networking no-show, company didn’t respond after I turned down an offer, and more

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

1. The person who asked me for an informational interview didn’t show up for it

A former colleague of my husband contacted me about a mentee who had moved to my city and was interested in my line of work. It is not unusual for me to agree to an hour informational interview, give a tour, and perhaps the person shadow me for an hour or two.

It took a quite complicated chain of emails to set up a time, due to my travel schedule. It wasn’t convenient for me, but I thought, “Well, this has been going on for months.” We emailed back and forth last week, and I put the hour on my schedule for yesterday and cleared some of my assistant’s time right after for a tour. The person was a no show. (That has never happened to me before.)

Then I get this email at 10:00 the next night: “I am incredibly sorry about not showing up yesterday. I recently had my phone updated, and as a result, quite a few things, including many of my appointment reminders, got deleted. I did not realize that our meeting was one of them until tonight, when I was going through my email, and that I had completely missed my appointment. This past week has been especially crazy, so without all of my reminders, I forgot. I am really interested in seeing what you do, and if you are still willing, I would like to try to reschedule. Again, my apologies.”

I am at a loss as how to respond. No, I do not want to reschedule. That makes me feel mean. Thoughts?

Well, this kind of thing does happen, and in general I’d cut the person some slack for it — but that just means not marking them in your head as A Horrible Person; it doesn’t mean that you’re obligated to reschedule if you don’t want to. And it’s reasonable to think that if the appointment took months to schedule it, they’d remember it was looming, even without calendar reminders.

If you don’t feel like hassling with this again, it would be reasonable to say something like this: “Unfortunately, my schedule right now makes it difficult for me to reschedule (you saw how tough it was to clear time the first time around!). It sounds like I won’t be able to help, but good luck in your search.”

That’s not mean. You went out of your way to do her a favor, she didn’t come through on her end, and you can reasonably decide that you’re extended yourself as far as you’re willing for a stranger.

2. Company didn’t respond after I declined a job offer

I recently went through an interview process and received an offer from the company. I was thrilled and excited for a fresh start but ended up turning the offer down due to some major health-related issues. I was open about the reason, appreciative of the offer and bummed out that the I couldn’t accept. I didn’t realize the extent this would interfere with an offer until I actually tried to plan a move. I had made my decision over the weekend, so I emailed the department head and copied the hiring manager. I never heard back from either manager.

Is this standard behavior? Should I take the lack of response personally or as an insult? This position was for a major corporation where much of the hiring process is standardized. I’d love to work for this company in the future and had mentioned as much in my email but I’m very concerned that not receiving a response back is a bad sign. Is there a reason to worry? Is it rude to not respond to candidates who have declined offers?

It is indeed rude. They need to close the loop. If nothing else, they’re leaving you to wonder whether they received your response or whether they’re sitting there thinking that you just disappeared on them.

I’d approach it from that angle. Get back in touch and say, “I hadn’t heard back from you and wanted to make sure you received my email. I know messages sometimes get lost, and I want to make sure that one this important was indeed received!”

3. Demonstrating my Excel skills to a job interviewer

I have a job interview next week, and in an email correspondence with the interviewer, she had an odd request that I’ve never been asked before. She wants me to bring an Excel file on a jump drive, that I have created on my own and use for work. I know Excel fairly well, I use it frequently at work, but this isn’t an accounting job and I’m not sure what she would be looking for when I bring one in. Most of the stuff I create doesn’t have pivot tables or formulas in it, although I can do that stuff. It’s really to keep track of customers data, sales numbers, etc. Would it be dishonest to create one that shows off my Excel skills and that has a lot of details if I don’t use it at work? And if not, what should it include?

Nope — just let her know that that’s what you’re planning on doing in case for some reason she objects to that. You could explain that most of what you use Excel for at work is confidential (assuming that’s true, and it probably is), but that you’ll create a new file from scratch that demonstrates how you can use the program.

If directly asked whether you use those particular features at work, you do need to explain that you don’t. If they’re looking for someone who uses Excel in specific ways professionally, then it might not be the right match (and there could be legitimate reasons for that). But in most cases, demonstrating the skills themselves will suffice.

4. My boss wants to withhold my pay until I resolve a client error

Recently we had a client that had made a mistake on a contract and it was up to me to get it corrected. It just so happened that this occurred on payday and I had already stopped in the office to collect my paycheck. I received a text from my boss at 4 pm to say that until I resolved this client issue, I was not to cash my paycheck. I’m in sales and so I’m rarely in the office, so on payday I typically try to make sure am seeing customers near the office in order to collect my check. When I texted him back to say that the customer had already left for home but it could be resolved the next day and that I had already deposited my check through mobile banking, he went on a rant about how I was not allowed to pick up my check until 5 pm and that if he tells me not to cash my check that I should not do it in future.

In the past, if I was unable to be in the office on payday, I would ask admin to mail my check so at least I would have it the next day. Yesterday was payday and he instructed admin not to send my check and that I had to come in to pick it up.

Is he legally allowed to withhold pay pending the outcome of an issue with a client? The paycheck was not commission for this deal but rather just routine base pay.

Nope. Say this: “We’d run afoul of state labor laws if we did that. We’re legally required to pay people at set points and can’t withhold pay without violating the law, and I don’t want us to get in trouble. As for the client, here’s what I’m doing to handle it…”

5. Overpaid — and manager is saying to keep it

My sister has just left a full-time job for a part-time role so that she has an easier time looking after the 2 kids. In the last 3 months, she has taken all her holidays and actually took 4 more than she had. The last pay was for 5 days in March, so she was expecting 1 day’s pay. She received 6, including a day of holiday. She texted her manager to say she had been overpaid, and what should she do? Her manager replied that some people deserved a reward and he would not tell if she didn’t. She isn’t hurting for money but it would be a nice amount to keep. Now she does not know what to do.

She should say this: “Thank you so much, but I wouldn’t feel right about it. And I’d worry the company would notice and need to be paid back at some point anyway. Should we just take it out of my next check, if that’s easier?”

And if there’s a separate payroll department, she should contact them directly.

If her boss wants to give her a bonus, that’s great — but this is a payroll error, and it’s very possible that at some point the company will spot it and tell her to pay it back, so she’s better off dealing with it proactively.

{ 231 comments… read them below }

  1. Steve G

    #3 – I just have to say that you are in a really good situation that they are asking for this type of proof of Excel expertise.

    In my current job search, being an Excel guru and knowing a lot of VBA (past 6 yrs at work were 95% excel based), I am facing two issues:
    1) HR or Hiring Managers who don’t know Excel enough to recognize who is advanced and who isn’t
    2) No verification of Excel skills

    I have lots of models I built from past jobs I could hide customer names, etc. on to showcase my advanced Excel skills, but no one seems interested. Believe me, when you see on Linkedin premium that 100+ people applied for the job you’re interviewing for, it can be quite frustrating that the interviewer still isn’t interested in verifying your Excel skills! Any idiot could be competing with me for these positions just by putting “advanced excel” on their resumes, even if they’ve never done more than simple data entry. I’d ad as much sumifs and if statements and conditional formatting and graphs as I could to secure the job if I was you. If you can do it for a demo, you can do it for the job

    1. Not Today Satan

      How would you describe the levels of Excel proficiency? I used Excel all day every day in my last job, but I wasn’t doing anything crazy. I used formulas and conditional formatting and overall am comfortable with the options and tools, but I never know how to classify my proficiency. (I just say “proficient” on my resume.)

      1. Alison with one L

        I struggle with this too. I’m not currently looking for work, but I don’t know how to accurately portray my excel skills, especially to an audience who doesn’t know what these features are.

        My boss uses excel to take notes. Which was weird at first, but I’ve gotten fairly used to. She barely ever uses it for the math/formulas that it’s meant for, but she could probably make a case for calling herself “proficient”.

        I might venture to say that if you can use a wide range of formulas, pivot tables, conditional formatting, etc. you should be an “expert”.
        If you use macros and visual basic, you could be a “master”.

        Too bad we could never standardize this.

        1. Wip

          The only part I would disagree with is about your boss being considered proficient. That’s like someone claiming to be proficient at Word but all they can do is open the program and type without using any other features. I’ve just seen too many people claim to be proficient when all they’ve done is data entry.

          I also think it very dependent on what field you’re in too. If you’re a financial analyst you should probably be held to a different standard.

          1. Meg Murry

            Yes, I think someone on this site mentioned that they were “very proficient in excel, for a lawyer“. I think how common advanced excel use is in your field is a big thing. For me, I’m a scientist, so I can do stats, vlookups and crazy complicated charts, but while I’ve used Pivot tables I don’t have much need to unless I’m doing financial or sales related data, whereas my friend who works on Wall Street is a Pivot Table wizard and can make financial charts but has no need for x-y plots like I do. I’ve also seen companies use Excel in totally wacky ways instead of paying for specialized software, like using complicated formulas to use Excel to make crazy complicated Gantt charts and do project management instead of just paying for actual project management software. I also basically built an Access database on top of Excel using (really ugly but technically functional) VBA when we needed a database but my company wouldn’t shell out for Access licenses.

            For the OP, I think you can take something you’ve made for work, scrub/genericize the data (replace actual customer names with “ABC Corp” and “Chocolate Teapots, Inc”, and then maybe take it a step further and do some data analysis, Pivot Tables or charting on the work data. That way you are showing how you use it at work, and other skills you have that you could use in a work setting. I think this is so that people don’t bring in examples from at home or that they did in an Excel class and then can’t translate that into actually using Excel at work.

            And I’d definitely include “Chocolate Teapots, Inc” as a demo company – if I saw that in an applicant’s work it would be like a secret sign that they read AAM and therefore would probably be someone I would like and who had learned some lessons already :-)

            1. Partly Cloudy

              I love the idea of using “Chocolate Teapots, Inc” as a signal that you’re part of an “underground” community. It’s a secret handshake. :)

              1. maggie

                I’m in! Seriously changing all of my demo packet. *pleeeease have the next interview by an AAM member!*

            2. SystemsLady

              I’ve done similar with VBA, but for a very complicated database in Access when the company really should’ve been developing a web application in a more dev-friendly language. The company was too cheap to buy another SQL Server license and IT was too restrictive to let us install the Express version (the restrictions of which would’ve been perfectly fine for the small base of users we had). Boy, that was painful, but somehow it was reasonably fast enough.

