job offer red flags, I feel undermined by a coworker, and more

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

1. Should I be worried about taking this job?

My question is probably a no-brainer, but I’m a recent grad still trying to figure out all the nuances of the professional world, so: I just (this morning) informally accepted my first professional job. It happened very fast – I applied last Thursday, got an invitation to interview on Friday, interviewed on Tuesday and the hiring manager called me this morning (Wednesday) to offer me the job. From what I saw of the office and staff, I definitely want this job, but something about the process is making me uneasy – the speed of it, and also the fact that they didn’t ask for my references (I have internship supervisors and professors who would happily provide one), and also the fact that the hiring manager said she would send me the benefits package today but hasn’t yet (although it’s only been a few hours).

Does this sound normal? I think maybe I’ve interviewed and been turned down for so many jobs over the past few months that I’m reluctant to let myself believe that this could be real… a simple “yes, sounds legit” or “run away!” from you would do wonders to put my mind at ease.

Some otherwise soundly-operating employers don’t check references — weird but true. The speed would worry me a little more, although even that’s not necessarily a problem. I’d put it in context about what else you know about them: Did they explain why they were moving so quickly, or even acknowledge it? What other signals did you get about their culture and how they do things? Did they give you plenty of opportunity to ask your own questions? That’s the stuff I’d look at. If you feel good on those fronts, I wouldn’t let the speed turn you off.

2. I feel undermined by a colleague

I am the new manager for a process improvement team. I was holding a staff meeting with my staff when all of a sudden, my colleague — another manager — barged into my meeting and asked one of my staff members if they were meeting. (This staff member used to be his analyst but has moved on to my team now.) Because this was done in front of my other staff, I felt embarrassed and powerless, as if he feels that his needs are more important than mine.

How should I address this with this manager? This is not the first time I felt undermined by him.

This makes him look rude, far more than it makes you look weak. If you appear rattled by it, that could make you look weak, but otherwise this is just someone being rude.

In the moment when it happened, you could have said, “We’re actually right in the middle of something, but Lavinia can check in with you when we’re done here.” But frankly, even that isn’t really necessary — he came to check if someone was supposed to be meeting with him, she presumably wasn’t, and that’s that. Of course, if your staff member got up to leave your meeting with him, you’d want to address that (“Lavinia, I actually need you here. Can you connect with Lucius later?”), but that doesn’t sound like the case.

My hunch is that you’re letting this guy have too much power over you. You’re rattled (I assume) because he made you feel that he did have the power to pull someone out of your meeting or that your team would think that — but he doesn’t, and your team will follow your cues. Act with the confidence of your own position and speak up when you need to … but allowing yourself to feel undermined by stuff like this will actually weaken you far more than this guy’s behavior could on its own.

3. I have concerns about my new coworker

I have some concerns about a new coworker in my office and am wondering if I should say anything. I am fairly new myself, having been here for a little less than a year. I am not responsible for training this person, but everyone in the office is asked to help out with spending some time training new people or observing them when they first start out working on their own.

In total, I’ve only spent a few hours training or observing this person, and she’s not exactly doing anything wrong, per se. But she’s not exactly doing things really well either. There have been several small red flags (things like not asking any questions in training, not being very thorough, seeming to miss connections between related issues, etc.). Obviously, someone will correct her if she makes a mistake, but I’m worried that no one is pointing out the overall pattern, and that her training period is scheduled to end soon. Should I ask to meet with her and point out some of the big-picture issues I noticed? If that’s too heavy-handed (considering that I’m just a colleague and peer), I could offer to share some of my “tips for success.”

Should I mention something to our supervisor, and suggest that her training period be extended? One concern is that our supervisor mostly deals with management issues and doesn’t do the same day-to-day work, so I’m not sure that she’d even pick up on the things I’m talking about if no one pointed them out. Or, since I’m not responsible for training this person, should I just mind my own business?

I’d do two things: First, ask her how things are going and if there’s anything you can help train her in or cover again with her. You could say something like, “I know it can be a lot to learn at once, and I’d be glad to cover anything that you’re still feeling shaky on.” You could also offer to share some of the things you learned that were particularly helpful to you in the beginning, including work habits.

But I’d also share your observations with your manager. It sounds like she welcomes input from people during this training process, and most decent managers would welcome someone saying something like, “I’ve noticed that Jane might need some additional coaching in things like X, Y, and Z.”

That said, the types of issues you’re describing are ones that can be very hard to coach out of people. All you can really do is make your manager aware of the issues and make your coworker aware that she can use you as a resource if she’s motivated to.

4. How to manage other managers

I’m moving into a new director position in a corporate environment, where I’ll have two managers reporting to me, as well as several individuals. Each manager will have individuals as direct reports. Much of your advice about good management obviously applies, but I’m curious about any specific advice you’d give about how to manage a manager. The managers will be responsible for much of the team’s day-to-day activities, while I will be expected to stay up to speed on the day-to-day but also be responsible for strategy and planning for the next 6-12+ months.

My hope is to enable the managers to lead their respective teams by setting clear goals and expectations. I’m wondering how best to stay involved enough while not interfering, and I definitely don’t want to create a dynamic where the individuals under the managers feel like they have too many bosses. One additional consideration is that the managers are new to the department and our function is pretty specialized.

I have the perfect article for you … somewhere else. It’s this piece from The Management Center (for whom I do lots of work and with whom I helped create this piece).

5. Are some companies exempt from anti-discrimination laws?

This is sort of a “curiosity” question that’s been on my mind for quite a while — ever since being fired from a job due to my religious affiliation a few years back — is it legal for small companies (less than 50 people) to discriminate based on race, religion, disability, etc? Or do those laws only apply to companies over a certain size?

Most anti-discrimination laws cover employers with 15 or more employees. The ADEA — which prohibits discriminating against people 40 or over — covers employers with 20 or more employees. And some states have their own laws that kick in at lower numbers.

The thinking, I believe, was that lawmakers didn’t want to subject very small employers to the financial and staff burden of defending against discrimination claims (a burden which can be significant, even if you ultimately prevail).

{ 227 comments… read them below }

  1. skyline*

    #4 – Have you ever read The Leadership Pipeline? It is a pretty dense read at times, but I found its analysis of how your skills and values need to change at different levels of an organization really interesting.

  2. LAI*

    #1 – I think Alison is right, as usual. If you felt good about everything else in the process, I wouldn’t let the speed scare you away. I was once on a hiring committee where our last applicant was so good, we all knew she was the one right away. When she left, we joked about just running after her and offering her the job on the spot. She later told us that she was nervous that we were so eager, like something was really wrong with the job, but the truth was that we just liked to move quickly in the hiring process and didn’t want to lose her to another offer.

    1. M-C*

      #1, is this a tech job? Because if it is I wouldn’t worry in the least about the speed, it seems almost sluggish even to spend a whole week at it :-). I once got a call back from a resume so fast I didn’t have time to change my voice mail message to something else than father Guido Sarducci, got interviewed the same afternoon, hit it off with the manager who liked my sense of humor, and had an offer waiting on the same voice mail by the time I got home. Great job too, one of the best managers ever. So don’t sweat it, just celebrate :-).

      1. M-C*

        I should add that references aren’t so important when there are objective criteria of doing good work. If the person can’t write decent code, you’ll know in the first couple weeks, you can just get rid of them.

          1. UKJo*

            Does that hold true when the potential employee is a recent grad and may not have had “proper” jobs before? If references are all professors or similar then they might not know them beyond their school work. Although they may of course. Just makes a bit more sense in that situation I spose.
            (Also I realise many folks would have a part time job in there…)

            1. Big10Professor*

              This was my thinking, too. Students use me as a reference often, and I don’t really have much to say. Like, “showed up to class, did good work, etc.” gives a little information, but it’s nothing at all like when I managed people in my industry days.

            2. UncoolCat (formerly Manda)*

              But they may have had supervisors from part time jobs, maybe in food service or retail, that could be used as references. Sure, it’s a different type of work, but they can still talk about things like work ethic, attitude, attendance, how quickly they learned, willingness to help other staff, etc. If it’s a job that involves a lot of working with clients and/or answering phones, it may also be helpful to get a sense of their customer service skills at those jobs.

            3. Not telling*

              As the level of experience increases, employers will likely request multiple rounds of interviews or spend more time conducting reference checks–because with more experience comes more responsibility and they want to make sure that they are putting their trust in the right person.

              But for entry level? If they have the right skill set (degree, software skills, etc), and it seems like you can fit with the culture, there’s probably not a whole lot more that references will reveal.

      2. hayling*

        Yeah I was hired at my tech company within the span of a week, no reference checking (we now check references and take it a little slower). As long as the company seems like a good fit I wouldn’t worry about it.

        1. TrainerGirl*

          I’ve been in my current position with a tech company, and the process (with an HR screening and 2 interviews) took about 2 1/2 weeks in total. I provided work samples, so I think that’s why it went so quickly. Years ago, I applied for a position at a job fair, and after waiting two months, was interviewed on a Friday afternoon and was offered the job 3 days later. A number of people had left the department, and the employees were threatening to go on strike if the director didn’t hire some new staff. Sometimes managers are just motivated to hire and it isn’t necessarily a red flag.

