can my wife and I apply to do a job jointly, what “thanks for coming in” means, and more

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

1. Will I be rejected for not uploading a video interview?

I tried to apply to a position this afternoon, and part of the online application is a “video interview.” I couldn’t complete it because I’m using an old PC which doesn’t have a camera. I also tried on my iPhone, but it requires Flash which is unsupported. So am I automatically disqualified from the position because I don’t own the technology for the interview? Is it worth it to track down a webcam to do this thing? I never experienced this before. The position, which I am highly qualified for, is photography teacher.

Ugh, ridiculous. Employers have no business requiring this type of effort from candidates before they’ve even made it past a first cut. After all, in a typical hiring process, tons (usually 100+) candidates are going to be rejected without further screening, and it’s so horribly inconsiderate to ask people to jump through this sort of hoop when so many won’t even be spoken with further.

In any case, I’d include a note in your cover letter explaining that your computer wouldn’t allow you to complete the video portion of the application, but that if you move along in the process, you’d be glad to make arrangements to do it at a later stage. On the other hand, if you’re truly lusting after this job and would be devastated if you were rejected over this, then yeah, I’d suck it up and borrow a webcam.

2. Can my wife and I apply to do a job jointly?

My wife and I want to apply together to the same job (as co-applicants). It’s for a house manager position. It’s advertised for one candidate. We both have different qualifications but together it would be perfect. I would be the one to be there for the day to day and she would be on a part-time basis (at least that’s what we are thinking). The position is mostly managing a household of a staff of 3, which I have great experience in and there are some financing and expense responsibilities as well. Our thoughts are they would get two for one basically. (It’s actually a well-paying job for one person. It’s more then enough for both of us. It can pay for two full-timers in a sense.)

Is this unheard of or is it a great thought? Not only for how we are thinking, but for the homeowners as well.

For any other job, I’d say absolutely not, but something like a house manager, it might be fine. There are some disadvantages to be aware of — for instance, having staff report to two people rather than one has the potential to be inefficient and confusing (so you’d probably want them only reporting to one). Also, what if they’re dissatisfied with one person’s performance but not both of you? Overall, though, I don’t think it’s out of the question for a position like this — and it’s certainly not patently ridiculous on its face. I’d go ahead and propose it and see what they think.

3. When should I ask employers about subsidized transit and working from home?

I am currently looking for jobs in my city and a neighboring one. I’d prefer a job in my city because it’s about a 3-hour total daily commute (via train) to the next city. However, I would take a job in the other city if the company subsidized public transportation passes and especially if they allowed me to work from home 1-2 days per week. Should I even bring this up at all and if so, how and when?

The problem with asking about those things before you have an offer is that it makes you look unduly focused on things that most hiring managers don’t want you to be unduly focused on. Asking about subsidized transit passes is a little too nitty-gritty before the offer stage; it’s like asking about nuanced details of the 401K plan before you have an offer. And asking about working from home 1-2 days is a week before there’s been an offer signals to many hiring managers (rightly or wrongly) that you’re more focused on avoiding the office than being in it. Neither of these is helpful when a company is still assessing you.

So I’d wait until you have an offer — when they’ve already decided they want you and now you’re negotiating the details — and ask about it then.

4. “Thanks for coming in”

Is the phrase “thanks for coming in” at the end of an interview always the kiss of death? Thanks for any insight you can provide.

What? No. It means, quite literally, “thank you for coming in,” no more and no less.

5. Asking about full-time work at the end of a contract

I’ve been a contractor at my work since May and my bosses have mentioned to me several times that they want to bring me on as a full-time employee. Before the holiday season, my boss told me it will most likely happen at the beginning of the new year. Well, it’s getting close to the end of my contact and I really want to work for this company, but how do I bring this up with my boss in a professional manner?

“We’re approaching the end of my contract, so I wanted to follow up with you about the possibility of bringing me on full-time. I’d love to stay, but otherwise I’ll need to start lining up other work soon.”

{ 197 comments… read them below }

  1. Elise*

    #3 – Almost all employers in major transit areas – Boston, New York, New Jersey, specifically, offer transit costs at pre-tax. It’s pretty much standard, and expected. I’d still ask at the offer stage, just to be safe.

    Work from home? Ask in the end. You might even end up interviewing with someone who starts talking about corporate culture and will say, “oh yeah we usually work from home on fridays.” Or something like that, where THEY, not you, mention flexibility.

    1. Thomas Taylor*

      I think it is a gross overstatement to say that “almost all” employers offer pre-tax transit benefits. It may be the case that the majority of employers with professional HR staffs do, but that’s a pretty limited chunk.

      Also, because many of the elected officials in US government are monumentally stupid, we’ve just gone back, as of 1/1/14, to having gross disparity between the maximum tax-free transit benefit and the maximum parking benefit. Yes — if your location or preference leads you to promote global warming with your commute, you can get a bigger tax break than if you take transit. The current $130/mo monthly cap is very likely less than the cost of a monthly rail pass for a 1.5 hr-each-way daily commute. (The cap for tax-free parking is $250/month.)

      It’s also possible for companies to actually subsidize the cost directly, not just take part in a tax savings plan, which may be what the OP is seeking.

      1. PEBCAK*

        I was thinking the same thing. It’s really “most employers large enough that the tax benefits justify the overhead of administering the program.”

        1. Anonymous*

          I worked for two very large employers in NYC, as well as countless other employers and never once had transit benefits. I was in the media industry if that makes a difference.

          1. NYCee*

            I think folks are misreading the TransitChek program as a benefit (in the traditional sense.) It’s NOT something an employer “gives” you. Rather, it’s a program whereby they agree to sign up through the government transit program to pay you a portion of your income, pre-tax, through this. There is no reason, barring laziness, why a company should not agree to do this and makes no sense why they would not proactively already be doing it. IMHO.

            1. Thomas*

              The employer pays fees to the service provider. Depending on the fulfillment method (paper vouchers vs. debit cards), the employer has to write a check or transfer the funds or allow them to be transferred. With paper vouchers, the employer then has to provide security for cash-equivalent documents, and makes choices as to whether to pay more in per-order fees to keep less cash tied up in vouchers, or incur the higher overhead of placing more orders. Then there is just the general administrative overhead of signups, changes, and resignations. The hard costs always come out in the employers’ favor – they don’t have to pay their share of FICA on that compensation. But the other costs are very real and not insignificant. I administered the TransitChek program at a former employer. It’s also the case that an employer has the option to not just do this through payroll deduction, but to actually pay part of the cost.