              Painful memories aside. Adding to the Excel comment above about VBA, just because I’m proficient in VBA doesn’t mean I’m that proficient at Excel. I couldn’t tell you how to make a Pivot Table or really do anything beyond conditional formatting (and I’m not even that well-versed in Excel’s standard function library, aside from the string, interest, and standard sum functions). But I could write a VBA function to do some advanced calculations or pull data from an external file without too much difficulty.

              I agree, I think “proficient at Excel” is pretty field-specific and it’d be nice if companies marked what specific parts of Excel they need applicants to know well. There’s just so much to it.

            3. Student

              I’m also in science, and I only realized about a year ago that pivot tables can be great ways to organize modest-sized, specialized data sets – especially if you need to share the data with someone who is not proficient in better, specialized tools but loves their Excel.

              For example, I use it to track and sort some info for nuclear isotopes, and share that info with more senior scientists. I’ve got a list of some ~500 isotopes, some associated numerical properties like half-life, mass, proton number, and the nuclear properties that I research. Using the pivot table, I can select down to specific elements, or plot sorted lists of the properties for presentations, or look at isotopes with a specific half-life range, or look only at results from a specific type of measurement. Most handy, the pivot table has a search ability, so if I want to look at isotopes with mass A=45, I can just type in ’45’ at the right spot and get a list of only the isotopes with mass A=45 and the properties I’m interested in.

              I can do the same thing just as fast with a custom script and a data file. However, I can share the excel sheet with a pivot table with nearly anybody and they’ll figure out how to use it. It’s a low barrier to entry. If I share my custom script and my data file, most of the scientists I work with won’t even bother trying it out – too much work to figure out how to run it.

            4. maggie

              ” I also basically built an Access database on top of Excel using … VBA when we needed a database but my company wouldn’t shell out for Access licenses”

              headdesk.

              WHYYYYYYY, are people so cheap. If you actually did a financial breakdown for how long it took you to build, how long it took to fix bugs AND how long it took to (re)train people, they could have just purchased Access with free tutorials and MS support, for far cheaper.

              1. BeenThere

                This doesn’t help most of you know but for anyone in the future. There are very robust open source databases. If you need a traditional relational database install PostgreSQL or MySQL. They are free and PostgreSQL is used in many large organisations in production systems for heavy use.

      2. Wip

        I think it’s really hard to classify skill or proficiency in Excel. There’s almost an inverse relationship where the more you dig into Excel the less you feel you actually know about it. I consider myself a heavy Excel user and I love to learn knew techniques for solving problems in it, but it seems like there is always something new for me to learn that I had no idea existed.

        However, I’d say data entry and basic formula usage would be a novice. Advanced formulas, pivot tables, v-lookups, index matching, etc would all be in the proficient/power-user range (depending on familiarity). I wouldn’t consider anyone a true expert or guru unless they knew the super complex formulas and how to use VBA.

        1. AntherHRPro

          If you google excel proficiency you will see that their are some fairly standard definitions and even quizzes out there on this very topic.

          1. Wip

            I would have to disagree, and I believe it goes back to Steve G’s main point. It’s difficult to determine skill level if you’re not familiar with it yourself and you haven’t seen them actually use it.

            I actually researched this a bit in my last job search. There are very broad definitions (that often still have overlap in skill ranges between different versions), but Excel usage and proficiency is a lot more complicated than just checking a box. Yes, you can do an If formula, but do you know when to use v-lookup or index match instead? Or can you do an If statement that has 10 nested conditions?

            I guess I just feel that there is a bit more artistry to using Excel effectively than some might think, and often skill tests don’t account for that. I’ve taken a few and they are often just check the skills off the list, and often penalize if you use shortcuts.

            1. CrazyCatLady

              Yeah, a lot of the tests takes points off if you don’t do something the exact way the test wants you too (even if there is a more efficient way to do it!)

              1. Jessa

                Yes, this. Makes me absolutely insane, heck there are still typing tests out there that want two spaces. Seriously. Computerised testing has serious issues when there is more than one way to do things. Now, I type enough that I ask before taking the test whether or not it wants one or two spaces. But really? On a computer as opposed to an actual typewriter, errors are irrelevant if they are corrected whilst taking the test. The test should actually count how much is produced by the time limit correctly. Wherein errors do not matter, because heck, I can type extremely fast and correct myself as I go and not give up maybe 2 keystrokes per measured time to do it.

                I had to take a Word test once, but geez Louise trying to figure out HOW the test wanted me to do things I could do perfectly well, was insane. Really crazy. I failed the test, and then went and produced the end product the test asked for just fine in half the time the test allowed. Unless there are specific answers/ways to do things, the best test is ask for the outcome and then provide it, computer testing when there are 5 ways to do x task? Just no.

              2. Joel

                well, formulas/vba can also return errors or incorrect information if you don’t do something the exact way it wants, so there’s a reason for that…

          2. Not Here or There

            I would argue further that proficiency level is very subjective, depending on industry and position. My mother and two of my siblings are actuaries; they live and breathe Excel. I have nothing like their skill level; but as an EA, my skill level is considered advanced in most situations I’ve come across (I know how to use formulas, conditional formulas, I can create charts and graphs with the data, import/export data and use pivot tables).

            I’ve interviewed for jobs that advertised a need for “advanced Excel proficiency” and were really just looking for people who were comfortable with what I would consider basic Excel proficiency, like being able to data in existing spreadsheets.

        2. Natalie

          That inverse relationship actually happens with everything! It’s called the Dunning-Kruger effect.

          1. maggie

            I remember reading about this recently (~3 months ago) but had previously never heard about it. Was it form AAM?? If so, wow, this place never fails to teach me! And thanks for the reminder. :)

        3. K.

          I have repeatedly, in the past, been considered a “rockstar” and qualified at the very top level of Excel proficiency tests for, and I am not making this up, knowing how to make text in a cell bold.

          That I can use “countif” has blown everyone at every previous job away, and I think “concatenate” nearly gave someone a heart attack of joy.

          In many roles, basic formula entry is so far above “novice” as to be shocking. :-/

          1. baseballfan

            This reminds me of a conversation I was having about Excel where I mentioned being happy to be mastering some new cool functionality and someone said, “Yes, I love Excel – The sum function is my favorite!” O.o

        4. CrazyCatLady

          Agreed. But I also think the more advanced you are in Excel, the more easily you’ll pick up new things in Excel… so if you already know advanced formulas, vlookup, pivot tables, charts, etc… you’ll be able to learn index match way more easily than someone who only knows how to auto sum a column.

          1. Koko

            So true. I consider myself advanced proficiency because I can do the ifs, lookups, pivot tables, etc. But I honestly learned everything I know about advanced Excel formulas by googling “return zero if negative Excel” or “largest of two values Excel” and so forth. I have a mathematical mind and when I see the formulas I immediately understand the logic behind why they work and from thenceforth, that nested/combination formula is in my toolbox. But I don’t necessarily consider myself more *proficient* after doing the Googling than I was before the Googling. Learning a new command that I had never used before didn’t actually increase my skill level with Excel. My skill has more to do with the fact that I understand mathematical logic than it does with the fact that I’ve memorized a list of commands.

            Sort of like learning vocabulary in a foreign language vs understanding the grammatical structure of the language. Whether you’re basic or fluent in a language, learning new vocabulary isn’t really increasing your skill with the language. It’s just giving you more words to choose from.

            1. themmases

              I learned Excel in the exact same way, and I feel pretty much the same way about it. Looking back to trying to design my very first little patient database, I can see that I am more proficient now. But I don’t really think of my skills in that way.

              In my use of Excel, I might be doing heavy data preparation and analysis one day but then everything I created is intended to stay the way it is– I’m done writing functions, sometimes for a long time, and now I’m only sharing the content with people. Some things I’ve created are intended to only have new records added, or even to remain totally unchanged, for years once I’m done. So I feel like I understand the logic of what I need done well, and the syntax in Excel only moderately well (unless it is a real workhorse function like SUMIF/COUNTIF). For complicated formulas, all I could really say is that I know how to find the solution to my problem reasonably quickly online, and adapt it to my situation. I may not be writing it all myself.

        5. maggie

          “the more you dig into Excel the less you feel you actually know about it.” SO TRUE. I check out another blog about dataviz and they things that they do with excel blow my friggin’ mind. And then…they show you how to do it, and my mind is blown all over again because they’re all done in excel and it’s absolutely bonkers that there is so much cool stuff in excel that either a) we can’t see because it’s organized inefficiently (or too efficiently), and b) you had no idea what the “Teapot Power Ranger View” even did.

          Excel is like age…the older you get, the less you know. Weird.

      3. steve g

        I think that in order to describe yourself as advanced, you need to have experience with imbedded if statements, drop down menus, v and h lookups, index and offset match, pivot tables, sum if and sumifs (sumif with multiple criteria), and countif countif + experience with creating various graphs and charts, and experience with formatting issues with data from various sources….oh, and isna/iserror…and lastly, have some experience with macros (recording common functions, making a basic macro to do someone like put msg boxes in a template).

        I think you become an excel guru when you’ve automated a huge complicated process in vba, for example, past coworker who automated a sales commission calculation and statement creation process, when the commissions were based on many factors, not just sales multiplied by X amount….

        1. steve g

          Oh yeah, and concatenate! Not that it’s hard to use, but it is usually used during more complicated analysis with multiple variables, so it good to mention.

        2. Not Here or There

          I think the description of “advanced” is entirely subjective depending on industry and position. Unless the job description (or interviewer) specifically spell out what they’re looking for in terms of advanced (like you did), a potential employer’s idea of advanced could be very different and you don’t want to sell yourself short.

          1. Cat

            Yeah, I kind of feel like Excel is a means to an end – the question is really whether you can do the type of analyses the job calls for.

      4. Jazzy Red

        There used to be a MOUS (or MOS) certification from Microsoft. It accurately measured one’s proficiency with the Microsoft Office programs. I don’t know if they’re still offering that, but if they are and you want to prove your abilities, you could do that. Warning – you do have to *earn* this certification.

