my coworker bombed an internal interview, letting a company fly me out if I’m unlikely to accept their offer, and more

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

1. Should I let a company fly me out even though I’m unlikely to accept their offer?

My in-person in interview with Company A was cancelled due to weather. However, I interviewed with several managers over the phone and they called me to tell me I should receive an offer within a few days. I mentioned that I would still like to come in-person and they are currently working on setting that up. I have not yet received the offer in writing (I’m wondering if they’re waiting until the visit).

I then had an in-person interview with Company B and I received an offer from them.

Due to the location and the managers I met during the interview (as well as a few other factors), I’m strongly leaning towards Company B, but I haven’t even had a chance to see Company A or meet anyone in person. Should I go ahead and visit Company A, even though it’s unlikely I’ll accept their offer (assuming I get the formal offer)? I feel like it might be pretty rude, especially since they’re paying and the visit is really only for my benefit (since they’ve already made their decision).

If you’re still genuinely open to accepting their offer, there’s nothing wrong with visiting so that you have more data to decide for sure (as long as you have time to do that before Company B needs an answer). That’s true even if you’re leaning toward the other company; leaning isn’t the same as having decided for sure. But if you’ve really made up your mind and deep down you know the visit isn’t likely to change that, then I’d save everyone the time (and them the expense) and skip it.

2. My coworker bombed an internal interview

We have an opening for a professional job, and I was a participant in one part of the two-day interview for a candidate who happens to be a colleague. This would be a good move for her, but she has been working for a long time in a different department with only some crossover of skills. In the part of the interview I was in, she didn’t seem to have done any homework on the areas where she’s less qualified. I mean none! She didn’t even mention any professional associations or journals in the new area of expertise, which would have shown she at least knew how to get up to speed. I work closely with that department, so I want to see the best qualified person get hired. And if not qualified, someone who will be eager to learn the ropes. I was very disappointed and told the search committee this.

I really hope she doesn’t get this job (still waiting to hear). If she doesn’t get it, I want to give her some constructive feedback. If she does get the job, I’ll be one of the people coaching her or at least working closely with her. Any advice?

It depends on your role in the hiring process, as well as your relationship with her. Ideally, the hiring manager should give internal candidates feedback if they’re not selected. If you suspect the hiring manager isn’t planning to do that, you could nudge her to, and give her some talking points that you think would helpful for your coworker. But otherwise, it’s not really your place to do it, unless you have a particularly close or mentor-like relationship with your coworker. (If that’s the case, you could certainly approach her with feedback in that context.)

3. We don’t want to be listed on our company’s website because of angry callers

I have been trying to find some information online that supports the concept of not putting employee names on company/organization websites to protect their privacy. We deal with a lot of very angry people and while it makes sense to have some of us listed on the company website, I don’t think the employees taking resident calls should be listed. People can be shockingly threatening about trash. We don’t give out our last names during customer complaint calls for that very reason. The employees really don’t want to be on the website, but we are facing push back from the person who ultimately makes the decision. Really, there is no reason for the public to know who the clerical staff is, so I don’t see the value in listing their names. Is there anything we can do about this?

You can explain your reasons as a group, calmly and logically, and if there have been unpleasant incidents with customers that support the idea that identifying employees on the website could cause problems, you can point those out too. Ultimately it’s your company’s call, but a good company will hear you out (and will explain why they disagree, if ultimately they do).

In general, though, there’s no specific business need to list employees on a website, unless they’re in customer-facing roles where people need to be able to look them up. And many businesses make the decision not to list them — some because it’s not particularly necessary, and others for exactly the reasons you describe.

4. Backing out of an offer to work over the summer

So I’ve been with a landscaping company for a year now (full-time in the summer, part-time during the year) and they’ve been very good to me. I’m transferring to another school in a different city next fall and I’ve been offered a situation where I can make close to $25,000 for the summer. This would comfortably cover all my living expenses.

The only problem is that I told my bosses that I’d stay for the summer because that’s their busiest time of year. I’d hate to go back on my word especially since they’ve treated me so well since I’ve been there. So I’m in sort of a dilemma because I’m not sure what I should do.

People’s plans change, especially when moves are involved. If you tell them now, they’ll still have plenty of time to prepare for summer coverage. Explain that your circumstances have changed and you’ll actually be leaving in June (or whenever); they’ll understand.

5. Can I re-use the same cover letter when applying for a job I applied for previously?

About 9 months ago, I applied for a job that I was really passionate about, and actually my CV and cover letter were picked up and I was contacted for a first round of selection, which consisted in a quick questionnaire about the subject of the job (usability research). Unfortunately I didn’t pass that test then, but long story short, now that company has again open positions for the exact same job, and I wish to reapply. Do you think it’s ok to use the same CV and cover letter I used the first time, since they were already successful in getting me a test, or I run the risk to look lazy this way?

Same resume is fine (assuming that nothing has changed since then and you don’t have recent accomplishments to add), but you shouldn’t use the same cover letter. It would be like meeting someone on an online dating service, going out with them a time or two, and then a year later reaching back out to them with the exact message you sent them the first time. Do a new cover letter.

{ 161 comments… read them below }

  1. Artemesia*

    #4 Please get over the idea that you owe an employer something that is against your own interests. If an employer has a set back and needed to get rid of you, or perhaps had a son who needed a summer job, they would drop you in a moment.

    Since your employer has been decent to work for, you owe them adequate notice and candor and of course your hard work in the meantime, but you don’t owe them your future best interests. Make job decisions with integrity but make them in your own best interests. It would be foolish to give up a job that would cover your school expenses our of a misplaced sense of loyalty. They will be able to replace you for such a job easily but even if not, make the decision best for you.

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      We see questions like this a lot and I think the people who write them in are very nice. The internal sense of responsibility and loyalty to employers, bosses, co-workers who have treated them well is a good thing and can serve them well during their career.

      One small point: it’s not a given that this particular employer would cut the OP in the summer at a whim. Many would, I wouldn’t. If I made a commitment to give someone summer employment, and circumstances changed, I’d find some other way to fulfill that commitment (provided the employee was a good worker).

      All that said, company owners and managers have to deal with changing circumstances all the time. It’s what we get paid to do. It sucks if you are counting on Great Worker Fred for the busy season but, oh well, it’s not as if two years ago you didn’t lose Great Worker Mary when you were counting on her also and, you deal. We get paid to solve problems and our problems aren’t the individual employee’s problems.

      I think it’s nice if people like the OP say they feel bad when giving notice, but, they shouldn’t actually feel bad. It’s happened before, it’ll happen again and in the meantime, individuals have to make the choices that are best for them.

      1. LBK*

        Agreed completely. I hate the “Companies will screw you over in a second, so don’t feel bad about it” line of thinking, because 1) it encourages the horrible us vs. them mentality that makes some people impossible to work with, and 2) sometimes it’s just flat-out untrue. The reason you shouldn’t feel bad about it is because this is just something that happens with businesses sometimes, and they’ll recover and figure it out.

        1. BRR*

          I also hate that line of thinking. I fail to see the logic behind they’d do an awful thing so don’t feel bad about doing the same thing.

          But giving notice about summer while we’re still in February should be more than enough time to find a replacement.

          1. Artemesia*

            But I am not suggesting that the OP do an ‘awful thing’. Giving adequate notice is not an ‘awful thing’, it is just the way work works. The problem is naive people doing things against their own best interests out of a sense of loyalty. I have observed literally dozens of people over the years who were loyal hard workers let go in a thrice when business needs suggested it — and in some cases when minor convenience necessitated it e.g. giving a family member a job. There are lovely small businesses who would in fact go out of their way to keep someone on during rough times out of loyalty but for the most part, its business. They let you go regardless of your mortgage or your desperate need for health insurance when it suits their business needs; you should let them go when it suits your best interests as well.

            Loyalty to the employer should consist of doing good work not indenturing yourself. It rarely runs the other way.

            1. BRR*

              Oh sorry, I didn’t mean to imply you said that. I think we went off on a tangent for situation like when people give that reasoning for doing more inconsiderate things like accepting an offer and quitting after a week because you got a better offer.

              In this case if the OP will give notice far in advance so that is professional. If it was June 1st I might have a different opinion. People do need to be their own best advocate.

