interviewing for your own job, attending a memorial service for an employee you didn’t know, and more

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

1. Should I ask my boss if it’s appropriate to go to a memorial service for an employee I didn’t know?

I’ve been at my new job for 2 weeks. Next Friday, there is going to be a memorial service for an employee that died before I started working here. It won’t be in our building, but it will be on campus (I work for a university) during business hours. I feel like I should go, but is there any chance that might seem inappropriate/odd since I didn’t know her? Should I ask my boss if I should go?

I wouldn’t check with your boss about whether or not you should go; it’s not really your boss’s call to say “yes, you should attend” or “no, you shouldn’t.” You should decide on your own if you want to. As for whether it would seem odd, I don’t think it would seem odd either way — if you don’t attend, people will assume it’s because you didn’t know the employee, and if you do attend, people will assume it’s a sign of respect.

If you do decide you want to go, I’d only check with your boss about whether it’s okay to do so from a time-away-from-work perspective (if that’s something you’d normally check with her about).

2. How to ask about a promotion when taking on lots of new responsibility

I work for a large company where I’ve been a manager for the past year, but have a lot of previous management experience. My project just ended and was a huge success– better than the projected best case scenario. As a result of my contributions and the many other things I supported this last year, I received the highest rating and was given several awards– one of which is typically given to very few from the C-level. While I did incredibly well (words from my manager and several above him), he wished there was a way to promote me, but there was no place for me to move. I understood this completely, being a manager myself– however, the circumstances have now changed.

My project’s funding was cut for this year (this was completely unrelated to the performance that me and my team had this last year), which means I was to be reassigned to another project. I am not one sit around and wait for things to happen, so I immediately started working to find an ideal place for myself. Long story short, when an executive was in town, I pitched an idea I had for the creation of a new department. The executive loved the idea and wants to me to run with it. I began work on it ASAP and I am now being reassigned teams, where my peers are all higher level than I am and my manager is higher level than my last. That all said, it got me thinking, that while performance reviews are completed (next one is a year from now), I believe I have a lot of ammo to pitch me getting promoted immediately. Thoughts? And how do I approach this with having a new boss?

Totally agree. I’d approach it as, “Can we talk about what makes sense for the title for this new role, as well as salary? I thought (suggested title) fits what we’ve been discussing, and I was hoping for a salary of $X to take on the work.” Approach it as if you assume that of course these things will be changing, since that’s not an unreasonable assumption to make.

3. How to interview for my own job, with my current manager

I currently have a part-time position in a city agency. Recently, an position opened that is exactly the same as the one I hold now (under the same manager and in the same location and everything), only full-time rather than part-time hours. I have an interview next week (the structure of the agency and rules and such means that I can’t just ask for and get extra hours, the number of hours makes it a different position that I have to interview for). Presumably there are 5-8 other candidates.

When I interviewed for the 20-hour position, my manager had a worksheet of questions that she was required to ask everyone. I have no idea if she’ll be able to deviate from that worksheet when interviewing me, though I assume it’ll be at least a little more casual–my manager and myself have been working together for 6 months, so she knows me and my work habits and ethics pretty well by now. I don’t plan on taking anything for granted, I’ll dress nicely and be professional, but at the same time, to pretend like we don’t know each other for the purposes of the interview seems silly. It feels like this is something in between a job interview and a performance review, and I’m not sure on the stance I should take going in, or how much I need to focus on selling myself on somebody who’s been supervising me for six months. My inclination is to talk about things that I think will improve if I’m full time rather than part time (both in my performance and just for my life generally), things that I’m either not able to do right now or not able to do as well as I’d like, but I don’t know if that’s the right stance to take either.

No, you don’t need to pretend that you don’t know her — meaning that you don’t need to introduce yourself or act as if she’s never seen you before — but you should answer the questions the same way that you would if she were a stranger. The reason for that is that with very formal, structured hiring like you often see in government (and which you’re seeing here; that’s what that required list of questions is about), interviewers are often instructed not to consider information that they know about the candidate that comes from outside the interview. That’s ridiculous, of course, and it’s frequently ignored, but if you have a strict rule-follower interviewing you, you risk that only your answers and nothing else will be taken into account. So you want to make sure those answers contain everything you’d tell an interviewer you didn’t know. (Government hiring has rules like this in an effort to be fair and avoid claims of discrimination, but it ends up impeding good hiring, as you might expect.)

