I accidentally told my boss I’d work for free, I flubbed an interview answer, and more

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

1. I accidentally told my boss I’d work for free

The other day, my new boss (who is the nicest, most supportive boss I’ve had in a long time) was asking me how I liked the nature of the work I was doing. In a nervous fit of awkwardness, I (honestly) told him that it doesn’t feel like work and that I felt bad being paid to do it since I liked it so much. What?! Why did I say that?!

In the past, I’ve been overworked, underappreciated, and did so much overtime (voluntarily and involuntarily) that the job so far has been a dream. My managers are kind and allow me to work independently, and when I do I get so wrapped up in it that I don’t take any breaks, because I’ve been conditioned to go the whole day without a chance to sit down and relax. I’m worried because my boss mentioned in the past (I’m working as an independent contractor) that there would be opportunities in the future for my pay to increase with every project successfully completed, and also that they’re planning to grow their company soon and would let me know when I’d be able to move up into a full-time position.

I’m worried that what I said, completely unfiltered, would hurt my chances at being given a raise since I said I would do it for free. It’s true that I enjoy the job immensely, but I need to be paid more. Would my boss take what I said into serious consideration when determining my “worth”/future pay scale? Anything I could say or do to help my case?

You’re over-thinking it. It’s very unlikely that your boss — who you describe as “the nicest, most supportive boss I’ve had in a long time” — thought to himself, “Aha, no raises for this one!” And it’s highly unlikely that he took your statement as a serious statement that you’d to do the work for free. He probably just thought that it’s great that you love what you’re doing, because people who love their jobs tend to be more driven and productive.

Don’t worry about this at all.

2. Is any job better than my current job?

I currently work for a major cultural institution, and It would be my dream place to work. However, I am stuck in a job which I hate. I have poor managers who treat you like garbage until they need a favor, and a horrible office environment. I work extremely hard and work every day, but I feel undervalued, unappreciated, overworked, and bordering on depressed. I work off hours and days – which my wife of one year hates since she works a regular day job. Recently, I was denied a shift transfer, and am stuck working the night shift for an indeterminate amount of time.

For the past year, I’ve been looking for other jobs. I have not been able to get interviews at major companies or other institutions. And the one I work at keeps hiring other vacancies from outside so I cant even transfer departments from within. Recently I was looking on craigslist for jobs.

My question is: Is it better to leave the institution I always wanted to work for, and just take any job – no matter how big or small the company is (since for example many jobs on craigslist doesn’t mention the actual name of the company). I feel like if i wait around I’m just wasting my time, but I’m afraid to leave. And what if I leave for a job which turns out to be far worse. Is this fear justified?

No, it’s not generally better to take just any job you can get. Whatever job you take next is likely to have an impact on what job you can get after that one — job history builds on itself. While it’s not a disaster if you end up in a job that doesn’t help your career progression (and people do that all the time when circumstances make it the best option), it’s not ideal, and it won’t help you get where you want to go.

However, an exception to this is if you’re so miserable that it will be far better for your mental health to just get out ASAP. If you can stick it out while you continue to search, you should. But if you truly can’t do that without compromising your mental well-being or your marriage, then it’s not the worst thing in the world to choose somewhere less destructive to the non-work parts of your life meanwhile.

3. I flubbed an interview answer — should I address it in the next interview?

I had a second interview for a position last week. I completely bombed my answer to one very specific, technical question about the job. Instead of saying “I don’t know the answer but I’m a quick learner and I am really interested in that topic,” I answered off the cuff and made up a very specific answer. I could tell immediately by their expressions that it was the wrong answer.

Fortunately, I have been invited for a third interview next week. Should I take the opportunity to address and correct my earlier answer? Will saying, “I wasn’t satisfied with an answer to that question in my last interview. I’ve researched the topic and would instead do x,y, and z” show that I am diligent and proactive, or would it just remind them of my mistake? I really want this job!

