a couples dinner with a prospective boss, sending job search emails from a smart phone, and more

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

1. Is it okay to send job correspondence from a smart phone?

Is it okay to send a post-interview thank-you note via your smart phone? I don’t mean sending one right after the interview but later when you have time but no laptop/desktop available. I know when I send emails on my phone, it shows that it was sent from my mobile. Is that considered tacky or inconsiderate?

I can’t imagine anyone rejecting a candidate over it, but I’d still wait and send it from your computer if you can. When you’re typing on a phone, you’re more likely to take shortcuts in your wording and to make typos (at least most people are), and if the message ends with some variation of “sent from my mobile,” you do potentially signal that you’re sending hiring-related communications on the fly rather than taking them more seriously. (That said, you can turn that message off on most phones.)

2. How should I handle a couples dinner with someone who has offered my husband a job?

My husband loves his job, but has been sought after from another company for years now, and recently they offered him a job he “cannot refuse.” He has considered taking the job, and they have asked my husband and I to dinner this Friday. It isn’t an interview; the job is in the bag if he wants it. The dinner is with the boss and his wife, and my husband and I.

My question is this: What questions should I ask? If he asks me questions like “what are your fears” in regards to my husband switching jobs, should I be brutally honest? My husband and I are totally on the fence with the decision. He has a good thing where he is now. But we see potential and a substantial pay raise if he moves. There are pros and cons on both sides. I want the option to stay open for him and I don’t want this door to close because of me. I understand proper dinner etiquette, I just need to know how to keep the conversation going in the right direction and what questions are good/not good, and what to stay away from. If the boss asks difficult questions that I don’t know how to answer, how to properly maneuver away from them, and so on.

I’d actually let your husband make the call on this. How does he want you to play it — being candid about your concerns, or being more circumspect? Personally, I’d be inclined to rely on responses like “I support Bob in whatever decision he makes” while agreeing in a general sense that it sounds like a great opportunity, but this is your husband’s job prospect and thus he should be the one calling the shots on this dinner. (Just like you’d want him to defer to your preferences if he were meeting your prospective boss.)

Other than that, the usual advice for any professional situation applies — stay away from politics, religion, sex, and other controversial topics. Be warm, but remember that these aren’t friends; they’re business associates, so different rules apply.

3. Can I ask my manager to tell coworkers not to talk to me about a death in the family?

One of my parents is very near the end of life. I am really uncomfortable displaying excess emotion in the workplace, and I know that right after my parent dies I will be unable to talk about it without crying. I also know that many of my coworkers will want to offer condolences face to face. They will be trying to help because they care, and I appreciate that. But by bringing it up in the workplace, they will be making me feel much worse. I just know that I will want to grieve at home and let work be work. Is it appropriate, when the time comes, to ask my manager to tell coworkers not to talk to me about it? I am dreading having that painful conversation over and over with well-meaning coworkers.

Absolutely you can. You can say something like, “Would you let everyone know that I would appreciate not being approached about my mom/dad? I’m grateful for everyone’s condolences, but it’s too raw for me to want to talk about and it will help me most to just be able to focus on work.”

I’m so sorry about your parent.

4. Bringing in chocolate when I visit my old office to talk about being re-hired

I am a junior engineer who has recently switched jobs. My first job started off as a co-op opportunity right out of school and they hired me as soon as it finished. I continued working there for one year. My relationship with my supervisor had been very good and he taught me a lot of things. He encouraged me to try other job opportunities and put me in contact with various other people who quickly showed me new positions. He also stressed that if I didn’t enjoy it, I could always come back.

About 3 months ago, I switched jobs, but I am not enjoying it for various reasons. I have stayed in brief contact with my former manager. I want to go back to my previous job. Is it wrong for me to request a meeting with him and bring a gift such as a basket of chocolates for the engineering staff? I think it would be very nice but I don’t want it to be weird.