        2. esra*

          I think it’s a bit extreme when people talk about companies screwing you over in a heartbeat, but when it comes down to it, no matter how bad your manager or others at the company might feel about letting you go, they will do it. And everyone should keep that in mind.

          1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

            The terminology around viewing yourself as a “free agent” has been way over overused, but I think that’s a healthy mindset. You don’t have to sit around thinking “these people would screw me over in a heartbeat” to still make best choices for yourself as an individual. When it’s time to move on, move on.

            1. fposte*

              Right, that’s the “it goes both ways” thing. They’d let you go if they chose to; you’d leave if you chose to. That’s not evil. It is, literally, business.

          2. LBK*

            I still disagree that this is the framing you should keep in mind, because it’s so negative and will pollute your thinking. You can keep in mind that you need to make the right choices for your career, and if you don’t believe that sticking with your current company is really the right choice for your career, then you don’t need to feel bad about leaving. No part of that requires thinking of yourself as expendable.

        3. Mike C.*

          I think you’re ignoring the reality of the world if you don’t at least consider these issues in the decision making process.

          1. LBK*

            If you’re currently at a company that’s treating you well and isn’t doing layoffs, the reality of the world is not “they could cut me loose at any second”. I mean, technically yes, that’s true, but it’s also technically true that a meteor could crash through the window and kill me right now. Distant hypotheticals not backed by present likelihood aren’t useful in decision making.

              1. LBK*

                I still think it depends on your own situation – you can’t make a blanket statement about how companies will treat you as an employee. I can say with certainty that there’s a 0% chance of my manager unexpectedly firing me today.

                1. Burlington*

                  This. Sure, no company will keep you on if it means they’ll collapse. But there are plenty of companies and organizations out there who try their best to do right by staff. Some places will help you find a job if you tell them you’re starting to look, rather than fire you. Plenty will give you severance if they need to fire you unexpectedly. There’s no inherent evil that needs to be assumed to make good decisions.

                2. esra*

                  I can say with certainty that there’s a 0% chance of my manager unexpectedly firing me today.

                  I think a lot of people who’ve been laid off and let go probably felt the same way.

                3. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  I think the point is that yes, even the nicest company will cut you loose if circumstances mean that they need to (finances take a huge hit and they can’t afford to keep everyone on). But it’s also true that pretty much every employee will cut their company loose if circumstances mean that they need to (receive an offer for twice the pay, move across country, or whatever). So far, it’s even.

                  On top of that, there are some awful companies that will cut people loose in bad ways — without warning or severance or unfairly or whatever. There are also some irresponsible people who will quit without notice, leave their work a mess, or whatever. That’s not totally even, because the impact on a mistreated individual is usually worse than the impact on a mistreated employer.

                  But there are loads of employers who treat people well and try hard to do the right thing by them — employers who give clear warnings and severance and are generous in the way they treat people. When advice like “they’d screw you over in a heartbeat” is thrown around, it usually doesn’t resonate with people working for this type of company and isn’t universally accurate.

                4. LBK*

                  @esra – My company has always given warnings about layoffs, and I’m provided with enough information about the status of our business that short of half of our client base suddenly dying of a zombie apocalypse, there is absolutely no reason we would do layoffs without warning like that.

                  I’m not saying that there aren’t companies who do it without notice or without there being warning signs first, but I don’t believe I work for one of those companies given their track record of how they handle layoffs and how they operate their business in general.

                5. LBK*

                  When advice like “they’d screw you over in a heartbeat” is thrown around, it usually doesn’t resonate with people working for this type of company and isn’t universally accurate.

                  Exactly. That sentiment so directly contradicts how I feel about my employer based on how I’ve seen them operate that it’s not useful to me as a factor in decision-making.

                6. "If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principle difference between a dog and a man."*

                  Re how “a company will screw you over” etc, I think it’s worthwhile to keep in mind a ‘meta’ notion here, which is that human beings will tend to anthropomorphize non-human things. That is, they’ll attribute human qualities to dogs, cats, cars, storms, etc. And, of course, businesses. It’s not so much a question of the morality of saying “screw them, because they’ll screw you” as that it’s largely invalid to attribute human characteristics, motivations, and behaviors to something that’s not human.

                  Humans are pretty good at building useful mental models of things that are based on what we already know. Most of us have at least some vague idea of how people act, and so it’s not uncommon for us to “personify” things we encounter in life. And so you get stuff like “Companies are people, too!” which can sometimes be useful in some limited manner. But it’s important to remember that they’re not really people, and that our models have limits and discontinuities and sometimes flat out don’t work or don’t make sense. Being loyal to a company, and expecting the company to return that loyalty is a fairly shaky model.

            1. alma*

              I think you are very fortunate if you haven’t been subjected to any surprise layoffs from nice companies. I once walked into work at 8 a.m. and had my stuff in a box in the parking lot by 8:45, along with a bunch of other equally stunned employees.

              Employees should be professional and candid when they leave, but they should not hesitate in looking after their own bottom line because that’s exactly what employers do.

              1. LBK*

                Employees should be professional and candid when they leave, but they should not hesitate in looking after their own bottom line because that’s exactly what employers do.

                I don’t disagree with that – you need to do what’s right for your career, just like a business needs to do what’s right for their operation. I think that’s a different framing than thinking that your company would screw you or treat you as lacking value, and therefore you don’t owe anything to them. It’s a more objective perspective.

                1. fposte*

                  It’s the difference between “Let’s do it to them before they do it to us” and “Let’s be careful out there.”

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Totally agree. I worked for a nice company that among other things did landscape work. There are many differences in work environments- say, landscape work vs office work. Landscapers know that employees come and go, at the drop of a hat. There’s lots of reasons for that, in short, it tends to be the nature of the work. OP, if you tell them your change of plans right NOW, they will still think very highly of you, appreciate your early notice and all will be well. Matter of fact, all will be so well there should not be a burned bridge, you could go back in a year or two if you need to pick up some extra work. (Some how, I don’t think you will need to do that, but my point is to emphasize that this is not a Bad Thing.)

      I know I had a tough time leaving such nice people. But you will find more nice people and you have the added benefit of learning what nice work places look like. Those parts you will keep with you.

    3. C Average*

      An additional perspective: I’m working on a history project for my company’s archives and have found myself, in the course of the project, reaching out to a few people who have left our company and are still missed to this day.

      One guy has been gone for five years and everyone still knows his name because of the impact he had here and because of the quality of his work. (He’s gone on to be a big name for a brand with whom we collaborate, so that’s kept him top-of-mind, too.) Two women I worked closely with are still more or less household names, even though they departed three years ago.

      Generally people are replaceable, but sometimes they’re not. Sometimes they leave a noticeable gap.

      No one here is angry with any of these people for leaving. We’re glad they’re successful elsewhere. And if they ever wanted to return, a role would be found for them in a hot second.

  2. Series of transmissions recorded over a period of eight years, in the nineteen-seventies.*

    1: You can accept the visit to Company A with no guilt: they already favor you, and they would no doubt love to have you come out and see them in person. Also, you’re doing them and yourself a service by looking them over. Them, because there’s always the chance that they might win you over. And they’d almost certainly like to get a look at you in person. Yourself, because this is a big decision and you owe it to yourself to investigate fully.

    At the very least, there may come a time in the future when it’s a good thing for you to be able to say “Company A? Yes, I’ve been out to their offices” and / or “Company A? Yes, I interviewed with them. A good group – but I had to turn down their offer for [reasons]”.

    Having said that: if there’s some factor such that you simply will not accept Company A’s offer – Company B is in your hometown and your parents have medical issues and depend on you, for example – then sure, cancel the trip and save everyone the time and money. But otherwise, you have no need to feel that you are being rude by accepting the trip.

    1. Artemesia*

      I’d have a different attitude if it were a non-profit. It is expensive to bring someone out. They already gave the offer and so the trip is at the request of the OP. I think most hiring managers would feel they got taken for a free trip if they then get turned down — but for a non-profit it would be painful to the budget. If I agreed to the trip, I would make it clear that another offer is under consideration. To many people asking to be flown out would suggest a chance to check out area housing and such. Unless there is a genuine chance of selecting A over B, I’d not make the trip.

      1. Onymouse*

        If they’re flying in, heading to the office, and immediately flying out, it’s really not a “free trip”. There is zero personal enjoyment in that situation.

        1. Colette*

          Well, if you know that you’re not going to take the job, you must have some motivation that makes it worthwhile, and it’s unlikely to be the interview.