If it was as big of a mistake as it sounds like, there isn’t really a risk here of “reminding” them; they already know about it. So yes, go ahead and correct it. The wording you suggest works really well.

4. Manager wants to clock us in and out

Certain departments in my workplace are allocated only 40 hours per week. One second over sends management into a tizzy because it is OVERTIME. Since being a clock watcher is not in several employees’ nature, our office manager has graciously informed us she will be responsible for clocking us in and out every day so we will not have one moment of OT and have exactly 40 hours each week. Is this legal?

The law doesn’t really care about the details of how you’re clocked in and out; it cares that the time recorded is accurate. If your manager clocks you out but you continue to work beyond that, you need to be paid for that time, no matter what your timecard says. So your manager’s solution here sucks; it doesn’t address the core issue.

However, whether or not watching a clock is in your nature, you actually do need to take your company’s instructions on your hours seriously. They can get into a lot of legal trouble if they let you work unpaid overtime, and it’s not unreasonable for them to want to restrict you to 40 hours a week. They’ve told you clearly that you need to stop at 40 hours; that’s something you need to comply with.

5. Should I talk to my college students about their terrible LinkedIn profiles?

I am an adjunct instructor at a local university, and sometimes current and/or former students connect to me on LinkedIn. I’m often appalled about what I find on their LinkedIn profile — grammatical errors, slang, just poor layout in general. Often I think the young person just doesn’t know how unprofessional their profile is coming across. Is it appropriate for me to approach them about it, especially if they have not specifically asked for my input?

Why not address it in your class one day, to the whole group of them, so that you’re not approaching individual students with unsolicited input about their profiles? You can talk in general terms about some of the stuff you’ve seen and why it matters. That way you’ll have armed them all with guidance, and from there, it’s up to them.

{ 74 comments… read them below }

  1. tango

    OP#2: why can’t take another job within the same company? You say they keep hiring from outside the company but you don’t make it clear if you apply and aren’t interviewed for these positions or if you’re not even applying/making your interest known and instead hoping someone will just offer you a transfer?

    1. Artemesia

      It sounds like the OP is not appreciated at this job and is being actively discouraged from consideration for transfer. If so then he needs to be actively searching as he is. If he hasn’t already applied to openings at his organization then of course, go for that, but I interpreted his remarks to suggest that he had not been considered although he had made his interest known.

      It sounds like time to get out of Dodge. But it would be a mistake to jump before there is somewhere to jump. One advantage of a lousy shift is that he is free to do interviews and search during normal hours. Time to get very aggressive about uncovering the next step and use the positive energy of the search to keep it glued together in the unsatisfactory job until a new job is secured.

      1. Yuu

        I think it makes most sense for OP to network as much as possible within his company and make it actively known that he 1) loves the institution and 2) is seeking a day time job there, and make sure he is proactively approaching departments for which roles have opened up & ask to be considered. Meanwhile, he should also look for employment else where. Also, check to see if there are job boards specific to his industry/skill set, rather than just craigslist.

  2. A Dispatcher

    #1. No sane person would take your statement and use it as a factor in raises. After all, loving your job doesn’t magically make your bills go away, in the same way that hating your job doesn’t mean you automatically deserve more money for having to spend your time there. 99% of us work because we have to, whether or not we like the job is just a detail. Hopefully your passion for your job will translate into great work, and that is what will have a bearing on your growth within your org. I will say I’m very happy for you that you found something you love :)

    1. Jamie

      Absolutely, anyone can tell it was just an enthusiastic hyperbolic expression – which is great. Trust me, no need to worry about this.

    2. Chinook

      OP #1 I am another one who says your boss took your phrase as “I love working here” and not as yij would take a pay cut. I am in your shoes right now – an independent contractor who has worked in toxic places in the past and loves her current environment. When I went from temp to contractor (so I would make the profit and not the agency), I was worried they wouldn’t be willing to pay me what I wanted because I had been there for a year at the temp rate. Nope, they not only paid me what they were paying the agency but they gave me a raise over that. A good boss understands you are worth it and that, as a contractor, you don’t get benefits or job security and that is why they pay you more hourly.

