my coworker spread a rumor that I have racist tattoos, what to expect in a third interview, and more

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

1. My coworker spread a false rumor that I have racist tattoos

I was recently tipped off to a rumor going around the workplace about me, created by a person in a supervisory position above me, saying that I have tattoos of swastikas on my chest (which I do NOT). I have no idea how far this spread before it got to me, but I was made aware of it in front of a room of my peers when I was conducting a training module that involved distribution of temporary tattoos (which sparked a coworker to tell me of the rumor). I do have tattoos on my upper chest, but they have no similarities to swastikas. I have no affiliations with any racially motivated organizations and don’t socialize with any coworkers outside of work.

I alerted my immediate supervisor of this rumor and asked for assistance. How should I proceed? Should I retain an attorney? Will my reputation recover? What does the law say about people in positions of power spreading false rumors about their subservient employees?

The law provides remedies for defamation of character by anyone (there’s nothing special for people in positions of power), but more to the point, why not go talk to the source of the rumor directly and ask them why on earth they think that about you? Express shock and disgust at the prospect, tell them that you’re horrified that they’ve told people this about you, and say you’d like them to correct the record with people this has spread to. Say that you’re concerned that this has falsely damaged your reputation, and ask what they plan to do to fix it. If you’re not satisfied with their response, I’d talk with HR and tell them you’re concerned about the impact of this on your reputation and standing.

It’s certainly possible that you could explore legal remedies with a lawyer, but you’d have to prove damages and there might be a more direct (and less expensive and less time-consuming) way of fixing this by just talking with the people involved.

2. My manager took away an opportunity I was excited about

I’m an HR manager, and I recently attended an Interviewing Skills for Line Managers training session with a few other managers. They appreciated the information, got a lot of value out of the session and indicated it was time very well spent. I then dedicated a lot of time and energy to taking what we’d learned in that presentation and combining it with our current training deck to create a more comprehensive Interview Skills/Recruitment Training session for all managers. During this project, my manager asked if I would be interested in rolling this out to our other offices and presenting the workshop globally (we have three other global locations). Of course, I said yes.

Fast forward a few weeks, and my boss has told my colleagues that this training can be presented by HR locally (with some fine-tuning per local legislation) and she wants me to present the session to my team, who will present it as their own.

Part of me wants to speak with my manager and ask why all of my hard work is being passed over to someone else and I am not getting this opportunity anymore, but part of me thinks that would be viewed as petty. I don’t want it to look like I have a problem with withholding information or that I’m not a team player. I feel like I am always sharing my knowledge, articles, ideas and time with my small team but am being overlooked and under appreciated in this instance. Do you have any suggestions? Is there a point asking my manager why?

It sounds like your manager thinks this will be a more efficient way of spreading the information, rather than you having to travel to each of the other offices. If that’s correct, that’s a pretty reasonable position and isn’t about overlooking/under-appreciating your work, but just about making a decision that makes the most sense for your company.

If you genuinely believe that it’s better for your company for you to do all the trainings yourself (for instance, if that would save others significant amounts of time), you could present that argument to your manager. Hell, even if you were just really excited to do it yourself and saw this as a growth opportunity, you could mention that and see if she’s willing to let you proceed as planned. But I wouldn’t look at this as a slight to you or as something unfair, because it doesn’t sound like that’s the case.

3. Applying for a job when I’m also on the hiring committee for it

I’m on the board of an organization that’s hiring an executive director. as the board chair and the person currently functioning as the interim ED, I’m on the hiring committee and am one of two people who will be conducting phone interviews over the next couple of days.

I would like to apply for the job and plan to clearly state that while I’m excited to apply, as a board member, I want them to be as unbiased as possible and hire the best candidate for the job. I’m coming into the process late, but we have a rolling deadline and I think my application would be competitive. Is it legally questionable to apply at this point? Is it legally questionable to partake in the phone interviews if I know I’m going to apply? (Note: we asked if any other board members could join us already and they all declined.) Regardless, do I need to submit my application in advance of the phone interviews?

In case it’s useful information, I am applying at this late date because I’ve gone back and forth a lot about whether or not to apply and because I wasn’t planning on applying if we had some applicants who I thought were really fantastic. Although some of the candidates are strong, I think I could be of better service to the organization.

None of this is legally questionable — the law doesn’t prevent board members or people involved in the hiring process from being candidates themselves. What matters is simply that the organization have a fair process that produces the best hire, and that others involved (board members, staff, members, and to a lesser extent, other candidates) don’t perceive the process to be have been unfair or biased.

That means that you should tell your fellow board members ASAP that you plan to throw your hat in the ring and ask if they’d like you to recuse yourself from the hiring process. Ideally you’d remove yourself from the process altogether; it might be too late to do that for the phone interviews scheduled for the next few days, but you should give them the opportunity to make different arrangements.

4. What to expect in a third interview

I had a first interview with the hiring manager and two potential coworkers that was more of a technical interview. I was then called back for a second interview with the full search committee, where I met with about 12 people across different departments that I’d interact regularly with. I’m definitely not used to being interviewed by 12 people in a room, but everyone was very nice (no stress interview tactics) and I felt like I did a really good job. If nothing else, it confirmed that I really wanted to work with these people.

At the end of the second interview, the hiring manager told me they had a few more candidates to interview, and then they would contact the references of their first choice. I didn’t hear anything for about two weeks, and my references confirmed no one had called them, so I just assumed they had gone with another candidate, and did my best to put the job out of mind.

Flash forward to last Friday, when they suddenly asked to set up a third interview between me and the department director (the hiring manager’s boss). I’ve actually never had a third interview before, so I have no idea what to expect. I’m trying to get prepared, but I’m not sure if this is going to be a technical interview (seems weird for a director to do), or more of a personality fit kind of interview. I know this is the annoyingly broad kind of question you probably hate, but can you give me any idea of what I should expect?

In general, I’d expect less of a technical focus, but beyond that it could be anything — it could be a basic “get to know you”/personality/culture fit kind of thing, or it could delving into your background, or it could be exploring how you’d handle particular situations or challenges. It just depends on what this particular interviewer is interested in assessing. Also, don’t assume it won’t cover some of the same ground you covered with others earlier — it very well might, because some interviewers like to do their own assessments rather than relying on reports from others.

5. Putting graduate-level GPA on a resume but not the undergrad GPA

I recently finished my master’s degree with a 3.67 GPA. I didn’t perform as well during my bachelor’s degree (below 3.0) however because I was working full time throughout it. My first question is whether a 3.67 is a good enough graduate school GPA to include on a resume? And second is if I do include my master’s GPA, is it necessary for me to also include my bachelor’s GPA? I’m not sure how it would look if I only listed my most recent GPA.

For undergrad, I don’t suggest including any GPA lower than 3.7 on a resume. But at the graduate level, a 3.7 GPA is good but probably not resume-worthy — since in many programs you need a 3.5 just to stay in. So I’d leave both of them off. (And in fact, I probably would have suggested leaving them both off even if you had a 4.0 for your masters, simply because most employers care even less about graduate GPAs than they do about undergraduate ones — with some exceptions, like law firms.)

{ 204 comments… read them below }

  1. Purr purr purr

    OP1, I’ve been in a similar situation. I used to have a work colleague who was a pathological liar and I was her favourite target. She used to make up rumours about me that were just as damaging to my reputation as the rumours about you and your tattoos. I was in that situation for three years and was able to try different responses. If someone is going to lie about you in such a serious way then talking to them will do no good, they’ll just lie and deny. Also, I found confronting my person made it worse. Obviously your person may be different and a confrontation would work but don’t rely on it.

    Honestly, I think the best thing you can do is talk to the person who told you and ask if they’d be willing to confirm what was said if HR asked. Regardless of that person’s answer, I’d still tell HR what has happened. Perhaps the other person’s contribution means any complaint will carry more weight than just your voice alone. I’d also talk to your manager about it. Hopefully your company has strict bullying guidelines and procedures.

    Even now, three years after I allowed myself to be driven out of that job, I think back at how I could have handled things differently. I reasoned with her, confronted her, etc and none of them worked because people like this can’t be reasoned with and they probably have experience at being confronted already. Since no-one was willing to tell HR what they had been told, I assumed no-one would believe me since it was my word against hers and she’d (mostly) been careful about only saying the worst things when it was just me and her alone. I wish I had gone to HR now because it kills me that she has a high level of responsibility in a job I loved. If I could go back in time, I’d go to HR and make her face the situation she created. I lost so many friends because of her and even my boyfriend and an ex-boyfriend began to believe that it was actually me who was the liar because of the rubbish she spouted.

    So basically, try and officially nip this rumour in the bud and also the person who started the rumour because this sort of thing can grow heads…

      1. Mallory

        Awful. Very important message that bullies, by their nature, can’t be talked to or reasoned with. Best to document and sadly apply elsewhere.

    1. Sloop

      I would go to HR, right now, and bypass the person saying this junk about you. (S)he seems to be immature and dishonest at best, and it doesn’t sound like they can be reasoned with. Because this person is senior to you, your boss didn’t really help, and the rumor is persisting, I’d want a record of this in writing.

    2. Not So NewReader

      Purr- this is awful. I am so sorry this happened to you. I hope that time has been/ will be kind to you and you land in a much better place.