All that said, you can still use your plan to talk about things you’d be able to improve if you’re full-time that you’re not able to do now, but make sure that’s not the entirety of your answers. (Also, leave out the part about what would improve in your personal life — that’s not relevant to the hiring decision.)

4. Is two weeks notice enough when you’re in a senior position?

Is two weeks notice enough when you are in a senior position? I am the manager of an office where I have all or most of the administrative responsibilities. I am planning to get a new job closer to home, but I’m feeling guilty about handing in the standard “two weeks notice.” No one has been cross trained for any of my duties and even if I found a replacement quickly, there would be very little time left to train someone in all that I do. On one hand I just want to leave and not worry about it, but I kind of feel bad that they are going to be left in a precarious situation. I wanted to get your opinion, just to be sure that walking away guilt free was ok.

There are definitely offices and fields where two weeks notice isn’t considered sufficient, but you probably know if you’re in one of them. If you’re not, then I wouldn’t worry too much about this … and really, if you’re in a pretty senior position, they’re probably not going to be able to do a complete transition in four weeks either. Sure, an additional two weeks is nice, but realistically they’re not going to be able to advertise the job, screen and interview candidates, have someone start, and get them trained in four weeks.

Leave behind as much documentation as you can and leave your projects in good shape, and that’s all that’s reasonable to expect. (Again, assuming that you’re not in an office where additional notice is the norm and expectation.)

5. Should I withdraw from this hiring process rather than waiting any longer?

I’m being considered for a position that I’m really excited about. I’ve been through a few rounds of interviews so far, all of which I think went pretty well. It has now been a few weeks since my last interview, so I followed up with the hiring manager to see if he needed any additional information. He told me that he is still interviewing other candidates and will be in touch.

Here’s my issue: Despite what I’ve been told, I have seen the job re-listed on LinkedIn and have seen the hiring manager continue to share the listing on his personal social media accounts (I work in digital media, so we have connected on a few social platforms). Do you think I’m really still in the running, or is he just waiting for a better candidate to come along before he tells me “thanks, but no thanks”? I feel like I’ve given him plenty of opportunities to tell me that I’m not the right fit for the role, and it’s getting to the point where I’m tempted to just tell him that I assume I’m no longer being considered based on the continued effort to find candidates. It’s frustrating because I’m so enthusiastic about the position, and the fact that he has not outright rejected me keeps that little sliver of hope alive, even if I’m pretty sure that it’s not going to happen. What would you do?

I would put the job out of your mind and move on. If he decides to offer it to you at some point, great — but what would be the point in taking yourself out of the running? Do you really want closure more than you want the job? You’re losing sight of the fact that your goal isn’t to get this wrapped up as quickly as possible. Your goal is to get the job. Don’t foreclose that possibility for yourself just because you’re frustrated.

Sure, it’s possible that he’s already mentally rejected you and is just waiting to find a different candidate before he tells you. It’s also possible that you’re still a strong candidate but he doesn’t feel comfortable hiring until he’s interviewed at least a certain number of people, to make sure he’s making the right choice. We have no way of knowing. Give yourself the closure that you want by mentally moving on — but don’t close off the possibility for real, by withdrawing.

{ 47 comments… read them below }


    4. Is two weeks notice enough when you’re in a senior position

    It also depends on the relationship with your manager/owner. I am in a senior position where I would normally have to give 2 months notice because the work I do will take 2-3 months to train someone. But from how the manager have reacted in the past I would stick to the 2 weeks notice.

    1. Anonymous*

      I think in my position – which is mid-level (highest level without managing other people) – I’d give try to give two to three months. When we switched CEOs at my organization, I think we knew 9 months to a year out that our CEO was moving on.

      1. Anonymous*

        But the prolem with 2-3 months is, will your new employer give you that much time to start? Positions I am applying for right now want me to start 2-3 weeks after acceptance.

        1. Chuchundra*

          At the end of the day, you have to look out for yourself first. Two weeks is the standard professional courtesy and, without some prior agreement or contractual obligation, that should be your notice period.