    3. Laura

      What these people were saying! Everyone knows you need to eat. Knowing that you love the work that much makes you more valuable – they now have VERY good reason to believe than any investment in you is a good one because, provided they continue to treat you well, you’ll be sticking around and doing the job for them. And doing it with enthusiasm and being glad to show up. As long as you’re doing your job reasonably well also, they’ve got to be *thrilled* by this (and not because they can save a few dollars – because seriously, why would you not give everything that was deserved, that you could, to someone who brought passion for the work to the table also?).

  3. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

    1. I accidentally told my boss I’d work for free

    Please come work for me. That’s what we look for, people who love what they do. And it counts toward getting raises and more responsibility, not against it.

    You sound great. I hope you have a lot of fun and make a lot of money at the same time.

  4. Denniz

    4 – My workplace doesn’t allow overtime, and I’d say any capable organisation should determine clocking in and clocking out times. How would they know what hours you’ve made, and if any breaches in working times take place? I see only working 40 hours as a blessing, at least it means I have two days guaranteed of not working.

    1. Susan Millwood

      But, here is the whole skinny … been the transcrip. at my doc’s office for 24 years … All of a sudden no OT, but to keep up with all the dict and keep it current, I have worked 20+ hours OT on their time and 15 or more on my time for years. Now, all of a sudden, administration trying to force my docs to use Dragon, which 3 of them HATE and refuse to use. So, for my job security, I work off the clock every day and weekends just to keep up as much as possible. Life is fun at 66.

      1. Yuu

        Could you get your docs to dictate to Dragon & then pass the files for you to listen to the dictation and just correct? Try it a couple times yourself and then offer to teach them how to use it. Maybe if you made it clear to them that it is costing you an extra 20hours a week they’d be willing to make that change. Because as it stands, if it comes out you are working OT without pay, your company could get fined and you could lose your job over it…

        1. keyboard mama

          Well, we have had Dragon for 2 years now and 3 docs use it (and their work looks like it was done by a 5 year old) and 3 want me to transcribe for them (I catch errors and make their dict sound good as well as the 3 I do dict a lot of “copy …. forth from my previous dict – can’t do that with Dragon.) As one of my doc’s said …” I have 3 choices … Dragon which doesn’t work … the service (out of Atlanta) who type EXACTLY what they hear and never question it) or “Susan” who I know is going to do it correctly and bring any problems to my attention … now, which do YOU think I am going to use.” My CEO doesn’t care what I work on my time as long as the job gets done. This has been going on for years now and won’t change until I retire, which will be in about 4 more years when I am 70. But, thanks for the feedback. I do feel that some out there understand my situation and that it is not just a cut and dried … clock in, clock out (you know wax on, wax off) situation with no deviation.

  5. NW Cat Lady

    #3 – flubbed interview question
    While I think it’s fine to address it, if you really messed it up that badly and it is that big a deal, they wouldn’t have asked you back for a 3rd interview.

    1. Laura

      The flub isn’t a big enough deal to take #3 out of the running…but correcting it in the interview might be the positive that breaks a tie, depending.

      1. Laura

        Hmm, just wanted to clarify what I meant here…being willing to question yourself and research and correct failed answers, and without direction and requirement to do so / with minimal input at most?

        That is VERY valuable, assuming the candidate otherwise has the needed skills/attitude. And, as stated, they wouldn’t call someone back who didn’t meet that criteria!

  6. Ruffingit

    #5 – Student LinkedIn Profiles

    Addressing it in class is a good idea for current students, but the OP also mentions former students have connected to her this way as well. So what about them? Would it be OK to send an email to them about their profile? I say yes.

    1. Lynn

      One option might be to find a good article on creating an effective LinkedIn profile. The adjunct professor could send that to any current or former students who connect with them. It is less personal then a specific email, and sending articles fits well with the culture of LinkedIn.