        1. maggie

          They do, I remember considering it because I was tired of being the only one who knew how to do a moderate job in excel and knew nobody else was going to teach me. I think they’re $99-$2k, depending on if it’s on Groupon or not!

      5. Is It Performance Art

        Yeah, I have written vba macros that do pretty complex tasks. I’m comfortable with data connections, pivot tables and i regularly create elaborate formulas. Add page numbers or headers to printouts? No clue. I’d have to google it. I have a technical job so I never need to format printouts but if I were in a more admin role I’d probably be considered barely proficient. That’s why specifying specific skills rather than “advanced” or “intermediate” is so much better.

    2. AndersonDarling

      It’s difficult to say what “proficient” or “skilled” is with Excel. The best job descriptions I’ve seen list the exact skills an individual needs: piviot tables, charts, vlookups, macros. I consider myself an expert because I can create complex nested formulas, but at the same time, I never use charts and I’ve seen some very complex charts that I wouldn’t know how to duplicate.

    3. Beancounter in Texas

      I have a complex Excel worksheet that was setup by someone else (just data entry) and I took it to the next level. I have VLOOKUPs, conditional formatting, mirroring other cells, referencing other sheets, other workbooks, filtering, header rows repeating at the top, footers with page numbers and the date printed, and a specified print area. All of this strikes me as easy. IMO, it’s just better. But, it’s the cash position report for my boss, including the family holdings, the business holdings and all other associated accounts. Confidential information. So I changed all relevant data – names and numbers. I can still showcase my work, but I’m not revealing anything confidential.

    4. Stranger than Fiction

      I don’t find it strange they’re verifying Excel skills at all, but it is kind of weird they asked for a file from her current job specifically. I’ve been on interviews where they first have you to go a room where a PC is set up for you to do a basic Excel and Word test with their own mock files.

  2. Kat

    #3- if payroll catches it later, it could look bad for her. Like she was being dishonest about it.
    It makes me question the manager’s judgement with how he handled it. It’s not his money to decide if she can just keep it.

    1. AntherHRPro

      Agreed. It is better to be honest and keep your integrity. The manager might have meant this as a nice gesture, but it is not the right gesture and it is not his/her money to give away.

    2. Retail Lifer

      Several part-time associates were somehow overpaid by about $100 at a company I used to work for. $100 for someone working 15 hours a week for barely over minimum wage is a lot of money, but the associates were all honest about it and told one of the other managers. He told them to keep it. Fast forward to a month later, when that money long since been spent, and payroll finally realized there was an error. The employees were required to pay it back. Again, $100 is a LOT of money when you barely make any, and the manager’s bad advice completely screwed them. They split the repayment up over two pay periods, but it still left the associates without food or gas money.

      1. Partly Cloudy

        That really stinks. The nicest way to handle it at that point would have been for the company to let them keep the money and discipline the manager who told them to keep it in the first place, apparently without authority to do so.

    3. NewBooks

      I had a similar thing happen with me. I was overpaid and contacted my boss. They also told me to keep it, because they appreciated my honesty. I did. In my case though, my boss was also the co-exec and handled the books. Didn’t think about it possibly being an issue accounting wise until now. Oh well.

      1. Jessa

        Yeh if anyone ever told me to keep an overage, I’d want that in writing, specific to the amount and the time period. I could then make a pretty good case to corporate that someone with authority said so. But I’d never do it on just someone’s word, and only if I really thought the person had the authority to say it. But then if I had a paycheque error I’d call payroll or accounting, not my manager. It’s really not my manager’s job to fix accounting errors, unless they reported my hours wrong or something.

        1. NewBooks

          We corresponded through email, so I did have it in writing. Also, my manager was the highest authority in the company, so I hope they had the authority to authorize it.

    4. ReanaZ

      I am curious how she reports leave days. Because it sounds like she took 4 extra days of leave that should have been unpaid, but her 4 days were never entered in the system as leave, and they just paid her as normal? Or did she enter them somewhere and they paid her anyway? (I also feel it matters if she’s hourly or salaried? I feel for some reason a manager telling you to report hours you definitely didn’t work so you’ll get paid for them is a bit different than getting your regular salaried pay because your manager told you not to bother logging a few extra days off.)

      Slightly different situation, but I have a chronic illness that’s had a bad flare-up recently. I am normally a hard worker and high-performer, but overdoing it makes the illness worse, so I’ve been more cautious about taking it easy. I’ve had to take waaaay more sick days that I am allotted, and on multiple occasions, my manager has told me I don’t need to put in sick leave for that day or that it’s okay to ‘work from home’ when it’s pretty clear I’m too wrecked to do much more than check emails occasionally and he’s knows it (and isn’t expecting me to work). I’m salaried, and he knows I work hard to stay on top of my work despite the fact that I am mostly working a 4-day week at the moment but getting paid for 5. It has never occurred to me to ignore my manager telling me to just take my full salary and to rat myself out to payroll.

  3. TrainerGirl

    #2 – I haven’t declined many offers, but I’ve never gotten a response back. With the last situation a couple of years ago, I was rushed to make a decision after I’d asked for 3 business days. The HR rep called me multiple times during the timeframe he’d agreed to give me to consider. That, along with the other misgivings I already had, made my mind up and I declined. I sent a very polite e-mail and heard nothing. I’m guessing that they figured that since I wasn’t accepting, there was no need to respond.

    1. Amber

      #2 That was my thought too. They sent an offer (something that requires a response), they got a response. If the person accepted then yes I’d expect them to write back but if it was no then it’s a little odd but not that much. I wouldn’t worry about it and move on.

      I could be wrong but it sounds like the person from #2 wasted the company’s time by going through the interview process before truly considering what a move would require. The company may be annoyed.

      1. ScottySmalls

        I’m confused, didn’t she turn down the offer due to health issues? I didn’t think it was about the move.

        1. Myrin

          That’s how I understood it. She says “I was thrilled and excited for a fresh start but ended up turning the offer down due to some major health-related issues. […] I didn’t realize the extent this would interfere with an offer until I actually tried to plan a move.”, which to me makes it seem like the health issues were there beforehand but she thought she could still take the job. Then the health issues turned out to be major when she tried to plan her move and realised her health interfered with that. (Like, you’ve always had respiratory issues but it worked fine in general, but then you realise you’d have to live on the twentieth floor of a building without a lift. I know the example is a bit wonky but you get the idea.)

          1. SystemsLady

            It’s quite possible it’s a health issue that popped up recently and the OP hadn’t dealt with it long enough to fully understand it (for example the OP is in the early stages of treatment and didn’t realize it’d be difficult to switch doctors at this stage until going in and talking to the doctor).

            Or perhaps OP had made the (I’m assuming) reasonable assumption that there’d be a good place to get regular treatment where the job would be, but when OP finally went searching for a place, OP discovered the closest treatment center was 45 minutes away from work.

            Stuff like that. Just throwing in my two cents as somebody with a “major” chronic disease.

            1. EBJ

              Yes, SystemsLady! I am the OP and my situation is actually a combination of both things you mentioned. I’ve been dealing with this for awhile now but my condition worsened intensely over the past few months. While there are a ton of options in the city I was to be moving to for programs, halting my current program and getting assimilated into a new one would have been detrimental and I had no idea how hard it would be to swap treatments/programs.

      2. Onnellinen

        I don’t think it’s a “waste of the company’s time” if the OP was interviewing and considering the offer in good faith – sometimes you go a ways into the process before deciding that it’s not the right fit. On the flip side, when I’ve been a finalist, interviewed, but not got the job, I’ve never considerd it a waste of my time – it’s just how the process works!

        1. MK

          Would you feel the same way if the rejection was “Oh dear, it just occurred to us that the job requires X skill that we didn’t advertise for and that you don’t have!”? In such a situation, My first thought would be that they should have bloody well been more care full when drafting the as, not after the hiring process was complete. It’s possible that the company is thinking “For heaven’s shake, couldn’t you have thought about this sooner? It’s not as if you didn’t know about your health issues!”. And feeling their time was wasted, even if not maliciously.

          That being said, this is a matter of momentary irritation, not something to hold a grudge over. They should have responded, it would have taken seconds. But maybe the e-mail was lost or, if it hasn’t been too long, maybe they just haven’t gotten around to it yet; it’s hardly urgent after all.

          1. The Strand

            I think SystemsLady explained it excellently. If relocating for the job means being three to four hours away from the only specialist who can treat your condition – or unexpectedly in an atmosphere that would exaggerate a condition – the applicant isn’t a psychic who will know that the health issues will be a problem.

            For example, you’re hired for a construction job as an admin and then discover that your vertigo makes it impossible for you to visit job sites. Your job requires you to travel to a country where a crucial drug, like insulin for your type I diabetes, is hard to get. Or you have a carefully managed condition as long as you’re near an acute care hospital, and once a week you need to be in a remote area where the closest medic is a helicopter ride away. This is no joke – a friend of mine who works on oil fields saw his boss die after a heart attack; he might have lived if they hadn’t been in such a remote location.

            Health issues that require regular treatment and management aren’t the same as a skill that could be trained to a person who has other, related soft skills.

            1. EBJ

              Yep! This move involved a 500 mile move, so maintaining my current treatment was not an option and despite being capable of performing the daily tasks needed for the job, it would directly exacerbate my health concerns.

    2. Sammy J

      I have to disagree – I have turned down a fair number of requests to continue interviewing (not offers per se — I just didn’t think it was worth my time to keep going in for more interviews when it was clear the company culture/work/job description fit me) and I have ALWAYS gotten back a polite response to the tone of “thanks so much for your time…hope out paths cross again in the future…good luck with your search…” So I would certainly think it’s rude/strange if I didn’t hear anything back…

      1. Artemesia

        This. When I have had someone turn down an offer, I always got back to them. It seems churlish not to.

        1. Spiky Plant

          Yep! So easy to say “Thank you for letting us know. We’re disappointed, but we wish you the best in your future endeavors!” Or something.

