my interviewer laughed at me, band manager is out of his gourd, and more

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

1. My interviewer laughed at me

I went on an interview for a marketing related job and met with three interviewers. As I was responding to the question of why I wanted to work for the company, I noticed one of the women glancing over across the table to her colleague, laughing. We made eye contact and the interviewer who was laughing quickly covered her expression with her hand, to hide her laugh. This is a company whose culture is about being inclusive and investing and valuing people and clearly this message was falling short in these three unprofessional women. Not to mention, the actual job title was being falsely advertised, which in turn was not a marketing job but rather an administration one.

What would have been the appropriate thing for me to do during a situation like this? Do you think it is appropriate for me to contact the director of Human Resources and the president of the company to inform them of their unprofessional hiring team?


That’s horrible, and I can absolutely understand why you were put off by it. But it’s entirely possible that she wasn’t laughing at you at all; she might have been laughing at an email or IM they both just received or who knows what else. Of course, she should have explained that to you and apologized (“I’m so sorry, we just got an odd email; my apologies!”) because any decent interviewer should have understood that it would come across rudely and that it would have been particularly hurtful if there was no explanation. She didn’t, and thus she is rude and an ass.

But it won’t do you any favors to complain to HR or the company president. These employees are known quantities, you’re an unknown quantity, and there’s too much baggage around candidates who go over interviewers’ heads to complain (i.e., they’re often overreacting and lacking in judgment — not a group you want to be lumped in with). To be clear, it’s not that this was acceptable; it’s just that it doesn’t rise to the level of reporting it, given the context.

2. Employee’s new schedule is difficult to work with

I have an employee who started a second job, making his availability slim to none since I am no longer his priority. He is available only on Sundays, but can no longer be scheduled for on-calls or be able to attend monthly store meetings during any other day of the week. His work ethic is still superb, but it has been difficult working around his new schedule. I am willing to interview other candidates for his position, but I don’t want to lose him since he is such a valuable employee. How do I handle a situation like this that is best for my business and leaves both of us happy?

What’s the minimum you’d accept from him? Figure that out and then have a candid conversation with him where you tell him what you need from him and see if he can commit to it. For example: “Joe, you’re a great employee and I’d very much like to keep you. I’d need a commitment of working X Sundays a month. Can you do that?”

If his schedule just doesn’t work with what you need, be direct about that too: “It sounds like your schedule just doesn’t line up with what we need anymore. But I’ve loved working with you, and if you ever want to come back, we’d be delighted.”

3. Band manager wants us to room with the opposite sex while we travel

I am a female vocalist who tours in a 10-piece band in Texas. I’m sure that being in the music business is very different from the normal business world…but I’d imagine a lot of the same principles overlap.

Anyway, the band I’m in consists of 2 girls and 8 guys. Recently, our band manager informed us girls that, in order to save money, he would be having us share a hotel room with one of the guys in the band while on the road. We have both (as well as the married male members of the band) expressed our extreme discomfort at this idea, but he insists that’s the way it’s going to be. Is this legal? Do you have any suggestions on how to handle this?

Sure, it’s legal. But do you work for the manager, or does he work for the band? If the latter, tell him no, period. If the former, push back as a group and say it’s not acceptable to y’all and not going to happen.

4. Centering your cover letter

Why do people center entire cover letters? What have I done to deserve this? :-(

Was this a thing a few years back? I’ve also gotten centered resumes! For context, these are from individuals in their 40s – 50s.

It is one of life’s great mysteries.

5. Update: My timesheet was changed to indicate I used vacation time when I didn’t (#2 at the link)

Remember the letter-writer last month whose timesheet was changed to indicate that she’d used vacation time when she hadn’t? Here’s the update.

I really appreciate that you printed my question–the comments were great, and really helped me out with a tough issue. I have an update for you:

As I mentioned in some of the original post comments, after I wrote to you, I was on the phone with my IT department for a different issue, this issue came up, and they showed me a way to look up in our system who had changed my timesheet data. I figured out who did it (our head of compliance, if you can believe it), and sent him a note (with accompanying screenshots of when and how the changes were made) that cc’ed those I had spoken with in my quest. Most of the people who I had spoken to trying to track this issue down were equally concerned by this situation. Today, I checked my timesheet, and it had been changed to the appropriate hours.

After talking to IT more, it appears my company uses two distinct timesheets for each employee–one we fill out, but is only used to bill customers for hours spent on a project, and one that actually tracks sick/vacation/training/etc. time in addition to regular work time. Remarkably, only the former can be personally entered by employees–and one software does not “talk” to the other. Unless I directly email an entirely separate admin that I’ll be out sick, on vacation, etc–it won’t be counted even if I put it in my timesheet. The timesheet I can edit is essentially an accounting tool. It’s a weird system that I’m not sure is a great idea–but not my call. Regardless, my vacation days are fine.

So, ultimately, after speaking with a trusted coworker, I decided to let this one go and not pursue it further for the moment. I know it’s a bit of an anticlimactic end, but at least I learned a lot more about our timekeeping system–and at the same time, how poorly it is understood in our organization.

{ 211 comments… read them below }

  1. KarenT*

    #5 The head of compliance! Sounds shady. He must know he’d done something wrong if he changed them back.

    That said, two separate time keeping systems is pretty normal I think. That’s what we do here.

    1. AB Normal*

      Two separate time keeping systems may be pretty common, but most likely is a sign the company isn’t being very efficient in its use of IT resources. If that had offers from two companies, and the only difference between the two was that one had a single time tracking system, that’s the one I’d pick. I deal with many companies as a consultant, and a rule of thumb, a company like Knitting Cat Lady’s is much more likely to be in a path to future success.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I think it’s really hard to know from the outside if it’s the sign of a problem or not. There are legitimate reasons to do it that way; project billing is a very different thing from actual hours worked for the purpose of tracking sick/vacation time, and sometimes it’s reasonable to track them separately. I think it really depends on why it’s been set up that way, but from the outside I wouldn’t take it as a sign of much.

        1. AB Normal*

          AAM, it’s perfectly fine to track things separately for billing vs. hours worked, but in my experience, companies that are still stuck with completely separate systems these days (that aren’t at least connected via API to avoid duplication of work, inconsistencies and overall inefficiencies) are truly getting behind. Of course, I wouldn’t avoid a company for just that, but in my experience with hundreds of businesses, it does say something if you have two entirely different timesheets like the OP describes.

          1. Apollo Warbucks*

            System integration is the bane of my life at the moment, it can lead to such convoluted processes and interdependencies that its not always desirable to link systems together. The business processes that suite one system I’m working on are completely incompatible with the other system and it trying to come up with a workable solution that keeps everyone is nearly impossible.

          2. jag*

            ” in my experience with hundreds of businesses,”

            I want to applaud AB Normal for speaking from wide experience – and backing it up. Too many commenters here generalize from limited experience.

          3. Judy*

            My last company was a global product company. We had one system to track actual hours based on projects. The payroll system was separate and different per country. In the US, exempt employees only needed to log in to the payroll system if they took sick or vacation time. Non-exempt employees had to log in to both if they were logging overtime or taking sick or vacation time.

            The payroll system always showed me as an exempt employee working 40 hours, but the project tracking system showed more than that.

            My current (much smaller) company has only one system, but they don’t have it set up to handle the exempt case, so I was told to not put more that 40 hours in a week, because as exempt, I don’t get overtime.

          4. Retail Lifer*

            I work for a company with a couple hundred US locations but we still function like we only have a couple. Hourly employees swipe a time card, which is old school and prints out the time on it. Since it’s not computerized, those hours have to be manually entered into an Excel spreadsheet, which is then manually imported, day by day and person by person, into some other program. Then it goes off to payroll for who knows how many other steps. But yeah, only one timesheet! I couldn’t even imagine the horror of us having to do that in another system…

          5. Dr. Johnny Fever*

            True on integration piece. I work for a global enterprise; we track billable hours and payroll in systems across the world, with various currencies, and different rates for roles and vendors. Not all of those systems can be integrated effciently based on current cost of operations, and consolidating billing rules are a nightmare. It depends on the size of the company as to the best approach. It’s not unusual at all.

          6. Observer*

            This can cut both ways. Systems integration can be more trouble than it’s worth. This is especially true if you have legacy systems and / or specific and unique issues around contracts, compliance etc. Trying too hard to integrate disparate systems, even when they use much the same data can create as many problems as it solves in some circumstances.