Normally, there’s nothing at all wrong with a former coworker returning for a visit and bringing everyone food (in fact, there is something very right about it). But you would never, ever do that if you were going somewhere for an interview. And this visit is a little of both, so it’s a little weird. I guess I’d say that if you would bring the chocolates under purely social circumstances, and there’s no thought of using the chocolates to make everyone feel positively toward you and thus lay the groundwork for a return, then sure, wear your “former coworker” hat and bring in the candy. (It’s not like jobs are usually won through candy anyway; you just don’t want to look like the two are connected.)

5. Why would a phone interview and in-person interview be scheduled at the same time?

I’ve gotten pretty used to the phone-interview-then-in-person-interview process. I know that hiring managers utilize phone interviews to see if it’s even worth making time to interview someone in person, and I totally get that, but a few minutes ago, I was thrown a little: A hiring manager called to schedule a phone interview. As I was opening my calendar to set a time for the phone interview, she asked me when would be a good time for me to come into the office to interview and had me select a time for that, too.

I thought phone interviews were what determined whether an in-person interview would even happen – am I missing something here?

Maybe I should add that I just submitted an application yesterday afternoon and also that a friend kindly put in a good word for me.

That’s odd. Unless (a) the phone interview is with a different person than the in-person interview and they want both opinions, or (b) they’re giving you some initial information in the phone interview that will help you prepare for the in-person interview (including things like “we’d love for you to think about X and come prepared to discuss your thoughts on it when we meet in-person”). But otherwise, yes, the phone interview is generally used to help decide whether to bring you in for a more in-depth in-person interview.

{ 100 comments… read them below }

  1. JW

    To OP #3 – I am so glad you asked. When approached about sensitive topics, I cannot control my tears. I’d rather no one even glance at me with sympathy during hard time; I’d rather grieve at home during hard times.

    1. Elise

      I think the coworkers will appreciate knowing what you prefer, as well. It can be very ackward trying to figure out if people want to hear condolences or if they prefer to just focus on work after a loss.

    2. Penny

      OP #3, I actually think that’s a helpful idea for you and your coworkers. Sometimes others don’t know how to react when this happens, if YOU would rather people ask how you are doing and offer assistance or if you would rather they ignore it. I had a coworker who found out her sister died (unexpectedly) while at work and got very emotional so everyone knew (small office). When she came back to work, I felt awkard around her. I didn’t want to bring up her sister and upset her, but I also felt guilty talking about normal things when she was dealing with that grief. It would have been better had she told us not to talk about it.

      #1- It would be ok to me as long as you spell out words. I’m shocked at how much correspondence I get from phones and ipads where people write “u” and “thru” and actually think I’m ok with candidates doing that (or where they ask if I can do something to make applying easier for them because they are on an ipad right now….seriously?). It makes me think you don’t care how you’re perceived and wonder if you know the proper spellings of basic words. Now once you are my coworker it’s different. I’m in the construction industry so a lot of my coworkers are in the field and work off their phones and are extremely busy, so I understand the short cuts and don’t mind at all. But as a candidate, put your best foot forward.

    3. Darcy Pennell

      Hi, LW/OP #3 here. Thanks to everyone for the good advice and kind thoughts. It’s really helpful. Folks in my office tend towards the touchy-feely and I sometimes feel like I’m the oddball because I don’t like to get emotional in the workplace. It’s really good to know that so many folks here share my perspective and that it won’t be rude or cold to make this request.

    1. Jessa

      Well if you’re careful, triple check for spelling etc. and absolutely turn OFF any signatures that say anything about using your phone, how would anyone KNOW?

      Unless you have a separate address for your phone and it’s not formal or professional.

    2. EngineerGirl

      Phones are casual devices and autocorrect can bite you. They usually lack things like crammed check etc. A regular computer lets you see the letter before sending it – in short, the computer is a better development environment for formal communications.

      1. EngineerGirl

        Grammar check. See, I just demonstrated why phones are land mines when used for formal communications.

