references when you have nothing good to say, failing a hiring assessment, and more

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

1. My neighbor listed me as a personal reference and I have nothing good to say

A neighbor (somewhat a friend) has listed me for a personal reference in her job search. I honestly don’t know what to say. I have a very successful career and don’t want to put my reputation in jeopardy by doing so. This person is a good person but is extremely unorganized, scatter-brained and unreliable. In her personal life, she just doesn’t display good decision-making skills. How do I handle this situation? I have received two requests from different employers about her.

Tell her that you’re not comfortable being a reference because you haven’t worked together. If she says that it’s just a personal reference, not a professional one, stick to the same line of reasoning — “I just don’t feel right about it. Thanks for understanding.” Or even, “I’m kind of weird about references and only feel right giving them if I really know the person well.” You could immediately follow that up with offering to do something else to help her in her job search — like helping her practice interviewing, helping her with her resume, etc. (if you’re truly willing to).

2. Can I see the hiring assessment test that I failed?

I was denied an interview for a position for which I was definitely overqualified. When I asked for feedback as to why I was no longer being considered, I was told the assessment test I took as part of the application process showed the position was “not a good fit for me or the company.” When I asked for more details, the HR person said I received a 1 out of 9 on “work habits” and the lowest score possible on “energy level.” To say I was shocked is an understatement. I worked for the same institution for 25 years (multiple positions) and always received positive reviews.

I wrote back asking if I could see how the assessments were scored as I must have done something wrong and wanted to know what if I ever had to take another one. I have not gotten a reply. I wrote to the EEOC to find if I have any rights to see the results. They passed me off to the DOL who passed me off to the state (Colorado) agency. I’ve pretty much given up at this point, but wondered if you knew.

No, companies aren’t required to show you the results of their interviewing assessments.

Sure, sometimes tests are wrong. Sometimes interviewers’ assessments of you are wrong. Sometimes you get rejected for a job you think you’d be great at. All you can really do is move on.

3. Working at a cafe chain with a severe nut allergy

I’m 17 and I’m looking for my first job. I have no prior work experience and I’m having a very hard time finding something. I really don’t want to limit my job search, but it’s looking like I may have to. I have peanut and tree nut allergies and although they’re supposedly severe, I’ve never had a really bad allergic reaction (i.e. anaphylactic shock). I do carry an Epi-pen, but all I’ve ever had is small reactions that can be dialled down with Benadryl. The allergy is only oral, and touching or being around food with nuts in it is not a problem.

Tim Horton’s is a cafe chain in Canada that’s similar to Dunkin’ Donuts in the US. They supposedly are very easy to get into because of an extremely high turnover rate. However, I’m not sure if I should be even trying to apply to a job like this because of my allergies. I’m not sure what to do now.

What would I even do in this situation? If I got an interview for a food service place, how would I even bring up my allergies without sounding like a total idiot (i.e., applying there even though I know there might be problems)? I’m going to be getting something similar to a MedicAlert bracelet soon, so would having that visible be a good way to bring it up in an interview, or after I got a job offer? There’s some food service places like Subway and pizza places that I think should be okay, so I’ve applied to a few of those recently, but I’m not even sure about that.

If the allergy is only oral, will you even have problems working there? I’m no allergy expert, but it sounds like as long as you don’t eat anything there with nuts, you’d be able to work there with no problem, right?

In any case, this isn’t something you need to disclose in an interview. It’s something that you can bring up once you have a job offer, in order to ask any questions you have about whether you’ll be able to safely work there (in other words, you’re bringing it up not because they’ll think it’s prohibitive, but so that you can gather the info you need). Frankly, if I’m right that you won’t have any risk as long as you don’t eat the wrong foods there, you don’t even need to bring it up at the offer stage — you could bring it up once you start the job, in order to make coworkers and your manager aware of any special precautions they should take.

4. Interviewing with cuts and bruising around my eye

This previous weekend, I fainted in a train station and received three stitches below my eyebrow. I have an interview on Monday (thanks to your wonderful advice!). The stitches will be out by then, but I have heavy bruising on my eye, and the cut will still be visible. I will do my best to cover it up with makeup, but if it’s still very noticeable, is it okay to mention what happened at the beginning of the interview? I don’t want them to wonder and be distracted. Or should I just say nothing unless they ask?

Absolutely, mention it at the start so they’re not wondering. Make a self-depracating joke about it, and you’ll be fine.

5. Why is this employer stringing me along?

Why is this potential employer stringing me along? The first phone interview went well and the hiring manager said that he likes me but couldn’t find a spot for me right then at that moment and instead asked me to call him a month later, which I did. Unfortunately, this process has repeated itself twice now. Our most recent conversation ended with him asking me to call him in three weeks.

Each time, he tells me that there’s nothing available but he is very friendly every time. This is in the financial industry so I would expect a very blunt “no thanks.” If I’m not the one, then why not just say so? I would appreciate that much more than the string-me game.

Have you considered the possibility that he’s being sincere with you — that he likes you, hasn’t been able to find a position for you yet, but remains interested in trying to? You’re right that if he just wanted to reject you, he probably wouldn’t keep telling you to call, so the most obvious explanation is that he means what he’s saying.

Given the choice between the closure of a clear “no” or the possibility of work there in the future, wouldn’t you rather have the latter, even if it means uncertainly for a while?

6. Calling out sick during my two-week notice period

I have worked at my current job for two weeks. I handed in my weeks notice and then got shingles. Can I go off sick for my notice period?

Different companies have different policies when it comes to using paid leave time after you’ve given notice; some allow it and some don’t. But even if yours doesn’t, if you’re sick, you’re sick. Explain to them what’s going on and see what you can work out.