          Obviously you are very important to your organization. But, as they say, there are graveyards full of indispensable men. It’s always possible that you might get hit by a meteor or win the Powerball (although hopefully not on same day, because that would really suck) and your (former) employer would just have to figure out how to get along without you with notice at all.

          1. Ruffingit*

            Agreed and if things would grind to a halt or otherwise be horrible at your current employer because you left in two weeks and not two months, that is on the employer for not cross-training/planning for the absence of employees, it’s not on you!

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          But the prolem with 2-3 months is, will your new employer give you that much time to start?

          At senior levels, yes. (And it’s at senior levels that you often need to give more notice.)

          1. Anonymous November 17, 2013 at 7:49 am*

            A week ago we made an offer to someone for a position a little bit more junior than me – no direct reports and wanting a minimum of five years work experience. This person would start in early January if she accepts. We want her, we’re well-organized to get through the position being vacant to get the right person. So we’ve given her almost two months to decide no problem.

  2. EngineerGirl*

    #3 – Focus on what you’ll do with the job now that you have an extra 20 hours a week to work on it. What would you expand? Any cost savings measures you’d implement? Are there areas that your manager is frustrated with? How would you help that if you are given the extra 20 hours?

    While there are standardized questions, you can add selling points to the answers.

    1. Jessa*

      Exactly. I had to do this going from other services status to state employed. It was the same job. I basically answered the questions with “And I do this when that happens.” Don’t pretend you’re not doing the work under shorter hours or that you don’t know anyone. They’ll either think you’re pretentious or silly. I can’t imagine that having seen your resume everyone interviewing doesn’t already know this. And even if your current boss acts like you only have to go through the motions, go through them properly and don’t blow it off because you’re doing the work. Sometimes they have to prepare a report or notes that show what each interviewer answered (if they have prepared questions.)

    2. fposte*

      Exactly. Don’t just argue why the job should be full time or talk about why you’ll do stuff better then; let them envision you doing the job full time and how your accomplishments will help the organization.

  3. jesicka309*

    OP #5 Don’t worry about it.
    I was in the middle of a lengthy hiring process. It had been a few weeks since the interview, and they’d asked for my references on the Thursday, and called them on the Friday.
    I was looking at job listings on Saturday only to find the exact same job I had applied for listed under a different name (but with same duties etc.).
    I flipped out. I was literally so close to getting the role, and they had RELISTED it?!?! What had my references said to make them relist the role completely? Ughhh worst weekend of my life.
    I got the job on the Monday. There was a glitch in their hiring system that relisted the role periodically (but with the old job title, as the newly created role I applied for was being based upon an outdated role).
    So don’t think you’re out of the running yet…quite often, they’ll keep advertising the role right up until the new hire has their first day (yes I’ve seen it – it was for a high turnover role, and they assumed that by the time new candidate started, someone else on the team would have quit and they were just saving time. No one quit for 3 months…what a waste for those candidates!).
    Fingers crossed for you!

    1. Jake*

      “it was for a high turnover role, and they assumed that by the time new candidate started, someone else on the team would have quit and they were just saving time”

      I wish we did that for our positions. We are routinely 20% understaffed because it takes 3-4 months after approval to actually hire somebody. Well, when every year you lose 30% of your staff for a certain role, common sense would tell you to just constantly be on the look-out.

      1. #5*

        Thanks, guys — this makes me feel a little better about the situation. I’ll try to just put this out of my mind until I hear something more!

        1. anon-2*

          #5 – if I’d ever been in a position like that – I’d mentally/emotionally move on — but if you received a job offer from someone, and you’re tempted to accept that one – BUT you really want job “A” — then I’d call company “A” and explain your position.

          If they really want you, they may scramble and get you an offer.

          If you don’t top their list of candidates, they’ll tell you, you weren’t going to be here anyway.

          I once DID call a company and courteously withdraw my candidacy – I did not want to continue the interview cycle and waste their time (and mine) when I had another offer from a better situation, and was waiting for a third company to extend an offer. It worked out well because the manager/director I had interviewed with later became my boss in another situation years later.

        1. TL*

          Some roles just have high turnover – research assistants tend to stay for a year or two then leave for grad school. Nothing about the environment; just the nature of the position.