      2. Stephanie*

        Ugh, yeah. OldJob would pay completely for parking, but only offered like $120/mo toward transit. Our office was in an expensive part of an expensive suburb of DC (Old Town Alexandria to be specific), so most people’s transit commutes were more than $120/month.

        Granted, driving involves gas and insurance (plus wear and tear).

    2. Us, Too*

      I work in Austin, TX (over 1 million residents in the area) and transit costs are almost never subsidized here. I spend ~$1000/month commuting when I consider the cost of a car, gas, maintenance, tolls, parking fees, etc. Worse, I spend 2-3 hours/day driving (and feeling impotent rage well up inside me) just to get to and from work. It’s ridiculous, but there aren’t any viable public transit options. I guess my employer does “subsidize” the parking fees by charging me less per month than it costs them to park in the parking garage attached to our building, but I’m still out of pocket $1k a month for this stuff.

      I’m always amazed and a bit jealous when I hear of friends in the Northeast who can read or listen to their headphones on public transit. And to have an employer subsidize that! Swoon!

      1. Eric Brasure*

        It really is a great perk. It doesn’t save a tremendous amount of money (you’re just paying for your pass with pre-tax dollars) but it’s a savings, and every little bit helps. Plus, living in Brooklyn, I don’t own a car, and so all my commuting and personal transportation is covered for a cool 112 pre-tax dollars a month. I would imagine that most people pay more than that just in gas per month.

    3. Graciosa*

      Transit costs are definitely not standard where I am – I’ve never heard of anyone asking for or receiving this (with the exception of some C-level executives who negotiated use of the corporate jet for weekend trips to other homes). Local standards can differ, though, so I would suggest making sure you’re not asking for anything too unusual and not raising this until you are negotiating an offer.

      If these benefits are unavailable, well – it’s still a matter of money. You can look at the offer and decide if it is acceptable or not – or try to negotiate a higher one that would be acceptable. I assume that if the compensation was sufficient, you would take the job even if you paid for your pass yourself.

      I have a slightly different reaction to the telecommuting request – you need to get a feel for the office culture on this one. You can reasonably ask how the company handles employees working from home and get a wide range of telling answers. Depending upon the company, this can be seen as a question about whether you are required to take work home, whether you can stay home when service people will be coming, or whether you are free to telecommute.

      Pay attention to the signals you receive. If you’re not satisfied with them, it’s better to bow out of the process sooner rather than later.

      Our company does not allow telecommuting (other than burst pipe type emergencies) during an employee’s first year, which gives managers ample time to assess an individual before making a decision. You may find managers are not comfortable agreeing to a telecommuting schedule while you’re still an unknown quantity – again, pay attention to the signals. Hesitant agreement from a doubtful manager may not be in your best interest.

      1. AVP*

        Well, what happens in some metro areas with big public transportation systems is that they have a program which provides monthly subway cards at pre-tax dollars. So if you do live in an area where this exists, it’s somewhat common – but definitely not a perk “most” companies have. I’d say maybe 40-50%.

  2. Elise*

    #5 – Bring it up with 2 months remaining on your contract.

    I was in a contract job that ended recently, where my manager wanted to bring me on full-time. Unfortunately, there were budget cuts, and were unable to. Anyways, he started working on getting the necessary approvals with about 2 months remaining on the contract. This was a large company, so there was red tape. A small employer, I think you won’t need as much time.

    1. Chinook*

      #5 remember too that moving you from contract worker to staff changes the budget line you are on and, thus, who has to approve it. For example, right now I am a line item expense that is part of a budget managed by my supervisor. To make me staff, they have to get approval from head office and ensure there is room in the overall payroll budget. Ironically, it would mean a surplus for my supervisor and a deficit for payroll (though zero sum overall).

      So, Elise’s recommendation of 2 months, or more, is a good idea.

  3. Kate*

    I’m confused how they expect the interview to end in #4. That seems like a standard polite ending to a conversation or interview.

      1. danr*

        It means “Thanks for coming in”… which at my old company was a real thank you. In my first dept. many people called from the subway station to say, “I’m not coming, the neighborhood scares me”.

        1. Anon Accountant*

          This made me literally laugh out loud. At a job I interviewed for several years ago when unemployed and desperate, I drove to the location to see where parking was, the building, etc. It was in a really bad part of town and the parking garage was a few blocks away. It was very scary in the mid-afternoon so I cancelled the interview.

          For them a thanks for coming in would have been a real thank you also!

        2. Anonymous*

          I had someone stop me leaving an interview to say that once because of the “scary neighborhood” (it was another employee) apparently about 75% of people had cancelled on the interview because of the neighborhood. (I thought it was a rather pleasant neighborhood compared to where I’d worked before!)

    1. LMNOP*

      related questions:
      What does “good morning” mean in the context of an interview? Is it a sign that this is the only morning they will ever see me because they have already decided they will never hire me, and are wishing me a good morning since it’s the only morning we’ll ever see each other?

      Also, recently I have noticed many interviewers saying “stay warm” is there a secret meaning behind this? Is it interview code for”you blew it big time?” Is it some kind of test?

      *I mean no harm by all this, as a job seeker myself I fully understand how frustrating it can be.

      1. Cat*

        “Good morning!” said Bilbo, and he meant it. The sun was shining, and the grass was very green. But Gandalf looked at him from under long bushy eyebrows that stuck out farther than the brim of his shady hat.

        “What do you mean?” he said. “Do you wish me a good morning, or mean that it is a good morning whether I want it or not; or that you feel good this morning; or that it is a morning to be good on?”
        “All of them at once,” said Bilbo.

    2. Anon-a-mouse*

      @Kate – I didn’t use to be so paranoid, but maybe “It was nice meeting you. We’ll be in touch next week” wouldn’t have such a sense of finality. Maybe it’s not so much what they said as the way they said it? I thought the interview had gone extremely well, she was very pleasant and communicative. I am so qualified for the job that I was very confident they would have me back. Nope. I would have done a great job for them.