7. Interviewing at nearly nine months pregnant

I am getting ready to leave my full-time job when I give birth, and I am due in two weeks. I am leaving only because it is a very small company (me and the owner) and the bottom line is the pay is not enough to justify the expense of child care. I fully intend to go back to work, and have my boss’ full support in both stepping down from my current job as well as a wonderful reference when the time comes that I do (hopefully!) get to the point of needing one.

I applied yesterday for a job, thinking I may as well get the ball rolling since I keep reading the interviewing and job hiring process takes months on average, and I’d like to be back to work in November at the earliest, sometime next year at the ideal latest. Imagine my surprise when I heard back from the job I applied for, asking for an in-person interview tomorrow!

My question: As a hiring manager, would you want to know in advance about this particular timeline? Or should I go the interview and completely ignore the fact that I am very visibly pregnant? I want to be very respectful of their time, and if it comes down to timing, the fact that there may be another candidate who doesn’t get an interview slot that I take.

There’s nothing wrong with reaching out to them now and asking what their timeline is for filling the position, and explaining that you won’t be able to start work until November and asking if that would be prohibitive for them. It’s also your prerogative to wait for the interview, where you can say the same thing. I’m torn about which is better — on one hand, I’d be annoyed if I absolutely needed someone to start soon and they didn’t bother to let me know that would be impossible until the interview, but on the other hand, November isn’t THAT far away, and it’s not crazy in many contexts to wait a couple of months after your offer to start. It’s also true that they might be more willing to accept that wait once they interview and like you. So given that you could argue this either way, I’d go with what you’re most comfortable with.

{ 125 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonymous

    Regarding #5, as a hiring manager, I do try to find places for talent (either on my own team or with another manager in our function). If I was acting as this one is, it would mean that I was impressed with you and was hoping to get you in the door.

    Just for the record, this is a compliment.

    Also for the record, I have never even heard of a hiring manager “stringing people along” or “playing games.” We’re all a little too busy managing our departments.

      1. RedStateBlues

        +1
        OP,i s it really hurting you to touch base with this guy every month or so? I know it can be frustrating, but as long as you haven’t stopped looking or otherwise put all your hopes into this job coming through(and if you have, you need to change that) I don’t see the problem.

    1. Erica

      While it’s undoubtedly true that you’re too busy doing your job to play mind games, I can assure you that it does indeed happen. I was used in a really nasty effort at passive-agressive discipline of an employee, as in “if you don’t shape up, I’ll hire her and let you go”.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        That’s rare enough, however, that it wouldn’t make sense to assume that’s the case in most situations, particularly when there’s no reason not to take this particular hiring manager at his word.

    2. nyxalinth

      At worst, unless they failed so badly at being a human being that it crossed over into work I’d have to agree with this. At worst, it’s someone who has trouble with being direct and dislikes conflict. I doubt that’s the case though, so hang in there, OP 1. Don’t dismiss this guy, but don’t pin all your hopes on him, either.

    3. tr8dr

      Thank you for clarifying this scenario for me. I’ve never been in a situation like this so I just wanted someone to shed some light on it. I’m grateful my contact is even trying to place me, this is a position that I’ve wanted to be in since I joined the industry. Thx again.

  2. AF

    Just wanted to tell OP #3 that I love Tim Horton’s! There are a few in the US too, like in NYC. I always go there for breakfast when I visit Toronto. It was also featured on How I Met Your Mother when Robin goes back to Canada and I got so excited :) (yes I really need to get a life to get so excited about this)

    1. Amber (OP #3)

      Hahahahaha yes Tim’s is amazing! I do risk it sometimes, I will admit. xD; Only if there’s no other options that are convenient, though. Eh.

      I was just worried about working there because while I can always just throw away the food I’ve ordered if it’s giving me problems (yes, I only have an oral allergy so I would be fine unless I actually ate the food), managers and whatnot might be like “oh this girl will die if she works here and so as such we shouldn’t hire her.” Bleh.

      1. COT

        They don’t have to know unless you tell them. If you and your doctor feel comfortable with you working there, then there’s no need to bring up your allergy until you have an offer, or even until you start working. When you do bring it up, make sure you’re confident and informed so that they feel assured that you know how to protect yourself. Rehearse what you want to say about your allergy.

        1. Jessa

          Mostly all I’ve ever said (I’m allergic to mustard and bee stings) is to tell a couple of trusted coworkers where to find my epi pen in case I get in trouble at work or on a break. I don’t make a big deal of it. But if I get stung in the parking lot or something it helps that someone knows what to do.

      2. Lana

        Just remember- working at Tims isn’t for the faint of heart. Sleep-deprived caffeine junkies needing their double double in a snowstorm can get kind of mean. (Wow, that was a really Canadian sentence.) But I know many of my friends who started working at Tims and they not only enjoyed it- but rose through the ranks a bit and it helped get them going- Canadian employers know if you’ve done a fair stint at Timmies then you’re not only able to handle difficult people but you can hussle and are dedicated. It’s the perfect job for a 17 year old cause they over-hire and can work around school and such.

        Now I want a bacon breakfast sandwich and a steeped tea.

        1. Amber (OP #3)

          Yeah haha I know it’s probably brutal. But just about any job can be stressful at times and if I can handle it, then, well, hey – go me!

      3. Marissa

        I worked at three different Tim’s stores in my hometown of Buffalo (which is basically Canada) throughout high school and college. It was a great first job, and I can imagine it was better than some of the alternatives for someone that age, but it could definitely be stressful at times. It’ll teach you how to juggle many tasks in a fast-paced, high-pressured environment, which will certainly come in handy in future interviews and jobs :)

        As for the allergy, as long as you don’t eat the Peanut Crunch donut, which is covered in peanuts so you can’t miss it, you should be fine. Good luck!