      Just a general comment, that may not apply to you and may not work for everyone. I have been caught in those one-on-ones where things are said that never, ever should be said. Oddly, I found that if I repeated back what the person just said that seemed jarring to them.
      It looks something like this:

      Snotty person: “NSNR, I think A, B, and C about you. Additionally I heard X about you.”
      Me: “Oh so you are telling me that you think I am A, B and C. And you heard X about me. I see…..” [I let my voice trail off, so the stuttering and stumbling can begin]
      Snotty person: “Well I didn’t mean it THAT way, I meant D and E.”
      Me: “Oh okay, so you are telling me that D and E is a problem.”
      Snotty person: “Well, no, not really.”

      Notice here, that I have done nothing but repeat what was said. I like this method because I don’t have to out think or out maneuver the snotty person. I am comfortable with myself because I am aiming to find out the problem and solve it. I can land on “Well, when you figure out where the problem is, let’s get together and hammer out a solution.”

      But, yeah, those one-on-one situations are where some of the nastiest stuff happens.

      1. Mike C.

        What is it with these complicated rhetorical games that always pop up when there are uncomfortable social situations? Address this stuff directly with managers and HR. Don’t dance around the issue and don’t try to “outwit” some jerk who molds reality as they see fit. They’re obviously more experienced at these games to begin with, and no script is going to reason them out of their terrible actions.

        1. fposte

          It’s not about reasoning them out of the actions, it’s about removing the reward for them. You don’t have to do this *instead* of talking to a a manager, but it can be very effective (and satisfying) to starve bullying so that it turns into something else. It also can potentially result in a better working relationship with the annoyance than if s/he stopped just because of the risk of getting in trouble–or felt there really wasn’t a risk of getting into trouble.

          I know sometimes scripts are suggested with the intent of avoiding confrontation, but I don’t think this is one of them, and it can be really helpful to have a go-to when people say things to you that leave your mouth agape.

          1. CanIPost

            Yes, exactly. It’s about removing the reward. This method is a tried and true method for handling a confrontation, not to avoid it, but to deal with it in a way that doesn’t give the bully what they want, which is for you to get upset in some way, or yell at them, or tell them off, even.

            1. Mike C.

              Having someone going around and convincing other people in your peer group that you’re a secret white power junkie means that the damage has already been done. The bully is damaging your reputation behind your back and they already have their reward. That’s why you need to keep going up the food chain until this stops and is recognized as the lie that it is.

              1. fposte

                And that’s a possibility too, and presumably you’re talking from your experience. What Not So New Reader describes as her experience jibes with mine–that there are situations where neutralizing somebody is really effective. It might not be your thing, but it’s worth mentioning for people who would find it useful.

                1. hildi

                  I think it’s also about getting the bully/other person to respond TO YOU, rather than them dropping a bomb and you responding to them.

                  By NSNR’s example the original goal of the snotty person is to have you respond to them when they said the horrible A,B,C. That’s their goal, they are playing the abuse game and hoping you will react according to their script. But by you not taking the bait they are dangling you are responding with your own question (that’s just one technique) repeating back exactly what they said. Now the snotty person finds herself in a position to have to respond to you (the original target). What they were expecting is that you would have gotten defensive or you would counterattack. Bullies know what to do with people that defend or counterattack. Their momentum is knocked off course by you not responding in the way they were expecting. Then you can wrest a little bit of control back from the conversation.

                2. fposte

                  Yes, good point–you’re remaking them from subject to object. It’s really destabilizing. It always makes me think of the martial arts “yield to conquer” notion.

                  In the OP’s situation, she’s not being directly addressed, so I don’t know that it could work for her. But in a one to one, it can really rebalance the power dynamics to do something like this.

                3. hildi

                  Good point – for OP’s situation this probably won’t help the overall problem. But if OP does decide to take Alison’s advice and confront the person, this knowledge of “don’t take the bait” could be something to keep in mind.

                  I suspect there are variances of this general principle in many areas of life (I take mine from customer service class I teach; yours from martial arts. Principles usually work when applied in the right context).

          2. Mike C.

            The script relies on the idea that the liar will back down immediately. That’s never been the case in my experience. They’ll just deny and try to make you sound like a crazy person, and “because the truth is always in the middle”, you’ll come off as just a little crazy. Then they’ll lie about what happened to other people.

            1. Arbynka

              I agree. When you get involved with people like that, they drag you to their level and beat you with experience.

            2. Laura2

              Yep. The OP should go to HR right now and get this on the record, because dealing with this person without a third party is just going to make things worse. No one accidentally tells people you have Nazi tattoos when you don’t, and anyone who thinks that’s a cool lie to tell is likely to escalate. Next thing you know they’ll be a rumor that OP threatened her family.

            3. alfie

              I’m in a similar situation with my direct supervisor and I completely agree — people like this have no shame and a lot more experience than the target. Go over and around them. Engaging them as though they have any sort of moral compass or that they can be appealed to with reason is the wrong tack in my opinion.

          3. Elizabeth West

            Removing the reward is where it’s at. There was a bully at Exjob who would ask me these questions disguised as teasing but that were really a put-down, and I would just answer them with a straight face as though they were serious questions. It took the wind right out of his sails and he would stop after that. I would always have to hold back a smile or turn away, because he HATED that and it was so much fun to pop his little mean bubble.

            1. Crow T. Robot

              Ha! That sounds amazing. I’m trying to picture how this would play out in actuality. Do you have a specific example you can remember?

              1. Elizabeth West

                The only one I can think of right now (sorry, my ear is completely clogged up and it’s messing with my head) is that I was talking to another person about a meetup group I had joined, and he would keep asking me “So are you going to your Lonely Hearts Club tonight?” I know that doesn’t sound particularly egregious, but he wanted me to get flustered and say “It’s not a lonely hearts club.” I said that ONE TIME (calmly), and after that, I just said “No, they don’t meet every week,” or something like that. He couldn’t tease me about it when I answered that way, and he would subside. He did the same thing with other topics and with other people.

                I could write a book about all the other stuff he pulled. :P

            2. Jenna

              Computer mode is my usual solution, as well. I am not good at witty comebacks or snark, so I just treat it as a serious question, or if it is really off the wall, just pause, and look at them while I come up with a sensible and low key thing to say. Many of these bullies want an emotional reaction, like a cat playing with a toy. It’s more fun if you react.
              Unfortunately, people like this usually find another target if you are boring to them. They aren’t good for the organization and I start looking around for the reason they are still around. Are they good at hiding it from the people who have power? Are they considered irreplaceable for some reason? Sometimes it is fixable if you do something or say something, and sometimes all you can do is save yourself and get out.

        2. Laura2

          Just going to follow you around today agreeing.

          A lot of people seem to think that jerks, bullies, rumor-mongers etc. are not smart or clever and that they’ll be easily disarmed by some quick-witted comebacks. I’ve found more often that they know exactly what they’re doing and are adept at using people’s words against them.

    3. GrumpyBoss

      Glad you got out of there. I am sooooo sorry you had to go through this.

      Stories like this reminds me of some of the best advice my father gave me: You cannot reason with an unreasonable person. Removing yourself from the situation is sometimes the only option.

    4. AMG

      OP and Alison, I would really like to see an update and hear how this turns out. I really hope it works out in your favor.

    5. Melissa

      “Since no-one was willing to tell HR what they had been told, I assumed no-one would believe me since it was my word against hers and she’d (mostly) been careful about only saying the worst things when it was just me and her alone.”

      This is so crazy. Why wouldn’t anyone go to HR? All they would have to do is say “This is what Sally told me.” I mean, I think about it like this: if the tables were turned and someone was making up ridiculous, damaging rumors about me for no reason at all, I’d want someone to back me up and tell the truth about that person. Or, at the very least, just be willing to recount the conversations as they happened.

      1. Purr purr purr

        Exactly. I couldn’t understand it either, especially since those who refused were people who were also friends. If the roles had been reversed, I’d have gone to HR for them. I can understand not wanting to get involved in drama but by doing nothing they allowed it to continue for me. The rumours were awful too and didn’t just damage my personal reputation but also my professional reputation.

        Ah well, hopefully karma will rear its head for her…

        1. krisl

          I think they were afraid the person would start making up lies about them if they reported it.

          1. Purr purr purr

            That’s entirely possible. Another colleague had gone to university with this woman where she’d displayed the same lying behaviour. I think -armed with the knowledge that she had already done that to two people – it would have been a valid concern. Still, if they had reported it then it would have been on her file and subsequent complaints about her would have been taken even more seriously.

  2. Dan

    #5

    I’d say half of the interviews I had out of grad school were asking about my GPA.

    In my field, AAM is certainly right — grad school GPA isn’t that big of a deal. What matters far more to me is what kind of projects you worked on in school — doesn’t matter whether its classwork or internships.

    I do data analytics — I want to know that you’ve worked with real world data, understand that it’s dirty, and what to do about it. I want to know that you know how to use “industrial strength” analytics tools. (Excel isn’t going to cut it.) I want to know that you’ve got some basic coding skills.

    So yeah. GPA with no “real” world exposure doesn’t mean a whole lot to me. If you have the exposure I want, then a high GPA is a plus. But if you’ve got impressive technical skills, I may very well not even ask about your GPA.

    1. Melissa

      This. I have a pretty average undergrad GPA (3.42) but that’s because I was more concerned with learning than my grades in college, and I spent a lot of time trying different new things and prioritizing classes. In some classes, a B was just fine for me. And by the time I graduated, I had some solid advanced analytic skills and was an excellent writer.