        2. The Cosmic Avenger*

          I work for a consulting company where every hour must be accounted for with a billing code. We only have one timesheet, thank the FSM. We have an overhead code (which I never use, but it’s there), a vacation code, and various project codes. I can’t see how they could differ without some creative billing, and by creative I mean shady. Billing a client for 5 hours when you worked on their project for fewer hours is fraud, and if you worked more, your company is bleeding overhead, although I suppose that’s not unethical, just short-sighted, as no one lasts long with a high overhead rate these days, except maybe the huge defense contractors.

        3. Bio-Pharma*

          What bugs me more than the 1 vs. 2 systems is the lack of knowledge about it. I recently found out that my office building collects all trash bins and sorts recycling downstairs, yet almost everyone uses blue deskside recycling bins, thinking they get collected separately! For OP’s and my example, why isn’t there an info sheet (or something) about it instead of everyone having to go through a similar situation and figuring it out on their own??

          1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

            Even worwe, at one of my old jobs we had the two bins… and it turned out the cleaners just dumped them both into the trash! (In a LEED-certified building, no less.)

    2. BananaPants*

      We have two. The official one for vacation, sick time, other absences, etc. and then an extremely antiquated system for the project managers to keep track of hours charged to their projects. The kicker on that is that the old time ticket system has not worked to actually generate reports for PMs for over six months and they don’t plan to fix it because it’s so ancient. They can’t use it for the sole purpose for which it’s intended, yet we’re all expected to continue using it.

  2. KarenT*

    Can you have him work Sundays and hire someone else for the other days? That way you have a great employee on a weekend shift (which is good assuming Sundays are a busy day for you).

  3. Knitting Cat Lady*

    #3: What really boggles me there is that if sharing is in some way necessary the two women are supposed to share with men. There’s two women! They could share!

    I’m an amateur musician and currently play in a symphony orchestra (cello) and a brass band (french horn).

    I’ve known many directors and conductors and managers over the last 20 years.

    Some, especially conductors, can be rather full of themselves.

    I wouldn’t be too surprised if OP3’s band manager is on some kind of ego trip there.

    1. Lucky*

      I assume the manager is trying to fit 3-4 to a hotel room, i.e. two double beds with two in each bed or a double with two and fold out sofa for one.

    2. ZSD*

      I think maybe there are supposed to be three people in one room: the two women and one guy together.

    3. GiantPanda*

      The manager wants the two woman to share with one man in a three-person bedroom, I believe. This makes sense if there are three rooms in total (three, three, four people) rather than five twins.
      Still not a good idea.

      1. IWorkInSockFeet*

        3, 3 and 4 is the same number of rooms as 2, 4, and 4. Same cost and everybody keeps a little privacy.

        1. Knitting Cat Lady*


          Also, what kind of hotel room fits four adults?

          The kind of hotel I can afford on either my or my company’s dime fits two adults. Maybe a third bed for a child might fit in.

          The only place I know of where more than two people fit in a room is youth hostels, where they mostly have dorm type rooms which are segregated by gender.

          I’ve only stayed in two US hotel rooms ever, each had only one double bed and no room to fit anything else in.

          Are four people rooms readily available as well in the US? They aren’t in Europe as living space generally is much smaller.

          1. AcademiaNut*

            I would assume two double beds, and they share rooms and beds. Four bed rooms aren’t unheard of, but are pretty rare.

            1. Knitting Cat Lady*

              Just looked at wikipedia and bed sizes.

              A double bed according to them is 140 cm (54 in) wide.

              In most European hotel rooms where two people are supposed tow share you get one of those. Many are larger, though. Or you get two singles.

              Either way, you won’t fit more than two people into a room.

              A room with two doubles would be sold as some kind of suite!

              1. Zillah*

                It actually wouldn’t, at least not in the US – it’s super, super common here. I’ve been in plenty of hotel rooms that had two doubles beds in a single room. They were a fairly large rooms, I guess, but definitely not suites. I don’t think that it’s that uncommon – we traveled a lot when I was a kid, and there were only a couple times that my brother and I were in a separate room because there weren’t two doubles available – and even then, the hotel had them, they were just booked.

                I actually don’t think I’ve ever seen a single in a hotel room that wasn’t a roll away bed – they’ve always had doubles/queens/kings.

                1. IWorkInSockFeet*

                  I think “double” is a misleading term. Generally the rooms in a cheap hotel with have 2 “queens”. The term “double” refers to the number of beds that fit in a room; not the number of people who fit in the bed,

                2. Knitting Cat Lady*

                  I think this is the space difference thing between the US and Europe. We are much more cramped.

                  Here you see a lot of single beds in business type hotels, where two work colleagues might share the room.

                  In hotels specifically marketed to families there are bigger rooms with more beds. They mostly are out of the price range of business travel.

                3. Violet Rose*

                  Yeah, I’ve noticed a pretty sharp difference between hotels in the US and here in the UK (I have *no* experience with hotels in mainland Europe!) In the UK, “Double room” can mean “double occupancy,” but more frequently means “a room with a double bed”. In the US, “Double room” tends to mean a room with two beds of comparable size (a UK double or small double corresponds loosely to a US full or queen). A few of my relatives have been tripped up by that difference…

                4. AcademiaNut*

                  That’s what I’m used to, from driving on summer vacations. One room, two two-person beds, not much space otherwise. Parents in one bed, two kids in the other, third kid in a sleeping bag wedged in somewhere. Or three kids in the bed, crosswise, if the floors were particularly grungy. These were usually cheaper motels that were well *below* the price and amenity range you’d expect for business accommodation, and often at the outskirts of town, where land was cheaper.

                5. Marzipan*

                  Yeah, in the UK I would absolutely take ‘double room’ to mean ‘room with a double bed in it’. If I wanted two beds, I’d look for a ‘twin room’ – but then I’d anticipate the beds being two singles. Anything beyond that would probably be some sort of ‘family room’.

          2. potato battery*

            It depends on how comfortable you want to be, I guess – you can fit two adults to a double bed but it’s squishy.

            I’m curious to know where the manager is sleeping when they’re on the road. Does he get a fourth room for himself?

          3. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I don’t think I’ve ever seen a double bed (or smaller) in a hotel in the U.S.! It’s common here for a hotel room to have either two queen beds or one king bed. (In case these terms are different in the UK, here “double bed” is one size down from a queen.) “Double room” usually means a room with two queen beds.

            So I think this is just a cultural difference. (Our beds also have top sheets, which apparently the U.K. finds weird.)

            1. Marzipan*

              I think a UK king is about the size of a US queen, though?
              It does vary a bit, so sometimes a UK ‘double’ room would actually have a bed that’s technically larger than a double, but I’m pretty sure I’ve stayed in hotel rooms where double really did mean double.

              1. Artemesia*

                There is also a ‘queen’ bed in the UK which is actually a large single — we got tripped up by that in an apartment once — we don’t sleep in a double bed — it has got to be queen or better yet king — so this ‘queen bed’ which was less than a double was a shock. I looked it up and yes they market as a ‘queen’ bed a large single in the UK. Now when traveling in the UK I always book a twin room.

                I do the same in Europe if they don’t have bed dimensions. We won’t take something smaller than 160 cm which is about US queen size.

            2. Christy*

              FWIW, I have. It’s usually been in the cheaper hotels where it’s two double beds. (Don’t we in the US also use ‘full’ for that size?)

              1. Mallory Janis Ian*

                I think that, in the U.S., the terms “full” and “double” are interchangeable. The sizes are twin (also referred to as single), full (also referred to as double), queen, and king. A king is the size of two twins (or so I’ve heard).

                1. Kelly L.*

                  This sounds right. I have definitely seen rooms with 2 beds that looked about full-size and they were called doubles.

                2. Kelly L.*

                  And you can technically get two people in it, but it’s a bit of a squeeze, and if anybody is tall, they’re not going to be ecstatic.

                3. the gold digger*

                  Just FYI, a queen mattress is not a standard size. So if you are ever making a PO for a custom iron frame for a queen bed, it’s probably a good idea to measure the mattress and include the measurements in the PO instead of just saying, “Queen.”

                  Otherwise, you might end up with a custom iron frame that is 1/2″ too small. You might.

            3. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

              Really?? My experience is totally different – lots of US hotels have teo doubles instead of two queens.

              1. AnotherAlison*

                I can’t say I’ve ever been in one that had two queens. It’s either two doubles or a single king. And that’s at all price points, from rural Comfort Inns with the family to downtown Hiltons for work.