      4. WorkingMom

        Just wanted to add to #3 – if you accept the job and whether you disclose the allergy or not, you can always work the cash register without risking coming into too close of contact with allergens. Remember, in food service – the cashier should never handle food and vice versa. Even wearing gloves – because money is DIRTY. One should never handle money and food (or even a bag of food, etc) without washing hands or changing gloves. For this reason many employers will have one person man the cash register for a set period of time – rather than waste time washing hands/changing gloves every other minute. That could be you manning that register! Good luck you!

    2. Chinook

      Since you do eat there you will know that they are careful when it comes to nut allergies. As a former Timmy’s girl, I can say that there is limited nuts on site and that the peanut butter for bagels is served in individual sealed containers and not spread by the employee to prevent cross contamination. I don’t think they advertise being nut free but they are close to it and, if your allergy is oral and not touch based, it shouldn’t be an issue. If it is touch based, it would be worth checking their website for specific products served.

      Most of my work there was pouring coffee, taking orders/money and serving food. The baking/decorating is done by more experienced staff (unless you are on a late shift and are running low on donuts).

      So, with that knowledge, go with Alison’s advice and be prepared to explain how you are willing to work around the issue.

      As for the unspoken question – no, Tim’s doesn’t use crack in their coffee. It is addictive because they clean pots and machines atleast once a shift and have water temperatures set just so.

      1. Amber (OP #3)

        Yeah. I’ve never had problems at ANY Tim’s except for one right by my house where I’ve had issues… twice!!! :o I don’t eat there any more – I don’t even get drinks; the first time it was a Timbit that caused me problems and then the second time I started feeling funny after drinking part of an Iced Capp I wasted three dollars on – but yeah just touching has never caused me any problems, as far as I know.

        1. jennie

          Hmm… that’s odd. My husband has a severe peanut and tree nut allergy and eats/drinks at Timmies all the time. He doesn’t eat donuts but he’ll have a bagel or (nut-free) cookie with no problem.

          Maybe, since you know you’ve had issues at the one by your house, you should apply to a different location. If it’s anything like my city, there should be another one right down the street! :)

          1. Amber

            Haha yeah there’s lots in my town! :) There’s at least 7 that I can think of in the south end alone. Jeesh. There’s also one in the north end right where I volunteer and another one right next to the other place where I volunteer. ;) So that makes 8… probably 9… no, 10…!… in the south end, LOL. There used to be an 11th one but it closed down… holy crap, there’s a LOT of Tim’s here! xD;

        1. fposte

          They’re in the US now, too–started east and are heading west. I used to see them in Ohio when I had to drive there, and it looks like they’ve made it to Indiana and Kentucky as well.

          Still a bit far to go for coffee and doughnuts, but hey, if you’re out that way anyway…

  3. JNYC

    #6: My partner had shingles a few years ago, and it was rough (very painful). I hope you feel better soon!

  4. Darcy

    #2 – Many of those assessments are about cultural fit, not just how well you can perform the job tasks. Organizations tailor those to fit their environment and that aren’t “right or wrong” responses. You just may have a work style that wouldn’t fit well in their particular culture, so comparing this to your past performance reviews isn’t really relevant. Don’t let that hurt your confidence in your job search.
    Also, it can be hard to fit into a new culture when you’ve worked at one place for a really long time, so be open and patient in your job search and once you start a new job.

    1. Blue Dog

      I think #2’s initial reaction on not getting an offer was to call the EEOC and the DOL, the employer made the right call. The candidate is not a good fit if they are this litigious already. I think the employer may have dodged a bullet.

    2. Jazzy Red

      Dear OP # 2, that’s their way of saying “you too old”. They think you won’t be able to relate to the younger employees, or keep up with the hectic work environment, or you won’t be able to learn the new technologies at they come along. (They’re stupid.)

      If you’ve been working for 25 years, you’re over the age of 40. That’s when this starts in many companies or professions. It’s ageism, but you’ll never be able to prove it. You should drop it and move on. There are many people over the age of 40 who have as much energy and technical knowledge as a younger person, but these people obviously don’t get that.

      Keep looking until you find that right fit. You’ll be much happier.

      1. jennie

        I think this accusation is pretty out there. The recruiter was able to give the OP specific scores and areas where he didn’t do well on the assessment. If it was ageism, they could have just declined him with no reason/comment.

  5. Anonymous

    #3 That would be a good question to bring up with your MD, who can advise on what your limitations are so you can work safely. I know some with severe peanut allergies, that even the scent of a peanut brings on a severe reaction, so always a good idea to ask the doc. Good luck!

    1. FD

      That must *suck*! Being that violently allergic to peanuts, I mean. I’ve heard of people with contact allergies, but to be able to react badly to the *smell*…

      1. Riki

        I’m allergic to peanuts. My allergy, like the OP’s, is oral, but the smell makes gag. It’s psychological, but if I ever have to work in food service again, I would have to avoid places with peanut-heavy menus.

        Anyway, OP, since working at Tim’s wouldn’t require you to ingest anything, you should be fine. Go ahead and apply! Once you start working there, you may want to inform your boss/coworkers about your allergy just so that they are aware of it. Working in food service means a lot of opportunity to sample new products. You’ll want to avoid accidently sampling something full of peanuts.

  6. AdAgencyChick

    #4 — I feel for you! I fainted on a train a couple of years ago and gave myself a fat lip, which was fun to explain. :P The one thing I would add to Alison’s advice — make a joke, but also make it clear that you’re all right, because once you say “fainted” or “passed out” people are going to worry about you. Not meaning they’ll think “OP has health problems that might get in the way of working here,” just simply that they’ll be concerned for your health and thus distracted from the interviewing that needs to get done. So I’d point it out up front and say something like, “in case you noticed this, on Friday I passed out on the Q train — I saw a doctor and everything’s fine, but I sure gave myself a nice shiner!”