    2. Shell

      I think addressing it in class depends on the class. If the OP is teaching a class about job hunting, or maybe in a business class where the students are expected to do a lot of forward-facing work…sure. But if it’s a lecture on organic chemistry I’d think it’s pretty weird for the instructor to start talking about LinkedIn.

      But for former students (or current students where it’s not appropriate to mention this in lecture), I’d mention it in the response to the LinkedIn invite rather than an email out of nowhere. It seems less unsolicited. I probably wouldn’t suggest linking an external article either, because it’d be obvious that I was thinking of that person’s profile anyway for me to send them that link but I just didn’t want to come out and say it.

  7. Ruffingit

    #4 – Clocking In and Out

    I have to take issue with one part of this letter and I don’t mean to be snarky, but this part bothered me a bit: Since being a clock watcher is not in several employees’ nature…

    Being a clock watcher is typically a bad thing, but when the company has made it clear that 40 hours and no more is the expectation, clock watching becomes a desired trait. If you know your company expects something of you, then you should do that thing, which in this case is clock watching. The manager should not have to step in and deal with this because “well gee, we’re just not clock watchers here…” Become clock watchers. It’s part of the job in the sense of “We know we aren’t supposed to work over 40 hours a week, so we’re going to make sure we don’t.”

    The manager having to clock people in and out just seems more like a situation of OK kids, mommy is going to be making sure you leave on time…

    Again, not trying to be snarky, but making sure you arrive and leave at the time your company has set seems like something adults should be able to do for themselves.

    1. Gilby

      Agreed.

      A friend told me that they were told in her dept ( I used to work there too so I knew the work and the cutlure, luckily I trasnfered out) that they could not have even 1 min of OT.

      She sat there frazzled as to how to do that. How can you WORK up to 5 and not punch out late. I said to stop working earlier finish up her stuff, log in to time/attendance and if she has to wait a min or 2 to punch at exactly 5 then so be it.

      That is what they wanted, so format your day to accomplish it.
      Punch at 5 and go home.

    2. Artemesia

      exactly — if one is not a clock watcher they can set their cell alarm to give them a 5 minute warning to put away their work materials and be ready to clock out. How hard is this?

      1. Garrett

        Yeah I was going to suggest that they set a reminder on their email to tell them to wrap it up. I set them all the time to remind me to fill out my time card or check on something before I go.

      2. Briggs

        This is exactly what I came here to say. Setting an alarm is probably the easiest solution since it allows you to focus on work right up till the end of the day. Unless you’re not allowed phones or don’t work on computers?

      3. neverjaunty

        Sounds like Helpful Manager’s energies would be better put towards reminding her employees that they need to clock out shortly, than to breaking the law so they work unpaid OT.

        1. Bertie

          Not sure if it is appropriate for the OP’s industry, but many, many workplaces have a building-wide buzzer that goes off when employees need to clock out.

    3. Susan Millwood

      I realize that my situation is quite different from most people these days and times, but understanding my situation of the “clock watching” part goes like this … to keep up with my docs (transcription. for 24 years with this practice) I come in at 5:00 to 6:00 in the morning on my time … I then have to “remember” to clock in at 8:30 or 9:00 (which I forget to do because I am so into what I am doing) and then again have to “remember” to clock out at 6:00 or 6:30 while I am in the midst of something one of my doc’s wants right NOW before I leave … can you get it for me, please. None of these docs own the business so they are the behest of administration. And I’m stuck in the middle of “OT will implode the business” and pleasing the people that actually help create my paycheck.

      1. Yuu

        I think you really need to stop working for free. How are they supposed to help manage your workload if you keep it a secret?

