changing into workout clothes at the office, my interviewer tried to figure out my age, and more

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

1. Changing into workout clothes at the office

I’ve been working here for 10+ years, but recently started going to a local yoga studio. The studio has inadequate changing facilities for the after-work classes, and my workplace is generally relaxed about health/fitness (for example, my boss sometimes jogs during lunch, so he leaves the building in jogging clothes and comes back gross; we have showers though!).

Normally I would just follow my boss’s example and think it’s fine, but yoga clothing tends to be tight and I’m obese (over 200 lbs at 5’3″). Is showing my fat as I walk to my car (CLEARLY dressed for a workout) unprofessional?

If others are doing it, especially your boss, I’d say it’s fine. I’m not going to pretend that there isn’t sometimes a double standard where things that are okay on one body type are suddenly considered objectionable on another body type, because I know that happens. But we’re talking about workout clothes while you’re on your way out of the office at night, in an office where there’s already been a precedent set — so I think it’ll be fine.

2. My interviewer was trying to figure out my age

This week during an interivew at a well-known, privately held biopharma company, the hiring manager asked me, “When did you graduate from college?”

I thought this was odd and could indicate he was trying to find out my age (I’m in my 50s but look much younger). I danced around the question without actually answering it. But he would not let it go and kept asking it more directly (“How long and where did you work after college?” and “In what year did you graduate?”). My resume indicates only the last 10 years of experience which is directly related to this job.

What is the best way to avoid answering a potentially illegal question around age, race, sexual orientation, whatever? Should you call them on it or dance around it? Thirty minutes into the interview (shortly after asking me the loaded collge questions), he abruptly ended the interview saying he didn’t want to waste my time. I’m not sorry because I would not have taken this job given the hiring manager’s interview tactics.

I would have asked this guy directly, “Why do you ask?” You want to say it in a friendly way, not adversarially, but being direct about it might have gotten him off that line of questioning (or not, depending on how shameless he was). In other cases where you’re being asked about things like age, marital status, parenthood, religion, or so forth, sometimes you can figure out what they’re really getting at and answer that instead of the direct question. (For instance, if you think they’re concerned that parenthood will get in the way of your job performance, you could say something like, “There’s nothing that would interfere with my ability to work the hours needed and get the job done.”)

By the way, despite widespread belief to the contrary, asking the question itself isn’t illegal — but basing a hiring decision on your answer would be, which is why smart employer don’t ask this kind of thing.

3. Asking to interview by Skype instead of in-person

I recently went to Austin for an interview. I want to find a job there before relocating, because it would be easier, financially speaking. Please give me tips on how to ask for interviews via Skype, because last trip was extremely expensive.

I’m a big believer that people should do phone interviews before ever traveling from out-of-town for an interview, because so often a phone interview will reveal that it’s not a match and will save the time and expense of traveling. I think employers should be phone-interviewing everyone before in-person interviews, but it’s especially crucial for non-local candidates.

That said, it sounds like you want to only interview by Skype. Some employers may agree to that, but others aren’t going to — they’re going to want to interview you in person, at least at some point in the hiring process. Plus, even among those who agree, it may put you at a disadvantage; most people don’t build the same rapport over Skype that they will in person.

The reality is, you’re already at a disadvantage for most jobs since you’re not local (unless you’re pretty senior or in an extremely in-demand field). I wouldn’t give yourself more obstacles. This is part of searching for a job long-distance; you generally need to make it as easy as possible on employers or risk getting written off in favor of local candidates.

4. My manager and my manager’s boss are married

I just recently had a change in management, and I’ve been having a hard time adjusting to my new director. My SVP (director’s boss) informed me that she is always available to talk to if needed, but I recently found out that my SVP and director are married! I didn’t see any policy against it in our company handbook, but is there a standard protocol for working with coworkers who are married to one another? I don’t really feel comfortable going to either of them now that I know they’re married to one another.

It’s up to the company to decide if they want to allow this or not — but it’s really, really bad practice to let someone manage someone who they’re married to, for all the reasons I talk about here. And yeah, of course you wouldn’t feel comfortable going to your manager’s boss about issues with your manager since they’re married — you wouldn’t be able to assume it would handled impartially or even confidentially. It’s weird that your company allowed it.

5. Cancer follow-up appointments when starting a new job

I am a Stage 4 colon cancer survivor and my disease is stable. I look and feel healthy and even work out at the gym most mornings before work. My current employer has been incredibly supportive and understanding when it comes to doctor appointments, as I was diagnosed while in this job.

I just landed my dream job and start a week from today. I made no mention of my health situation during the interview process, but am concerned about how to handle upcoming doctor appointments. I’m seen by my oncologist every 3 months, and my next appointment is scheduled for less than 2 months into my new job. Where possible, I can try to schedule my appointments very early so there won’t be a conflict, but that won’t always be doable, including this next appointment. How do I handle this without raising concerns with my new employer?

A medical appointment every three months is so infrequent that it’s unlikely to even come up as an issue — you can just leave it at “I have a medical appointment on Tuesday so may be a little late” and that will be that. No one is likely to even blink. But if the appointments were much more frequent, you’d just say something like, “I have a doctor’s appointment every two weeks — is there a day of the week that’s better for me to schedule them on, or a day that I should definitely make sure they’re not scheduled for?” (This is basically what people do for any kind of standing medical appointment — therapy, allergy shots, physical therapy, or whatever. There’s no need to give details about what it’s for!)

{ 253 comments… read them below }

  1. Steve G*

    I couldn’t resist commenting on #1 (but sympathy to #4, my aunt had colon cancer in 2005 and it was really, really hard to watch someone full of life go through that)…..

    I think he asked you about your age purely out of curiosity. It is obvious you have the experience for the role, so he isn’t asking to see if you have enough years of experience.

    Disagree with me, but hear me out……..

    When I meet someone new, I always ask where they are from and try to find out how old they are (most people talk a lot and I listen and give me enough information to figure it out). I think age and location of childhood are the 2 biggest factors in one’s upbringing that give me – as a stranger – at least some sort of framework to get to know you within….if you look really young, did you grow up before or after the internet was in everyone’s home? If you look a little seasoned, are we the same age and share a lot of interests? If you look middle aged, did your teen years overlap with my childhood, so that we’d still have common interests, at least in terms of music or other superficial things to reference and talk about?

    No matter what the answer is, I find it all interesting and don’t judge. I think the latter half of the 1900s was special in that small differences in age produced quite difference people and upbringings, which, I think is why people are very curious about how old other people are. I mean, small shifts in age greatly change what music, tv shows, and social events you remember……….

    1. vox de causa*

      I think you’re right in that a lot of people go this route, but in this case the hiring manager kept trying to get the information coming at it from different angles, and kind of ended the interview in a huff when OP 2 refused to answer. It was less casual and more of a demand. That’s uncomfortable, and seems to indicate that age would play a role in his hiring decision.

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        Or knowing that she really did have a degree, because she knew the year it happened, would play a role in his hiring decision.

        1. Crabby PM*

          If you want to confirm that someone has academic credentials, make it conditional to their hiring offer that they produce transcripts or copies of their diploma. Otherwise, it’s an end run to find the person’s age, plain and simple. “Could you provide proof of graduation?” is a simple question to ask.

    2. shellbell*

      That might be OK behaviour if you meet someone at a party or BBQ. A job interview isn’t socializing and different behaviours are required. I don’t see how curiosity is a justification for this kind of inappropriate behaviour in an interview.

    3. C Below*

      I’m the Op2. That’s good insight Steve and you may be correct on the interviewer’s intentions. What I didn’t understand is why he would waste 15 minutes trying to find out when I graduated college (which was over 20 years ago) when there were more relevant topics to discuss such as my skills and experience.

      1. BRR*

        This might be a silly question but did he go there? That’s the only other thing I could think of.

        1. A*

          That’s what I was thinking BRR. Possibly either he went there or knew a bunch of people who did and was wondering if you had mutual friends.

          1. MK*

            But that’s no reason to insist. And it would be more natural to say “I/my friend graduated from there in 19**. Were we/you there at the same time&”

        2. C Beow*

          Nope, not a silly question -in fact, I was thinking the same thing after the interview. So I checked my alumni assn and his linked in profile. He never attended my university.

        3. Stranger than Fiction*

          Um, then wouldn’t he have just said that? “Hey, that’s my alma ater, what year did you graduate?”

      2. Pill Helmet*

        I’m just wondering why not just answer the question? I realize you don’t have to and it’s illegal to base a hiring decision on the answer but I kind of feel like if this hiring manager was going to discriminate based on your age he’d do so with or without the answer.

        1. Case of the Mondays*

          I agree. I would be really turned off by a candidate that didn’t say when he/she graduated college. Frankly, it would make me wonder whether they actually had the degree. I don’t think when you graduated college automatically tells your age either. Many people went to school as non-traditional students. If your field is rapidly changing (like IT), it is important to know when someone went to school and if it was a long time ago, what they have done to stay current on the updates in the field. For all you know, he was looking for someone with 20+ years of experience and was trying to get you to discuss the experience you left off of your resume.

          1. Artemesia*

            I think the OP had it right. The interviewer was probing relentlessly here because he wanted to discriminate on the basis of age.

          2. penelope pitstop*

            Once you’re a few years out of school, and I believe OP said that there was 10+ years of relevant experience covered on the resume, the experience should trump education. Your IT / changing tech point is equally irrelevant as a motive as again, interviewer had information on the resume that s/he could have used to ascertain skill set and talk about experiences to assess currency of skills–s/he chose to focus on age instead.

            1. Pill Helmet*

              Well the argument here is my that the interviewer shouldn’t have asked or even that he/she wasn’t planning to discriminate based on the age. Its quite possible and likely that was the intention. The point though is that if you’re interviewing with someone Like that it probably doesn’t matter whether you answer the question or not, the results will still be the same.

          3. Pill Helmet*

            Good point. He may have been looking for more experience.

            Graduation year will clearly give some insight into a persons age when they graduated 20+ years ago as that indicates they are at least over 40. But if a person is going to discriminate based on age it’s not like hiding your graduation year is really going to change that. People typically look within about 5 years of their actual age so it’s not like the hiring manager will think a 50 year old is 20 or even 30 because they don’t see the graduation year.