          1. MK*

            I don’t think the motive is the trip though, unless the location is desirable or people have family near. Mostly it’s people feeling awkward about cancelling or wanting to be 100% certain.

      2. MK*

        I think telling them the OP has another offer is unneccesary. But it would be more honest of the OP to make it clear that the offer is not accepted yet and that the trip is not just for checking out the area.

        1. Apollo Warbucks*

          That’s a good way of putting it to company A, even without the other offer the OP could get there and not like something in the area or just not like the feel of the office, and its quite reasonable to not accept a job sight unseen.

          1. Cautionary tail*

            Two comments:
            (1) I once accepted a job, office unseen. Bad mistake.
            I had a phone screening and then the hiring manager and I had the real interview in a Starbucks “because it would be more convenient.” All was fine and I was offered the position right in the Starbucks.
            The first time I saw the office I knew why he wouldn’t show it to me ahead of time: World War II surplus metal desks and chairs with ripped padding, technology was 15 years old and broken with glue holding the pieces together (actual two part plastic epoxy), the carpeting was badly stained etc. Some of the people I met on my first day I’m sure had escaped from the angry gotta-kill-somebody loony bin, etc. I needed the job so I stayed for a while, but if I had seen the office beforehand I would have never accepted it.

            (2) A job I wanted and phone screened for seemed great. When I flew out there I was shocked. It was a pressure cooker and my first duty was to fire a whole bunch of people and then rebuild a happy team. I came away shellshocked. I flew back for a second Saturday interview where they told me all their dirty secrets. By the time I got home I told me spouse there is no way we are ever going to move states to be with that h*llhole.

            Bottom line: Even though your mileage may vary and you might find an absolutely wonderful job and culture, there is no substitute for being there.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              On job number two they would have had you fire everyone and then they would have fired you. I have seen this happen all the way up to the VP level. I am glad you ran.

              1. Cautionary tail*

                Thank you for this insight. Even though this was a few years ago I hadn’t considered that. I knew it would be a disaster but didn’t think it could be as bad as you say. In reflection you may be right. It’s a good thing we can hypothetically discuss this as opposed to my having listed it as a battle scar. ;)

    2. BRR*

      I don’t think the LW can adequately weigh Company A’s offer until he visits the office. This might influence their decision.

    3. Lisa*

      What if the factor is really that they won’t beat or even match the other offer? No point in going if you have a feeling that any offer after the trip won’t be enough to make you move. Sounds like OP knows they are not going to meet min requirements that would make it worth OP’s time.

      1. Mephyle*

        Maybe I’m reading more into the letter than is there, but it sounds to me like the factor is that Company B looks so attractive that OP can’t imagine how Company A could be more attractive. If that’s the reason, then OP owes to themself to check Company A out in person – they may find that it’s equally or more attractive. Or not, in which case all doubt about accepting Company B is removed.

  3. Series of transmissions recorded over a period of eight years, in the nineteen-seventies.*

    I can’t speak to the non-profit side of things – but I’ll note that OP 1 does not actually have an offer from Company A.

  4. ScaredyCat*

    I’d have a follow-up situation to #1. Would the same advice still apply?

    This happened during my last bout of job searching. Company A called me to an interview on a Monday, but due to work commitments I could only schedule it for Tuesday of the following week (at the earliest). Since the following Monday was a bank holiday, I didn’t even mention it as a possibility.
    Later during the week, I was contacted by company B, who offered to hold the interview on Monday. I went, made a good impression, and was offered the job almost on the spot.

    I e-mailed company A, apologizing for the last minute cancellation, explaining that I had received another offer which I accepted. Company A replied with something like “I’m sorry to hear that you accepted this offer, without first hearing ours first. I would urge you to still come to the interview with us”.

    Being easily susceptible to guilt-tripping tactics, I went to the interview, bombed it (not intentionally, but my mind kept wandering), and yet I still received an offer (much less than I was looking for). I probably made an awful impression at the technical interview, so I was even surprised they came back with an offer.

    Should I have refused to go to the interview after all? I was 99% sure that I would not accept this company’s offer, so I did feel bad for wasting their time. At the same time, I was also feeling guilty about having refused an interview with less than a day’s notice.

    1. Merry and Bright*

      I would probably feel the same though logic says you were upfront with Company A so they knew the deal. Besides, it probably confirmed your decision to accept Company B.

    2. fposte*

      Had you accepted B’s offer at that point? I’d be more uncomfortable about proceeding with A if you were already committed–less for A than for be, because if you’d accepted B’s offer and they found you were still interviewing or you backed out of your offer acceptance those could be tense situations.

      1. ScaredyCat*

        Well yes, though not officially. I hadn’t sign the contract (I’m not from the US, so contract here are the norm… for any legal employment).

        On the other hand, the possibility of choosing A was minimal (i.e. nothing short of a miracle).
        I kind felt bad for having asked for an interview the following week and then backing out at the last minute. Normally, people ask if you can come to the interview the same day, or the next day at the latest.

        I handled the entire job search badly, applied to and accepted too many interviews, and some of my colleagues even started suspecting I was job searching due to “unusual” leaving times.

        1. LBK*

          I think you’re okay here because it wasn’t in writing yet. Even in the US where an offer letter doesn’t constitute a contract, it’s generally accepted that until you actually see the official offer and sign off, you’re still fair game (to an extent), although I suppose it depends on exactly what your conversation with B was. If they gave you a specific verbal offer (including salary info, benefits, etc.) and it wasn’t just a general “We’re planning to offer you the job, we’ll be in touch as soon it’s finalized” then that’s more damning.

          1. fposte*

            I’d disagree a little, in that actual offer letters and signing aren’t requisite for a lot of positions, like ours. If I found that a candidate who’d verbally accepted an offer had gone on another interview, I might well rescind the offer. An accepted offer means “we have an agreement.” If you’re still looking, we don’t have an agreement, and I’m going to look again too.

            1. LBK*

              I think it depends on if it’s a formal conversation or not. Having just gotten a new job this week, for me there was an informal statement from the hiring manager at the last interview that he was planning to give me an offer, to which I replied that I was interested. A few days later I got a call from HR with the official offer and salary info, which I said I would accept. I wouldn’t consider the first conversation verbal acceptance, but the second conversation definitely was even though I hadn’t signed anything.

              (Sorry if this wasn’t clear from my comment, I just meant that if it was a vague “we’re giving you an offer” with no actual info, then that doesn’t constitute any kind of agreement IMO.)

              1. fposte*

                Yeah, I’m in agreement on how I’d interpret your examples. It is a little frustrating at times that there’s no uniform standard in the US on what an official offer and acceptance look like.

        2. fposte*

          BTW, Scaredy, LBK and I got into a US digression that might mislead you on my take on your situation; I would agree that if you hadn’t signed the contract you’re not committed.

          1. ScaredyCat*

            Oh I don’t mind. I’m always interested to learn about these practices in other countries.
            Also sorry for the typos. My fingers seem to be in a letter-eating mood today.

    3. Beezus*

      Company A was aware before the interview that you had accepted another offer and were technically off the table. You were up front with them, and they gambled their time to bring you in anyway. I would not feel bad about their lost time. I don’t think you need to feel too guilty regarding Company B, either; you weren’t seriously considering employment with Company A. You were actively job hunting with multiple things in process, and you didn’t extract yourself from the process as cleanly as you might have, that’s all.

      You might want to work on being so susceptible to guilt-trip tactics. (This is something I’m working on in myself, so it stood out to me.) If I put myself in your shoes and think over how I’d feel about the situation you described, I think the fact that I spent extra time in Company A’s process when I really didn’t want to would rankle a little, and that would be the source of the vague unsettled feeling I’d have about the whole situation. Think about the possible outcomes – you had a 99% chance of wasting your time, and a 1% chance of being put in the awful position of deciding between a company whose offer you had already accepted and a company that wowed you so much that you have to make a tough decision. Saying yes really didn’t hold any benefit for you. If you’re finding yourself in this position often, you should develop some polite but firm “no” scripts and practice using them. When you’re perfectly within your rights to say either yes or no, and your first reaction is no, say no and stick to it and don’t feel guilty!

      1. ScaredyCat*

        You might want to work on being so susceptible to guilt-trip tactics.