                1. JB (not in Houston)*

                  Really? The hotels I stay in are always queens. Or at least, they are larger than the double bed I have squeezed into my room at home.

                2. AW*

                  Maybe this is regional? It’s usually two queen size beds in the hotel rooms I’ve been in (Southern US) though a couple were clearly using their own definition of “queen size”.

                3. fposte*

                  Yeah, two queens is pretty standard in the conference hotels I encounter (I just got back from two)–the reservation question is whether you want a room with two queens or one king.

            4. kozinskey*

              I actually just stayed in an Embassy Suites where we had two double beds — not full beds, they were true doubles. They were wonderfully comfortable but narrow. I was definitely glad we’d planned on having one person per bed rather than two, which our club often does to save money.

            5. Oryx*

              Growing up, I know for sure I had to share a double/full bed with my sister when we stayed at a hotel and it’s only recently I’ve noticed queen sized beds. It could be that it’s been a recent shift away from double/full size and to queen size in US hotels and it’s also possible that the more economical hotels are still using the smaller size as I know even 10 years ago in college when my friends and I shared a room we were staying at cheaper hotels and I’m fairly certain those were double beds.

            6. Merry and Bright*

              Thanks for the clarification. I was a bit confused! In the UK, when we say a double bed we just mean a bed designed for two people and a single bed for just one. Widths for both can vary. A queen is a double (can be a bit on the small side for a couple), a king is wider and so on. A double room would have a double bed and a twin would have two singles. A single room would normally have one single bed, but some places book out a twin or double for a person on their own (depending on availability/hotel policy/hotel design). If you get a 3 person room it could be any combination.

              So a single bed would be the narrowest and after that the doubles go up in width. Generally the swankier the hotel, the wider the beds. (Only booked expensive hotels for other people for work, mostly pre-recession!).

          4. Kyrielle*

            Most places I stay any more have either a king, or two queens. If they’re staying at those hotels, two queens can handle 3-4 people, as long as they’re friendly. (I suppose the manager is thinking, two girls in one bed, the guy in the other…but that’s still the same bedroom, and just to be clear, I agree that this is not reasonable.)

          5. TotesMaGoats*

            For two very painful night, 5 adults shared one standard double bed hotel room. We were newly married and it was a weekend trip to Busch Gardens in VA. Money was very tight so we split the cost. It was two couples and one single guy. We were all good friends, so the tight space wasn’t horrible. The single guy snored like a freight train was landing beside an airplane taking off while someone was cutting timber. Yes, that bad. I actually woke at one point with my pillow in my hands contemplating smothering him. THankfully my husband stopped me. The poor guy was already sleeping on a blow up mattress on the floor.

            All that said, that was a choice. I’d pitch an ever loving fit if my manager tried to do this to me.

            1. tesyaa*

              Most hotels won’t even book a room for 5 people, but I saved a bundle by finding a La Quinta that allowed it, staying with my husband and 3 of our (not small) kids in one room. Brought a sleeping bag for one of the kids. Not comfortable but saved the cost of a second room for 2 nights.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                When my family and I traveled to visit my grandparents in Corpus Christi, two adults and three kids, we always had ONE room. Most of the time, there was only one bed, so we slept on the floor while my parents got the bed. We didn’t mind–at that age, sleeping in a sleeping bag was part of the adventure. In my room at home, I had a double bed all to myself.

            1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

              I wouldn’t even say it’s crowded. I often like to get a room with two beds, even when I’m traveling by myself – you get a larger room that feels more spacious.

  4. AnnieNonymous*

    OP2 sounds like he’s a retail manager, since he mentions a store. It would seem that the employee got a full-time day job and is keeping his Sundays at the store as a side hustle. It’s a very common situation, but I’m puzzled by the way OP is conceptualizing it. Schedule him on Sundays or don’t. There’s nothing to work around.

    As a side note, I have very little love for part-time jobs that require on-call availability. And monthly store meetings outside of normal shift hours? Bite the bullet and bring on your valued employees in a full-time capacity. Don’t stick them with part-time pay and then wonder why you’re not their priority.

    1. Confused*

      If this person had to find a second job I am guessing you were not scheduling him full time. I agree with AnnieNonymous, you cannot expect someone to sit around and be available when you need them but not give them FT hours. At OldJob I was barely scheduled but would be scolded and penalized if I was unavailable when they needed to schedule me (last minute, little to no warning).

      “…I am no longer his priority.” Exactly. Part time and/or seasonal work means he is not your priority and you are not his priority. You can’t have it both ways.

      1. Poohbear McGriddles*

        I’ve been this guy before. After starting my first professional job, I stayed on at my retail job on a “casual part-time” basis. This meant the occasional Saturday or Sunday shift. Over time I worked fewer and fewer of these shifts, especially when my main job needed me to be available on weekends. Eventually it just wasn’t worth it any more.
        It’s probably safe to say that although the new job is chronologically his 2nd, it is certainly his first priority now.

      2. Retail Lifer*

        Corporate Overloards prohibit bringing on too many full-timers, and it’s usually just management that can be full-time these days because they don’t want to pay for insurance, time off, etc. Not the OP’s fault most likely. While anyone with common sense knows that bringing people on full-time and giving them benefits will give you both more scheduling flexibility with them and more loyal employees, in my 20+ years in retail I have rarely seen anyone high up in retail have much common sense.

        1. Zillah*

          That’s often been the case with OPs who have written in about this sort of thing, but this OP said:

          How do I handle a situation like this that is best for my business and leaves both of us happy?

          To me, that sounds like she might own the business herself – there may not be any corporate overlords.

          1. AW*

            That was the impression I got too.

            If the OP was managing a store in a big retail chain, they probably would have just let this employee go. Just the fact that they’re trying to keep someone from quitting altogether implies they own the business.

          2. Retail Lifer*

            I took at as though the OP was the manager. If the OP was a manager at a chain, he or she would have discretion as to how many total employees they could have but would definitely have a cap as to how many full-time employees were allowed.

    2. Zillah*

      Yeah, I was about to say this, too.

      Even if the employee was full-time – and I kind of doubt it, because retail is pretty infamous for not doing that – something that makes you both happy probably isn’t feasible, tbh. It sounds like you want more availability and flexibility than he has, OP, which is fair enough, but if he has a full-time M-F job now, you need to accept that Sundays are the only day you can ever schedule him to be in your store. End of story. It doesn’t sound like saying, “Just this once” is a thing that’s ever going to be acceptable, so keep that in mind – this has to be on his terms or not at all.

    3. Helka*

      Yeah, this is where I am too.

      You really sound like you feel entitled to his time despite him working only one day a week, OP. You have to realize that you are his side gig. People need to make enough money to live on, and it’s pretty clear you can’t do that for him. You are literally not paying him enough for him to keep his schedule open for you. And you get what you pay for.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I don’t think that’s fair. The OP isn’t saying that she feels entitled to his time; she’s noting — accurately — that’s she’s no longer his priority, but saying that he’s a good employee and she’d like to find a solution that makes them both happy. She sounds perfectly reasonable to me.

        1. Helka*

          I think those two are kind of equivalent — the OP is saying that he’s no longer holding his schedule open in case she wants to call him in or for a meeting outside of his scheduled availability, which was previously the status quo. Them’s the breaks when you’re employing someone part-time for what is probably not great pay. They will have to fill their time doing other things to bring in a paycheck.

          This in particular is what I’m looking at:

          He is available only on Sundays, but can no longer be scheduled for on-calls or be able to attend monthly store meetings during any other day of the week.

          Basically, what I’m taking away from that is “He has always been only available on Sundays technically, but that used to be flexible and now isn’t, and I got used to that.” Maybe I am touchy about it because I have had retail managers in the past not particularly respect the boundaries I tried to draw around my available/non-available times, but what I’m seeing from the OP is that she wants the luxury of being able to call him up on the drop of a hat and declare that he must show up for meetings that are outside the time he has specifically told her he’s available.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Those things are pretty typical in retail though, as LBK points out below. And there’s nothing wrong with the manager wanting that, as long as she’s treating the person well and being clear about the requirements of the work.

            1. Helka*

              Of course they’re typical. I’m not saying they’re not. My point is that the OP is complaining that she can’t get him to come into the store on days she’s been told he isn’t available. It isn’t as though working multiple jobs is uncommon in the retail sector either.

              1. Ruby*

                I don’t think the OP is complaining about those things, just stating facts. You seem to be reading them much more negatively than their letter warrants.

