do we have to invite our boss to a party, leaving confidential documents out, and more

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

1. Do we have to invite our boss to our party?

I’m a lab supervisor, and our scientific advisor and I are planning a party for our lab people. We are part of a group that does research with direction from the division manager — who is “the boss” with whom we meet weekly. For a casual, relaxed party at my house, do I have to invite the boss? If others in the group don’t feel relaxed, it defeats the purpose of the party.

You don’t have to, and most managers will understand why employees might prefer to socialize without the boss present. (There are, of course, the occasional managers who will feel personally slighted or offended, but you probably know if you have one of those since you will have seen other signs of immaturity, pettiness, and confusion about roles.)

2. I might have accidentally left confidential documents out

I may have accidentally printed some confidential papers related to my work and left them sitting on the printer. I say “may” because I really have no idea how I could have printed them without realizing it. There’s also the possibility that a coworker accidentally printed it, but I feel the spotlight is more on me since I was the last one to work on these documents.

My manager is the one who found the papers at the printer and wants an explanation of how something like this could have happened. I’m really not quite sure what to say. I worry that saying I don’t know how this happened makes me sound irresponsible. My reflex is to apologize, but I’m not really sure if this was even my mistake. I also don’t want to make excuses and would like to provide an explanation that would ensure this doesn’t happen again (which is difficult to do since, again, I don’t know how this happened). Any advice on how to resolve this issue?

How about, “I can’t imagine how this could have happened. I’m normally extremely careful about this issue because I know how crucial is to keep these confidential. I don’t think it was me and others do have access to this file, but since we can’t know for sure, I’m going to be extra vigilant going forward to make sure that there’s no way this could happen from anything I’m doing.”

That tells your manager what she probably wants to hear — that you recognize that this is a big deal, you take it seriously, and you’re going to be extra careful in the future.

3. When an interviewer asks If I’m interviewing anywhere else

I’ve been on several interviews where toward the end the hiring manager (or HR person) has asked. “Are you interviewing anywhere else?” Each time I’ve replied in this nature: “I am looking but haven’t locked in anything serious yet.”

So what’s best? Should you say, “Yes, I’m actively interviewing everywhere and your offer better be competitive”?

This is such a silly question; they should assume that you’re looking at other jobs, and there’s no point in asking. If what they really want to know is whether they’re in danger of losing you to another offer, they should tell you their likely timeline and ask if you have any conflicts with it, or tell you that they can expedite things if you’re expecting other offers.

In any case, the best answer is some variation of “I’m looking at a few different options, but I’m being pretty picky because I care a lot about fit.” That says you’re someone with options without giving them more information than they need.

4. How to ask about training in an interview

I am currently interviewing. A big concern of mine is training. How do I broach the subject? I am unsure how to measure if an employer will expect too much too soon.

Ask, “How is the person in this position typically trained? How long does it usually take before someone is fully trained and able to work independently?”

And then really listen to what they say. Do they seem uncertain, or hem and haw before figuring out an answer? Do they tell you most people hit the ground running? Do they talk in specifics or generalities? You’ll get a lot of information from HOW they answer you, as well as what they say.

5. Who is responsible for my paycheck bouncing?

I deposit my paycheck every Friday from my newest job. They always hold most of my check until Saturday, which doesn’t bother me. This week, however, it hasn’t cleared. I got ahold of my bank and they said that the maker of my check had not made the funds available and has a history of bouncing checks. I will be taking to my payroll person tomorrow, but I am wondering if I need to be worried. My company just expanded and are going through a lot of changes, but the company that does the payroll is the same. Who is responsible for lack of funds?

With all the payroll companies I’m familiar with, it’s your employer who would be responsible for the lack of funds. The checks are drawn directly on their bank account, even though the payroll company issues the checks. (And really, a payroll company that bounced paychecks wouldn’t stay in business for long.)

And yes, I would be concerned. A company that bounces a check once? That’s still a big deal, but if it’s a fluke and they make good on it quickly, then fine — mistakes happen. But if happens more than once, something is going on with your company that should concern you. You and your coworkers should insist on knowing what’s going on, and what steps are being taken to ensure that all future checks go through.