        2. Jake*

          In our case there are several reasons.

          #1. The position is a stepping stone. If you are in the role for more than 5 years of your career, it is because you don’t want to move up or you are incompetent. It is uncommon to stay on the same project in this role for more than 3 years in any situation.

          #2. This project is in the middle of nowhere, so most candidates are not local. With no ties to the area, people are willing to move on more quickly than normal.

          #3. This position nationwide requires 50-60 hours a week. On our project it requires 70-80 hours a week for 8 months a year. People just get burnt to a crisp.

          #4. We, like all places, have some management issues that drive people away. Unfortunately, our issues are pretty bad.

          #5. Our particular group within our company isn’t doing well in obtaining new projects. It is causing people to jump ship quicker than normal because they don’t see a future beyond our current project.

          So, you can’t do anything about #1 and #2 other than prepare for it. On #3, since the work is seasonal and we work on a cost-reimbursable basis, our client can dictate our staff levels. They don’t allow us to staff up in the off season. #4 is obviously a huge problem, and they are actually taking some steps to fix it. I don’t think it will work, but I am hopeful. I don’t know what to say about #5 other than that is the main reason I am negotiating with another company after working on this project for 2.5 years.

          1. the gold digger*

            Good points I hadn’t considered. I was remembering my own experience in a job where there was 100% turnover in one year in a department of 15. It was because the management was horrible and nobody liked working 15 hour days for 8 hour money.

            1. jesicka309*

              See, our high turnover was because the job was a sucky role. There was nothing they could do to change that role and make it better (think call centre, but in a cool company like a TV station).
              They attracted all kinds of graduates fresh out of school, ready to jump into media. Media is pretty competitive, so getting a ‘foot in the door’ would usually be your best best, but not for this role, which was seen as the kiss of death in terms of moving elsewhere. You either quit or died in that department, transfers were unheard of.
              So you had a lot of excited grads hoping to make their media careers applying for the role. Management would hire them because they were enthusiastic and excited, but once they were on the job, they were too highly skilled to be satisfied with data entry for too long. Once the shine wore off, and they realised that no one ever gets promoted or transfered, they’d bail pretty quickly.

              Management figured this out, and started hiring data entry lifers…who were terrible at the job, but not planning on going anywhere. Then they switched back to hiring new grads with stars in their eyes, and so on.

              It’s a no win situation for everyone, and the poor team leaders end up in constant recruitment/training cycles, and never have a full and experienced team.

  4. Colette*

    #1- Why do you feel like you should go? If its to show your support for your colleagues, think about whether staying behind to look after things in the office so they can all go would be a better way to provide support.

    Maybe it’s fine for everyone to go at once, but if someone needs to stay back, it’s a chance for you to show you care by stepping up so those who knew the former employee can all go. You don’t want them to resent you for making one of them stay back so you can go.

    1. Ruffingit*

      Such an excellent point. In this situation, I’d definitely be the one to stay behind since I didn’t know the person and would find it odd to attend a funeral for someone I had never met. It would definitely be easier on the colleagues for someone to man the office while they mourn their friend.

      1. Chinook*

        I agree – if someone needs to stay behind, offer to do it even if it is out of your normal job (i.e. Covering for the receptionist). If not, remember that memorials are for the living and your colleagues will appreciate your support.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Really good point, Colette. OP, you might be able to side step the whole quandary by saying to the boss “I will be sure to be available Tuesday afternoon, to cover for those who wish to go to former employee’s funeral/calling hours.”
      That alone stands out as a very kind gesture/show of support and puts the OP in a more comfortable spot of guarding the fort, as opposed to actually sitting at the funeral for someone she did not know.
      I would not be surprised if one or two of the other employees call OP just to check if she is doing okay there by herself. People really appreciate this sort of help during a sad time.

    3. Anonymous*

      Depending on the university and department OP#1 is working for, they might be expected to go. Where I work the culture is such that it wouldn’t be unexpected for an entire department/office/group to shut down to go to a memorial service for an employee, except for the critical staff like police, fire, and the registar’s office while classes are in session.