        1. Ann Furthermore

          Ha! When I read the question from the OP I immediately thought of all the humorous auto-correct screen shots I see on Facebook. I see them all the time, but they never fail to amuse me. But were that to happen while exchanging communications with a potential employer, I’d be beyond horrified!!

        2. Erin

          Hee. My mind didn’t even go to auto-correct-gone-awry at first. I was thinking “Oh, you can check to see if your writing is too dense.” Too early in the morning!

      2. Jen in RO

        But you can make sure your message is DYAC-free before you send it… triple-check, disable the “sent from my phone” thing, and you’ll be fine, OP.

    3. Sandrine

      Well, I use a Galaxy Note 2. I do have the “sent from phone” thingie, but I like to keep it there on purpose.

      That, and I do, in fact, double and triple check e-mails before I send them anyway, so that I’m not caught off guard by the autocorrect. Not that it’s fool proof, but so far, so good I’d say.

      I would in fact argue that for me, someone able to use e-mail from their mobile wisely would indicate that the person is tech savvy enough and maybe for some jobs it could be a selling point ?

      (Maybe it’s my geeky side speaking, heh)

        1. MentalEngineer

          Unless your signature says “Sent from my Ubuntu phone” or “Sent from my Sailfish.” Then you gain points for being tech savvy but lose points for being the wrong kind of idiosyncratic.

          1. Sandrine

            I’ve been working as a customer service rep for a cellphone provider for two years.

            And yeah, I do think people using their cellphones correctly are tech savvy enough. It’s not that it indicates genius or anything, but for me due to my line of work it’s a huge sigh of relief when people actually know how to use their phones.

            *cue insane rant about Iphones in 3…2…1…*

            1. Anonymous

              Hahahhaa having worked tech support I think its funny that anyone thinks people nowadays have any level of technical skill

              1. Cat

                They may not have technical skill (I don’t), but in most jobs, sending an e-mail from a smart phone neither requires actual technical skill nor is impressive.

                1. Anon

                  Yeah, if someone thinks sending emails noted as originating from their smart phone makes them look tech savvy, that pretty much confirms they aren’t all that tech savvy.

                2. Anonymous

                  I don’t think its impressive either, but you would be absolutely blown away by the number of people who are too incompetent to figure out how to turn on their phone.

    4. Frances

      I think it depends on what you’re using it for – when I schedule job candidates for interviews and they respond to a scheduling inquiry from their phone, I think nothing of it. If it was something more formal, like a cover letter or a thank you, I might raise my eyebrow a little.

    5. AnotherAlison

      I get emails from my bosses’ phones all the time, and they are plain text, so lack of formatting is a drawback to phone emails. I’ve also seen my own phone double space everything (looks single spaced on the phone, ds in Outlook), so when someone reads the email on a computer, wherever I double spaced manually has 4 spaces and looks kind of crazy.

      1. Judy

        Should business emails have lots of formatting? I mean, there’s been a few times that I’ve made a line of text red when sending to my team, so they know there’s something they really should pay attention to, maybe one email a month. Does anyone else get business emails with formatting?

        1. AnotherAlison

          Not particularly, but some spacing is removed and signatures are messed up. Depends how you have your settings. Totally fine for everyday work communication, but if you’re trying to send something that looks particularly nice for an interview thank-you email, I think formatting matters.

  2. Elkay

    OP#4 I’m surprised Alison didn’t touch on the fact that you’ve only been in your new job three months. That doesn’t seem very long to get a good appraisal of whether or not the job is a good fit. By all means keep your eyes open for something else, and ask your previous manager to do the same for you, but is going back to your old job really what you want to do?

    1. Sandrine

      Yup, this.

      I mean for me it’s either I can do it within the first week (in which case, I’d need at least 6 months to assess fit and all that stuff) or I can’t (in which case, I’ll give up before the first week) .

      In fact, I just did this at work. I’m in customer service, and they offered some of us a special sales mission. I got through training, I started and on my first day I realized there is NO WAY I can actually do sales “in real life”. So I asked to be put back in my original team cause I knew this wouldn’t work out.

