my coworker won’t stop discussing his drinking, my manager loaned me his car, and more

It’s seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. I was promoted, but my replacement isn’t doing well and I’m getting drawn back in to my old work

I have recently been promoted, and my company has hired a new junior member of staff to take over my previous role. However, despite a lot of dedicated training and walk-throughs, the new employee is just not getting it and work is either completed late with a bunch of mistakes, or not completed at all. My prior role is one that requires a lot of proactivity, and the senior guys just expect that things will be done without them having to constantly monitor it. I have ended up taking a lot of my previous duties back to make sure that they are done properly, but feel my new role is suffering. What shall I do??

First, you need to stop taking back your previous work. That’s not your job anymore.

Second, are you the new person’s manager? If so, then you need to explain to how specifically what she needs to do to improve, and give her a timeline for when you must see the improvements by. If she’s not able to do the job, you need to replace her with someone who can. Simply doing the work for her isn’t an option.

If you’re not her manager, then you need to talk to whoever is. Explain what’s going on and that you can’t continue to help as much as you have been, because you need to focus on your own work.

In other words, you need to address the performance issues if you’re her manager or alert the person who can — don’t just do both jobs.

2. If I have more experience than required for a job, will I still be considered?

What does it mean when an ad says, for example, “Requires 3-5 years’ experience”? I have more than 5 years’ experience; will I be considered?

It depends on how much more experience you have. Six years? Sure, probably. Ten years? No, you’re overqualified for what they’re looking for. “3-5 years experience” conveys a specific candidate profile that they’re looking for; as long as you’re roughly in it — not exactly, but roughly — it’s reasonable to apply.

3. My boss’s kid got her written up

While on an one-hour lunch that we have been mandated to take off the clock, one of my coworkers made a comment about the boss’s child (around 22 years old) coming in and screwing around and bringing her dog and her child in. During this visit, the workers who the boss’s child works with walked the dog and watched the child’s little one while on the clock. My coworker, who was upset, made a comment how we have to lose 2-1/2 hrs a week due to having to take a one-hour lunch, but these people get to do this on the clock. The boss’s child overheard this and went to her parent, and the coworker got written up via email from the boss. It was a very nasty letter. Is this right!?!?

Nope, it isn’t. Be very wary of situations where manager’s children are hired, let alone given special treatment.

4. Is it okay that my manager loaned me a car for the summer?

I’m 17 and working at Burger King. I got in an argument with my dad and he said, “You know what, find your way to work from now on,” so I did. I walked to work 3 times (a 30-minute walk). The third time, one of my managers gave me one of his cars and told me to hang on to it until the summer is over. I just want to clarify if this is wrong in any way, or if he can lose his job for lending me his car?

It’s not generally a great idea, from your manager’s perspective. After all, what’s he going to do if you crash it or stop coming to work and never return the car? (Not to say you’d do either of those things, but managers should think about those worst-case scenarios.) Will he get fired over it? Probably not — not impossible, though. But probably not, unless he lets it affect things at work (although his managers might think he used poor judgment).

As for whether it’s a bad idea on your side … is he expecting anything from you in exchange for the car? Different behavior at work? Acceptance of behavior from him that makes you uncomfortable? Those would be BIG red flags. But if not, and he’s just genuinely being kind, then it’s really his call. You can repay the favor by being as reliable as possible.

5. Can my boss close the office for weeks at a time?

Is it legal for my boss to close the office up to 5 weeks throughout the year, without paying the staff and not letting us work?

Yes, it is.

6. My coworker talks incessantly about his drinking

I work in a traditional/ fairly rigid office setting where most people are reserved, heads down/ don’t share everything kind of people. My manager has two direct reports, me and colleague X.

Colleague X frequently comes to the area where my manager and I sit to catch up on projects, and the conversation frequently turns casual. That’s when X feels it necessary to talk about his EXTENSIVE out of the office drinking habits. I have never seen him hungover, but he does often stroll in after 9 AM and makes comments about how the game went to overtime last night and how beer was really flowing, etc. Our manager sort of laughs awkwardly.

We have performance reviews coming up and I was asked to give feedback on how my colleague is doing. I gave positive feedback and some constructive criticism and really thought hard about making a comment about keeping his private stories about drinking out of the workplace. In the end, I omitted my comments thinking that it wasn’t directly applicable to his on the job performance. Thoughts?

I think that was a perfectly reasonable decision, but I also think that if his comments are making you uncomfortable, it would have been reasonable to mention that. And really, your manager would be doing your coworker a favor by letting him know that those types of comments aren’t professional, rather than just laughing uncomfortably.

7. Can my manager be my reference if he’s on the search committee?

I’m about to apply to an internal position in my company and both my current and former supervisors are on the search committee. Since my manager is on the search committee, I assume that he couldn’t be both a reference and a decider on the position for which I’m applying. I’ve worked here for a little over 2 years and have some colleagues I could ask but if I’m unable to list my current supervisor, who should I list?

I wouldn’t assume that you can’t list your manager just because he’s on the search committee. He’s the person in the best position to evaluate your work, and he’s not supposed to pretend that he doesn’t have the knowledge of you that he does in fact have. (Unless this is an incredibly dysfunctional hiring process where people are supposed to pretend not to know things they do know because of some ludicrous ideas about what neutrality means.) So I’d use both your managers and not worry about it at all, unless you hear otherwise.

{ 125 comments… read them below }

  1. MeAgain*

    #5 – Yea, it is legal, and because it is considered a temporary layoff, you all would qualify for unemployment in that time. Call your local office.

