I was asked to interview again after getting an offer, sticking it at out at a bad new job, and more

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

1. I thought I had an offer but now they want me to do another interview

I applied for a job. I was the second person they were interested in. The first person had more related job experience, but she turned down their offer. They contacted me to see if I was still interested. I said yes. The manager provided me with an offer and said he just need to get it signed off from another supervisor. He later emailed and said that they were now going to do a conference call the following week to discuss the position. I asked whether there may be a chance to have the offer not approved by the other team members, and he said yes.

Now today, after the conference call with his coworkers, he said I have to do a second interview and it will be a week away! This is a very well known, successful company. I was unable to talk as I was with a current coworker and I just agreed to the interview a week away.

Should I call him back to get more detail as to why there is a need for a second interview? I am really puzzled by being offered the job and now moving to this point. It also does not seem right. What feedback can you provide?

Well, there wasn’t ever really an offer to begin with. “I want to offer you the job but I need other people to sign off on it first” isn’t a job offer. It’s a sign a job offer may be coming, but it’s not an offer, because it’s not definite.

There could be all kinds of reasons they want to talk with you further — there could be decision-makers who need to meet you (and for some reason the manager didn’t realize this initially), questions about your candidacy that they want to resolve, a change to the position that they want to discuss with you, a last-minute candidate who they’re comparing you against, or all sorts of other things.

Go to the second interview and see how it goes.

2. I want to stick with the project I’ve been switched to

I was initially hired by my organization to work on Program A, which I was well qualified for because I have skills Y and Z. I figured out pretty quickly that I didn’t particularly enjoy Program A, but because I like my overall work situation decently well and it’s my first full-time post-college job, I resolved to stick with it for at least a couple years. I went on to obtain a fairly rigorous industry accreditation that relates directly to Program A.

In the last six months or so, my organization has been mandated to work on the new Program B, which also requires skills Y and Z. Because I’m the only person at the office with these skills, I’ve been spending the majority of my time working on Program B. And as it turns out, I really enjoy Program B! I’d be interested in having my role focus on Program B rather than A.

My concern is that as Program B grows, the organization will hire someone else with skills Y and Z to manage it, and I’ll be returned to Program A – which I have to admit is a logical thing to do because of that accreditation I earned. But I would much rather stay on Program B.

Any ideas on how I can try to make that happen, or what my superiors’ concerns might be? Right now my main strategy has been to try to seek funding (I’m in nonprofit) for Program A, which would allow them to hire someone to replace me, but I’m interested in other ideas.

Why not just tell them directly? A clear statement that you’re loving the work of Program B and would like to continue on in it is your best chance of actually getting to. That might be all it takes. And if it’s not, then starting that conversation will give you more insight into what their concerns about keeping you there might be.

3. Expressing interest in a job that I declined to interview for last year because of travel expenses

Last summer, I applied for a position out of state and was invited to interview with the hiring manager. We spoke on two occasions over the phone. After the second phone interview, the hiring manager called me back and asked if I could come in for an in-person interview. The location was a 10-hour drive from where I was living, and they said they could not compensate me for any travel expenses (it was a nonprofit organization on a tight budget), so I respectfully declined the offer for an in-person interview. At the time, I had just started two new part-time jobs and couldn’t get the time off, nor did I want to drive 10 hours on my own dime the chance that I might get this job.

Last week, the position was reposted. I still have not found full-time, permanent work (I have been working part-time, temporary positions in my field), and I think the position is a really great fit for me. I think this time I would be willing to do the in-person interview, even if I will not be compensated for the travel. Should I address any of this in my application, and if so, what would that look like?

Yes, or you risk them thinking that you don’t realize they’re the same company that you had that whole exchange with last year. Send your application directly to the hiring manager with a note that says: “We spoke twice last summer about the X role, and you invited me for an in-person interview. At the time, I couldn’t swing it since you weren’t able to cover travel expenses, but I remain so interested in the job that I’d be glad to bring myself to (city) to talk with you in person if you continue to think that the role might be a good fit.”

4. Should I stick it out at the new job that isn’t what I expected?

I recently started a new job after working in a mid-size inbound call centre for six months. I was told I’d be in charge of all the training for French clients – live, webinars, phone, etc. – and also assisting in French customer service

Not to put too fine a point on it – the new job is not what it was cracked up to be. I am not in charge of French training in the conventional sense. I instead hold the auspicious and much-coveted position of translating the English slideshows and then recording myself reading them aloud. Other than that, my job is essentially what I was doing at the call centre – taking inbound calls, emails, etc. I talked to my manager about it briefly, and she pointed out that it just doesn’t make sense for us to do a job in English and then re-do it in French differently, and all they need is the material translated and read. Which is inarguably correct, but disappointing.