        1. keyboard mama

          Sorry, no secret … I am on the same hallway as management, so when the CEO comes in at 8:30, he knows I am already here and when he leaves at 5:00 he knows I am still here. When our office manager comes in at 9:15 to 9:30 (both their offices are right across the hall from me) she knows I am here and when she leaves at 5:00, she knows I am still here. It is a problem, but this too shall pass becuase after 24 years with the same physician’s office, I have seen it all and everytime we come up with a new Office Manager, we start all over again. We are on #5 now in 24 years, and I hate to say it but a lot of the problem is the person who was tapped for the position had absolutely O-O-O experience and it has been a learning experience for all concerned. Thanks.

  8. Barbara in Swampeast

    #1 Are you an independent contractor or just a temp employee?

    I am concerned about your comments that you are an independent contractor, that one of the reasons you love your job is that your boss lets you work independently, and that your boss has mentioned a pay raise on future projects.

    Do you know what “independent contractor” means? You have no boss, you have clients. You take on an assignment and do the work the way you want to do it. You just have meet your client’s deadline and provide the deliverable they want. No one is watching over you, because you are not working on the premises. If you are on premises, then the line between employee and independent contract gets blurred, unless you can show that you have other clients you and also work on their premises for some valid reason.

    Also, you should be responsible for ALL of your taxes: income, medicare, and social security. Are they really paying you by paying your invoices? And that pay raise your “boss” mentioned, that should come from you raising the rates you charge clients. Very rarely do clients insist on paying a contractor more.

    1. Ruffingit

      Agreed, this sounds like an employee and not a contractor. So many businesses and people do not understand the major differences there.

      1. Allison

        I signed my contract as such (it specifies me as Independent Contractor [IC]). They also discussed the type of paperwork they’d give me so I could take care of my taxes and offered further assistance for when the time comes because they know I’ve never done it before. I also work on the premises because that’s what they asked me to do. Five of my co-workers on the same project work in another location about half an hour away.
        -OP#1

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Well, that in itself doesn’t make it legal. Doesn’t make it illegal either, but just so you have more information:
          https://www.askamanager.org/2013/05/what-to-do-when-your-employer-illegally-treats-you-as-a-contractor.html

          It’s pretty common for employers to violate this law.

          You may decide you don’t care, especially given how happy you are with this job. No law requires you to care about this or push back on it. It’s up to you — but there’s some info to flesh out your thinking on this.

          1. Ruffingit

            Yes, exactly. I’ve done independent contracting quite a bit and, as Alison said, businesses commonly violate the law when it comes to the differences between an IC and an employee. If you’re going to do independent contracting, you should read up on it and be prepared to handle the taxes yourself. You shouldn’t rely on your client to give you the info needed when the time comes. You should know about paying quarterly taxes and how to do that. The people you work for are clients, they are not your employers who should be assisting you with this.

            I’m not saying that to be harsh, just that many contractors have found themselves in a horrible tax hole when they file in April because they didn’t pay quarterly taxes or didn’t pay enough, etc. It’s really worth finding out what you need to do and how to do it if you’re going to do independent contracting.

          2. neverjaunty

            Actually as Ruffingit says – she has to care, because that could be a big problem for her as well as them, for example at tax time, or if there is some liability issue where the company tries to say “well she’s just an independent contractor, not an employee”.

            OP #1, the fact that they CALL you an independent contractor, even in paperwork, doesn’t mean you ARE one. I don’t mean that your company is evil; sometimes they genuinely don’t understand the difference, or got bad advice. But this is something you really need to confirm on your own.

            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              She has to do her taxes correctly, of course, but if she decides she’s willing to do this as a contractor even though it doesn’t meet the legal test for contract work, there’s no legal harm to her in doing so (as long as she’s clear on the various drawbacks of being a contractor, such as not being eligible for unemployment benefits, needing to pay her own payroll taxes, etc.).

    2. Mimmy

      Ugh…every time I see anything about how those lines between employee and independent contractor getting blurred convinces me more and more that one of my temp gigs might not have been legal :/

      1. Jamie

        Temping is different than being an independent contractor, though.