    1. COT

      I agree–“fainted” sounds more like an ongoing medical issue, whether or not that’s true. I’d maybe say “fell” instead and let people assume you tripped or something.

      1. Zed

        I was going to say the same thing!

        Of course, I may be a bit biased due to a completely different kind of situation. When I was a teenager I had to go home early on my first day of a summer job due to heat exhaustion and dehydration. The water hadn’t been turned on yet (no functioning bathrooms either), they had run out of bottled water, and it was a humid day in June. When I started feeling sick, someone in management gave me a half-full bottle of Gatorade because there was literally nothing else on site for me to drink.

        The next morning, I was told I had to be “laid off” because they’d hired too many people. Yeah, right!

      2. Ariancita

        I don’t know–when someone uses “trip” and “fell” in connection with a black eye, I think something else entirely (domestic abuse) because I’ve unfortunately have had friends use that line.

        I’ve fainted on the train twice–if you’re in an urban environment, it’s not so unusual or unheard of; the trains are hot and crowded and have little air circulation. When I’ve mentioned fainting on the train, everyone immediately gave an “ahhhh” of understanding. (Caveat: I’m in NYC.)

        1. Chloe

          I agree – fell sounds odder to me than fainting, it sounds more like an excuse for something else. Fainting on a packed train is not that weird to me.

    2. WWWONKA

      I would not say anything about fainting. Just say you got bumped into, tripped and fell. Better than having them think you have a medical condition and be a possible liability.

      1. OP#4 (Catgirl)

        Hi guys! I am a bit prone to fainting, but not for any underlying medical condition. I’ve had EKGs, blood tests, etc. On that particular day, I ran in the morning and didn’t eat or drink enough afterward, then had a long, hot train ride. My blood pressure is on the low end of normal, and it just dropped too low. So it was my own fault for not eating enough. I went to the hospital and they ran all the usual tests to make sure I was fine. It used to happen in high school during choir concerts to me, I’d get dizzy standing and singing under the hot lights. I can faint when my blood is taken, too. I might just mention I was bumped into, because I don’t want them thinking they’d have a fainter on their hands (I mean, they would, but only in unusual circumstances.)

        1. Anonymous

          When you get a job you may just want to mention something about having low blood pressure and passing out when physically stressed. It’s not something you need accommodation for but if it happens at work your coworkers would be grateful to know in advance what’s happening.

          1. OP#4 (Catgirl)

            When I feel myself getting dizzy I usually just sit/lay down and drink some water/eat, and it goes away (this only happens rarely – I don’t feel dizzy on a daily basis). The problem was I was in public and on a crowded train, and couldn’t really do that. But yes, all my current coworkers/friends know that I’m prone to this, so if it ever happens they don’t freak out.

            1. WWWONKA

              I would still avoid making any remarks about any medical condition. There is enough judgement going on during the hiring process and you do not need to add to it.

              1. Jazzy Red

                This.

                I’m not a train rider, but I imagine they can be pretty crowded, which could lead to a fall. That should be enough to say.

            2. Bwmn

              I have a similar condition – and it really can freak people out, especially if they’ve ever see you faint, not matter what you tell them. I once fainted in the middle of a hair appointment (ambulance called, the works) – and no matter how the entire salon has been reassured, whenever I go there I get served water like I’m in a restaurant. It’s sweet, but it’s also clear that the situation really freaked them out. And at this point it was already 4 years ago.

              I don’t know if you’re a woman or not, but I think there’s also just old stereotypes of women who faint being frail, delicate, etc. that’s best to avoid during an interview.

              1. CathVWXYNot?

                I’ve fainted on a long flight… twice, a year apart. My poor husband had no idea I had a history of fainting (it hadn’t happened once in the seven years we’d been together at that point, and I’d never mentioned it), and he seriously thought I was dead because my eyes rolled right back in my head. When I came around I was mostly just embarrassed – he took longer to recover than I did!

            3. Rana

              Sympathies – I sometimes have that issue, too (lower blood pressure, poor tolerance for standing, especially in the heat), so I know what you mean about not always being able to take the necessary care of yourself in public situations. I’ve been lucky to not faint, but there have times where I’ve had to be very aggressive about getting myself to water/food and a place to sit. Annoying, isn’t it? :)

          2. Sabrina

            Right b/c if you’re out and they call the paramedics, they need to tell them that sort of thing. (Or to know NOT to call the paramedics unless you’re bleeding or unresponsive, etc.)

        2. Elizabeth West

          You could just say “Pardon my eye; I had a fight with a floor and lost,” or something like that. I’m very near-sighted and have had many fights with doors and cabinets!

          OP, I’m glad you are okay.

      1. Jessa

        I know. And they insist even if you tell them different that you must have been abused because they just know and all abused women lie about it anyway. And no woman could possibly have fallen or ever injured herself in ANY other way. OY.

        1. Elizabeth West

          Lucky for me, I’m a figure skater, which is a built-in explanation. Not lucky for me, when I DO have bruises, it’s usually because I did fall and bust myself!

  7. Felicia

    #3 At least here in Toronto, Tim Hortons is actually a very hard job to get. Not that you shouldn’t try, since it depends on where you live and you never know, but it’s considered one of the harder food services jobs to get if you don’t have food service experience.

    My best friend used to work there and she seems to have enjoyed it:) She first got the job in the very small town she’s from which probably helped. Then once she moved to Toronto they hired her at another one because she’d worked at Tim’s before. She also said that after a while you don’t even WANT to eat the food there:) And just because you work there doesn’t mean you have to eat there, though I love me some Timbits. There’s no harm in applying for any job you want, and I think your allergy is something to wait to mention when/if you get an offer.