        Definitely. I’m actually well aware of this, hence my frustration about how I ended up handling everything.

        If you’re finding yourself in this position often, you should develop some polite but firm “no” scripts and practice using them.

        Ah, I think I didn’t explain this clearly enough. I’m actually pretty decisive once I settle on something. If for no other reason, that I want to be considered reliable when it comes to giving my word.

        In my mind, there was practically ZERO doubt about rejecting company A’s offer. BUUUUUT there’s that saying that nothing in life is certain, right? So I squeezed in that 1% of doubt. Plus, there’s the ego stroking part of it all, of having people “wanting me”.

        Thanks a lot for the insight, I really appreciate that. Next time I’ll work on being much firmer .

    4. Observer*

      I can’t see why you needed to refuse. You were clear about the situation – you told them that you had an offer that you have accepted. They were still willing to take the time.

  5. Sales Geek*

    #3 – I work for a large company (over 300,000 employees). We have always given our web visitors access to a company directory that would permit them to look up any employee and their contact information….
    But every employee is given the chance to opt out of being listed publicly. It’s a form on our internal web site and takes about two minutes to complete (essentially, “Do you want to have your contact information listed publicly? Yes/No”).

    This requires no approvals and is entirely up to the employee. Every employee is able to do this regardless of their position in the corporation. I am in sales and had my name taken out of the public directory after a disturbed individual went through my unit and several layers of management to write what I’ll charitably call a lengthy crank letter accusing us of some vague conspiracy to harm his reputation (13 pages, single-spaced!), complete with vague threats of retribution.

    I think this is a good way to handle things. Some people want to be listed (so that customers can find them easily). Some of us think it’s better if our contact information is something we hand out to business associates and customers. But it’s our choice…

    1. Not So NewReader*

      This is a great solution. OP, I think the most persuasive thing you can say is to point out that the company is exposing people to possible problems down the road.

      As a (distant) secondary reason, you could point out that whenever someone quits, gets promoted or takes leave the site will need to be updated. I said that in one sentence but this can work into way more than it sounds like. It gets surprisingly labor intensive if you have more than a few people at your work.

    2. Ella*

      Letter #3 is a little unclear to me. Are employees getting calls at their desks, about problems that aren’t in their ability to solve? Then the website needs to be reworked to make it clearer to residents who is able to help them. You could also “hide” employee contact info in a corner of the site, while making the complaints line number more obvious, so that people are less inclined to go searching. Are residents calling employees at HOME? That is all kinds of nope.

      And if employees are getting calls at their desks because residents have tried the actual person that they’re supposed to be calling, and nothing’s been done, I totally get why they’re angry, and someone needs to investigate the disconnect between resident complaints and property manager solutions.

      1. LBK*

        I’m going to assume you haven’t worked a call center or customer service? Sometimes you are speaking to the right person, but there’s nothing that person can do because the problem isn’t solvable. For example, if a delivery team isn’t available until next week, no number of calls you make to me is going to get your product delivered today. And yet if some people have a specific phone number for someone they believe has the power to fix their problem, they will repeatedly call and harass that person until they’re satisfied (which may be never).

        1. ella*

          The reference to trash and residents makes me think it’s a property management firm or some such, so I’d be really surprised if the calls were going to a call center.

          1. LBK*

            I use “call center” to mean any kind of general line that goes to multiple people, not the generic/centralized kind that could be servicing multiple different products. The idea is still the same – that having the right phone number for the right person isn’t a panacea that guarantees problems will get solved in ways that satisfy everyone.

            1. ella*

              I guess part of my definition of calling the right person is that that person can either solve your problem or get in touch with the people who can. The property manager receptionist can’t go empty the dumpster herself, but she can call the company that has the contract for that building and see what’s up. At that point either the trash gets picked up or the waste management company explains that every single one of their drivers has bird flu and they’re behind on their routes, but expect to be at the property by X date. And the receptionist can then relay that information to residents. If the residents are being told to call the receptionist, but the receptionist can’t or doesn’t know how to call the waste management company, that’s a whole separate issue, and I totally see why residents are angry because their calls go into a black hole. If you don’t want customers to just start calling random people on the phone tree posted on the website, you have to give them reasonable assurance that the first call they make (which, for most people, will be the number that’s posted with some kind of “Call this to make complaints of X nature” label) will get them some results.

              1. LBK*

                What I’m trying to say is that sometimes a problem doesn’t have a solution, or the explanation you’re able to give that should conclude the solution isn’t satisfactory to the customer. If you tell some people that the entire fleet of drivers is out with bird flu so there’s nothing you can do until X date, not everyone will say “Okay, makes sense, thanks for the info.”

              2. Elsajeni*

                But there are some problems that just aren’t solvable, even if you’re calling the right number, and some callers who will be unreasonable even when what you’re offering them is the best/only possible solution — I think that’s the type LBK is talking about. Like, in your dumpster example, what if the resident doesn’t want to take “They’re shorthanded and have gotten behind, but they’ll be out to empty it tomorrow” for an answer and calls back seven more times? Or what if their complaint is something not really within anyone’s power to solve, like “The birds are making too much noise outside my window”? The company can be doing everything possible to direct calls to the right place, and the phone reps can be doing everything possible to solve callers’ problems, but there will still be times when a problem can’t be resolved to the caller’s satisfaction, and that’s when it might matter how much access they have to the phone rep’s personal information.

          2. Natalie*

            FWIW, a lot of property management companies use inbound call centers. You need 24/7 coverage and an answering service is a lot cheaper than 4 FTEs.

      2. De Minimis*

        We have a similar issue where I work…I think sometimes people call random numbers until they get to a person, but a lot of the time that person has no way to help the caller. I believe in years past my work number may have been the number for a secretary or someone else, so sometimes I get calls from people wanting help with medical appointments, complaints about service denials, etc. I have zero to do with any of that, and many times I have to stop people because I don’t want to hear their medical information. All I can try to do is transfer them to the relevant department, but if that person is not there to answer the phone I can’t do anything about that.

        What we really need would to rework the phone system to where all calls would go to some kind of phone tree or at least a central number, but I don’t think the money is there to do it.

        We also have the thing where every employee’s contact info is searchable on our website and I don’t believe we are able to opt out.

        1. Lynn Whitehat*

          I used to get that when I worked in a medical center. I was a lab tech in a research lab, but people with relatives in the hospital would just call random numbers with the medical center’s prefix until they “finally got to talk to a human being!!!11!!!!” And then refuse to accept that I really didn’t know anything about their cousin’s appendix surgery, and didn’t have any influence with the hospital side of things.

          1. Cath in Canada*

            Ah, the perils of being a researcher in a clinical building! I’ve had to explain to callers about how I can’t get them onto a clinical trial for a new chemo drug at three previous jobs. I now work at a genome sequencing research facility and we get a lot of “help me prove that my wife cheated on me and the kid isn’t mine!!!!” calls, which is a slight improvement even though the answer is still the same. My colleague has also dealt with someone showing up carrying a bunch of feathers in a brown paper bag and asking us to figure out what type of bird it was.

    3. Marie*

      Having policies that address employee safety and privacy and provide a clear path for employees to request accommodations will make a workplace safer from more than irate customers and employee discomfort. A manager may not know if their employees are dealing with stalkers, abusive partners, or other safety issues that can easily leak over to the workplace, and employees may not want to disclose those things. Having policies in place that protect employee privacy allows employees to take advantage of accommodations without having to make a case for them or issue long explanations about deeply personal and potentially embarrassing issues. If employees have to ask or make a case for privacy accommodations, managers risk employees simply choosing to hide their personal business for fear of judgment, thus potentially opening the workplace to a safety risk.

      By way of example, my first grown-up job after college was also the job that gave me the financial independence I needed to flee an abusive partner. This was a company that put the names and pictures of everybody on their website, not for any necessary business reason, but just because it looked friendly and they had never considered that it could be an issue. That worried me from the get-go, but I didn’t want to rock the boat and couldn’t ask for my picture to be taken down without revealing some very personal life details. Likewise, my desk in that job faced a public window, which also made me uncomfortable, but again, I didn’t know how to address it. Then I began to see my ex in the neighborhood surrounding my workplace, and got a series of emails that issued some vague threats about seeing me soon. I eventually gathered up the courage to speak to my supervisor and let them know what was happening, and they immediately took me off the website, swapped my desk, offered to walk me to the bus stop or give me rides, and were completely supportive and compassionate. But before I got that courage together, I seriously considered either quitting to find a job where I wouldn’t have to reveal my abuse to a supervisor to be safe, or not telling anybody and just hoping my ex didn’t show up at work and do anything violent. After all that, my supervisor and I looked up templates for workplace policies to institute that would ensure future employees wouldn’t have to reveal their personal lives in the way I had to be safe in the workplace. And it was a good thing, too, because once we had those policies in place, one other coworker requested some workplace accommodations that (we later learned when she decided to disclose) were due to them finally leaving their abusive partner as well.