      2. EBJ

        Thank you for this. I think it certainly depends on the company and while being “done” with an applicant after they turn down an offer is understandable, it seems out of character for the company and was incredibly out of character for the two managers I mentioned. The interview process was personal, familiar, and the company is an incredibly tight, family-like environment. They view each and every employee as an imperative member to the function of the company and it was offensive, particularly because I had mentioned hope of working not only with the company, but with this particular branch a few months from now.

  4. Apple22over7

    Re #5 – Alison, you say for the OPs sister to ask that the amount be taken out of her next paycheck, however I think the sister has now left company for a different one so won’t be having any more paychecks from the first company. How should she handle it in that case?

    On a related note, a few years ago I left a job not long after a new payroll person had started. My final paycheck was short, so I emailed and explained, giving a rough amount I had been expecting. The payroll person emailed back saying she was sorry and that she was still learning the software. She adjusted the amount upwards too much, and so I emailed again and then had to phone them. A third time it was closer (but still over), but by that point I had spent a long time trying to sort it out and I was trying to concentrate on my new job and other responsibilities. I emailed them back a final message to say thanks, and that if they needed anything further from me to shout up. I didn’t hear anything, so ended up with a nice little leaving bonus from them.

    1. OP5

      It is the final paycheck, so she can’t pay it back in the next one. She says that there should be no reason to revisit her file or for anybody to notice as it is her manager that authorises leave and forwards it to HR, so the payroll department has no reason think they have it wrong.

      1. ExceptionToTheRule

        We had something similar happen in one of our departments last year. The woman who regularly handled time cards and PTO record-keeping for a department was out on maternity leave when two employees left. The person who took over that job while she was out wasn’t very diligent about totaling up how many days these guys had left and payroll’s records were even worse. They each got paid for an extra week and nobody noticed until the regular record-keeper tried to balance the PTO books at the end of the year. There really wasn’t anything to be done. Trying to claw it back would have cost more than was overspent.

          1. Student

            In addition to expending effort on getting it back from the employee, there are business records and tax records to correct. It depends on the amount, but sometimes it’s best just to chalk it up as a loss rather than to throw even more money at the problem.

      2. AntherHRPro

        Since it is her last check, she would just connect with payroll and they would determine the exact amount that was overpaid. She would then just send a check in for that amount.

        1. Mpls

          Uh, no. Payroll either cancels the original check and reissues or leave it as is. This seems like a great way to lose documentation on withheld taxes and what exactly was paid out.

          1. HR Girl

            I worked for a Fortune 500 and when I got overpaid I stroked them a check. They had documentation as to why.

                1. Mpls

                  Your employer is required to give you an accurate paystub with your weekly paycheck. So if your pay for that week changes, then the previously issue paystub is no longer accurate.

              1. Artemesia

                A colleague of mine was overpaid $1500 on an expense reimbursement – -double pay or something by direct deposit. She noticed it and immediately contacted them and sent them a check to reimburse the account. The payroll office then reached into her bank account and took the $1500 back — so they were paid back twice. This meant she had checks bouncing since it was the account that she used to pay bills. This was one of the reasons I didn’t do direct deposit for years, because the employer can literally raid your bank account without new authorization and remove the money they put in.

              2. Partly Cloudy

                You can, assuming the recipient hasn’t touched the money. Reversal will only work if the entire amount is still in the account. Given the amount of time that has passed, that’s unlikely.

                The employee could write a check for the net amount of the overpayment, the company could process an internal reversal and reissue to produce a correct pay stub and correct the wages and taxes, and the check that the ee wrote would balance everything out on the accounting side. I’ve done this several times to reconcile overpayments.

            1. Observer

              In tht case, she really needs to talk to someone who has more authority than her boss. There is a real chance that the payroll records could get audited, and direct deposits can be reversed (at least within a reasonable time frame.)

        2. Payroll Lady

          Actually, she would send in the NET amount she was overpaid since it is within the same year. Being the person responsible, I would appreciate the call from the ex-employee explaining what she thinks is incorrect. If there is a reason for the full payment that the employee may not realize (as in state laws that do not allow an employee to be deducted for overused PTO/VAC), she may actually be entitled to that pay, and her manager does not realize it either.

  5. Ultraviolet

    #4 – Wow, sounds like quite a power trip from your boss there. In this situation, is there any chance that he was concerned your paycheck wouldn’t have gone through because of the problem with the client contract?

    1. Kelly L.

      #4 is so shady. I have this suspicion that it isn’t even because of the client error. Boss is afraid the check will bounce for some other reason, and is using this as an excuse.

      1. The Strand

        Aye. I smell danger. Sorry, OP, but I’d get your resume ready. Even if there aren’t stirrings of disaster in the air, why work for a jerk who would hold your paycheck over an error?

    2. Lee

      I’m the OP on #4. I’m not sure what his real issue was. While he was texting me about his new payday rules, I was already resolving the customer issue.

      The payment for that contract would not have affected his cash flow as the payment from the leasing company is typically 2-3 weeks after it is signed.

      1. Ultraviolet

        Weird. Was this totally out of character for him? I hope Kelly L.’s suggestion above that he was afraid the check would bounce for an unrelated reason isn’t on the mark.

      2. Partly Cloudy

        I hope your next move was to sign up for direct deposit!
        :)

        And your next move after that to update your resume….

  6. JDD

    #1- This is one of the reasons I keep a paper appointment book despite the laughs. :) Unless I am robbed or drop it somewhere, it is both private and permanent. The U.S. paper industry is still strong, too, so buying U.S.-made is still an option.

    1. Lizzie

      This was my thought, too! I have wall calendars with all my appointments/commitments at home and at work, and I bring my (paper) day planner to and from work with me. I actually rely on those far more than I do on my electronic calendar.

      1. Ani

        I actually have gone in the opposite direction, with a wall calendar, a day planner, and another monthly calendar at home. I use the electronic calendar, but specifically for work meetings or planned days off. Everything else (birthdays, deadlines, nail or hair appointments, etc) I want elsewhere.

    2. Sunflower

      I stopped using a paper planner about 6 months ago because people thought it was silly. Somehow my calendar on my phone NEVER alerts me even though I set alerts/alarms etc but I have a pretty good memory so I rarely miss things. Yesterday at 9am I got phone call from a random number. Totally baffled I goggled the number, a company name popped up and realized OH CRAP I forgot I had a phone interview.

      Needless to say, today after work I’m going to look for a new one.

      1. Bea W

        I have totally done this. It’s not that I forgot so much as I had the wrong date/time in my head and got caught up in something else thinking to myself “My appointment isn’t until 3 pm so I’m good until then.”

        1. Mimmy

          I have the opposite problem – sometimes I forget to check my electronic calendar (all synced across devices). When I get pop-up reminders, I sometimes have a habit of dismissing them, saying “ehhh I’ll remember” or “I’ll get to it later”. That’s why I got myself a white board so I could have reminders in view at all times, no matter how long I put it off, lol.

    3. Ife

      In theory, I love the paper planner too. I mean, I’m one of those who prefers to do things on paper rather than online 99% of the time. But the paper planner just doesn’t work for me, probably because I get sick of carrying it around, so then it’s not complete, and then it’s pretty much useless!

      I agree with Allison’s advice. OP should cut the person some slack, but she’s not obligated to try to reschedule. We all like to think that our appointments are top priority to everyone else, especially if we had to go through a lot of trouble to make it happen. But that’s not the reality, of course, and people forget things, or at least the specific details of things. She probably should have remembered that it was this week and checked her emails beforehand but… stuff happens.

      1. MK

        I don’t carry my paper planner around, I keep it on my desk at home and glance at it on Sunday evening to remind myself what the week holds and periodically during the week. I do have to remember to update it though.

    4. Beancounter in Texas

      There is something about the visibility a paper calendar gives you that just can’t quite be captured electronically on a small screen.

      That said, I rarely use any app on my phone that isn’t synchronized to the web immediately.

      1. Retail Lifer

        This! The visibility of it always being there on paper just makes it easier for me to see it and remember it. That being said, I have my appointments in my phone, too, since I’m not always in front of the calendar.

      2. Observer

        That said, I rarely use any app on my phone that isn’t synchronized to the web immediately.

        Exactly.

        And, it’s really, really easy, too. I avoided using my phone as my primary calendar till I was able to seamlessly sync it to my computer, at least, because I was concerned about this, but it’s been YEARS since this has been, not only possible, but really easy. I’d cut her some slack, but if I were in the mood to be nice and willing to say more than Allison advised, I’d gently suggest that syncing her phone to the cloud or her computer would save her from such mishaps – and would make her look much more professional.

    5. More Cake Please

      I use a paper planner at work, combined with Outlook for meeting and time-sensitive task reminders. And I highlight things in the planner: meetings are orange, leave or holidays are pink, etc. I write down every major task I do (planned or unplanned), then cross it off with the date accomplished. I am lucky to get 20 minutes uninterrupted in my job, so I just can’t plan my day like I imagine most people do. Without the system of Outlook reminders and my paper brain, I’d fall apart. No one has ever laughed at me about my planner, and it is SO wonderful to have when I have to write up my accomplishments during eval season.

      For personal stuff, I sync my phone with my copy of Outlook on my home computer. I put EVERYTHING in there, and double up on my work Outlook for things like doctor’s appointments or medication reminders (thank you, “Private appointment” button!) My phone has never let me down, though sometimes my home copy of Outlook gets crabby with Gmail.

      “Constant vigilance” is my motto. You can never be too organized.

    6. Cassie

      I have a paper calendar (monthly spread) to keep appointments for my boss. Google Calendar is down from time to time and plus I like being able to just open it and flip through it. Rather than pulling up the calendar on my computer, which is as slow as a snail most of the time.

      1. OP1

        Okay, cutting slack.

        And this is why AAM is great.
        Alison has given me permission to be cranky and mean.
        The chocolate pot chorus reminds me that mistakes happen and to cut the kid some slack.

        (and I did use the time to clean up a power point for a presentation on Friday so it wasn’t like I was standing on a street corner waiting.)

  7. Kiwi

    Is is common in the US to actually get a paycheck, rather than just a deposit in your account? Seems very antiquated! I have been working (in NZ) for nearly 20 years and literally never seen or heard of anyone in that time getting a paycheck. Just curious if it’s still commonplace.