    1. Chinook

      Getting the Tim’s job I did in Nova Scotia was easier because I was older than average a day willing to work the swing shift (which had no supervisor). In Alberta, it is easy to get a job there (currently pays $13/hr) because they are having to bring in foreign workers at some locations and locals are suppose to get priority before they advertise abroad. In fact, one of the apartments in my building is rented on behalf of an owner for his Filipino employees.

      Now, if you are near a military base, be warned that you will be competing directly with military spouses as we know they are always hiring too.

      1. Felicia

        I think it depends entirely on where you live for its easiness…and looking at who the staff at your local Tim Hortons are will probably give you an idea…none of the staff at my local Tim Hortons appear to be highschool age, and according to my friend who worked at a different one in downtown Toronto, most staff were recent immigrants who depended on the income to live. I think it is slightly easier to get a shift working during the day – I imagine a 17 year old would be looking for evenings/weekends which is even harder to get. It was just surprising to hear someone say Tim Hortons would be easy for a first job, because from my experience no one does that as their first job because they ask for and can easily get people with experience. But then that could just be the market in Toronto. Canada’s a big country and it varies . .Though if you get a job at Tim’s and move anywhere else, itll be much easier to get a job at a different location.

        Also, we used to have both Dunkin Doughnuts (they still have a few in Montreal) and Tim Hortons, and Tim Hortons is far superior:)

        1. Amber (OP #3)

          I live in a relatively small city just north of Toronto, actually, where probably about 95% of the jobs are fast food jobs – and the unemployment rate is terrible! So it’s NOT easy to get a job but my sister got an interview there at 14 and they were going to hire her until they realized that she wasn’t actually 15… haha. I know TONS of people at my high school who work at places like Tim Horton’s/McDonald’s but, yeah, I’m definitely not holding my breath! It all just depends on who’s applying at the time and how lucky you get! >_<;

      2. Lana

        The one on the base in Edmonton is actually the hardest one to get a job at in the area- the military and Tims have an agreement that they’ll allow Tims to build on their base- but there can’t be more than a 60 second wait to have your order fulfilled. (The military doesn’t want soldiers showing up saying “I was HERE but I was stuck in the line at Timmies!” and soldiers don’t want to risk being charged AWOL for a double double.) So you’ve got to be lightning fast, know your stuff, and they will pawn you off to another area Tims if you can’t keep up. There’s also a 3 item limit for the drive through. That place is like clockwork. The ones within a 10 minute drive of the base aren’t held to the same standards but they’re definitely faster (yes- there’s at least four.)

        I haven’t noticed to many foreign workers at the ones around here- but they do exist, especially running night shift. And it does pay well considering the work- which speaks volumes about how addicted Canadians are to their Tims (totally guilty of this myself- all this talk about it is seriously making me jones for a steeped tea.)

    2. Lana

      You can’t really compare Toronto to the rest of the country though- except perhaps Vancouver. Cities like Ottawa, Montreal, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg etc.- are MUCH smaller and a totally different situation. Not to mention once you go a further step down to places like Fredericton, Halifax, Red Deer, Saskatoon, Victoria etc.

      Toronto really is an anomaly among Canadian cities. Nice to visit, but I don’t think I’d ever live there again. To big.

  8. Chinook

    OP #6, since you are sick with a contagious and painful disease, you should not be working. When you talk to your employer, be prepared for their doubt by offering a doctor’s note before they ask. It is in everyone’s best interest that you not go to work and this may be one of those times when it is necessary to disclose the details of an illness.

      1. FiveNine

        I think it’s generally far more serious than you’re implying here; it is extremely painful and debilitating.

        1. Twentymilehike

          Yes! A friend of mine just had it and was in the hospital for three days and then quarantined for close to two weeks! It was of his head and eyes … It looks like he got beat up and burned. He said the pain brought him to the ground in tears every time it flared up. It sounds absolutely terrible.

          OTOH. Another friend if mine has had it twice and stayed home from work but didn’t make it sound all that bad.

          1. ChristineSW

            Yes, I too have heard of it ranging from not too bad to downright excruciating. I think it is contagious, though, for a certain period. A colleague and dear friend had it last year, and she was quarantined for 3 days, but I don’t think she required hospitalization.

            1. LisaLyn

              Yes, it is contageous at first. I was told to be most concerned around the elderly or children, of course, but also that vaccinated children would for the most part be ok. I got them right before leaving on a trip to Florida with my nephews. I thought I was going to have to cancel. However, they were on my neck and easily hidden by my hair and honestly, they didn’t really hurt at all.

              OTOH, a coworker of mine had them and was in so much pain that she had to stay home for weeks because the amount of pain meds she was on made her unable to drive safely. So, it obviously varies and I am so grateful I had an easy case!

        2. long time lurker!

          It is AWFUL. My father had it on his chest and arms; it was so bad that he could barely tolerate wearing shirts. It took literally months for him to recover fully, and even now, almost a year later, he has a little bit of residual pain/numbness. Shingles ain’t nothin’ to f with, in the immortal words of the Wu-Tang Clan.

      2. doreen

        Yes and no. A person having an outbreak of shingles won’t pass on shingles, but can pass on the virus which also causes chicken pox in those who are not immune. This is how I , my siblings and my cousins got chicken pox as children- my great-grandmother was having an outbreak of shingles when we visited.

        1. Chinook

          When I meant shingles are contagious, I meant the trigger chicken pox. It is highly contagious and can cause issues in adults who have never had it and shingles in those that have. Even chicken pox can be dangerous if you have a compromised immune system. That is why I think you need to disclose this to an employer because it could be dangerous to others and/or their families if you go to work before you finish the contagious stage.

          1. Nik

            It can also be very dangerous for pregnant women. Please do not mess around with shingles. That is something that really needs your disclosure.

          2. fposte

            I think it can cause chicken pox by contagion, but it doesn’t sound like contact with somebody with shingles is causal for a case of shingles–that’s an internal deal.