      (I still have to see a doc for med leave but that’s another story *sigh*)

    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      Good point. I got sidetracked by the chocolate.

      OP, it’s also worth asking if the reasons you left the old job are still going to be there a few months after you get back.

    3. Meredith

      I just can’t tell from #4’s question what the issues are, but they may be dealbreakers. EG, maybe the job #4 is doing is not what the position was advertised to be, or maybe the commute is more terrible than expected.

      I also advocate sticking it out a bit to see if positive changes happen (or if you can make them happen), but there are some things that I’d say you only need three months to know if a job isn’t a good fit. If those things are happening, I totally understand why #4 wants to go back to the old job.

      1. Elkay

        I agree that there could be deal breakers but as Alison added you’ve got to think about why you left the old job. I know there’s things I miss about my old job(s) but the things that made me leave are always more influential than the things I miss.

    4. AnotherAlison

      More questions about #4. . .

      Is it wrong for me to request a meeting with him and bring a gift such as a basket of chocolates for the engineering staff?

      Is it really appropo to contact the boss to request an on-site meeting with the former boss, nevermind the chocolate? Having worked in engineering for ~15 yrs in a city with a few major firms that people jump back and forth between, that’s not the way I’ve seen it done. Typically, you have the initial contact by email, followed by a phone convo explaining that you want to come back and why. It might also be appropriate to meet for lunch or coffee, one-on-one. If the boss has interest in hiring you, he may need to re-interview you or get approvals from his manager, and you might be invited back to the office for that. I get that after 3 months, the OP probably still feels like part of the team, but she’s not anymore.

      Am I offbase on this? Is it normal in other companies/industries to do what the OP asks?

      [Also, FWIW, no on the chocolate, unless you can frame it as a Christmas gift. Otherwise, it feels weird to me.]

  3. Jamie

    You don’t even have to disable the sent by my phone thing, you can just backspace and take it out when you don’t want it there.

    At least that’s how it works with iPhones.

  4. The Other Dawn

    3. Can I ask my manager to tell coworkers not to talk to me about a death in the family?

    I did this when my mom died in 2008. I emailed the office manager and asked her to let everyone know that I don’t want to be approached about my mom when I come back, because it’s just too raw. I knew if someone mentioned it or offered condolences I would just crumble. Everyone complied and when I was ready, I brought it up myself.

    1. Cruella Da Boss

      From the other side, I am sure some coworkers were relieved that you chose this approach. No one really knows what to say in this circumstance to be comforting.

      I am sorry for your loss.

      1. The Other Dawn

        Thank you. Having been on the other side of it, it is definitely a relief when someone asks not to be confronted with condolences. Later on when the mourner brings it up, it’s so much easier to talk freely.

    2. Steve

      A few years ago one of my associates’ mom passed away. During one of our conversations, she asked me to do this for her. She also asked me to access her work email, print any condolence messages, archive the message, and set the printouts aside for her to read in private. I don’t know if some companies would have a problem with this – I checked with our HR and IT departments at the time, and neither had any issues. For a while there it became kind of a standard offer to make to an associate when discussing their needs after a family tragedy.

      1. The Other Dawn

        That sounds like a great idea. But, you’re right, some companies might have an issue in terms of IT. Depends on their security policies and the company culture.

    3. esra

      That’s what I did earlier this year when my dad passed. I told them I didn’t want hugs or a card. Unfortunately they took this to mean I didn’t want them to tell anyone anything, so when I got back everyone asked where I had been/if I was okay.

      1. The Other Dawn

        Sorry for your loss. And sorry that happened to you. That was probably worse than being confronted with well wishes and sympathy.

          1. Anon

            Personally I am glad they hnored your request. It is better they didn’t tell them anything than they told them confidential information you didn’t want spread. More often than not, it is the opposite problem most grieving co-workers encounter.