  4. Zelda*

    Job shares are not unheard of in *any* industry, even if they’re not all that widespread.

    They’re proposed by new applicants, employers themselves, existing employees…all sorts. I’d suggest that OP read up on the literature on job shares – and there’s a fair amount of it (just Google “job share” as a starting point).

    Outline the benefits of the particular arrangement you are proposing in the application, and be prepared to address any potential downsides during an interview.

    1. Daisy*

      It is unheard of (outside of household/caretaking jobs) to propose one for you and your wife, though.

      1. Zelda*

        Husband-and-wife clergy have shared jobs for decades. Academic couples have shared jobs. The position of British High Commissioner to Zambia a few years ago was shared between a husband and wife. In 2009 a Swiss couple were jointly appointed as ambassador in a job share.

        Married couples sharing jobs is certainly not restricted to any one sector.

        1. PhD Candidate*

          In the US, academic couples do not have shared jobs. There’s something called a spousal hire – where the main hire can negotiate a position (lecturer, etc). But the spouse has their own job with their own salary, it’s not shared.

            1. KarenT*

              They don’t share jobs but it’s common (maybe not common, but definitely not uncommon) for married academics to be hired together. It usually happens when another school is courting a professor, they’ll offer a job to the spouse to as an incentive to move.

        2. Daisy*

          OK, restricted to household jobs and ambassadors (It’s certainly not something that happens in academia). Household management and ambassadors… why, that’s all sectors of work that exist!

    2. thenoiseinspace*

      Definitely not unheard of – when my mom was in college, she and my aunt split a part-time job. But it is pretty rare, though. I’d be wary, and expect to be told “no” simply because it’s so uncommon.

      1. fposte*

        Did they apply for the job together? My guess is that job-sharing tends to evolve with existing employees (outside of the fields where it’s normal) rather than being something that happens because a pair applies to share.

        1. Felicia*

          My mom and her friend actually shared a job right out of college. But they both applied individually, and it just so happened that they were chosen to share the job.

    3. Felicia*

      I’ve never heard of jobs shared proposed by the candidate OR between a husband and wife outside of household jobs though. That’s the difference.

      1. Natalie*

        I think it used to be common in hospitality, too – you’d have a husband and wife running a hotel together. I imagine that’s changing as the independent hotels close and the remaining hospitality industry is just as corporate as any other industry.

          1. Poe*

            YES THIS! Hahaha! I just booked a hotel for my mom to come visit me in the UK, and when I walked in through the front door I had to walk quickly back out so I could sit down on the steps and have a good laugh, because the place looked exactly like Fawlty Towers.

        1. Lindsay J*

          I’ve seen it for self storage facilities a lot. One company advertises saying the position is ideal for a husband and wife team.

  5. Chris*

    Obviously I’m not working on a lot of info here, but it seems to me that if you’re applying for a photography teacher position, in 2014, I’m a bit surprised that you don’t have a contingency plan here. A decent computer would seem, to me, absolutely required for photography these days. I know several professional photographers, and they exclusively use DSLR cameras. But you obviously know that part better than me, it’s just a thought.

    I understand that computers aren’t cheap, regardless of how important they may be to a given field, of course. But a webcam is, what, 20 bucks at a cheap electronics store? I saw one for $4 on Amazon. It’s not a huge investment, and it’s great to have the option to use video Skype, etc, when need arises.

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      This is the first time I have heard somebody mention a video interview where I thought the employer was right. Being able to make and send a short video is a basic skill for someone who wants to teach photography in the digital age.

      I get cranky that schools are turning out graphic artists & photographers (who go into serious debt for school) who unprepared to navigate the tools of the actual business world. Many of these students never get jobs in their degree area or get stuck in low end ghetto jobs and can’t proceed.

      A student has the right to expect a teacher who is capable and up to date technologically. A short video is a low bar.

      1. Katie*

        I just noticed that the OP is a photography teacher, and I agree. It’s not like photographers are working out of dark rooms anymore. I suspect the short video request might indeed be a screening mechanism.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          Mini Rant:

          My engineering student 19 year old is taking a night course this semester to fill his Intro to Computer Programming requirement because he couldn’t fit the course into his normal day schedule.

          I am paying for this.

          I am sure that his teacher was quite competent in his day, but his day was apparently sometime in 1991. The students had to explain to the teacher what an address bar is and how to put a hyperlink into it.


          Did I mention I am paying for this?

          1. Ruffingit*

            Oh hell no. No. That is ridiculous. Someone needs to talk to the department chair and let them know their instructor is horrifically incompetent. There is no reason anyone should be paying for an instructor who can’t navigate the Internet. WTH?? Again with the hell no, no way.

            1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

              The thing that really pisses me off other than the part, I’m-paying-for-this- did-I-mention-that, is that this is an urban university and the night classes are typically populated by the most needy students.

              Son (who already knows most of the course material) report the instructor is just fine at whatever the programming is. The breakdown is anything that isn’t a command prompt, where he can’t navigate a graphical interface and doesn’t seem to understand the internet. My understanding is he is a long retired computer programmer. You wouldn’t find this guy teaching classes during the day to the full time students.

              Anyway! Well off topic from the video interview OP at this point.

              1. Emma*

                …Does this university happen to be an institute of technology or one of the other 3 unis in that area…in a city with a formerly super-heroic, fire-fighting, dog-rescuing mayor? I recall we’re both from the same excellent state. :)

                If it is that uni (or that collection of unis), I’m concerned and upset because yes, those students are getting the shortest end of the technology stick in an already deprived area.

            1. Jubilance*

              Don’t give me flashbacks. FORTRAN was a required class for my chemical engineering program in 2002…and we couldn’t even take FORTRAN 90…it was FORTRAN 77.

              *bangs head against desk*

              1. AnotherAlison*

                My mech eng program required FORTRAN, but I took C++ at a different school my freshman year. That was a good move on my part. : )

              2. Stephanie*

                Why do ChemE’s like FORTRAN so much?! Before I switched majors to mechanical engineering, I had to take FORTRAN 90. It was pretty much a self-taught lab. This is bringing back horrible memories.

                1. CC*

                  It’s not that we *like* FORTRAN necessarily, but more that the chemical simulation software modules are FORTRAN. So, if we want to simulate anything, we have to know it. FORTRAN isn’t pretty, but it is made for crunching through large data sets, and chemical simulation is all about large data sets.