        While temps are employee of their agencies, not the client where they actually perform the work, they don’t supply their own equipment, choose their own hours, etc. Their agency pays their taxes, etc.

        1. Mimmy

          This wasn’t through a temp agency or other outside entity–an organization that was volunteering with brought me on as a part-time temp to help them with their annual conference. Everything was pretty much as if I was an employee (though I had some flexibility with my schedule except for when they hit crunch time, and I needed to come in every day), but I recall it being treated like a contractor position. A few months later, they brought me on again to help with some projects for a couple months, and I submitted invoices. Again–still functioned like an employee but paid as a contract position.

  9. TK

    I know AAM uses female pronouns by default, but in #1 the OP specifically refers to the boss as male (“told him”).

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Whoops, thanks. I fixed it. I don’t intend to do that when the boss has actually been revealed to be a man.

      It’s evidence that the generic pronoun you use affects the picture you have in your head — as a result of doing this, I always picture the generic boss as a woman now, which shows how destructive our society’s long-time reliance on the generic “he” must have been.

      1. Artemesia

        A zillion years ago I did some research with elementary and high school age kids on this issue. And yes when kids are asked to draw businessmen in a meeting, the chairman gavels the meeting to order, etc etc — they always draw men. ‘Man’ is only generic ‘human’ to men many of whom secretly aren’t sure women are actual humans. And look how easy it was to fix the phrase in Star Trek — Where no one has gone before.

        1. Kobayashi

          Except some ONE has gone there before…the original inhabitants, for example. That always bugged me.

      2. ArtsNerd

        I love so much that you do this. It’s pretty easy to get into a habit of assuming someone under discussion is a (white, straight, etc.) male unless otherwise specified, simply because of the way we use language.

  10. Mimmy

    #4 – Clocking out

    Despite the fact that I’m totally OCD when it comes to following rules to the letter, I have a slight beef with this issue.

    I agree with the first part of Alison’s answer; however I also think that it is really nitpicky to insist on clocking out at exactly 5:00. I just don’t see anything wrong with clocking in or out a couple of minutes early/late. Even if you must clock out at 5, I also don’t anything wrong with wrapping things up during those extra 1 or 2 minutes.

    Okay, I’ll admit I haven’t worked in a non-exempt role in ages, but are the laws really that strict?

    1. Rebecca

      They’re probably using some sort of software to track the time, so unless the boss wants to log in and manually fix everyone’s time to be exactly 8 hours, the program will probably try to give overtime pay, even if it’s just for a few minutes.

      We have to use ADP at my job. What a colossal pain. Between not knowing how long your computer will take to boot up, or if it will let you in at all (I sometimes have to try 3 times before it will allow me to log in; others have been shut out even when typing their user name and password exactly), it’s a real challenge to keep everything right. And if the internet goes down, you can’t log in or out. Someone has to fix it manually.

      1. Muriel Heslop

        We have ADP and it’s a total pain. Fortunately, I can submit my time worked on paper and no one cares if I work overtime. But for the departments where not accruing overtime is critical, it’s much more difficult.

    2. Ruffingit

      Yes, the laws can be that strict. It can be a problem given the laws on rounding up/down for minutes worked too because then a manager needs to keep track of that and be sure they’re complying with the laws on that. Susie might work a couple of minutes of OT, but John has worked 8 minutes over 5 p.m. so now they need to be sure to roundup for John, but Susie is still within the area where she can be rounded down…

      UGH. Huge nightmare if you’re having to keep track of that for numerous employees. It’s way easier to just make everyone clock out at the same time and be done with it.

    3. neverjaunty

      Yes, the laws are really that strict, and there are very good reasons for those laws being that strict. Namely, that non-exempt employees are being paid for their time. If they are working ‘just a couple of minutes extra’ then they are working for free.

      Do you see how those ‘couple of minutes extra’ could be very valuable to an unscrupulous employer? Imagine all the wages they could avoid paying when you multiply those one or two minutes over many employees and many years.