            1. esra

              It wasn’t about sharing the information, it was about not wanting any cards/flowers/hugs. I took it for granted that they would say something to head off all the “Esra! You were gone suddenly for a week, are you okay?” type questions.

              1. Anon

                But I am explaining why they didn’t say anything from their perspective. They were respecting your right to privacy. It helps to have more direct communication as signals can be misread about why you’re making a certain request.

    4. Darcy Pennell

      Thank you, it’s really good to know that people took this well. That’s exactly how I feel. It hadn’t even occurred to me that others might also be relieved not to have to talk about it.

      1. LondonI

        I think it would be helpful for people to have a sense of direction on how to handle things. I have a friend whose mother died of cancer last year. She, however, found it very difficult and hurtful when people *didn’t* say anything to her because she felt it signalled that people had forgotten or didn’t care.

        On the basis of her advice, I would always say something to someone who was suffering from a bereavement. Therefore, I would find it extremely helpful to know in advance that the bereaved person wanted a different approach.

  5. Bryan

    OP #1

    You can also draft the thank you notes and just leave them in your drafts folder and hit send whenever you want later. Just leave out the sender’s email address so they do not accidentally send. I know the advice is to try and build upon the interview in the thank you note but for me I’m terrible at them.

    1. tcookson

      Yes, leave out the recipient’s email address until your email is perfect, and then put it in only when you’re absolutely certain you’re ready to hit “send”. I’d do this even for email intended to be sent immediately, not just for rough drafts.

  6. just laura

    #2– I actually think this can be an indication of a company committed to culture fit, especially if your husband is at a high level. You all will potentially spend a lot of time together over the years, after all. I would answer questions honestly but diplomatically, because if the job isn’t a good fit for anyone, it’s better to know that now.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      I agree with that overall, but I do think she needs to coordinate with her husband about this, because ultimately it’s up to him how he wants to handle this. I could see him being really alarmed if she spoke candidly about concerns and he wasn’t prepared for it.

  7. Anonymous

    Having worked in an office where there was just an awful run of deaths in families for a year (one girl lost her mom out of the blue, and her brother called to tell her *at work* and just blurted it out and you could absolutely hear her heart break; my boss lost a spouse after a long illness; a couple other folks lost siblings) I would have loved it (well, not *loved* but you know what I mean) if folks who had strong preferences on how to handle it arranged to let those preferences be known so I could accomodate.

    I’m so sorry about your parent. Peace and strength to you and your family.

    1. Colette

      her brother called to tell her *at work*

      You seem to think this is unusual, but … of course he did. When my dad died, my sister called me at work – which was good, because otherwise I would have worked another 4 hours and left work not knowing I wouldn’t be back for a while.

      1. Michele

        My mom called me at work when my grandfather passed away. I don’t see anything unusual with a phone call at work either. I would have been very upset with my mom if she had waited until I got home.

      2. The IT Manager

        I agree. Nothing can be much worse than hearing a close family member has died, but getting a call at work suggesting I leave to office now to hear some news will fill my head with a variety of terrifying scenarios. I don’t know think that is much better than learning that news at my desk. I someone who is fairly unemotional and hates attention, but I get nervous every time my parents call unexpectedly that they might have some bad news.

        1. Judy

          I got a call at 2am from my Dad a couple years ago. (Note: he rarely calls me at all, he leaves that to Mom.) “Hi Judy. You know how Mom wasn’t feeling very well this weekend? I convinced her to go to the emergency room at about 9pm last night. …” Now, I know he was only on the phone with me for a couple minutes, but those minutes took hours. I was sure during the play by play that he was working up to telling me that Mom had died. But no, he was just giving me the entire rundown of every test they did, and told me she was resting at the hospital. (She ended up with a hiatal hernia, with surgery later in the week, doing fine now.) By the time I hung up the phone, I had so much adrenaline in my system, I couldn’t get back to sleep.

          Public Service Announcement: Get to the point. My imagination can make it much worse than it is most of the time.