            I do suppose that it might sway an unconscious bias by not having it out in the open like that.

          4. Dan*

            I don’t put my degree years down, because I don’t like to graduate school in a timely manner, and don’t want to draw attention to that. I’m 35, so not trying to cover up my age.

            Some people are just curious or whatever. I’ve had interviewers point blank ask me for my graduation years. That’s a harmless enough question that there is no way I can do anything but give a direct answer. Since I’m under 40, they can’t age discriminate against me anyway.

          5. Brooke*

            I agree with Case of the Mondays. I’d be turned off by a candidate who came across as hiding something about their background.

            As a hiring manager I’m often trying to put the candidate’s “story” together in my mind. Does it make sense how they went from one job to another? Are there chunks of time missing and, if so, why? If the missing year(s) were due to family, health or simply an unrelated job that you left off your resume, no problem. But if you embezzled the company’s money, got fired, made the news, and left the whole thin off your resume so I wouldn’t find out about it… well, that’s not good.

            Unexplained missing chunks of time and stories that don’t make sense chronologically are a red flag to me and make me think the candidate is hiding something. So that’s why I might want to know when you graduated – I don’t care how old you are, but I am trying to figure out if your story makes sense.

            1. Anna*

              Except that there were ten consistent years of experience on her resume, so it had no bearing on anything. And it’s not “hiding” if it’s NOYFB.

              1. Kelly O*

                I guess I don’t understand the hostile nature of this kind of attitude.

                It sounds like there were other red flags as things went on, but you could have even said, “I graduated from Teapot University in 1988, although as you can see from my resume I got certified in Spout Technology in 1995, and have taken CPE courses”

                or something. Anything to defuse and redirect. But assuming the worst I guess is not how my mind works in these situations.

                1. MashaKasha*

                  I completely do understand both OP’s and Anna’s reaction. In my field, suspecting age discrimination is not assuming the worst, it’s assuming the default. Everyone I know leaves their graduation year off their resume; many people I know only list the last 15 years of work on their resume; again, for the same reason. It is a very real thing in my field. And yes it did sound like this hiring manager was fishing for OP’s age. Now that I think of it, I can’t remember a job interview in the past 15 years (graduated 25+ years ago) where an interviewer asked me anything about my years at college, because it’s no longer relevant – my work experience trumps my long-ago education, as it should. So because it’s an unusual thing to ask at an interview, yes I’d suspect that the interviewer asking it is up to no good.

                2. C Below original poster*

                  I did my best to diffuse and redirect his line of questioning. But he kept coming back to the year of my college graduation – which was over 20 years ago. I would have been just as suprised if he were determined to find out my high school graduation too.

          6. Stranger than Fiction*

            Totally disagree. Her relevant experience speaks to her current skills, and all he had to do was discuss that with her. Plus, any relevant subsequent certifications would have also been on her resume, or also could have been the topic of discussion, i.e. “how long have you worked with HTML?”

          7. Tau*

            I don’t think when you graduated college automatically tells your age either. Many people went to school as non-traditional students

            But knowing when someone went to college absolutely gives you a *lower* bound on their age. If someone graduated in 1980, say, it’s a pretty safe bet that they’re over fifty. In a case like OP’s – looks younger than they are, worried about age discrimination – that’s the important part, and that’s the part their college graduation year gives away if they weren’t a mature/otherwise non-traditional student.

            And I think it’s pretty safe to say that there are much directer and more accurate ways of getting at all the other information you mentioned than “when did you graduate from college?”

          8. Stickler*

            Agree that many may have gone to school later and would have graduation year later than expected, if you’re 50+ and you think the employer would discriminate on age, you don’t want to admit to a really early year. Naming a year a long time ago only outs you as older than possibly perceived. Never thought I would feel this way but after reaching 50 I do.

        2. C Beow*

          Hi Phil, I’m the OP – I felt very uncomfortable with the relentless questions around when I graduated college (which was over 20 years ago). In my mind, I’m thinking “Who cares what I did 20 years ago. Aren’t you more interested in how I transformed major processes at my last company and how I can do the same for your company?”
          And you’re absolutely right, he may have discriminated against me just by looking at me if I looked my age (early 50’s). But I look 10-15 years younger than I am. In any case, my age is nobody’s business but mine and those I wish to share it with. And it’s not an appropriate topic for a job interview.

      3. Pieces of April*

        I started college at 25. So telling age by that doesn’t always work so well.

        1. Sapphire*

          Yes, but then the interviewer thinks you are younger, not older- if they believe you went the traditional route.

      4. Steve G*

        15 minutes is overkill, he should have just said what he wanted the info for.

        Out of curiosity, how old would you gauge him to be?

    4. JenGray*

      Steve G you have a very valid point but this type of socializing is for after you hire someone not during the interview. I think it would be valid to let an applicant know more about the culture of a workplace which the things you talk about could help. But when I read the letter I sort of thought it was overkill. I once had an interview where the interviewer would not stop asking me about my life. I finally just gave up trying to avoid the topic and answered her. I didn’t get the job but there is no way to prove that by me providing personal details (that I’m married & a mom, etc.) was the reason I didn’t get the job. When I interview I just stay away from those types of questions just because it is hard to forget those details once you know.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      Apologies if I echoed a comment I didn’t read below, but while that is fine for social interactions, it’s not really relevant to an interview. The only thing these questions might relate to is how long ago someone trained for something. But the OP said she has relevant and recent experience on her resume, so the question really should not have come up at all.

      1. voyager1*

        I don’t understand hiding graduation year, if I had a resume come across my desk with no year I wouldn’t even bother interviewing the person. I would assume that they are trying to hide not having a degree or some other foolishness.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          It’s actually really common to leave graduation year off if you’re 10-15+ years out from graduation. I rarely see anyone over 40 include their graduation year on their resume (and actually recommend that people don’t, because it stands out as so unusual if they do, at that point in their career).

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Ha, I fixed it. But it’s interesting to imagine what allergy shorts would be. Shorts in some sort of hypoallergenic material? Shorts that time-release Benadryl into your skin?

      1. vox de causa*

        Sign me up for some of those. The pollen count has been horrendous already this year.

          1. Loose Seal*

            My doctor just bumped me up from daily Zrytec to a daily Xyzal. It’s a prescription but I already feel so much better. He said he’s been writing a lot of those prescriptions this season. You might try that if your Zrytec isn’t working as well.

      2. Connie-Lynne*

        Oh man, if there were shorts that would let me stay awake/alert but also not congested? I would wear them all day every day.

          1. Pill Helmet*

            Soon they will start selling them in relaxed fit, stretch, cargo style, Bermuda shorts, short shorts, skorts…

        1. kozinskey*

          Maybe if the initial product is a success they’ll start making a capri or ankle pant version.

  2. lonepear*

    #1: this sounds like a “know your office” issue, but if you are concerned or self-conscious, you could wear a cardigan, loose top, or other layering piece that is easy to take off once you get to the studio. (My gym is in a shopping plaza, so this is what I do if I plan to stop in somewhere else first.)

    1. McDerp*

      All the stores are full of long, loose and flowy beach/pool coverups right now. That would be perfect.

      1. Kala*

        I sometimes need to leave my office in yoga clothes, and I just layer a long jacket over it.

        1. Cb*

          I go to yoga after work and bought this drapey sweater (kind of scoops down over the bum) so I feel a little less exposed leaving the office and running into students or bosses.

    2. Rebecca*

      I was just going to suggest this – maybe something like a longer tee shirt if she feels uncomfortable? I’m large too, but shrinking, and that does not stop me from wearing workout clothes to walk and bike. I’m more comfortable and putting on the right clothing makes me feel like exercising! OP, you go!

      1. Fitness*

        Yes- tee shirts are great! When my yoga tops stopping fitting, I just wore baggy tees with a sports bra underneath & they worked just fine.

    3. Meg Murry*

      I was going to suggest the same. If you are comfortable in your yoga clothes, then go for it, but if you are feeling self conscious, its easy to throw a knit skirt or dress over them until you get to the studio. When it’s cooler out, I wear a hoodie as a top layer until I am warmed up, and I have a couple of knit skirts and dresses I like to throw on over my workout leggings for when I’m out in public. The pool cover-up idea someone mentioned below sounds smart too – and since OP mentions she’s not super tall it would probably be long enough.

      I think if your boss is changing in and out of workout clothes at the office, you can too – and doubly so if other people besides just him do it. Just don’t be like one of my co-workers who used to go change about an hour before she would leave, then she would go back to her desk to finish working before leaving for the day. It was odd, to say the least.

    4. Another English Major*

      Agree that layering is a good option, but only if it’s for OP’s comfort, not others. OP please don’t feel like you have to layer so as not to offend others with your yoga attire. Do what makes you feel comfortable!

      (not saying you were implying this lonepear, just adding on).

    5. part of the machine*

      I was self conscious about this as well when I started working out. In the cooler months I put on sweats over my work out clothes. In warmer months I still throw on a pair of loose/longer shorts over my work out tights/compression shorts. I take them off when I get to the gym. It adds bulk to what I have to lug back and forth from work, but I certainly feel less self conscious.

      1. Lia*

        This is what I do in the winter, or if going straight from work to the gym or to run. I toss on a hoodie and sweatpants, then take those layers off in the car at the destination. I work in a pretty conservative office and running shorts/yoga pants are not quite what I need the administrators to see me in!

    6. Bwmn*

      In addition to the cover-up suggestion, I just wanted to come here to add that you should also feel free to pick the part of the office where you feel most comfortable changing. I also have a fit male boss who often arrives in exercise clothes and changes in his office. If I follow his example and change in my office, as a busty woman who lives in a humid summer climate…this would ultimate mean walking through the office with my chest more out than usual. However, we have bathrooms right by the elevators out of the building which prevent any office walk through.

      Depending on how hot it is outside and what kind of top I want to wear, sometimes I do my final shirt change in the restroom on the way out and sometimes just change in my office. I just to add that just because there’s a specific environment where your boss changes (locker room, restroom, office, etc.) – if there’s another spot that feels like it would be more discrete/comfortable for you, go for it.