6. Following up with an employer after a request for information

I know you say to never contact the employer once you apply so as not to annoy them, but I think my situation might be a bit different. I submitted my resume to an employer even though they didn’t have any vacancies and I didn’t expect any response at all, but to my surprise, they sent me an email almost immediately, asking for more details about the department I’m interested in, my availability, etc.

I responded to them but I haven’t heard anything back for four days now. Should I send a follow-up email after it’s been a week just to ask if they received my response or if they require more information? Or should I just let it go?

Four days is nothing on a hiring manager’s side. Wait two weeks and follow up then — but don’t ask if they received your response (sounds like nagging if they did) or if they need more information (assume they’ll let you know if they do). Instead, just reiterate your interest and say you’d love to talk with them if they think it might be a good fit. If you still don’t hear back, then I’d let it go.

7. Can I ask to be considered again for the job that rejected me?

I recently had an interview with a company I think I am a great fit for. The interview went well and I was pretty confident about the job. When the manager called later in the week, she pretty much raved about my answers to the questions and how much potential I have. But she didn’t give me the job, and they are relisting the position. Her reasons were: I am a bit inexperienced (I’m only a year and one contract position out of uni) and she doesn’t have the resources to mentor me.

I’ve been thinking about it a lot and I still think I could do this job well. Would it be appropriate for me to write her a letter addressing these concerns? I understand relisting the position means she’ll review other candidates, but if none of them work out I want to make sure she thinks about me. My concern is that this might be too aggressive.

First, I’d want to be sure you really understand her concerns and you have evidence that would truly override those concerns. If it’s just “I want this job and I know I could do it well,” you’ll come across as ignoring her clearly stated beliefs about your experience level and their inability to provide as much training as they judge you’d need. You don’t want to come across as naive or dismissive of the feedback that she was kind enough to give you. (That said, you could certainly just go with, “If you don’t end up finding someone who’s exactly what you’re looking for, I hope you’ll reach back out — I’d really love the chance to work with you.” That respects her judgment but makes your continuing interest clear.)

{ 80 comments… read them below }

  1. Mela*

    My employer has to do something on their end to release funds for payroll. They have the money, but if that step doesn’t go through, I poke the payroll lady and she does it again. I don’t know if your company also has this system, but this has happened a couple of times in the last few years. That’s the same wording I’ve gotten at my bank when this has happened. (I’m a contractor, and they don’t do direct deposit for us.)

  2. SaltWater*

    #2 – Some printers have an option to use an ID and password to print documents. I used this as my default so nothing printed without entering a password. If your printer has this, tell your manager you’ll use this. If it happens again, you can be sure that it wasn’t you who printed them.

  3. Jessa*

    #2, your IT department should be able to tell WHO sent that file to the print queue. If it was you, apologise like crazy and figure out how you sent it by mistake so it won’t happen again, if it was someone else well it’s important to point your manager at them because it IS confidential work and it needs to be secured, so it really is in the best interests of the company to say “I don’t think it was me, if it was of course I’ll take steps, but others have access and IT should really be tasked to find out which ID sent that print load.”

    1. CatB (in RO)*

      And even in the case of a small company with no IT department, depending on the software environment a tech-savvy person can usually determine what workstation sent what to the printer (I assume it’s a network printer). Windows, for instance, lets you see when a certain file was last printed.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        By accident, I have sometimes pressed the Print button when I meant to hit Save, which might have been what happened here?

        1. CatB (in RO)*

          Yes, that happens, at least in MS Office (kinda de facto standard for user interface). That’s why I always insert a “Save As” button to the right of “Save” one. It’s convenient (I keep track of versions) and adds another layer of security against accidental printing.

        2. Jazzy Red*

          In Microsoft, you can tailor the toolbar to your own preferences. I have my print button way over to the left and my save buttons all the way over to the right. Otherwise, I’d be hitting the wrong button all the time, and I work on confidential documents too.

          Actually, I found it fun to customize my toolbars, since we’re not allowed to have screensavers or wallpaper on our computers. It’s a small thing, but at least I get to have *something* my way.

          1. Nikki T*

            Yes, in Outlook I moved the “reply all” button way over to the end.

            Some people need it removed entirely, but that’s a diff story for a diff day.

        3. Anonanon*

          I changed my default printer to print to PDF to keep this from happening.