      3. Ops Analyst*

        Also at a tech company and they moved really fast – less than 2 weeks from 1st contact to offer. They also didn’t call references, which I thought was strange. However, the interview process was very in depth and I had to demonstrate my skills so it was pretty clear I was capable of doing the job. They also ran a pretty extensive background check so they knew I hadn’t done anything illegal. As Alison said though, they would not have been able to know whether I’m terrible to coworkers or have displayed porn in my office.

    2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      We know what we are looking for. When the exceptional candidate hits all the markers, we move quickly. It’s rare for us to not do second interview, but we’ve done second interview the same day (if the candidate is available) and had a job offer out two days later.

      There’s no profit in delay. Exceptional candidates who hit all the markers don’t grow on trees.

      Congrats to the OP! I hope this is a great fit for all concerned.

      1. Ops Analyst*

        Right. I received my offer for current job within 2 hours of my final stage presentation. The other members of my team that were hired into the same role waited a couple of weeks for offers after their final presentations. My employer thought I was particularly strong so they moved quickly. I would not find it a red flag.

      2. Selkie*

        I received two offers within 45 minutes of the interviews.. Both were on the same day, and that was after over a year of searching. Sometimes it just happens! My references also weren’t checked until I accepted the offer, but that may be more of a UK thing.

    3. CAA*

      We also move very fast with hiring. I’m trying to fill several positions right now in a hot job market. Good people have multiple offers to choose from and the place down the street with the really famous name that you all know will always pay more than we can, so there’s a sense of urgency to be decisive and fill these positions to get the work done. We do check references, but it’s not at all unusual for me to go from first look at a resume to an offer within four days.

      If I have someone here for an interview, they’re meeting with 5 or 6 people over about three hours. By the end of that time, a consensus has formed and we know whether we want the candidate or not. There’s no need to bring them back for a second or third round.

    4. Meg*

      Seconding the tech question.

      Every programmer position I’ve had has been quick to interview, quick to hire, 2-3 weeks out start date (for me to give notice). Even my government position was quick, and the three weeks before my start date was perfect to get my background check and federal ID done. Recruiter on Monday, phone interview Wednesday, in person interview Friday, offer Monday (well verbal offer on Monday after salary negotiations. My recruiter got me $12k more than I was asking!). And government tends to move like molasses in the winter.

      Oh, and I’ve also never had anyone call my references either. I asked one manager about it, and he said pretty much the same thing – they saw my work, saw my resume, and I didn’t need someone else to say I know how to write code when they can see the code for themselves (most of the time).

      I wouldn’t consider Not Calling References and the speed/efficiency of the hiring process to be a red flag at all.

    5. Ama*

      I was hired by my current employer in the span of a week — I submitted my resume on a Thursday night, received a phone call (which turned into a spontaneous phone interview) on Friday morning, had an in person interview the following Monday and a job offer three days later. It was a little disconcerting, but I got a good gut feeling from the people I interviewed with, and they were very upfront about the fact that they were trying to get someone on board ahead of an upcoming event and knew they were cutting it close once a new hire’s notice period was taken into account. They also did check my references (including making my job offer contingent on speaking with my current manager, which I was fine with).

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        The same thing happened with my first job with my current company. I had a phone interview one day (I think on a Friday), interviewed in person on Monday or Tuesday, and had an offer before the end of that week. I liked the company, the industry, and the people I interviewed with. I’m in a different department now, but I’ve been there 10 years.

    6. charlotte*

      #1, I think the most important is your hunch about the job and company culture. Based on these, see if it’s something you would like to be at. You may also find some clues online if the company is odd or sort. I was in your situation 6 months ago as a fresh grad. During the interview I was told I need to wait about 2 weeks because they have other candidates. But after the interview, I got a call that I got the job. Later I found out they have interviewed people before me and they want to take quick action in confirming me. I guess when you are job hunting, you potential employer are at the same time hunting for a suitable candidate and you’re probably anan excellent one that they do not want to let go of. Also, if everything is okay, try it out. You always have the choice to quit if things aren’t to your expectation..

      1. neverjaunty*

        Yes, this. If it feels weird there may be something else going on. Speed alone isn’t bad, but do they seem desperate or pushy?

    7. Ihmmy*

      there are some places where they churn through people constantly (namely places where you’re asked to bring in your own clientele, sell to friends/family, etc.) and those can be a bit sketchy. Other places just hire fast because they have a need or haven’t been able to find the right candidate yet despite hunting for a while.

      in my current gig, I got called for an interview a couple days after I applied, interviewed on a Friday. I guess they called my references on the Friday afternoon and Monday morning, because when I was about to draft a thank you email on Monday morning I got a call offering me the job. Which I gladly accepted – I got a good feeling from the people I met with and have wanted to work for this employer for some time.

  3. Gwydion*

    #1 – I honestly don’t see any problem with this process.Perhaps a more savvy hiring manager would have addressed the out-of-the-norm hiring speed, but it doesn’t strike me as odd to fill an entry level position this quickly. (I’m assuming entry level given this being the first job out of school.) Especially if the employer has the position open as a result of an unexpected staff departure, getting someone in ASAP can make total sense. It’s also not that bizarre for a hiring manager to promise benefits paperwork and then drop the ball (their other responsibilities sometimes can get in the way of the simplest things!).

    That said, my dirty little secret was that over my time hiring over 20 people, I never called references for our entry level staff (and often never asked for it). Because I was expecting to hire and train these people directly, verifying their previous experience was not as important as it would be for a mid-to-senior level hire (in my opinion). I think Alison’s points are absolutely correct: base your decision less on speed-of-hire and more on the answers to your questions, the environment, the culture, the expected responsibilities, the opportunity to learn and grow, etc.

    1. LBK*

      I agree totally with your second paragraph – for an entry-level person you might not really care about references, because you might be expecting to hire people who don’t even really have any. Proven track record isn’t as important at that level.

      1. neverjaunty*

        But those people may not be entry level forever. Entry-level people are still at your company, and can still do damage (see AAM’s horror story linked above).

        1. Not telling*

          I’m sure AAM has the stats, but if I recall the average entry-level worker stays at their first job less than three years. So what kind of damage an employee does in forever can be someone else’s job to check.

          It may make sense for a large company to invest in background checks. Small companies don’t always even have HR staff to conduct the checks–it’s done by the managers themselves, on top of their regular job of making sure the company is profitable. The hours spent calling references don’t have much benefit compared the the effort that the company has to put into it. And because it may take a manager so much longer to play phone tag with references, in between doing all of their other work, they may ultimately lose out on a candidate who accepts a competitor’s offer in the meantime. Then it is not just the hours spent checking references, but the whole interview and hiring process that has been wasted.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            This does not line up with my experience at all! Small organizations can and do conduct thorough reference checks, and it rarely takes longer than a few days. They’re not losing candidates over it. It’s a normal part of hiring, and it often does bring significant benefit.

    2. Lily in NYC*

      But if you don’t check, then you don’t know if the person is lying about their experience. Even if they don’t need the experience for the new role, I would want to know that the person was actually truthful on their resume. We have found some huge whoppers during our validation process (most recent – candidate used his sister for a fake reference and I realized it after talking to her for 5 minutes and then easily confirmed it by googling).

      1. Remy*

        If it’s entry level, it’s questionable whether applicants are going to be able to produce three professional references. I’m not saying a validating process isn’t important, just pointing out that there could be circular things going on here that contributed to such a result.

        1. Lily in NYC*

          I don’t recall saying anything about needing 3 references; I’m not sure where you got that number. I might have misread the comment, but I took it to mean that they don’t verify anything from the person’s resume, even simply to check if a former job actually existed (plenty of entry-level jobs require at least some experience, or maybe it was a summer job or a babysitting thing, I don’t know).
          I don’t really care much either way what other people choose to do. To me personally, it seems like too much of a risk and I have no desire to waste my time on a bad hire that would completely be my own fault if I didn’t do my due diligence (which is: check references, verify former employment dates, verify degree listed, background check).

        2. Stranger than fiction*

          A lot of people seem to think entry level means a job for someone just out of school, but it actually means the entry level for that company but the role may require, say 1-3 years’ experience…Alison can you clarify or expand on that perhaps?

          Point is it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re hiring someone who has never worked and wouldn’t have references

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Entry-level is supposed to mean that the person has little to no work experience. It’s literally a role that is their entry into the professional world. Of course, like any term, it gets used in all sorts of other ways.

      2. Meg*

        You don’t do background checks? Besides, how is an entry level candidate supposed to get experience to have references vouch for their experience if they need experience and references to vouch for that experience to get it in the first place?

        Who is going to be a reference for someone in an entry level position? What kind of experience do you expect them to have at entry-level?