          2. LBK*

            I think you’re reading all kinds of things into the letter based on your experience that I don’t see anywhere. It sounds to me like the OP actually wants to help this employee and be flexible to his new schedule because he’s been such a good worker, but the nature of the business means someone who can only work a few shifts a month isn’t normally worth keeping on the payroll. I sense some guilt; the business needs dictate that someone else with better availability should take his position, but she wants to make an exception for him because he’s been good to the store and she’s not sure how to balance the two sides. How do you take care of a great employee while still meeting the practical needs of your department (coverage being the most basic and critical in retail)?

            1. Helka*

              I’m curious what exactly you’re seeing me “read into the letter” that isn’t there. What I’m taking away from it is this: it is retail, it is probably low-paying (since what retail isn’t?) and the employee in question is available to work exactly 1 day a week, no more, because he has another job that is paying him for most of the days of the week, but the OP wants to be able to call him in on other days.

              My stance is this: if you’re only employing a person one day a week, and they have another job that is filling in the rest of the time, you have to recognize that you are not going to take priority over the other job. That’s just pretty much how it goes.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                It sounded to me like you were reading something more negative in the OP’s letter than I’m seeing — that you thought the OP sounded entitled to the person’s time, or entitled to be their first priority. I don’t think that’s the case.

              2. LBK*

                but the OP wants to be able to call him in on other days.

                This is the part I think you’re reading into the letter. I don’t see where you get the sense that the OP dislikes the new arrangement or wants the employee to change it. Yes, she points out that he can’t be on call or come to meetings, but I think that was meant to illustrate how his new schedule may conflict with the business’ needs, not to say that she wants him to still be able to do those things.

                All she’s trying to figure out is how to balance his schedule requirement with the business’ needs, because she’d like to keep him but it may not make sense for the store to keep someone on staff who can only work a few shifts a month. I really think you’re putting a negative spin on the question when I see this as a good manager trying to retain a good employee by being flexible.

                1. LBK*

                  To clarify – you can be fine with something on a personal level but still have it conflict with the operation of your business. I don’t think the OP has any issue with the employee working such a restrictive schedule, but from the perspective of a manager trying to run a department and needing coverage, it may not make sense to have someone who can barely be in the store.

          3. Linguist curmudgeon*

            This is where I like to turn the “entitled Millennials” trope on its head. “Oh, look at all these managers who think they _deserve_ his full devotion just because they pay him a part-time wage and no benefits! How very entitled they are. What a bad attitude – it’s surprising anyone will work for them at all.” ;-)

    4. LBK*

      Monthly meetings outside normal scheduled times are a necessary evil in retail. There’s no other way to get your entire store together; there’s pretty much zero chance you’re going to have an overlap in everyone’s availability during normal hours. Plus you have to do them while the store is closed.

      1. Meg Murry*

        If the person is ONLY working Sundays (and it sounds like not every Sunday at that), is it really necessary for them to come to a monthly meeting? What kind of information are you giving out at the monthly meetings? Is it things that OP could just email him about, or let him know in a couple of minutes in his first shift Sunday after the meeting?

        It sounds like you have 3 choices here OP:
        1) Excuse this person from the monthly meetings and set up another system for letting him know what he’s missed. That could lead to other people wanting to skip them as well, so be prepared for fallout, or make a policy that everyone that works more than X hours a week or X days per week has to go to the monthly meeting.
        2) Set up the monthly meetings at a specific recurring time, and then tell the person that you expect them to make themselves available for a monthly meeting on [the 2nd Tuesday of the month, for instance] every month, and if they can’t do that than they need to voluntarily quit, and they will leave with a good reputation and good references.
        3) Tell the person that it doesn’t make sense for you to have a person on staff that can only work such a limited schedule and that you are letting him go, but that he leaves with a good reputation and good references and is welcome to re-apply if his situation ever changes.

        1. LBK*

          There could be all kinds of things that wouldn’t succinctly fit in an email. Roll outs of new initiatives, training, changes to procedure, plus the more fun stuff like monthly awards and recognition that he’d hopefully want to present for. There’s also something to be said for getting this all done with everyone at once so you can ensure consistency in your message and expectations; retail is notorious for word of mouth spreading things before the next time you have an overlapping shift with everyone.

          Retail is not the working world where 90% of meetings are things you could’ve handled in a 10 second phone call. Retail also doesn’t have many of the modern conveniences of the office world; part-timers rarely get company emails, for example. The wildly different schedules everyone has necessitate certain set times that everyone has to be present so that information can be disseminated simultaneously and discussions can be had with all necessary parties.

          I really don’t think the OP is asking for anything that’s outside of the norm for retail.

          1. Meg Murry*

            I totally understand that what the OP is asking for is normal for some retail stores, I’m just giving OP the option to consider whether it’s necessary for this one worker to attend, or whether it’s more of “this is the way we’ve always done it”
            I have family members that work retail (but of more specialized stores) and they never had monthly meetings, announcements were made on paper in the break room and/or one-on-one employee to manager, and same with training, so that’s why I’m asking the OP whether the meeting is a must have or a nice-to-have. Do all employees always attend, or do you always have 1-2 people missing each month, etc? I don’t think doing something like moving all monthly meetings to Sundays in order to accommodate this one employee makes sense, so the real question is whether the employee can find a way to make it, whether the OP can let him skip them or whether he needs to go.

            1. LBK*

              In this case I think it’s justified in its own right, not just out of tradition.

              And all in all I don’t think it’s the detail that’s the issue – I don’t think the OP was trying to say that missing these meetings is a huge problem, it was meant to help illustrate how his restrictive schedule will conflict with the business needs.

        2. De Minimis*

          When I worked retail we had a weekly meeting but if you weren’t scheduled to work that shift you didn’t have to attend. The one exception was a big pre-Black Friday storewide meeting that was mandatory for everyone. But it was only once a year, and they really worked hard to make it fun even though it was very early in the morning–gave out employee awards for the year and a lot of free coffee drinks and food.

        3. Linguist curmudgeon*

          #2/specific recurring time would be a good solution for this – that way, it’s scheduled (not unscheduled), not a surprise, etc.

      2. AnnieNonymous*

        I haven’t seen them be a NECESSARY evil, and that’s kind of the point. Managers would try to get these meetings together, but it’s not actually crucial to get the minimum-wage part-timers together in a room to discuss things in a group. Or you know what? Close the store for an hour once a month. There’s no real reason that it can’t be done during store hours. OR schedule meetings for a concrete date and time every month (like the third Sunday of the month at 7:30 pm) so people know to make those plans.

        1. LBK*

          IME the meetings were always at set intervals (and I would assume monthly means they’re set a month apart, which sounds like a consistent schedule to me). Also if you work for a chain and not a franchise or mom and pop, you absolutely cannot close the store for an hour when it’s supposed to be open. Corporate would light up a GM that tried to do that.

          1. Alter_ego*

            plus, if your store is in a mall, a lot of times the mall will fine you if your store closes during hours the mall itself if open. the store I worked at ran into that a few times during blizzards where the mall didn’t want to declare itself closed. Luckily, my store managers cared more about our safety than the fine, so they’d shut us down early, but we were lucky to be able to afford that (our profit margins were huuuuuuuge). I think most of the other stores in the mall were probably forced to stay open to avoid a fine they couldn’t afford.

            1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

              Also true! I worked retail once during a blackout at the mall. We weren’t allowed to close lest we be fined, so we remained open. Some lady just had to buy stuff in a pitch-black store, so….Open we were.

              1. Snoskred*

                Well, there is nothing quite like shopping in the dark, and it is pretty rare that you get to do it. :)

                I would think OSHA would be against the concept these days, for safety reasons.

                That lady probably daydreams of that time she got to go shopping in the dark, and bought something incredibly ugly, as a surprise to herself.

                1. LBK*

                  I had to work in the dark a few times when a transformer exploded and knocked ours out! The managers were all walking around the store using our phone camera flashes to see. All I could think was “this is exactly how all those found footage horror movies start.”

    5. Linguist curmudgeon*

      Strong, strong concur re: PT jobs that are on-call. It’s so abusive of the workers – it makes it nearly impossible for them to get a second job to better their situation.

  5. Anx*


    Was this person a full-time worker?

    I understand that some jobs just don’t allow for full-time employment. I’ve worked in places where the business wasn’t open enough hours for that much coverage. If not, I think the obvious answer would be to offer full-time employment, you hadn’t already.