          (Adobe Acrobat Creator is expensive – if your company doesn’t provide that, there are multiple free options, such as PDF Creator)

          1. Elizabeth West*

            That’s a good idea. I have Cute PDF Writer on my home computer, and I have to go through a couple of steps to actually print anything (as well as hooking up the USB/parallel cord, hehe). It keeps me from lining up a print job I didn’t intend.

          2. Another Emily*

            Another option is to use keyboard shortcuts. I use CTRL+P for print and CTRL+S for save, which have no chance of mixing them up.

    2. Gjest*

      I don’t usually deal with any “confidential” or sensitive documents, so this question may be silly- is it normal for people who regularly deal with confidential documents to use network printers? I would have assumed that people in this case should have their own printer, or be in an area where it’s not the end of the world if the other people in that area can see the documents.

      I guess it is a good thing I don’t have to worry about this. I print stuff and forget about it on the shared printer all of the time. And usually when I go to get a print job, there are 3-4 other forgotten documents from my coworkers.

      1. Bea W*

        It depends. Some people who work with certain types of information or have to it print frequently may have a personal printer at their desk or office. Other people handle confidential documents less frequently and only have access to network printers, or there may be a network printer for the entire department where it doesn’t matter so much who in that space sees the documents.

        My company has a computer station set up at most network printers. You can send your document to the printer in such a way that you have to physically go over to the printer and log in to the document center with a personal ID and password in order to print it. That is what people will do with a document that is too sensitive to print unattended.

        1. Gjest*

          That makes sense. I just had visions of people hitting print and then running like mad to get to the printer before someone else sees their document…like I do when I occasionally print out a recipe or boarding passes. Oops, I mean, I never print personal stuff at work :)

          I like the idea of what you have, with the password needed after you get to the printer. That would save a lot of running to the printer, but then again, that’s how I get a little exercise in the middle of the day.

          1. Mike C.*

            Many network printers in these environments have the ability wait until the intended recipient gets to the machine to start printing.

            But yeah, if things get boring, the “race to the printer” game can be kind of fun. ;)

            1. Chocolate Teapot*

              Oh yes, I quite enjoy rugby tackling people away from the printer when there’s a big batch of confidential material coming through.

              1. CathVWXYNot?*

                Yes, it’s all very fun and dramatic!

                Extra bonus points if you need to print on coloured paper (some of our internal forms require this) or labels on a network printer, and have to put the special paper in the printer, sprint back to your desk, hit print, then run back to the printer because it’s confidential…

                Office exercise FTW!

          2. Bea W*

            I’ve done this plenty at my last two jobs where we didn’t have a secure way to hold documents at the printer. Performance review time was always a bit dicey since everyone had to print hard copies for signing.

      2. Sabrina*

        We have close to 50 people in this department, all with access to sensitive information, so no, we don’t have personal printers, but we really shouldn’t be printing all that much.

      3. Chinook*

        I have worked in an office where I printed confidential documents and only had access to the main printer. My solution was to set up my default settings to require me to type in a passcode at the main printer before it released my documents (an option that is available in some but not all network printers).

        This also has the advantage of not having my documents stuck in between other print jobs.

        1. KellyK*

          Definitely a good idea. Where I work, that setting is required. (Though it gets a little annoying to have to stand there and babysit the printer while it spits out a 50-page non-confidential document.)

      4. Brandy*

        I work in healthcare…it’s easy to print something that is “confidential” and also part of day to day business–something that has personal health data, etc. on it. It’s fine to print, but a Major Offense to leave somewhere like in a printer or on your desk, where someone from, say, the cleaning company could happen upon it.

      5. Elizabeth West*

        In my company, everything is confidential. Building access is restricted, but you could still have a contractor or a visitor see something (s)he shouldn’t. Once in a while they’ll remind us not to leave anything with client information out in plain view–this has been standard pretty much everywhere I’ve worked, however.

  4. jesicka309*

    #7 Believe the interviewer when they say the job is not for you. They know the role better than you do, and they know how much time they can allocate towards training you. The interviewer has no reason to lie about this.
    I went for the same internal promotion twice in a year because I thought I was a great fit for the role. The firs t time I was knocked back because they felt I wasn’t matuer enough to ‘handle’ the role. A year later, I applied again, and it was still a similar story – they didn’t think my ‘nice’ personality could cope with the tough demands of the role. They’ve seen more people come and go from the role than I have, and they know the kind of person that thrives best through trial and error.
    Sometimes you have to take the interviewer at their word, because they know what will work for the role better than you do.