          1. Cath@VWXYNot?

            Yes, this. I once got a voice mail from my Dad saying that Mum was in hospital but that I was not, under any circumstances, to call him before a certain time. I live in a different country, so there’s an 8 hour time difference, which meant that I ended up staying wide awake, imagining every bad scenario possible, until about 3 am, when I called and found out (after a LOT of preamble about what had happened and which tests the doctors had run) that she was just fine (she fainted, which both she and I have a habit of doing from time to time, but this time was in public and people waaaaay overreacted, then the hospital also overreacted and ran about a million tests). That call just about put me in the hospital myself.

          2. Liz in a library

            Oh my gosh. Several years ago, my mom had an esophageal cancer scare (she has ongoing issues, but is well and managing them fine). The first my sister and I heard of this was my grandmother calling and leaving voicemails asking for updates on “how mom was doing in the hospital and what they found out about the cancer.” We both called my out-of-state parents dozens of times before dad finally answered her cell. He couldn’t figure out how to find our phone numbers in the phone.

            Scariest hours of my life. I was close to just driving the seven hours to their house.

      3. Chris80

        I agree. If someone in my family was seriously ill or had died, I would want to know right away, even if it was at work. It would be stranger to me if someone close to me waited for me to get off work to tell me something so important. The only exception I can think of to this is if you knew the person you were calling was on the road…delivering news like that to someone who is driving is a potential safety hazard.

        1. Colette

          Yes, there may be times when you’d wait – like someone driving, or if you know they’re in the middle of a big presentation – but in general, they’d want to know as soon as possible.

      4. some1

        Totally. My dad called me at work when my favorite uncle died, because that’s where I was. Yes, that meant staring at my desk for I don’t know how long after as the shock wore off, but I’m glad he told me then until waiting until I got home.

      5. NK

        I wouldn’t want to wait until the work day was over to hear that kind of news, but as someone who works in a fairly open cube environment, I’d want someone to call and ask if I could step away from my desk before delivering news of a death, particularly an unexpected one.

      6. Ellie H.

        I think that kind of news is so terrible that it doesn’t really matter how it’s delivered, in the average circumstance. It’s going to be a terrible shock that leaves you completely undone at whatever moment it is delivered. I would say to try not to call someone while they are driving in the car (but that also goes for any sort of call not just to deliver some sad news) but beyond that I’m not sure what is better.

        1. Liz in a library

          I don’t know. My mother-in-law sent out a group text to her sons when two close family members committed suicide. I was completely horrified and while that news would have always ben terrible, it added an extra layer of trauma for them. They were very upset.

          I agree with though…I’d want to know immediately, not wait until after work.

    2. AnotherAlison

      Calling at work. . .I think it’s all in the delivery.

      My mom called me at work (technically, mid-flight) to tell me an uncle had died. She just left me a panicky voicemail to call her right away. I really hated that because when I tried to call her, no one answered. 30-minutes later, I finally found out, but she made it a lot worse with the message. (My uncle was expected not to make it much longer after 5-yrs with colon cancer, the message was more like something might have happened to someone else unexpectedly).

  8. Anonymous

    To OP#3, if you are open to any other types of condolences (such as allowing co-workers to express their sympathy in a card you can deal with at home) you might want to allow for this. I mention it because people want to be supportive and to “do something” after such a tragedy, and offering them a way to do this that is acceptable to you would be a kindness. Another option might be to have your manager collect any expressions of condolence for you and hold them until you say you are ready to receive them.

    As the bereaved, your wishes and comfort trump theirs without question, so don’t interpret this as trying to impose a requirement on you at a time of loss. It was simply something for you to think about. You may find that after sufficient time has passed, your co-workers’ words of condolence offer you comfort.

    1. Darcy Pennell

      Thank you, that is a very good point. I will make sure to be clear that I’m not trying to avoid all condolences, just face-to-face. A card that everyone signed would be very kind — though I wouldn’t read it in the office, that’s for sure!