          1. Meg*

            Then I suppose references relevant to the position. I’m not going to call someone’s fast food manager if I’m hiring them for an entry-level programming position/junior developer. I’m not going to call their babysitting clients either, Girl Scout troop leader, or any other reference that isn’t relevant to the position I’m hiring for. I’d rather see a junior developer list a few professors in their programming class if they must have references (and that’s assuming they aren’t self-taught). All the customers service skills in the world means nothing to me when I’m hiring for a junior programmer because yeah, some are transferrable (resolving conflicts, etc), but that’s what I look for in a senior developer/tech lead/principal — and that’s because it translates to manager skills and they should be mentoring the junior developers in the office.

            I just think it’s better to not have references at a entry-level position than have irrelevant references, at least in my industry.

            1. davey1983*

              I would have to disagree– how someone acts or treats others in those positions is very relevant. What if they were late to their fast food job every other day (or had several no call/no shows, or treated coworkers like crap, etc)?

              I would want to know that before hiring someone– if they didn’t take their previous jobs seriously I doubt they would take this job seriously.

        1. Lily in NYC*

          I don’t know how to answer this because to me, entry-level doesn’t mean “never had a job”. Our entry-level positions require 1-2 years experience. Or for true entry level, I would assume most people had HS jobs or volunteer experience or even babysitting or involvement in sort of club.

        2. AnotherHRPro*

          Background checks and reference checks are not the same. For entry level candidates, references are typically teachers/professors, mentors, prior employers (internships, summer jobs, etc.). Many times employers don’t bother with the references a candidate provides because it is assumed that they will provide glowing comments. They should still do the diligence, but may not. A background check is verifying the information that they provided (education/degrees, dates and titles and employers, etc.).

    3. Joey*

      References aren’t just for productivity it’s to find out other things. Like some things I’ve found out:

      1. Terrible attendance problems.
      2. he stole from us.
      3. She didn’t get along with co workers.
      4. She only did the minimum and no more.
      5. We fired him for failing a drug test.
      6. She slapped a customer.
      7. We fired him for fighting with another employee.
      8. He choked a child in his classroom.

        1. Stranger than fiction*

          Oh my! Yes I think what you guys are talking about here is more the background/verification type calls rather then the references they dish out to you because of course those will be glowing that’s why they chose those people

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            No — people do offer references that aren’t glowing (oddly enough), but also it’s important to call references who aren’t on the list that’s first offered.

            1. cuppa*

              Yes. Not only has the above happened to me, but I’ve given references for people that never should have put me down as one (and never asked me to be one).

              1. Mabel*

                So, when a hiring manager calls people who are not on the list of references an applicant gives her, does it seem to those folks that the applicant gave out their names without asking? That could really make an applicant look bad. I hope that a hiring manager would mention that she was just doing her due diligence and contacting previous managers who weren’t listed on the references list.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Well, ideally you ask the applicant to put you in touch with the person. If they refuse, then you ask why. But generally you go through the applicant herself, unless you know the reference you’re calling personally.

      1. AVP*

        Someone put my name as a reference after I fired her (she was literally a junkie, with all of the attending issues). The HM of the job she was applying for called me just to check off the box – he had basically already told her she was hired. Ha. She had added on months of employment at my company to cover other gaps, and lied about why/how she left, among other things. That guy was happy he bothered to call!

  4. Libretta*

    #1 One of the best jobs I ever had hired me on the spot. This was a white collar, corporate position. I had to negotiate salary with the CEO, whom I did not even expect to meet that day, 30 minutes after I entered the building. I was not totally prepared for salary negotiations – so I decided to go whole-hog and ask for the highest number I could reasonably achieve with my qualifications. They countered with $5K less than that (which was still $12K more than I was making), so I just went for it and asked for a signing bonus splitting the difference, WHICH THEY GAVE ME. Apparently such things are not mythical! I learned a lot about negotiating that day, and I will never underestimate myself or my value again. I think you clicked with the staff and they wanted to snap you up – if you definitely want the job, go for it, and don’t worry unless something concretely bad happens.

    1. Pontoon Pirate*

      I wouldn’t say it was ultimately the best job I ever had, but I actually got hired by my boss after meeting him in a bar! I’d just moved to a new city and needed a job; he’d just expanded his company’s business to that city and needed someone to organize the office and keep him on track. He’d been making small talk with a friend of mine and mentioned needing to hire; she stepped back, slotted me into her place at the bar and wandered off.

      And it actually didn’t feel skeevy at all; he was earnest about having a legitimate business need and I went through the traditional application process at his parent company, so I could verify the legitimacy of the role. The whole thing took about two weeks. The company actually wanted to bring me on and train me for a larger role, but it wasn’t the industry I ultimately wanted to work in, so I made a deal with him that I’d work with him until he needed to expand again and then we’d re-evaluate.

      It worked out really well for me, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it as a universal employment tactic. :)

      1. Partly Cloudy*

        A friend of mine got a job in a very similar way; struck up a conversation with the guy at the next table at breakfast and it turned into a job offer.

        At my last job, I got the offer at the conclusion of my interview. On the flip side, the hiring process for me at my current job took a couple of months.

  5. Ben Around*

    OP #1: That doesn’t sound overly fast if the company was serious about hiring someone and liked what they saw in you. It’s possible something’s hinky — for instance, it could turn out that it’s a 1099 job instead of a W-2 gig, or the pay might only accrue when you’re doing some logged task — but you’ll know right away if that’s the case. It really just sounds like they were decisive and were impressed with you.

    1. Sunflower*

      Yeah I would just make sure before accepting that you clear up any questions you have.

  6. Ruth (UK)*

    1. I noticed this one is getting a lot of replies so mine probably isn’t needed as well but anyway for what it’s worth, my job hired me super fast and i really like my job. It was as fast as op1’s sounds though they did check my references. But the job before them didn’t… I don’t think it sounds dodgy unless you have additional reasons to feel something is up.

    1. I'm a Little Teapot*

      I’m adding another data point to the discussion – at my last job I applied one day, had a phone interview (with no advance notice) the next, and was working the day after that. It was a two-month temporary position (not through an agency, directly through the employer) that ended up extended to year and a half. And – to totally explode a stereotype – it was in government. And it was a great job, nothing hinky at all, and the best-paid job I’ve ever had.

    2. krm*

      My current job made me an offer the same day as my interview. It helped that I had some mutual connections with my interviewer, but I was still surprised at the timing. The offer was contingent on background check and reference checks, so they had some time to do their due diligence on me and pull the offer if needed. As it turns out, they desperately needed to fill the position, and thought that I would be a great fit. 9 months later, I am very happy with the job!

  7. xxj*

    This is unrelated, but AAM, the website is jumping around for me on both desktop and mobile! On mobile, it jumps straight down to the bottom (the ad), and it’s practically impossible to stabilise after I try scrolling back up, such that I’ve given up trying to read comments. On desktop (what I’m using now), it jumps around for a few seconds, but it stabilises. I’m not sure if I’m the only one, but it wasn’t like this for me a few hours ago! Just a head’s up.

    1. Purple Dragon*

      Thanks for this – I thought it was just me !
      I’m on a Mac using Safari if that helps. It jumps up and down for a bit when I go into a new page and then stops. But if I try to scroll down to read messages then I have to wait until it goes through it’s little dance again.

    2. Claire (Scotland)*

      This is happening to me on the Chrome app on my iPhone as of this morning. I’m not seeing it in Firefox on my desktop though.

    3. Sunshine*

      Yes… same here! It’s jumping down to rhe bottom if the page to an ad that contains a text box. The keyboard on my phone also pops up (like it’s trying to force me to type something into the text box) but the actual ad picture is different every time. Hope that helps. I almost gave up trying to read!

      1. xxj*

        Yes my keyboard randomly pops up on mobile as well as I try to claw my way back to the top of the page!

    4. SaraV*

      Also jumped for me when I initially opened the webpage…Chrome on an Android phone…all the way down to the bottom, but just scrolled up and I’ve been fine.

    5. Mallory Janis Ian*

      This I’d happening to me, too, and for the first time. I never got any of the problems that people have been talking about with ads until just this morning.

    6. Aussie Teacher*

      Yes me too! It’s almost unreadable on my iPhone (keeps jumping down to the bottom repeatedly and finally loads on the very bottom of the page, text/page sizes keep zooming in and out too), and even loading on my Mac today the page keeps refreshing/jumping around when I try to start scrolling to read.

    7. Apple22over7*

      To add another voice to the chorus, I had this as well about 5 hours ago, on Firefox on an Android phone. There was also a phrase “lebowskilebowski” underneath search boxes too, which was odd. I thought it was just my phone playing up (it’s an old model that’s had a lot of abuse) but maybe not.

      1. HR Generalist*

        I just laughed out loud about the idea of your phone being old/wonky so it writes “lebowski” on every page… hahahah

    8. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

      Me too! I thought I was going to have to get a new phone (tell you how much time I spend on this site!)

      1. JB*

        Me, too. I don’t know what the problem is, it’s driving me crazy, but I’ve had to stop reading articles because of it. I see this site just fine on my desktop computer. I haven’t tried reading it on my phone, but other articles do that.