    1. Ruffingit*

      This is a very good point. It’s easy to think we “really could handle that role,” but in reality this is much like the dream job situation. You have no idea if a job is a dream until you’re in it and in this case, you have no idea if you can handle the role before you get into it. The people who do know what the role entails have told you no. This doesn’t mean you need to give up completely, but you should take the opportunity to speak further with the hiring manager and ask what you can do to prepare yourself better for these types of roles in the future. Is there a specific training you could get now or is there a program you need to learn? If so, start working on that now.


    #4 I usually ask what training will be offered to the new hire for this position. I just interviewed and was told by the manger that little training was involved. Sounds like I would be thrown to the wolves. Fortunately I let them know I could handle it. When I was told there were 2 internal candidates I knew the jig was up.

  6. Erik*

    #5 – if the check bounces, so do I.

    Any company that can’t get it’s payroll together has bigger problems.

    1. Blue Dog*

      Unless there is a VERY good explanation, this is a huge problem. And even if there is a good explanation, it could be signs of a bigger problem.

      I would start looking for another job now. Job hunting takes time. And if they ask you why you are interviewing, just say you love your job but your payroll checks keep bouncing. Great explanation.

      And, in the meantime, take your payroll checks to a Check Cashing service. Yeah, you will lose a few dollars in transactions fees. But at least you will get your money.

      1. MJ of the West*

        Why do you think that the OP’s check will have a greater likelihood of clearing at a check casher than a real bank? This seems like pretty bad advice to me.

        1. doreen*

          I think it’s to avoid the hold – if I cash my paycheck at the bank and it bounces, the bank takes the money out of my account. Doesn’t happen at a check casher.

          1. Anonymous*

            Maybe it’s different in the US, but can’t you take it to the issuing bank and cash it? I don’t see the need to pay a middleman to do it.

            1. Anonymous*

              (same anon here)

              This particularly helps if the company has some balance in their account that doesn’t cover the entire payroll – first-come first-served and all that.

            2. ExceptionToTheRule*

              YMMV here, but in the US most banks will only cash checks for you if you’re an account holder.

              1. Bea W*

                In my area you can go into the issuing bank and cash the check, because the check writer has an account there, and they can look that there is enough money in the account to honor it.

                Someone once told me that when you cash a check from another bank at a bank where you have an account, the bank may decline to cash it if you don’t have enough funds in your own account to match what they are giving you in cash, like some kind of guarantee. You can deposit some or all of the check in that case, and wait until the check clears, but they might not hand you cash above and beyond what is already in your account. I’m not sure how accurate this is. I’ve never tried to cash a check for more money than I have in the bank.

                1. Jess*

                  This is definitely true. I’ve been known to have my accounts down to bare bones, unfortunately, and you will have to wait for checks to clear (usually the first $100 will clear). This is why direct deposit can be a wonderful thing.

            3. Former Bank Teller*

              You can try this, but the bank will look up the account info and can’t cash the check if there’s not enough in it AND the fee for cashing a non-customer check can be $10 or more AND many banks won’t cash a check for a non-customer over a certain amount (usually $1000-2500)

      2. Allison (not AAM)*

        I wouldn’t say that the checks keep bouncing. You don’t want to say negative things about any of your current or past employers, especially about something as sensitive as their financial status – it makes you look vindictive and could potentially really damage public/industry perception of a company that may very well be able to correct their problems and move forward. You could say simply that your looking for something with more opportunity to advance in your career path. They don’t want to think that you’d speak negatively about THEM at any point.

        1. KellyK*

          I don’t know, I think when something as major as *not getting paid* is going on, the rule about “don’t speak negatively” can get bent a little bit. I mean, you can phrase it very matter-of-factly, (e.g., “Unfortunately, they’ve had some financial issues which have resulted in paychecks bouncing on a couple occasions,” rather than “Either they’re broke or incompetent, because paychecks keep getting screwed up.”)

          “More opportunity to advance” is kind of a non-answer (unless it’s also true). And it can hurt you if you’re applying for a job where there *isn’t* much opportunity to advance.