        2. Vicki

          A note on Chicken Pox – if you had this as a child under the age of 5, you may not be immune as an adult.

          I had chicken pox at age 4… and again at 30. I apparently caught it the second time from a mother of a kid who had it. The mother came to a class I was in.

          If you have cp or shingles or your kid has cp – Stay Home!

          CP is no fun as an adult. Shingles can be extremely painful.

          1. Elizabeth West

            CP as an adult can cause complications that kids don’t get, or so I’ve heard. I had it when I was nine, and it was a pretty bad case. From what I understand, that means I’m not likely to get it again. But my mom has had shingles, and I am so not looking forward to it.

            I just refuse. I refuse to get them. I shall control this virus by sheer force of will. 0_0

            1. mm

              They have a vaccine for shingles now but don’t generally give it out to people under 50 years of age.

              1. Jazzy Red

                My doctor doesn’t want to give this vaccine until there are more studies done. All of my brothers, sisters, and I had chicken pox when I was three, so I have ~some~ concern about shingles. It sounds like the kind of really-crappy-but-not-terminal thing that I would get.

              2. Evan

                Is that the same as the chicken pox vaccine? Because if it is, my sister got that when she was around five years old. (And now I’m wondering if I should get it too, if what Vicki said about non-lifelong immunity is right.)

            2. ChristineSW

              I had chicken pox at age 10, and I could swear that was the sickest I’ve ever been, if not close. I didn’t require hospitalization; I just remember feeling downright awful for several days and running a high fever. My sister was sick at the same time from something else (I don’t remember what)…oh my poor mom!!

    1. Anonymous

      Goodness, yes, stay home. Get the doctor’s note, tell them it’s extremely contagious, and stay home! My father had shingles and passed on chicken pox to me, and it was terrible. Chicken pox as an adult is terrible, and shingles itself is very bad.

      Not to mention that, if any of your immune co-workers pass on your germs to a baby at home, it can be life -threatening to the baby. Or to those with immune-system types of health problems.

      1. voluptuousfire

        I had shingles a few years back and the doctor who examined me had been pregnant at the time. She ended up standing about 5 feet away from me and looked at the rash and went “yeah, it’s shingles.”

        Mine was painful. It felt like a cross between a bee sting and a burning, friction-y sensation, like a rug burn.

        Take the time off.

      2. Rana

        Yes, please, stay home! (Says the pregnant lady who has become obsessive about the hand sanitizer when taking public transit.)

  9. Nutella Nutterson

    #6 do you mean you had only worked there two weeks when you gave notice? I feel like there’s a typo somewhere here…

      1. Jay

        That was what caught MY eye. She’s only worked there two weeks, THEN she gave notice, THEN she got sick? She was already quitting after two weeks so I’m not sure the company really owes her anything at that point, other than well wishes for a speedy recovery.

  10. long time lurker!

    One thing to be careful about w/Tim Hortons is that if you work at a 24-hour location, you will likely be expected to work overnight shifts on occasion no matter how young you and, and even if you’re in school. A high school friend of mine worked at Tim’s because she needed the income in high school, and they would schedule her for midweek overnights – she’d go to school, straight to work, and then straight to school, and it was really tough on her. I imagine it was probably a management issue that isn’t necessarily unique to TH’s, but just keep in mind that you may be expected to work overnights.

    1. Felicia

      My friend would constantly get the 6 am – 11 am shifts because that’s when people need their coffee:) I think it’d be easier to work there as a college or university student where you have a more variable schedule. Though they all have Coldstones in them now, so you could also have ice cream:)

      1. doreen

        In the US, if you’re talking about a 16 or 17 year old’s working hours , it’s a state by state thing- California is not the only state that limits working hours at that age, but Federal law doesn’t.

        1. Amber (OP #3)

          Well I know that here in Canada (or, well, at least Ontario) they can’t schedule you during school hours unless you have written permission in from your parents and I think even from your school too!!! Having to get permission from those who by default want a kid or a teenager to be in school pretty much guarantees that employers won’t even try to do it… haha. I don’t think that during the school year they can technically schedule you full-time anyway but if you’re on part-time and don’t have a set number of hours in which you will work each week then they can schedule you for up to 39 hours anyway. I have friends who juggled school and weeks where they worked 35 hours at McDonald’s…!

          1. Felicia

            Oh it wasn’t during school hours for her – she was in university at the time so no set school hours. Just saying those are the times they’re more likely to need people, which is why you’re going to have a harder time getting a job there than a university student or someone who’s not in school who can work those hours – which is why at least around here Tim’s rarely hires highschool students. Though they can still schedule you until like midnight, which is hard when you have to go to school the next day. I think that’s a reason Tim’s is considered a really hard job to get if you’re in highschool. When I applied there (to 2 different locations) they also both said they would only hire someone with previous food service experience .

            1. Jazzy Red

              I was wondering how any parents could allow their high school kid to do that. Thanks for the explanation.

              Food service is brutal, and not for the faint of heart.

      2. long time lurker!

        Not sure about the 6-11 shift, but in my friend’s case, she wasn’t scheduled during school hours; just in the hours between the end of one school day and the beginning of the next (when one would normally go home, do homework and sleep!) She survived, although I think she may at this point consist of about 50% Tim Horton’s coffee by volume.

        1. Amber

          That’s crazy! Although the way you make it sound, it sounds like she was working from 3 PM one day to 7 AM the next day… lol… that’s a 16 hour shift every single day!

  11. Patty

    Re #3 — When I worked at McDonalds we had shrimp salads and I have a seafood allergy that won’t permit me to work with shrimp at all.. even defrosting them with cold water spray could give me a reaction.