I’m concerned that the benefits of sticking it out and having a longer tenure on my resume are eclipsed by the nature of my role being fairly unrelated to what I want to do. Although I enjoy working in French, I can say with great conviction that I have neither the aptitude nor the desire to work in translation. And as much as I like customer service, I don’t really want to work in a call centre type job forever. When your new job is a bust, is it better to stick it out for at least a year or two, or cut your loss early?

Employers don’t judge short tenure in call centers, retail, and food service the same way they judge short tenures in other jobs; most people don’t expect you to make the sort of long-term commitments in those roles that they expect in other fields. It’ll be fine to start looking now and move on once you find something better.

5. Forced to take meal break at the start of shift

My wife’s boss has them take their 30-minute meal break one hour into their eight-hour shift sometimes. Isn’t that illegal? They don’t get a break after that, so they end up working 6.5-7 hours without a meal break. She gets really hungry but has no time to eat. The 10-minute breaks don’t really work out either because the floor is too busy; she is a cocktail/lounge server. We’re in California.

It’s legal. California state law requires employers to provide 30-minute meal breaks for shifts of at least five hours (six hours for people working in the motion picture industry!), but allows the break to be at the start of the shift if the employer wants to do it that way. (A second meal break isn’t required unless you’re working at least 10 hours.)

However, if they’re not letting her take the 10-minute rest breaks that the state mandates for every four hours worked, that violates the law, and they’re supposed to owe her one hour of pay every time it happens.

{ 41 comments… read them below }

  1. Eric*

    #5, IANAL, but I’m not sure it is illegal. My understanding is that the law only requires that you have a meal break if your shift is more than 5 hours long, not that you get a meal break every 5 hours. And that the meal break occurs within the first 5 hours.
    Q. What are the timing requirements for when any required first or second meal period must be provided during the workday?

    A. In general, when an employee works for a work period of more than five hours, a meal period must be provided no later than the end of the employee’s fifth hour of work (in other words, no later than the start of the employee’s sixth hour of work).

    1. abby*

      One other thing: California law does not require a meal break every 5 hours. Instead, it requires the first meal break to take place no later than the employee’s 5th hour of work (if an employee works 5 hours or more in a shift) and a second meal break no later than the employee’s 10th hour of work (if applicable). So no rolling meal breaks. To the OP’s situation, a meal break 1 hour into an 8-hour shift would be the only one the employee is entitled to. The OP would not get a second meal break 5 hours after the first one.

      Pasting the entire response to the question about timing:

      Q. What are the timing requirements for when any required first or second meal period must be provided during the workday?

      A. In general, when an employee works for a work period of more than five hours, a meal period must be provided no later than the end of the employee’s fifth hour of work (in other words, no later than the start of the employee’s sixth hour of work). When an employee works for a period of more than 10 hours, a second meal period must be provided no later than the end of the employee’s tenth hour of work (in other words, no later than the start of the employee’s eleventh hour of work). The foregoing rules are subject to certain waivers by mutual consent (as explained above), and different rules apply to employees in the motion picture industry. See Brinker Restaurant Corp. v. Superior Court (2012) 53 Cal.4th 1004.

      1. Thomas W*

        Wow, I did not know this. My California-based employer strictly mandates a meal break every 5 hours, citing California law as the reason. I guess they don’t realize that is not what the law requires. No matter — I think it is a reasonable and employee-friendly policy to have.

  2. Olivia K*

    Re: #5 – The situation is legal in CA. There was a court decision regarding this. The law suite was even brought by restaurant employees. The decision was: All employees must get a 30 minute break before the end of the 5th hour of work. There is no requirement that that break be at 5 hours/ in the middle. It can, in fact, be in the first hour of work.

    1. Vicki*

      But… the OP says that then the people end up working 6.5-7 hours without a meal break..

      That doesn’t sound like it meets California law.

      If ” All employees must get a 30 minute break before the end of the 5th hour of work.” they either need to move the meal break deeper into the shift or give two. They’re working 7 hours without a break. That sounds illegal.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yeah, it sounds like that would be logical, but the law doesn’t require a second meal break unless the person is working 10 or more hours that day. (There was some confusion over exactly this point earlier, but the state supreme court ruled that it’s not a break every five hours; the second one doesn’t kick in unless you hit 10 hours.)

  3. UKAnon*

    #1 – I can’t help thinking of the OP yesterday who wanted to do another interview to meet people at the company again, and commentators finding that odd. Should the same rule apply to the company, or is this one of those ‘one hiring rule for one’ things?

    1. Snowglobe*

      In yesterday’s letter, the OP had already talked in person with two managers, had talked on the phone for 20 minutes with the director, and was wanting to talk to other staff members, all for a fairly low level job. That was probably not necessary. From the standpoint of the company in #1, it depends on reason they are asking her to come in. If she would be talking to the same people as before and there are no additional questions, yes that would be odd. But there may be someone she didn’t speak with before, perhaps there has been a change in management or organizational structure so the position is reporting up differently. Or there may be questions they didn’t ask before that they decided they need to ask. So it’s not necessarily odd.