    I absolutely love my job. I am only looking elsewhere because I have limited hours. The institution has a policy of not hiring full-time workers for the position. I have used a lot of my down-time to invest in my ability to be as effective in my position as possible when I’m booked for sessions with more clients and I’d hate not to use it, but as dedicated as I am to a job, it’s very hard to live off on part-time employment.

    1. Zillah*

      This. And, while sometimes it’s possible to cobble together a FT job out of two PT jobs, IME they often want just a little too much in flexibility or time to make it truly feasible, and since the rationale for not hiring people FT is that they don’t want to pay benefits, you’re up a creek when it comes to health insurance. A lot of institutions I otherwise love do this, and it bothers me so much.

  6. Fish Microwaver*

    #4 – What is wrong with centering a resume? It’s just a formatting choice. Not something to get your panties in a bunch about.

    1. ZSD*

      They said centering a cover letter, not a resume. (Honestly, I also think centering a resume is a little odd, but it’s not as bad as doing it with a cover letter.)

      1. Sadsack*

        Centering an entire resume is awful. I had a friend who asked me to review her resume, which her school helped her create. Holy smokes, the entire thing was centered. I couldn’t even finish reading it because I developed a headache from trying to follow it. A document that is all centered is very difficult to follow from one line to the next.

          1. The Office Admin*

            I have been dealing with non-stop hiring for multiple positions over the last three months and I can confidently say that 90% of the resumes I receive are terrible in their formatting.
            Don’t even get me started on the grammar errors, misspellings, paragraphs of job descriptions, job hopping and other nonsense.
            Part of me wants to recommend AAM or some other resume resource to them just to help! The other part of me wonders how inappropriate and rude it would be to do that.
            Basically, I feel your pain OP4. It burns the eyes.

            1. OP #4*

              I honestly have no idea where people get formatting ideas. Surely it can be simple: Is this easy to read? No? Fix it. 90% seems rather high, sorry you had to endure that.

              1. Dynamic Beige*

                But… how will it stand out and give me the edge on all the other applicants? If I don’t have my résumé centered in Comic Sans on pink paper with perfume and glitter and some special scratch-n-sniff stickers, it’s going to look like everyone else’s and then no one will know what a creative out-of-the-box thinker I am! [pouts]

                1. OP #4*

                  O_o If you get glitter all over my desk, I will remember you but not in the way you would like me to. Alternately you could actually write a poetical cover letter, or just a cover letter that displays the (phenomenal) results of your creativity.

                  Nice username Dynamic Beige! Fantastic contrast to the nightmare cover letter you described!

                  Oh – I would totally scratch-n-sniff those stickers and they better be an accurate representation of my olfactory sensation of the object they symbolize!

    2. Artemesia*

      People who produce hard to read PR material on themselves should not be surprised when they don’t get considered for things.

    3. Snoskred*

      If it is a resume, I can see centering some parts of it, eg your name at the top, but realistically I think a work history layout works best with a combination of left and right formatting.

      If it is a cover letter, centering that would be pretty wacky, I can’t even picture how that would look in my mind. :)

      1. OP #4*

        The resume that was submitted with the cover letter was also fully centered (not justified) the entire way through. There was no formatting used to make it easier to read (no bold, italics, paragraphing, etc.). I thought someone had accidentally submitted poetry at first. And, as I like poetry thought I’d give it a look…nope. Nothing poetical about either document. I’m not sure how I would have felt if the cover letter had actually been poetry, probably impressed enough to read the resume.

        1. JB (not in Houston)*

          I cannot imagine anyone I work with saying, “Oh, this looks like poetry attached to this cover letter. I like poetry, I’ll read it.” I don’t know why, but this story makes me think you must be really easy going and nice to work with.

          1. OP #4*

            Why, thank you! My entire team is fantastic and our sense of humor contributes to our success at this company. I think the success comes partly because the clients we work with are surprised that they are dealing with humans and thus develop a better working relationship with us than with previous teams.

          2. Artemesia*

            I once got an application for a position that was a high level finance position (VP for Finance) that was a long poem. We got about 200 applications and 5 or 6 of them were in the ‘you aren’t going to believe this category’. One was on a postcard and written in a tight spiral. Yes, there are some very weird people out there applying for jobs.

            1. OP #4*

              1) I love that someone actually submitted a poem-form job application. 2) Was the poem any good? 3) What happened next? I really need to know the answer to these questions! :-)

        2. Fuzzy*

          I wrote a sonnet in place of a college essay once… and I actually got into the school!

          Though the poetry minor in me is cringing over a centered poem. XD

      2. A Minion*

        I have produced a centered cover letter for your perusal. So you can now picture how that would look in your mind. :) (I wondered too….so I wasted 20 minutes writing up a stupid letter just so I could see what it would look like. Too bad I’m not looking for a job – that baby just may get me some callbacks!)

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Ooooh, this is great!

          “I regularly post scathing commentary that is vaguely accusatory while being obscure enough that no one really knows exactly who I’m pointing out” is brilliant.

        2. OP #4*

          Ahahahah! Brilliant!

          “Would Thursday at 9 work for you? I’ll call you then to follow-up so we can get that interview set up before some other employer snatches me up. I’m actually a pretty hot commodity, so you don’t want to miss out.”

          Thank you for that laugh! (And ow, my eyes!)

        3. Sigrid*

          That is amazing and I want to print your cover letter out just so I can ritually burn it. Well done.

        4. James M.*

          Nice! Nothing says “team player” like punctuating vague accusations with “just sayin’.”.

        5. Witty Nickname*

          I’m not sure if it changes from screen to screen, but my absolutely favorite part of this was that the last word was by itself on the last line, perfectly centered.

      1. A Bug!*

        This. To expand, it’s not necessarily that there’s anything wrong with center-alignment. The issue is ease-of-reading. Obviously, you want a cover letter to present your best face, and you don’t want anything in your letter that acts as an obstacle between your message and its recipient. At its most basic, this means making sure all your sentences parse properly and you use capitals and punctuation appropriately.

        What alignment to use approaches the more complex end of the spectrum, but essentially, when you center-align the body of a letter, it makes every line start at a different point. Because the reader has to actively locate the start of the next sentence, each line break causes a small disruption in the flow of the sentence.

    4. Sunflower*

      I have my name centered at the top and then my job titles are centered as well but all of the bullet points under them are left formatted. Is that bad??

    5. OP #4*

      Fish Microwaver – The entire cover letter was centered – like a poem. But it wasn’t a poem and the person was looking for a hiring manager position. It was very difficult to read. Note- it wasn’t justified, it was actually centered with jagged edges and no clear paragraphing.

        1. OP #4*

          For someone to compose a cover letter length poem about why they* want to work for Chocolate Tea Pots Inc. they would need excellent written communication skills. And I rather enjoy the sense of humor that would be required to submit a poetic cover letter. :-)

          *they is used in the singular on purpose.

      1. just laura*

        You’re giving poems a bad name! :) Center-justified poems are only okay if they are angsty and written by a seventh-grader.

        1. OP #4*

          My humble apologies Laura! I did not intend to besmirch the reputation of good poetry! It was honestly the only thing I could think of for having an entire document centered. :-)

            1. OP #4*

              Only if it was written in engravers font! On a stone colored background. And there better be a trumpet fan fare somewhere… :-p

    6. Florida*

      What wrong with centering an entire document (whether a resume or cover letter or anything else) is that it decreases readability. In other words, in the 30-second first glance that I give all resume, I will gather 10 bits of information from Mr. Left Justified, but I will gather 5 bits of information from Mr. Centered.

      Why would you do something that makes it more difficult for someone to read a document? If the purpose of a document is for it to be read, the formatting needs to serve that purpose, not defeat the purpose.

  7. Beth*

    I spent 7 years working in the music industry. Is it the band manager making the call or the tour manager. Band manager usually runs the business end and has a contractual relationship with the band to get a percentage of the money the band makes. In that case, he would have a say in how the $ is spent, unless there’s a lead member who has considerable clout and can push back. A tour manager is hired by the management company to run the day-to-day aspects of being on the road and traveling with the band. He would not have the authority to make that call.
    All that having been said, the music industry is different than the rest of the world. I lived/road/slept on a tour bus for six to eight weeks at a time, the only female with 11 males. (production not talent). The only thing that gets you to have a say is the saleability of you as talent. If you being in the band sells tickets, then you get a say. If you are just part of the group, then you do as told. That’s the reality.