          Also, the OP describes this as his “newest job.” If he hasn’t been there that long, then a generic non-answer can make him look like a job hopper, when any reasonable interviewer would hear “paychecks bouncing” and realize that *of course* you’d leave a job if you weren’t actually getting paid consistently.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I agree completely. People often go to “more opportunity to advance” for a catch-all answer, when in fact it often doesn’t make sense for the context.

        2. Cathy*

          As an interviewer, I will say that it doesn’t bother me at all if a candidate gives “they are having trouble meeting payroll” as a reason for looking for a new job.

          I think the rule about not speaking negatively about your past employers is applicable to cases where you are giving your opinion of a situation that other people might just see differently. You can provide factual negative information, like “my office is being closed”, “the company is being investigated by the DoJ and I’m concerned about its future”, “they are not paying me for my work” without looking vindictive.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            “the company is being investigated by the DoJ and I’m concerned about its future”

            OMG I had an interview with a company that had exactly this going on (a vendor thing). Although it was public knowledge, I didn’t know about it until the interviewer said halfway through, “By the way, you should know….” I was grateful they were up front about it. They didn’t offer me the job, but by the time I got home I decided I didn’t want to hitch my wagon to a possibly falling star.

    2. MJ of the West*

      Regardless of whether you stay or go, make sure the employer not only makes good on the check, but that they also pay any fees. They are generally liable for that.

      1. Mo*

        Yes, this. Our payroll company had an issue this year that caused checks to be mailed instead of direct deposit. While they got it sorted pretty quickly, they offered to pay any fees, overdrafts, etc that were incurred because of it.

    3. Anonymous*

      Ha! This. I used to work for a company that had major cash flow and cash management issues the higher ups refused to address. This resulted in delayed payroll, the occasional bounced check, and a lot of angry letters from the IRS.

      OP – Sometimes things happen. By “sometimes” I mean once or twice over many years. If your employer has a history of bouncing checks, start looking for another job. At best, whoever is running payroll and/or in charge of making the transfer to the payroll account (if it’s separate from the main business checking) is asleep at the wheel. At worst, the company is broke. If your employer is experiencing a temporary cash flow issue, there are things they can do to make sure that paychecks do not bounce. This is all on them.

      1. ashley anne*

        My roommate had one check bounce from the small chain of restaurants that she waited tables at a couple of years ago. She saw that as writing on the wall and started looking for jobs immediately. A couple of days after the bounced check, she woke up to her boss on the news, trying to flee the country. Ha, not saying this is standard, but yeah, probably a bad sign.

        Oh right, here’s a link:

      2. Chinook*

        “. If your employer has a history of bouncing checks, start looking for another job. ”

        I would also add that you should hold onto your paystubs to show what the company claims to be withholding for you in regards to taxes. I don’t know about the US, but this should help you prove to Revenue Canada that, to your knowledge, the correct amount of taxes have been withheld from your pay cheque and that they need to go after the company and not you for the money.

  7. Katie the Fed*

    #1 – don’t even worry about it. I’m a boss and I wouldn’t even want to be invited. If I was, I’d just pop in for a minute so as to not ruin the fun.

    Once, two of my employees who are hilarious and goofy invited me over for a game of Cards Against Humanity and I (sadly) had to decline because god only knows the terrible, terrible things that could be played and come back to bite me in the butt.

    1. Yep, anonymous!*

      For years, a particular group of low-level employees have gotten together once a year for a “low-level employee” party (something like all the support staff). All of this type of employee are invited, but the bosses never have been. We recently got a new employee that works more closely with a very high level manager (second in the chain of command), and this manager said she had heard about our parties before but hadn’t been invited to any of them. She asked outright for an invitation to last year’s party. I find it hard to relax around this particular manager for a variety of reasons, so I definitely don’t want to be around her when I’m not even working. (I mentioned that it was a bit odd to invite your boss to a “low-level employee” party anyway, and if we started inviting this one, we should invite everyone’s boss. And then it’s not a “low-level employee” part any longer. I also mentioned how odd it was that she asked for an invitation for something that is clearly meant for a specific group of employees to maintain a team atmosphere among the group, especially when no bosses have ever been invited in the past.) Normally, almost all of the lower-level employees attend the party, but this past year only three did — I’m guessing it was because the big boss was indeed invited by the new employee who was arranging it. I’m a little worried about getting dinged for not being a team player if I don’t go again to this year’s party, but I just don’t think a party is fun if your boss’s boss’s boss’s boss is hanging out, too.