    7. Amber Rose*

      I do this every Wednesday, I either wear my long sweater or if it’s really hot, I tie it around my waist (saves buying new clothes). The problem isn’t usually the shirts after all, it’s that yoga pants are like a second skin. As long as your butt is covered, all should be well.

      I have to say though, nobody has ever complained when I forgot my sweater. And I’m not tiny, years of health problems have left me pretty massive. As long as your clothes fit properly, it’s good to be comfortable in your own skin. And to give people the benefit of the doubt: fewer are judging than you think.

      1. Artemesia*

        ‘No one has ever complained’ is never justification or reassurance though. Would you complain if someone did this and you found it offensive? No one complains about dollar dances at weddings, or wearing shorts in the city, or inappropriate clothes for funerals etc etc — but that doesn’t mean they don’t find it offensive. I don’t think it is appropriate to wear skin tight yoga gear in the office and would personally throw on a cover up, but I’d sure never say anything to anyone about it.

        1. Amber Rose*

          If you won’t speak up, that’s your problem though. It’s not fair to expect everyone around you to dance on eggshells wondering if they’re doing something wrong because you can’t be trusted not to be passive aggressive about stuff.

          By which I mean, it’s pretty presumptuous to say nobody would say anything because people do, and should.

          1. fposte*

            I don’t know–that sounds a little like “it takes a village to raise an adult.” I’m not going to say anything at work unless they’re a direct report or the offense is egregious, and I’m not going to say anything after the fact about a social gaffe unless my opinion is solicited or, again, it’s really egregious (“A lot of people really don’t like it when you wash in the chocolate fountain–that may be why the bride’s mother was cool to you”). I’m certainly not going to say anything to a stranger.

            But I still get to form opinions of what people do, and the gaffes of somebody else’s employee will be relevant if that employee wants to get a job with me. “Use your words” is good in relationships and in management, but you can’t teach somebody else every single possible thing, and people are still on the hook for their own behavior.

            1. Tedy Mosby*

              I would respectfully disagree; to me it sounds more like “be direct if someone is out of line.” Maybe you don’t manage that person, but SOMEONE must, and it’s their choice to speak up if something is inappropriate.

              There are many obvious things that you Should Not Do at work or in life, but I don’t think spending the minute between walking from the bathroom to your cube to grab your things then walking out the door in work out clothes is one of them (if you don’t work in a super formal office). You can’t teach people everything, but things that are personal preference do need to be taught.

        2. salad fingers*

          Sorry, side note- is being offended by people wearing shorts in the city a thing?

          1. Elder Dog*

            According to my grandmother, who was born in the Gay 90s, meaning the 1890s, it’s rude to wear shorts to town. We stayed with her at her summer cottage, and wore shorts, bathing suits and

            1. Elder Dog*

              (cat on keyboard) went barefoot most of the time. But when we went into town, which was population less than 5000, we were expected to wear nice casual clothes. Dockers, shoes and polo shirts. Culottes or skirts or Bermuda shorts, as long as they weren’t too tight, were fine too.

              The point was respect for the people who lived and worked in town. Like dressing for church. We never went to church, there or at home, in shorts. Respect.

            2. Elder Dog*

              Oh, and no sandals either. Sneakers were ok. But no feet showing in the grocery store or the pharmacy.

              1. puddin*

                My FIL thought that peep toe shoes were for women of questionable moral character. He was no angel himself and was one of the most non-judgmental people I have ever met, but those shoes he could not abide.

                1. Pennalynn Lott*

                  Red nail polish was, according to my grandmother, only worn by prostitutes or those who wanted to look like one.

          2. Tedy Mosby*

            I’ve lived in Boston and New York and I’ve never ever heard that. The gay 90s tidbit was super interesting, but I would assume it is something most people under the age of 70 don’t know. Could be wrong!

            1. Elder Dog*

              Well, maybe under the age of 55.
              It was a common point of etiquette in NY state and Pennsylvania, and areas of California and Virgina that I have direct knowledge of at the time I was taughtlth. It wasn’t a “business etiquette” thing, nor a precious “pinkie in the air” thing either. It was just minimum acceptable behavior.
              I think it started being ignored in the late 60s and was mostly not being taught by 1980.

        3. twig*

          Wait — is it offensive to wear shorts in the city? Can I ask why or under what circumstances? Cities get hot too.

          1. Cath in Canada*

            If so, this is news to me and approximately 74% of the population of Vancouver! My husband wears shorts from early April until October, and he’s not the only one…

        4. Tedy Mosby*

          But if you were their boss and you found it inappropriate, you should say something. And if you’re not their boss, you don’t get to make that call, as much as you might like to. Your examples were all social ones, where it’s not necessarily anyone’s place to say something. In the office, there is a hierarchy, and someone can say something.

        5. Melissa*

          People do, in fact, complain about dollar dances at weddings.

          But besides that point – she’s not wearing yoga gear in the office as in wearing it to work. She’s changing after she’s off the clock and is heading off to yoga after. To me, that’s akin to running into her wearing yoga gear at the supermarket on the weekends. Harmless, doesn’t show bad judgment.

          1. Traveler*

            This. It’s one thing if someone comes to work to wear yoga gear all day, that says they are out of touch with culture norms in the office (unless of course they work somewhere that is normal). But, if I see someone wearing yoga pants at 5PM on the way out the door? I don’t think that’s inappropriate. Its obvious they are on their way to work out.

    8. MegEB*

      I have a loose zip-up sweatshirt that I wear when I want an extra layer but I’m not necessarily cold. Something like that might be perfect. But if anyone give you (the OP) crap about wearing workout clothes, just point out that the manager comes into the office wearing sweaty running clothes and no one blinks an eye. Hopefully they’ll realize they’re perpetuating a double standard.

      1. Fitness*

        +1: most people I’ve seen need a cover-up for shavasana anyway, so it’s not like you’d be wearing something unnecessary.

    9. DuckDuckMøøse*

      I agree with wearing something as a wrapper, to help you feel less self-conscious. I have a wrap skirt that I bought at a plus-size activewear website – those are easy on and off. It depends on whether it’s the top half or the bottom half that make you feel more vulnerable. I’m a plus-sized yogini, too, so I say strut proudly to your car! ;)

    10. nona*

      +1. I exercise outside and usually need some kind of extra layer before I’m warmed up. Places that make clothes for yoga are pretty good at this IMO.

      Like Alison said, though, you should be fine.

    11. Rebecca*

      That’s what I was going to suggest, Athleta sells some cute to/from cover-ups if you just need a little extra coverage to make you feel more comfortable. Yoga clothes can be pretty skimpy (I go to a hot studio), I don’t change at work but usually have a hoodie or something I can throw on if I need to run any errands before or after class.

    12. lawsuited*

      I just have to point out that OP#1 didn’t indicate that she is self-conscious about her body, she asked if showing her fat as she walks from the office to her car is unprofessional.

      Being fat is not unprofessional. Workout clothes are sometimes unprofessional, but it sounds like in OP#1’s office workout clothes are fine for coming and going from the office to a workout.

      I think we want to be careful to address OP#1’s actual concern rather than presuming she is (or should be) concerned about being fat in general.

      1. OP1*

        Thanks for this! If I felt embarrassed about my body I would wear a coverup (I’m a grown ass woman, I know how to do this! :-). I don’t, but I’m also not sure how coworkers would perceive it (which is why I’m asking).

        Also perhaps I should mention that my team is pretty close knit and most of them have seen me in a bathing suit during social events, so I’m also not worried about them. It’s the other coworkers in the building that I don’t know well that I worry about.

        1. lawsuited*

          I just had to say it, because this line of (often subconscious) reasoning is what reinforces for girls and women that fat bodies should be covered up whereas thin bodies can be celebrated.

          Based on the precedent in your office, I think you’re fine to wear workout clothes for 5 minutes at the end of the work day as you’re walking from the office to your car. And as long as your workout clothes cover your parts , I don’t see why other people in the building would give you a second glance.

        2. Lady H*

          Awesome reply, I know everyone’s heart was in the right place with the cover-up suggestions, but…we fat women know we’re fat and we know alllll about covering up to make other people comfortable with our bodies.

          I think if your other coworkers that don’t know you as well have a problem with you wearing yoga clothes on your way out of the office (which has been something that is completely normal in every office I’ve worked in, even the more conservative ones), they probably already have a problem with you existing in the world as a fat person. Which makes them not worth a moment’s more of your time, you can’t win people like that over because it’s not about you as a person, it’s about their own messed up beauty standards or ideas of morality. That sounds dismal but I prefer to think of it as uplifting—one less set of people to worry about pleasing!

      2. Another English Major*

        Yes thank you! That’s what I was getting at, you put it much better than I did!

  3. Connie-Lynne*

    Hey, OP #1, as another fat lady who used to go to her exercise right after work (5’6″; 225lbs), I just wanna say, if your fit boss is allowed, you should be, too.

    Yes, people may judge, but ferpetessake, you are headed out of the building and exercise gear is clearly exercise gear — if us large folk can’t comfortably change to go from work to workout, then, how exactly are we supposed to achieve the societal standard, anyway?

    Everyone occasionally changes to go somewhere after work, whether it’s for a date, clubbing, or exercise. I feel like ignoring seeing coworkers out-of-context in these situations is one of those polite fictions we all choose to go with in order to make society palatable. In summary: go ahead and change — folks who object are the ones who should feel bad, not you.

    1. Tyrannosaurus Regina*

      I was going to say basically this. I know there are no magic words to make a society’s-worth of crappy jerkbrain body-shaming just stop affecting one’s brain, but please know that you are awesome and cool and NOT violating office norms.

    2. KT*

      You do you! I mean, if a coworker walked into your yoga studio, you wouldn’t run and hide or grab a parka…you would keep doing your routine.

      I know it FEELS like you should be uncomfortable, but you’re going to the gym, not going nude. Put your chin up and be proud!