      But that’s also because my undergrad college didn’t have rampant grade inflation – even with a 3.42 I still graduated with honors, because that was above-average there. A B was genuinely good work, and an A was a level of excellence I just didn’t bother wanting to achieve in some classes.

  3. ADOA

    Re: grad gpa. I apply for faculty positions and include my UG gpa of 3.7 and grad gpa, also 3.7. I think it depends…but doesn’t hurt. I could see including the UG in the OP’s case since it shows improvement.

    Really depends on the field and type of job imo.

    1. Sarabeth

      Hm. I read applications for faculty positions (as a member of a faculty search committee) and would find it odd to see a graduate GPA, and very very odd to see an undergrad GPA. I’m in the humanities; it may be different in the sciences, or outside the US.

      1. LAI

        I’m with Sarabeth. I’m at a university in the US and GPAs of any kind of a resume/CV are unusual. Personally, I do include a brief line with a couple of my highest honors and awards, which basically indicates the range of my GPA.

        And I would definitely not recommend putting an undergrad GPA that is below 3.0 on your resume/CV, in any field.

      2. Beebs

        Agree with Sarabeth 100%. GPAs on academic CVs would be useless at best and probably weird. And in my field (a liberal arts discipline) an A- in grad school was a cause for worry . . . anything less that that was a flat-out red flag. So a 3.7 graduate GPA would actually be the opposite of impressive.

        1. Melissa

          Yes, I’m in the social sciences and a GPA (grad or undergrad) on a CV would be weird. Most faculty positions I know of don’t even ask for transcripts.

      3. W.R.

        Hi there. I was the person who asked the GPA question initially. Thanks for the comments, they’ve been very helpful! So yeah, I probably won’t be including GPAs. What I have been doing lately is including all the extracurricular work I did throughout grad school (presenting at conferences, subbing for profs, tutoring, assisting profs with research, etc.). I’m hoping that’s more useful than a GPA.

  4. Peridot

    In my most structured interview process, I had a total of 5 interviews:
    – phone screen from internal recruiter
    – phone screen with potential coworkers
    – in-person interview with middle management
    – in-person interview with senior management (head of division)
    – in-person interview with director
    While middle management ran scenarios to see if I had transferable skills, the senior manager wanted to see how I would think strategically. Interestingly enough, the director really dug into my technical expertise.
    So, if my experience has anything to add, it’s to echo Alison to say it could be anything.

    Is there anyone at the company that you could ask about who you’ll be meeting with? He or she might be able to tell you about the interviewer’s priorities. Even if the hiring manager gives you a name, I’d recommend trying to stealthily google the person’s interests (which you may already be doing for prep)- if nothing more than to come up with good questions.

    1. Jen RO

      In my latest job search, I had 4 interviews for a job I ended up turning down:
      1. HR
      2. The person currently holding the position (they were hiring a second person to work with him).
      3. The product manager (working closely with people in this position).
      4. The hiring manager.

      The questions were very similar in all interviews and they were very generic – what I did at previous jobs, why I wanted to leave, and so on. (But it wasn’t until the last interview when someone explained what the job was envisioned to be… i.e. something I didn’t see myself doing!)

  5. MK

    OP3, while there is nothing wrong with applying for the position, I have to disagree with Alison about staying on the hiring committee; I was very surprised with her answer. Being both a candidate and a person who makes the hiring decision is rediculous. There is no way that anyone who learns of this won’t think that it’s a classic case of “internal candidate was always going to get the job, the interviews were for show”; if I was a candidate and learned about this, I would feel like a fool: the person who was evaluating me was also my competitor? Talk about a rigged vote!

    I believe that you are sincere about being impartial when evaluating the other candidates, but taking your personal bias out of decision-making is not as easy as all that, even when you there is no question of personal gain. And the fact of the matter is, you are not impartial: you already think you are the best candidate. Even if you could prevent that from coloring your evaluation of the other candidates (which I don’t think is very reallistic thinking), you have a strong bias, as well as a big personal stake in the decision. At best, the appearence of unfairness is unavoidable.

    Also, I think this will make it extremely awkward for the other members of the hiring commitee. How can they debate freely about the relative merits of the candidates in front of one of the candidates? How can they trust your opinions about the other candidates, without offending you by implying you are not being fair? If it comes to a decision between you and another candidate, how is this going to be resolved?

    Apply, if you want, but resign from the hiring commitee at the same time.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      In an ideal set-up, I’d agree with you. But she’s the interim ED of what sounds like a small nonprofit, phone interviews start tomorrow, and other board members have said they can’t participate. I don’t think that she should be making the final hiring decision or be in on the later stages of discussions of candidates, but I don’t think it’s crazy for her to play a role in talking to candidates early on, particularly if as interim ED she’s the one who knows the role and the organization best.

      Hey, Dick Cheney did it.

      1. Monodon monoceros

        But even in the early conversations with candidates she could easily only move forward a few candidates that she knows she’s better qualified than (and leave better qualified candidates behind). Maybe she’s honest enough not to do that, but I’d worry that people might think it anyway.

        I think if she is really serious about wanting to apply, she should talk to the chair of the board immediately, postpone the phone interviews, and recuse herself from the hiring committee. If I was on the board, I would also want a little explanation from her at some point about why she decided to apply at such a late hour (i.e., right before phone interviews are scheduled.), mainly because I would be wondering how seriously she wanted it, what reservations she might be having that might have delayed her deciding to apply, etc. So OP might want to be ready to answer those questions.

        1. Mallory

          Totally agree- very questionable and if she got job,her presence on panel would lead others to question HOW she got job.

        2. Monodon monoceros

          I didn’t see that the OP is the chair of the board, but given that, I totally agree with majigail below that she should give up the chairmanship over to the vice-chair during the process.

        3. Claire

          Indeed. I’d find it very hard to trust in this application process given these circumstances.

      2. Mallory Janis Ian

        I know it’s not possible for OP #3 to go back in time and apply earlier in the process and understand her stated reasons for not doing so, but people at my state university would be so irritated if an applicant on the hiring committee threw their hat in the ring so late in the process. It would cause such a scramble to find a replacement, during which the phone screenings might have to be rescheduled, and people on the committee would wonder why the heck she didn’t apply before the 11th hour.

        I agree with AAM that OP needs to tell the hiring committee ASAP and say something to smooth over the appearance that she was cavalier about what a wrench she may have thrown into the process.

        1. Felicia

          I think another annoyance, at least for people I’ve worked with who’ve done hiring, was that the OP was allowed to apply so late in the process, when presumably no other candidate would be allowed. I know they’d be so concerned about showing favoritism that someone on the hiring committee would already be at a disadvantage, but not applying at the same time as other candidates would make it worse

          1. Claire

            OP did say that they have a rolling deadline, so presumably applications are still being accepted. That said, I still think it is not going to look good.

            1. Mallory Janis Ian

              Yeah, the rolling deadlines make it ostensibly okay to apply at anytime, but OP really needs to acknowledge that her application introduces a potentially complicated new wrinkle into the process. No groveling or over-apologizing, but a simple acknowledgement that she understands that it may complicate the situation somewhat; she needs to be prepared with some solutions including recusing herself from the process (not from the board itself as has been suggested) and being as involved or uninvolved as the committee would like her to be in recruiting an internal person to fill her role on the committee (not her role on the board).

      3. T

        But the unavailable board members don’t know that this person is interested in applying. I think if they have that information, they might become available by reorganizing their schedules or whatever. OP’s decision to apply is a definite game changer for all concerned and a clear conflict of interest even with the best of intentions.

    2. majigail

      I’d recommend getting off the committee and handing the chairmanship of the board over to the vice chair while the process is going through. Do this as soon as possible. It’s going to be hard for the other board members NOT to vote to hire one of their own, even if there are more qualified candidates. Also be sure to consider if you want to go from peer of the current board members to their employee. It’s a big change and I’ve seen it blow up way too many times.

      1. Amanda

        Also be sure to consider if you want to go from peer of the current board members to their employee. It’s a big change and I’ve seen it blow up way too many times.

        Agree 100%. OP3, please don’t be that board member! It’s going to be awkward with the other board members, and it will be awkward with the staff of the organization. I get that you care deeply about the organization, but that doesn’t automatically make you the best person for the ED job.

    3. Waiting Patiently

      Yes, I don’t think the OP should be able to apply for the position since it’s this late in the process and since now they would be doing some phone interviews. Since the OP went back and forth about whether or not to apply and now has decided to apply just days before phone interviews just doesn’t seem fair. And judging by the last paragraph, it almost seems calculated

      “because I’ve gone back and forth a lot about whether or not to apply and because I wasn’t planning on applying if we had some applicants who I thought were really fantastic. Although some of the candidates are strong, I think I could be of better service to the organization.”

      It seems she got to see her competition and feel it out and then toss her hat in the ring. Don’t we all wish we had this capability before sending tailoring and sending out our resumes and cover letters….
      While I know their are unfair advantages in the working world. This may not sit right with others.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

        Yeah, but the organization’s interest isn’t in fairness – it’s in getting the best person for the job. So if the rest of the board thinks she would be a strong candidate, they are going to want to find a way to make it possible to consider her.

