it a pattern, and let me tell you…if someone calls out too much, it can be an annoyance. I have one coworker who basically told all of us in a group e-mail he didn’t want his shift for one of our biggest events (we ALL had to modify our schedules somewhat to be available), and he was saying he’d really appreciate it if someone switched with him, inferring he didn’t like when he was scheduled. It looked so bad to some of us.

    This also reminds me of when I worked in college and people would be chronically late, call off because they were hungover, etc., and one person got fired for coming to work drunk. Depending on your job and the call-off, I’d say it absolutely constitutes a write-up. You can’t inconvenience coworkers all the time and get away with it.

  13. darsenfeld

    Number 1 – Don’t take the camera. It will provide a bad first impression, since it seems you’re there for fun and not to make yourself a viable recruit.

    Number 6 – I agree with AAM in that it depends on why you were late. However, you need to speak with your supervisor and state the reasons why you were late. If it’s for legitimate reasons, then cite some evidence (like a doctor’s note for instance). Also, check to see if there is a late and/or non-attendance policy for your department. If there isn’t one, then you’re not totally to blame if such expectations haven’t been laid out.

  14. pidgeonpenelope

    6. In many front line positions any call-out is bad. I know it doesn’t seem fair but that’s industry standard. Think about it this way… they schedule you to work, you call out, now they’re short a person or they have to spend time finding/begging someone to come in to replace you.

  15. A. Nony Mouse

    Regarding #1. I work at a game company, and interview people. Allison’s advice is spot on. Do NOT do this. While I’m not at Blizzard, I am with a company in the same sort of genre. Yes, we want our employees to be passionate. We’ve even hired people who used to be customers. And we’ve had problems with all of them at first, struggling to get over their “player” mentality and into an employee one.
    There’s at least one person who has not made that transition well, and it’s sometimes a struggle to work with him. You don’t want to be perceived to be that person. Because if I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have given the ok to hire someone like that.
    If you’re a fan, and you play the games, that’s great. You can use that to your advantage. We want people who know our stuff, and who can even give us coherent feedback on it, even negative. But we don’t want someone who is going to go into a “fanboy rant” about us nerfing their favorite whatever, or ask us why we didn’t “fix all the bugs”, etc. I hope this makes sense, and good luck. :)

    1. The Snarky B

      THIS. OP, please take this advice and AAM’s above the rest in this thread. Don’t ask for a tour later, don’t ask for autographs or photos – just show your passion in the interview and you’ll make a good impression.

  16. Joey

    #6 I agree more context is needed. I would want to know how other employees were treated for being off 2 Sundays, whether there are other issues like performance, how critical the Sundays are, previous absence history and whether you’re a new employee. I disagree the reasons for being absent have anything to do with how acceptable the absences are. An absence doesn’t become more acceptable the better reason you have for it. Obviously I’m excluding legally protected absences.

    But generally, yeah weekends are worse to be absent because its harder to find employees who will reliably work on weekends.

    1. Cat

      I think the reason is actually entirely critical; at least for unplanned absences. No matter the inconvenience, you can’t (or shouldn’t) expect your employees there when they’re too ill to stand; or their child is in the hospital; or their parent has just died. You can and should expect them there even if they’d rather be at a movie or there’s an important game on or they just don’t feel like coming in.

      1. Anon

        I think employers have to operate under the same rules regardless of the situation. While that might sound harsh, it’s truly the only way to take judgement out of the equation. If you’re absent, you’re absent, regardless of the reason. Like someone had mentioned, FMLA is an obvious exception. Otherwise though, it’s the employees responsibility to adhere to the company attendance policy.

        1. Anon

          I should mention, most companies have policies in place for family deaths, and an I’ll child would likely be covered under FMLA. And of course if you’re too ill to come in, then you stay home, and as long as you aren’t ill frequently is isn’t a problem. Attendance policies aren’t in place to prohibit employees from ever calling in, but to prohibit high absenteeism.

          1. Cat

            You’re “of course” is not really a given in the kind of jobs with absentee policies, which is the problem.

        2. Henning Makholm

          Why would you want to take judgement out of the equation? You’re hiring human persons as managers rather than robots for a reason, aren’t you? Such that they can exercise judgement about how best to further the organization’s interests.

      2. Joey

        Cat,
        Doing it your way puts the manager in the awkward position of deciding which reasons are good enough and which aren’t. Thats between arock and a hard spot when you think about parents/non-parents, single/married employees. It basically rewards the employee who has lots of outside “legitimate” commitments while penalizing the person who takes a just want to mentally get away for the day. The reason for being absent has absolutely no impact on the business, only the actual absence. So why wouldn’t a manager stay out of an employees personal business and make the decision based only the part that actually can affect the business?

        1. Lacylady01

          I have to agree. It’s impossible for a manager to stay fair if exceptions are made. If you’re absent, you’re absent. Unless it’s covered by FMLA, it has to be considered thus.

        2. Cat

          The thing is, that’s what businesses that don’t treat their employees like cannon fodder do. They make tough calls based on the person’s track record and what appears to be going on in their life combined with the effect on the business. If you feel you have an inexhaustible supply of future employees who are a fungible commodity you don’t have to do that, and a lot of places don’t. But I’m not going to endorse that as ethical; employees actually aren’t a commodity and firing them because, for instance, they got sick twice in a month despite being otherwise highly reliable isn’t a way to treat people who you are in a position of power over even if that’s what your policy says; even if it’s better for the business; and even if it makes your life easier as a manager.