      1. Lanya*

        For what it’s worth, I am also a similar body height/weight to the OP, and I routinely run into a coworker of the opposite sex at the pool where I work out every day after work. It was slightly weird at first, and I was worried about him seeing me in a bathing suit, but it hasn’t changed our office relationship at all. He is probably just as self-conscious as I was at first, but it’s no big deal. (Like someone below said, it’s not like I became magically heavy at the gym – I look that way at work too, I just happen to have less clothing on at the pool. :)

    3. madge*

      +1. You’re completely fine; the precedent is set. If anyone is offended, they have problems that can’t be solved by you covering up.

      If you are still uncomfortable, Target’s athletic gear section has really cute and breathable thigh-length tanks for $16. I wash mine in the shower after my workout and it’s dry by morning.

    4. kozinskey*

      I agree with this. It’s totally normal to change into workout gear when you’re not working. Anyone else’s issues with that are a reflection of their own insecurities. There are a ton of reasons people may need to wear something more casual around or during work hours — biking to work, changing out of uncomfortable shoes, taking off a suit jacket after meeting’s over, etc. There’s nothing weird about doing those things to make yourself happier/comfortable/more productive, so please, go ahead & rock the workout gear!

    5. JenGray*

      +1M. It doesn’t matter what size you are- do what works best for you. I agree that it would be a little bit weird if no one else did it but if others are doing it. Others might have an issue but it is their issue not yours. Keep working out & doing what makes you feel good

    6. sunny-dee*

      I may have misunderstood, but I thought the OP was asking the question because her clothes were more revealing than her boss’s, not because she was worried she’d be judged.

      And yoga clothes are more revealing than jogging shorts and a T-shirt. I think it’s a legit concern. I also agree with everyone else that it’s not a big deal (or that there are easy ways to cover up if she doesn’t want clients or coworkers to see her). But I didn’t think it was because of any kind of judgment being directed at her.

      I could be wrong, though.

    7. LizNYC*

      I’ve got a similar body type and am similarly skiddish when it comes to being in a non-workout space in my workout clothes. I’d probably bring a longer zip-up exercise jacket to put over my tank top (got one from Target for >$25). But no need to cover up the running tights in public.

      And (easier said than done), I’d act like this was totally normal to do, instead of waiting for a snide comment from someone. (They’re the ones with the problem, not you.)

    8. Voluptuousfire*

      Just were what you wear! Eish people a good night and go about your business.

      A fe weeks ago I went to a concert one evening and left work in a Motörhead tshirt and combat boots. No one blinked an eye.

    9. onnellinen*

      I also workout directly after work some days, and what helped me be less self-conscious was the realization that everyone I work already knows that I’m overweight because they see me every day – it’s not like seeing me in tight workout clothes would cause them to suddenly notice that I’m heavier!

      1. Ife*

        Yeah, I think if I saw a coworker in workout clothes, my reaction would be “yay, maybe I can start changing into MY workout clothes before leaving too!” I don’t think their weight would register any more or less than it would if they were wearing office clothes.

    10. Cassie*

      When I go for a workout during lunch, I have to bring my workout clothes to the bathroom with me, and then go back to my desk to drop off my stuff (ah, the joys of not having my own office). Sometimes I feel a little sheepish if I run into my boss or one of my students while in my workout clothes, but it’s just my own slight discomfort and not because any of them are judging me.

      I do wonder, though, if it’s tacky to layer a tank top over a crop top/racerback sports bra that isn’t the same color where both sets of straps can be seen? I know it’s generally tacky to show your underwear/underclothes. Does the same apply to workout gear?

      1. Fact & Fiction*

        Not at all. I recently became a Zumba instructor so pay more attention to those around me now and pretty much all the women who don’t wear t-shirts layer tanks and/or sports bras like this.

  4. Margaret*

    #1 – I agree you need to know your office to determine if it’s appropriate, but if it’s more about just you being self-conscious, I think you probably shouldn’t need to be! (Easier said than done, I know!) I’ve changed for running or to go to yoga classes after work; I’ve seen other people change for running or tennis matches (the short tennis skirt is probably the most iffy as far as actually being seen in the office in it, but even that, it’s obvious why she’s wearing it, it’s the end of the day, no big deal). Honestly, most people who see you will probably just be impressed you’re going to work out.

  5. TheLazyB*

    #4 my friend manages her husband. I think it’s a horrible idea, but whenever anything sensitive comes up she refers him to another manager. (So if he wanted to change his shift pattern etc – she couldn’t make a decision on that as it affects them both.)

    But I would still hate to be in either of their shoes :-/

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      That doesn’t really solve it though — it sounds like she refers him to someone else for black and white stuff, but she can’t do that for things like ongoing feedback, performance reviews, assignments, general access to her to talk business, etc. (Or if she does, she’s not really his manager.)

      (I know you’re not saying it’s a good idea — just the opposite — but I feel the need to point this out anyway.)

      1. TheLazyB*

        Yep, I totally agree! I’ve never figured out if it doesn’t bother her, or if it’s just that her employer says that’s the way it has to be.

        I would hate to work with my DH at all. One of us managing the other? *shudder*

    2. Connie-Lynne*

      It’s not just direct management that is a problem, either. In the early 90s, I managed the de facto ex-husband of the director I reported to. All the small grey areas that this guy had became my problem to resolve, because any dismissive action on my part was reversed by his ex-husband.

      It’s really weird in this day and age, when there’s little need to hide relationships for legal reasons, that any company would allow partners to be in each others’ management lines at all.

      1. Connie-Lynne*

        ..I guess I should say “less need” rather than “little need.” I recognize that prejudice is still alive and well in many companies.

    3. Chinook*

      #4 – do this couple show themselves as being professionally impartial or as having each other’s backs? I ask because it sounds like it took a while for you to learn about their marriage, which probably means they try to distance themselves. I agree with AAM that normally that this can lead to issues, but it is also possible to be able to draw the line if done correctly.

      Case in point – my mother was Chairman of the school board which had one school (at the time) where all of us kids went. The office was even next to my classroom. My sister got caught drinking during school hours and her (first year) teacher and the relatively new principal had the uncomfortable task of calling up their boss (my Mom) and meeting with her about her unruly child and an incident that could have ended in expulsion (luckily, it was my sister’s first offense on the record and she agreed to treatment). When she arrived, the first words out of my mother’s mouth were “I am here as a parent and expect to be treated as such. Nothing you say to me will be taken as a comment towards me or the school board.” My mom says she could literally see them relax. (She reported this to the family to show how she separates the two parts of her life).

      In small towns and professional communities, sometimes these overlaps are unavoidable if you truly do want the best people for the job.

  6. Bend & Snap*

    #4 this was the case in my last job–my boss (a VP) was married to the president of the company. It was horrendous. He got away with bullying bordering on harassment and general poor decision making, and HR was no help because she told the president anything that was presented by the VP’s team. I cited it as a major reason for leaving when I gave my notice. My advice is to change jobs or at least teams if it becomes an issue. It’s not something you can really work around if the company doesn’t see an issue.

    1. TheVet*

      My ex-director (he) was married to another employee (she). She was horrible and there wasn’t much you could do about it. She couldn’t stand for anyone to meet with him without her, but her job had zero to do with anyone else’s, so she’d stand in his office until he had to ask her to leave. She’d cry and mope the entire time he was away if he traveled. If there was tension at home? Tension at work! Yay!

      I went to talk to him about some medical stuff that I had going on and he told me she had already told him. Pardon? I didn’t (and would never) tell her, so how did she know? She lurked outside of my office eavesdropping! I called HR to ask how to handle it and they called him. He refused to speak to me for a month and she acted like I had offended her, so I had to apologize.

      It was hell.

      1. TheLazyB*

        My brain just exploded with the ridiculousness of your situation. Did you say a genuine apology or go with the classic non-apology? Because I’d struggle even to choke out the second.

        1. TheVet*

          I had to give a genuine apology for overstepping my boundaries by not talking to him about her behavior first so that he could handle it (as if he would have) before going to HR and then apologize to her for not trusting her, overreacting, and making her uncomfortable.

          It was very WTFworthy.

          1. TheLazyB*

            “I’m sorry… that I was upset that YOUR WIFE WAS EAVESDROPPING ON ME and I ASKED FOR ADVICE.”

            “I’m sorry… that I didn’t trust you and made you uncomfortable BECAUSE YOU WERE EAVESDROPPING ON ME.”

            I am really impressed that you managed to do it to their satisfaction.

            1. TheLazyB*

              Apparently, in the oceans of strange behaviour we come across here at AAM, this is the one that has me totally incredulous.

              Sounds like you’re well out of it now? Yay!

            2. TheVet*

              The stories I could tell about that place.

              “I was extremely upset about medical stuff and didn’t mean to take it out on either of you. I needed to feel like I was in control of something in that moment and you were it.”

              Even better was that she proceeded to blab to everyone about said medical stuff to everyone and it was framed as, “Oh, she just cares so much about you and you never share anything. You don’t have to face things alone…we’re a family here.” Totally overlooking that I had a family and wasn’t in the market for a new one.

              I’ve since discovered AAM comments section and know to run fast and far from those words.

      2. MsChanandlerBong*

        Sounds like my husband’s stepmother. The dynamic is different because it’s a family business (so it’s expected that family members would be involved), but the drama level is similar. She will not allow my father-in-law to talk on the phone in private, at home or at work. If you call to talk to him, you have to be careful about what you say–she’s always on the other end. The worst part is, she doesn’t say hello, and my FIL doesn’t say “Oh, Lucinda is here with me.” She just sits there silently, judging everything you say.

        Her at-work behavior is terrible, and it’s costing them business, but he won’t say anything to her about it. I think my “favorite” example of her craziness was the time their office manager (my FIL’s sister) noticed they were losing money on an insurance policy. She told my FIL to call his agent and look into getting a better policy. He did, and it turns out there was a better policy available, so he had their insurance agent come in and do the paperwork. His wife found out he was doing insurance paperwork and immediately freaked out. She chased my FIL and his mother (an 80-some-year-old woman) through the industrial parking, going 60 in a 25 MPH zone, trying to confront him about the insurance. She’s so afraid she might miss out on a penny, she doesn’t think clearly about these things.

        This is just one of many reasons I won’t even set foot in the company building ever again.