      And when I say “party,” I mean something like hanging out and playing games while munching on food or bowling or something like that. It’s not a wild, exciting time for anyone.

      (Sorry for hijacking and getting a bit serious in the stream of CAH. I would definitely not play that with this boss. She’d probably find it good fun, but we’d all be mortified. Hmmm…I actually don’t think I’d play it with that group of coworkers at all, so maybe I’ll just leave all coworkers out of my CAH fun times. ;~) )

  8. Brett*

    #7 Seems like the concern is two part, one of which you might be able to fix. First, you are inexperienced, can’t fix that. But the interviewer recognized that it could be mitigated with mentoring. And that is the second part, the company has no resources to mentor you.

    You can fix that. You can get involved in professional associations and local industry groups You develop a network with more experienced people in your field who can provide you assistance when you encounter situations you do not understand. You can learn how to find help within a company when you run into obstacles (and give those examples of how you do this on behavioral questions in your interview).

    Fortunately, all of these things are very good for helping you find a job anyway. But they will also show that you can create your own mentoring and will not need as much resources from the company despite your inexperience.

  9. Steve*

    Re number 3 I have been known to ask the question. It usually comes about because the person I am interviewing has explained what they are looking for in a position and how the one I have open meets it. I ask about other positions they have interviewed for recently to see if they fall into the same career field, is this really what they are looking for or are they just saying it to get this job.

    1. annie*

      Hmm as a candidate I hate this question. It seems too nosy and not any of your business who else I am interviewing with. Also, people often have multiple interests so you are not necessarily finding out the information you think you are – for example someone might be equally capable and happy as a Chocolate Teapot Marketing Manager as well as a Political Director for the Association of Things Made Out of Candy. Different fields, similar crossover skills, not a whole lot of meaning to be gained from this.

  10. kac*

    Regarding Question 7: If you’re not the right fit right now, you might be once some time has passed. A former colleague of mine was interviewing at my current company, and while they liked her they felt she was a little inexperienced for the position. Six months later a similar position opened up, and they reached back out to her to see if she was still interested. She was, and now she works here!

    So be honest about your interest and keep them on the radar.

  11. Chinook*

    OP #2 – jus be glad these documents didn’t fall out of a briefcase on a public street or were left around your house where your girlfriend with connections to a biker gang was able to find themn (gotta love Canadian MPs *cough*). I agree with AAM that explaing that you don’t know how it happened and that you will make sure you do A, B, and C to ensure it doesn’t happen again will go a long way to rebuild any trust issues. Just don’t do like those politicians and either act like it is not your fault or no big deal because you trust the people you are around.

  12. some1*

    #1: Definitely don’t worry about it unless you think your boss would be petty about it, hold it against you, or invite herself anyway. If you think any of these things might happen, either invite her or don’t have the party.

    #2: I’ve seen this happen when people try to save as pdfs.

  13. Andrew*


    Maybe you could ask what areas she thinks you’re lacking experience in. It could just be failure to sell yourself on those points if you think you are a good fit. Otherwise, if you are weak in those areas, seek training on your own. There are lots of free and/or cheap resources on the web.

  14. LPBB*

    Re #4

    I was with one of my previous employers for over 10 years, so it really kind of shaped my idea of how things are done in a lot of ways. For all of that employer’s many many dysfunctions, the one thing they excel at is training, especially for the roles that I was in. (And I’m not just saying that because I was the primary trainer for my dept for the last 3 years I worked there!)

    So I just sort of assumed that everyone else puts that much importance on training and I’ve never asked about it in an interview. I have since come to realize how very wrong I was and every interview from now on I am going to be asking a variation of that question.

    Employers, it might seem like a waste of resources at the time, but thoroughly training your new hires will save oodles of time and resources down the line!

  15. PPK*

    OP#2 I don’t know if the boss is interested in an overall solution — but my company uses cover sheets. Whenever you print, a page prints out with the time/data and person printing. We also share printers with big groups of people — so the name/cover sheet is partially for us to self sort. Sure, once in awhile paper gets orphaned, but you normally know which print out is yours and when it stops. (Yes, I know it’s a waste of paper…but it’s what we got. Many people use the cover sheet as scratch paper).