    1. Apollo Warbucks

      When I worked in Australia 10 years ago I used to get paid in cash handed out in little brown envelopes, which always amazed me, but all my other jobs have been paid by direct deposit.

    2. TeapotCounsel

      Getting an actual paycheck is much more common with very small businesses, e.g., less than ten employees. Those kind of businesses typically don’t want to pay third-party payroll services to figure out taxes, withholding, etc. Also, many banks charge fees for direct deposit. For that reason, I still see paper paychecks coming from the really small, mom-and-pop type of places.

      Surely that cannot last another five years.

      1. chrl268

        In Australia our accounting packages do all that for us, I think we have a less complicated tax system too.

        It does seem very antiquated to me too – I have heard in America people can pay at supermarkets etc with cheques? We’ve phased out most cheques, etc – hell we no longer accept signatures as security on credit cards as of last year.

        1. Mpls

          I actually prefer to bay bills (rent, utilities) by check. I’ve seen electronic bill pay go wrong enough times to be concerned, so I’m content to sit down once a month and write out the 5 checks I need. There are a couple payments I make as an electronic debit from my bank account, but I always set it up as a manual (as opposed to an auto-deduction) transaction, so I know the amount has been verified.

          1. Kelly L.

            I pay rent with a check, and that’s it. It’s pretty much the only reason I have checks. :D I’ve had a succession of landlords who were old school and didn’t have any electronic ways of accepting money.

            1. Persephone Mulberry

              Here, too. Our management company charges a RIDICULOUS fee for online payments, so sure, you can deal with my paper check instead.

              1. Elysian

                My old apartment charged a HUGE fee for online payments, so we dropped off a check in the office in person every month and got a receipt. My new one prefers it online, and it aut0-deducts (which I love!). I can see why the consumer might not like auto-deduction or electronic payment, but from management’s perspective, don’t you get your money on time and don’t get shafted as often? I just don’t get it!

            2. Lore

              Our management company charges a fee for online payments as well–but I can still use my bank’s online banking to make the payment, and then the bank sends them a check (my bank calls it s “corporate check” but I’m not sure if that’s standard. Either way, it works!

          2. SystemsLady

            I once messed up one of the checking account numbers paying rent a week in advance and 1) was not informed until after rent was late 2) got charged a giant late fee AND an ACH fee (I deserved the latter, of course) 3) had to pay with a money order (another fee) because they could no longer trust me with another form of payment for that month.

            Never again.

            The place I live in now charges for that service, as well, so all the more reason to avoid it.

        2. K.

          My Australian friends are always baffled that I have had to pay my rent by check for the last 8 years.

          (I did it as online through my bank for a while, but the bank just kind of stopped sending them on time, or held them in batches, so even though I initiated on the 22nd of the month my rent wouldn’t be paid by the first, and it caused problems, so I started doing it by hand with paper checks.)

          We also have to pay for our child care, to individual or small proprietors, through weekly check.

          In 10 years I’m sure everyone will accept whatever electronic thing Google and the banks all come up with but money-by-text and money-by-email and money-by-phone as friends of mine in Canada and Australia describe it is not something that’s really caught on here yet.

      2. MK

        Sometimes an employer will pay by direct deposit, but require you to have an account with a specific bank.

          1. Cordelia Naismith

            This surprises me. I would have thought a large company would have been more likely to have direct deposit than a small one, not less.

            1. Cordelia Naismith

              Wait, never mind — it’s the “require you to have an account with a specific bank” part that you’ve never heard off. I fail at reading comprehension this morning.

          2. MK

            I ‘m not in the US, maybe it’s not done there. But the setup usually is, the company agrees with the bank that they are going to handle their direct deposit payroll through them (presumably that comes with advantages) and tell all their employees to provide an account number with that particular bank (so the bank gets a bunch of new customers). If the employee refuses and wants the deposit to be made through their own bank, the employer will usually ask the employee to pay their own bank’s (the employee’s) fee, if any (usually 1 euro). Usually the employee who doesn’t happen to have an account opens one, because they come with pretty favourable terms. My own payroll account has a better interest rate than a regular one, the credit card has no annual subscription and also a lower interest rate, I am not charged a fee when I withdraw money from an ATM abroad or when I use my credit card abroad and, if I buy another product from this bank (like a house loan), I get discount on the banking costs.

        1. HR Shenanigans

          Actually in many (maybe most) that requirement would be illegal. Some you can require direct deposit but few allow you to get so specific as to actual bank.

          1. MK

            As I said above it’s not an absolute requirement, more like you have to opt out and bear the inconvenience if you do kind of thing. Also, I get the feeling from the comments that the banking system is maybe different in the U.S.? Mostly, people don’t push back much on this because opening an account is quite simple and costs nothing, nor does maintaining one have any costs. I have known people to refuse it (mostly as a matter of principle) and there weren’t any repercussions (just the inconvenience of getting your salary via bank order and going to deposit it or some other way). So you might be right that it’s not legal to require this.

      3. Ann

        Yep. My current company has two full-time employees (including me) plus a few remote, part-time workers, and we all get paper paychecks.

      4. Aunt Vixen

        In my experience the banking industry is going the other way – I haven’t been able to get a checking account in years and years that didn’t charge fees unless I had direct deposit.

      5. CrazyCatLady

        Yep, I’m in this situation where I get a paper check and have to physically deposit it myself. (I’ve worked for other very small businesses before too, but have always had direct deposit!)

      6. AVP

        Even my very tiny company has moved to an outsourced payroll that does weekly deposits now (thank Deus). It’s actually easier to pay a company to do this on a weekly basis, and to know that they’re professionals who get it right every time and can deal with workers comp, than it is to try to do it ourselves. I think now that outsourced HR and payroll companies are getting so inexpensive, more small companies will be going in this direction.

    3. Blue_eyes

      I’m in the US and I’ve gotten physical pay checks at a few jobs. In my experience it happens more when you’re an hourly employee rather than salaried. Or when it’s a small company as TeapotCounsel said.

    4. Mallory Janis Ian

      I have paper checks at my current job (a small design firm, 11 employees plus the two principals). I really miss the direct deposit that I had when I worked at the university.

    5. Xarcady

      When I worked for a 20-employee, family-owned company, we got paper checks and were paid weekly. We regularly asked about direct deposit, but were told that it would cost an extra 75 cents a week per direct deposit–this was a fee charged by the payroll company that was hired to do the paychecks. Why direct deposit would cost more than a paper paycheck is beyond me.

      At one time, the owners floated the idea that we could move to every-other-week paychecks, and the time saved in doing weekly payroll would cover the cost of direct deposit. I was thrilled, but one manager was not, and managed to convince her direct reports that bi-weekly paychecks would mean more taxes would be taken out of their pay and they’d have less money (?????), so that idea failed.

      Another time, we were offered direct deposit if we were willing to pay $1 a week for the privilege. When I asked where the extra 25 cents was going, I did not get an answer. So that idea flopped, too.

      It was a hassle getting to the bank every week. I vastly prefer direct deposit.

      Here in the US, checks are still necessary for some transactions. Our banking system seems to be a bit different from that of other countries. I pay my rent by check–my landlord does not have any way for me to transfer the money directly into her account. I suppose it is possible for her to set something up, but it would probably cost her some money to do so.

      It has become much easier to pay bills electronically. For a while, banks charged you extra if you wanted to do electronic fund transfers. But now many businesses and utility companies allow you to pay on their websites.

      Another factor is that you need to have a bank account to get direct deposit. In some states (the requirements vary state by state) and with some banks (banks have their own requirements), it may be difficult for someone to open a checking account. You need a picture ID, proof of residency, you have to be over 18. Some banks check your banking history or credit report and can deny you an account if you have a bad history of handling money. In cases like these, if a company requires direct deposit, they must have another system, usually a pay card, to provide payment to employees who can’t or don’t want to open a bank account.

      1. Case of the Mondays

        I’m in the same boat. I use the mobile deposit feature my bank has. It has a monthly deposit limit so that’s a good incentive for me to put more money in my 401k each time I get a raise so that I can keep using mobile deposit. :)

    6. Kiki

      I’ve had 8 jobs in my lifetime and only one used direct deposit (this was 2012-2014). Every other job from 2006 to present has given me physical paper checks. Many of my jobs have been part time for small companies, though.

    7. Cordelia Naismith

      I’m in the US, and I have had direct deposit for pretty much every job I’ve had as an adult. The last time I received an actual physical paycheck was for one of my first jobs ever back in the late 90s/early 2000s, when I was a bookseller for a national bookstore chain that has since gone out of business. I think if you’re an hourly employee in retail, physical paychecks are probably still pretty common.

    8. Azalea

      I get a paper check, even though I work for a large company that offers direct deposit. I’ve heard too many stories of direct deposits not going through or being incorrect.

      1. Partly Cloudy

        By “being incorrect” I assume you’re referring to the amount? Because the calculation would be done the exact same way for direct deposit as for a live check, so if the amount landing in the account is short, it’s usually because the person owes the bank money and they take their cut as soon as the funds hit. I’ve seen this a lot with employees.

        I’ve seen far more problems with live checks than with direct deposits over the years, delivery delays (inclement weather, late FedEx truck, etc.) and checks getting lost or destroyed (washing machine, dog eats it, etc.) being the most common.

    9. Beancounter in Texas

      I work for a very small business – there’s 8 of us here. We’re paid semi-monthly, but whoever setup the schedule didn’t have a payroll background, because we get paid on the last day of the same pay period for which the check is cut. We’ve hemmed and hawed about direct deposit, but the issue of whether we will simply pay two days later than now or run payroll early for anticipated hours worked and adjust as necessary, has never been resolved, so we still get paper checks. Changing the pay periods or the payroll schedule would be a hardship for some. Most everyone already goes to the bank for other things anyway or deposits their check by phone. On occasion, if someone is scheduled to be on vacation over payday, they can request to get the check directly deposited.

    10. Retail Lifer

      At smaller compnaies, yes. But the last two companies I’ve worked for completely eliminated paper checks. Direct deposit is the preferred method, but for those that don’t have a bank account, they have to get it deposited onto a fee-laden prepaid debit card.

    11. Traveler

      I haven’t gotten a paper paycheck in a long time. In fact the last couple of jobs I had in recent history required that you have a bank account for direct deposit. Checks weren’t an option.