        1. K.*

          Whaaaaaat? Forgive me, but is your stepmother … well? This is crazy behavior. I don’t understand how anyone still works there – or why your FIL remains married to her, frankly.

          1. MsChanandlerBong*

            I am not a trained professional, but I suspect she has narcissistic personality disorder. This is not something I say lightly or jokingly; I truly think she has a problem. Their company was quite successful at one time (before they were married), but it has been declining rapidly. She convinced my FIL to fire all but one employee because she didn’t want to pay anyone (she felt it was coming out of the money she was entitled to receive). Now they don’t have enough people to fill orders, so orders are going out late and customers are mad. When they had employees, she would blame all of them for any problems that occurred, even though some issues were caused by her doing shoddy work and not taking the time to QA her finished products). My husband was supposed to be the Crown Prince of Widgets one day, but he quit the company after he asked his dad for a raise from $7.50 to $8.00 per hour (after working for him for four years with no raise) and his request was refused. The most insulting part is that his stepmother makes more than twice that, but her work is not as specialized as his was (she puts together parts that have already been welded; my husband actually did the welding). Yes, you’d expect the wife of the owner to get paid more, but I think you’d also expect the son of the owner to get a decent wage.

            As far as why my FIL stays married to her, I honestly think he’s so entrenched in misery that he’s afraid to change anything, even if the change will ultimately be positive. Unfortunately, my husband and I no longer have a relationship with either of them (his stepmother was treating me badly on the phone one day, and after five years of “going along to get along,” I finally told her I don’t deserve that kind of treatment).

            1. Observer*

              You FIL sounds like an abuse victim. Why people who are victims of abuse don’t walk away is always a good question.

            2. K.*

              There is so much wrong with this situation, not least that your husband was doing welding for only a hair over minimum wage – I think the median welding salary is like $18 an hour. It’s a skilled trade!

              I’m glad you and your husband took steps to do what’s right for you.

              1. Solid B*

                Ridiculous! My company cant hire welders fast enough. And they pay them VERY well.

              2. MsChanandlerBong*

                Exactly. From the time he was a boy, my husband was supposed to take over the business (never mind that he has no interest in it). Paying him a low wage was supposed to be him “learning the ropes” so he could take over the company. If the company wasn’t totally dysfunctional and bleeding money, it might have been worth it. Unfortunately, bad management is taking the place right down the tubes, and we know more than outsiders about some of the things that have been going on. It’s not worth trying to build our lives around a sinking ship.

        2. Chinook*

          “She will not allow my father-in-law to talk on the phone in private, at home or at work. If you call to talk to him, you have to be careful about what you say–she’s always on the other end. ”

          Ummm…this is an abusive, controlling relationship and I hope you can be there for your FIL if he ever gets the courage to leave. If the gender roles were reversed, it would be easier to see as something more than MIL being dramatic. It is too bad that most places don’t have safe houses for men who are in trapped in this type of relationship but they do exist in some of the larger cities.

          1. MsChanandlerBong*

            I absolutely agree with you. I don’t really have a problem with my FIL. If I could ever spend time with him alone, we’d probably relax, have a beer, and watch baseball on TV or something. But that will never happen. I’ve told my husband many times that if his dad ever left his wife, he’d be welcome to stay with us. It is abuse, whether it’s a man doing it to a woman or the other way around.

          2. Ultraviolet*

            Many organizations that run safehouses for people escaping domestic violence can help men as well as women, even if they are equipped to house only women and children in their actual shelter. They can provide hotel vouchers, bus tickets to cities with safehouses for abused men (or where the man has family/friends to stay with), and can liaise with other nonprofits who are better able to provide emergency shelter to men. Men in abusive relationships, and people seeking help on their behalf, should not hesitate to contact a domestic violence agency out of fear that the agency can’t house or help them.

            (That’s a general reminder and not advice to anyone in particular posting in this thread.)

      3. Elizabeth West*

        That’s insane. I’ve been lucky, I guess–I worked with two different husband/wife boss teams, both company owners, but they didn’t do this kind of crap.

    2. Erin*

      Agreed. If the company doesn’t see an issue you may just have to leave – although not before having another job lined up, of course!

    3. nona*

      I agree.

      My parents own a small business. I’ve worked for them. It’s great for them, but I can see how family-owned businesses can develop a family-like relationship/boundaries with employees, which isn’t always good for managing them…

    4. Basiorana*

      My company has two married couples. In the first case, the husband worked there and recommended the wife. She’s in the same department but her role is very different with a separate reporting structure. They both have clinical degrees that are hard to find good applicants for, especially since it involves a lot of travel and you don’t get a degree in a medical field expecting to travel a lot. However, there is zero chance either of them would report to the other or even work together; they would have to get to the VP level to do so, they’re currently associate level, and we’re planning to split the department as soon as we’re big enough to justify it. Only impact is that they carpool and share a room if they happen to be going to the same city.

      The second case I personally find a little more risky. The guy was a manager level and recommended his then girlfriend for a director role in a completely different department. They were skeptical but she is just incredibly competent, a total rockstar at what she does with hard to find skills. So she was hired on, since they figured she’d have to get to the CEO level before he’d be in her reporting structure. They then married– and we restructured the department so she reported to the VP that his manager reported to. Then he was promoted. Now they are both directors reporting to the same VP, and while that VP is new and doing awesome, basically they’re both against a wall– neither could be promoted to that VP role. So unless they get a chance to cross-promote her to VP level (unlikely but slightly more possible than with him) they have no more advancement opportunities within the company.

      Plus with his promotion they went from interacting occasionally to having 2-3 meetings together a day, constantly collaborating. Another director joked recently that they go to meetings because with their massive blended family they can’t date after hours. And like 3-4 of their kids intern there and one is in his reporting structure. They are all very professional (well, except the high schoolers obvs) but it’s just a big mess.

      I’m glad my partner and I couldn’t be in more different fields.

  7. Foxtrot*

    I have a broad question on #3. In some fields, the technology is still changing pretty quickly. I’m thinking fields like medicine, computers, electronics, etc. If you’re going to be up on the latest and greatest, you either need to be straight out of school or have been proactive in staying on top of the new stuff by going to conferences and what not.
    What happens when an employer couldn’t care less if you graduated at 21 or 41, but still cares about how current your education is?

    1. straws*

      This is a good point. Plus, with so many people going back to school, graduation year isn’t the best way to get someone’s age. My husband will be close to 40 when he finishes his Bachelor’s degree. My mom got her most recent degree in her 50s.

      1. Pill Helmet*

        Very true! My mom is 64 and she finished her undergrad a year ago and is currently getting a masters.

        1. straws*

          That’s awesome! My mom rocked her degree, and I’m so proud of her. Hooray for adult education & ambitious moms! :)

      2. Pennalynn Lott*

        I’ll have my first Bachelor’s degree in spring of 2017. . . when I’m 50.

    2. Myrin*

      I think the employer would then need to ask about that education directly. Like “How up-to-date are you re: x technology?” or “When was the last time you worked with x technology?” or something like that.

      1. catsAreCool*

        Also, sometimes people keep their skills up-to-date by learning on the job, not through further formal education.

    3. Lizzy May*

      Then ask about training. If someone had 10+ years of work experience then ask about how they’re keeping their skills up to date. A good candidate will be able to talk about that without needing to disclose the year of their graduation.

    4. LBK*

      I’m not quite sure why those are the only ways to stay up on current technology – if you’ve been working in a field that required the use of this technology, wouldn’t that also imply experience with it?

      1. Foxtrot*

        Not necessarily. My General Practitioner for example has been prescribing drugs for 25 years or so. But the only way to know that drug X that came out five years ago is better than drug Y that he was taught in med school is to actively seek out the information. Otherwise he’s in his private office treating sick people the same way he always has with no real exposure to anything else.
        It’s not every field at all. But some don’t necessarily mean up to date because you’re doing it. Ie, prescribing drugs doesn’t mean prescribing the best drugs for today.

        1. MK*

          That really has very little to do with when you graduated though. It’s possible that you are a recent grad and studied/trained with old-fashioned teachers. It’s better to simply ask “what technologies are you familiar with/use?” than trying to deduce it with roundabout questions.

          1. Anonymous for now*

            This is very true. My husband took an accounting class in college where the textbook was only a year younger than him, focused on personal checks, and did only a little bit with computer accounting because that was a new technology that might not last. The year after they finally bought new books, but the teachers were ancient and had never done accounting with any other books.

        2. MegEB*

          Then it’s up to him as part of his job to stay up to date with current prescription drug information. I think most people understand that your education doesn’t necessarily stop with your college degree. If you want to stay relevant in your field, you have to keep learning. This is why people attend independent lectures, go to conferences, and network in their field.

        3. Pharmgirl88*

          Not quite true – in healthcare, at least, most licensed practitioners are required to complete continuing education courses every year to renew their license.

        4. Liane*

          Doctors, nurses and probably other health professionals have to have a number of continuing education units every year to keep their licenses.

        5. another IT manager*

          Your GP (if American) is required by his licensing board to complete a certain number of CME hours every year. I’ll grant you that there’s enough new information coming out that keeping up with it is physically impossible, but medical professionals are required to make a good-faith effort.

        6. Chinook*

          “But the only way to know that drug X that came out five years ago is better than drug Y that he was taught in med school is to actively seek out the information”

          I don’t know about MD licenses, but I know that for accountants and nurses (in Canada), they are required so may hours a year of academic upgrading/conferences/education/active learning in order to renew their licenses. The purpose of this requirement is to encourage these professionals to keep on top of any new advances in their field.

          1. Anna*

            It’s the same for nurses in the US, too, so I imagine the requirement for continuing ed applies to doctors.

    5. INTP*

      I think it’s only relevant to ask if your education provided exposure to something relevant to the job that your jobs have not. Otherwise, you’re clearly current on the field if you’re working in it.

      In this instance I got the sense that OP did a career change, so her original degree likely wasn’t related to the field in question.