                  I believe other languages are catching up though. I was playing with SciPy a while ago. But if I remember right, to install SciPy I had to install the FORTRAN compiler too… so I think FORTRAN may have still been doing the heavy lifting.

      2. DBA*

        Eh, I get your point, but the techniques for creating a video and teaching still photography are very different. And if they wanted to test candidate’s capability of using video, they should ask to see examples of the candidate’s video work either submitted with the application materials, or at interview. Or devise a test for interview candidates to demonstrate their skills. Asking all applicants to complete a video interview (when not all candidates may be comfortable in front of the camera, despite their skills and expertise behind it) is over the top and unnecessary.

        I also get the impression that OP wasn’t aware of the video requirement until he progressed onto that page of the application. IMO, if employers are going require video applications then they should let candidates know at the start of the application process, not halfway through when many candidates will have invested time and energy only to find they’re not in a position where they can complete the application. But it’s a ridiculous requirement in the first place.

        1. Producer K*

          But they’re not asking for a video DEMO reel of his past video work. They just want him to upload a simple video of himself saying something into web cam. It’s not about his ability to produce a fancy video.

          1. Felicia*

            I’ve just never known anyone in the past 5 or so years that either didn’t have a built in web cam, or it was thrown in with the computer. Certainly if you have a laptop i don’t think they even make them without a webcam. So it’s more that the computer must be quite old.

            1. Anon*

              I don’t currently have a webcam, but that’s because I built my own (gaming-quality) computer within the last year. I just didn’t buy a webcam because I don’t need one, but my computer’s definitely not old!

            2. JoAnna*

              I don’t have a webcam because I use my iPhone for making videos. My computer’s not ancient but it is several years old and doesn’t have a webcam. My husband’s Mac has a webcam, but I don’t know if it’d work if the iPhone wouldn’t.

            3. Video Interviewer*

              If you scroll through these posts, several people have commented that their new computers dont have webcams either. This is the first time it has been a problem for me. In the past, I have been able to record video on devices or cameras every time I needed it.

          1. Lindsay J*

            Don’t you have a DSLR though? Even most middling DSLRs now have a video function of some sort.

        2. A Hiring Manager*

          Well said. We don’t know why OP doesn’t have a webcam. As a professional photographer myself, I never use one. It would be very annoying to get through most of the process and then discover you can’t complete it due to lack of required equipment you didn’t know about.

          1. Video Interviewer*

            Hi, “A Hiring Manager”. I dont have one on the computer I am working with right now. This is the first time it has been a problem for me. In the past, I have been able to record video on devices or cameras every time I needed it.

        3. Poe*

          I’d argue it is giving you an idea of presentation style, which can help you weed out who mumbles into their shirt, is reading off cards, etc, which is important stuff for teachers!

      3. Felicia*

        I didn’t realize this was for a photography teacher, but you’re right. Maybe they want a photography teacher who also works/has worked recently as a photographer. And anyone who works or has worked recently as a photographer needs a decent computer, because you can’t be a professional photographer without one. I have a fairly cheap computer, and always have, and they all have web cams.

        1. Hedonia*

          As a professional photographer, I can say that any professional-grade digital camera will have video features that are more than powerful enough to make a quick, simple web video. If the camera doesn’t, it’s too old to be considered professional anymore.

          The fact that this candidate didn’t consider this (rather than thinking “webcam”) makes me suspect that he/she is not necessarily the most well-equipped or well-rounded photographer, and that would be a natural disadvantage to being a photography teacher IMO. Knowing your camera (not to mention many different models that your students might have) inside and out is a pre-requisite.

          1. Producer K*

            GREAT POINT! What kind of camera does the OP use? Presumably a DSLR, which would shoot video. Heck, even a point-n-shoot would do the job.

          2. Video Interviewer*

            Hi. I am semi-pro photographer, also a teacher. I shoot events and publish editorial at least once a month. I have a few cameras that can shoot video, including a Canon DSLR and a terrific compact Canon, and of course an iphone. So yes, I have many ways to create video.

            This particular interview app does not allow you to upload anything. So I can not shoot on any of the aforementioned devices for this particular assignment. It requires a webcam. It’s just like answering an essay question, except speaking into the camera instead of writing it out.

          3. Video Interviewer*

            I did consider using a number of devices, but the application does not allow me to upload. When I plugged the cameras in via USB, the computer did not read it as a webcam with which to feed video into the app. I even called technical support line of the interview app – his advice was to borrow a friend or relative’s webcam.

            I do know my cameras well – LOL. Though, I am open to the idea that there may be capabilities I havent learned yet. Dont we want opportunities to continue to learn and grow?

        2. Video Interviewer*

          Hi. OP here. I am semi-pro photographer, also a teacher. I shoot events and publish editorial at least once a month. As I have explained, my MacBook broke, and I am working on a friend’s older model PC until I can replace my MacBook. It’s not ideal, but it gets the job done.

          Honestly, a webcam will be the last feature I care about when I do replace my computer. I have several cameras and an Iphone. This is literally the only time I have needed a webcam.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yeah, but this isn’t a request to see a demo reel or something like that. It’s just a request to sit in front of a computer and record your answers to interview questions. That’s not going to test a candidate’s video skills or show what she can do with a camera. It’s just gimmicky, inconsiderate hiring.

      1. Beebs*

        I hardly ever disagree with Alison, but I’m going to a little bit here . . . without knowing exactly what kind of photo position this is, I will say that the lines between still photography/video are getting very blurred and it seems very reasonable to me to expect a photo instructor to be able to upload a quick video. (Even mid-range consumer cameras have increasingly sophisticated video capability.) We hired a full-time photo instructor last year, and you bet we expected at least a basic level of competency with video. Also, it takes a high-powered computer to keep up with the professional photo editing software (and Macs are industry standard), so I would be concerned about the currency of someone who only has access to an old PC. Anyway, normally I’d agree this is a gimmick but here I think it’s in line with industry expectations.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          But this is a video interview, not uploading anything. She has to answer specific questions within the app, while it videotapes her. She can’t upload.

          1. Video interviewer*

            Yes, exactly. It’s answering 14 questions, but instead of having you write answers out, you speak Into a webcam. Nothing technical, no cinematography, no filming and uploading.