    1. Kathlynn*

      I understand your point. But this isn’t just one person who has an issue with sharing rooms, it’s the majority of the group (if not the group entirely). So, I think in this case, they should have a say. If money is a big issue, they may have to talk in detail about it, but it’s certainly worth bringing up.

    2. Cordelia Naismith*

      What I don’t understand is that it’s the same number of hotel rooms either way, so I don’t see how forcing the women to share with the guys is saving them money.

      I’m assuming 2+4+4 is the way they’re doing it now, and the manager wants them to switch to 3+3+4. If they had been doing 3+3+2+2, then I can see making a change, but there’s no reason to insist on the two women sharing with one of the men when it will work out perfectly well if you keep the genders separate.

      1. AVP*

        There might be more than 10 people total to take into consideration – the manager, roadies, tech crew, etc. Not that that makes it right, just that I wouldn’t get too hung up on the actual numbers, we might not be seeing the whole picture.

        1. Elsajeni*

          Yeah, even if you just add in the (male) manager to the group that’s traveling, keeping gender-split rooms and assuming most hotel rooms won’t sleep more than 4 means you’re looking at 4 rooms — 2 (women)+4+4+1 (manager). Or, three rooms but one of the men’s rooms is overcrowded and has someone sleeping on a rollaway cot, or something like that. I can see it making sense to raise the question — “Hey, would you guys be willing to share a room with Tim? Here’s how it would make the rooming situation easier/cheaper for the group as a whole.” But it’s still a jerk move to just announce by fiat that this is how it’s going to be.

      2. Dana*

        I don’t have a lot of hotel-staying experience, but don’t hotels charge per person over the standard capacity? Otherwise why do I specify how many people are staying in a room when I go to make a reservation? I thought they were reserving the right to charge me extra if I want to cram 7 people in a room meant for 2 so I don’t buy more rooms from them and they lose money. If they market the room for 2 people, say it has one king bed, but you want 4 people in there, can you get charged some sort of occupancy fee?

        1. variety*

          Usually only the cheapest charge extra for more than 1 occupant. But all hotels pretty much don’t allow more than maximum number.

  8. gooseloose*

    #1 – I agree. We had a candidate that reported to her recruiter that she was asked a fairly odd question during an interview. The manager of the employees who conducted the interview asked about it, and everyone in the room spent a lot of time trying to figure out what the candidate was talking about – no one remembered the question.

    It had already been decided that the candidate wasn’t a good fit for the particular position (not by the people reported, but by others), but could have been considered for a number of other positions opening up the future. While the complaint was taken seriously by everyone involved, it still pretty much threw the person out of any sort of running for working in our organization. It left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.

  9. Merry and Bright*

    #4 Centering either document sounds a bit odd. If the whole thing is centered it might look a bit like an advertising flyer. It makes me wonder if old or bad advice has been taken – gimmicks to make your resume or cover letter stand out.

    1. OP #4*

      Advertising fliers don’t normally have a huge block of text with no paragraphing or formatting. At least the ones I’ve seen. It might be bad advice for a gimmick, but don’t marketing professionals like documents to be visually pleasing? (I have no idea, this is completely not my field.)

      1. Merry and Bright*

        Thanks for the clarification. I was a bit confused! In the UK, when we say a double bed we just mean a bed designed for two people and a single bed for just one. Widths for both can vary. A queen is a double (can be a bit on the small side for a couple), a king is wider and so on. A double room would have a double bed and a twin would have two singles. A single room would normally have one single bed, but some places book out a twin or double for a person on their own (depending on availability/hotel policy/hotel design). If you get a 3 person room it could be any combination.

        So a single bed would be the narrowest and after that the doubles go up in width. Generally the swankier the hotel, the wider the beds. (Only booked expensive hotels for other people for work, mostly pre-recession!).

      2. Merry and Bright*

        You are right, OP4. I was thinking of the cheap street handouts advertising closing down sales, happy hours etc. Definitely not good quality marketing!

  10. Merry and Bright*

    #1 I sympathise here because interviews can be tough enough without rudeness from the interviewers to cope with too.

    I went to one last October with two interviewers. The first question was OK but after every further question they exhanged looks, sometimes pulling faces. Ow.

  11. Matt*

    #1 – This person experiences laughter in an interview, which may or may not have been directed at her, her response is wanting to tell HR and the president of the company? For what end result? What exactly was she hoping to gain? If running to the head of the company is her response for a minor slight (real or perceived), I would be concerned about her judgement in general.

    Maybe she did cause them to laugh and share a glance over something she said – if that’s the case, the person being interviewed needs to be just a bit more self-aware, and a lot less defensive.

    1. Career Counselorette*

      I know a few people like this, who will immediately complain to HR, the manager, write a horrible Yelp review, etc. if the point of service is anything less than earth-shattering, even if they are in some way to blame for the poor service. In one woman’s case, she arrived 45 minutes late to an event with a hard start time and was politely but firmly turned away, and upon leaving immediately called the manager of the event space to name the individuals who had turned her away and request that they be disciplined for the way she was spoken to. I could totally see her doing something like OP #1 is thinking of doing.

      OP #1, please do not do this, especially if you can’t even identify what triggered the laughter. It will only make the hiring manager suspect that this kind of vague complaining and defensiveness is what they’d get from you on a regular basis if you were hired.

    2. Judy*

      While not professional for them to do this, my guess off the top of the head is that the OP said something very similar to something in her cover letter that the two had discussed beforehand.

      1. some1*

        I was thinking the LW said something that triggered a completely unrelated inside-joke between the two interviewers.

        If I’m correct that this had nothing to do with the LW, it’s still rude because she had no way of knowing that. But complaining to the head of HR and the company president is a disproportianate reaction.

        The only way to bring it up to anyone is if she gets an offer and she wants to include it non-defensively in her reasons for turning it down (along with the role not being as advertised) something like, “I’m sure it wasn’t directed at me, but Jane started laughing after I answered a question and I was confused and put off by that.” And I’d still only do that if they ask for reasons.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          As I was responding to the question of why I wanted to work for the company, I noticed one of the women glancing over across the table to her colleague, laughing.

          I read this and thought something similar—although extremely rude and unprofessional, she’s probably not laughing at the OP.

          This is a company whose culture is about being inclusive and investing and valuing people and clearly this message was falling short in these three unprofessional women. Not to mention, the actual job title was being falsely advertised, which in turn was not a marketing job but rather an administration one.

          I was thinking that if the company is as messed up as the OP indicates (falling short, falsely advertised), the OP was probably being sincere about stating positive things about the company, and the rude interviewer was probably laughing at the absurd discrepancy between how the company wants to portray itself and how the company actually is. It’s a red flag, and the OP probably dodged a bullet.

          1. ThursdaysGeek*

            Yeah, she said she wanted to work there because of X, and they laughed, because they fell for that line when they were hired too, and they’d love to really have X.

            Or else the previous interviewee answered that question with the exact opposite reason as the OP, and they laughed at the incongruity. Or they often play buzzword bingo in meetings and she just used a word the CEO always uses.

            Or, or, or — there are lots of reasons. It’s rude; it’s a rudeness that should be overlooked, because there’s no point in any other action.

          2. Koko*

            Eh, for the marketing vs administrative discrepancy – most entry-level marketing jobs are highly administrative. You do a lot more data entry and mail merging and Excel pie chart making than you do copywriting and posting on social media and developing campaign plans and all the “fun” things people think of when they think of marketing. Because those parts are fun, a lot of people want to do them, and you generally don’t get to do them without previous experience. The main way you get your foot in the door is with marketing assistant type positions that allow you to observe and learn how a marketing department runs, and you may from time to time be given a more creative assignment and you can eventually parlay that experience into a job doing actual marketing. This may have been a case of OP misunderstanding what entry-level marketing is rather than the company being intentionally deceptive.

  12. Gerbilgirl*

    Allison, I have a question about the way you worded the suggested manager response for #2. “It sounds like your schedule just doesn’t line up with what we need anymore. But I’ve loved working with you, and if you ever want to come back, we’d be delighted.”
    That sounds like a dismissal. Would the employee then have to tell future companies that he was fired?

    1. Gerbilgirl*

      I pressed submit too soon. I meant to add:
      Or is this a way to ask an employee to resign without giving them that stigma?

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      That”s for if the person says he can’t meet the absolute minimum scheduling needs of the manager. If the manager determines the absolute minimum the person would need to work is X and the person is clear that they can’t do X, then (assuming X really was the correct minimum), the situation is now that the person isn’t a match for what the manager needs. So this is just about acknowledging that. (If the manager still feels they want to keep the person, then X clearly wasn’t the real minimum, and it’s time to go back to the drawing board and figure out what actually is.)