    9. Mockingjay*

      Try using Private Browsing mode (any browser type). It disables cookies and a lot of the add-ons used for video streams. It can take a few extra seconds to sync the page, so wait for it before scrolling down to read comments.

    10. Book Person*

      Happened to me on my iPad a few times yesterday too! I thought I just had a bad internet connection. No problems today so far.

  8. CAinUK*

    OP1 – entry-level hires (like you) are typically faster than mid-level or senior hires. And, as Gwydion notes, reference-checking is also (typically) less prioritized for entry-level. So no red flags IMO.

    That said, I would
    1.) re-assess whether you really like this job and it “feels right” – this can be hard to assess after job-hunting for months, and you want to ensure you’re evaluating the overall vibe and your feelings and not just reacting to theirs, and
    2.) you can always proactively say “did you want my references in the meantime?” since you’ve only informally accepted and I assume they will still send a contract along with the benefits package. Then just see how they react to that and go from there…

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      Depends on the role an industry, I suppose, but for an entry-level hire moving that fast, unless the OP explicitly said “yes, I’d love to accept *contingent on* X,” I would not be surprised if there is no written offer and they consider her “informal” acceptance to be a done deal.

      1. CAinUK*

        Sure, that’s a good point. But it does sound like a start date, benefits, and other particualrs are not clarified yet so I assumed it really was an informal acceptance and another conversation is still ahead?

    2. Zillah*

      Along with what Persephone Mulberry said, it’s also worth pointing out that if the OP is American, they’re unlikely to get an actual contract – I’ve certainly never signed one. Paperwork on my first day, sure, but not a contract.

      1. CAinUK*

        This is true. Maybe not a formal contract, but my thought was the company says they are going to be sending benefit package details through, so I’d imagine when they sedn that info they’d also e-mail details of “Your salary is X, your start date is Y” – so it’s still just a verbal acceptance with no details yet on OP’s part. Hence why OP could then bring up providing references at that stage.

    3. Dynamic Beige*

      Furthermore… your probation period is not just for you, it’s also for you to judge the company. If you’ve got a 3 month probation period (I think that’s the way it still works up here in Canuckistan) either the employer or the employee can choose to terminate during that time. But do some research and find out what the laws are for your area.

      I was working on a contract with a company and got into a conversation with one of their new hires. This person was obviously very unhappy with the job and spoke at great length of the problems they had there, including what they had been dreaming of pursuing. They simply were not a good fit for that environment, and had only been there a month. I told that person that if they knew right now that this was not a good job for them, it wasn’t going to magically improve 6 months from now. They had apparently gotten the same advice from other people and left shortly after. In that particular case, I’m pretty certain the manager was not happy but I know they are a difficult person to work for, so I sympathised with the employee. But, that employee had every right to leave as it was still the probationary period.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        And just to clarify, the employee has every right to leave after the probationary period too, and the employer can easily fire them after that as well. Probationary periods are HR concepts; they’re not any special legal thing. (Basically it means that if the company normally uses a progressive discipline policy — like a series of written warnings — they’re exempting themselves from using it during the probationary period. But it’s just an internal thing.)

        1. hayling*

          I’d like to add that employers can also fire people before their probationary period has ended. We had one employee who was so awful she was let go after about 45 days. She was indignant that she wasn’t given her full 90 days, but it was clear very early on that she was untrainable. (And had we slowed down and done reference checking, we probably wouldn’t have hired her in the first place!)

        2. Dynamic Beige*

          ‘Cause I’m all old and stuff, this is how it used to be done where I was last employed and what I’m most familiar with. You were told it was a probationary period and at the three month mark, you would be moved into permanent with benefits (if the company offered them) and sometimes there would be a small salary bump too (at least, that happened to me at my first job). Apparently that is part of the law where I am, at least according to the link below:

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Right, that’s basically how they’re set up to work when employers use them (although often they’re not connected to salary or benefits). But it’s not a legal thing, unless the employer writes their probationary policy in a way that makes legally binding commitments. You can still fire people just as easily outside of a probationary policy, unless you happen to have put in place a policy that commits you (in a legally binding way) to going through a series of warnings, etc. first.

  9. CoffeeLover*

    The speed doesn’t surprise me as someone who also recently went through my first post-graduation job hunt. I would be called in one day to interview 2 days later and have an answer by the day after that. I was interviewing with the big professional firms (think banking, consulting, etc.), so the speed of their hiring process reflected the pretty intense competition between the firms to hire new grads. Most of these places are also notorious for giving almost no time to respond to the offer because they want to lock you in.

    As for the reference checks… well I got my offer last fall, will be starting work in the summer, and was just asked for references a week ago as part of my background check. I don’t actually think they’ll call my references. It wouldn’t make a difference since I was already offered the job, unless of course I lied about my past employment.

  10. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

    #2 wouldn’t even be rude in my world, but hey we’re in Jersey outside of Philly, “yo, we meeting or not?” :p

    I’m joking but I’m serious. I guess when I barge into a principal’s meeting and remind the CFO that he’s supposed to be with me right now, I *guess* I acknowledge the president of the company and I *guess* I apologize for interruption but, uh, not sure about that.

    We’re really flat. If I was running a meeting and somebody barged in to ask one of my peeps something and didn’t acknowledge me, I wouldn’t think twice. If they held up my meeting more than 45 seconds, I’d kick them out. And they probably wouldn’t think twice about having been kicked out.

    So……. OP, maybe you want to do a culture check about your expectations. The whole thing could not a bit to do with you and be just the way things are done. Was there any cost to this interruption besides 30 seconds of meeting time?

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      Did I really just write “peeps”? Lord. I hope I was talking about the Easter candy or shoot me now.

      1. Nashira*

        You are clearly just anticipating the Washington Post’s Easter peep dioramas, and that urge for sugary storytelling is infecting your fingers.

        1. Lily in NYC*

          Oh that’s right! I love that contest and actually bought a bunch of Peeps a couple of years ago thinking I would create something and enter. Then I remembered I’m terrible at that stuff and murdered the peeps instead (by eating them).

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I once set up terrible, bloody Peep murder scenes all around a boyfriend’s house. A Peep with its throat slit in the pantry, a drowned Peep by the bedside, a Peep with a broken neck at the bottom of the stairs…

            Highly recommended.

            1. Lily in NYC*

              I love this so much! Peep mayhem.
              We had hundreds of rubber ducks at work after an event and people kept leaving them around in cute poses so I did something similar. I got ketchup packets and went on a rubber duck murdering spree after work. My favorite was the decapitated one. I left his head in the microwave. To this day no one knows it was me (I’m sure they suspect it).

                1. Lily in NYC*

                  I wish. Family parties would be so much more fun. Just think of the trouble we’d cause.

    2. OriginalEmma*

      From New Jersey, can confirm. We’re not the greatest on social niceties but we get answers quickly and get things done. This has been a learning curve since moving to other areas of the country!

    3. Sunflower*

      We’re outside of Philly(on the PA side though!) and it’s pretty common for meetings to get interrupted by other managers.

      Did the manager demand the guy leave your meeting to meet with him? That would be a different I think.

      1. Sunflower*

        Although without knowing anything about your org/meeting, it’s hard to say if that would be wrong even. I feel like it depends on a lot of different factors.

        After re-reading the question, I don’t think the manager coming in is the issue you’re dealing with. It’s the bigger issue and that’ what you should address

    4. sunny-dee*

      I’m not from anywhere near Jersey, but this wouldn’t (necessarily) raise any red flags for me, either. It’s pretty common for someone to stick their head in a room and ask if So-and-so is still available at 2pm or if they got an invite to the 1pm customer call or whatever. Or even just to say hi.

      I did that just yesterday to my manager, but for the reverse — we were supposed to have a quick meeting at 4pm, but someone who is taking over one of my projects needed some emergency help when they moved the deadline on some deliverables, and I had to walk her through the process. It was just a quick “hey, dude, we’ll need to reschedule,” and it was not a big deal.

  11. Today*

    Have been bounced out of what I’m reading here at least 5x due to ads… Can’t get back to where I’m trying to read without revisiting page – Doesn’t seem to be working correctly.

  12. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*


    We learned the hard way that training by group only works when you have a terrific new hire (and then sub optimally). Back in the stone age, when our training was more as the OP describes, problem employees could last years because there was no one person who was responsible for evaluating, remediating and possibly kicking out a bad match.

    OP, please give your manager the feedback, as you’ve stated here. It’s really important and it might inspire her to ask for written feedback from all of the people who have been training the new employee. We do daily written feedback to management for an employee’s first two weeks, and then weekly for the first few months. We find this process to be critical.

    1. Michele*

      We have experienced the same thing here. Also, when there are multiple trainers, it is very easy for one person to think that another person has covered a topic. There either needs to be a single trainer or someone who oversees the training and makes sure that nothing is missed and the trainee is progressing properly. We have a few employees who would have greatly benefited from that.

    2. The Office Admin*

      Oh, I love this idea, of daily written feedback for the first two weeks. Thanks, I’m going to try to implement that with our superintendent and field foreman for new hires!