          And yes, there are hard judgment calls; there are the people who can’t be reliable enough to do the job for reasons out of their control and that is difficult for everyone. So is dealing with employees who lie to you. But that’s no reason to throw up your hands and decide to just start from a position that your employees are untrustworthy, probably trying to screw you over, and so unless you’re legally mandated to give them a break you’re not going to do it regardless of circumstances.

          Incidentally, refusing to make allowances for individual circumstances also sets up terrible incentives for everyone and creates all kinds of externalities. Nobody benefits from people who are at work sick because they can’t afford a write-up (or the doctor’s note if that’s required).

          1. Joey

            I’m not saying all subjectivity should be removed. I’m just saying the reason for the absence should not be part of the equation because who are you to say my reason is less important than someone else’s. In the end the reason an employee is absent doesn’t really matter does it? The only thing that truly matters to the business is whether or not what the employee contributes is worth the absence(s).

            1. Cat

              That’s not really true, though. On a lot of levels, you’re not making decisions about absences to reward or punish past behavior; you’re doing it because you think they’re predictive of future behavior. An employee who called in because they got in a car accident and had to go to the hospital is no more likely than anyone else to be gone next week; an employee who called in because they decided they’d rather go to a football game is pretty likely to flake in the future. The first person being gone has nothing to do with what kind of employee they are generally; the second person being gone does. Even if you just look at it from a selfish perspective, it’s stupid to throw away a good employee who had an isolated run of bad luck out of some kind of abstract principle about the business or whatnot.

              And yes, it gets trickier when you get into chronic health problems that lead to regular absences. Then you do have to look at what the law is; what the role requires; and what the person is capable of. That is what it is and it’s complicated and unpleasant for everyone involved. But the existence of those hard cases does not, in fact, mean every case is equally hard. Some absences are simple and excusable; some are simple and inexecusable, and both should be treated as such.

              1. Jessa

                Thank you. Exactly. I was once written up for not calling in two hours before my shift. At 25 minutes to my shift I had serious breathing problems and went to hospital and was admitted. I’m sorry but how am I supposed to call in 2 hours in advance when I’m hit with something sudden? I think I was having an allergic reaction to something. I don’t specifically remember. I just know I got into huge trouble at work because I could not predict a medical emergency 1.5 hours before it happened.

              2. Joey

                Except that you can get that from attendance history without getting into details of people’s personal lives. Even if you’re in a car wreck and in the hospital its still a problem if you have a history of being absent for whatever reason. Its the pattern of absences that are far more predictive of future behavior, not the actual reason for the absence.

                1. Cat

                  If your employee is willing to share the details of their life with you, you can take it into account. If they’re not, you can’t and have to treat it as an unexcused absence. It’s the employee’s call. And no, someone getting into a random car accident doesn’t actually make them a bad employee. The only reason to treat them as such is (a) if you think your employees are disposable and you can easily replace them any time you want; or (b) you assume your employees are so likely to be dishonest that it’s not risk taking the chance that some of them are honest. Either of those are, fact, a lousy way to think of human beings over which you hold a fair amount of power. But I also don’t think they’re particularly good ways to run a business; you get better work if you treat people you hire like competent and ethical adults until they demonstrate they’re not.

                2. Joey

                  But by making a judgement call on the reason for the absence you’re actually encouraging them to lie when they see that the better reason you have for being out the better your chances of it being acceptable. And I would argue that not having to “justify” their absence is the more mature and ethical way to treat employees. In the end its a business decision. If you want a successful business you have to remove personal feelings and empathy from the equation and ultimately make decisions based on business factors. You can still empathize, you just can’t let it affect your business decisions.

                3. Cat

                  Except that you’re hiring humans, not robots, and if you want humans to do a good job working for you, you need to give them an environment where they feel valued, not like cogs in the machine. It sounds like you have an extremely dim view of people generally, and I’m sorry for that, but I will just say: my experience has not been that, when you treat most people decently, that they will use that to behave poorly. Some will, but that becomes clear pretty quickly and you can then weed those people out. You’re then left with a stronger team than you would if you let some people linger because their bad behavior hadn’t crossed an arbitrary threshold and threw away others because their not-bad behavior had.

                4. Joey

                  No, not dim. I just think the best business decisions are based on business factors. My experiences have been that employees and managers understand the logic behind, respect, and better accept decisions that are based on the interest of the business.

                5. Cat

                  I guess we just fundamentally disagree. I still think my business is better served by employing people who are making a good faith effort to be there and not people who aren’t, even if sometimes it is a judgment call which is which.

                6. KellyK

                  Another thing that isn’t being factored in is morale. Let’s say an employee has pneumonia and a car accident in the same month. You now have a “pattern” of absences. You can treat that exactly the same as someone who had the flu once and was hung over once during the same period, but not if you want employees to feel like they’re being treated appropriately. And not if you want to keep your best people, who do have options and can go elsewhere.

  17. Anonymous

    #5 Please ensure it is a strictly professional bio, and be sure to leave out anything personal (relationship & family status, for example).

  18. Ashley

    I work for a AAA games studio with really cool stuff in the lobby, and I agree that you should NOT bring a camera to your interview. Save that for when you get hired. You can talk intelligently and passionately about why you would be proud to work for that specific company — and you should — but asking for photos will not only make you look like an immature candidate, it’s blurring the line between fan and applicant. Do all the fanboy/girl stuff after you’re hired. We all do it! You’ll be welcomed them. Don’t risk your dream job but doing this before you’re hired. Good luck!

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