      1. Nichole*

        In many states you have a waiting week before you can receive benefits. If this happens regularly, it may be a good idea to file to knock out the waiting week so you’ll be eligible for benefits the next time as long as it’s within a year or so. State laws vary, see your local office, disclaimer disclaimer et cetera…

      2. Mary*

        In California; you can collect unemployment if the office is shut down for 8 consecutive days or more.

    1. Jessa*

      Yeh, the first thing I thought of, is you’d better make sure that car is A: insured and B: specifically insured for you driving it. It’s not the same as an occasional driver. Most people’s insurance covers “oh sure, you can drive to the store for an hour,” or even once every couple of weeks. But once you’re driving on a regular basis more than a couple of times (the whole summer) you need to be SPECIFICALLY insured. You’re no longer a casual driver.

      You are also a minor. There’s some big liability issues here. If something happens to you in that car and your parent has not given the boss permission to loan you that car. This just has all kinds of issues written all over it. You cannot legally enter into a contract with your boss regarding the use of this car til you turn 18 unless you are emancipated.

      Personally it’s a 30 minute walk? I’d save up for a bicycle.

      1. Bea W*

        Bike would be a great way to get to work, and you can probably find a used one pretty cheap if a new one isn’t in your budget. A 2 mile bike ride is easy and quick, and you’ll save money on gas.

      2. Chinook*

        OP #2, if you do take advantage of the offer to use the car because he is just being a good guy (and get his expectations all in writing as per Judge Judy), offer to pay for the insurance because it should go up based on your age/inexperience as a driver. That way, you are not costing him extra for his favour and you are guaranteed to be covered insurance wise.

        Heck, when I married a 21 year old, my insurance went way up even though he never drove my car and had a vehicle of his own. The insurance company stated that we shared a home and he had access to my keys so he ahd to be included as a risk. Ironically, his insurance went down because he was now married (and I guess married guys are statistically less likely to do stupid things in vehicles?)/

        1. Jessa*

          The issue with the Judge Judy reference is the OP is 17. If the OP is in the US they cannot legally sign a contract. Unless you can show that it’s for absolute necessities and/or you had parental consent, before the OP is 18, you have problems.

          1. Jamie*

            Even for absolute necessities you have problems before 18 – she’s not the parent so the manager has no business allowing a minor to incur the potential liability.

            1. Jessa*

              Yes but you have a better case if it’s for, for instance housing after the parent threw the kid out, than for a car. Housing is a necessity, so an agreement for reasonable rent or room and board, could be easier to enforce. A car, not so much, especially with the liability if the car is in an accident. Also some states have graduated licencing requirements. I have no idea what the rules are for 17 year olds driving alone.

              1. Tasha*

                Depending on the state, there are restrictions on the number of passengers under 21, the hours the minor can drive, and cell phone use (some states ban only those under 18 from calling/texting at the wheel). If the OP is driving home late at night, she might also need a signed letter from her employer specifying the need for her to drive during underage curfew times.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Insurance was my first thought too. If the OP is not a designated driver of that vehicle, can’t they deny his claim if OP has a wreck? And he could sue her/him for the repair money.

      OP, work it out with your dad if you can, or find another way to get to work. Maybe you can carpool with other employees for gas money or something. Anyway, unless you’re in a cold climate, a 30-minute walk will be good for you. I would totally walk to work if I could (can’t; it’s clear across town and would take me all day!).

      1. Veg*

        Although a 30-min walk *is* good for you, for someone like the OP who, no doubt, stands on his/her feet all day, that extra hour per day of walking can be torture (I learned this when I was 17 and walked to and from work at my retail job).

  2. Lily*

    Alison is right. “Simply doing the work for her isn’t an option” I fell into this trap and I know someone else who did, too. Maybe becoming a manager is like becoming a parent? You treat the first employee differently than subsequent employees? Anyway, if you are doing their work, then what will you do with each additional employee?

    1. Anonymous*

      #1 also: “the senior guys just expect that things will be done…”

      You might consider involving these senior guys as it sounds like getting their jobs done depend on this junior level worker. Perhaps they have the experience to help out this new junior level?

      1. FedUp1*

        Hi, OP#1 here. I know I have to stop taking the work back, but I am such a perfectionist and took so much pride in how I used to do the role that I am struggling to see it in such a shambolic way, especially as we have some quite intense audits coming up.
        I am not his manager, we all report into the same team leader, who is currently away on annual leave, but thanks to all your great advice I am definitely going to bring it up once he is back in the office.

        1. Anonymous*

          The problem with perfection is it is unattainable. And because you spend so much time going for it you are letting other things, like your shiny new position that really is your job, fall to the wayside. If you made a priority list what would be higher, doing the duties of your new position that is actually your job or doing your old job which is someone else’s job?

        2. Anonymous*

          Anon from above here, I just wanted to add an idea. Write it down. As in, when you give new junior person instructions, write it down so she can refer to it later. Even if there is an SOP somewhere, take the time to write it down. Make a copy for yourself, then give her the original. If she comes back again with the same or similar question, out comes the copy. It won’t really help you with the underlying situation, but it will save you some time. I’ve been there.

          Also, learn to let go. Little birds have to sometimes fall before they can fly. It’s the circle of life. (sounds all hipster/ironic but it’s actually just the truth).

          1. Jamie*

            Actually, I’m a big believer in people creating their own documentation and taking their own notes.

            I may suck at many things, but I’m spectacularly good at documenting….but I still make people do their own for the major tasks that they’ll own. Many people learn it better and faster when they have to document their own steps as opposed to just following my map.