        1. Monodon monoceros

          They should be thinking about the appearances and how that might affect how the new ED is perceived, though. If staff and stakeholders see the process as unfair, the new person might be working uphill for a long time. If the board thinks the OP is a viable candidate, and want to consider her, they should stop the process now and re-open the position. And the OP should step down from the board during the process.

        2. Waiting Patiently

          It just seems her timing is off. Why wait so close to the point where she couldn’t recuse herself from the telephone interviews. While she might not make the final decision it still doesn’t look right.

          A few years back, I was dillydallying around some board minutes from our website and came across how one position was filled–it implied that one lone candidate was hired for a job because no one else applied–when in fact the job was never posted. This person was more like ‘appointed ‘not hired as the best/strongest candidate . I digress because the person was really great at their job. But it did put a dent in the credibility …

  6. Stephanie

    #1 – That’s horrible. I’m sorry you’re going through that.

    #3 – If you’re going to apply, I’d recuse yourself. The conflict of interest would seem to be too great.

    #4 – I actually did three rounds of interviews for a call center role.

    For other jobs where I’ve had a third round, most of the time it’s been the final in-person after an HR screening and phone interview with the hiring manger. Earlier this year, I did do a third round interview (after an HR screen and a hiring manager phone interview) where I talked with my would-be boss’ boss. It was a little weird as it was more a casual chat than anything: after asking about my interest in the role, she started asking about things like how I liked my college and former city. It felt like a coffee chat and I hung up the phone like “Wait, crap. We talked about how nice fall is and she barely has any idea as to my professional accomplishments or aspirations.”

    #5 – My understanding is that a lot of grad school GPAs are inflated and thus employers don’t put much stock in them.

    1. Mimmy

      #5 – How are grad school GPAs inflated? Do you mean that job candidates say that their GPAs are higher than they really were? Sorry, that caught my eye and was hoping you weren’t referring to schools themselves.

    2. Koko

      Yes, my experience with third-round interviews has been that it’s a fairly unstructured chat with the head of the department, a few rungs above the hiring manager. At my own org, the only people brought in for this third interview are people that the hiring manager already wants to hire, and is basically bringing before the department head to get his buy-in/sign-off on the hire. The department head would only overrule or challenge the hiring manager’s choice if he detected a major personality incompatibility with the rest of the department culture, or a major conflict with the department’s philosophy of operating (such as: candidate really believes in trusting intuition and gut; department has a strong test-and-analyze culture).

      1. Stephanie

        Oh, interesting. That was my first time with a third-round interview that wasn’t super structured. I finished it, kind of worried, that half of it was spent on small talk. I ended up not getting the job in the end.

  7. Jill-be-Nimble

    #5: Leave it off. Most grad grades are inflated. In my program(s), an A+=A; A=B; B+=C; B=D; B-=F. If your grade for any two courses fell at a B or lower, you were let go from the program. I’m not saying that this goes for every program, but it was certainly true for me and most of my friends/acquaintances across the university. (And because I was the first in my family to graduate with an MA, my National Honor’s Student mom never really understood why I was on the phone sobbing about a B+ on a paper!)

    1. Mimmy

      Well this is disheartening to read :( I assumed it was just because of higher standards than in undergrad.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

        This is not at all consistent across schools and programs, so don’t worry too much about it. Every program is different. You just need to figure out what’s going on in your particular program. (Or not worry about it, if it’s a professional degree. Nobody cares what your MPP GPA is.)

        1. Mimmy

          Ahh okay…my Masters was a professional degree.

          I don’t mean to come across as egotistical, but I was just feeling a little crushed at the thought because I put a lot of work into my papers and projects and even got some great compliments on them. But then again, one paper was incorporated into a poster presentation put together by a separate faculty member for a conference later that year, so I guess my work wasn’t too shabby ;) ;)

        2. Turanga Leela

          Even within professional degrees, it sounds like this varies. A few people have said that law school GPAs can go on your resume, although I will say that I haven’t seen a lot of lawyers do this. FWIW, 3.7 would be an excellent GPA from most law schools.

      2. Elsajeni

        Well, I think there is an element of that. In a way, a grad program that boots you out for, say, getting more than one C is indicating that they have higher standards — you’ve got to consistently perform at or above 80% of expectations, or you’re out. But creating a policy like that can also lead instructors to feel like they’re supposed to give B’s to work that they consider “eh, just good enough to pass,” that might only earn a D in a program without that policy — that’s where the question of grade inflation comes in. Either way, though, a policy like that means that anyone who’s graduated from that program will have a fairly high GPA, so Alison’s right that it’s rarely worth highlighting.

    2. Monodon monoceros

      Yep, in my program anything less than a 4.o was seen as not good. You passed the class as long as you got an A or B, but it was really frowned upon to even get a B. Not sure what it took to get kicked out (was too stressed to think about that!)

      1. kdizzle

        Interesting. In my program (economics), getting less than a B was considered failing. I ‘failed’ and repeated two courses…along with 55% of others in my program. I was thrilled when I actually got through the second time with an A-, since half of the those who repeated the course again failed and were kicked to the curb. Just brutal.

      2. summercamper

        That’s really interesting! I work in academia (small, specialized graduate school) and we regularly encourage students to prioritize their field experience over their classes – it is WAY better for most of our students to end up with a C average and a 20 hrs/week field experience than to have a 4.0 and the minimum required field experience (roughly 5 hrs/week).

        I’m absolutely certain this difference is due to the fields of study. The “practical skills” emphasis is a big shock for students who come to our program after studying in a different discipline.

        1. Monodon monoceros

          Our main focus was supposed to be our research, too (field and lab). We just couldn’t use that as an excuse, and were still expected to get As.

      3. Koko

        Same with my grad program, and it was very telling because there was one major exemption. My field was sociology and demography, and our department was nationally recognized for the mathematical/statistical rigor of our program compared to many other social science programs. We were expected to get As or A-s in pretty much every theory course or research seminar, where you’re being graded primarily on papers you write, which is ultimately a fairly subjective system. So the excellent papers get As, the average ones get A-s, and the students who barely met the minimum got a B.

        The exception was our statistics courses. Because we were being graded on math problems which were objectively right or wrong, and one math error could trigger a lot of wrong solutions, and the professors understood we would obviously be reviewing calculations in a formal paper for a journal that we spend a year or more writing with a more rigor than a math/stats assignment that we spent a week on. Thus, it was well-known that you could get a C in stats and still be in good standing in the program. Because math is hard, yo.

    3. Ellie H

      I wouldn’t necessarily describe it as inflated, just on a different scale. Our academic standing bar is more than one grade below a B- (and/or more than one incomplete that isn’t made up within a semester). A lot of faculty think it’s too low. Of course, if someone got exclusively B-‘s or exclusively B’s the matter would be raised as well.

  8. Bea W

    #1 I’m curious why the OP thinks the rumour spreader is doing that. It’s just so bizarre and sick. What is she trying to accomplish? What did your supervisor say when you told her?

    #2 – If you did the presentations yourself, that would involve a lot of expense on global travel. From a business perspective it is more efficient and cost effective to have you conduct a “train the trainer” session locally and then have those people go back to their locations to train people at the global sites. It’s not personal or a reflection on your abilities or taking work away from you. It is just extremely expensive, especially if you are talking about locations overseas, to have you travel to each location. I am not sure how many locations we are talking about, but even one international trip can run at least a couple thousand dollars. Airfare between the US and Europe alone may be $1000 or more. That doesn’t factor in the cost of hotels, meals, and other business expenses.

    Are any locations in non-English speaking countries? If so, there is also benefit to having someone who can give the training and be available to answer questions in the native language. Even if the employees at the global locations also speak English, it is still easier for them to be trained in their own language. It will also allow people at local offices to conduct the training as many times as they need to rather than having just one shot at it while you are in town.

    You also mention there will be some tweaks base on local legislation, and people at the local level may be most familiar with those differences. I run into this all the time when I am presenting or training an international audience in my job. I imagine with HR and management understanding what those differences are is quite important. Your local presenters will be able to adjust their presentations individually to their own sites.

    I understand your disappointment, but from a business perspective, the decision really makes the most sense.

    1. OP2

      Thanks for your comment. You are spot on; I was just disappointed to miss an opportunity. It’s a lot of money and effort to send me around the world. I understand that there is a business to run!

  9. Liane

    For Bea W,
    OP 1 wrote that she was told of the rumor by a coworker, in front of peers, *and* the person spreading the rumor is a “person in a supervisory position above me.”

    I agree with you that this is bizarre, not to mention a very, very wrong thing to do.

      1. Bea W

        Yes, exactly. I’m wondering why the supervisor is spreading such an awful rumour. I don’t expect there’s a sane explanation for it. I just can’t wrap my head around why especially someone above the OP would do that. The OP didn’t mention there being any issues with this person or if she has a reputation for spreading rumours.

        Is there any chance the peer the info came from made it up? There’s that too, spreading rumours about someone spreading rumours.

        1. fposte

          Yes, I wondered that. It’s pretty weird for somebody to chirpily inquire if you have swastika tattoos in front of a group, and to have somebody like that *and* somebody who invented that notion in the first place is pushing coincidence for the number of loose cannons.

  10. Not So NewReader

    OP 1: I agree with the cautions about confronting the offending supervisor. If you feel that is the path you want to follow be sure to take someone with you as a witness to the conversation. Keep notes on what transpired.