      That’s not a dismissal; that’s just figuring out that the position no longer works because of the person’s new schedule. If anything, it’s more of a resignation — the employee is saying “I can no longer give you the schedule you need from me” and they’re amicably deciding that therefore it’s no longer the right match.

  13. Suzanne*

    #1 reminds me of an interview that I had during which the interviewer repeatedly reminded me that the job was fast paced (admin asst. type job) and repeatedly asked me if I thought I’d be able to “keep up”. Rude? Yes because no matter how many examples I gave of previous situations in which I was able to manage chaos, she kept asking.
    I didn’t report her, but you can bet I repeated the story, with the name of the company, to friends, family, & acquaintances whenever the opportunity arose. I have yet to have anyone not say “Wow! That’s really rude!” Interviewers need to understand that every interview is a PR opportunity for their business.

  14. Not Today Satan*

    Re: #1. Sometimes you just have to look after your own self interest. The chances that these women would face consequences for their rude behavior are small, but if you “report” them the chances that you won’t be brought in for any other opportunities are high. (Rightfully so, you might not be interested in working at this place any more–but you still wouldn’t gain anything by telling.)

    A while ago I had a terrible experience with an in-house recruiter (she kept scheduling phone interviews and then not showing, then when I emailed her a question she replied with a page-long rant about how I was only being brought in for an interview because I had multiple connections to the organization). I thought about forwarding the email to her boss but ultimately I knew that wouldn’t benefit me in any way. It’s not my job to manage other companies’ HR departments and hiring practices. Unfortunately seeking “justice” in these scenarios just isn’t worth it.

    1. the gold digger*

      It’s not my job to manage other companies’ HR departments and hiring practices.

      When the HR guy asked me where I had gone to high school and I answered “the Panama Canal Zone” and he told me he really liked Florida but he went to Tampa, I could have emailed someone higher up to tell them their HR guy was not the sharpest tool in the shed, but I thought, “Oh, they’re getting what they deserve if they let this guy do their screening.”

      (Turned out that his dad was friends with the owner/CEO of the company. Again – there is justice.)

      1. Snork Maiden*

        That’s too bad he missed an opportunity to learn more. I haven’t run into anyone from the Panama Canal Zone before! Of course, I live much farther north, so.

  15. MH*

    With 1: If it still upsets you and if you get an offer or make it to round 2, decide whether or not you want to continue your interview process. Overall you should let it go. During the interview, you did “call” her out on her behavior, and she realized it right there.

  16. HigherEd Admin*

    #4 –

    Why do people center entire cover letters? What have I done to deserve this? :-(

    Thank you for my morning chuckle.

  17. Anon For This One*

    #1 – Honestly, this question could have been about me during one interview (except I know it wasn’t because it was for an intern interview). But there were three of us interviewing the intern, and we asked him why he wanted to work for our firm. His answer: “Well, I looked at lists of firms in DC, and I didn’t want to work for one of the top ones, so I figured I’d apply here.” (note: We are actually a very highly regarded firm, if somewhat smaller.)

    Now, this intern seemed like a sweet guy, although quite naive. And I’m hoping he was referring to the size of the firm maybe – that’s the only explanation I can think of. But after that answer, I could barely keep it together. I mean I didn’t laugh out loud (although it was a struggle), but I couldn’t really make much eye contact after that, and if you were watching my face you could probably tell that I was taken aback by that answer and trying to keep it together. (Along with a couple of other oddball answers he gave.)

    Was it unprofessional? Yeah, probably. I REALLY tried not to laugh or give it away. And I felt bad for the guy (and ended up giving him some hopefully helpful feedback when he asked for it after the interview). But, yeah. The story of the time I almost burst out laughing giving an interview.

    1. AntherHRPro*

      I conducted a panel interview once and literally right before the person came in their was a conversation about a company wide communication that went out full of corporate jargon that we were laughing about. Then during the interview the candidate actually answered a question including the very jargon we were just discussing. I held it together but I am very sure I smirked and we all laughed about it after the interview. Yes, this was unprofessional but sometime things happen. I would encourage the OP not to take it personally. In a normal situation, the candidates response would not have made me smile, but timing is everything. I certainly did not hold her use of the jargon against her and she did advance to the next interview.

    2. Alternative*

      My impression from #1 is that the LW is a bit naive as well. I mean, every company says they are inclusive, and value people. It’s a bit…unrealistic to think that if a company claims to be inclusive, there are zero people there who act unprofessionally at times. It was certainly rude for them to laugh, but it has nothing really to do with the company culture, values, and job description.

  18. Rebecca*

    #1 – I find it rude that people can’t pay attention to the task at hand, for a relatively short time, without having a private joke or talking about other things. If it was a text or email that was funny, I feel they could have put down the phone for a short time and given their attention and focus to the interviewee. The world will not come to a halt if someone doesn’t look at their phone for 20 minutes at a time.

    1. LBK*

      Depending on the business, the length of the interview and how high the person is in the hierarchy, it could absolutely be necessary to be glancing at emails during it. The world won’t come to a halt, no, but if there’s something urgent that needs to be handled, you may legitimately not have an hour while you’re in the interview to wait.

      I don’t think they should be sitting there reading every email in depth and writing lengthy responses, but glancing at subjects in case anything important comes across is fine.

    2. fposte*

      I was thinking more that this was about reacting to the unintentional humor in something the interviewee said. So I agree people shouldn’t be distracted, but I didn’t read the situation as being due to that. I’d say that sometimes interviewees do say stuff that’s funny, but you don’t ever, ever, eyelock with somebody else in your panel about it–that’s highly inappropriate. If you can’t help but come out with a laugh at something–interviewees are only human, after all–apologize and make it clear that it’s not amusement at the candidate–whether it is or not.

      1. fposte*

        Okay, I see AAM was talking about that as a possibility; I think that in general phones should be off during an interview, but for some positions you do need to be responsive at those times.

      2. Lynn Whitehat*

        Agreed. There’s one piece of jargon at our company that we’re all sick to death of hearing (like the IBM “Think” campaign in the 80s and 90s). It’s become a running joke, to the point that it is unintentionally funny when candidates use The Word. But if we did start laughing, we would immediately apologize and say “it’s not you, it’s just that That Word is *everywhere* around here. As you can see.”

  19. voyager1*


    I think laughing during an interview is unprofessional. I am not willing to give the hiring manager a break of reading email or IMs during an interview either unlike AAM (sorry AAM I think you are wrong on that). OP I think you dodged a bullet here. People take time off from work, maybe buy a suit or get haircuts and such for a interview. The least the interviewer could do is turn away from email for an hour. Anyway that my opinion FWIW. As for going to HR, meh, you can but you will probably just come off as bitter that you didn’t get the job.

    1. Retail Lifer*

      Dodged a bullet is right. Could you imagine how unprofessional this woman would act in other situations?

    2. LBK*

      But those things are both what they need to do to fulfill their expectations for that time – the employee is fulfilling the expectation of wearing a suit and making time to be there, whereas the manager is fulfilling the expectation that they be available for urgent issues regardless of the task. Yes, shockingly even when you work for someone instead of just interviewing with them, they may need to prioritize important tasks over you. I suppose we can argue all day about whether it’s more unprofessional during an interview, but I don’t see that as having some magical hold that makes it more important than any other meeting.

      1. Retail Lifer*

        Good point, but glancing at your phone and then resuming your attention to the interview isn’t the same as laughing (for whatever reason) and not explaining why.

        1. voyager1*

          I actually would say an interview is a pretty important meeting. The interviewer is conveying the culture of the company. If there are more pressing matters then that is fine, but if you as interviewer convey that the interview is not a priority at the time, don’t be surprised if quality candidates pick up on that and it reflect on if they accept your offer.

          1. Erin*

            Agreed. I’m really big on shutting down my monitor/putting my phone up on one on ones with my people, and I would walk out of an interview if a hiring manager kept glancing at their phone. It’s just rude.

  20. YandO*

    I think it is completely inappropriate to ask to employees to share a bed regardless of their sex. I would never in million years agree to share a bed with anyone but my SO, sister, or otherwise close family member unless we were in a zombie apocalypse of some kind.
    Share a room? Fine. I won’t even care about the sex of my roomie, but no way no how will I share a bed.