        2. Video Interviewer*

          I have more than a “basic level of competency with video”. LOL! I just dont have a stupid webcam. But I am borrowing one this weekend to complete the application.

  6. Hugo*

    #1, this must be for a smaller company that thinks it’s being trendy by requiring a video interview. Please say it is.

    As bureaucratic and inefficient as corporate America hiring tactics are, at least the big guys (GE, Wal-Mart, etc.) don’t require this useless step in their otherwise oafish hiring processes.

    1. Video interviewer*

      Yes – it is a small company. Basically 2 guys and I think they brought in a third party to help with this hiring process.

    2. V*

      I did this for a Fortune500 screening interview using Intervue. I asked about it during the in-person call-back interview and was told that it was great because the hiring manager could pull up the videos and compare the canidates side by side, and others involved in the process could review the videos at their convenience. I can see the appeal of it (even though it was a pain to set it up on my end), and I’m surprised it isn’t used more often.

  7. Video interviewer*

    Good morning. I am the reader who submitted the question about the video interview. Thanks so much for the reply! I agree with your answer! I did make arrangements to use a relative’s webcam over the weekend in order to get the application in. I didn’t mention in my original post there are 14 pre-recorded questions. Although I agree that it’s jumping through hoops at an early stage, it is a cool job which I am highly qualified for, so I am going to go for it.

    I noticed a few people commented that as a photographer, I should be able to make a video. Well, yes. I have 2 cameras and an iPhone on which I could make a video – however the interview app won’t allow you to upload anything and is incompatible with mobile devices. You have to do it with a webcam on the computer directly into the application. I don’t have that ability presently, because my MacBook broke and until I can afford a replacement, I am working with a borrowed older model PC. So, please don’t be so quick to judge.

    Thanks everybody!

    1. Mike C.*

      Hey there, best of luck to you, and please remember to include full transcripts from your K-12 years.


    2. Judy*

      Both my high end rangefinder camera – auto focus but I can take apperture priority photos along with the auto modes, and my husband’s Nikon DSLR have usb ports and can be used as a webcam. I use my camera when traveling to talk with the kids in the evening, instead of having to bring my webcam, because my work laptop doesn’t have a camera.

      1. Video interviewer*

        Hmm. Then I may be able to use one of my cameras as a webcam too using the USB… I don’t think my dslr does that, but I have a good compact that might. Maybe I will try over the weekend. Thanks for the tip!

        1. Judy*

          It’s nice because I take my camera anyway, so I don’t have to lug another piece of equipment, and risk forgetting it.

    3. thenoiseinspace*

      “however the interview app won’t allow you to upload anything and is incompatible with mobile devices.”

      Ah, that changes things. This means there’s no video editing at all and very little cinematography/shot composition to judge. Is it perhaps a test to see how well spoken you are?

      1. Video Interviewer*

        Correct – no video editing at all and very little cinematography/shot composition to judge. Maybe it is a test to see how well spoken I am. Who knows. I dont have a problem with that – I just dont have a working webcam and so this is a very annoying request. Perhaps if I had the option to upload a video (as people keep suggesting) it would be less annoying. But honestly, before any of that I wish they would just look at my resume and cover letter and then tell me if they would like me to proceed or not.

    4. Fiona*

      And there was no warning of this at the beginning of the application? Dumb, dumb, dumb (Not you. Them.) How many people do you think start these applications at 11:00 at night, in their jammies, crazy hair, etc.? A little warning would be nice!

      I hope if you get the job – and even if you don’t – you give them this feedback on their process.

      1. Kelly L.*

        Slightly less dire, but I was in the middle of an endless Taleo application once that suddenly tossed an essay question at me. I wasn’t ready to answer–I wanted to think it over before starting to write–but the application timed out, and it would never let me start over or pick back up where I’d left off. It was forever stuck in half-completed limbo. I figured they must not really want me to work there and wrote them off.

    5. Beebs*

      Then that does change things–it’s hardly going to give them a sense of how well you can handle video applications if they have some squirrely little program that forces you to do it through a web cam . Anyway, best of luck!

    6. Tris Prior*

      I was going to point out something similar. As a working artist, I make sure that the tools and technology I NEED to do my job are available to me and functioning well. If something breaks that is not necessary to do my job, I don’t replace it until I can afford it.

      My webcam doesn’t work either. But, I’m not going to go out and buy a new macbook because mine, though old, works fine for my everyday life and job. I don’t need a webcam to do my work. The flipside of that is, if I were in OP’s situation I’d have to borrow someone’s computer. A PITA, but better than shelling out another 2 grand for a new mac! Especially if I were doing this interview because I was out of work and had no income. How are long-term unemployed people supposed to afford to upgrade their technology when they have no money coming in?

      Sorry that you’re having to deal with this, OP.

      1. Video interviewer*

        Thank you! I am borrowing a relative’s computer to do the interview over the weekend. Even though webcams are inexpensive, I would rather put those dollars towards improving my portfolio and interview clothes…. And as you pointed out, I am looking for a job and money is tight.

        Honestly, it is not only the cost of the webcam – it is also that I don’t want to buy something just for this one use. If I want to skype or record videos, in the future, I have my cameras and iPhone. I think it’s annoying and wasteful to get a webcam just for this application. I might not even get an interview out of this!

  8. AmyNYC*

    #1 – I agree that this is a dumb requirement, but in the future you can email the video from your iPhone to yourself and upload it via your PC.

  9. AnotherAlison*

    #1 – My company is using HireVue video interviews as 1st-round for many positions now. It’s replacing the phone screen. It sounds awful, so I’m glad I already work here, but I guess we have to get used to the idea that this might become more common.

    1. Mike C.*

      No, we shouldn’t “get used to it”. It’s a bad idea, and when it comes up we should say so and why.

      1. Hedonia*

        I agree with this completely. If you’re in a position to push back, please do so, for the benefit of everyone who can’t.

      1. fposte*

        I could understand Skype replacing phone screens (though I wouldn’t necessarily like it), because at least that’s similarly live. But a pre-recorded video seems no more advantageous than a questionnaire and much more likely to end up discriminating in ways that people really shouldn’t be.