  9. AdAgencyChick

    #3 — I asked my manager to do the same for me several years ago, and she was more than happy to do it, as I think anyone with compassion would do. Definitely ask.

  10. Gigs

    #2: My ex was a clergy member and when they do placement, it is customary that spouses are included (mostly because we were moving halfway around the country for the job and they wanted to make sure I was okay with moving there). I have sat in on plenty of dinners with potential work colleagues of my then-partner.

    They are not really allowed to take into consideration anything that you (as the person who is not being considered for the job) say in these “social” dinners, but it still matters (to some degree). I would keep the conversation light and informal, and really focus on the getting to “know the culture” piece. Yes, they will be on their best behavior for the two of you, but you can still learn a whole bunch about his work environment.

    I also really just wanted to jump in and say that this is a perfect time (and opportunity) for you to do some serious listening for your husband, especially if you have an opportunity to have a conversation with the boss and his wife while your husband is not at the table. I once went on a hike with the president of a congregation and his wife in which they told me how sad they were that another candidate (who was not my partner, but someone we knew) didn’t decide to fly out for a second interview with them. Sometimes you can pick up on little details (like that) that may be helpful for your husband in deciding whether or not he wants the job.

  11. Anonymous

    #3 This is a very good idea. I would also have an answer ready just in case you need it. I’ve had a family death crisis happen pretty much for the last 2 years every time one passes the next happens.
    “Thank you very much for your concernwhen is our next meeting.” Is pretty much what I say when someone wants to comment. (Mostly they are respectful of don’t but some people have, especially since it is so ongoing.) The last of space is for lack of breath. Don’t pause don’t wait I just go into the next bit. It is an extremely clear indication that I have no interest in discussing the matter.
    After I broke down in tears at work I went home and practiced it over and over until I could say it more easily and try to stay in work head space without having to think about how to respond.

    1. Darcy Pennell

      Wow, that is an excellent suggestion. Thank you. Especially the part about practicing. I was afraid I would end up either breaking down or snapping “I don’t want to talk about it!” or both. I really don’t want to do either to someone who’s only trying to be kind. Having something more appropriate at the ready will be a tremendous help.

  12. SAK

    OP3 – I’m so sorry you are going through this.

    When my mother passed away recently I requested no one bring it up in the office and people respected the request. They did send emails, cards and flowers while I was out which I appreciated.

    It is important that your colleagues are aware of what has happened because it likely will impact you at work as much as you try to keep it separate. They should understand you may behave differently for a while.

    If working at home is a possibility for you, you may want to talk with your manager about it in advance. There were days that I was just not up to being in the office because I was so emotional. Working from home I was able to deal with it by taking a few breaks. It really helped that my manager and colleagues are a very supportive bunch.

    My thoughts are with you and your family.

  13. SAK

    OP#5 – we’ve done that when one interviewer is on site and one is remote. We usually tell the candidate though!

    1. Lisa

      Also since a friend put in a good word, then I assume that friend is what got you through the initial screening without you trying. They assume that the phone interview will go well, and are being efficient by setting up the in-person too, which prob is diff people anyway.

    2. Emily K

      I was going to say this. I had both booked together once when the phone interview was with an HR rep who worked in an office in a different city, and the in-person interviews were with my two immediate supervisors who worked from the same local office as the position I was interviewing for.

  14. Rachel

    # 4- I’m sure no one will be bothered if you decide to bring in chocolate if you used to do that sort of thing frequently in the past. On the topic of chocolate, does anybody know how to keep a rude coworker from taking copious amounts of candy from a candy jar? He almost singlehandedly empties my candy dish in a few days if I bring in delicious candy. I used to be nice about it, but lately, I am just annoyed at the lack of social grace.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Ooooh, no one answer! Not to freeze out Rachel, but because I’d love to make this its own post! Rachel, I promise to run this tomorrow in exchange for you letting me short-circuit your desire for answers here.