    6. Rae*

      That was also my first thought, too. I graduated with a managerial degree 8 years ago but since I work in education I know that things have just changed SO much. There are now new, popular certifications that didn’t exist then…or at least weren’t as popular. Sniffing out age by graduation date is also rather stupid because more and more the correlation is weak.
      Interviewer- “And when did you graduate?”
      Person- “I completed my most recent certification/continuing ed/brushup class last year”
      Interviewer-“What about college?”
      Person-“Why do you ask”
      Interviewer- (legitimate reason) “In 1985, but since then I’ve done XYZ”
      (non-legitimate reason) “You know what, I’m really not comfortable answring that. Thanks for your time”

      And while you listed the past 10 years of work, as an employer they may be trying to sniff out significant employment gaps…like oh I graduated in 2000, took 5 years traveling the world and have been with Teapots LLC for the past 10.

      1. Case of the Mondays*

        If you are going to end the interview because they asked, why not answer and see what happens. If they are age discriminating dirt bags, you are not going to get the job either way. If it turned out you were wrong and their reason was actually legitimate, you still might get the job. Also, if you wanted to make a legal case out of it, you would have to show that were as qualified as the younger person, they asked a question to find out your age, and you didn’t get hired, etc. There is more but that is the bare bones of it. Ending the interview yourself forecloses that opportunity.

    7. Nashira*

      For computing, a lot of curricula are outdated and generally behind the times. I’m getting a degree still, for the ticky box, but harbor no illusions: most of what I need will be self-taught, on a lab I am building at home.

    8. RMRIC0*

      But there are better ways of making sure someone’s technical chops are current (which should be reflected in their resume). Though it’s probably hard for an HR person to suss that out

  8. Lee Silverstein*

    Really #4; I scheduled lunch with my new boss before officially starting yesterday. During the conversation he mentioned his wife is a cancer survivor. I wanted to blurt out “me too!!”, but didn’t. It sounds like he’ll be sympathetic should I ever need to share more details. Thanks for the response.

  9. Not Today Satan*

    I used to work with a married couple (both directors). The husband was very disrespectful towards his wife–he would talk about hot women with male coworkers, belittle her during meetings, etc. It was awful.

    1. Knitting Cat Lady*

      Wow, he sounds like a charmer!
      My aunt and uncle ran a small advertising company together. She was mostly in charge of the and doing projects on the side, he was in charge of acquiring customers and doing projects on the side. It worked really well for them.
      Of course, it all went pear shaped when my aunt died suddenly.

        1. Bend & Snap*

          that can be a whole new can of worms. I’ve worked for married co-owners too and they were CARAZZZZYYYYYYY. Horrible people who had no idea what was appropriate as far as managing employees. One was ex Wall Street if that tells you anything. But I agree that with normal people it can be a fine environment.

          1. MK*

            Oh, I realise it can be problematic. But at least the are not messing the line of command, when they are clearly at the top of it together.

          2. catsAreCool*

            I worked for married owners of a company for a while, and they were great. Good people, who cared (and still care) about each other, with different strengths. I think it does depend greatly on who the people are, though.

  10. Tuesday*

    Is anyone else having problems viewing this website? For some reason the page keeps ” jumping” and I suspect the ads are responsible

    1. la Contessa*

      I had that problem a few weeks ago, but it seems to be okay now. I think it depends on what ads come up on the right, it’s only certain ones.

    2. Happy Lurker*

      Mine jumps a lot too and my flash keeps crashing. But I think I need to reinstall the flash and reboot…I just haven’t yet.

  11. Pill Helmet*

    #1 – I’m obese too and I completely understand your concern. Can you throw a light but baggy sweater over yourself as you walk out of the office? That’s not to say you should hide yourself. You shouldn’t have to and you shouldn’t if you’re comfortable with your own body, regardless of what others think. But if this makes you more comfortable it may be one option.

  12. Pill Helmet*

    #5 – my husband is a stage IV colon cancer survivor. It’s always great to hear of another person in recovery. So glad you are doing well!

    1. ElCee*

      My FIL is too! He does chemo almost weekly, but is stable and his job has been 100% accommodating from the very beginning. High fives all around!

  13. Former Diet Coke Addict*

    Surprising no one, at my terribly-run office my boss (the owner and CEO) has appointed his wife as HR. Consequently it’s nearly impossible to bring up any issues with them as they defend each other constantly, and there’s no confidentiality in anything. Since his wife doesn’t even work in the office, we can’t even address her privately without having our boss see her email and comment on it.

    What a terrible setup.

    1. Mike C.*

      I’ve been through this, and that’s why I’ll never work for a family run business again.

  14. OP1*

    OP1 here!

    Thanks for the comments and suggestions! I don’t normally have a problem walking around in yoga clothes (friend and I even went to a street festival this spring in our yoga clothes because we hadn’t planned to go (didn’t bring other clothes) but discovered it was going on in the same town as our yoga studio).

    I was just concerned about perception in the workplace. I generally dress to disguise the fat a bit (at least, I don’t have rolls hanging out everywhere) and wasn’t sure if I should be concerned about it while running out of the door pretending not to see anyone else.

    I’ll probably start wearing coverups and such when the weather cools, but right now it’s just too hot (was 90F yesterday at 8pm).

    Thanks again!

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’m a fellow big lady who used to go to yoga after work– in fact, I went to yoga class in the same building. I worked in a very image-conscious department, and no one blinked at me. Generally, my yoga clothes consisted of yoga pants and t-shirts, so nothing super revealing (now I go to hot yoga and wear as little as possible), but honestly, it was fine.

      I think you’ll find, OP, that people can be remarkably self-absorbed. They probably won’t even notice that you changed. And if they did, a fitness-conscious office might be more likely to remark in a somewhat positive way (“Oh, cool, OP’s going to work out, I should do that too”).

      Basically, I don’t want to dismiss your self-consciousness, but I think you’re fine and you have nothing to worry about. Walk out like you spend your life in those yoga clothes, and don’t sweat it (I crack myself up) unless someone says something to you.

      1. Kate M*

        “People can be remarkably self-absorbed.”

        This is so true. Not even in a bad way, necessarily, but it’s just that nobody notices things as much as you think they do. Sometimes I get self-conscious if I wear the same outfit 3 Mondays in a row (or maybe even Monday and Friday of the same week, if my laundry is backed up), and I wonder what people think. But then, I realize that I could not tell you what any of my coworkers wore on any specific day of the week. It’s really kind of freeing to realize that nobody pays that much attention, sometimes.

        1. Nashira*

          I can confirm this! I have a distinctive and flattering blouse that is bright orange. I got tons of compliments when I first wore it. After a few wearings… Nobody notices that it’s my Monday shirt.

      2. It'sOnlyMe*

        I have only just found The Wire on Netflix and I am part way through a binge week, your user name has only just registered with me. Sorry off track but it made me chuckle to myself.

    2. BananaPants*

      I am also a fat lady, and am actively trying to be less-so (had a baby 2 years ago, some temporary thyroid wonkiness and a lot of stress eating cause me to weigh the same today as I did at 8 months pregnant). My employer offers a beautiful FREE corporate fitness center right across the street from my office building and it would be so convenient to be able to work out there before or after work (especially during the winter when I don’t want to walk or run outside). I have not yet joined it because I’m so self conscious of being seen in workout apparel or exercising in front of coworkers and managers. It makes no sense; anyone who sees me knows I’m fat and most people at the gym are absorbed in their own workout anyways. But I still feel ashamed.

      I’m participating in the fitness center’s summer walking challenge and have decided that once I’m into the program I’ll do the fitness center enrollment and shame be damned.

      1. GOG11*

        There is nothing to be ashamed of! Working to get healthier is admirable, and you might even inspire others who might feel odd about taking advantage of the fitness center because they worry that working out at the same time as management might be weird.

        And as AvonLady said, most people are so self-absorbed they won’t even pay attention to you. My work out inner monologue usually consists of “oh, my favorite song! Dangit, my toes are pointed out. Ow, why’s my knee doing that? *Loud noise* Crap! So much for letting the counter weights down gently… Oh, no, this one is definitely my favorite song. *Button pressing* faster, faster! *More button pressing* aaaah too fast, too fast! *Panting* Dangit, inhaler, you had one job!”

        1. catsAreCool*

          Yeah, most people are too busy being self-conscious to pay that much attention to others.

      2. Fitness*

        Definitely take advantage of it if you are interested and it’s already paid for! Do you have a work buddy that you’d feel comfortable going over with? You don’t have to stick together the entire time, but it might be nice to feel that support.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        Do it!! Who cares what other people think? I see larger people at the gym all the time, and I think, “You go!” I never think they’re too fat to be there, etc. If anyone said anything, I’d call them on it too, because I’m not shy about telling people they’re being assholes.

        You can also wear a larger t-shirt over your workout pants or whatever–this is what I did before I lost enough to feel comfy wearing tighter clothing, both at the gym and while skating. It flapped a bit, but that only helped me keep cool. I still wear a flappy shirt when I walk outside in the heat. :)

        1. Judy*

          A mom at some function said something to me about “I’ve taken my kids to the Y to swim, but as you can see, I don’t go myself.” I truly wanted to say back that obviously she hasn’t been to the Y, if she thinks her body type doesn’t fit in. At least our Y has pretty much every body type in it.

          1. Judy*

            No matter how slow you’re going, you’re still lapping the one sitting on the couch.

            1. OP1*

              Ugh, what a gross sentiment Judy. I don’t need to feel better about myself by making other people feel worse.

              1. Judy*

                Really? Every step you take is better than not taking that step. I read it more about you choosing to do something, whatever you can, rather than choosing to just sit on the couch and eat chips after work.

                I’m not an athlete. I’m always only competing against the me I was yesterday. One step further, one minute longer, one more push up, a little bit heavier weight or more reps.

      4. bridget*

        Does the fitness center offer any personal training extras? Since the base membership is already paid for, the extra service might be more affordable than if you were paying for both a membership and training.