    4. OP #1*

      That’s great advice. I’m don’t know if my position/department is one in which my going would prevent someone else from going or if there’s anything I could cover for someone else while they go to the service, but I think I will offer to stay back if in case there is anything I can do while everyone else goes. To address Anonymous’s point that everyone in the department may be expected to go, I think my offering to stay back will be a good opportunity for someone to let me know if everyone is expected to be there. Thanks.

    5. Sarah*

      A few days before I started an internship, one of the directors died suddenly. I was one of the few employees to stay behind to help keep the office open. This way, the other employees could attend the funeral, and the office could stay up and running. Colette and other posters are correct. Staying behind would probably be best.

  5. ArtsNerd*

    re: #3 – I did this, but as a phone interview. My boss set a date, but then called out sick that day. On the rescheduled date, he didn’t specify a time.

    I had assumed we’d just do it in person, because we shared an office. But at some surprise point in the day he slipped away and called my desk… from the office next door… and acted like a stranger over the course of the ENTIRE call.

    I totally bombed the interview (who could stay graceful under those circumstances!?) but got the job anyway because he knew I do good work. So weird and pointless and AWKWARD!

    1. Ruffingit*

      WTF? That is so bizarre. Some level of professionalism is required regardless of whether you know the person or not, but calling you from the office next door and pretending like you’re a stranger? That’s not professional, that’s just weird.

      1. PuppyKat*

        I agree 100%! And yet that’s how universities—at least the one I was hired at a few years ago—handle internal candidates. Coming from the “outside,” it’s a completely mystifying practice to me.

  6. Brett*

    #3 At least for government, often the full-time version of a position is very different from the part-time version of a position. As they are different positions, the description and duties can change despite having the same title, so study the description carefully and make sure you are prepared to address any changes in duties that would be expected of you.

    As for the interview… I have never been on an interview that was one person. We always have, at minimum, the hiring manager, an HR representative (who has an evaluation score -equal- to the hiring manager), a technical interviewer (normally me), and one of the hiring manager’s supervisors. So, there could be a lot of people in the interview who you do not work with who would have an equal weight in the scoring of your interview.
    (We only use scoring for the first round of interviews. We have to create a bright line cutoff based on score for who reaches the second round, at which point the hiring manager has the discretion to hire anyone who second round interviews.)

    1. doreen*

      +1 – at some point my agency changed from an interview with the hiring manager (and perhaps a supervisor from that bureau sitting in for the experience) to multiple interviewer panels with as many as five interviewers. Sometime after the switch, I ended up in a bizarre position. I interviewed for a promotion with my manager and his manager – which was absolutely pointless because all of the eligibles already indirectly reported to my manager and he surely knew before the interviews who he wanted to choose. but still had to interview and ask the same scripted questions and wasn’t permitted to give any additional information in response any questions by the interviewee. But that’s a very uncommon situation, and government agencies generally don’t do exceptions well.

    2. OP#3*

      Thanks for the advice…it’s definitely the same job (though with more hours on the clock, I’d have time to participate in more projects, and less day-to-day maintenance stuff, which tends to eat all my hours now). But it’s a very good point about more than one interviewer. There will almost certainly be at least one person there besides my manager. So I can address my answers to both people but compose them in my head for the unknown person. I think that’ll keep me out of the “don’t take the fact that you know your interviewer for granted” headspace.

      New complication, though (and so glad this got published today–Thanks, AAM!). I just found out that one of my coworkers got promoted, and theoretically her job will be opening up (not definite yet–in the manner of city agencies, many people must approve the listing of a job to hire a new person). If I am offered/take the position I’m interviewing for, I don’t intend to continue to job search as I have been. But I would really really like to interview for my coworker’s position, regardless of whether I stay at my current number of hours or am offered the full time one. But to take one full time job, only to ditch it less than a month later to apply for another one, even if it’s in the same office and a natural move up, seems crappy. So, um, if anyone has any thoughts on that aspect…?

      Thanks, lovely AAM and lovely AAM commenters.

      1. Brett*

        Is it the same city department, or a different city department?
        If in the same department, who is the lowest level manager supervising both positions?
        Are the positions similar to each other? (e.g. would it be a natural progression to be promoted from the first position into the second?)