      So, long story short, EVERY company should have simple, value-neutral opt-out policies like Sales Geek describes. It’s a small change, but it ensures workplace safety.

      1. Sigrid*

        I’m so glad to hear that your company was supportive and responsive, even if ideally those conditions would have been in place before you brought it up.

      2. Tabby*

        OK, this is an excellent example of why we need to be able to stand up for ourselves as individuals while also being employees. The advice of “well it’s the company’s decision” of whether or not to publish your name and details is absolute BS. Unless you are somehow the executive director in a really public position or something, there is rarely a need to publish your name and workplace details on a web site. The fact that you felt like you couldn’t speak up for your OWN SAFETY because you were afraid of the consequences with your employer speaks volumes to the ridiculous balance of powers in our workplace culture. Asking for something as simple as not having your life threatened shouldn’t be something that employers should look down on, and it’s certainly not something they should get to decide.

  6. Andrea*

    Hello, I’m the guy asking question #5. First of all, thank you for your answer and your advice!
    I have a couple of follow ups if I may. First, do I have to rewrite the cover letter entirely, or is it ok to change some paragraphs? When I write a new cover letter I usually have a pretty standard “intro” and “outro” (might change some words here and there) and I write in the main paragraph why I want that job and why I think I’m a good candidate, that’s the part that I write according to the job offer; would be ok to do the same in this case?
    Secondly, I still have a contact from the first application, it’s the person who informed me I passed the first selection and handled me the test, and later informed me that unfortunately I didn’t make it; but we had nothing more than a formal dialogue in those two circumstances. It is worth maybe writing a short email to inform him I reapplied?

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      I think reusing the bulk of the letter would be OK, the reasons you’d be good at the job are probably still the same, but modify the letter so it is not a carbon copy of the original letter you submitted and if you got any feedback about your suitability from the first interview you can use that to strengthen your application this time by addressing that in your new cover letter.

      If you still have a contact in the firm then I’d send them a quick email saying that you have applied again and reiterate your interest in the job and the company.

        1. Burlington*

          Honestly, I respectfully disagree with Apollo Warbucks. I think you should re-write from scratch. Even if you only reuse a handful of phrases, those phrases can sort of reverberate in the mind of the reader. I’ve recognized portions of cover letters from people I hadn’t even realized applied before. I have no idea whether or not I’m outside of norm or not, but if you really want the job, I’d say do a total re-write.

          1. C Average*


            I think we get used to thinking of documents like cover letters as these sort of work products that exist in an audience-free vacuum, but they do (ideally, we hope) get read by actual humans.

            Think of the hiring manager the same way you’d think of a friend to whom you’re writing a letter. Would you recycle last year’s letter to reach out to your friend this year? Presumably you have more than one letter’s worth of things to say to this person about this job. This is a chance to say them!

          2. Apollo Warbucks*

            You make an interesting point, that’s not something I would have thought of. I guess because I’ve not applied anywhere more than once, I’ve always recycled the main points from my cover letters but for different companies.

            1. Andrea*

              @All thank you for your feedback, that’s a fair point I see it’s worth the extra time writing a new one from scratch

    2. Graciosa*

      Assume that they still have the letter on file and are going to re-read it (along with your current one and any other documentation) before deciding whether or not to interview you and before any interview. Write your second cover letter with that in mind – it might not happen, but it’s the safer assumption.

      Obviously, there will be some similarities (you are the same person, after all) but try to avoid having the second cover letter look like a variation of a standard form letter. You don’t want a prospective interviewer thinking that the better part of a year has passed and you have nothing new to say – and lack the creativity to do more than rearrange the sentences in what is essentially the same paragraph.

      If you need help starting, try to answer out loud the question “Why do you still want this position?” or “Why are you applying a second time for this role?” as if you were explaining to a good friend. Great cover letters are clear expressions of the voice of the author, and these are much more powerful than standard form letters that the hiring manager has seen ad nauseum.

      Good luck.

  7. sunny-dee*

    OP#2, unless there was something else showing that the internal candidate was unprepared, I don’t think the examples you listed mean what you think they mean. I have no idea what the industry is — so this is highly variable — but in my industry (technology) and a lot of others, not mentioning a professional association wouldn’t mean anything. Mentioning a professional association doesn’t mean anything — and it can even mean that the person hasn’t kept their skills up because the professional organizations aren’t current or relevant to the state of the industry.

    If the person seemed capable in other areas and your only gripe is that they didn’t mention professional journals or associations, I wouldn’t consider it a problem, much less the primary reason not to hire someone.

    Like I said, it may be different for your industry.

    1. Helen*

      Yeah, I was a little confused by the strong feelings in that letter. If she truly bombed the interview, then surely there were better candidates and LW doesn’t need to worry about her getting the offer.

      1. some1*

        Yes, I noticed the strong feelings as well — maybe the LW can elaborate on where s/he’s coming from? Do you feel like your time was wasted possibly and/or you really want to help your coworker position herself to be a stronger candidate in the future?

        If it were me, I’d be glad that someone else was the Decider and could give my coworker feedback in order to upset my coworker and possibly effecting our relationship.

    2. Chocolate lover*

      As I understood it, the professional association mention was representative of a larger issue, which was that the candidate showed no initiative at convincing them of ways that she *could* learn about the field and the qualifications she was missing. It’s pretty standard in an interview to show you’ve done your homework about ways to compensate for/learn missing skills.

      1. JMegan*

        That was my reading as well. I actually like to make that a specific interview question, in the form of “What did you do to prepare for this interview?”

        This gives them the opportunity to say they looked up a professional association or two, or identified at least a couple of sources of industry information. It’s not a dealbreaker, of course, but if all they did was read your “About Us” page, and they totally missed the Big Professional Organization, that’s a good data point for you.

      2. OP #2*

        It was a low-hanging-fruit kind of example of how someone would get up to speed in an area that had been tangential to them in the previous position. All of the professionals in our organization belong to at least one professional association and attend professional conferences, so joining one would be a good first move. There were a few questions about the new areas that were answered with absolutely no ideas coming forward about how to learn the ropes. I just can’t imagine applying for a job without doing some homework on the weaker parts of my resume — at least developing some kind of plan for how to learn new skills.

        1. sunny-dee*

          How were they answered?

          This really feels like a stretch to me. You seem really passionate about this, and I wasn’t there, so grain of salt and etc. But I think understanding more about the answers would help, because not proactively mentioning professional associations is not a red flag to me. And it wouldn’t occur to me to start outlining my ideas on job training in the middle of an interview.

          You keep bringing up that her resume is weak and she lacks skills in certain areas, but I’m not seeing the basis for that, aside from not mentioning researching professional organizations (which are, honestly, a really low bar to show competence — $300 and a 15 minute application is generally all it takes, and in my work it’s generally the least skilled people who are touting their professional associations because they don’t have anything else to fall back on).

          To me, it simply sounds like you don’t think this person is qualified because of her work history, which is a legitimate complaint, but it wouldn’t really be changed by a professional membership.

          1. OP #2*

            The answers were non-answers, such as “yeah, I don’t know how to do that yet.” There was no evidence at all of advanced preparation for the areas where she has no experience or training. Her work history does NOT qualify her for this position in all areas, and some were significant areas. That was my point. She has qualifications in some areas but not in others, and for those others (which are not trivial) she didn’t show any preparation at all.

            I really can’t give all the details of why her resume was weak because I’m not going to talk about the specifics of my workplace, and you shouldn’t expect me too.