    I would keep notes anyway, no matter who I discussed this matter with. Additionally, make sure you are SEEN taking notes. I think it is a good way to show how serious you are about this matter.

    As an aside- I have worked with many people with tattoos. I would never know that they had some on their chest unless they told me. If someone came to me and said “OP has racist tattoos on the chest.” The first thing I would say is “HOW do you know this?”

    Point being, you can enlist the help of the people that you work with by implanting the idea that they should ask the supervisor how s/he knows this to be true.

    The first comment by PurrPurrPurr is a very tragic story. And yet, we see it happen over and over. Set a time frame. If things do not improve or show the likelihood of improving, your next step might be to change departments or change jobs. Please keep that in mind and decide not to allow this to drag on and on. Also keep in mind that this is probably NOT personal. If you leave this supervisor will just find someone else to malign.

    Thank goodness someone told you. I hope people continue to inform you. To me, that could mean that you have allies.

  11. TotesMaGoats

    #3-Recuse yourself immediately. Have you seen the other applications? If you are have and you are going to apply, you need to back out now. Talk about insider trading. Tell your board immediately why you want to be a candidate. I don’t think you should be involved at any level of the hiring process if you are a candidate. Just smacks of unfair. And if the non-profit is small enough and a candidate bright enough, what if they find out their phone interview was done by a “fellow candidate” who subsequently got the job? Might not be sue-able but I would raise one heck of a stink about it.

    #5-Unless you are trying to teach at the college level or trying to get into a Big 5 accounting firm or law, there is no need to have your GPA on your resume. Doesn’t matter how good it is.

    1. De Minimis

      Heh heh…that was the exact field I was in where you needed to put the grad school GPA. You needed 3.5 most of the time, a lower GPA in the 3s was okay if you had extenuating circumstances like working full-time while in school. Below 3.0 you could probably forget it. Of course, like anywhere else if you had relevant work experience they would consider that more, although in that case you probably weren’t going to be a campus hire.

      Oh, and it hasn’t been Big 5 since Enron….although in the case of my former firm just about all of the upper management were ex-Andersen people.

      1. TotesMaGoats

        Chalk that up to my ignorance on the subject of finance companies and law. I’d seen other commentors use that phrase to refer to the bigger finance companies and was hoping it applied. Good to know.

        1. De Minimis

          It’s not exactly on the radar screen of people outside the field…and Enron was over a decade ago!

          I remember it still being the Big Six. There is always speculation about whether they’ll lose one more and have it down to three. Think it would be difficult to have fewer than three from a regulatory standpoint, unless they had a massive overhaul in laws/standards.

            1. De Minimis

              There’s always a sky-is-falling thing about ongoing litigation causing one of them to either fail or be acquired. If I remember right, KPMG has always been a way distant fourth at least in the US, and the speculation has been that they might be scooped up by one of the other three, at least here. With the others I think the concern is that you might see an Enron situation where they lose a lawsuit where the penalties are too much to absorb.

    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      “Might not be sue-able but I would raise one heck of a stink about it.”

      But to who? As a candidate, you’re not entitled to a fair process, and companies make unfair or biased hiring decisions all the time. The organization doesn’t care about what outside candidates think nearly as much as they care about getting the right person for the job.

      1. TotesMaGoats

        I’m not sure to who, to be honest. That’s just gut reaction. Letter to the editor of the local paper. Who knows. Right thing to do? Worth the time? Probably not. Not saying that’s what you should do. I get that employers want the right person for the job and it may be that the OP is the right person. But I don’t think it’s at all above board for her to have seen the other applications and then decide to apply.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          I don’t think her seeing the applications is an issue. If anything, it would be her involvement in assessing other candidates that could be called into question. But simply seeing the applications isn’t a problem in and of itself.

      2. HM in Atlanta

        If it’s a non-profit, wouldn’t they need to be worried about offending donors, sponsors, and potential donors with the appearance of impropriety? Especially if this is the ED position?

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          It really depends on whether she’s an obviously strong candidate. If she’s not, then sure. But if she’s a strong candidate and it’s clear why they might have hired her, this isn’t the kind of thing that’s likely to get donors and sponsors riled up — particularly at a small organization where people often have their hands in all sorts of different areas by necessity.

          And frankly, as a known quantity who’s currently performing the job as the interim ED, she has the inside track on the job anyway, regardless of how she is or isn’t involved in the hiring process — and most people on the outside are likely to assume that she would have been the obvious pick regardless. (Whether or not that’s the right assumption to make or the right way to hire is a different issue — but most people aren’t scandalized by the thought of making the person currently doing the job your default pick against whom all other outside candidates are judged.)

  12. anon

    #1 OP admits he has tattoos in that location so I would give anyone making that claim the benefit of the doubt since they might have seen it at a distance or angle and made a mistake. Or it could have been a bad game of telephone, remember that post a week or so ago about the hearsay of sexist remarks by the VP?

    1. Waiting Patiently

      See this doesn’t make sense. You need to be 100% certain before accusing someone of being racist. I guess, I ‘m different I’ve learned to not give rumors the benefit of the doubt unless I see it for myself. If someone tells me something about them- yes, I give the benefit of the doubt but not when they make claims about someone else.
      Oh this gets me.
      A few years ago, I was at a company event for families and I had a tall can in my (ice tea). And a busy body, after I guess fighting back her urges to find out what I had, must have said something to my supervisor about what was in my hand. Well my supervisor, just casually asked me about the drink and after I showed her what I had–Ms Busy Body chimed in “oh, I thought that was beer” I just turned and walked away.
      From that point on, I can’t stomach to look at that co-worker. She always tries to make small talk with me and I just cut her off with a a friendly smile and small chit no chat. I’ve learned that that is how she is, she seems harmless enough but her own ignorance about things just gets underneath my skin. I think it’s moreso her ignorance so I cut her that much slack.

      A year ago, I started wearing my hair natural. Our bathroom is in the middle of the hallway, next to her room (staff and visitors (parents, grandmothers, uncles, friends whoever drops off a kid uses it). So I go into the bathroom and within 1 minute, this lunatic is banging on the door. When I come out, and ask her what was the problem she said she thought she saw someone she didn’t recognize going in…*blank stare* There are tons of people coming in and out all day that I don’t necessarily recognize but not Ms. Busy Body–she need to know who what and when. I’m not sure if she has been dubbed our 4th layer of security there (since we have security cameras and are only instructed to let in people we know) So it’s like Fort Knox already…so pretty 100% of the people who are in the building–should be there for some purpose….
      I digresss..

    2. Rayner

      But announcing that someone has tattoos that are innocent (even if they’re incorrect – saying they have a tiger instead of a wolf for example), is one thing. Saying that they have something so phenomenally inappropriate as a rumor round the office is quite something else.

      If that person had a problem with what they thought they saw, (like the question a while back with a co-worker’s tattoo that was violent and sexist) they should have taken it to a manager or addressed it with the OP directly. Not spread a rumor that the OP has a tattoo that is highly offensive to the point of career suicide.

      1. Cat

        I can imagine a lot of scenarios ranging from the malicious to the mistaken-but-relatively-innocent. We’ve covered the malicious. On the other end of the spectrum, imagine you have an employee who has a pre-existing sensitivity to neo-Nazi groups for some reason who caught a glimpse of tattoos that they thought looked like racist symbols. They told a trusted co-worker about it and asked if that was something to be concerned about; the trusted co-worker told someone else but twisted the details just slightly by mistake, and it spiraled out of control.

        Nobody in the second scenario handled that the right way but that’s not bullying either; and without knowing the office or the people involved, I think this one is hard to get a read on.

        1. M

          If you tell a “trusted” coworker that you THINK you MIGHT have seen a swastika tattoo, and then suddenly the whole office is saying you saw a swastika tattoo, you completely misplaced your trust, and this is still entirely your fault. You still started a vicious rumor, based on nothing. This wouldn’t have happened if you had 1) asked the person directly 2) gone to a competent manager or 3) gone to HR.

          Adults in the workplace need to take responsibility for their actions, including gossiping. It’s not ok to ruin someone’s reputation then say “oops! Honest mistake!”

    3. Mike C.

      Uh, no. You don’t give lying sacks of garbage like this “the benefit of the doubt”. This isn’t some after-school special were once the air is cleared everyone learns a very important lesson and hugs it out. This jerk, for political benefit, for their personal amusement, for whatever is actively harming the OP. You don’t treat people like this as if they’re acting in good faith because that’s how they’re able to keep doing what they’re doing.

      1. De Minimis

        I agree, this is way past “benefit of the doubt.” This sounds like really malicious rumormongering to me.

      2. anon

        But you haven’t explained how this is any different than hearing second that someone made sexist comments and telling others that.

        1. Kelly L.

          I’m beginning to think you’re arguing in bad faith and trying to advance an agenda re: a different post.

          You might recall that in that post, (a) Alison recommended transparency about the fact that it was secondhand, (b) a lot of the commenters recommended trying to encourage the people who actually heard it to report it, rather than the LW, and (c) that all of the advice involved official channels rather than just putting it on blast to the whole workplace.

        2. GrumpyBoss

          The biggest difference between the two:

          The sexist comments were general. They were not, “Jenny is a bad manager because she is a female”. He said something loudly at a happy hour gathering that the LW heard about second hand.

          This comment is about the OP specifically. These comments are about an individual, not a generalization, and has an immediate impact.