    12. Lee

      #4 OP here, I’ve worked in Europe for 15 years and never received a check or ever used a check for personal banking. When I moved back to the US in 2009 I was shocked that people still even used checks much less get paid by check.

      1. Windchime

        I actually had to write a check just last night. I was at the pharmacy and couldn’t find my debit card in my wallet (it was there, but I was sick and overlooked it). Fortunately, I had my checkbook in my purse so I wrote a check, but I could barely remember how to do it. I write like 5 checks a year.

      2. Cordelia Naismith

        I paid my student loan payments by check. For some reason, there wasn’t an e-pay options — you could pay by phone, but not electronically. This is recent, too; I just make the last payment a few months ago.

        I used to pay credit card bills by check, but I do those online now. It’s so much more convenient. My 68-year-old mother still makes credit card payments by check, though. She doesn’t trust e-pay options.

    13. Student

      A large number of Americans don’t have a bank account, or don’t use it for all their financial transactions. A quick online search claims that about 25% of the country is “underbanked” – which ranges from no bank account to not using it fully. Most of these people are on the low end of the socioeconomic scale.

      One contributing factor is that we have lots of banks that have become proficient at charging high fees wherever they can, in ways that are confusing to someone without high financial literacy. This drives a lot of the poor to not use banks because it costs more than it is worth to them.

      Two, we have lots of businesses that will take a person’s paycheck as payment for goods and pony up the remainder as cash. This is common in grocery stores.

      There’s also whole financial market called “payday lending” that operates off keeping the poor in a state of perpetual indebtedness through short-term loans with extremely high interest rates. Car breaks, take out a payday loan to get it fixed immediately so you don’t lose your job. The interest is so high you can’t pay it back fully, so you take out another payday loan to pay for groceries while trying to pay the first loan.

      And none of that addresses the considerable “black market” economy of the US. They keep money out of banks to avoid creating a paper trail for the police or the IRS to investigate. Drug dealing. Paying illegal immigrants to work in farm fields and factories. Paying some deadbeat parents under-the-table for jobs because they don’t want their income subject to child support.

    14. Cassie

      We have a lot of foreign students (especially from Asian countries) where it seems checks are not that common. I guess they are used to transferring money from their bank account to someone else’s bank account to pay for stuff. That said, we still have some students who don’t have their paychecks direct-deposited. It’s a small number (maybe like 50 out of 400).

  8. Rebecca

    #3 – at my company, everything revolves around Excel. That’s something that’s always listed on the job posting “must be proficient in Microsoft Excel”. There’s a good reason for this: people lie. In the past, people arrived to interviews stating they were Excel gurus, but when push came to shove, they couldn’t even demonstrate how to use =sum to total a column of numbers, and had no idea what a pivot table was, let alone how to put one together and manipulate it.

  9. Katie the Fed

    #4 – Your boss is an ass, definitely.

    But, I feel like there’s another facet to this letter that might be worth exploring. Does your boss have any reason to think you WOULDN’T get this stuff done? I mean, it’s so extreme it almost seems like he thought it was the only lever he had to control you.

    It might be worth bringing up sometime. “Boss, I’ve always taken care of client issues in a timely manner. Is there some reason you’re concerned that I wouldn’t have taken care of it and that you had to threaten to withhold pay?”

    1. Ani

      Oh, I thought you were going to suggest it might be worth exploring whether there are any other signs the employer is on shaky financial ground. In any case, the first bounced paycheck (I’m assuming that day is coming soon) is really the very latest to go until one stops giving the benefit of the doubt.

      1. Katie the Fed

        Oh, I didn’t even think of that. I mean, I work for an employer who is more or less broke but finds a way to keep paying the bills :D

      2. MK

        For what purpose? What good will it to delay one specific employee from finding out for a few weeks?

        1. Kelly L.

          Because the check will bounce–or something else will bounce–if it goes through when it’s supposed to. It’s not so much trying to keep the LW from finding out, though I’m sure the boss would love for that to happen as a side effect; it’s the more immediate worry of not being solvent enough to cover payroll obligations.

    2. Meg Murry

      Yes – I was wondering if it wasn’t so much about withholding the check as it was about “no, don’t mail it to him – make him come in to the office.” I’m wondering if the boss thinks the OP is trying to avoid the boss and by having the admin mail the check the OP has no reason to come in to the office and can avoid the boss and therefore avoid the situation. So it’s not so much about the check itself as it is “no, make him come get him himself and come in so I can yell at him about this client problem again”.

      Although it is also possible that they were counting on having the client money in order to do payroll, and without that money people’s checks are going to start bouncing – I’ve seen a small business that ran this way (employee paychecks bouncing on more than one occasion) and it really wasn’t pretty.

    3. Lee

      OP here. He is a control freak for sure. He has done similar things like this in the past and it always ends up in him creating new payroll rules.

  10. Ops Analyst

    #1

    And it’s reasonable to think that if the appointment took months to schedule it, they’d remember it was looming, even without calendar reminders.

    This is exactly what I was thinking. After weeks of scheduling and FINALLY scheduling a time, how could she forget? I’d still cut her some slack, as Alison suggested, and not mark her as a horrible person in my head. But there is definitely part of me that doesn’t believe the story. These things do happen, but unless you’re calendar is so full that you can’t function without it, it seems unlikely that this would be forgotten. After all, this was a mentee, not a high powered executive, and based on that I don’t think it’s likely she’s in the kind of position that requires a complicated calendaring system.

    1. Colette

      It’s easy to forget things (or lose track of which day it is) when you’re super busy, especially when you’re used to technology tracking your appointments for you. I completely forgot about a social event last year when it corresponded with an extremely busy time when I also had a cold.

      1. Ops Analyst

        It’s not that I don’t think it’s easy to forget things. But something that took you months to schedule? I guess I need to know how long before the meeting was supposed to take place it was actually scheduled.

        1. Colette

          I think it’s still possible. I mean, maybe it’s a complete lie, but the OP doesn’t really gain anything by assuming that it is.

          1. Ops Analyst

            Oh I agree. I wouldn’t treat it like it was a lie but I would definitely be annoyed.

        2. OP1

          We finally got the date on the calendar the Wed. before. She emailed me about availability the next week. I had Tuesday morning open for writing performance appraisals and prep for a public lecture and I thought “oh what the hell, lets just do this” She immediately confirmed.

      2. Bea W

        It’s the appts I scheduled a month back or so I will forget or lose track of. I did lose my calendar at the end of last year because it had not synched to Google and the data on my phone was totally reset. Lost a ton of phone #s too. I didn’t notice for weeks this had happened.

        I totally agree the OP is totally within reason to not reschedule. I also don’t think it’s fair to assume the worst of the appointment misser. Not everyone is good at remembering appointments or they may remember incorrectly (do that all the time). That is why they put them in a calendar in the first place.

    2. Kyrielle

      Depends what her family situation is, what her health situation is, and how good her memory is. I might remember something was coming up but not remember the exact day, and if I thought my phone would remind me, I wouldn’t be /trying/ to remember the exact day. Add in a busy home (evening/weekend) life, stressful or chaotic events that mess up the usual schedule, are unexpected, and possibly emergencies, and you could easily get to where I’d forget an appointment. (And if she was under the weather at some point prior, being sick also can mess with your memory.)

    3. John

      I wouldn’t be so generous. These networking opportunities are gold. She massively blew it.

      Even if I were to believe her excuse, I cannot imagine losing track of the appointment. Whether she is scatterbrained or whatever, it resulted in extreme rudeness toward OP. To my mind, she has a lot of professional growing up to do.

      I’d let the mutual contact know about it. Yea, I’m a meanie. I’m also someone who has massive amounts of respect for people’s time. And this woman may have made OP that much less inclined to help the next person.

    4. C Average

      I can see both sides on this one.

      I live and die by my Outlook calendar and contact list, and if I somehow lost access to these resources I would barely know my own birthday, much less whom I was meeting with tomorrow. (This is making me realize a paper planner would be a good idea–I used to have and use one and have gotten out of the habit.) I’d feel pre-emptively awful about the people whose time I was wasting, but I genuinely wouldn’t be able to do anything about it.

      At the same time, I can see why this whole saga has been irritating to the OP, and I like Alison’s advice a lot on this one: let yourself off the hook. No need to blame or judge, but no need to offer a do-over either.

      1. Katie the Fed

        I made a shared calendar for me and my husband to use. He’s a pain about updating it though, and I try to convince him that it’s really all about helping me stay sane.

        1. Katie the Fed

          Meant to say it’s a Google Calendar. And I gave my parents read permissions so they know what we’re up to :)

        2. Ask a Manager Post author

          I am having this same issue. Cannot get my husband to reliably use the shared calendar or shared grocery list I’ve set up for us. Why why why? It would make everything so much easier.

          1. Katie the Fed

            If I had to guess – we’re the principal planners. So it’s less important for them to have all the info than for us.

          2. Student

            I strongly suggest you just not buy the food he likes unless he puts it on the shared grocery list. That was what I had to do to get my husband to use it (ours is old-fashioned paper on the fridge). If it isn’t on the list, then I don’t buy it. I’m not bending over backwards to solicit his input on grocery lists anymore.

            If he doesn’t get something he needs, then he can go buy it himself, or remember to put it on the list next time. He’s (presumably) resourceful enough not to starve if there’s no food he likes in the refrigerator for a week.

              1. ILiveToServe

                This! I never was able to articulate why I MUST make dinner. Why I MUST go grocery shopping when lets order in from Dominoes is his go-to.

      2. Ops Analyst

        I rely pretty heavily in my calendar too. Honestly, I forget appointments all the time if I don’t put them on my calendar. (Personal appointments, not work appointments). But something that took months to plan has got to be in the forefront of your mind to a degree. At the very least I find it hard to believe that somewhere on their mind they wouldn’t be thinking “hmm, that’s coming up soon, I should double check the time.”

        As soon as the calendar was lost I would have sat down and branstormed about what might have been on it for the upcoming days and gone through my mail to find appointments immediately. Also, I know not everyone is so tech savvy but since this person is a mentee I’m guessing they are probably under 30 and I’d be really surprised to see someone of a younger generation without all their info synced between all their devices and up on the cloud. It’s really hard to lose appointments these days. Not saying it doesn’t happen. But that’s why I find it hard to believe.