            If you’re skeptical, well fine. I didn’t expect people to think I was making things up. I have a lot of experience in my field and I am a professional. I know how to tell whether a work history is adequate preparation for a job or not. I don’t have to prove my bona fides to you.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I think this is a reasonable complaint here. I’d like us to take letter-writers at their word about things that only they can know and we can’t. I do think it can be useful to explore other possibilities (like “have you considered that X could be the explanation?”) but I can understand why OP #2 is frustrated by some of the response to her letter.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Yeah, I definitely get that. I do think it’s often useful and interesting to go beyond the direct question posed in the letter here though, although of course the letter-writer has no obligation to participate in that if they don’t want to.

            2. sunny-dee*

              I am sorry — I was not intending to be antagonistic. I was really trying to get some clarity.

              I think it’s the emphasis on professional associations that is throwing me because (as I said in my previous post) that is a complete nonentity in my industry.

              What I’m hearing from this response is that the problem isn’t really the professional associations, per se, it’s her lack of qualifications and her vague answers to specific questions about that gap — which makes absolute perfect sense. (I am on a very understaffed team, and I almost started crying after a meeting when I found out they had transferred a horribly unqualified person on to the team to “help.”)

              I fully agree with Alison’s advice here — tell the hiring manager and hope they pass that on.

              1. JMegan*

                I don’t see membership in an organization as the end-goal here, rather I’d be looking for an awareness that the organization *exists*. If I were prepping for an interview outside my field, that would be the first thing I would look for – is there a professional organization, what resources do they have that could help me in my interview, and (hopefully!) in my future job.

                So if an interviewee doesn’t even know that the resource is available, that would be a bit of a red flag, speaking either to their lack of interest or lack of skill in preparing for the interview.

              2. #2 OP*

                The emphasis was in the replies, not in my letter. If you re-read my letter you’ll see it was just one example of how to remedy a deficiency. It happened to be the only one I used, but commenters have made a big deal of it.

              3. MK*

                Frankly, I thought it was obvious from the letter that the lack of knowledge about the professional associations was not the problem in itself.

    3. Sadsack*

      Regardless of why OP thinks his coworker is not qualified for the job, I think he should do as Alison suggested and let the hiring manager be the one to provide feedback, unless the coworker comes to him specifically asking. I realize his point is to help his coworker, but I think I would be very unhappy about it if someone on the interview team came unsolicited to tell me, “Hey, here’s why I don’t think you are right for the job.”

      1. some1*

        +1. And I think it’s helpful to remember it’s pretty common for an internal candidate to take an interview less seriously. Not to say that’s okay, but it happens. Not to mention that we have no idea what the candidate’s exepctation level is here — maybe they are on the fence about the new role but felt it would look bad if they didn’t at least throw their hat in the ring.

        1. ella*

          I admit I’m struggling against this feeling. I’ve been trying to move up in my job for about a year, and internal candidates are guaranteed interviews, and after probably 10 interviews it’s really hard to get yourself into “stage mode” every single time. (Part of the reason why I haven’t gotten hired yet is probably equal parts me not doing great interviews and also TONS of both internal and external competition for the same jobs.)

          1. C Average*

            Same. It feels weird and somehow a little fake to put on your game face to talk to people you see in the break room every day and drink beers with every Friday, and who already know your work really well.

            This would be an amazing topic for a post, Alison! I know instinctively that the rules are different for internal interviews–I’ve been on both sides of the table for lots of them–but I’m not entirely sure what exactly the rules ARE. Some pro tips would be super helpful.

          2. #2 OP*

            In my opinion (and experience) if you really want the job, prepare for it as if it’s for some other organization where nobody knows you. You may be competing against someone else who has done that kind of preparation.

      2. Sadsack*

        Ok, so I’ve been thinking about this, and I want to clarify…The reason that I think the hiring manager should be the one to give the job candidate feedback is that the hiring manager is the person making the decision, having taken into account the feedback that she received from others involved in the interview process. The hiring manager may decide not to move ahead with this candidate, but that decision may not necessarily be due to OP’s assessment of the candidate. For this reason, it may not be helpful to the candidate for OP to tell her his opinion of her interview, unless he confirms that the hiring manager is in agreement with his assessment.

        1. #2 OP*

          Good point. If the candidate does get the job, it would just be a question of how much help to offer.

    4. Apollo Warbucks*

      I agree that if that’s the only weakness in the application then I don’t think its a deal breaker, but If someone is wanting to move to a different department it would be beneficial to demonstrate an interest / engagement in the type of work they would be doing and will certainly enhance an application.

      Last time I interviewed for a tech job I was asked about my involvement in the community of the niche I’d be working in. I was able to talk about blogs I read and on-line resources / training materials I’ve used, as well as conferences I’ve been too. It’s a way to demonstrate a broad interest in the industry, appetite for learning / development and also the resources available to help me solve a problem, even if I don’t know the answer to a question I’ve half dozen communities / forums to help find an answer. That sort of knowledge / interest is worth the employer asking about.

      If I was the OP I’d maybe recommend some resources to the interviewee so they can read a few articles

    5. MK*

      As I read it, the OP says their coworker is neither qualified nor experienced in the skills needed for the job, and on the op of that they didn’t show any interest to learn about it, which is where the prefessional associations, etc come in.

      1. sunny-dee*

        Oh, I agree that that is the OP’s impression, but judging strictly by what’s in the letter, it seems like a really extreme position based on the fact the interviewee didn’t bring up professional associations. That seems to be the only thing the OP is basing that reaction on, and there could be a ton of reasons that reaction is off. Maybe they never asked the OP a question that led to her mentioning her skills / prep for that area. Or maybe the person has tons of experience in it from a different company.

        It’s only a single data point, but it seems like the OP is very much overreacting.

        If the candidate was incapable or unprepared in general, that is a major problem. But I’m not feeling it just from not mentioning checking out a professional organization.

        1. #2 OP*

          Associations were just an EXAMPLE. There are many ways to show you have done your homework! I didn’t feel I had to list them all and make a checklist of what she didn’t bring up.

        2. #2 OP*

          You weren’t actually judging by the letter, in my opinion. Did you miss the part where I said:

          “In the part of the interview I was in, she didn’t seem to have done any homework on the areas where she’s less qualified. I mean none!”

        3. MK*

          It was mentioned in so many words that the coworker was not very qualified in certain areas. Yes, we only have the OP’s word for that, but that’s true of everything in AAM letters. I don’t think it’s on the OP to justify that; and they can’t without giving an unreasonable amount of detail.

          Also, I question your assumption that it’s on the hiring manager to worm out whether the candidate is qualified in some obscure way. If you have relevant experience, it should be highlighted in your CV and cover letter and pro actively mentioned in the interview. You can’t expect the interviewer to ask unprompted.

    6. Seal*

      Based on how OP2 worded the question and the fact that I’m a librarian myself, my guess is that the interviewee in question is a staff member in an academic library interviewing for a librarian position. Academic librarians are expected to stay current in their field through memberships in professional associations, attending conferences (in person and virtual), and reading and publishing in the journals relevant to their area of expertise. Given the scarcity of open positions in librarianship in general, a candidate who didn’t do their homework as described by the OP would send up all sorts of red flags for me as well, particularly if they were already a staff member who should have some sense of the professional expectations of librarians at their institution.

      In this case, it could be that the internal candidate assumes that they have a leg up on the competition because they’re internal and therefore didn’t bother to put in the effort expected. That speaks volumes about their work ethic, and in theory should take them out of the running. On the other hand, a department in the library I work for regularly hires poorly qualified internal candidates for librarian positions, much to the consternation of the rest of the library. Given the rigorous standards the university allegedly has, it ‘s unclear how or why this department is allowed to get away with this. Part of the problem is that people – including those on the search committee – are afraid to speak up. If the OP’s internal candidate does get hired, it would be perfectly appropriate in this situation to point them towards the professional associations and journals relevant to their new position. All new librarians need mentors, both formal and informal.

      1. #2 OP*

        There are many fields with subspecialties where going to a conference is the best way to learn about new developments and network with others. Journals from those specialties go only to people with memberships, so that’s another way that membership helps people keep up with new developments.

    7. #2 OP*

      I said: “In the part of the interview I was in, she didn’t seem to have done any homework on the areas where she’s less qualified. I mean none!”

      Is that too subtle?