          They are both jerks, but one requires immediate action as the comments impacts an individual directly.

          1. Kelly L.

            I think Anon is casting the sexist manager as the analog to today’s LW–i.e. claiming that reporting his sexist comments to HR is exactly the same as starting a false rumor about racist tattoos.

            1. GrumpyBoss

              Ugh. No.

              But – that is exactly why I was saying in that thread about why HR wouldn’t act on the hearsay of that manager making sexist comments. People make crap up.

        3. M

          Ya, no one addressed that, because it was irrelevant. It’s not ok to spread rumors about someone in either scenario. It wasn’t ok then, and it’s not ok now.

          OP’s coworker did something wrong. There is no benefit of the doubt here. Even if he THOUGHT he saw that tattoo from some weird angle (when in the work place do you clearly see a coworkers chest, by the way? I would think his view would be questionable at best, meaning he should have known he likely wasn’t seeing what he thought he saw) it is completely and utterly inexcusable to spread that around without knowing the facts.

          Spreading malicious rumors isn’t ok just because you think they might be true.

    4. Chloe Silverado

      It would be one thing if the question was “My co-worker recently caught a glimpse of my tattoos, and I think she believes they are a racist symbol. Since then, she has been treating me very differently. How do I handle this?” In that situation, I could buy that the OP’s co-worker made an honest mistake that subsequently colored her interactions with the OP.

      In this situation, regardless of how the OP’s co-worker came to this conclusion, she decided to spread very damaging allegations about the OP to co-workers. The rumor was pervasive enough that someone felt comfortable bringing it up in front of an entire room full of people. In most situations I prefer to give the person the benefit of the doubt, but I think in this instance the OP’s co-worker is a bored gossip at best and a manipulative bully at worst. That’s just an enormous, potentially career damaging allegation to make without proof. The OP did the right thing alerting a supervisor and should address the rumor head on with the rest of the co-workers.

      1. JMegan

        Right. I have a friend who wears an iron cross medal on his jacket, and he occasionally has to explain to people that it’s not a swastika. So mistakes like this do happen. But mistake or not, the co-worker was wildly out of line in the way she handled the situation.

      2. Mints

        Yeah, or even less obvious tattoos like “13” related to gangs or “HH” related to neonazis, and the tattooee might notice weirdness and then want to clear the air and say “HH” is in honor of my grandmother Henrietta Hansen or something. But like, a swastika is so obvious, that it seems pretty clear it’s malicious

        (All my weird knowledge of gangs and too much time watching “Lockup” seems so relevant today)

    5. Brett

      Saying someone has tattoos is one thing. This particular type of tattoo though?
      At my place of employment, our dress code specifies that you will be terminated for racist tattoos. I’m sure we are not the only workplace like this either.

    6. Sourire

      Uh… WHAT?

      That’s like saying that if Bob saw John give Sally a ride home one day and he started spreading rumors that they were having an affair, you’d give Bob the benefit of the doubt because his interpretation *could* be legitimate.

      The telephone-game thing could be an explanation, but then you have a whole new can of worms… who took an innocent comment about tattoos and inserted the racism?

  13. Brett

    #5 Advice is dead on here. 3.67 is a pretty typical grad school GPA. I would absolutely leave off the undergrad GPA. It is not your most recent work, and having an undergrad GPA under 3.0 would raise questions about your grad school’s admissions process. (Many grad schools have a hard admissions cut at 3.0 GPA.)

    Your publications/presentations are more important to list.

    1. fposte

      Yeah, grad school grade inflation is pretty pervasive, so 3.67 there doesn’t mean what it would undergraduate to your readers (even if you’re in the rare program that doesn’t inflate, they’re not going to know that).

      1. Brett

        It is not just inflation. For many grad programs, you already have the people who carried 3.5-4.0 undergrad GPAs and now most of their coursework is in one field. The courses themselves are only marginally more difficult; the research work is the difficult part. Even if the grades are not inflated, they should be getting almost all A’s. If they are not, then they might not belong in that program.

        1. fposte

          I suppose that’s the reasoning in some programs, but given that it’s true even in programs where you couldn’t have specialized in undergrad and where the specialization message you describe isn’t part of the narrative, I’m thinking it’s mostly just inflation.

  14. Training Manager

    OP2 – As mentioned in the comment above, it does sound like you are now facilitating your material in a Train the Trainer (TtT) session which is very common and the most cost effective way to deliver material. What I would ask your boss is two things:

    1. If you can assist with training the other HR departments on the material around the regions via online TtT sessions.
    2. If you could be the main point of contact, or position yourself as the subject matter expert, for any questions that may arise as the other departments deliver this material. It is very common to revise material as more and more sessions are delivered so this would help you be the central resource for any addendum’s or modifications to the training.

    Either way do not be disappointed that you are not the one traveling to deliver the material, be pleased that your material is selected to be the foundation for what trainers will be using.

    1. misspiggy

      This is excellent advice. Also try to make sure your role in developing this material is highlighted in performance reviews.

    2. JMegan

      Also, it’s worth clarifying what the manager meant when she said “roll it out gobally.” Did she specifically say she was expecting you to travel? My guess is that she has always meant exactly what she is now proposing, that you develop a program for the global offices, and act as the point person as it is delivered locally.

      So I don’t think anything was taken away from you. Rather, I think your manager is giving you a really great opportunity to work on something you enjoy, that you’re good at, and that will be highly visible across the organization. Even without the travel, that still sounds like a pretty good deal to me!

      1. OP2

        JMegan: perhaps it was a miscommunication – I am in Australia and she is in the US so we have limited communication which can lead to confusion. We are a company that travels extensively, so perhaps I had assumed she meant that she wanted me to roll it out globally and present to everyone. I’m looking for ways to add more value than transactional pieces, so this is a great way to show my worth

        Training Manager: Excellent advice – sometimes all you need is another perspective! Thank you for taking the time to comment, this forum is amazing :)

  15. soitgoes

    Putting your GPA on your resume doesn’t prevent an interviewer from noticing that there’s a gap in your resume or that your past work experience isn’t very impressive, which I think might be what op5 is really asking about. We’ve all worked with someone who was mediocre in the workplace but bandied about his grad school status, as if that evened the score somehow. I’d avoid that kind of thing altogether.

  16. De Minimis

    #5 really depends on the field. If it’s something where there is a lot of campus recruitment I would definitely put it unless I had a lot of related work experience. My former employer used GPA as a quick way to weed out resumes to determine who got an initial interview, and there were a lot of grad students in there along with undergraduates.

    1. De Minimis

      Oh, and I think employers are generally more interested in your most recent schooling—once you go to grad school, your undergrad is probably not that important anymore, so I’d only put the most basic info about it.

      1. Puddin

        I just have to add this somewhere in today’s comments…I went to a school for BA and MBA with no grades. (The transcripts are a narrative of the work we did – kind of like a resume.) So glad I do not have these quandaries.

        1. Sophia

          Me too- my PhD program has pass/fail classes w faculty writing a narrative at the end of class.

  17. matcha123

    All I can say is good luck to OP#1.
    Something similar happened with my mom in a previous job where her supervisor spread a rumor about her and she heard about it from another coworker. That supervisor then used that to fire her.
    I don’t get people like that. It’s especially bad when it’s someone above you.

  18. Anonymous

    OP3 here. Thanks for all the additional comments and thoughts about my situation. FYI, I have recused myself from the process and am working to find others to do the interviews for the same reasons you all have pointed out. I am the board chair so I have discussed with the chair of the hiring committee that on any board conference calls where the hiring process needs to be discussed, I will step off the call and let her lead the meeting.

    Also, one specific: the job is still open to candidates and in fact, we just added another great candidate to the interview schedule last week. If we (now they, the hiring committee) receive other great candidates in the next week, they will still consider them.

    Finally, I’ve given a lot of thought to why I applied late and I actually think I was being a little unrealistically altruistic when I said that I wanted to see if there were any great candidates. That implies that I’ve applied now because I feel some egotistical need to step in and save the organization now since no one else is good enough to do it. In fact, there are some really great applicants and it took me so long to apply because the organization is in a pretty tough situation and the next few years are going to be really tough. In talking with the hiring committee, they’ve all asked why I waited so damn long and I’ve apologized profusely and then let them know that it just took me a long time to weigh the reality of the position with my passion for the organization.

    We’ll see. For now, I appreciate your thoughts!

    1. Mimmy

      Agreed with Monodon above me….I really do think this is the fairest option for everyone and are setting a really good example. Best of luck to you!!

  19. Brett

    #1 Because of the particular rumor, I think this needs to be actively handled beyond the workplace. As I mentioned above, having racist tattoos is not just grounds for termination at my workplace, but a mandatory termination (I work in public safety, so you can understand why). It can create severe social problems, even get you excluded from social organizations. This is the sort of thing that shows up on formal background checks and causes significant problems, even disqualification.

    1. sophiabrooks

      If that comes up, though, can’t he just take off his shirt and show that he does not have racist tattoos?

      1. Brett

        You made me look up our policy on tattoos to see how that is verified. They would have to get a photo taken of the tattoo and kept on file.
        The latter two situations are the more severe problems, though it certainly would not be pleasant to have to go through an investigation and body photography to keep your job because someone started a stupid rumor.