      A question — does he say anything as he does it? Do it while you’re there or while you’re away from your desk? I want context to help imagine this gluttonous coworker.

      1. Elkay

        This is like a teaser at the end of a tv episode “On tomorrow’s edition of Ask A Manager…how to deal with a greedy co-worker, is it illegal to give your co-worker a used cat toy in California and other helpful answers to make your working life more bearable”, imagine that in your best movie announcer voice. Sorry, it’s quite near the end of the day in my timezone…

      2. Rachel

        Ok thanks, I should have emailed you about this. He comes in and makes small talk multiple times a day as an excuse to grab candy. We pretend insult each other all the time, so it is very difficult for me to convey the fact that I am being serious about anything. I have made half-serious jokes to him multiple times about him eating all my candy, but nothing actually changes. The other problem is, he is stubborn and really does lack the social grace that would keep an ordinary person from constantly taking candy.

          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            Correction: This afternoon. I moved something else to tomorrow because I have specific but unsupported beliefs about the right mix of posts on a given day.

            1. LabRatnomore

              I love this statement! I guess that is why you need an intern, so your beliefs can be supported or proven wrong!

    2. Anon

      You could handle it in a humorous way. Anytime he takes a large amount, you could make a joke about it, “Must have a sugar high after all that. Can’t resist the truckload, can you? We will have to park a truck at [store] just to have a special delivery for you.”

      Something more joking than what I said but would bring attention to how much he is taking. If that doesn’t work, I’d just try the blunt method but it depends on your relationship with the co-worker. You could just stop stocking the kind of candy he likes as a disincentive as well.

  15. some1

    #2: Barring a clergyperson position mentioned above, I really have to go with AAM’s advice about letting your husband address any concerns. I’m not saying you have to sit and be quiet the whole time, but the company invited you both in an effort to whoo your husband, they are trying to sell him, not you.

    1. KL

      I would disagree with this. I work at a large tech company not located in the Bay area. We often hear feedback from candidates about their spouses concern about the move, not theirs. Part of our recruiting strategy (and it is effective) is to woo and make the SPOUSE comfortable with the position, company and move … not the candidate.

  16. BN

    OP #1: Download Boomerang for Gmail! I had an interview and nearly immediately after left on vacation where I knew I had no internet and unreliable cell service. I wrote my thank you note, scheduled it to be sent the following day at 8:30am, and went happily on my vacation :)

    I would do this again even if I knew I would have an internet connection. It allowed me to write all of my thoughts down fresh out of the interview, edit accordingly, schedule, and then it was out of sight out of mind.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      My one caution here is to make sure you don’t write it before the interview and set it to send later, because you could end up interviewing with a different person at the last minute or something else could change.

  17. BN

    Oh, yeah, that would be awkward! Hadn’t occurred to me to use it in that manner, but that is a great point to keep in mind.

  18. Diane

    #3: I am so sorry. Absolutely let your manager tell your coworkers your wishes. Also consider what you would welcome: a card sent to your home, a meal train, or no mention at all.

    At my workplace, two people have lost their spouses recently, and their coworkers arranged a meal train, with their consent. It allows the grieving person to specify their food preferences and how long they would like to receive meals, dropped off by a non-intrusive volunteer. I know both widows appreciated it greatly because it gave them one less thing to worry about. http://www.mealtrain.com/

  19. Jeanne

    #3 – I totally agree with Alison and the other posters. I am a strong believer in no person’s personal circumstances – whether it be a death or illness in the family, a divorce, a marriage, etc. – should be known to others at work unless the person decides to share. And, if it is something tragic that they shared ahead of time, like what the OP describes, the manager can let other workers know their wishes.

  20. A non

    #5: I have had this happen in cases where I was a top candidate (known to the hiring manager or recommended by someone at the company) but where every candidate had to do a phone screen with HR before an in person was allowed due to internal policies. So even when they knew they wanted to interview someone, it wasn’t allowed until HR did a call.

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