        I joined New Fancy Gym in my neighborhood and felt super self-conscious. Everybody there was so fit! and pretty! and knew how to use all of the machines! I signed up for bi-weekly personal training for about three months, and it was great because I got really comfortable with the gym, the machines, I had a work out planned every time I went, I knew what stuff I could just grab and use and how to use it, I had to work out between sessions because I had to work up to a new thing for next week, etc. Now, even though there are the same beautiful fit people all around me, and I basically look the same (I’m a small, weak, unathletic person, so I was going for strength and general fitness) I’m magically way less self conscious because I’m there to do my thing. I’m not standing around deciding what I should try next and feeling weird about it. I don’t do training anymore, but I’m really glad I did it for a few months.

      5. Case of the Mondays*

        Like others said, if I notice you it will be out of respect. I can’t think of how to word this properly but for me the most inspiring work out isn’t running the fastest or the furthest or lifting the most weights but (safely) pushing your body the hardest. Thus, seeing someone really sweating it out is inspiring to me even if they are slower than I am. It pushes me to step it up a notch until I’m really pushing myself too and not just phoning it in. What constitutes a hard work out differs for every individual. My “long” run is my husband’s cool down run. You do you!

      6. Fact & Fiction*

        Please don’t feel ashamed! I passionately feel that people should feel happy and proud no matter their size and that we can seek physical fitness NOW whether we want to lose weight or are happy where we are. It’s one of the reasons I hit the bullet to become a licensed Zumba instructor NOW when I’m still over 100 pounds overweight (after losing 75 pounds the past few years) rather than waiting until I reached some “ideal” weight which may or may not happen.

        It was hard at first pushing outside my own insecurities and comfort zone but I am one of the best dancers in my regular classes and just as fit as the other “front row divas.” I’ve had other plus sized people tell me I inspire them and that was one of the reasons I became an instructor: to show we darned well CAN exercise now whether we lose another pound or just want to be as healthy as we can at THIS size.

        And considering that people of all sizes come up to tell me they loved my class and want to know more about when/where I teach, that means more to me than worrying about the few judgmental people who leave when I sub without giving me a chance. (Their loss, btw, considering my classes rack up about 7.5 to 8,000 steps, just like my much smaller mentor who lets me use a lot of her choreography.)

        Long story short: work it without worry!

    3. Amber Rose*

      Yoga clothes are so comfy aren’t they. If it was socially acceptable I’d never stop wearing them.

      As far as perception goes, I’d guess the majority of workplaces would value a healthy lifestyle over raising a fuss about 5 minutes of people in workout clothes. It costs workplaces an insane amount of money to have generally unhealthy employees.

      1. Fitness*

        I wear some yoga clothes out. But, my yoga pants are the looser, drawstring kind, so they’re a little less butt-tastic. I haven’t taken yoga in years, and those pants are so much easier to deal with if you just need to run a quick errand. The tops only just started fitting again- some are low-cut, all cover my stomach, but all are form-fitting. I’m still not sure I’m at the comfort level to wear those out, even though they’d be great for sweltering summer days.

        I’ve worn the outfits at work, but not while working- always with a hoodie or a fleece on over top (I’d scrunch up the sleeves on my lightweight one in the summer). I worked on the same campus where I took yoga, and I was always really careful about staying covered. I only got the side-eye once from a former student, which I think had more to do with the fact that I looked much younger with my hair up/no makeup on, and could easily be confused for a student.

        1. Amber Rose*

          I stick to yoga pants, they don’t tangle my legs when I’m doing things. For shirts, I get a baggy men’s running t-shirt. Still cool, not tight or low cut and pretty long.

          I change after work and leave, so the most my coworkers see is my butt in tight pants running out the door.

      2. Another English Major*

        Comfy dresses with leggings FTW. It’s pretty much my daily outfit and the next best thing in my opinion

    4. dawbs*

      This is by no means a need, but for those of us trying to figure out the change @ work thing, I rather wish this would have existed 20 years ago:

      (I am also to cheap to buy one, but I may try to make one)

    5. Cheesecake*

      I have a colleague who thinks she is disgustingly big so she crawls to the shower only when there is noone around. And i always think “why, gurl?!” The general perception is – respect for working out!

    6. krm*

      A group of coworkers and I actually have yoga classes at work a few times a week- one of our coworkers is a yoga teacher, so she does free classes for employees in an open area. I generally change in my office, and then throw on a long tshirt or cardigan. No one has ever said anything to any of us, other than they admire us consistently getting our workouts in with our crazy schedules, and wishing that they could find the motivation to participate! I want to clarify too- I cover up for my own comfort, not because I am concerned about others being offended!

    7. Kala*

      Thanks for explaining more! I think some of the disparate answers occurred because people pictured different garments as “yoga clothes”. I do hot yoga, and some of the clothes people in class wear bare significant skin (I.e. Shirts that look like bras) and are definitely not work appropriate. It sounds like what you’re wearing are more like comfy yoga pants and fitted tops or t-shirts, which are basically just workout clothes. Sorry for the misunderstandings, and I agree that that sounds totally fine.

  15. INTP*

    #3 – everything Alison said was correct. But another issue is that moving costs a lot of money, even with a bare bones move you’re usually looking at thousands of dollars before you see your first paycheck (transportation to the city, staying in a hotel while looking for an apartment, security deposit and new furniture for the apartment, etc) and employers may see your resistance to traveling for an interview as “He doesn’t even want to buy a plane ticket and a night in a hotel, he’s probably not going to move when it comes down to it.” Yes, you can go on dozens of interviews before getting a job so it can be reasonable to want to avoid that expense even when you have plenty saved to move, but people back out of relocations they swore they were open to (especially when they just start looking at everything it would cost once they have the offer in hand) all the time. This is something employers will be looking for red flags of when you aren’t local.

    Also, you WANT to see the office in person imo. You want to look around at people’s faces and see if they seem happy to be there of if they’re all drained, if there is evidence of people eating 2-3 meals a day at their desks, if the whole process is coordinated in an organized manner, etc. You do not want to move for a job and be dependent on that job because of all the $$ you sank into moving and it be a miserable toxic environment.

    1. Job-Hunt Newbie*

      Agreed with the second half! I had one org that never offered me an on-site interview, and it was going to be very difficult for me to make an informed decision site-unseen had I been offered the job. The other on-site interviews I went to made it a lot easier for me to gauge the people I would potentially be working with, see the site, and be able to let my personality shine through better than over the phone or a webcam.

      If there are any concerns for costs, see if the employer helps to offset some or all travel costs to an interview. I had my way paid once, and it was incredibly helpful.

    2. Graciosa*

      I have hired in foreign countries like this on rare occasions, but there were some extraordinary extenuating circumstances on our side (we were going to lose the position if it wasn’t filled by [date] and were far enough along and positive enough about the candidate to take the chance).

      I really don’t like the idea of hiring someone I’ve never met, and I hope the OP really does not want to work for someone he or she has never met. Even in the situation above, I had a trusted colleague there in person and present for the Skype interview, and she gave positive feedback about body language and communication skills.

      INTP’s other point about demonstrating the level of the OP’s commitment is a good one too. I would have a hard time believing someone who didn’t come out at least once in the interview process (ours are multi-stage) was seriously interested in the position.

      That said, we pay for interview travel (which I think is proper) so the issue comes up more as willing-to-travel or willing-to-take-time-off than willing-to-pay.

      1. Basiorana*

        Yeah, our one exception to the in-person interview was hiring in Asia. They wanted to, and asked me to book it, so I looked up a flight and was like “Okay, but this is $10,000. If we push it out a month it will be a couple thousand still. How many candidates are we doing this for? Because I need a higher limit on my corporate card.”

        They Skyped. He worked out great. We flew him in for three weeks of training once we signed him on.

    3. Stranger than fiction*

      Op can you look for jobs that will assist with relocation? These ones will typically also pay to fly you out to interview

  16. KathyGeiss*

    Re: 4 It’s bizarre to me that you “just found out” they are married. Were they trying to hide it?

    I work with a few married couples. One couple has different last names and close to when I started, I was speaking with one of them and mentioned the other. She immediately told me they were married and that they had strict rules about not talking about work. It was sort of a “I’m declaring conflict of interest” which I appreciated. They don’t manage one another (that is insane!) but I work very well with both of them and they are very professional.

    1. BananaPants*

      There are 2 married couples that I know of here, and I didn’t know one couple was married for probably a year or two. They have different last names and at the time they worked in different parts of the organization. They don’t always commute in together, either. Neither is in a managerial role or has any desire to be and they keep it very professional at work – although they’ll occasionally make good-natured jokes about the other.

      The other couple are both VPs who are responsible for different areas. It’s taken some creative executive juggling over the years to keep them from being in the same chain of command, but you virtually never see them together at the same events. I ran into them one Saturday at Costco and they were in line ahead of us, and it was weird to see them together acting like a normal couple (rather than their very professional personas at work).

    2. Graciosa*

      I worked with both members of a couple for over a year without realizing, which I think was a testament to their professionalism at work. They did have different last names and, more importantly, different chains of command for two or three levels (until it met at the top with the head of function) but I was a floating temp who worked with everyone.

      I only found out when I offered to take a message from one of them for the other, and she politely pointed out that he was her husband and she would just wait and tell him at home.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I know of several people here who met at work and then got married to each other. I think our company only has a policy about dating managers (even if they’re not your own), and they may look askance at dating coworkers, but obviously it hasn’t been a problem. Our company is large enough that it’s easy to meet someone who is in an entirely different department and not see them all day.

    4. K2k*

      My team wasn’t alway under their management but we recently all had a change and I found out about them a month after the change. The couple is a lesbian couple with two different last names and they work remotely while I’m onsite at the clients office

  17. ali*

    #5 – Congratulations on beating colon cancer! That’s awesome! I have to take a half day off once a month for Remicade infusions for Crohn’s Disease, which to me is routine as I’ve been doing it for 12 years now. I’ve only had one employer during that time who was not cool with it and made me take PTO each time rather than make up the time over the weekend. But in each case, I told them upfront that I need a half day once a month for medical treatment, and I approached it just as Alison suggests – “I have a medical appointment, are there days that would be better or worse to schedule that? How/when would you like me to make up that time?” In my current job, the work ebbs and flows, so I’ve found a good time of month to take it when the work is slow, so most months I don’t both making it up but do take PTO (but by my choice this time, not my employers), so it works really well. If you have a good relationship with your manager, I’d let them know what the appointment is for, so they know exactly how important it is that you have it.