            I would be very afraid if the OP writes down everything for the new person and gives it to her it establishes a dynamic of hand holding that she needs to get away from.

            Notes should be taken though, and the OP should insist the new person do this and go over the documentation and approve it…so she can let go.

            1. Anonymous*

              I get where you are going Jaime, but I had a bad experience with this. I insisted on note taking, to the point of handing him a pen an notepad. Notes were taken. Notes were subsequently lost. The fourth time the questions were asked, I wrote the notes myself, so that when eventID=5 came around, I was able to save myself some time by pulling said notes of a file folder. It was a delaying tactic by a young engineer who really felt maintaining that website was below his true talents. I played along…for a while.

              As I said, not a solution, simply a time saver for the OP.

                1. Jamie*

                  Ha – no problem – I answer to anything.

                  Good point you’re making, and I was assuming the OP was the new person’s manager – in which case you want to know there is an issue with someone not being able to do this and bring themselves up to speed.

                  But if it’s just a co-worker and not a report and the only goal is to make sure X is done properly. Yep, I’d be printing a copy of my documentation for them.

            2. Elizabeth West*

              YES. This is why I write everything down on a new job or task. It makes my training go slower, but rarely would anyone have to go back and redo my work, if I have documented each step in the first place. In one old job, someone meticulously documented everything for me (because she left before they hired anyone), and I was so grateful I have paid it forward with extensive SOPs ever since.

              Except for anything in Excel. With spreadsheets, the bane of my existence, all bets are off. :P

            3. Lily*

              IMHO, Tasks include:
              1. the task itself
              2. reporting that it is finished
              3. submitting new or improved documentation

  3. Female sam*

    #4 – bad idea. Your boss may not be asking for anything right now, but it could put you in an awkward position later on. If it’s only a 30 minutes walk personally I’d just keep walking, at least until you and your dad patch it up.

    1. Meg*

      Depending on her hours and her route home, walking may not be a safe option. I can understand why the manager lent her a car, even if it wasn’t the most well-thought out idea.

    2. Interviewer*

      This was my thought – and also, what did your dad think when you came home with a car? I am assuming that your boss is very concerned about you leaving work on foot late at night – and your dad should share that same concern, frankly. Work on fixing up whatever needs to be fixed with your dad, quickly – having this car from your manager puts you in a very awkward spot in the workplace, no matter how genuinely sincere your boss’s intent may have been. Your dad should recognize that his child does not need to owe the boss a favor for something like this, nor should he or she be perceived as the boss’s favorite by co-workers. This situation is ripe for misunderstanding, drama, and hurt.

  4. Bwmn*

    #6 In general I agree that this is something that should be left to the manager. It’s definitely not good in a standard professional environment – but also it would be good to clue him in that on being aware of what is “work safe” and what isn’t.

    My mom works in a large organization in the middle of the US, and she has often had office peers very involved with their various church groups. However, talking about going to church activities is very different than going into details regarding various religious content that may be in the activities. Talking about the second half requires a greater sensitivity to the religious practices of other coworkers and at what point the conversation has become inappropriate for work.

    Talking about having a “crazy night” because a game went into overtime is one thing – but then emphasizing the alcohol consumption isn’t doing him any favors.

  5. LouG*

    #3: I thought the OP meant that the boss’s kid was coming in for visits and disrupting the office, not that she worked there. Still, I’m sure your answer would be the same.

      1. Tina*

        Sounds like bad business practice all around. I’m guessing that the boss is THE BOSS if they’re getting away with that.

        I’m not especially experienced with children or animals, and I’d completely stress over being responsible for someone else’s!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Hmmm, OP, can you clarify? I took “the workers who the boss’s child works with” to mean the kid is employed there, but I could be wrong.

      1. LouG*

        Maybe you’re right! I saw “coming in for a visit” and assumed that meant they didn’t work there. But the OP mentioning the boss’s kid’s coworkers makes me think otherwise. Maybe they work in different departments and/or buildings?

      2. Tony in HR*

        This sentence makes it sound like she’s working for her parent when she’s in.

        “During this visit, the workers *who the boss’s child works with* walked the dog and watched the child’s little one while on the clock.”

      3. Another Ellie*

        I think there are two children, boss’s child (22 years old) and boss’s child’s child, ie the “little one.” I’m not totally sure who is and is not employed there, but it sounds like the boss’s child is employed and came in on a day off w/ her dog and kid.

        Dear-Abby-like pseudonyms help in these situations.

    2. Anonymous*

      I was very confused about this letter as well. Did the 22 year old daughter have a child and a dog that was being baby/puppy sat over that hour? Was it just you have to take an hour off the clock and employee liked to hang out with daughter during that hour with the dog? What did the daughter report? Why would the daughter be able to report anything, why would anyone take her seriously? Etc…

    3. Victoria Nonprofit*

      Yeah, I couldn’t figure this one out. The adult child is visiting, and bringing the dog and baby? The adult child works there and goes and gets the dog and baby over lunch? The LW is frustrated that people at a different office are paid to watch a coworker’s dog and baby?

    4. Sourire*

      Am just as confused as everyone else…

      Regardless, it sounds like the real issue here is people being upset over one hour unpaid lunches (which is actually fairly common and should have been made clear during the hiring process). And while it sounds like petty and possibly inappropriate action may have been taken by the boss by giving out a warning based on hearsay via the child (particularly if the child isn’t actually employed at OP’s company – the letter is unclear), it still is inappropriate for the coworker to be griping about these issues in the office and on the clock imo. It breeds negativity in the office and does absolutely nothing to solve the problem.