        1. Felicia*

          I’ve seen Skype more and more, instead of phone screens, and that would require a web cam, and woudl be similarly live, and the only difference between a phone screen would be people could see you. But I really don’t understand why people use it rather than the phone.

          1. Elsajeni*

            I recently did a job search from out-of-state and had both phone and Skype interviews, and I found Skype to be HUGELY better. It’s true, the only difference is that everyone can see each other, but I feel like that really makes a big difference — facial expressions, body language, that sort of thing. I just think it’s a lot easier to get a clear, accurate impression of somebody when you can see them as well as hear their voice.

            1. Guest*

              You preferred Skype? Really? How odd to me.

              During my last job hunt, I had an interview with a higher-up that worked in on the other coast, and was very cranky that we couldn’t just chat over the phone. He got to sit in a sterile conference room, and not care how he looked.

              I had to make sure my living room was clean, the windows and skylight didn’t let in too much light, the books on the shelves were tidy, the lighting didn’t cash harsh shadows on my face, my laptop was at the right height to avoid the very unflattering up-the-nose angle, extra under-eye makeup to look perky and awake at 7am, my clothing was professional and non-distracting (no patterns!), and I forget what else.

              I spent way too much time and effort on appearances in artificial circumstances. (I normally don’t let my employer see where I live, or what I look like at 7am. Nevermind that webcams are horribly unflattering and the video of yourself is very distracting.)

              All this nonsense for something that could have been done over the phone with far far less prep relating to things that don’t matter. An in-person meeting would have been required if it had progressed. (I withdrew from the process. That I didn’t like the Skype interview concept probably colored my opinion of their hiring process, but mostly I would have had to relocate to a much more expensive area, without a raise to keep my lifestyle somewhat intact.)

              1. Elsajeni*

                I suppose it’s personal taste, to some extent, and maybe also luck-of-the-draw things like “Is my home laid out such that I have a convenient place to do this?” — I was able to set up at my dining-room table, where the only thing visible behind me would be a cream-colored wall and the relative heights of the table and chair worked out well, and I didn’t find the clothes/hair/makeup business any more aggravating or stressful than I would have for an in-person interview.

        2. Rebecca Too*

          The organisation I work uses them, because phone screens wouldn’t be feasible, and they are just convenient from a HR and hiring perspective.

          But there’s no way there would be 14 questions. It’s generally 4, and they can’t be longer than 15 minutes total.

          1. ThursdaysGeek*

            Why are phone screens not feasible? Someone still has to take the time to view the video, so they could be taking that time on the phone instead. Unless, they don’t view the entire video if the person is the wrong color or shape or gender or age.

            1. Rebecca Too*

              ThursdayGeek, it’s just because of time zones. It’s an international organisation, so it’s recruiting for roles in many different countries, and the candidates could be anywhere. If they did phone screens it would be impossible to do them in one go, and at some point either the HRS person or the candidate would have to be doing it in the middle of the night.

              Also, they’re usually done before full interviews to check technical abilities/knowledge. The people who review for that element spend half there time out of the country, so it’s just easier to have the videos all in one place so they can review them. If they had to do a bunch of phone screens it would slow down the process at lot.

              And I will note that it’s never done as part of the application, and having worked there, I can’t imagine them using it as a means to discriminate.

        3. Elizabeth West*

          Well, you can make phone calls without video on Skype too. However, I had the same thought about discrimination. And there’s the inconvenience; why use a buggy computer VoIP service instead of just a simple phone call?

          1. Poe*

            I had a Skype interview for a job in another country. The interview was sufficiently long that the phone bill would have been absolutely bonkers. I was moving to the country a few weeks later, and was brought in for an in-person interview, but Skype was fine with me. Except the time difference of 8 hours was a bit rough.

      2. r*

        I really hope this doesn’t become more widespread. I don’t understand why this kind of thing would have any advantage over a quick phone screen or something similar (unless the job is something specific that requires on-air presence or something like that). It might save employers a bit of time, but requires a ton more effort from candidates. It’s especially terrible at the very beginning of the process when an employer hasn’t even narrowed down the field at all.

        1. Felicia*

          I would think it would actually take more time for employers too. If they go with phone screens, they can choose how many people they want to phone screen. With this whole phone “interview” concept they might have to watch 200 videos. Even if each video is 2 minutes, that’s a lot longer than it would take going through 200 resumes , or reading 200 questionnaires if they must. It’s a big time suck for everyone involved.

          1. r*

            Yes, exactly– although I suppose it’s easier to just turn off a video after 30 seconds than to hang up on an interviewee. Still, a major time suck.

        2. AnotherAlison*

          Responding to everyone who asks how video could be saving time. . .

          I don’t know because I haven’t done it, but it makes sense that it would save time when you look at 164,000 applicants at my company this year. HR can receive an app, send an email with the link for the video interview, and then doesn’t have to do anything unless the applicant submits the video. HR is not live on video with them. The candidates can do it on their own schedule. Then, HR can hammer through a bunch of videos at once in the review process, on their schedule. They don’t have to call to schedule, call the candidate for the screen, fight missed calls, etc.

          In some ways, couldn’t it give the candidate a better shot than a phone screen? If you are the poor guy who can’t get away from your open office for the phone call & they move on and don’t call you back, you might like being able to do interview at home. Sure, they might love candidate #5, but since it’s less time-consuming, they might open 10 more videos, where making 10 more calls is more difficult.

      3. AnotherAlison*

        If I were to push back against any stupid practices, it sure wouldn’t be this! I’ve got so many other axes to grind. . .(a wellness form that requires you to answer the year you began menstruating, for example, if you want the cheaper insurance rate.)

        We don’t do video interviews in my department, so I’m not personally contributing to the bad practice. We only hire maybe 1-2 people every few years.

        1. AnotherAlison*

          To clarify. . .1-2 people per year in my department.

          Last year, we had 164,000 applicants & there area currently about 1,000 openings.

          1. AnotherAlison*

            I wish. Last year you could skip more questions, but this year I had to answer it. I see how it’s relevant to my OB/GYN but not on a general wellness form. . .
            I already had to do battle with the wellness police over my husband’s wellness coaching a few years back. I went to the head of HR at corporate. I’m not looking to do it again.

            Someday, I will leave here, and I am the type who will raise some of these things before I do. In the meantime I’m fuming silently.