        1. Stranger than fiction*

          Yes we have this too all new hires sit in with others their first two weeks of training- even with other departments so they get a feel for the flow of things but everyone is encouraged to give feedback especially on any red flags like our current new hire hasn’t been taking any notes :/

    3. AnotherHRPro*

      As the team was asked to help the new person and observe them , that implies that feedback would be welcome. OP, you should definitely provide feedback to the manager. Just make sure that that your point out that your feedback is based on a few hours of interaction. That way the manager knows that they need to verify what you have observed with your limited interaction with others.

    4. OP #3*

      Thanks for your feedback guys! I did already have a chat with my coworker. I tried to give her some concrete tips for how to make sure she was being thorough and not missing anything, and she seemed really receptive. I do think that the problem may just be that this is her first job in this kind of work and she needed help figuring out which things to pay attention to. I hadn’t yet mentioned anything to my manager because it didn’t seem to be the normal routine – our manager never explicitly asked for feedback, and as far as I know, none of my coworkers are proactively offering it. However, I realized that the day I was observing her was her second-to-last day of observation so I am worried that she didn’t have enough time to practice implementing the things I suggested and I am now thinking that maybe I should still talk to our manager.

      1. lavie*

        I don’t think you need to be observing her to check in with her. If she seemed receptive then I would just find a moment to go see her and ask her how it’s going, has she been able to implement those tips, does she have any thing else she would like help with? I think you could just try to be sort of an informal mentor for a bit and see if that helps. And then decide whether to go to your manager based on how that goes.

        You are being a pretty awesome employee, though, great job!

  13. esra*

    #1: I’ve never in my professional life been asked for references (even though I always have really good ones ready).

    I’ve had bad employers and good, employers that dragged on the hiring and ones that called the same day to offer me the job. Personally, I’ve found red flags to be more in the interview, when you are talking about the job and culture. Offers could come quickly for any reason, but those shifty eyes when you ask about work/life balance? Always a red flag.

  14. AMD*

    Unrelated, but is anyone else having trouble on iPhone or similar with the site? Loading an AAM page loads the ad at the top first, then jumps me down to the ad at the bottom of the page. It’s a car ad right now (Ford? Whatever has the cross symbol.) it just started last night.

    1. AMD*

      Argh, it happened again after I posted the comment. (Ameriprise ad.) Please tell me it is not just my phone flipping out.

    2. olives*

      Did this for me too, on loading and after posting a comment. Wrote it off as “mobile is wack” at first, but now that I see other people are having issues with it it’s more clearly bad.

    3. Anony-moose*

      Yep, was having quite the time trying to read the comments on my iPad this morning. You are not alone!

  15. Jake*


    I’m reading on an android phone with Chrome as my browser. Starting yesterday my screen started jumping straight to an ad at the bottom of your page as soon as the ad loads (which tends to be when I’m 3 to 4 sentences into the question). This happens both on your main page and when I click on a specific entry.

    I’m 100% pro ads because it is the easiest way for you to monetize this content, however, this issue is very detrimental to the user experience.

    1. HR Generalist*

      This is happening to me too. I was on last night on mobile and I thought it was my iPhone acting up, but it’s doing it today on my desktop with Chrome as well.

  16. HR Generalist*

    #1 – Our organization is amazing (maybe I’m a little biased) but our new recruitment policy allowed us the freedom to not check references, if we so choose. In 90% of the competitions since we have opted out of that stage. It’s generally unhelpful, as candidates pick who you want them to call so obviously you’re not getting an unbiased opinion. And in two years I’ve only ever had one bad reference (and it was TERRIBLE – the reference said “Really? They put me on their resume? This candidate was single-handedly responsible for the downfall of my business..” and the manager opted to hire them anyway, so…)

    1. MK*

      I think references are useful, but you have to evaluate what is being said, not treat them as yes/no votes on hiring. Not all positive references are equal, there is a long way between “yeah, he was fine” and “a great employee!”. The same goes for negative ones; I wouldn’t place to much value on the opinion of a former manager who blames an employee for their business failing either, unless they could back it up with something along the lines of stealing all the company’s capital or setting a fire that destroyed the office.

      1. HR Generalist*

        I’m at arm’s length from the outlet, but as far as I know, not bad! I had some personality concerns in the recruitment process so I’m assuming she just really butted heads with this past manager. It was a small business that failed so likely the manager was a little bitter, thus the manager took the reference with a grain of salt. I do think it speaks to poor judgement to put such a poor reference on your resume though – especially considering there was absolutely no way this employee notified the prior manager that she was planning on doing that.
        Back to performance, usually my managers consult me if they have disciplinary concerns (for advisory purposes and legal/labour concerns) but I haven’t heard anything about this employee since hiring. She passed her probationary period without issue and has good performance reviews, so I guess it worked out for us. However, this new position she was hired for is VERY entry-level and it sounds as though she had management capacity under the reference-provider, so that could be part of the issue.

        1. HR Generalist*

          WHOA reading that back was confusing.
          “It was a small business that failed so likely the past-manager/reference-provider was a little bitter, thus our hiring manager took the reference with a grain of salt. “

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      You don’t have to let candidates pick the people you call. In fact, I strongly recommend not doing that and instead saying, “Could you put me in touch with the managers from your last two jobs?”

    3. neverjaunty*

      Please read AAM’s link. Shrugging off references because they’ll just lie anyway is shortsighted. Also, you can tell very easily when a reference is shining you on by asking pointed questions. I have friends who do employment and harassment law, and “we didn’t even bother to check references” is a gift when they’re suing an employer.

    4. Rex*

      I’m pretty shocked by all the employers here who don’t check references. I’ve only had one employer ever not check references, and let me tell you, the quality of my colleagues reflected that.

  17. Lyssa*

    Regarding # 5, it should also be pointed out that religious organizations, such as churches and offshoots of churches like religious schools, are generally not bound by anti-discrimination laws. It’s a little more complicated then that, but the gist is that the government can’t really question a church’s decision on who is “qualified” for a position that is religious in nature, and churches will generally consider any employee that they possibly can to have a religious role in the organization.

    1. sunny-dee*

      Yep, yep. This is most visibly true with churches and religious schools, but it can also be true of any cause-oriented organization (so this is pretty true for most non-profits). The idea is that the underlying belief is integral to the performance and advancement of the organization, so the “discrimination” is justified.

  18. OriginalEmma*


    (things like not asking any questions in training, not being very thorough, seeming to miss connections between related issues, etc.).

    What connections is she missing? How is this information being presented? How are you, her coworkers, etc. checking to see she is making the connections vital to her work? I ask because the connections may seem obvious to you, as a veteran employee, but may not be to a newbie. Additionally, they may seem related to you, but again, not obvious to a newbie.

    As someone who needs time to compile a complete picture from disparate pieces and even from complicated but related pieces, I wouldn’t want my work and reputation to suffer due to missing “obvious” connections or the “obvious” 10,000-foot-view of a program, project or workload.

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      I caught that too on first read and what bothers me is, the OP shouldn’t have to sort that. I agree completely that, in our experience, the “obvious connections” thing has fast starters and slow starters. A slow starter isn’t necessarily a fail, may indeed turn out great, you just have to give a bit more attention, repeat cycles and bit more and see what happens. You identify the issue to address by the trainer….identifying the issue.

      I think the manager should have the OP’s observations and then take them as observations, with other people’s observations also, and then hopefully take next action. The OP is only qualified to say “X is happening” but not what X means.

    2. nona*

      I’m also wondering that. I missed a lot of connections between related issues and didn’t understand a lot of “big picture” things while I was being trained. These things weren’t explained until I asked exactly how X relates to Y.

      But if the person that OP’s training won’t bring it up, I don’t know how OP can address their own blind spots. Ask the person what they’re missing? Ask what they’re confused by? Review the training that they received as a new employee, and look for anything that hasn’t been given to the new person?

    3. Jules*

      I am new and am pretty sure I am missing connections unless pointed out to me. I move from industry to industry so what is obvious in financial is not so obvious in manufacturing etc. Eventually, I learned to ask a LOT of questions to multiple different people in order to make connections. I don’t have tribal knowledge and unless you outright say it, I am not going to get a clue.

  19. Azumi*

    Is there a way to identify No. 3 as a pattern of your own behavior?

    It’s something I worry about. I had a terrible experience with my first job out of college, and I’m currently job hunting. That job wasn’t a fit for numerous reasons- not oriented towards my skill set, really bad management, toxic workplace that pushed the person in my place before me out in a couple of months….
    I’m still kind of haunted by it, but I’m wondering if there’s ever a way to correct those problems, that, as Allison says- can be hard to change.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Well, it could just have been a shitty job and nothing to do with you. If you just left it and it was your first position out of college, I wouldn’t think that establishes any sort of pattern.

      Now if the same thing happens two or more times after that, then either the process you use to evaluate employers needs work, or your behavior does. But one awful job does not a lifelong pattern make (thank goodness).