      1. Jamie*

        Yes – seems like the unpaid lunches are a separate issue and that’s really common. If that’s a deal breaker it should be discussed during the hiring process, because a lot of places require unpaid lunches for non-exempt employees – 30 minutes or an hour being the norm.

        And add me to the list of people who are confused – I initially thought the bosses kid worked there, but in re-reading I’m as lost as everyone else.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Me too; I was all set to rant about being forced to babysit my boss’s granddog, but then realized I was totally confused.

        2. E.T.*

          “…we have to lose 2-1/2 hrs a week due to having to take a one-hour lunch.”

          I read it as the employees had no choice but to take an hour unpaid lunch every day, so they didn’t have the option to take a 30 minute unpaid lunch instead. That’s why they lose 2 and 1/2 hours a week, because if they could take a 30 minute unpaid lunch instead of an hour unpaid lunch, their actual time in the office per week would be reduced by 2 and 1/2 hours.

          If that is the case, I can see why some employees may have a problem with it. If someone has to hire a nanny or babysitter for their children while they are at work, that is 2 and 1/2 hours more per week that they have to pay for the nanny/babysitter while they are at the office taking a required unpaid extra 30 minutes for lunch every day.

          1. Jamie*

            I agree – but the hour is so common that it’s worth bringing up in the interview if it’s a deal breaker.

            Some jobs it could be about coverage. Reception, customer service, phones, etc…you may need people there 8:00 – 5:00 but you can’t let everyone go OT all the time so you do an hour for lunch and stagger.

            The problem I have is when something like this is policy for no real reason. I mean the customer service or helpdesk needs to be manned during office hours, but does it really matter if the accounting clerk take a half hour lunch and leaves at 4:30 instead of 5:00?

            If there isn’t a real business reason then I think it’s a great perk to allow flexibility whenever possible.

            1. E.T.*

              I agree that you should bring up anything in an interview if it’s a deal breaker. However, sometimes people don’t know what is a deal breaker from them until they work for a while (especially if this is their first job right out of school). Or, sometimes a company agrees to one thing during the hiring process, but then changes their policies down the road.

              Back to the frustrations of working at family-owned companies. My sister recently changed jobs because she had issues with the owner not separating work from family in the office. Her old employer hired a niece, who took advantage of billing everything to the company. Trip to Paris? Bill it to the company. Gym fees? Bill it to the company. The company had to let go of an employee for budget reasons, but the owner reimbursed the niece for gas and mileage for her trips to visit her boyfriend in another city 40 miles away every weekend, because she brought back flowers for the office’s reception area after her trips and thus the trips were considered “for company errands”, despite the fact that multiple stores near their office sold (and could deliver) flowers. She finally drew the line and switched jobs when the owner tried to add the niece’s boyfriend to their health insurance plans, even though the boyfriend didn’t work there and the legal counsel for the company advised against it. She said she didn’t want to wait until the company got sued and gained an awful reputation before looking for another job.

    5. NutellaNutterson*

      I could be reading this wrong, but I think there’s also an underlying exempt vs non-exempt misunderstanding, too. Sure, the employee doing the kiddo or dog watching might be on the clock, but if there’s no such thing as clocking out for lunch, then you’re *always* on the clock – and that can mean grabbing a granola bar at your desk as “lunch,” or giving a project an extra few hours on your supposed day off because that’s the only time available. Salaried positions have benefits, but drawbacks, too.

  6. Anonymous for this question*

    Related to #7, I am interviewing at an external company where my former manager is now the hiring manager. She was my manager up until April of this year, was laid off, and is now hiring at her new place of employment. Can I still list her as a reference, even though she is the one doing the hiring? I have two others, but was not sure.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Is she the only person making the hiring decision? If yes, then I’d say your work speaks for itself and she knows your work.

      If she is part of a group making a decision on who to hire- you could just ask her, “Would you feel comfortable being a reference for me? Or would that be a conflict of interest for you?” This way you give her an easy out, if she cannot be your reference.

      Side note: It will get her attention that you are concerned about HER conflict of interest.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Since she’s the one actually doing the hiring and she managed you recently, she may not care about your references — she already knows her work. I think it’s fine to list her, but you should supply others as well for the sake of complying with the application instructions.

  7. Kat M*

    #4, it’s an incredibly generous thing, if there are no strings attached. But you might want to return the car, with thanks, anyway. Have you considered what would happen to your working relationship if you got in an accident? Are you buying insurance? If the car starts to make a weird noise during the summer, do you have the money to get it fixed?

    Really, a 30 minute walk each way to work is nothing. That’s what, two miles? You could probably buy a yard sale bicycle for $15 and ride there in under 10 minutes, if you feel like you’re pressed for time. Think of it this way: some people pay good money to go to a gym and walk on a treadmill for an hour a day, and now you get the opportunity for free! It’ll be better for your health and the environment, as well as your peace of mind.

    1. KellyK*

      I totally agree that you should return the car with thanks. Between insurance complications, what happens if the car has issues or you get into an accident, and the appearance of favoritism to your coworkers, it could easily become more trouble than it’s worth. That’s a shame, because it *is* a really generous gift, but there’s way too much potential for hassle.

      A two-mile walk to work (each way) isn’t what I’d call “nothing,” though. It’s nothing if you’ve got good walking shoes, a safe pedestrian path to work, and none of the disabilities, injuries, or health issues that would make the walk itself a problem. And even with all that, it will still be pretty miserable in bad weather.