    2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      Partially. The prospective employer is in more of a position to set out the interview process, but asking too much of anybody runs the risk of losing either the candidate or the job offer. I can ask you to come for 10 interviews. You can dump me, the employer, after 3 because you think I’m being ridiculous.

      I don’t think the poster from the other day would have been wrong to ask for more discussion and meeting more people, but she ran a real risk (at that level) of losing the job offer by asking for more of people’s time and extending the process.

      The only time I think employers interview requests can be unfair is if they suck a lot of time during the work day from someone who is already employed. People who have jobs can only get so much time off. If I ask for 3 multi hour interviews from an employed person during the day and then don’t make a job offer, I’ve kinda screwed that candidate from subsequent interview time.

      (We always offer to interview employed people outside of their working hours/work around their working hours.)

  4. ITPuffNStuff*

    #5 — not sure i understand how this situation complies with california’s requirement for a 30 min meal break every 5 hours. does “every 5 hours” mean:
    a. it’s illegal to make an employee work > 5 contiguous hours without a 30 min meal break (in other words, a person who has worked 5 contiguous hours without a break must be given a 30 min meal break, even if there was a previous 30 min break before the start of that 5 hours)
    b. one 30 min meal break per full 5 hours worked (in other words, 2 breaks don’t become legally required unless a person works more than 10 hours in a single shift)
    c. something else?

    1. abby*

      It is, indeed, b. The California Supreme Court addressed this in 2012; plaintiffs were restaurant workers. The court analyzed the statute and rejected the idea of rolling meal breaks. The law only requires a meal break no later than the end of the employee’s 5th hour of work. Then, if applicable, a second meal break no later than the employee’s 10th hour of work.

  5. ITPuffNStuff*

    please disregard my question above. it was already raised and answered.

  6. AnotherAlison*

    #1 feels like a case of the employer leading the candidate on. Sure, they can do it, but the way the manager framed it, I would have had the impression that getting the supervisor to sign off was just a procedural thing, not something that would result in more interviews and a chance at no offer.

    1. Oryx*

      Except the OP says they asked if there was a chance the offer would not be approved and the guy said yes, so the OP knew there was a chance something might happen.

      1. Delyssia*

        But that wasn’t part of the original discussion of the offer. The original discussion made it sound like just a rubber stamp was required. Then sometime later, the manager emails with additional info and that’s when OP asked whether it was more than a rubber stamp. I agree with AnotherAlison that the manager handled the original discussion really badly.

    2. dang*

      I don’t know… I interviewed for a job twice, meeting over a dozen people total, then heard nothing. A month later I heard from them again and they asked me for another interview with a different manager. Which made sense because I liked everyone in the initial interview but didn’t really mesh with the manager. When I met the other manager, I had a better feeling… And I got the job! I took it, a bit nervous because of how long the process has been..but it has been great. Even the people who didn’t end up hiring me have been helpful and lovely.

      So… Give it a shot. But don’t give it a bunch of shots. There are lots of possible reasons for another interview.

    3. Elder Dog*

      The OP said the manager “provided (her) with an offer.” If that means she has an offer in hand, the manager put her in a position where she honestly thought she had an offer, and might have reasonably put in her notice at her current employer. Now there is game playing going on.
      That’s not good.

      1. Green*

        The question is whether the OP was actually provided with an offer or if she just thought she was. An “offer” subject to management approval isn’t an offer.

    4. Cheesecake*

      we had a very similar situation. we made a verbal offer and then received a message that we need an approval from other manager who wanted to interview. this was way more awkward than OPs case and we had to appologize. so we were not in any way leading a candidate on! he understood, had another interview and got the job. stuff like this happens. so that’s why for me the only actual offer is the contract in my e-mail.

    5. Not Myself Today*

      I was told by the recruiter when interviewing at my current employer that they were going to make me an offer – after half a dozen interviews, some with multiple people.

      Then they invited me in for “one more” interview.

      There was a large part of me that wanted to scream at this point, but this interviewer became my boss’ boss and had just returned from vacation. She wanted to meet me before they extended an offer (even though I had already met with her boss and his!) and it really wasn’t an unreasonable request – it just felt like one.

      I sucked it up and put on my interview suit and went to meet with her. I’ve now been happily employed there for years, which might not have been the case if I had balked at the additional interview. They are really careful about hiring – but the corollary is that they invest a lot in their employees which worked to my benefit.

      The OP is certainly free to decide when the number of interviews is too many – but I wouldn’t assume any intent to lead the candidate on. Odds are that the manager really wants this position filled too.