  20. the gold digger*

    LW1, I wouldn’t worry. I have had offers that took months to materialize and I had one that took three days from interview to offer. That job lasted eight years (until I was laid off) and it was an excellent job.

    Sometimes, people are just good at making decisions.

    1. Stranger than fiction*

      Yes I almost think slow is worse, I’ve heard nightmare stories like of start ups hiring a ton of people at a time and not only do the offers take long but ne subsequent on boarding was a scrambled up mess

  21. Ella*

    #3–are you sure they don’t just learn differently than you? I’m introverted, and if I’m overwhelmed (as I often am when I start a new job) the “coming up with questions” part of my brain doesn’t work because I’m busy trying to learn everything at once. I mean, it doesn’t even sound like she’s made mistakes yet, since you say “somebody will catch it if…” Maybe she is asking questions, just not of you? A lot of the big picture stuff (like catching connections between seemingly unrelated things) only comes when you’ve been doing a job for awhile and can start to see the big picture in the midst of all the tiny details you’ve been scrambling like mad to keep track of while you learn everything. Also, have you had part in training any new hires before this? Do you know how quickly people pick up the job in this office? Maybe she’s right on the usual curve.

    I don’t know about this question. I really don’t. OP is in the situation and I’m not, but OP has only spent a few hours with the coworker over…how long is the probationary period?… and I just don’t feel like that’s enough time to decide if somebody is good at their job.

    1. Michele*

      That is a good point. Some people just have different learning styles. I have also seen people come from backgrounds where showing any kind of weakness, including asking questions, was not well received. It can take those people a while to develop the self confidence to admit that they need to have something explained.

    2. OriginalEmma*

      A lot of the big picture stuff (like catching connections between seemingly unrelated things) only comes when you’ve been doing a job for awhile and can start to see the big picture in the midst of all the tiny details you’ve been scrambling like mad to keep track of while you learn everything.

      +1000. You captured what I meant to say perfectly.

    3. librarianna*

      I’ve had student workers from Asian countries, and they don’t ask questions even if they don’t understand, because in their culture it is rude to ask questions to a person in authority. It might be possible that the new worker is from a culture where asking questions is discouraged, so you would need to take the initiative in going over things again. I don’t know if this is the case here, but just because a person doesn’t ask questions doesn’t mean they understand.

      1. fposte*

        Or state it as a requirement that they ask questions. I’m not sure I’d be willing to take on their responsibility for seeking clarification.

    4. OP #3*

      Thanks Ella! I went through this training process myself about a year ago, and I’ve participated in the process as a “trainer” with 3 other people before. We’re a big office and the training takes several weeks (which is why we ask everyone to pitch in and help). I know that different people learn differently but, to me, the biggest red flag for me was the not asking any questions in training, and also not taking any notes. When I was training, I had a TON of questions and I wrote everything done. It’s impossible to get trained on everything, so I was constantly thinking about different scenarios that might come up once I was on my own and asking about them. I was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt during training, that maybe she understood everything well and really just didn’t have questions, until she also seemed to missing connections when I started observing.
      The other three people I’ve helped train did not raise these kinds of concerns for me.

      1. JB*

        You have a better feel than we do for what’s going on in her head, but in early jobs I often didn’t ask questions during training. I just had so much information thrown at me that I needed to actually start doing the job before everything would make sense, and I could start to see what I didn’t know. The bigger concern is that she doesn’t seem to be doing the job well. I’m assuming that’s what you mean by “missed connections”?

        I would also be concerned that she didn’t take notes, but I’ve trained people who didn’t, and it alarmed me at the time, but they were able to remember everything just fine. So now I don’t worry about whether they take notes, I worry about whether they don’t take notes and then later I see that they aren’t the type of person who learns things by hearing them. That to me is a sign that they don’t know their own weaknesses, which can be a problem.

      2. SystemsLady*

        If she’s entry level to your industry, I wouldn’t be bothered by some of these things, and I wonder if you or the other three people you mention training were entry level at the time. It’s certainly feedback I’d provide to her manager so he or she is aware..that’s the point of being involved in this, of course. However, an entry level employee simply isn’t going to fully understand the big picture until she gets involved in the practical side, and different people will pick up on it at different times.

        Not taking notes would raise flags, but some people just don’t need to take them – especially if she’s got a training booklet.

    5. Ask a Manager* Post author

      But the OP doesn’t need to decide if the person is good at her job. She just needs to convey her observations to her manager, with a caveat about the fact that it’s only based on X hours of observation, and let her manager figure it out from there.

      1. Ella*

        Absolutely agree with this. (I don’t think I had a substantive disagreement before, but may have just been parsing it differently in my head.)

    6. LPBB*

      I learn best by doing. I’ll usually ask questions during training to signal that I’m paying attention, but I generally don’t have substantive questions to ask until I start actually doing stuff. Also, I might be able to see connections while training, but I generally don’t understand them until I’m doing it and even then it can take a while. In my current job I finally feel, a year and a half later, like I’m understanding a lot of connections that my co-workers probably think are self-evident. I actually chalk that up to the confused and haphazard training that I received when I started!

  22. Michele*

    #5–I had no idea that small businesses were allowed to discriminate. However, religious organizations and their affiliates are. For example, if you teach at a school that is run by a church, you can be fired for not belonging to that church or even for not following one of their doctrines (such as living with someone before marriage).
    Not that discrimination is OK in either circumstance.

    1. OriginalEmma*

      Or becoming pregnant while unmarried(then they’ll offer your job to your fiance – who was also engaging in premarital s*x).

    2. ThursdaysGeek*

      I think that some discrimination is OK in some circumstances. Why wouldn’t you want the leadership in your religious organization to follow the precepts of that organization? In other words, the Pope SHOULD be Catholic.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I agree with this, but the religious organization really needs to state that upfront. A good way to do it is how a giant church org I know of does it. On a career page for their college, they state *roughly*, “We strongly encourage applicants to also be members and we will not hire anyone who engages in the following behaviors.” Then a list of those things, including being gay, dancing (I am not making this up), premarital sex, drinking, swearing, etc. It makes them easy to avoid.

        FWIW someone who worked for them (and was a member) told me they also require the women to wear dresses or skirts. That was a nope for me right there.

        1. Krs*

          The majority do tell this upfront. The problem seems to come up when they have been ignoring their rules for a while and then decide to enforce them. While this is generally permissible it ends up seeming really unfair.

      2. cuppa*

        I saw a job posting once that required a “statement of faith” with your application materials. (It’s was a religious university)

        1. sunny-dee*

          That’s actually really common. I can’t even remember the job now, but a million years ago I applied to a writing or editing position at a religious magazine, and one of the requirements was that you had to be a long-term member of a church and your pastor had to be able to supply a character reference.

  23. MaryinTexas*

    #1 – in late 2013, I was hired by a company that is in the top 10 of the Fortune 500, and they didn’t check references. Many employers go with their gut. And when you think about it, the list of references you would provide would obviously say nice things about you. You’d never give them someone to call who would say anything negative, so many employers don’t waste their time.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I said this above but need to repeat it here too: Good reference checkers won’t just use the list you provide; they’ll ask for specific people (generally recent past managers).

      1. cuppa*

        This is pretty important. I once had a candidate that tried to pass off his mother as a “former manager”.

  24. Just Another Techie*

    To OP#1, that’s how fast my office does hiring for recent college grad positions. We don’t make phone screens until we have enough applications we like to feel confident we can make a hire from the pool. Then we do all the interviews we’re going to do in a day or two, pulling in as many teapot designers as necessary to give each candidate a full technical interview (about five hours worth) because doing interviews and post-interview wrap meetings is massively disruptive to our work, so we really don’t want to spread it out over a long time. It’s far better to just lose a full day of productivity than get interrupted and distracted multiple times. We make our decisions as fast as we can after we’ve done all our interviews, while our memories are still fresh, and then make an offer. Also, for a recent college grad, if one of us went to the same university as the candidate, we’ll just informally reach out to our old professors and ask about you. For example, if I see on your resume that you took Senior Lab in Teapot Design in the fall of your senior year, and I know my old professor Dr Jones teaches that class every year, I’ll just call Dr Jones and ask about you. If the professor doesn’t remember the candidate (sometimes a red flag sometimes not depending on how big the candidate’s university was) or if the reference is weak, we may ask the candidate for references. Usualy the references they give us are also weak in that case, but we try to give the candidate the benefit of the doubt (anyone can have on bad class but still be an overall strong performer). But if the reference was glowing there’s no reason to waste time doing a formal request for references, etc.

  25. LizB*

    #2 – Ugh, this happened to me the other day. The colleague in question is pretty clueless about many things, but she literally walked right in front of me as I was presenting to a group of students (I work in a school) to ask why one of them had been absent from an earlier meeting. Um, because she was here at this meeting, which happens at the same time every single week with the same group of students — plus I sent an email to the entire staff with a list of participants this morning, and the student had a signed hall pass to come here. It should have been pretty easy to figure out the reason for her absence from context clues. Did you seriously need to physically barge through the middle of my meeting to grill her?