    My co-workers all knew and it wasn’t a problem… I’d apply…

    1. Not So NewReader

      Yeah, really. I had a coworker who was allergic to bees. “Thank you for telling me!” I would rather handle the bee problem than see my coworker in major distress. My coworker contributed in other ways. It was a non-issue.

  12. Cathi

    #3–As long as you know your limits, you’ll be fine. As a teenager I worked at a Dairy Queen with a boy who had a tree nut allergy and it was only an issue once–when he made a sundae with pecans and then neglected to wash his hands and then rubbed his eyes. He was super diligent about hand-washing after dealing with pecans every day after that.

    I currently work in a bar and have a fruit allergy. I’m just careful to ask other coworkers to make drinks with the fruits I’m SUPER allergic to, or use tongs and go slowly to avoid splashback when I can’t. I wash my hands often and keep the drink-making station immaculately clean so there’s no residue to come into contact with.

    As long as your allergy is managed and you’re paying attention, and you’re not the type who, upon inhaling peanut scent in the air falls over with closed airways, you should be fine to work anywhere.

  13. Piggle

    OP #2, this summer I applied to be a park ranger. The application consisted of work history, cover letter and resume. No work assessment. I received an email telling me that I was below their 60% mark for work criteria. It was absolutely unclear to me what exactly they had chosen to assess or why I would not be a good fit. I thought that I was in the highly qualified range. The assessment seemed pulled out of thin air. I can only guess they had someone with more specific experience. Ah well, move on.

    1. SevenSixOne

      That sucks! I suspect a lot of positions like that already have an internal candate in mind but the company still must collect a certain number of outside applicants because of some dumb company policy. Such a waste of everyone’s time.

      1. Piggle

        I suspected as much. At least they sent me an email confirming that the position was filled, which is more than most do.

        1. doreen

          Piggle, it might not have been an internal candidate. I assume park ranger was a government job of some sort, and they love tests. Even if they aren’t really tests. My state has written tests for a lot of jobs, but for many of the ones that don’t, they “score” your resume/application against the requirements of the position. For example, you might be able to get range of points for education, and another range for experience depending on the length of the experience and how closely related it is. For a legal job involving real estate, you the most points more points for experience in real estate law, but you would get some points for other legal or real estate experience , and ten years of experience gets more points than two years. So you could find out you scored 60% or ranked 125th on a list without ever taking an actual test

            1. Piggle

              It was a job as a park ranger in the city. Thanks for the explanation. It just seemed a bit odd to be rated with a specific number and not know the questions or perameters of the test. It was a job I applied for that was out of the box anyway.

  14. HR Competent

    #7- I’d recommend noting up front you can’t start until November. My experience has been once hiring managers push the interview button they’d like to fill as soon as possible. This has been medium sized businesses, large companies may have more depth and not need the fill right away.

  15. Jessa

    My understanding is that Tim Horton’s does not actually bake from scratch on the premises. So you’re not going to be exposed to for instance peanut dust in the air. They should also have food service gloves anyway for use in handling food items. So you should NOT have a huge issue with your allergies on premises if that’s where you’re applying.

    I’d be more worried at a place where they actually prepare the food on site. Or a place where they cook in peanut oil (some people with nut allergies do NOT have problems with peanut oil, some do.)

    So really it would depend on the place and whether you can take decent precautions against contamination. I know one place that does some kind of smoothie (ice cream place) that has nuts in it has a gal that has an allergy and she asks someone else to prepare those orders, but takes care of all the other customers just fine. Since they likely have precautions already in place for CUSTOMER allergies, they’ll probably have no issues with you either.

    1. Chinook

      Jessa, Timmy’s does bake on Site but everything is mixed and formed elsewhere and shipped frozen, uncooked to the stores and stored until frozen. They have ovens on Site and bake times vary by item. They are then decorated on Site. You are right, though, that leads to less risk of coming in contact with nuts because the only thing airborne is the smell of coffee.

      1. Jessa

        That’s what I meant though, with no mixers on site, they’re not putting powder and stuff into the air. No nut flours, etc. Bits of nut getting thrown about in a master mixer and all. They still BAKE but it’s not the same as all those raw ingredients being used all over the place.

  16. Seal

    #1 – Did your neighbor ask if she could use you as a reference? It sounds like she didn’t. If that is indeed the case, tell that to the people calling you for references. As a manager, I’ve gotten that response when checking references for potential employees and it is an instant red flag not to hire. The references that weren’t vetted usually trashed the interviewee, or at best gave noncommittal responses.

    On the other hand, if she did ask, why would you agree knowing you couldn’t give her a good recommendation? You aren’t doing her or her potential employers a favor if you can’t give an honest assessment of her skills and work ethic.

    1. Jessa

      I would also talk to the neighbour and politely (or not so politely depending on how dense one’s neighbour IS) explain that putting down someone for a reference without asking them first is a BAD IDEA.

  17. Tara T.

    For #1, you could be a character reference – say, “I do not know how she is to work with. She is my neighbor and has never been a co-worker. She DOES have a nice personality and is very friendly.” Personality counts too, you know!

    1. Anonymous

      I thought AAM+others think character references a bit of a joke? No reason to include them because they shouldn’t need to ask people what you’re like – they can get that straight from the manager when they call about your previous work history?

  18. Ruffingit

    Whenever I hear of anyone having shingles, I think of James Blake, the tennis pro who broke his neck after hitting the net post on the court followed six weeks later by his father dying after which he developed shingles. I saw him on Oprah once and was struck by how amazing he was. I can’t imagine breaking my neck, suffering the grief of my parent’s death, and then having shingles on top of it.

    http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20147699,00.html

  19. Audiophile

    OP # 6: please stay home. As everyone else mentioned shingles is contagious.
    I had chicken pox at 18, I presume I got it from someone who had shingles, but I never figured out where I came in contact with that person. I missed a regents exam and almost missed graduation, because I felt so awful. It is easily the worst I’ve ever felt. I spent most days and nights awake, as I was so uncomfortable. And I still have some residual scaring now. I am dreading the idea of having shingles, I seriously hope it never happens.