      1. Liz*

        I have a 2.5 mile walk to work (each way). The only time it’s really miserable is during Southern summers. I can cope with 90F but it’s not pleasant when there’s also 90% humidity…

        1. KellyK*

          Yeah, that makes sense. I was thinking more of snow, sleet, or tons of rain, but heat and humidity make a long walk pretty miserable.

          (I’m in Maryland, which may or may not count as “Southern.” Certainly not as hot as Georgia or Florida, but definitely muggy in the summer.)

    2. Del*

      “A 30 minute walk each way to work is nothing” I’m not sure that’s true. The OP works in fast food, which means being on her feet for her entire shift. Depending on how long that shift is, adding an extra hour of walking onto that day may very well not be “nothing.”

      Now, I do think returning the car is probably a good idea, for reasons that everyone has covered, but I don’t think being flippant about the impact of four miles of hiking on top of an on-the-feet job is necessarily correct.

      1. Kat M*

        I said it was “nothing” from experience, given that when I was younger I used to walk 45 minutes each way to work in a video store, in an urban area, in the New Mexico heat, also constantly on my feet. It may feel like a lot if you’re not used to being active, but you do get accustomed after a while. It became my favorite part of the day after a while. Between carrying pepper spray and an umbrella I felt prepared for pretty much anything, although the occasional dust storms were really annoying.

        1. Veg*

          Well when I was 17 and worked on my feet I also walked to and from work (1/2 hour each way) and it was actually very painful, despite good running shoes. I never got used to it. I know now that I have a problem with the tendons/ligaments in my body but the point is that someone can have a hidden disability making any extra time on their feet torturous. It’s unfair to assume that this person should just be able to ‘suck it up’ for the length of the walk.

    3. Meg*

      I like the idea of the OP getting a bicycle, and you’re right in that it can be great (free) exercise. But working in fast food often requires long, late hours, and I don’t feel entirely comfortable recommending that a 17 year old girl walk 2 miles home at 11:00 at night. Other commenters have mentioned the fact that she’s already going to be on her feet all day, which adds another level of fatigue. I can tell you after working a 12-hour double shift at a restaurant, the last thing I want to do is walk another 2 miles.

      1. Jamie*

        The timing is what concerns me – my daughter works in fast food while in school and when she’s closing she’s getting out at 1:00 am. I’m not crazy about that, I sure wouldn’t want her walking home at that time of night.

        1. Meg*

          Yeah, I completely agree. It sounds like the manager really was well-intentioned, and didn’t want her walking either. It just wasn’t the most well-thought out gesture, unfortunately.

          Personally? If she’s getting out late in the evening I think the dad needs to suck it up and drive her, or let her drive herself. This is his child’s safety, after all.

          1. Jamie*

            This. As much as I love my sleep, if my daughter is working to close and doesn’t have my car I go get her. It’s less than 2 miles in a quiet suburb. I still go get her.

            I don’t get dressed, so if I ever got pulled over the cops would see my flannel jammie pants and HK slippers – but safety before sleep and fashion.

            1. Another Ellie*

              It’s hard to tell whether they’re both being needlessly stubborn….but the OP here sounds pretty resourceful, and the dad sounds like he needs to re-evaluate his position.

  8. Dee*

    Regarding #2: I recently applied for a position requiring “five years experience” but I have just over 10 in the current job, and a little more in other positions. Could I really be considered overqualified? I am truly interested in the opportunity.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      There’s no harm in applying and seeing what happens. Be aware, though, that they’re communicating something about the level of the position and their idea of the ideal candidate.

      1. RubyJackson*

        I think they are also communicating the salary range. It will be lower than for someone well qualified with 10+ years experience.

    2. The Other Dawn*

      I’m glad someone asked #2. I’ve always assumed “3-5 yrs experience” was meant as a minimum, not a range. Good to know since I haven’t looked for a job in years and may have to soon.

      1. Tony in HR*

        I’ve always assumed it meant “this is what we want, but we have a little wiggle room DOE.”

    3. Brett*

      Might depend on the availability of qualified people too.

      When we advertise positions, we would love to have someone with 10 or more years of related experience. The particularly tech we want them to work with has often been around only 2-3 years, so it is impossible to have more direct experience than that (not that people have not claimed to have impossible levels of experience).

      But since it is extremely difficult to get people with 10 years of related experience and 2-3 years of direct experience, we just advertise for 2 years of related experience and hope we get at least that.

      1. Lynn*

        Really? When I see a posting like that, I assume it’s too junior for me. (17 years experience here). Interesting.

  9. anonymouse*

    #4 Just wanted to say that I commend the OP for writing in. At that age, even though I was working, I wouldn’t have thought about the possible repercussions of borrowing my boss’s car.

  10. Twentymilehike*

    #4 .. Things are prob different now than when I was that age, but sometimes there are just people in the world who will take you under their wing. I had a boss who was more of a mentor to me and would do things like this. Sometimes when you have it rough there are going to be people to help you get on your feet. You have to use their judgement and make sure they mean well.

    1. BCW*

      Yeah, while I understand the need to be cautious, sometimes I think we are so cautious that we don’t see kind acts as just that. It may be that this car was just sitting around not being used, and the manager thinks the employee is a good kid and wanted to help.

    2. Jamie*

      I appreciate the sentiment – but this is different than giving someone a couch you aren’t using from your basement. This is a car with legal liabilities and the potential to kill someone in an accident.

      Giving one to an employee for the summer…I have huge issues with the judgement of the manager no matter how well intentioned. It opens up so much financial liability that it really calls into question the managers decision making process for me.