    Ultimately, though, I agree with Alison — this kind of incident reflects waaaay more poorly on the interrupter than on you. Your coworker may think his needs are more important than yours, but they’re not, and it’s going to be totally transparent to everyone else that he’s in the wrong. Have confidence in your own authority, and know that even if this is some weird power play for him, all he’s actually doing is making himself look rude and/or clueless.

    1. Artemesia*

      I think the key here for the OP is to be assertive and just say ‘We are meeting here; Ezra can touch base with you after the meeting.’ in a tone that says ‘get the hell out of my meeting.’ If someone were a serial interrupter then an off line chat is in order.

    2. AnotherHRPro*

      OP, don’t give your colleague the power to make you feel “embarrassed and powerless”. When someone interrupts your meeting, you should address it in the moment. If they make a habit of it, you should have a separate conversation letting them know that they are not to interrupt your meetings unless it is an emergency. You co-worker is rude, but you are allowing them to behave that way and letting them impact your own self-confidence.

  26. Selkie*

    Probably not the place, but I’m on mobile and the ads keep forcing me down to the very bottom of the page. It’s getting incredibly annoying to scroll all the way back up every time.

      1. reader*

        Interesting enough I’m not having problems on this site but am on a different one. Using Firefox on desktop.

  27. Sutemi*

    For my first job out of grad school, after I interviewed with my prospective manager I asked if he wanted references. He said that he had already called Wilma and asked her about me! It turned out that someone I had collaborated with but not listed as a reference was someone he had worked with years ago, so he called her before interviewing me. I would not have thought to list her as a reference but he picked out that we had been co-authors on a paper.

    1. Muriel Heslop*

      This. I seldom check submmitted references but I always do my homework. Our field is relatively small and almost everyone I interview is a referral. I can always find someone who knows my candidate and I find I get much better feedback this way.

      One of our interns asked if I could be a reference for her; I said I didn’t feel qualified as I couldn’t speak to her work. I wasn’t very impressed with her and when her now-principal called me, I spoke freely regarding her tardiness and lack of professionalism. He hired her anyway. Go figure.

    2. Michele*

      I have interviewed people who worked with people that I knew. I always checked with them before setting up an interview. One time, my boss scheduled an interview for a candidate that three people in our department knew from a previous job. As soon as they saw the interview schedule, they flooded his office with “you aren’t going to hire him, are you?”. He could have saved everyone a lot of trouble if he had those conversations first.

  28. Ann Furthermore*

    #3: I think it’s a good idea to say something to your manager, just so she’s aware that there are things that your new co-worker is still struggling with. But like someone said above, she may just have a different way of learning, and if she’s introverted she may be feeling like things have been coming at her from a zillion different directions and is trying to find her footing. She may also be hesitant to ask questions because she’s worried that your manager (or other co-workers) will think she’s a bad fit for the position and can’t handle the job.

    I’m sort of like this. There are some things that take forever to sink into my head. But once I have it, then it’s there in my brain forever. When I was younger and less confident, I would hesitate to ask too many questions because I worried that admitting that I was struggling would reflect poorly upon me. But now, I have no such reservations. If I’m having trouble understanding something, I speak up. And if I have to ask more than once or twice, I’ll preface my question with something like, “Hey, I know we’ve talked about this before, but I’m still not totally getting it. Sometimes you really have to beat something into my brain, but once I’ve finally got it, then it’s there forever!” I’ve found that people are usually pretty understanding and don’t mind spending a little more time with me to walk through something again.

    If you’re training her on things that are complex or difficult, you might tell her something like, “This stuff can be really confusing when you’re first learning it, so speak up any time you have questions. I’m happy to help any way I can.”

    1. OP #3*

      Thanks Ann! I think you are right. I posted this above, but I did talk to my coworker and she was really receptive to my feedback. I do think part of the problem is that she is new to this kind of work (I’m newish to the office but was doing the same work in my last job), and I forgot how hard it is to know what to ask until you’ve actually started doing the work. And I also think part of the problem is actually in having so many different people participate in training, because you get slightly different interpretations from different people and have to navigate that too. In all, I do think I want to mention something to our manager – not like “I don’t think this person is a good fit”, but just “maybe this person needs more training time than others”.

      1. Apple22over7*

        “In all, I do think I want to mention something to our manager – not like “I don’t think this person is a good fit”, but just “maybe this person needs more training time than others”.”

        I don’t even think you need to say that this person needs more training time. All you need to do is explain to your manager that Lavinia hasn’t been picking up X and Y as quickly as you’d expected, or that she’s not understanding the connection between the teapot spout design and the manufacturing process, or whatever. It sounds like you’re trying to give your opinion on the new co-worker, that you feel she’s a bad fit, or that she needs more training, or whatever. Ultimately, those judgements are for your boss to make, and all you can do is give your boss accurate information so she can make an informed judgement on Lavinia’s situation.

      2. M*

        I wouldn’t put the focus on the new employee but on your organization’s training method. I think you all need to collectively develop a training manual. This would ensure that ALL necessary steps are laid out. This way new employee can still be trained by various persons reviewing each section but the responsibility of asking questions shouldn’t be on new employee. You’re assuming new employee is missing steps but it’s also possible another employee showed it to her that way and it’s only making sense since you pointed out missing step.

        1. Ann Furthermore*

          In my experience, training manuals are great for giving an overall, high-level picture of how something gets done, but with just about any business process there can be many different variations to handle different types of situations that fall into the same high-level category. The best way to learn (or maybe just for me the best way to learn) is to just jump in.

          For a simple example, the policy may state that all invoices that come to AP must have a purchase order. But the utility bill or phone bill doesn’t require a PO, because that doesn’t really make any sense or add any value, so for those the policy may be that you just pay them, or get sign-off approval for anything over $X. Or internal check requests for a charitable contributions don’t go on a PO, because in that case you’re not purchasing anything tangible so if it’s approved by someone with the appropriate sign-off authority, then you can process it. And so on. It’s really hard to document and capture every single exception or variation and put it in a training manual. And once you create a manual, then it has to be maintained and updated, and it’s hard to find the time to stay on top of that.

          I’m struggling with something similar on the ERP project I’m working on now. The users want a training manual that documents every single mouse click and key stroke required for any given hypothetical situation under the sun, and it’s just not feasible. Once they start using the application, get comfortable with it, and get a good feel for how it works, they’ll do fine, and only need to reach out when something unusual or unexpected happens.

          1. OP #3*

            It is definitely the case that we have a training manual, but it doesn’t begin to cover all of the possible scenarios. That’s why I was concerned about the lack of note-taking or question-asking, but neither of those would have been actual problems if the person didn’t ALSO display problems doing the work.

            My simple example is: it’s like a customer comes up to you and asks “is this on sale?” and you answer “all teapots are on sale this week”, rather than just looking at the item that the customer is holding and answering yes or no. Your answer isn’t technically wrong, but it’s not as helpful as it could be. But I don’t know if you said that because you don’t know whether or not it’s a teapot, or because you just don’t want to be bothered to look.

      3. Kattxoxo*

        I don’t think you should say anything to your boss. If things aren’t getting done right, I’m sure she will notice and give her the right training but I think that would be her call. How long has she been there? You said that you only really observed her for a couple hours, she could’ve just had a bad day. Plus if you say anything to your boss, she could take it as in the new coworker isn’t a great fit for the role. Sometimes when someone is in training, they are also in a probationary period.

        1. Person*

          I agree with these comments – is there really good documentation to provide to new hires? Is this person maybe an introvert who likes to mull things over and figure it out herself? Is she… perhaps feeling like you’re being overbearing or overly judgmental and she shouldn’t trust you? Unless it’s directly affecting your ability to perform, maybe the best route is to keep your eyes on your own paper.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            This isn’t a situation where eyes on your own paper makes sense. They’ve all been asked to be involved in training her, and they’ve all been asked to spend time observing her. It would be negligent to say nothing.

            (Frankly, I’d argue that if you’re a good employee who your boss respects, it’s always appropriate to share concerns like this about a new person. I’d be dismayed if I found out my employees were spotting problems and not giving me a heads-up, so that I could take a closer look myself.)

            1. Kattxoxo*

              Instead of running to the boss with accusations that the new employee is not doing her job well, shouldn’t she at least be supervised more than a couple hours? Maybe that’s why no one has said anything to the boss yet is because they believe she is doing it well when they might’ve spent a little more time with her.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                It’s not about making accusations; it’s about sharing what she’s seeing, so that the boss can decide what to do from there (observe more, get feedback from others, coach the new person more, or nothing at all). The boss isn’t going to instantly fire the person; it’s just information that’s really helpful when you have a new person.

                1. OP #3*

                  So I did go ahead and give my boss a heads-up this morning. I basically said, here’s what I observed and I just wanted to let you know in case the information is helpful. My boss definitely seemed to appreciate the notice, and let me know that she already had plans to observe the new employee herself next week.