      Stuff happens anyway – like the boss who said “Don’t let my vacation slow you down” returning and deciding she’d like to meet the candidate after all.

  7. Rebecca*

    #5 might be legal, but it’s a crappy way to treat your employees. Let’s say the employee arrives at work at 9 AM, just after eating breakfast. At 9:30, you tell them they have to take their only meal break, and then make it impossible for them to eat anything of substance for the next 7 hours. Legal, yes. What about people who may have diabetes or other conditions that necessitate eating regular meals? Can’t this establishment stagger the meal breaks, like each person’s 1/2 hour time starting 10 minutes apart to minimize the staff not available at any one time?

    1. Colette*

      If they have eight hour shifts and 16 people working them, someone would still get a break an hour after they get there and someone else would get a break an hour before they leave.

    2. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      I believe in the case of diabetes or another medical condition, additional legal protection would kick in.

      1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        Yes, my suspicions were right. Here’s some information about that:


        “10. What other types of reasonable accommodations may employees with diabetes need?

        “Some employees may need one or more of the following accommodations:
        * a private area to test their blood sugar levels or to administer insulin injections
        * a place to rest until their blood sugar levels become normal
        * breaks to eat or drink, take medication, or test blood sugar levels”

        1. Kas*

          Even if you don’t have a condition covered by the relevant laws in your jurisdiction, your job performance could still decline if you have to go seven hours without eating. Especially if the job is as physical as serving in a restaurant.

          Would it be feasible to get a doctor’s note saying she has to eat a meal no more than X hours apart during working hours?

    3. abby*

      I agree it is legal but crappy. I would hope a person with diabetes or some other condition that required meals and/or snacks more frequently would be protected by “reasonable accommodation” portions of the ADA.

    4. Elsajeni*

      That’s very likely what they’re doing — staggering breaks like that means spreading them out across a longer period of time, so if a bunch of people start work at the same time, the first person’s break will be pretty soon after they clocked in. Combined with scheduling as few people as possible, so that they can’t afford to have more than one or two people on break at a time, and maybe trying to avoid having anyone on break during their biggest rush periods, you can end up with some weird break schedules.

  8. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

    Isn’t that our goal in management, to place people in something they love to do? It’s all win/win.

    Sometimes you have a need and have to ask somebody to suck it up something they don’t care for, hopefully for a limited time, but the magic is when they find passion.

    Absolutely tell your boss “I really love B!”

  9. Lionness*

    I’m surprised, for once, to learn that California labor law is less strict than my state’s laws. We are required to give a meal period for every five hours worked, and it must fall after the start of the 4th hour and begin before the beginning of the 5th hour. Then, our rest period is required if you work the “majority” of a 4 hour shift (read: 2 hrs 1 minute is a “majority section” of a 4 hour shift).

    1. fposte*

      Interesting–what state is this? It looks like it’s not one of the usual outliers (Washington, Massachusetts, or even New York).

      1. doreen*

        Yes, NYS has rules about when the meal period must occur, but that one actually conflicts with one of them ( if your six hour shift extends over the period of 11am-2pm, your break must occur between those hours, meaning that if you start work at 11am you’ll have to take your break after 2.5 hours)

        1. fposte*

          I’m just always intrigued by which states leap out and surprise you on laws.

  10. Stacy M*

    I find it horrible that CA law allows meal breaks to begin at the start of your shirt. At least in my state, the law requires it to be after the first 2 hours and before the last 2 hours of your shift. I wouldn’t be able to function if I had to go so long without a meal break.

  11. Johr*

    Re: #5 – the extra hour of pay only applies if the employee doesn’t receive the 30 minute meal break, not the 10 minute rest breaks.

  12. M-C*

    #4, you will not be judged for bailing out on a call center job, much less one that pulled a bait-and-switch on you. Call center jobs pay the rent while you have them, but it’s understood that you’ll be job-hunting the whole time :-). So you could argue that in fact there are things to training in French that need some cultural adjustments (like my never-ending campaign to stop the coworkings from ‘demanding’ answers from clients) and re-write some parts on that basis, or create an addition. But if that’s not welcome, you’re done here.

    1. OP # 4*

      Maybe I wasn’t very clear- my current job is NOT a call center job, my last job was and the current one is turning out to be very similar. On my resume it would be clear that this wasn’t a call center and even if it was it might look a bit weird to leave one call center to work at a different one and then leave that one after 3 months.

  13. TP*

    #4, I would cut your losses now. My current job is not what I thought it was going to be as there have been many changes from the minute I started due to staff turnover. The office structure shifted with each departure as well as my role. I was hesitant to leave before a year, but looking back, I wish I I hadn’t been so worried about that. Unless you have a history of job hopping, you should be fine.

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