      2. The Real Ash

        Why should OP1 have to remove clothing to prove they don’t have those tattoos? Is their word not good enough? Why is the accuser’s word taken at face value (i.e. people automatically believe that the OP has racist tattoos), but the OP has to jump through hoops to prove they don’t?

        1. Cat

          I feel like this is one of those things that is complicated and that we haven’t really felt our way through as a society yet. Most of us now understand that we need to make things safe for people to report discrimination, whether racial, sexual, or other, to folks in authority. And because there is such a long history of belittling reports of discrimination against oppressed minorities, making it safe means that we need to treat those accusations with a level of seriousness that we haven’t in the past.

          The flip side is that sometimes people will report mistakenly and sometimes people will report maliciously; those are a huge minority of cases, but it’s hard to make reporting safe without also placing some burden on the accused to provide contrary evidence, which can be painful if it turns out it was a mistaken or malicious report.

          So if your policy says people are fired for racist tattoos, straight out, what kind of evidence do you require that someone has a racist tattoo? I think we can all agree that you don’t just say “I think X might have a racist tattoo; make him take his shirt off.” But “I heard from someone at my church”? Or “I saw what looked like a swastika through a sheer shirt”? Those are harder and I think sometimes you are going to have to investigate those even if they turn out not to be true.

          1. Kelly L.

            And I think that if the supervisor did believe in good faith that it was a swastika, she handled it all wrong–I would think a discreet discussion with HR would be a better idea than a whisper campaign.

          2. annie

            Just an FYI, as someone who works with a lot of tattooed folks, getting tattoos removed is extremely expensive, painful, time-consuming and sometimes just not physically possible. This is something that is a struggle in my city, where former gang members who have left the gang and turned their lives around are judged by tattoos that no longer reflect who they truly are as people. There are even some tattoo artists who will do service days where they ink over a former gang tattoo and turn it into something else, or the name of a woman’s abusive ex husband whom she no longer wants on her body, as a community service.

            I think there are many situations where visible tattoos of objectionable things are a dealbreaker, but I do think that it would be good to be more thoughtful of where companies draw those lines. For example, I would never let a cable guy with a swastika on his neck into my house and I’d probably cancel the cable after informing them of my feelings, but if my mechanic has a gang tattoo on his shoulder from his wild teenage days that I never know about because he wears long shirts, I would rather he stay employed and a productive member of society rather than being fired.

        2. Laura2

          Word. If someone accused me of being a neo-Nazi and I had to take off my shirt to prove it I’d be real pissed. The implication of having a swastika tattoo is that the OP agrees with a racist, genocidal world view and potentially has membership in such a group. The accuser isn’t the one being wronged here, the OP is.

          1. Elsajeni

            Do you think we should always take everyone who says “No, I’m not a racist” at their word, then? Or everyone who denies any kind of accusation that’s made against them? I don’t think anyone is arguing in favor of the OP’s boss coming into their office and saying, “I heard you had swastika tattoos — take off your shirt and prove you don’t, right now, or you’re fired,” especially given that the accusation against them didn’t come through any kind of formal process but rather just through the office rumor mill, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say that, in general, accusations of racism in the workplace have to be looked into and sometimes that means an innocent person will have to display evidence of their innocence.

            1. Chinook

              “but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say that, in general, accusations of racism in the workplace have to be looked into and sometimes that means an innocent person will have to display evidence of their innocence.”

              I understand where you coming from and, in the OP’s case, it is easy enough to prove her innocence, but that is not always the case. But what if the accuser says that it must have been a temporary tatto? What is the OP suppose to do then? It is very difficult to prove a negative.

              1. Elsajeni

                At that point neither side has any evidence, so presumably you treat it exactly as you’d treat any other report of bad workplace behavior with no witnesses other than the person who’s reporting it. I just object to the premise that it’s inherently unfair or insulting to the person being accused to do any investigation beyond asking them, “Well, did you do that inappropriate thing you’re accused of?” and taking their word for it if they say no.

          2. bearing

            Yeah – has it possibly created a (legally speaking) hostile environment/sexually harassing environment that the OP is in a position where the only thing s/he has to do to prove her innocence is bare some skin to a colleague or panel of colleagues?

  20. GrumpyBoss

    #1: I wish you the best of luck. The comments show that this is not an isolated incident, unfortunately. I have my experience, which had a good ending for me.

    I worked with someone who was in a minority group. We were peers He came onto the job and immediately tried to poach my 3 best employees. This was a pretty big breach of protocol at this company, so each of the 3 came to me with concerns about why he was behaving this way. I pulled him aside and let him know, professionally but firmly, that we do not operate that way at this company. We will get much more done if we work together lockstep. But enticing people to leave a team for a lateral move without involving the manager in that discussion is not within our culture. And in this case, they were working on a critical project for me, so I was not going to discuss a transfer for at least 9 months. If that was their desired career path, I’d work with them to move them over, but not this way. I ended the conversation by offering to help find him employees within my network, and would assist with any interviews. Apparently, this was the wrong answer to him. He then went to my employees he had tried to steal and let them know I wasn’t approving their transfer to him because I was racist and didn’t want to see him do well in the company. I’m not sure what he was trying to accomplish, because 2 of the 3 employees were so offended by his behavior that they came right to me. But he had gotten a foothold in with the third employee, who was also a minority. This employee’s performance absolutely plummeted, because I had a fellow manager convincing him that I was holding him back. His performance fell so far that I had to place him on a PIP, which made him ineligible for transfer to this other manager’s team anyhow. Really too bad that he allowed himself to be manipulated in that fashion. I never was able to repair my relationship with him.

    I was pretty pissed off. But I didn’t do anything at first. I knew someone this inept at cloak and dagger games would make a screw up, and eventually he did. What I did in the meantime was tell him, point blank, that I would need to have a third party present if we were having conversations, because he was constantly making accusations. I kept every single email we exchanged. I saved each of his voicemails he sent me. I had a mine of data.

    His fatal slip up happened in a team meeting. Our boss was already growing weary of him, because there were many issues beyond the accusations of racism. The boss singled him out in the meeting and talked about how bad his performance was (a crappy thing for the boss to do, but I had no sympathy for this guy at this point). He then proceeded to blame his bad performance on me, because I wouldn’t help him with a project he had 6 months earlier. It was the flimsiest excuse ever, but that didn’t matter, because it was patently false. I pointed out to the meeting that he was not being truthful, and would he like to reconsider what he was saying. He said it again, saying I had it out for him, and called me a “bitch”. At that point, I asked my boss to call in HR, because I was not going to be attacked. My boss dismissed the meeting, not sure what to do next. I went back to my desk, to my vault of emails and voicemails, and went right to my boss with indisputable evidence of my assisting him with the project, and him even responding, “Thank you for your help”. I asked my boss if he was going to HR or if I needed to. My colleague was terminated that day. I feel bad that his family was impacted by his actions, but I could not contain the smile when I saw him escorted out. If that makes me a bad person, then so be it.

    Sorry for the length, but I did want the OP to see that there are situations where if you are calm and don’t respond, things will work out. I hope that this person gets what is coming to them.

    1. Lily in NYC

      I love a good comeuppance story! He deserved to be fired. When my arch-enemy colleague (she tortured me for 4 years) was escorted out of the building for committing fraud, I just couldn’t help myself – I gave her a huge fake smile, waved, and told her to have a great weekend. She looked at me like she wanted to stab me.

      1. Purr purr purr

        Haha, Lily, this is seriously awesome! I’ve dreamed of doing that to my arch-enemy colleague!

  21. This is me

    Am I the only one that’s wondering how this coworker would have seen the supposed chest tattoo of a swastika? Is the OP in a job that requires to them to regularly shower at work?

    1. GrumpyBoss

      I once worked with a guy who had a lot of ink. He tended not to wear an undershirt under his white button downs. While we couldn’t see the details, you could tell through the thin cotton that there was a tattoo under there.

      Moral of the story, guys: please wear a shirt under your dress shirts. Tattoos or not.

        1. Onymouse

          I think it goes with the “two layers of fabric above your nipples” rule we were talking about yesterday.

        2. AVP

          Those white dress shirts are way more see-through than you might think, particularly in certain kinds of light.

          1. Elizabeth West

            I never understood that. What is the point of making a shirt that people will wear to work see-through (for men or women)? Thank goodness for sturdy oxford shirts.

            1. Monodon monoceros

              I was just wondering this about a skirt I just bought and tried to wear the other day and realised how see-through it is. It’s a perfectly professional looking skirt except for the see-throughness! Why would they make it like that? Now I have to go buy a slip…grrr.

            2. EngineerGirl

              It actually makes sense in the old days. An undershirt got laundered every time, an overshirt was worn again. A thin overshirt would be cooler and a summer weight.
              Nowdays people wash their shirts after one wearing but it wasn’t always so. The thinner overshirts are a relic of older days.

        3. Lily in NYC

          They are see through! One of my favorite coworkers doesn’t wear an undershirt and I can see his nipples and hair through his dress shirt.

    2. AVP

      I’m wondering if maybe they do have a tattoo in that spot, and the top part of it peeked up out of their shirt collar and maybe looked a little like the top part of a swastika, and the co-worker made a lot of assumptions and ran with it and started the rumor.

      When you assume…and also, when you spread rumors…ugh.