      Also, if we’re going to be fuzzy about the lines, where DO we draw it? A couple of minutes? Five minutes? Fifteen? If there’s no rule, then who’s to say what is or isn’t “nitpicky”, particularly when the person calling the lines has a very strong financial interest in extending those lines as far as possible?

      By the way, OP #4’s manager is inviting the company into a world of hurt if there’s ever a dispute or lawsuit over wages. “We routinely worked unpaid time. Employees who obeyed the policy of leaving at exactly 40 hours were derided as ‘clock watchers’. Our manager actually clocked us out so that it would appear that we were no longer working, when we really were.”

        1. neverjaunty

          Not meaning to be harsh there, just as a lawyer that is one of those things that makes me do the equivalent of NOOOO DON’T GO INTO THE BASEMENT ALONE.

  11. NurseB

    #4

    I work with someone who is “not a clock watcher” and it annoys me half to death. We work in an area where hours have to be covered (patient care) but we are told it’s best not to get over 40 hours. If you reach that point before your normal time on Friday, then you have to come in late or leave early. That leaves other people to cover. And saying “I just can’t watch a clock” doesn’t make getting things done short one person any easier. I am able to wait for the clock to tick over to my start time and finish up work before the time I need to clock out. Saying you just can’t watch a clock is an excuse to me and is lazy. If everyone else can follow the rules, it’s best to find a way to make it work for you as well.

    1. Jennifer

      See, we have these tiny gadgets on us at all times called “phones.” These days you can easily set an alarm on them to go off at 5.

      1. Mimmy

        Or even 5 minutes ahead of 5–that way, you can wrap up what you can and clock out on time. Especially if you easily lose track of time.

  12. Scott M

    I think it’s more likely that upper management gets a report on overtime weekly. A few minutes for everyone adds up to a significant amount. And then upper management complains to the O’S manager. They expect to see no overtime, collectively, and they are going to point it out when it shows up. So yeah..The OP needs to watch the clock and finish up early in time to clock out.

  13. Fucshia

    I’ll bet many of them will be able to watch the clock just fine when they know they are not getting paid the overtime. It sounds like a bad excuse to try to sneak in overtime even after they have been warned not to do that.

    It may be just my interpretation, but the letter reads like the employees are intending to avoid following the policy because they don’t want to give up extra pay.

  14. Brett

    #3 Sounds like it was a fairly difficult question and not just a basic question. From a technical interviewer perspective, actually going back, checking your answer, and researching the correct answer between interviews is impressive.

    That shows you have good work practices that will result in you not leaving a poor solution in place and actually fixing your mistakes. Definitely do it. I would be impressed if I was your technical interviewer.

  15. Red Librarian

    “Since being a clock watcher is not in several employees’ nature…”

    #4 when it comes to clocking in and out, as responsible grown up adults you kind of need to be clock watchers. Especially if the system being used is very particular and your managers are concerned about OT.

    At my old job we just did paper time cards for a long time, where you would put you worked 8-5 or whatever and they wouldn’t worry about the couple of minutes or so that you came in early or left late.

    Then we got a fancy new system where we were given only a five minute buffer on either side, otherwise it would round the number by about 15 minutes. So if you were scheduled to work at 8, the *earliest* you could clock in was 7:55, otherwise the software would clock you in at 7:45 and if you stayed until your normal time of 5 you’d have to be paid overtime. On the flip side, if you clocked in at, say, 8:06 the system would read 8:15 and you’d be docked on your paycheck. When that sort of thing happened you’d have to fill out a form for a readjustment and have your supervisor sign it and it was a very big PITA

    Every morning we would be crowded around that machine until the minute the clock flipped to 7:55 so we could clock in, so, yeah, clock watching kind of comes with the territory.

  16. AdAgencyChick

    #4 — I don’t see the problem UNLESS management is expecting that you will continue working after you’ve been clocked out.