  16. ashley anne*

    I accidentally faxed a new hire’s social security card to whoever the last person to use the copier was faxing. Twice, actually, because I couldn’t figure out how why it wasn’t printing. I was very new to copiers and management and life at that that point. I was horrified, asked the person who I saw using the copier last (luckily, also my boss) to notify whoever she had last faxed of the error (luckily, she was faxing something personal to her husband) and have been ridiculously vigilant about clearing all settings when using the copier for anything since. Still want to throw up in my mouth a little thinking about it.

  17. Anonanon*

    #2: At a previous job with a company that had about 10 employees, I was the last one there late one night. I printed something, walked over to our fancy color laser printer, and while it was warming up and processing the print job, sitting right there as the last printed document was a…

    I couldn’t tell who it was of since it didn’t show their face, but there was no doubt the subject was female. It was definitely not the owner’s wife, but I was pretty sure that the owner had printed it and that it was of our one remote female employee.

    This put me in quite the predicament – if I pretended I hadn’t seen it and left it there, someone else could find it and think it was me because I had worked late.

    So… I put a clean bag in the cross-cut shredded, shredded it, then put the old bag back, and threw away the evidence in a public, frequently-used trash can.

    1. Jamie*

      How do you recognize a remote employee naked from the neck down only?

      Pretty sure my husband is the only one I could pick out of a line-up that way.

      1. LPBB*

        Tattoos maybe? I have one that is generally only seen by people who are intimate with me or physicians, but the others have been seen by the vast majority of the folks I work with.

        Don’t tell my boyfriend, but I’m not 100% confident I could pick him out of a lineup of naked from the neck down people!

      2. Jazzy Red*

        A ring or watch maybe?

        Although, a co-worker from a long time ago had a hook in place of his right hand. You’d be able to pick him out of cropped picture of a line of male strippers.

        1. Anonanon*

          Elizabeth West got it in one – I’m impressed!

          I didn’t want to go into detail since the thread was about leaving things on the printer that shouldn’t be left there. I also didn’t want to risk someone I worked with reading it and figuring out what I was talking about, however remote that possibility seems.

          To answer the other posters in-between, though, I’d met the remote employee in person so I knew what she looked like clothed, and the full-body-nude-photo-sans-face was definitely a potential match. I had no way of knowing for sure, and it could’ve been anyone, of course, but that’s where Elizabeth’s guess comes in to play…

  18. Rich*

    #3 I ask candidates that all the time. Usually along the lines of “do you have any other activity approaching final stages?” It’s really one of the most simple questions to answer. Unrelated, but related, I’ve heard people say they hate that question because they worry it’ll cost them the current opportunity. Not quite sure where that comes from, but if you’re thinking that way…stop it. Just be honest. It might speed things up.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      That’s a better way to put it, I suppose; it sounds more like you’re asking because of your timeline and not just to be nosy or “Hey, you can’t interview with any else while we have you!”

      That’s one thing about publishing that I hate–some publishers/agents don’t like simultaneous submissions (=multiple interviews). You’re supposed to withdraw your manuscript if you accept another offer, just like with a job. I imagine plenty of people don’t keep track and/or don’t do that. But if you query someone and they ask for a manuscript and they have a six-month timeline, peh on that. I’ll wait and query them after I’ve given up on everyone else or knock them off my list.
      Fortunately but also unfortunately, query rejections are usually pretty fast! :{

  19. Ruffingit*

    #1: Don’t invite the boss. It will mess up the casual, relaxed dynamic you’re striving for. And, more importantly, your boss shouldn’t want to attend such a party anyway. It can really blur the lines between professional/personal relationships. My father always said that you can be friendly with subordinates, but you are not their friend so fraternizing with them was not acceptable. My dad was in the Army, but I think it holds true regardless.

  20. Meg*


    As a candidate, I don’t mind. In fact, it tends to light a fire under the interviewer’s ass if you’re a top candidate to move things along in a timely manner and not drag it out in case you’re in a position to accept an offer from another company first.

    As an interviewer, I would get a red flag if a candidate WASN’T interviewing with other companies – did they apply to other companies? If they did, why did the companies pass on interviewing them (assuming, of course, it’s for a related/similar position). If they didn’t apply to other companies, why only one?

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