    3. Chinook*

      I agree that it is possible that the boss is looking out for the employee out of empathy, especially since the OP mentioned fighting with her dad about getting a ride to work. But, since the OP is unclear about whether or no this is okay, I think it would be quite professional of her to go to the boss and ask if they can create a contract outlining expectations. Even if it is legally non-binding due to the age of the OP, it still makes everything clear for both parties.

      I also can’t reiterate this enough – make sure you pay for the insurance! It is worth it if anything goes wrong. (No, I do not work for the insurance industry but it exists for a reason. I am also a proponent of renter’s insurance which is super cheap and very useful when something happens to your stuff at home or at work).

      1. Meg*

        Definitely second renter’s insurance! I got mine for almost free because I signed up for a policy with the same company I get my car insurance from. The company has a rule that if you sign up for a second policy with them, you get a $100 credit towards the second policy – the renter’s insurance only cost $144 a year, and it’s pretty comprehensive. Best thing I ever did last year.

      2. Ruffingit*

        I would second the payment of insurance except that the OP is 17, working at Burger King and presumably still living at home. I have to wonder if she could afford the insurance on the car for the summer. She’s likely working part-time and making minimum wage.

        This doesn’t mean I think it’s a bad idea for her to pay it, just that if it eats up most or all of her paycheck, there would be no point to that.

  11. Felicia*

    #7 – Once I applied to an internal job where the person doing the hiring was my current manager – when she asked the questions she continually repeated that I wasn’t allowed to do anything I was doing in the current job with her as examples, even if the things I was currently doing was the most directly related experience that I had. That was just weird. It was a slight promotion to an on campus job, which i didn’t end up getting, but i felt weird workiing for her afterwards. She was definitely talking to me as if she didnt know me even though we saw each other several times a week.

    1. Ruffingit*

      Are you saying that when you were interviewed, you weren’t allowed to use your current work product as an example in answer to her questions because she wanted to pretend like she had no knowledge of you?

      That is completely asinine and stupid. It’s not your fault your current manager is on the interview team and really, what other good examples does a person have other than their current job? Their current job is usually the most up-to-date example. I mean, sure you could talk about the work you did for Gru’s Minions Inc. 10 years ago, but that isn’t really applicable especially if it’s an internal position that would make use of your current work as a stepping stone.

      1. KellyK*

        Yeah, that’s completely unreasonable. Ignoring the current job, especially if you’ve been there longer than a year, is basically interviewing with one hand tied behind your back.

        But +100 for the Despicable Me reference. I love the minions!

  12. Colette*

    #7 – Why not ask your manager? I assume you’d check with her before using her as a reference, so it would seem to be a natural time to make sure she’s fine with being a reference for that particular job.

    1. OP #7*

      I talked to my former supervisor who is also the head of the search committee and he was noncommittal about it. I know that the online application software we use is very rigid and I don’t want to come off as naive or ill prepared if I listed someone I shouldn’t so I’m probably over thinking things. Thanks for all the input.

  13. BCW*

    Re: #6,

    I don’t think its that big a deal personally. I mean, the manager doesn’t seem to mind it. Its not like he is doing something illegal, and like you said, he has never come in hungover or impaired in any way.

    Now you mention he may come in after 9am sometime, if that is something that is generally frowned upon, then I could see that being your issue. But in my office, everyone is salaried, so 9am is kind of a “soft” starting time, with many people strolling in up to a half hour later.

    I may catch some flak for this, but I think making a judgment about what casual, outside of the office things are ok to talk about and what’s not can be bad. I have no kids, and a lot of my co-workers go on and on about their kids. Its kind of annoying. But I’m not going to say they can’t do it. Would it be a problem if he was a smoker and he talked about how he had great cigars and switched to e-cigarettes? Again, if he was talking about his illegal drug use, I could see that being a problem. Or if his extensive drinking was leading to performance issues, again, thats a problem. But just because you don’t drink doesn’t mean its necessarily inappropriate conversation. I have discussions about my weekend and drinking with co-workers all the time.

    1. Jamie*

      People can and do talk about all kinds of things at work – and other people can judge them for it.

      That’s life – if you’re talking about something that other people find boring, stupid, or unprofessional this will become part of the image they have of you.

      You can’t avoid that, and it’s silly to go through life tied in knots wondering what other people will think of every single thing you say…but it’s completely unrealistic to think it’s bad to form judgements about others based on what you know about that. That’s how you do form judgements, and we do it all the time.

      1. BCW*

        Fair enough. I guess I more meant making judgments that warrant being written down on their peer performance review. Personally, I believe that should be limited to their actual performance, not because you don’t like that they talk about how they spent the weekend, or that they do something completely legal, that you just aren’t a fan of.

        1. Jamie*

          That I agree with. I might think someone is a bore or immature and avoid them when eating lunch – but unless it actually affected the work or was somehow a threat to the workplace I’d never bring it up in that kind of context.

  14. Lisa*

    #1 – We are dealing with this for a new grad employee. After a month, he should be progressing, but isn’t. I am sick of fixing the same mistakes over and over again. I stopped giving him work, which defeats the purpose of hiring him. You are basically working 1/2 a job for free, and not doing your own well. Stop it. You are not being compensated to do 1.5 jobs, only 1.

    1. FedUp1*

      Hi, #1 OP here. Glad to know I’m not the only one in the same situation, it’s so frustrating!

        1. FedUp1*

          Yes sorry, I just replied to a comment earlier up saying thank you and I will be following all your advice.