      1. alfie

        I am just curious — do we know for sure that OP1 is a man? Also, considering how damaging false rumor and innuendo can be, this seems like a very easy rumor to disprove, and therefore it is very easy (in the scheme of things) to show that the aggressor has done something very wrong.

        1. AVP

          Oh, I have no idea, I tried to keep it gender-neutral. That could happen with a man or a woman, though.

      2. LBK

        I wonder if it wasn’t even an intentionally started rumor per se, more like a gossipy kind of comment – “So I saw a tattoo poking out of Jane’s shirt that looked like it could have been part of a swastika…” – and someone else heard that and restated it to someone else with slightly different phrasing, and somehow along the way it went from “kind of looked like it could be one” to “is definitely one”, a la Telephone.

        1. bearing

          Or possibly the person dislikes tattoos in general, associates them with Bad People such as skinheads, and jumped to conclusions.

      1. De Minimis

        I think in many cases it’s used just because that is all they have to go on for entry level people just out of school. That was what I was told during our training for those helping with recruiting. Even then though, they said that work experience was a far better indicator of whether someone might be a fit.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Exactly — it’s a proxy for what you might be able to achieve when you (usually) don’t a work track record yet. Once you have that track record, it becomes irrelevant.

    1. Felicia

      No! Which sucks because I had a super high GPA before I knew it didn’t matter. No one’s ever asked in interviews and I’ve had a lot of interviews. But then my program had a mandatory internship (I did 2) and I had semi relevant on campus job and volunteer experience when I graduated, so there were more important things to talk about it. I want to just announce my GPA to everyone one day

    2. soitgoes

      I kind of didn’t want to go there, because it’s perfectly possible that the OP’s degree isn’t in the humanities, but I cringed a bit that an email about a grad school GPA had quite a few grammatical glitches. It pulled up associations of people who respond to all corrections with “But I went to college!” I’m not saying that the OP wholly strikes me as being that personality type, but it’s something that you really want to avoid if you can. You don’t want to get into the habit of thinking that school stuff has any kind of sustained relevance once you’re in the working world.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        To be fair, this was a letter to a blog that might have been quickly dashed off. I’d like to stay away from criticizing letter-writers’ writing and grammar unless it’s somehow directly germane to what they’re asking about.

        1. soitgoes

          Yeah, I wasn’t passing judgment so much as pointing at that when you bandy your GPA about, you’re holding yourself up to higher standards when it comes to academic-adjacent stuff. I 100% understand being proud of your GPA and hoping that it counts for something when it’s time to apply for jobs, but you have to be really careful about how you talk about it if you’re looking for work in fields where master’s degrees aren’t very common. Being “the one with the MA” doesn’t always play as well in a normal office as you’d think it would.

          1. Student

            Are you sure you aren’t just a little biased against people with grad degrees? This seems very nit-picky unless you are either habitually the Grammar Police or in full attack mode at the letter writer.

            People who tout their graduate GPA are holding themselves to a higher standard – in whatever field that they got the graduate degree in. Graduate degrees in English are pretty rare. Graduate degrees in the other humanities don’t always require high standards for writing.

            I have a graduate degree, but 90% of my professors and 50% of my fellow grad students were foreigners, with English as their second or third language. Most of them can hold a good English conversation, but their English writing is often sub-par and riddled with oddities. Grad school was definitely more detrimental to my writing skills than beneficial, since my foreign professor would insist that I follow his “style” whenever I wrote anything significant.

            1. soitgoes

              I have a master’s degree. I have seen firsthand that people who don’t have advanced degrees can sometimes look at my credentials and hear my suggestions and think that I’m being arrogant or that I automatically think I’m better or smarter than everyone else, regardless of experience.

              So as I’ve already said several times, I don’t think it’s wise to rest so much on a just-okay GPA when people who don’t have master’s degrees might find obvious mistakes in your work.

    3. LAI

      Well, I work in an academic setting so I probably am putting more emphasis on GPA than others would, but I think it is a valid part of the package to consider for people in their first few years of work. I think a high GPA from a rigorous school combined with strong work experience makes someone a better candidate than just the strong work experience alone. After a few years of working though, then I don’t really think it matters anymore.

      However, I don’t think that a 3.7 graduate GPA is very high (others have discussed grade inflation). I’d be impressed by a 3.7 undergrad GPA, but at the graduate level, I’d really expect to see a 4.0.

    4. krisl

      I worked my tail off in college to get a good GPA (which I did get) while holding down a part time job. Not sure if it helped me get my first professional job.

      The part time work might have helped, though. It was useful as an example during one of the interviews for the job.

  22. Mimmy

    #1 – Coworker spread rumor I have racist tattoo

    The part that caught my attention was the fact that your coworker brought this up in front of others while you were conducting a training. That absolutely should’ve waited until afterwards in a private conversation. I know that’s beside the point of the question, but that bugged me.

    Anyway, yeah, I wouldn’t involve any attorneys except as an absolute last resort.

    Good luck with this OP1.

  23. Mephyle

    #1: Something that’s been barely mentioned (only sophiabrooks has alluded to it so far) is that:
    – this isn’t a ‘he said/she said’ situation
    – this isn’t a ‘is X symbol racist or isn’t it’ situation.
    OP#1’s tattoo isn’t racist, and they can prove it if they have to by showing it to anyone who needs to know.
    Can’t the potential for this simple factual refutation of Rumor-monger’s lies be leveraged to provide a strong defense (or even offence) against Rumor-monger?

    1. sophiabrooks

      That is sort of what I meant- if it comes down to it, it is completely provable that he/she doesn’t have swatiska tattoos. I am not saying anyone should have to prove it, just that if it gets to the point where it is life-ruining and showing up on background checks, and blacklisting him/her from jobs– he/she can exhibit proof!

      1. Mephyle

        Yes, or… preferably long before that, so that it doesn’t get to the point of showing up on background checks and ruining OP’s career. I may be naive, but I don’t see why it can’t be nipped in the bud immediately with the physical proof that it’s a lie.

  24. Janis

    I’d take a selfie of my substantial chest, print it out, and paste it on my damn door with no comment.

    I once had a workman come to my house with the twin lightning bolts of the SS tattooed on his neck and that kinda squicked me out.

  25. bridget

    #3 – I’m not a corporate lawyer, but I remember from the bar exam that in at least for-profit corporations, members of the board of directors do indeed have legal duties. One of those fiduciary duties is a duty against self-dealing (i.e. being on both sides of the same transaction). You couldn’t be part of a board decision that would hire you as a vendor, for instance. I think that hiring yourself for a salaried position would be similar.

    Of course, this may all not apply if you your organization isn’t a corporation, if you’re not in the US, if this isn’t that kind of board of directors, etc. etc. But it isn’t a question that is completely devoid of legal ramifications.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Right, I certainly didn’t intend to suggest that she should be part of the final hiring decision to hire herself. But there’s no legal issue with her doing early stage phone interviews.

    2. LF

      #3 – A nonprofit director should most certainly recuse himself or herself from all deliberations regarding hiring decisions for job openings for which he or she is applying. This is a clear conflict of interest in violation of a director’s fiduciary duties.

      Additionally, from a public relations standpoint, it would look poorly if other candidates interviewed with you, and then discovered that you hired yourself.

  26. Angora

    Reference OP#1 … Like some of the other readers I do wonder why a co-worker would bring this up in front other individuals? It could be true, if it is … they should have pulled you aside and told you.

    This is a situation damn if you do say something and damn if you don’t. It depends on your relationship with the supervisor. If you have a good relationship with him/her just approach them and tell them what was said to you by said co-worker in front of others. It’s bound to get back to them since your co-worker is and idiot and doesn’t have common sense filter apparently. That you wish to ask if they did say it? and where they got the wrong information? The supervisor may not have originated the rumor … the mouthy co-worker might have, or is just pushing buttons. You never know if one has a hidden agenda.

    1. Student

      If the OP really was a white supremacist with a large tattoo indicating as such, I imagine her co-workers were rather afraid of a bad reaction if they asked about it.

      If I was the person asking about it, I’d have asked in an area where there are witnesses if the situation goes badly, too. I’d have been scared of potential violence if I called out someone for that, but I would also still feel it was my responsibility to address the issue despite being scared.

      1. Angora

        If a tattoo is not visible at work, than supervisors and or co-workers shouldn’t even be aware of it to comment. If it’s seen in the changing room, etc. … the supervisor should still keep his mouth shut. I sure don’t want someone telling my co-workers that I have a mole on my chest or butt if they see me changing in the work locker room.

        Something is off with the co-worker feeling the need to ask the question in front of others. Even if it’s a neo-Nazi tattoo on the chest it’s no one’s business. Many times people get tattoos when they are young and they regret them but do not have the funds to have them removed.

        1. bearing

          I had this thought too – a tattoo that isn’t visible because it’s covered with clothes or makeup is no more the business of others than the other parts of our bodies that we cover with clothes.

  27. sally

    I personally would skip the “shock and disgust” and go straight to demanding a public apology. With the consequences being a formal complaint to HR and a defamation lawsuit.

    1. Angora

      Sally,
      I agree with you. Just go to HR and report what was said. Either the supervisor or the coworker are a couple of idiots. This should be documented, because it may impact the OP’s other working relationships.

  28. Julia

    I disagree with the undergrad GPA. I graduated with a 3.5 and that means EVERYTHING to me. Every interviewer I’ve encountered was impressed with it, because most colleges in my state consider it honor’s status.

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