        Since it was one time i’d probably give her the benefit of the doubt and not hold it against her in my mind, but I probably wouldn’t reschedule.

    5. Nobody

      I tend to agree that something like this should have been a high priority to remember, with or without a calendar reminder, but I can imagine some circumstances where it would be possible for this to slip her mind. I work a crazy rotating schedule in which I never work the same days or shifts two weeks in a row, and on top of that, my schedule often gets changed around with little notice, and I get called in for overtime at the last minute. The OP didn’t mention whether the mentee is currently employed, but if she has a schedule anything like mine, I can see how it would be possible for her not to realize that a last-minute shift change conflicted with the appointment until after the fact. I would be inclined to give her the benefit of the doubt (and at least she apologized! Sadly, that would be beyond the etiquette of many people), but as Alison said, that doesn’t mean you should feel obligated to reschedule.

    6. themmases

      I don’t think any of us can really know whether the mentee’s life is complicated enough that they get to depend on reminders. Everyone manages their work differently, and anyway, students are a great example of people who can have very complicated schedules despite hardly being at the peak of their careers.

      I started depending on Outlook as a undergrad– back when Gmail was still invite-only– and I had a completely typical undergrad experience. 4-6 classes to go to every week, multiple times, all in different places; daily readings from multiple sources on multiple topics; assignments of various sizes and purposes, also on different topics and requiring different levels of planning and collaboration; all with different levels of urgency and flexibility. Not being high-powered, or even individual maturity level, has nothing to do with whether that’s a ton to keep track of. I think lots of professionals depend to varying degrees on their calendar, too, and at least some of the time their meetings come to them. :)

    7. Elder Dog

      I use a paper address book and an old planner for backup. I used to be able to back up my phone to my laptop automatically, but my cell provider dropped that feature. When the battery went wonky again, I took it into the provider’s store and they backed everything up to their cloud, except they used my sign in and password for google, so I lost everything.

      Fortunately, I had my old address book and planner with birthdays and other things that recur every year. It was hard replacing all my contacts, and I’m pretty sure some are still missing. I did lose all my non-recurring appointments. But the worst is over now.

      Now when I have a new contact or appointment, I take a screen shot on my phone and email it to my computer. Odd, but it works.

  11. Merry and Bright

    On #1, every so often my phone does a softaware update (as opposed to apps update) and gives me fair warning so I can reschedule it and back up my data so I don’t just get a mini armageddon.

    Apart from that, things like interviews are etched into my brain no matter how long they took to fix up – as in OMG Interview/Dental Appointment on Friday.

    It is probably the admin in me but I also keep a copy of all personal appointments (including interviews) in a pocket paper diary too for quick reference and backup.

    Benefit of doubt perhaps but not a good self-advert for professional organisation.

    1. Kyrielle

      I have a day planner I keep them in, and I also have the important ones on two Trello boards (family ones shared with my husband, ones he doesn’t care about such as work-related on a private board), which appears on my phone but can be accessed online if the phone were to become a brick.

  12. Cheesecake

    OP#1, i totally get you and i rolled my eyes. Honestly, i never heard of anyone being so accommodating for a stranger and not in terms of a job interview. And i would never have that wiped out from my brain completely; i can imagine the situation where my calendar gets suddenly empty and i will then shoot an email to “re-confirm” dates.

    Anyway, if i were you i’d not blame the person, but say i have no idea when the next slot will open and ask to come back to me in a month. Now, if a person is really interested, s/he will write back in a month and you can give it a second thought

    1. fposte

      But I’m with the OP–I don’t want to plan another one, so I don’t want to hear from the person in a month. It took more trouble than she wanted even before the no-show. Asking them to email in a month seems like a way of avoiding telling the truth, and doing so and then not helping is going to look like payback.

      1. Cheesecake

        I am also with OP. If she doesn’t want – she is not obliged to do anything. But the way i read this letter – she is not 100% sure (after all, she wrote AAM first). So yes, if she is sure there is no way on earth to organize it again – she can just say “no, sorry no time” or whatever without pointing fingers.

        1. fposte

          Yeah, if she wants an option, your previous suggestion allows her to preserve it. But I think her “No, I don’t want to reschedule” was pretty unequivocal; I think she wrote to be told it wasn’t mean and to get some non-mean language to say “I can’t reschedule.”

  13. The Other Dawn

    RE: #1

    I understand it was really inconvenient for the OP to schedule in the first place and took a long time to schedule, but I say to cut her a little slack. She’s not a horrible person. It’s not like she never followed up to explain, or gave some incredibly flimsy excuse. I’d say that if you’re willing to reschedule, lay out several times that work for YOU and ask her to pick one. If she can’t do any of them, then move on.

    1. fposte

      I think you don’t have to think she’s a horrible person to choose not to reschedule, though. The OP was already regretting the time commitment even before the no-show. I think it’s fine for her not to carve out two hours twice. I wouldn’t, and it wouldn’t be punitive–it’s just that I’m not going to be able prioritize that time twice.

      1. Laurel Gray

        Agree. fposte, you are saying everything I am thinking regarding #1

        Whenever I read your posts on here, you remind me of my mentor.

  14. Me

    “Nope. Say this: ‘[i]You’d [/i] run afoul of state labor laws if you did that. [i]You’re [/i] legally required to pay your employees at set points and can’t withhold pay without violating the law, and I don’t want you to get in trouble. As for the client, here’s what I’m doing to handle it…’ ”

    Fixed that for you.

    1. Apollo Warbucks

      I think that Alison’s wording is meant to be a softer approach intended get results by present this type of thing as problem you are trying to help the business avoid rather rubbing people up the wrong way by taking a more adversarial approach and throwing around accusations of illegal conduct.

    2. Brightwanderer

      Pretty sure Alison deliberately uses “we” not “you” in these situations to keep the conversation non-adversarial – so it comes across as “this is a problem for us to solve collaboratively” rather than “you’re gonna get in TROUBLE”.

      I also feel that the snide little “fixed that for you” takes this into the same general area as the red-pen employee from a couple of posts ago…

      1. Kelly L.

        I agree with the first part, but “fixed that for you” is not necessarily snide. Sometimes it’s meant a lot more lightly than that.

        (And while Alison’s probably right about the wording, there’s something satisfying about seeing the blame placed properly, even if only in this forum and not at the LW’s workplace!)

        1. Me

          Not meant to be snide. It’s a saying.

          Also, since the boss was being extremely confrontational, to the point of berating the employee for cashing his own paycheck to access his own money, I think pointing out that the guy is trying to do something illegal isn’t overly aggressive.

          The other option is to completely ignore him and carry on w/ your paychecks as you see fit. And try to set up direct deposit.

          1. Jerry Vandesic

            It’s a smartass saying. Whenever I hear it I think “what a jerk.” Doesn’t really matter at that point what they were talking about.

          2. Observer

            The boss is, at best, a total jerk. Agreed. But the question for the OP is not who is right, but how to most effectively get what he needs.

            It’s like defensive driving. As a long ago driving teacher once said “Do you want to be right, or alive?”

    3. Meg

      I think Alison uses “we” instead of “you” deliberately in order to avoid sounding confrontational.

    4. Ask a Manager Post author

      As others have said, “we” is a deliberate choice because it’s less adversarial, which is important if you want to continue having an ongoing and decent relationship with this employer. It allows you to make the point without introducing the adversarial nature that “you” will.

      1. Me

        But the boss already introduced an adversarial tone w/ this: “he went on a rant about how I was not allowed to pick up my check until 5 pm and that if he tells me not to cash my check that I should not do it in future.”

        Maybe I”m just completely fed up w/ combative bosses but I’d have no patience for someone berating me about my pay, to which I am 100% entitled.

        (The very notion that you have to *pick up your check* in this day and age is already weird.)

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          If the OP just wants to be right, that’s fine. But if the OP wants to try to salvage the situation and continue to work there and not be despised by the boss, “we” will help with outcome.

        2. ThursdaysGeek

          Yeah, sometimes it’s better to have a job than to be right. And with a boss like that, OP is choosing the job.

          As for the paper checks, OP has pointed out above that it’s a small business and the boss doesn’t want to pay for direct deposit.

      2. Elder Dog

        While I understand that’s the intent, I know a lot of bosses who would read it as the Kindergarten Teacher’s “we” and take it as being talked down to. I’m pretty sure the response would be “Who’s we? You got a mouse in your pocket?”

        That “we” is jarring to me, and feels akin to baby talk in the office. Or a manipulation attempt. I would find either more upsetting that a direct, informational “That’s against the law.” as long as there isn’t an implied “Jackass” finishing the sentence.

        I have been assuming there’s a way of delivering this sort of thing being used here that I can’t hear from the words alone.

        1. Student

          It is manipulative, that’s the point. The goal is to get the employee what they want (paycheck on time) without getting fired. It’s not a sports match against the boss with a score for who’s right.

          Most of my bosses would dig in if you told them “That’s against the law.” Or freak out. The idea is to say it in a way where they don’t go into attack mode against the employee. They probably still get ruffled feathers, but if you use “we” then it doesn’t sound like the employee may call the cops/ regulatory authority immediately. So the boss regroups, hopefully checks to see whether there is such a law, then backs down without having to explicitly lose face to the employee.

          Sure, it’s not ideal, and some good bosses would rather just hear, “It’s illegal.” But most people don’t want (can’t afford) to get fired over this kind of thing – otherwise they’d be writing in to ask for advice with their job search instead.

  15. Lily in NYC

    #1: I think “my phone screwed up and my calendar got wiped” is the new “the dog ate my homework”. I wouldn’t reschedule nor would I feel guilty about it. I really like Alison’s suggested wording.

    1. AnotherAlison

      It’s probably BS anyway.

      I’ve had those moments where I flake out on something like this because I realize it’s something I don’t want to do at all, and then I feel guilty about it and try to make it better with an excuse. (Usually I make my excuse before, not 12 hours later. . .something like, ‘I’m not going to show up to this. I understand it may not be possible to reschedule, but if you’re willing to do so, I would really appreciate it.’) If it was a priority for the interviewee, she would have been there.