      1. Elsajeni*

        Well, given how hotel rooms are typically arranged, putting 3 people to a room does probably mean 2 of them will be sharing a bed; if the OP and the other woman in the band agree to this, they’ll most likely be going from “2 women sharing a room with 2 double beds” to “2 women sharing one double bed, with a man sleeping in the second one”. It’s true that the bed-sharing doesn’t seem to be their main objection, though, and given that there are 8 men in the band, it seems likely that some of the men are already sharing beds, so complaining about that aspect might come off kind of tone-deaf.

        1. JMW*

          This isn’t necessarily an “employer” though. Bands are often self-employed, and the manager is quite possibly a member of the band. They may be scraping money together to get to these gigs in order to build a following. “Normal” rules may not apply.

    1. DMented Kitty*

      Yes, I would never agree to share a bed with a coworker. I wouldn’t get any sleep.

      Slightly digress — I come from a different culture (and labor laws), but when my first job entailed a lot of overtime hours (e.g. working past midnight) because we were beating a deadline, so the client provided us enough budget to rent a big suite (more like an “apartment” suite — with multiple bedrooms, baths, a full kitchen), so we don’t have to take late-night commutes that may compromise our safety (and cut down our hours to work).

      Our managers didn’t dictate who shares a bed with whom, but it was unavoidable that beds and baths may need to be shared between our team of 10+ people in the entire suite. That said, our culture is different, and my team had “bonded” enough — that happens after 6 months of late-night work /midnight walks to a nearby Starbucks for a break / seeing familiar, tired faces every single day — that some people didn’t mind sharing a bed (sometimes 3 people squeezing in a king-size). In fact I think some look forward to it as they take it as a chance to catch up on non-work chat.

      That said, I cannot really have a restful sleep with someone beside me (I am a VERY light sleeper, any movement on the mattress will wake me), so I always opted for the couch. I also prefer not to share a bathroom as I take long showers and I don’t want to be inconsiderate with others’ bathroom use.

      Once we got a suite with a maid’s room (in our country it’s common to hire resident maids) at the far end and for some reason no one would take it (because it’s a little isolated from the main room?) — I didn’t care, I have my own room no one wants, a bed I won’t share, plus a private toilet/shower (albeit cramped) and a closet for my stuff. I have my own quiet little corner. Introvert heaven.

  21. Allison*

    Even if OP #1’s interviewers weren’t laughing at them, it seems really rude and unprofessional to do that while conducting an interview. I mean, it’s sort of rude to share a private joke around people in general, but in a professional context where there’s an uneven power dynamic and someone is understandably nervous, then it’s really rude. Maybe they couldn’t help it, and I get that, but I think OP’s reaction is fairly reasonable.

    1. Laurel Gray*

      Yes – the power dynamic is why applicants sit through interviews that are from unprofessional to outright vicious. We get the occasional story here that appalls our hair straight. I think what grinds my gears is that there really isn’t much recourse in the actual matter, it’s just a “bullet dodged” when technically, the company may be great and it just may be one employee who is an ass and is part of the interview process.

  22. Retail Lifer*

    #2: If you can just schedule this employee on Sundays and hire someone else or use current employees to fill in the schedule voids, do that. You probably have other associates who want to pick up some hours or you could benefit from the flexibility of an additional staff member. However, use caution because some of your other associates may also eventually get a second job and expect the same type of scheduling accomodations. Then you’ll be left with a bunch of people that can hardly ever work and no one who can come in if you have a call off or other circumstance which warrants additional coverage.

  23. Another Ellie*

    #1 I once had an interview with two people, and I thought that one of them was laughing at me. I politely left the interview at that point, because it had been a terrible interview on their end from the get-go. It wasn’t until a few hours later that I realized he wasn’t laughing at me. He was laughing at his colleague because she was so bad at interviewing. Still a red-flag (among several!). But not the same red flag.

  24. Laurel Gray*

    For #1, I don’t know how unprofessional it would be nicely ask “what’s so funny?” when your interviewers are laughing and you genuinely have no idea. Now it puts them on the spot – they either have to lie or tell the truth. I think being on the spot like this puts them on notice about their behavior in this setting. Sure, it may turn them off and you may not get the job but maybe whatever they were laughing at was related to not going further with you anyway. I’ve only experienced laughter in an interview when something funny was said, I don’t possess enough stfu in me to not have asked if I was in the OP’s shoes.

    1. MsM*

      I think I’d see that as overly confrontational if I was on the other end. “Did I miss something?” might do a better job of conveying you’ve noticed without completely derailing the interview, but I think I’d probably err on the side of not saying anything unless it became too blatant to ignore.

    2. Ultraviolet*

      I agree with MsM that “What’s so funny?” could come off too confrontational even if you ask it nicely. It just so strongly evokes an authority figure demanding an explanation that I think it would really change the tone of the interview. If your interviewers were laughing at you meanly I guess the tone was already shot, but if they were laughing because you reminded them of an office in-joke, or some other benign reason, this response would probably alienate them and be a net loss for you.

      I think a different wording could work better, like “Was that a funny thing to say?” or “Did I say something strange?” in a friendly, curious tone. To me these sound less demanding and more likely to clue in a socially awkward interviewer that their laughter was off-putting. But maybe “What’s so funny?” elicits a range of responses like “Please advise,” and some people will find my wording completely equivalent and be surprised I don’t?

      1. Laurel Gray*

        The thing with “what’s so funny?” is that there are so many ways it can be said. Before I typed this I just said it out loud to myself a few ways and some sounded pretty harmless particularly those with a curious and upbeat tone. In the same tone, the suggestions you and MsM gave sound even more harmless and genuinely curious.

        I put this type of laughter the OP is talking about right up there with whispering to someone in front of others on the rude scale.

        1. Ultraviolet*

          It definitely depends on the tone and inflection. I’m biased toward the more genuine-sounding wordings because my tone tends to come off dry and humorless in person and I wouldn’t count on hitting the right sound in a kind of tense situation like this.

          The laughing would bother me much more than the whispering, but I’m not sure which I’d judge to be objectively ruder! Hmm.

  25. Richard*

    #1 – Without more context, I feel like most of us will read in our own and come down one way or another.

    I’m not a professional actor, and I’m sorry, but there are things that someone can say in an interview that I may not be able to suppress my reaction to. From computer programmers who could not tell me what operating system they worked on, to people who listed everything that their team did – when they had no part of most of it, to people writing down the name of the wrong company…. If someone comes in and essentially reads from the morning’s Dilbert, they’re going to get a reaction that isn’t stoic silence. If it breaks the flow of the interview, I’ll apologize and probably say that it was an inside joke, or some other excuse, even if it was crazy.

    If I saw that something I said triggered someone to react with a laugh, I’d guess that it was either an inside joke or that I’d said something that struck them as really inane (possibly still their fault if it went over their head). And rather than wondering why they couldn’t hold it in, I’d think about my answer carefully and see if I wanted to restate it or clarify it. If I could think of any way that it was funny, perhaps coming across as really pollyanna-ish or overusing jargon, then I might laugh myself and re-state it – “I guess that probably had a few too many buzzwords, what I really mean is…”

    I’d rather have them look at each other significantly, or hide laughs, instead of quietly hiding their disapproval or writing notes to each other, or excusing themselves for a minute to go outside the room and agree the interview is a waste. Anything that gives me a sense of what they’re thinking lets me know how to react, and they’re still giving me time to come up with something positive to say.

  26. Texas Roadhouse*

    For OP#3 I’d point out that not only are your manager’s actions legal, they’re probably required. You don’t gain the freedom to discriminate just because you’re in the music industry. You’re essentially asking for different accommodations because of your gender.

    It would be different if you were dividing the rooms based on some other metric. For example, the vocalists might get different accommodation than the rhythm section because of status. But that’s not the argument you’re making. In this case it would be better to assign the rooms by lottery for all employees who are similarly situated. This is assuming that the total number of employees exceeds the minimum for federal anti-discrimination laws when you count your manager and crew, in addition to the 10-member band. If you’re under that 15-person limit or your band is otherwise exempt from federal law then you can be as discriminatory as you want.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      The law actually does allow employers to make different accommodations in cases like this. As a culture, we’ve all decided that we’re okay with letting people room separately based on sex.

  27. Washington*

    #3 WTH???

    Yea no. Also, I’m curious if this is legal if someone has a religious objection to it. I used to be uber conservative type of Christian and staying in a home (in this case hotel room) with a male who wasn’t a relative was a complete no-no. I’m much less conservative now but still… just no, not cool.

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