          1. Felicia*

            I love that!:) Because that is between me and Judy Blume and I don’t know why anyone would even ask

    2. some1*

      My first thought on this is they want to weed out the unattractive candidates. Which is horrible, of course.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        If you knew the nature of our business, it is most certainly NOT to weed out the uglies. We’re not the type of business that is filled with good-looking people. I don’t see racial discrimination being a big issue, either, as the company staff is over one-third minorities. (Comparing that with 14% minorities at a local competitor.)

        1. AnotherAlison*

          I’m saying uglies in jest. Hope no one takes that the wrong way. I don’t have that high of opinion of my own looks!

        2. Anonymous*

          The only thing you get out of video that you don’t get out of a phone is looks. Are they pretty/white/young/old/etc enough for us. Don’t do it!

          1. Anonymous*

            Yeah, but they’ll see you eventually… You also get body language and facial expression, which are just as important as tone of voice.

      2. Felicia*

        I thought so too. But if it wasn’t for that, then what is it for? What do they think makes it any better than traditional hiring methods, when it sounds much more time consuming?

      3. Windchime*

        Not just the “unattractive” candidates, but the candidates who look wrong in some other way…..wrong color, wrong shape, wrong accent.

    3. Betsy*

      My company uses HireVue, too, for remote candidates, but they will overnight you a webcam if you don’t have a good one. Laptops almost all have webcams built in now, but a lot of people with desktop computers won’t have them.

  10. Penny*

    Re #2- Did anyone else immediately think of Mac and Charlie from It’s Always Sunny jointly applying for the mailroom job? :)

    After reading the actual situation, I think it would be ok to apply, but they may not want 2 house managers as there are some complications that could come with that situation. You could try to sell them on the advantages- the 2 for 1, that one of you is still available if the other is sick or anything. But also consider that if they let y’all go for any reason, you’d both be out of work rather than just one (my guess is, they wouldn’t let just one of you go).

    1. Mints*

      I did! Haha
      “You guys are willing to split the salary? You’re hired!”
      (“Let’s talk about the mail. Can we talk about the mail?”)

  11. Ralph*

    #2 The main reason me and my wife want to propose this job offer is to give back and help others. It’s not only managing a house but also helping the mother and taking over with strides. I would be the day to day and my wife would be on a part time basis to help out with things I don’t have 100% experience in.

    Yes absolutely, it’s a job we both want but in a sense, we can have a chance to do two things at once. At the same time, the home owner would two get the same in return. Two employees for the salary of one and two life long relationships.

    Please advise with some ideas to at least be considered for the position.

    Thank you all!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Until/unless you know otherwise, I’d stay away from the “lifelong relationships” side of things, since they might not be looking for a relationship with the house managers at all; they might want people who will excel at the work and keep a boundary between themselves and the homeowners. (Or not — maybe you’ve picked up different signals. But I’d be cautious about going into it without respect for that boundary.)

      1. Ralph*

        #2 I mean why else would you go into a company/job? Isn’t your future and anything that comes with the job what you think of first? Especially with a job like this working in a house is a personal environment. Which in my book becomes personal and can lead to a lifelong relationship. We of course are being positive and optimistic. You think positive you get positive!

        fposte- The position is for a House Manager but doesn’t directly require experience being one. Daily responsibilities include, managing the house staff of three, arranging parties, planning vacations and travel itineraries, calendars ( which I have great experience in) expenses and reconciling finances ( this is my wife’s expertise which would be on a part time basis).

        Even though it’s a House Manager position in a household, it’s pretty much a 9-5 regular job. In a nut shell, we would work together for the pay of one which it’s INCREDIBLY generous for one and in most cases, enough for two.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I could be off base in this particular case of course, but in general I think many times when people are hiring people for this sort of position, they want to see — at least at the outset — that the person will preserve a boundary (i.e., won’t assume they’re part of the family, will pretend not to see the intimate stuff they’ll inevitably see, etc.). They’re not hiring someone to be a friend or family member in most cases; they’re hiring staff. And because of the intimate nature of the role, many employers in this context will want to make sure the person they’re hiring can navigate that line well.

          Again, this job/family could be different. But I wouldn’t go into it assuming that it would be a plus to talk about life long relationships in this context, unless you already know otherwise.

          1. Poe*

            This sounds to me like a household PA kind of job. Some people like their PAs to be moral support/sober second thought/brother-sister kind of people, but a lot of wealthy people (who are the ones with household PAs) want someone businesslike and efficient, much like an office PA. Yes, you can be buying presents for their child to take to a birthday party and ordering their shopping, but you’re not doing it in your PJs with your feet on the coffee table.

            1. Ralph*

              That’ exactly what the position is Poe. I like the way you put it into context but even the wealthy has a sweet spot :-)

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Well … for many people hiring a household manager, that approach would be disqualifying. But that will help you screen for fit — if you only want the job if they’re going to see you as a member of the family, then approaching it that way will help you screen out people who don’t. (But if you’d want the job regardless of that, then be aware that that really will likely disqualify you from many employers in this situation.)

    2. fposte*

      You sound so nice! I don’t know enough about the kind of job to have specific helpful info, I’m afraid, but I have a couple of thoughts: is room and board part of the job’s compensation (which could make two more expensive than one), and is there an indication that the employer desires these additional services?

      I don’t see any reason why you can’t pitch the notion anyway, but it’s a bit more of a leap to present an advantage that the employer hasn’t yet realized s/he wants. If you and your wife have employment history like this, I’d definitely sell that part–“Since there were two of us, that meant we were able to keep on top of the household when the kids all took up different sports and needed driving to activities,” or even if you’ve been resident assistants or other homey-but-not-quite-the-same jobs together.

      1. Ralph*

        fposte- The position is for a House Manager but doesn’t directly require experience being one. Daily responsibilities include, managing the house staff of three, arranging parties, planning vacations and travel itineraries, calendars ( which I have great experience in) expenses and reconciling finances ( this is my wife’s expertise which would be on a part time basis).

        Even though it’s a House Manager position in a household, it’s pretty much a 9-5 regular job. In a nut shell, we would work together for the pay of one which it’s INCREDIBLY generous for one and in most cases, enough for two.