  18. Dasha*

    #5 I’m so glad you’re in recovery. That is really great to hear! :) I’ve often wondered the same thing though- how often is too often to take off when starting a new job? Is one day a month or one day every other month OK? Also, I’m guessing your appointment isn’t an all day thing but I’m curious about what others think.

  19. la Contessa*

    #5, I just told my boss on the very first day that I need to take about half an hour of sick time every two weeks for the doctor, so he shouldn’t worry if he sees me putting in a bunch of sick time. He immediately said it was okay and tried to cut me off from saying anything more (like he was trying to stop me from telling him why I would need to go to the doctor so much, which wasn’t necessary, because I wasn’t going to tell him that I’m cuckoo crazypants (not the actual diagnosis from the DSM, but close enough)). He is adamant that we are given sick time, it is our time, and we can use it however we need to. I think Alison’s advice is good–I hope it works out for you!

  20. Erin*

    #1 – I definitely think you should be fine, but you could always put a large tee-shirt over your yoga clothes to cover up a bit more. (I always try to keep my butt covered when in yoga gear/leggings.)

    #2 – I think if you’re okay answering one of those weird potentially illegal questions go ahead and do so. Once at an interview my boss asked me if I had a boyfriend or girlfriend and what they did for work. I thought that was super strange, but replied I had boyfriend who was an IT guy – I got hired, and he later hired my boyfriend (now husband) for various computer-related jobs, so it worked out great.

    However, it sounds like you were definitely not okay with this. I would avoid coming right out and saying “I don’t think you should be asking that” or “that makes me uncomfortable” (unless it’s really outrageous). Maybe using Alison’s advice for “Why do you ask?” can open up an honest dialogue where he can put his real concerns on the table, and you can address them head on.

    #3 – If you’ve already interviewed once there and it’s for a second interview I think it’s totally reasonable to ask to Skype. (I had a friend drive four-plus hours for two interviews, and for the third one she told them she couldn’t take any more time off work and asked to Skype. They had literally never done that before but made an exception for her, and she was hired.)

    However, if you’re asking in a more general way expecting to interview at several places, that could be a bit trickier. If possible, schedule a few interviews within the same time frame and stay there a few days, although that’s probably a shot in the dark.

    I do think people understand other people’s financial constraints, and it wouldn’t be out of line to say something like, “Before I commit to the expense of traveling there, would you be willing to consider a first interview over the phone or on Skype? If we seem like a good fit for each other I’m happy to make travel arrangements to meet in person for a second interview.” At that point you might get lucky and they might offer to pay your travel expenses, although of course you can’t count on that. As Alison said, try to make it easy as possible on their part.

    #4 – I had a work situation with a major, major conflict of interest like that. Unfortunately the only way to solve it for me was to actually leave. If you really wanted to commit yourself to rectifying that you could try going to someone higher up, or even a higher up company your company may report to in some way. (Weird example: If you work at a farmers market, try the farmers market federation of your state.) Be careful, though, it may not go your way and people talk.

  21. Christian Troy*

    #3 – I’m not sure how to answer your question because I think whether or not people are willing to Skype with you depends on a lot of different factors, like where you are professionally in field and career development. In my experiences with long distance job searching, we usually had a phone interview/screen and then a Skype because they were aware I was not local, but everyone is different. It never hurts to ask or propose this though.

  22. John R*

    Regarding your age, while a smart employer may not ask directly or indirectly this information DOES appear on a background check in terms of showing graduation dates from college.

    1. Judy*

      I’ve always had to turn in either a transcript or allow them to photocopy my degrees during the hiring paperwork, also. But most of my jobs have been in corporate environments.

  23. Stardust*

    Things like #2 (and the letter from a few weeks ago where the OP was almost 30 but looked like a teenager) actually make me glad that where I’m from, it’s the norm to put your date of birth on your CV. I know that potentially opens the gate for all kinds of other problems but at least one would be spared this particular weirdness and the interviewer could focus on, you know, interviewing.

    1. Jen RO*

      This is also common in my country, and I honestly don’t think omitting her birth date or graduation date would have gotten my mother hired when she was laid off at 57… she looks a bit younger, but not *that* young.

  24. ThursdaysGeek*

    #2 – While others above have mentioned that experience trumps education (after a few years), the interviewer still might have been asking about when she graduated from college, not to find her age, but for other reasons.

    Did he want to know that she really got a degree? (A resume without a date might seem that she attended but didn’t graduate.) Perhaps there are things taught in that degree that didn’t used to be taught, or things that used to be taught and are no longer taught, and that is something that is applicable to the job. (Knowing when I got my degree means you know that the degree itself should almost be completely ignored, because the field has changed so much since then. So experience is very much more important.)

    If you waffle around a straight-forward question like that, it really seems more like you didn’t get a degree at all. Perhaps it was used as a way to find out age, but I’ve known people to graduate with a 4 year degree at ages 19-60, so just looking at you will be as accurate.

    Alison’s answer is right. Ask why they want to know, and if it doesn’t seem age related (or perhaps, even if it does), give them an answer. Or alleviate what appear to be their concerns without giving a date. But answer something!

    1. Anna*

      Then contextualize it. “I noticed you didn’t put a date down for when you got your degree. Did you complete college?” “Yes.” Move on!

    2. Elsajeni*

      But knowing when you graduated gives a lower limit for your age — assuming you weren’t a child prodigy, I can guess that you were at least 20 when you graduated college, so if you say you graduated in 1985, you’re probably at least 50 today. If I’m a hiring manager who doesn’t want to hire anyone over 50, that’s all I need to know; if you’re a 50-year-old who looks younger, you might very reasonably not want to give me that ammunition and instead let me draw whatever conclusions I can based on your looks.

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        Sure. But that doesn’t have to be the reason for wanting to know the year. It’s a likely assumption, but not the only explanation.

        1. AnonyManager*

          A good hiring manager is going to ask the right questions to get the information they need or directly ask for the information they need. Especially if the candidate has 10+ recent years of relevant experience. I am having a hard time finding a relevant, valid reason to beat around the bush in some weird way asking for irrelevant information.

  25. ITPuffNStuff*

    #5 — it seems horrible to me that a cancer survivor should even have to think about this. the OP here has enough to worry about. here’s hoping the fears about how the new boss views the medical appointments are unfounded, and the OP can focus on health, as (s)he deserves.

  26. sjw*

    To OP #5 — congrats on the new job and best wishes for your continued recovery! I would suggest that, as much as possible, you keep your medical history confidential for your first year on the job. After a year, (assuming it’s a large enough employer), you will be protected by FMLA for future absences related to your medical condition. No need to offer a potential concern to a new employer right off the bat! Of course, don’t lie or be misleading – but you have no obligation to discuss your medical care at this point. I agree with Allison’s advice that a doc appointment every few months will most likely go unnoticed.

  27. Basiorana*

    OP #4, try going up the chain. If you ave any feedback on your boss at all, go to your boss’s spouse’s boss. And when making the meeting say “I’m sorry, but since I obviously cannot provide candid feedback on X to Y…” or “Since I can’t go to Y with this due to the relationship with X….”

    It will solve your problem and get the higher ups thinking about why this is a bad idea.

  28. s*

    To #1, get some simple jersey dresses to use as cover-ups! I dislike wearing exercise clothes out in public (including even stopping by the grocery store directly next to my gym), but throwing a jersey dress over exercise clothes makes it more like a real outfit. Old Navy usually has a decent selection of simple and affordable jersey dresses in the summer time.

  29. Susan*

    #2 – It’s possible that after those high profile stories about people turning out not to have the degree they claimed, that company at instituted a policy of confirming graduation for the short list of candidates for their higher level positions. To confirm that someone is an alumni of a university, you’d need their graduation year.

    Regardless, an interview isn’t just about your skills, it’s about how you interact with the hiring manager. Ignoring questions or pretending not to understand what they are asking is just taking yourself out of the running regardless.

  30. diet ginger ale*

    I’m late to the party here but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to post this or not because so many great pieces of advice have already been posted about OP1’s problem.

    I would advise classing it up a bit. I am also overweight and I have the same feelings about how I look that you do about how you look. I have a few suggestions that might or might not help. I go to the gym a lot and I will note the things that I see that could be improved on in my eyes. These tips are for anyone of any size and they come from a poster who is a prude (me).

    1. Get a great gym bag. Don’t try to use something that you use at the grocery store. Those bags are barely adequate for your needs.
    2. Don’t wear just a sports bra as a top. It’s underwear, it is meant to go under your clothes. If a bra top is built in to your shirt, no problem; but if you are wearing it instead of a shirt, you risk making prudes like me feel uncomfortable.
    3. Keep your gym clothes clean. Odd gym smells are not pleasant.
    4. Don’t try to cover up the odd gym smells with perfume or cologne. You never want to be remembered for being the one who brought tears to people’s eyes by how you smell.
    5. Make sure your gym clothes are in great condition. No one likes to see that your gym togs double as your dog’s pull toy.
    6. If you have a controversial tattoo, think about covering it up. There is a guy at my gym who has a Confederate flag tattoo, people actually move away from him whenever he comes to the gym. There is always a ring of lots of people, then no one, then him when he is there.
    7. Always wear underpants. Some gym pants are more sheer than you would think they are.

  31. Sjaak*

    #2 I would not have hired you immediately if you are the kind of person of which policies are more important than just being able to talk about stuff. Why would it matter whether he knows your age or not, discrimination by age shouldn’t happen, even if they know your age. The fact that you at the interview stage already showed that you don’t show any trust in that is for me more than enough to not consider you the right person.
    I want to get to know the person behind the face, I want to know what their passion is, when they graduated so I know how many years working experience you possibly can have.

    And I don’t know the interviewer, so you could be right about his discrimination. But in my opinion there is no reason at all to not trust a random stranger untill you’ve a good reason not too. I’ve experienced this myself many times before, I’ve slept in houses of complete strangers just for the experience while traveling, I’ve painted a house for free for people who couldn’t afford it in exchange for food and a place to stay for a few days (although I’m a software engineer).

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