      1. AnotherAlison

        And when I say usually, I mean once for a work related thing. I am more of a social canceler, but professionally I normally keep my commitments.

      2. Katie the Fed

        “realize it’s something I don’t want to do at all”

        Yep. I wonder if it was nerves or something that got her.

    2. Laurel Gray

      Agree! Something that has been reinforced in my head from reading AAM regularly is that MOST times we only get one chance/opportunity with a person or organization and things may not work out how we hopes. This mentee should just move on, the OP definitely owes her nothing.

    3. C Average

      Eh, I do believe the story, just because I’ve seen it happen SO MUCH. It hasn’t happened to me, but it’s happened to many of my colleagues, and I’ve seen firsthand that their panic and frustration about the situation were NOT fake. (Because my team supports apps as a big part of our business, we typically upgrade to the new iPhone model as soon as it’s released, so there’s a lot of opportunity for this kind of mishap.)

      I also kind of figure she’s telling the truth because she’s asking to reschedule. If she really didn’t want to do it, wouldn’t she just bail and not make any attempt to reschedule?

      To be clear, I think the OP owes her nothing, and I really like Alison’s answer. I just don’t find the story particularly suspicious.

      1. Windchime

        I find the story a little suspicious. It’s strange that the candidate’s calendar was wiped and she totally missed the appointment, but then somehow was able to suddenly remember it later in the evening?

        At any rate, I agree that the OP shouldn’t feel obligated to reschedule.

        1. blu

          I’m missing why it’s suspicious. Isn’t that how it usually works when you forget something? Eventually you realize/remember the thing you forgot.

          1. Zillah

            Yeah, this. I can’t count how many times it’s gotten to 7pm and I’ve thought, “oh god, was that today??” It’s virtually always been something in my personal life, but still. Even with her phone wiped, she could presumably check the date in her email.

    4. Marcela

      Well, sometimes phones do fail in real life. When I got my last Android phone, I added a calendar widget to the home screen. I never know which day is today, because pretty much all days are the same, except weekends. Imagine my embarrassment when I called my father one day, to congratulate him on his birthday and he told me “thank you, sweetie, but my birthday was yesterday”. The widget had the wrong date, and living thousands of kilometers far away from my family, I was never included in the plans for parties and gifts, so I didn’t have any information suggesting I was late one day. Obviously my family thought I had forgotten and I was lying, but when the same thing happened to my husband, when his phone with the same widget did the exact same thing, all of us checked our phones, replaced the widget and made a bug report. Never happened again.

    5. JB

      I have had this happen to me (phone deleted a bunch of appointments, and I’m not sure why), and I can totally see me forgetting what day something like this was on, even if it took a lot of trouble to schedule. I typically have so many things I’m trying to remember at any one time that I rely on reminders. There’s almost nothing that’s stuck in my head. I’ll know it’s coming up but not know when exactly, and if the reminder on my phone doesn’t go off or it’s not on the calendar when I look, there’s a good chance I will miss it. Thankfully, this has only happened once.

      1. JB

        And I should say my phone calendar was my google calendar, which should stay synced, and I hadn’t done any updates. I have no clue why this happened.

  16. AvonLady Barksdale

    #1: This happened to me once and I was pretty surprised too. I gave informational interviews to people in and out of the company all the time– though I didn’t set aside hours like you do (which, by the way, is amazing and generous). A company intern failed to show up for her appointment with me and then emailed me later saying she had a dentist appointment and she didn’t realize she wouldn’t get out in time. Gee, thanks.

    While I did reschedule, it definitely colored my view of this woman (I may have mentioned it to her supervisor too, I don’t remember– but he was usually the one who suggested they talk to me). She tried to connect with me on LinkedIn and I ignored her. Don’t feel mean. While you can be understanding when you respond to her (and I do think you should respond), actions– even inadvertent ones– have consequences*. Tell her what Alison suggested, that with your crazy schedule you won’t be able to find the time, good luck.

    *Note: If she had written the OP saying she was in the hospital having emergency surgery, I would be much more forgiving, so not all inadvertent actions have the SAME consequences.

    1. MK

      I wouldn’t say needing to have surgery performed on you is action of any sort.

      While updating a phone without making sure data wouldn’t get lost, well, there is some negligence there.

  17. thisisit

    in my old job, we did informational interviews all the time. my boss probably had 3-4 requests a day, and the ones he couldn’t do, he’d fob off on us (and we’d have our own to do). i tended to get these a lot too – partly to do with both of my alma maters nearby, but also because my project had a lot of public meetings and required making lots of connections, and they’d often send their family members, etc, my way for advice.

    people were no-shows all the time, both in person and by phone/skype. i kind of got used to it, but i’d say less than 50% of those no-shows ever actually reached out with an explanation, and maybe 75% of those wanted to reschedule. sometimes the reasons were good, sometimes really eye-roll-worthy. i always made an attempt to reschedule – in my field, you just never knew how you’d run into people again.

    which leads me to two funny (?) stories: 1) a colleague had someone fail to show for her, and she send a strongly worded (though I think still polite) email to the person. Never heard back. Six months later she’s in a fundraising meeting with a decision-maker at a foundation, and guess who is the guy’s personal assistant….
    2) a colleague of a colleague (so this one was heard through the grapevine) also had a no-show. when the person emailed to apologize and explain the issue (related to classes), mentor-to-be basically shut down further communication. cut forward a year or two later, and mentor-to-be is applying for a PhD and has a panel interview at the university… well, you know where this is going.

  18. LizNYC

    #5 I’d alert the payroll office and let the boss know I’m doing it.

    That said, maybe they are not docking the 4 days of overage (but I’d certainly check). At OldJob, I expected that 4 days of time would be removed, but they said that due to the horrible weather that year (Sandy), all time taken around that storm would be excused. (I took the time to go to a national conference — it wasn’t storm-related.)

  19. AndersonDarling

    #3 The OP was lucky to have been given a heads up to bring an example spreadsheet. One of the last interviews I was on, I went through the interview then I was asked to show them some Excel tricks. I didn’t really understand what they meant, so I walked them through using the “visible cells” option in the GoTo menu and how to reformat data from crystal reports so it could be used in Excel. I couldn’t think of any other “tricks.” But I think they really wanted me to just show them what I knew. I could have built a few formulas, walked through checking links… all sorts of stuff. But I was caught off guard and I bombed.

    1. Beancounter in Texas

      Yeah, using the word “tricks” makes me think of little hacks that not everyone might know, not the routine use of the software.

  20. Katie the Fed

    #1 – I’ve been thinking about this one for a while.

    I’m a compassionate person and all about second chances, so my response might depend a lot on the vibe I was getting from this person. If she seemed sincere but overwhelmed, I might give her a chance.

    But you know, sometimes you just blow it, and that’s adulthood. I was on an international trip where I was recovering from swine flu several years ago and overwhelmingly exhausted. I got to the hotel and crashed, and managed to sleep clear through my cell phone alarm and the hotel forgot the wakeup call. I missed my first meeting that morning. That’s AWFUL and embarrassing and no amount of explaining makes it ok. But, sometimes you just eff up royally and have to live with it.

  21. Informational Interviews

    Re: #1

    The letter writer/interviewer certainly does not have to reschedule for this person. I might not either. However, I noticed that the mentee had just moved to the new city. Moving to a new city can be incredibly stressful, and maybe this person is not handling that transition well, causing mishaps like losing phone and calendar data. An option for the interviewer is to just have a 20 minute phone call, instead of trying to reschedule the entire in-person meeting. Again, it’s an option, although the LW certainly does not have to be that generous, considering that they had already bent over backwards to schedule the original meeting.

  22. Anonymous Educator

    I don’t think it really matters whether the mentee in #1 is lying or not. All that matters is the OP is not going to reschedule, and this bridge is burnt.

    When you burn bridges you are not necessarily, as Alison puts it, “a horrible person,” but it means you lost out on an opportunity, and you’ve soured a relationship with someone.

    I had a much lighter version of this happen to me when I was phone interviewing job candidates for a position recently. Via email, I scheduled a phone interview with a candidate, and she confirmed the time. I called her at that time—no answer. I left her a voicemail. She called back (not during our appointed time) and left me a voicemail (I was teaching a class, so I couldn’t answer my phone) frantically apologizing and saying an emergency had come up, and if it was possible, could I call back between X time and Y time that day, and she would definitely answer the phone. So I called between X time and Y time, and she didn’t answer again. Once again, she called to say “I’m so sorry… blah blah blah, etc.” and I just ignored it.

    Is she a horrible person? I don’t know. I don’t care. She may have had two legitimate emergencies that day. I just knew she wasn’t going to get a phone interview for our position.

    Same deal for the OP. Maybe this mentee is 100% telling the truth. Well, maybe this mentee will get an informational interview… somewhere else.

  23. Fuzzyfuzz

    For #5–definitely follow Alison’s advice. We had an intern who was working in two different departments within our organization. She got a standard hourly wage from us in addition to an hourly wage and commission from her second job. Because of a payroll coding glitch, she was overpaid for more than a month, but didn’t notice because it was typical for her checks to vary in amount. When HR finally figured it out, she owed them more than $1,000 and it was a real hardship for her to pay everything back before her last day–she was moving abroad. I felt terrible for her.

    1. MashaKasha

      Yes, they will absolutely get their own sooner or later, so it needs to be reported and returned. I once got an extra paycheck at an old job for no reason. I check my finances very frequently, because my expenses are currently high and cash is pretty tight as a result. I checked my bank account a week after pay day, and there was a random new paycheck sitting in it. I called the HR and the payroll right away, but it’s a huge corporation and nobody seemed to care. Payroll just kept telling me that it was an off-cycle check, and when I asked them about the reasons why I’d received an off-cycle check, the payroll rep got angry and said, “I don’t know, ask your manager”. And of course, when I asked my manager about it, he had no idea that I’d even gotten one, let alone why. I moved this money to a separate account and sat on it for another year until I left the company. Sure enough, my final pay was X dollars short, X being that stray paycheck’s amount. I could’ve been in a pretty bad financial situation if I’d already spent it.

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