  15. Angry Writer*

    Just wanted to say that “Colleague X” is a great name. I wish my coworkers called me that.

    1. Jamie*

      I bet that’s Speed Colleagues older brother. And Colleagues Spritle and Chim-Chim …I wonder if they have reserved parking for the Mach 5? :)

      Seriously, I love that – I want to be Colleague X, too.

  16. Jenny S.*

    #2 The job posting for my current position asked for 5 years experience, but I had 10+ when I submitted my resume. The reason I applied was that, although it was technically a lateral move, the job is in a focus area that I had a great interest but only 2-3 years experience in. (I was moving into a very specific area of fundraising, with 10 years of having worked in more general positions in that field.)

    If you happen to be in a similar position, where the job requires doing something relatively new to you, you could focus your cover letter to emphasize your underlying experience (10 years) in the workforce and also your interest in taking on new challenges.

    If/when you get an interview, you’ll likely be asked about the fact that the salary won’t be where someone with 10 years experience might expect to be. If the job truly is of interest to you, and salary is not an issue (and it’s a good fit for both parties), they’d be foolish not to at least consider you. Frankly, I think my employer got a bargain!

  17. Tony in HR*


    This might be an unoffical (almost) quarterly furlough, if it’s spread out through the year, and probably wouldn’t qualify for unemployment. If it’s all at once (say September 1 through October 6), you’d probably qualify for unemployment.

    But it’s 100% legal.

  18. Del*

    #4 – In general, borrowing someone else’s car for an extended period of time is chancy all on its own, before you add in the working relationship you and your manager have. So in general, my recommendation would be to avoid it. But I also want to lay out some specifics you didn’t touch on in your letter, since they are pretty important to what you do.

    First of all, how physically safe is your route to work to either walk or bike? Are there sidewalks the whole way? How fast do people drive on the the roads you’re walking along? How well-lit are they? How safe/unsafe are the areas you’re walking through, and how populous are they? What time of day/night are you typically going to or coming from work?

    There’s an enormous difference between walking or biking to work through a residential area with wide streets, sidewalks, low speed limits, and people all around, and walking or biking to work along a narrow, poorly-lit country road at night with no sidewalk or shoulder and cars going by at 55mph, and no one nearby. And this is a difference that is actually severe enough that if the latter situation is more like what you’re dealing with, it might be worth it to keep your manager’s car if you can’t work things out with your father — because at the end of the day, the complications with borrowing the car come down to money, and a truly unsafe road could mean your life.

    Secondarily of course is the issue of comfort — are you able to work an entire shift on your feet after you’ve made the half-hour hike in and are looking forward to a half-hour hike home? If you’ve been able to do it a few times and don’t mention it as a deal-breaker, I assume this is manageable, if not comfortable, for you, but over the long term it will probably wear heavily.

    In any case, I think your first resort ought to be doing what you can to patch things up with your father. You are still a minor, and so making sure of your safety is still his ultimate responsibility. If the walk/bike to work is not safe for you, then you shouldn’t be forced to do it.

    If that fails, or if your trip to work is safe/comfortable enough for you, then returning the manager’s car and getting a bike (or just continuing to walk) is probably your next best option.

    Keeping your manager’s car as offered should be a last ditch, and I would only advise that if your father absolutely 100% will not budge on driving you, AND the route to your job is not terribly safe for walking or biking, AND you’re not able to get there by any other means. What about public transit options in your area? If you’re in the US, they’re probably either nonexistent or not so hot, but they’re worth looking into. Do you have friends nearby with cars, or a coworker who lives nearby and is willing/able to give you a lift?

    Exhaust all your options. Then if they’re still not good, I would follow above commenters’ advice and work out a written agreement with your manager. It won’t be legally binding as you’re not able to sign legally binding documents, but it will give you two and understanding about what the limits and requirements are for your handling of the car.

    1. Jamie*

      Carpooling with other co-workers is a great idea, if possible – which is totally distinct from bumming rides from co-workers, which I hate.

      It’s hard when it’s shift work – but people might be happy to drive in return for a couple of bucks.

      My daughter’s friend has her own car, my daughter doesn’t yet, so she gives her a ride to and from school (local college) 3 days a week and I kick her a $50 for gas each Friday.

      Frankly – she’d drive her anyway since she lives down the block and is already going that way and it saves them being on the phone 24/7 when they can chat in person…but she appreciates the money and whenever mine has to stay late she makes her own arrangements (which would be me or her brothers).

      Again – this is harder with shift work than with a set schedule – but if the OP can work something out with some trusted co-workers it’s not ideal but better than nothing.

      Also – I totally get not wanting to walk and do a shift, but I think teenagers have a lot more stamina for this kind of thing – barring any disabilities. My kids will pull a 6-8 hour shift on their feet and then come home and skateboard, ride bikes, go hiking…they are little energy machines.

        1. Jamie*

          Nah – it’s about 8 miles each way…I just figured that’s about the cost of a tank of gas (under actually) and I consider it a favor to me, too…otherwise I time my commute so I can drop her off and when we both get ready at the same time she keeps taking my flat iron and/or curling iron and and so this way it saves me aggravation and bad hair.

      1. Del*

        Working things out with coworkers is a good route.

        Back when I was in college, my job was on the opposite end of campus from my dorm — to work, it was 30 minutes, and then to go back 45-60 (due to tiredness from the end of the shift and downhill to get there, uphill back). The nights my shifts ended after the campus buses stopped running, the store owner would actually pay our delivery driver to take me home at the end of the night — that was how she kept me as her late-night person! And if the delivery driver couldn’t do it, she’d haul out and do it herself — no small thing when closing shift routinely ran until 4:30am! Definitely better than the loan of a car, and that kind of consideration made me very willing to work extra hard for her.