      4. Ann Furthermore*

        I think if you keep spending time with her, and make yourself available to answer questions, she should start getting the hang of things. And keep your manager in the loop just to let her know what’s going on, but put some context around it. Like, “I’m still spending time with Jane helping her learn about the foreign currency stuff, but I remember when I first started working with exchange rates it was really confusing and it took me awhile to totally understand.”

        I used that example because when I started my first job with my current employer, there was a lot of stuff I had to do with foreign currencies, and I’d never really done anything like that before. So learning things like which exchange rates to use when, or when to update them, or the ins and outs of how our parent company make us handle those things was not easy. But then once I had it, I had it. I’m in a different role/department now, but people from that area still reach out to me now and then when they need to talk through how to handle something weird.

  29. Mimmy*

    #1 – I had something similar happen to me about 15 years ago and it turned out to be a huge red flag. I was called in for an interview at a wholesale manufacturer, and was offered the job on the spot, which I started about a week later. It turned out to be the most toxic environment I’d ever been in, and lasted only 2.5 weeks. I think it was out of desperation because I’d learned some time later that they’d gone through a couple more people in that position but they don’t last due to the director’s intense personality.

    Since then, I’ve been leery about any hiring processes that seem to go at lightning speed. I almost got sucked into one of those late last year at a nonprofit–I applied, they called an hour later to invite me for an interview THAT DAY but I had a previous obligation.

    #5 – I think the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) covers employers with 15 or more employees.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      This is where lots and lots of questions is a good thing. When doing research on a company I applied to before an interview, I discovered they were in legal trouble. They were very upfront about it when I asked, but the interviewer said they had no idea how things were going to turn out. By the end of the interview I ultimately decided not to take the job if they offered it because I was afraid they’d fold. They did not make an offer anyway, but if they had right then, I would have had to decline.

  30. The Anti-Stratfordian*

    #2: you have my sympathies.

    You say that “Lucius” has done this kind of thing before? I wish you had included some details.

    Here’s the thing: it could well have been that Lucius really thought he was supposed to meet with Lavinia, and I wasn’t there to see how it all went down, but rude or not, Lucius may have thought that a very short interruption (sticks his head in the door, say “Lavinia, are we supposed to meet?”, and backs out quick) was the minimally intrusive way he could handle a situation. (And I’ve seen it handled much worse, where “Lucius” not only pokes his head in the door, but takes the floor. Which is the kind of thing where you want to call security and have that person banished).

    Perhaps I’m overly paranoid, but I might ask Lavinius “So what was up with Lucius barging into the meeting?” Point being that if Lucius is simply being bumbling and rude, then you’re probably best off letting most of it go. Or – if you’re talking to a group, you actually have most of the “power” in that room; if he pokes his head in again, take charge, put on your Outside Voice, interrupt him and say “Lucius! We’re in the middle of something here; lets talk after, okay?”

    But if Lucius is actually attacking you? That could be really messy and beyond the scope of a comment. Just: don’t eat any pies.

  31. r*

    #5 – Also, I think some laws (EEOC if I remember correctly) kick in not just at number of employees, but number of employees over two years. It’s quite a good idea to use that number, as turnover can be a strong indicator of issues.

    1. EEOC is not a law*

      It is the federal agency that enforces employment-related federal laws and regulations.

  32. newtimer*

    #3 I was also a slow learner. I thought that I could remember everything and definitely over achieve but when it got to something that I knew nothing about coming in, I realized that wasn’t the case. I did start taking notes on literally everything and those helped a lot. I made notes even about things that I didn’t even think would be needed again and I could always reference back to them.

    I do have a colleague that I work with who wasn’t my manager or anything and I noticed that once she started getting involved, I started to get angry. She would always try to micro manage me and watch me whenever I did anything and give little remarks as to what I was doing wrong. She would even tell me what I should say to customers when I’ve been in Customer Service my whole working life. I was more angry about the fact that she had no authority over my actions but tried to act like she did. Please be more of a friend rather than a boss.

  33. Observer*

    On small organizations and discrimination. In addition to what Alison says, there is another issue. When an organization is really small, it becomes much harder to both prove and defend against many of these allegations. Sure, when someone says “we don’t want no pastafarians in here” that’s a pretty clear case. But, when there just aren’t “enough” women, it’s hard to make a case when the number of staff is so small in the first place. Really small groups generally can’t be expected to mirror the larger statistical universe. By the same token, it’s a lot harder to look at things like how other people are being treated under the same or similar circumstances when the group is so small.

    1. cuppa*

      Yes. I always thought there was a component of this in the discrimination issues. I once worked in an office with four people, and I was the only woman. It was three male partners who started the business and then they hired an admin (me). You can’t really say there was discrmination or other issues when they had only hired for one position, ever.
      Also, I think this would help family businesses (I think of that Seinfeld episode with the female waitresses) as well.

    2. AVP*

      I also think the idea of accommodation is a much harder ask. I work for one of these tiny employers and we can deal with the normal sick time, but when you have one person doing each job and one extra person to swing around covering people who are out, the idea of accommodating someone who needs serious time off or a major facility or scheduling accommodation is really frightening. Of course, people make things work when they need to, but when you are working on such a small scale, the normal costs of doing business can become a much higher percentage of your operating budget than in larger places where you can rely on scale.

  34. HM in Atlanta*

    Re #1 – Many companies I’ve worked at didn’t check references until a conditional offer was made and accepted by the candidate (as part of their background check process). And, at that point, they would check my provided references (and anyone else they felt like reaching out to). You may also have a contact in common with someone on the hiring team who raved about you (especially since you mentioned an internship). I do see this level of speed much more commonly when you are coming out of your school experience as well.

  35. Employment Lawyer*

    5. Are some companies exempt from anti-discrimination laws?

    YES. Both federal and state laws have minimum-employer-size requirements. The ADA and various equal opportunity laws are part of those. (Other laws don’t have minimums–for example, you can’t sexually harass your employees even if you have only one employee.)

  36. Nonprofit Corporate Lawyer*

    #5: YES, I recently ran into this with a client and learned some interesting tidbits when it comes to religious discrimination and employment scenarios!

    Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 generally prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion in employment settings, BUT the Act also includes a “religious organization exemption” (42 U.S.C. § 2000e-1).The exemption is narrow, but allows certain employers (regardless of size) to be deemed “religious organizations” by a multi-factor test weighing such factors as: stated affiliation, general mission, offered services, and religious makeup in management, staff, and ownership. Employers deemed religious organizations may discriminate only on the basis of religion (not on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, or disability) by showing a preference in hiring decisions for individuals sharing the organization’s religion.

  37. Rachel*

    1. Honestly, sometimes hiring processes go quickly because they need to fill someone right away. And if you have all the skills, then they have no reason to take a long time. I wouldn’t worry. Also- none of my jobs post-grad have asked for references and I’ve had a few.

  38. Simona*

    #3 – My first thought was that this is a co-worker you are talking about. I’ve noticed that when new people start at a job, older employees can sometimes become territorial and look for ways the new person is messing up. I think you should honestly ask yourself if you are trying to be helpful or if you are being territorial. Running to the boss to tell them what you are seeing without mentioning it to her first on an interpersonal level is not a great way to build raport with your co-worker. It’s great if you are trying to get her fired or make yourself look better – but could also backfire and make you like a whiner and/or create bad feelings between you and this new person. Offer to help but you should not by any means micromanage her — especially since you are her co-worker and not her boss. Recognize that it takes time to learn the ins and outs of a new job. You were new once. It took you some time to get up to speed.

  39. Willow Sunstar*

    I empathize with #3. I have an incompetent coworker who always asks if he can help me. In the past 6 months since he was hired last summer, he’s managed to screw up at least 50% of what I gave him. When I was out for Christmas for 2 days, he screwed up 29 out of 30 things that he did for me, and it was a 2.5 hour clean up job on my part, and another team also had to do some cleanup work after him. I don’t know how long it took them.

    My boss wants me to keep giving him things to do, but it’s been extremely slow lately, so I just tell him that I have nothing for him to do. Then incompetent coworker assumes I have literally nothing to do, which is not the case, and tries sluffing his own work onto me. In the past, I had tried giving him the easiest of all tasks to do, and sometimes he even messed up on that, and then I would have to fix his errors because he didn’t understand what to do to fix them because he didn’t pay enough attention during training, and he is either to lazy or has reading problems and will not read the documentation I wrote up for him. Every time I’ve tried telling my boss about his errors, including sending proof in the form of screen shots, nothing was done that I know of and I only was told to give incompetent coworker more work to do. So what am I supposed to do, twiddle my thumbs?

    I’ve basically given up on him entirely and have resigned myself to not being able to take any days off until one of us decides to move on in our career. I can’t even look for another job within the company until July, since that will be my one-year anniversary with the department — they put a one-year limit on our transfers. My current plan is to look for a new job within the company when I am able to.

    In my experience, if your boss likes your incompetent coworker more than you, there is literally nothing that can be done. Yeah, you can try, but they will do nothing and you will just be labelled as someone who does not play well with others. Best to keep your mouth shut, and if your coworker’s skills do not improve over time, you can always look for another job within the company.

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