  8. Blue Anne*

    On Alison’s comparison for #5 – using the same message to get in contact through a dating website a year later – people do that to me all the time and it’s hilariously awful. For example I have in my OkCupid inbox right now this message thread:

    9 July 2014: “Hey beautiful I read your profile and u seem really intersting lets chat x”
    23 January 2014: “Hey beautiful I read your profile and u seem really intersting lets chat x”

    Same guy. I didn’t reply the first time, but also didn’t delete the message, and so they show up one right after the other. It’s hilarious because he’s clearly been copy-pasting the exact same thing all this time, typos and all. And it’s not even unusual.

    To relate this back to OP: if you got selected for the first round previously, they’ll probably still have your info on file and will look it up again. It will be pretty weird if it’s exactly the same. Don’t be OkCupid Guy. :)

      1. Chocolate lover*

        maybe we should start an “on-line dating” topic in the next open thread. That would be hilarious.

        1. Karowen*

          Oh I have a winner for this one – I’m going to need to set a reminder on my phone to stop in on Sunday!

          1. Apollo Warbucks*

            Carrie from Scotland posted the other week about a particularly bad second date, so you’ve got some stiff competition.

        2. Perpetua*

          There’s actually been quite a bit of talk on the topic of on-line dating in the open threads recently, or so it seems to me, at least. :) I don’t mind, I find that topic (and many others, yay open threads!) very interesting, although it can get a bit depressing, being recently single. :)

          1. Chocolate lover*

            I admit, I haven’t had a chance to read the open threads recently, so I haven’t seen it. I’m going to have to search for Carrie’s story!

        3. Cath in Canada*

          A friend of mine took screenshots of her husband’s original online dating profile, and his first few messages to her, to forward to friends for discussion at the start of the relationship. She then did a PowerPoint presentation about them as her wedding speech. I’ve never laughed so hard at a wedding speech before!

  9. TOC*

    I don’t think OP #1’s letter actually says anything about flying or being out of town. If there’s no travel (and expense) involved for Company A, I think it’s especially okay to go to the interview if there’s any part of you still open to an offer from them.

    1. LBK*

      The letter says “they’re paying” in the last sentence, so there’s some kind of expense incurred, although you’re right that it doesn’t actually say if it’s a flight or they’re just buying the OP lunch or something.

  10. TOC*

    #4, I really think you should take the new job. You are giving your current employers several months’ notice; you might even be able to help train your replacement. They know you’re a student and that students don’t usually stay forever. It would be nice to thank your employers for being so good to you (both when you give your notice and when you actually leave). And once you’re settled in your new city, school, and job, drop them an occasional note to say hi. I bet they’d be delighted to hear how you’re doing. Good luck!

  11. anonymous for this one...*

    Blue Anne,
    Back in the day, when I did online dating, I looked at the guy’s profiles. I was blown away. My advice to any guy is take your time writing your profile. Put good respectable pics on it. Keep it respectable. When you as a guy message a woman understand she gets probably a million messages like the you got (twice!), so write something respectful and that shows you have read the profile. I would always include a question in a message about a hobby or interest the woman had. Lastly don’t objectify the woman as a sex object or make silly comments about “being beautiful” or “hot.” Maybe some women want that, but the majority want to be treated with respect. I got quite a few dates out online dating. I had several women comment that I was one of the most respectful guys to contact them. I would just tell them I try and treat people like I want to be treated. That all being said, I can’t imagine what kind of silliness women get in messages from guys on those sites.

    1. Nerd Girl*

      I second this! I met my husband online. I had guy after guy contact me asking me personal questions about my size, weight, etc. My husband did ask me if my hair color was real (I am a red-head) and told me that as a kid he loved the Pippi Longstocking movie. That was the only question about my physical appearance he asked. It was a big part why I agreed to date him in the first place.

    2. Blue Anne*

      Yep, this is all good advice for guys.

      I’m poly, and have been dating around in my current city for about 8 years. In that time I’ve had 5 or 6 serious relationships (usually overlapping and including my husband of two years), a whole bunch of flings, a ridiculous amount of first date and an incredible number of messages on various dating sites. Some of them are pretty damn silly. Maybe something for the open thread, don’t want to derail this one any further. :)

  12. mdv*

    #3 — I feel your pain! I work in a university parking department, where 95% of the callers are angry anyway (and often because of getting a ticket after they ignored signs, rules, etc). Luckily, the department has a policy of not even listing our direct extensions in the university directories (print and online), and the culture on campus is aware that it is pretty “special” to have been given our direct line.

    If I worked where you work, though, I would absolutely insist on the anonymity, because I personally have such a unique name, there is no one else in the WORLD with the same name. (Thanks, mom!) Perhaps I would cite a few examples of internet stalking and abuse, if they weren’t reasonable about it.

  13. themmases*

    I think OP3 should point out to their employer that often there is a business need not to give out the direct line of people who take general calls. Lots of people get attached to one person they find helpful, then insist on calling that person directly. It can be a real problem if one person gets overworked but you have no way to track that, or if people leave personal voicemail for their favorite staff person and then it goes unanswered for a week because that person is on vacation. If they ever leave it inconveniences the person who inherits their phone line too.

    I would talk to your employer separately about the threatening calls and how much is too much before you can at least hang up or take some other action. But at least not having your full name and extension out there should give you time to work that out.

  14. Case of the Mondays*

    There is also the issue that some employees may not want to be “googleable” for personal reasons. I’m avoiding contact with a distant unstable aunt. I decided to leave my bio up on my law firm profile but I’m dreading the day she googles my work info and tries to contact me that way. She is blocked from all my personal stuff and I can always just block her from my work stuff too if I have to but if she was really dangerous, I wouldn’t want her having my work address either.

    1. De Minimis*

      I have a similar issue, the only thing that helps is that we have moved several states away from the people we are wanting to avoid so it’s unlikely they could get it together to just show up at our home or workplace.

    2. Hlyssande*

      It can definitely exacerbate stalking situations, too. If the employees who didn’t want to be listed could opt out, this would be okay. But if they’re not able to opt out…that’s a whole barrel of NOPE to me.

  15. Nerd Girl*

    #3 – I totally agree that it isn’t necessary that people have the full names of employees. Just yesterday I took a call from a client who was extremely angry. She was transferred to me and even though this was the first time we’d ever spoken she demanded my name, extension, and my physical location for her “lawsuit”. I refused all her requests – not because I thought I would be named in her lawsuit but because I didn’t want this crazy lady to call again and have that information to request me again. LOL! The call eventually went to a supervisor who supported my reasons for not giving this caller my information. I would have been very angry if I had been told that I “had” to give that out.

    1. Zahra*

      Yeah, when I worked at a call center, I would give out my first name and my employee number. Partly because my name would need to be spelled (and I hate to do that), partly because it’s easily googlable (I’m the only one with my name on the planet, apparently). I always used the same alias “Sarah” because I didn’t want to spell my first name either.

  16. ModernHypatia*

    One other possibility is that some call lines and other customer support have people in the first tier pick a different name to use (people often use a middle name, or just pick a name they like.) Bonus: it gives you a way to disengage more cleanly from the stress that can come with those kinds of jobs.

    The name used is consistent (so the company can follow up/do internal tracking/check on an escalated call with the right person/etc.) but you don’t run the risk of someone being able to look through the public directory and track a particular person down that they know only by the phone.

    Obviously, it doesn’t help with things like a stalker or domestic violence: in those cases you still want someone to be able to hide their contact info from the public entirely.

  17. soitgoes*

    I was in a situation like #3 a couple of years ago. I was a phone recruiter for one of those horrible insurance companies that promised people management jobs but forced them to start with sales. I did it for as long as I could stand it (this was post-Sandy in a beach town; there weren’t a lot of jobs left to be had) but the people we recruited were rightfully angry. We were promising jobs to disaster victims and then playing “gotcha” with them. Anyway, my company email address had my last name in it, and people would google that and end up calling my mother (because that was the info that came up) and harassing her. I begged the company for a new email address that didn’t have my real name in it, but they refused. I left the company without giving two weeks notice because I didn’t feel safe there. We also had some incidents where my coworkers’ cars were vandalized and broken into in the parking lot because the people we brought in for “interviews” were so furious with us.

      1. soitgoes*

        We were also held responsible for getting people on the phone and leaving voicemails…in a district where phone service had not yet been wholly restored.

  18. C Average*

    Re #2

    It would be interesting for the OP to find out whether the other interviewers also thought the colleague had bombed the interview.