    If they are trying to avoid paying you overtime but are careful to make sure you’re not actually WORKING overtime, that’s a fair way of controlling costs. But if they’re trying to get the benefits of your overtime work without paying for it, that’s no bueno.

  17. Whippers

    Are the non clock watching employees capable of getting to work on time? If so, then I would say that they are in fact capable of reading a clock when necessary.

    1. keyboard mama

      Yes, most of the post about clock watching is for me, but a lot of the comments don’t take into account the whole situation I am working under. I can come in on time, I can read a clock, I can read a book, but when I come in at 6 or so to get my work done, am in the middle of listening to physician dictation to transcribe, I all of a sudden remember that I have to clock in … have to come out of my document, pull up another complete web site, put in all the info and clock in … same in the afternoon … in the midst of trying to get off a “necessary” piece of medical transcription and all of a sudden remember that I didn’t clock out on time. Either have to rearrange my time during the week or get the lecture. I work on my own time and have for years to get the job done. I am of the old school (66) and pride myself on doing my job as correctly as possible and doing exactly what the physicians expect. (None of the ones that I transcribe for are partners, so have no pull … just know they do NOT want to use the Dragon system or an outside service that some of the docs use … so, will get myself a small alarm device, clock in and out by that and continue to work as I have for the next 4 years until I retire (yep, finally going to to it at 70.) I appreciate everyone’s comments but I don’t feel that all the facts were taken into consideration and that is my fault because I just gave part of the “cake,” not all the goodies that have to go into the finished product.

  18. Riki

    2 – ITA with the advice given. In addition to ramping up your job search, I think it would be extremely beneficial for you to explore ways to help repair the damage this job has done to your self esteem. Trying to cope with a job you dislike and/or job hunting can feel impossible when you are depressed. I find that meditation does wonders for me, but anything that makes you feel good will do (e.g. therapy, volunteering, training for an event, a new hobby, etc.).

  19. JM

    For most part I have my resume on my linkedin profile? Is that what everyone does? Any thoughts?

  20. Carrie in Scotland

    To OP 3: I was just you in an interview last week. I got asked what would I do in a situation involving a parent phoning up and inquiring about the whereabouts of their child. I gave some sort of answer (I wasn’t too sure where they were headed) and the answer was ever so obvious when they said it (couldn’t tell a parent anything as it was against the Data Protection Act – which I use in my current job!) and when anyone asked me how it went I said “Ok but I could have answered some questions better” – well I only went and got the job! Please don’t stress too much and good luck with your third round interview!

  21. TP

    #2 – I feel your pain. I hated my last job and spent two years trying to get into what I thought was my dream place to work. I finally made it happen, but the new job has quickly soured. After 8 months, I’ve decided to start looking. Despite all this, I’m still glad I made the switch because career-wise it’s the right path that’s going to lead me to a better place. I know there’s no guarantee the next job is going to be great, but I will surely take what I’ve learned interviewing for my current job in order to avoid a repeat as best I can. You have to make moves to get yourself ahead (whether it’s improving your current situation or going elsewhere). Otherwise you only have yourself to blame. Good luck and hang in there!

  22. KB

    Interviewee in #3

    Thanks so much for addressing my question. My final interview is tomorrow, so I’m especially appreciative! I’ve decided not to force it into the conversation, but I would like to try to steer the conversation to address it if possible. While I appreciate the company’s thoroughness in trying to determine that I will be a good fit, the drawn out process has given me A LOT of time to overthink the first two interviews so I’ve been driving myself a bit crazy thinking about what I “should” have said in many instances.

  23. Susan

    Thanks to everyone for their comments. I really like my own alarm clock suggestion the best. Going to go today and get me one … will set it for 8:00 (even though I am in by 6-6:30) and will set it again for 5:00 (even though I am usually here to 7:00 or later). That way I can comply with the 40 ONLY and won’t have to depend on management (who from past experience will FORGET and I won’t get a paycheck.)

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