        There are a lot of what-ifs to this one, and have some specifics could help tailor the answer :)

        1. OP#3*

          Yeah, this is one of those times where anonymity isn’t super helpful. :)

          I work in a public library, as a shelver (which is basically entry level). I’m overqualified (something my boss acknowledged when she hired me). The position that is (theoretically) about to open is at the circulation desk. It’s a step up in the hierarchy, though not the same as being promoted to management or anything like that. It would be in the same building, under the same library manager. I would definitely be happier, in the log term, at the circ desk, but of course neither position is a certainty at this moment.

          1. Brett*

            I would definitely talk to the library manager. The positions are closely related enough that I bet it would not be seen as a huge issue if you were promoted to full time then promoted to circulation desk a month later.

            The safest path for you would be to apply for both jobs, but the manager can help you know if that is viewed as okay under your hiring practices. If the manager understands that is what you intend to do, then they can make sure they hold on to second and third choices if you are the first choice for the full-time promotion. That way, if you are promoted to circulation desk just a month after going to full-time shelver, then might be able to simply offer the full-time shelver job to the second choice candidate.

          2. Joey*

            I’ve worked in a public library and I say apply away. Don’t think you have to stay as a shelver of you want to move up to the circ desk. As long as you’re progressing a reasonable manager won’t think twice. Besides your shelving experience will give you a leg up. Just make your goals clear from the get go.

  7. Decius*

    #5 – I’d not worry about it but not formally withdraw either. I interviewed for a job about six months ago. I’ve seen the position re-listed twice since then. I got a call last week telling me they were considering making me an offer and that I should send them my references. Sometimes you really just don’t know what’s going on.

  8. MissM*

    #4 – OP says that she is the manager and that no one in the office is cross-trained to do her work. Isn’t it the manager’s responsibility to make sure that others are cross-trained to be able to cover her? It’s a good idea for a manager to have back-up, just in case she must be out in an emergency. It’s also a good idea, if you have any hope of being promoted. I’ve known people who got shut out of promotions because there was no one else who could do their job. So I would recommend that OP start right away in trying to cross-train some of her staff in how to do her job.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It really depends on the job. Particularly in roles like a department head or COO-type role, it isn’t practical or even possible to cross-train on most of the job.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit*

        I was wondering about that. People on here often talk about the importance of cross-training, and I’ve been trying to understand what that could look like in my role (and others I’ve held).

        I think part of the reason it isn’t relevant in my career is that I’ve mostly been at very small nonprofits (and currently in a small-but-growing startup).

        But it’s also just not practical to “cross-train” (I wouldn’t even call it that) most of my job. I work in a membership-based organization and my job is primarily about relationships; those are individual things.

    2. Joey*

      Not necessarily cross training, but succession planning should always be done. For key positions the goal is to groom someone to step in when the key person leaves. Cross training is more to get someone to be ready to hold down the fort, whether that’s his long term goal or not. Succession planning is always working towards having a potential replacement so when the time comes there’s continuity. Although, it’s really hard to do with very small companies.

  9. Chris*

    #3 — I just interviewed for an internal position with someone who wasn’t my manager, but HAD been about a year ago, before moving up herself. It wasn’t weird at all, we chatted briefly before the interview, she asked about some people at my branch (this is a library), etc, then got down to it. She asked questions, I answered them just as I would had any random interviewer asked them. Obviously this is a bit different because she wasn’t my current manager, but I wouldn’t overthink this. Prepare for it like any interview, and answer the questions as you would any interviewer in your industry

  10. Elkay*

    OP#3 Hope I’m not too late for this. I bombed an interview for a job I’d been doing for six months (temp to perm) because I assumed it was just a formality. BIG MISTAKE. It wasn’t just my boss interviewing me, it was someone from HR who obviously didn’t know me and therefore the other candidates came across much better than me. Admittedly it was only my second proper interview and I’ve learnt a lot since then. My advice isn’t to pitch to the person you know in the interview it’s to pitch to the person you don’t know (be it HR, another dept manager).

  11. OP#4*

    Thank you for the advice. I like Allison’s comment that 2 weeks or 2 months, it really doesn’t matter as long as things are left in good shape. I agree with MissM that all positions should be cross-trained. The things I was referring to are confidential like payroll and 401k management, things that I would generally not share with all 9 employees in the company.

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