    Obviously this stuff varies hugely with industry, but in all the internal interviews I’ve been on panels for, we were mainly trying to suss out whether the person is a good fit for the team they’re looking to join and has the right qualities and general aptitude for the job, and has good business judgment and intelligence and curiosity and learning ability in general. (And, for an internal candidate, we’d probably already have some preconceived ideas on these questions.)

    In the absence of other gaffes, I wouldn’t find failing to mention journals and professional associations associated with a new function she’d be taking on “bombing” the interview. And it wouldn’t be unusual for a candidate to not speak at length to a specific skill she hadn’t yet developed, other than to note that she’d had limited opportunity to use that skill and was looking forward to using it and developing it in the new role.

    Definitely give her feedback, but I’d frame it more as “if you find yourself in a similar scenario in the future, here are some resources you could use to research the functions of the job that will be new to you so that you can speak to them in a bit more detail in the interview.”

    1. fposte*

      Right, internal interviews are often icing rather than cake–interviewers already are likely to have much of the information they’re using the interview to gauge other candidates on. It’s one of those situations that can really bring to the fore some of the issues about interviews–are they a required hoop where an interviewee has to meet certain standards within the interview regardless of how it correlates to actual performance, or are they a way of finding out more about likely performance within a situation that compresses those opportunities? I’m overbalancing my statement there, because I actually would struggle with hiring an otherwise good person who totally flubbed an interview–I’d probably call them back in–but I think it’s important to remember that the goal is to get the best employee, not the best interviewee.

    2. #2 OP*

      If it had been an external candidate I’d compare notes with others, but either way I’ll be working with this person in the future and I don’t want to start any back-channel negativity in the organization.

      1. fposte*

        But the interviewers discussed her interview together, didn’t they? What did they think? (Even in our weird academic situation we get to discuss candidates, but maybe your org can’t, I suppose.)

        Overall, from what I’m hearing, I think you’re right that she didn’t do herself proud. But you sound personally frustrated with her–and maybe, given your mention of the deficits in her work history even before she got the interview, with her even being considered for the job–in a way that seems to suggest something more than just a lackluster interview. If so, that’s another reason not to give her feedback–if there’s something about the situation that’s getting under your skin, it can be hard to repress that irritation enough to be constructive.

        So I’m another vote for letting this go, unless she specifically asks for feedback and you think you can do so without hitting the frustration wellspring.

    3. #2 OP*

      FYI, this was not an interview for an entry level position, so the bar is a bit higher than some of the responders may imagine. Engagement in professional associations is expected for all the professionals in our organization, and she currently belongs to at least one. So finding out what one’s new professional association will be is the easiest possible preparation for an interview question about these areas. The reason I brought it up was because it takes about 30 seconds to find that out, and she didn’t even do that. She hadn’t given any thought at all to *how* to get up to speed in areas that are new, as evidenced by a total lack of response to questions about those new areas. I do mean total – she just had vague responses such as “I don’t know much about that. I’ll have to learn more about it.” This could mean many things, mostly not good: 1) laziness 2) not really wanting the job 3) lack of imagination 4) assuming she’s a shoo-in because of being an internal candidate.

      Could it also mean she didn’t expect the rest of us to look for some forethought? Not likely. She’s been in the organization for many years and has participated in the hiring process for other positions (in a similar capacity to mine in this instance). She’s definitely seen some fabulous interviewees close-up and personal.

  19. maggie*

    #5 – thanks for introducing me to an area that I otherwise had no clue existed. I just spent the better part of 15 minutes down a worm hole of design v user research articles and it was incredibly fascinating!

  20. TalleySueNYC*

    A point to make to the person who wants to put employee names on the website:

    It’s a nightmare to keep it updated–it creates extra work. When employees leave and are replaced, you have to take their names down and put new ones up.

    See if that persuades them against it.

    And for #4 (wanting to leave even though you said you’d work next summer): If you really want to do them a solid, try to help find someone. Someone *good* and *reliable*–don’t suggest anybody remotely sketchy. But if you’ve enjoyed working there in the summer, so would some other college student. Look around at clubs, etc., and see who is a sensible and reliable person. And mention the job to any of those people you find.

  21. brownblack*

    #3 – I work in an industry – nonprofit performing arts – where, for whatever reason, it is customary to list employees publicly, including on organization websites. I had never really thought about how unusual this is – not just that certain companies do it, but across my whole industry it is almost standard practice.

    Occasionally I will have to contact someone at one of our peer organizations and I’ll be irritated to find that their name is not listed on the org’s website. Often the staff list will include brief bios or even email addresses. Can anyone else think of an industry where such a thing is prevalent?

    1. Buffay the Vampire Layer*

      Law, for one. Even the smallest of firms has a website listing all of the lawyers and sometimes the paralegal staff as well.

    2. Elder Dog*

      Real Estate sales.

      It’s led to a number of murders, never mind robberies, rapes and beatings, but it’s still standard practice to publish names, areas of residence, contact information and photos, including of support staff, not just agents.

      1. fposte*

        I don’t think the crime problem there is a website publishing thing per se, though–it predates the web. It’s more the vulnerability of daily being alone with total strangers, often in isolated locations (that’s why taxi drivers are so vulnerable); it may be enhanced by the personal recognition focus in real estate, but that was true in print days as well.

      2. brownblack*

        Real Estate sales is such an interesting example. I guess many industries that rely on client interactions (law being another, and even insurance and so on) do stuff like this. It’s not “call State Farm,” it’s “call Jim Smith, your local state farm agent [phone number][head shot].”

        My industry is not remotely like this. Almost nobody needs to call their local ballet company and speak to the foundation relations assistant, or whatever. Academia is probably a better comparison.

    3. Talvi*

      Academia is another. Departments will list names, emails, and office numbers for all faculty and grad students (phone numbers if they’ve got one), as well as a brief bio about the person’s research focus. Sometimes photos!

  22. #2 OP*

    FYI, this was not an interview for an entry level position, so the bar is a bit higher than some of the responders may imagine. Engagement in professional associations is expected for all the professionals in our organization, and she currently belongs to at least one. So finding out what one’s new professional association will be is the easiest possible preparation for an interview question about these areas. The reason I brought it up was because it takes about 30 seconds to find that out, and she didn’t even do that. She hadn’t given any thought at all to *how* to get up to speed in areas that are new, as evidenced by a total lack of response to questions about those new areas. I do mean total – she just had vague responses such as “I don’t know much about that. I’ll have to learn more about it.” This could mean many things, mostly not good: 1) laziness 2) not really wanting the job 3) lack of imagination 4) assuming she’s a shoo-in because of being an internal candidate.

    Could it also mean she didn’t expect the rest of us to look for some forethought? Not likely. She’s been in the organization for many years and has participated in the hiring process for other positions (in a similar capacity to mine in this instance). She’s definitely seen some fabulous interviewees close-up and personal.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      It almost sounds like she did not want the job. It could be she applied and was not willing to tell people she changed her mind.
      Or it could be that your assessment is right on the money.

      For whatever the reason the conclusion still lands in the same place: she is not helping herself. Even at this late stage of the game she could be asking for feedback. And I am not seeing where she has done that. OP, I think I would let it go. Maybe in a few weeks she will ask, that would help me to change my mind on letting it go.

      It is very difficult to help people who are not asking for help. And it is even tougher to help people who do not want to be helped. Mirror what she does, if she just ignores the whole thing, then do that. If she comes back to you later on and asks questions, then I’d answer her questions. Likewise with the manager- I don’t think I would talk to the manager, either.

  23. Not So NewReader*

    OP#1. Have a very good reason for flying out to the interview. You have to live with yourself. If you know your reason for going is lame, that could tend to undermine your efforts here. You might not interview as strong as you would like, or you might encounter other difficulties trying to fake the reason that you are sitting there. It will feel more like charades than an interview.

    Sometimes I go into a mode where I cannot leave a single stone unturned. I have to work intensely before making my final decision. This would be an example of a very good reason to fly out there. If you can’t gather up any drive/motivation to go, then that might be your answer right there.

  24. shellbell*

    I flew out for an interview for a position I really had almost no intention of taking. I was in negotiation with another company. Guess, what? The other company restructured and totally eliminated the dept that was going to hire me and they never came through with the offer (they were embarrassed). I ended up taking the other job and relocating to an area I never expected to live in, and I’m still here 6 years later!

    1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

      That’s a really good reminder not to assume the job is in the bag until it really is.

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