    I’m sure your company will understand, in fact I can’t see why they wouldn’t.

  20. OP #7

    I did go ahead and let them know about my timeline and unfortunately they are looking for a quick hire. The hiring manager seemed very pleased with my credentials and thanked me profusely for being up front. This particular position may not workout for me but I have a good feeling that the professionalism shown towards this small company may bode well for me in the future!

    1. Ruffingit

      Absolutely the professional you’ve shown will make a huge difference. People always appreciate it when others show respect for their time and needs and that’s what you did here. Kudos to you and congrats on the new addition to your family!

  21. Grey

    #2 I think some of those assessment tests are moronic.

    For example: I believe that doing a good job is its own reward. I don’t need a trophy for doing what’s right. I’m also modest and don’t brag about my achievements. So, If I see a question like, “Do you proudly display your awards and certificates?”, I answer “very unlikely”. Unfortunately, whatever algorithm they use to score these things could end up telling a hiring manager that I don’t take any pride in my work and they’d see that as a negative.

    There’s all kinds of questions and answers that can give inaccurate results. You can’t get to know who a person is by giving them a questionnaire .

  22. Chocolate Teapot

    I once applied for a job for which the job description and my skills appeared to be a good match, and got a response saying that my CV was “insufficiently adequate”.

    Sadly the person writing the rejection letter didn’t bother to elaborate.

    1. Ruffingit

      I know someone who applied for a job as Chocolate Teapot Designer and was rejected. The unbelievable part of it was that she was currently the temporary CTD at her job and she was applying for the permanent position there. She was doing a very good job according to her peers and bosses. But, the online system decided her resume/qualifications didn’t quite match so she didn’t get an interview. Crazy!

  23. anon

    OP #3, you should really talk to your allergist about this. A lot of allergies get worse with exposure. So even if you didn’t have a reaction immediately, you could be setting yourself up for issues in the future. I know this is a tough job market, but there are a lot of entry-level jobs that aren’t in foodservice and it might be best for you to consider one of those in the long run.

  24. Harry Lakin

    Regarding question #2, as the owner of a company that sells the “cutting edge” hiring assessment in the marketplace today, I was appalled to read the posting in your recent set of answers about hiring assessments. While the EEOC certainly considers hiring/pre-hiring assessments tests, it’s never a good idea for a company to call it a test. While it’s true someone may or may not be a fit for a role as the company sees it, testing implies “pass” or “fail”. This person should not look at it as failure, rather, he/she is just not a fit for what that company’s looking for. As for the company going into depth about why they were reluctant, they seemed ultra blunt with their response. In fact so much so that they seemingly created an enemy. There are much better ways to inform a candidate that they are not a fit for the role. Last, the best assessments do have a component that the candidate can see. These reports are honest but couched in language that do not make the taker feel like a failure. This company seems to be using a poor tool and further, the HR department needs a lesson in how to communicate with applicants more professionally.

    1. Joey

      C’mon Harry,
      Your argument for calling it an assessment is merely to cloud the real reason for knocking a candidate out of contention.

      It obviously is a test (albeit one with a moving “passing” score) as evidenced by the ops experience (and the EEOC language you cited). Failing the test occurs when the score or “results” lead to the candidate being passed over.

      What’s so wrong with pointing out that another candidate did better on the assessment- its true isn’t it?

  25. Harry Lakin

    Joey, Yes, clearly other candidates met the companies needs better than this candidate did. All I’m saying is that this company seemed particularly callused in the way they expressed to the candidate why they did not get the job. Further, just because the EEOC considers a hiring assessment a “test” does not mean they failed. I’ve seen many situations where someone takes an assessment for one position (say sales) but is better suited for another job at the company (say customer service) and gets hired in that capacity. You may view what I’m saying as all PC BS, but when dealing with people’s lives…particularly in the times we live in when many folks have been out of work for extended periods of time and any sense of “failure” can further damage someone’s psyche, why not break the news that they did not get the job in a more professional and perhaps more sensitive way?

    1. Joey

      I think people hate the vague “you werent a good fit” line. Its useless. So then why couldn’t someone say:

      Our assessment predicted that you’re not a good match for this particular position because of x. If in the future we have other positions blah, blah, blah.

      Personally I don’t have enough faith in assessments to knock someone out because of their results, but if you do this shouldn’t be a big deal. When I use them I only use them to find possible clues to the way people think.

      1. Harry Lakin

        Joey, I’d be happy to let you sample my assessment gratis. I think you might change your opinion…it gets to how people act, not how they think. Ultimately you want a set of behaviors that will get the job done. Talk is cheap, it’s all about performance and I’m sure on that we’d both agree!

    2. KellyK

      I would agree with this. Assessments like that are highly subjective, and describing it as “failing a test” makes it sound much more objective than it is.

      I think the response the OP got was the worst of both worlds: more negative than a generic “not a good fit” but without any information that would help her correct it. Okay, so the assessment thinks she’s a slacker with poor work habits and not enough “energy.” Without any idea why she scored that way, there’s nothing she can do to correct it. She can’t even tell if it’s a valid assessment, unless she remembers her answers to the questions.

      1. Harry Lakin

        Kelly, Even if she remembered the questions, she has no way of knowing the validity of the assessment unless she knew there was actually a validity study done to substantiate the instrument. There is science and fact behind valid instruments.. Sadly too many don’t understand that not all assessments are created equal and many are used incorrectly. Indeed, many hiring managers are using the wrong assessments unknowingly, because that’s what the company provides. Garbage in, garbage out.

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