    3. Anonymous*

      I work in property management so husband and wife teams are common. In fact, my employer specifically asks for them for properties that are outside of the city. Usually, it is the wife that does the office duties and the husband does the maintenance.

      I don’t really have any advice, but mention everything that you mentioned here: how you expect to split the duties, you would be sharing the salary, and that you want to help.

      Good luck :)

  12. some1*

    Regarding the transit question, I see nothing wrong with asking near the end of the interview something like, “Do most of the employees in this location drive to work or commute by transit?” this may prompt the interviewer to say something like, “Yes, we subsidize parking up to $X and transit passes up to $X.”

    I’d probably ask an HR person over the Hiring Manager, because some Hiring Managers may not know that policy if they don’t use it because they are high-level enough to have a paid parking space.

        1. So Very Anonymous*

          Plus, the AAM Mad Lib: “It means [fill in innocuous statement made by interviewer].”

    1. Fiona*

      I found a company that makes custom magic 8 balls. Unfortunately, they are $2,000 each (WTF).

      A better option might be the Magic 8 Ball app for iphone and android…if only Alison could get it as a widget. Got a question? Ask the 8 ball. Still got a question? Email AAM at…

  13. Another photographer*

    Just a note on the video for the photography instructor.., I am a working photographer who shoots around 100k photos a year for clients. I do everything on an older Mac Pro. No webcam. I just ordered a brand new $4k Mac Pro …it won’t have a web cam either.

    Sure I can make all kinds of great video content as I have all sorts of cameras and latest/greatest software – but getting half way through an online application and then having to record something on a webcam would be a PITA.

    To the OP: Kudos for jumping through the hoop and good luck with the job prospect.

  14. Stephanie*

    Re #1:

    I saw Zappos required a video cover letter for all applicants. I get that they’re a tech company…but that just seems like a nightmare for the screeners. Or maybe it weeds out applicants because only someone who’s really interested will deal with a video cover letter?

    1. Ruffingit*

      I’m with you in that it seems to me to be a nightmare. I think there’s got to be a better way to screen applicants in the beginning phases. What if you receive 500 videos for the opening? The amount of time it would take to watch those and screen seems like a huge waste.

      Also, the issues of discrimination based on physical attributes/age come to mind with this too, but that’s whole other discussion.

    2. Fiona*

      Zappos has some insanely rigorous hire/orientation/training practices. Like, if you get hired, you do a 4-week training, and halfway through they offer you 4-figure cash to quit. They are fanatical about culture and fit, and they only want people who really, really, REALLY want to work there.

    3. fposte*

      But if you’ve read anything about Zappo’s, it’s a total fit with the culture. Additionally, Zappos does use employees in videos for their products all the time (which I like a lot, and I’m always impressed by how well the employees do it without being salesy or glossy), so it’s actually relevant to the position.

    4. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      Zappos is the Holy Grail of positive, healthy environment. People who want functional workplaces follow them closely and imitate.

      If they are doing video interviews, look out. Video interviews will explode.

      Of course, they are Zappos. Mere mortal companies like ours couldn’t follow (even if I were crazy enough to want to) because we can’t afford to drive off good candidates with stupid requests.

          1. Ruffingit*

            LOL! I was, but didn’t get a chance to post my comment until just now (it’s the one on having some compassion for job seekers). Just had that conversation with someone and it was on my mind. But I never seem to get into the Open Threads before there’s a ton of posts so I was hoping to get my comment in under the 200 post mark. ;)

  15. Cat*

    Am I the only one who read #2 and thought “I want a nice couple to come and manage my home”? I can’t pay much, but you can manage a staff consisting of my cat . . . .

    1. Ruffingit*

      LOL, yeah I’m with you. Totally had that thought. Made me wonder how big the home is. It’s got to be huge to need a house manager and to be able to accommodate a staff.

      1. HR Rep*

        Pretty common for the extremely wealthy. My friend works for an interior designer and works with lots of house managers to handle billing. Sigh, money does jot equal happiness, and repeat.

    2. louise*

      If your cat is like most I’ve met, I believe you *already* have household manager and I suspect said cat would not appreciate being usurped. ;)

    1. Ruffingit*

      I don’t think that’s possible. But if you want to see your own posts, just do a find search for your user name.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Ralph, can you explain more what you mean? Are you talking about comments that are emailed to you? You can unsubscribe from those, but I might be misunderstanding what you’re hoping to do!

      1. Ralph*

        I’m referring to blocking out all other comments from other post aside from mine. I’m getting emails of replys to all posts. It’s way too much. No disrespect intended :-)

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          There’s no way to subscribe to only some comments on a post — it’s all or nothing. But you can unsubscribe from the emails entirely; there’s a link in each to allow you to.

        2. HR Courtesy*

          Ralph, just hit control F and a search bar should come up. Put in Ralph and it will jump only to posts with “Ralph” in them.

          1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

            I see I’m not the only one who works that way.

            Control+F “wakeen” is my friend.

  16. Anony*

    Re: 1. Will I be rejected for not uploading a video interview?

    I had to video record myself for a job interview once in the first stage of the process as annoying as it was. The company allowed me to schedule time to go to the HR dept and use their video camera if I didn’t have one though. The employer you were interviewing for should have provided that option, but I can also see that since the job you are applying for is “photographer,” they’d assume you have that equipment since it is your profession.

    1. Video interviewer*

      Anony – I have plenty of photography equipment. My profession isn’t “webcamer”. Lol. For this type of interview, even Francis Ford Coppola’s submission would just answering interview questions into a $12 camera.

  17. Tara T.*

    I read that if the interviewer says, “Thanks for stopping by,” it means the candidate did not get the job. “Thanks for stopping by” could imply that the candidate was too informal and showed up in sloppy clothes or something, or did not seem very interested in the job. However, “Thanks for coming in,” is different because it seems like they are acknowledging that the candidate spent time and made the effort to come in and do well in the interview. Of course, the interviewer could just be acknowledging either way – with the “thanks for stopping by,” or the “thanks for coming in.” I do not mind hearing the “thanks for coming in,” whereas if it is “thanks for stopping by,” then I wonder – maybe it is a sign I did not get the job. Another thing that bothers me is if they did not ask for salary requirements in the ad, or in the interview, or why left each job – then it seems they are not interested.

Comments are closed.