  19. Ruffingit*

    #6 – I find it so interesting how many people think talking about their excessive drinking makes them look cool. I knew a woman who seemed very put together on the surface, but every single story she told started with “I was so wasted…”

    It made her look bad. It’s one thing when you’re 21 and talking like that to your college peers. It’s another when you’re a professional in the workplace. It just makes you look like you have no boundaries and no understanding of professional mores.

    1. Anonymous*

      Yep, and it’s a really good way to lend credence to people who assume that young = immature. Not that this particular woman had to be young to tell these stories, but I’ve worked with people right out of college who don’t do themselves any favors with their tales of drunken debauchery.

      Also, know your audience. You coworkers probably don’t care about all the stories of college pranks and parties you continually repeat. Find something else to talk about.

    2. BCW*

      Its possible they aren’t trying to look cool, but just to discuss their weekend. Even the term “excessive” drinking is fairly subjective. And professional mores really is something that varies based on your workplace, its culture, the age group of people in your department, and where you live. Just the other day on here there was a question about a company that does a lot of drunken activities. If this employee were at that place, they probably wouldn’t be looked at as unprofessional (assuming that was the only issue). Same thing with a fairly young staff in a big city, it may not be as big a deal as with working with a lot of older people in the middle of nowhere.

  20. Anonymous*

    I work for an agency where interviewers have to pretend they don’t know the candidates. Everyone is asked the same 10 questions, and follow-up questions are discouraged. It is frustrating on both sides of the interview table. I’ve interviewed folks who I knew were perfect because I worked with them, but interview nerves got the best of them and I couldn’t prompt them to say more due to the rules. I’ve also interviewed for positions myself where several previous supervisors were on the team, and I had to explain projects that they led like they had never heard of them. Ridiculous. I’m not sure how that promotes fairness.

      1. Anonymous*

        Well, you saying that doesn’t change our practices, but it makes me feel vindicated. I’d say maybe someone in charge will read this blog, but I think they would have changed the rules long ago if they read AAM, unfortunately.

    1. Jamie*

      So you sit there across from an interviewee whom you know and pretend you don’t and make believe you aren’t familiar with their work?

      Unless you work for an agency which uses deneuralizers I don’t see how that passes for logic in anyone’s world.

      1. Anonymous*

        Yeah, I think most of the hiring managers agree that it’s crazy. I hope one day there will be enough pressure for a change in the process.

        1. Another Ellie*

          Do they record the interview? Can you all just go into the room and interview like normal and then check off the box that says “we acted like we didn’t know Jim from accounting”?

    2. UK HR Bod*

      It does sound slightly mad. On a similar note though – sometimes people can feel slightly odd if their line manager or someone they work closely with is interviewing them: the detail you’d give in an interview can feel overkill to someone who knows about it. If I’m in that interview I’ll often say ‘even if X asks the question, if it makes things easier to explain fully, aim your answer at me since I don’t know about it’.

    3. Anonymous*

      It’s like that where I work as well – everybody gets the same X questions, and the interviewers are working of a bullet-point list of answers. If I get say 26/30 of their bullet points and someone else gets 25/30, I get the job. Even if I show up in sweat pants, chewing gum, and am rude to everyone in the room; and even if the other person is impeccably dressed, polite, and came up with one brilliant answer that the interview panel had not thought of previously – I still get the job, because I got one more bullet point than they did.

      It’s ridiculous on so many levels, not least because it doesn’t actually evaluate me on the skills that are necessary for the job. My job is all about soft skills – talking to people, building relationships, developing consensus. And this bullet-point interview format doesn’t speak to any of those things. It’s a great way to evaluate my ability to memorize things out of a textbook, but doesn’t teach you anything at all about whether or not I would be good at the job!

      1. Judy*

        I had one experience that felt like that. My husband was on a business trip with a manager. Said manager told my husband that he was moving to a new job, and Wakeen was going to take his place. They then suddenly opened the position on the job board (as generally required for non-reorg job openings). I interviewed for the position with 5 managers at once. The way the questions were structured, they were meant to highlight the strengths of Wakeen.

        He got the job. I joked with my husband that one of the questions should have been, “Is your first initial W?”

        1. Ruffingit*

          UGH, how irritating. That falls under the management theme of let’s waste the time of applicants and make them think they have a shot by bringing them in for an interview when in fact we know we’re hiring Wakeen.

      2. Ruffingit*

        That has to be the worst workplace in the world. There must be all kinds of “doesn’t fit” issues going on if hiring is done in such a ridiculous “follow the format” manner.

      3. Anonymous*

        Yep, that’s how it is here also. The highest scorer gets the job, even if they are external and scored one point higher than the internal candidate who you know will excel.

    4. Aimee*

      Wow, that is really bad practice.

      My current position is managed by someone who managed me previously. My “interview” with her basically consisted of her going over my resume with me and telling me what I should change/highlight more in preparation for my interview with her manager. (That interview was basically, “So, she told you what the job is? And you still want it? Ok!”).

      I couldn’t imagine interviewing someone I’d worked with before and pretending I had no idea about what they had done, what their work habits were, etc.

  21. Anty*

    Re: 4. Is it okay that my manager loaned me a car for the summer?

    Just wanted to say, you are a good kid for someone who walks 30 mins to work at BK. Best of luck to you.

    Also, I agree on biking though.

Comments are closed.