do-not-hire lists, nail-clipping interviewer, and more

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

1. My manager clipped his fingernails during a job interview

Yesterday, my manager and I were conducting interviews in his office. During the first interview, he was clearly restless, and about midway through he ruffled through his desk drawer for something. I didn’t see what he grabbed, but quickly figured it out when I heard the unmistakable sound of a fingernail clipper. He hid his hands while he was doing it, and stopped after clipping two nails, but I’m still at a loss for why he decided mid-interview was the appropriate time to do such a thing. Other than doing a double-take when I realized what was happening, I didn’t do or say anything. We’re conducting more interviews next week– should say something ahead of time to indicate this is clearly not okay? I felt horrified for the person interviewing!

It depends on what kind of relationship with you have with him. With most managers I’ve had, it would feel pretty natural to just say, “You weren’t clipping your nails during that interview, were you?” But if you didn’t say it right off the bat, it’s going to be harder to say it now — and I also suspect that if you did have that kind of dynamic that allowed for that, you would have already said it and wouldn’t be writing in to me.

Another way to look at it is that it’s good to let your manager be as much himself as possible during an interview, so that candidates get truth in advertising and are making fully informed decisions. Some people wouldn’t care at all if their interviewer did this; others would find it boorish and rude. You want people to self-select out if they’re not going to work well with your boss anyway — so if this is at all representative of his style, it could be a good thing to just let him go for it.

2. Can I ask for a cost-of-living raise when I’m moving to a more expensive city for personal reasons?

I am looking to relocate to a different city for personal reasons – honestly, because I am a young professional who has never lived outside of my current city today and figure now is the best time in my life to do so. My job can be done remotely, and most of my team is remote, so I don’t have any hesitation about not being able to bring my job with me.

The city I am looking to move to has a much more expensive cost of living than where I am currently. What is your advice in terms of requesting a cost of living increase? Since this is a personal decision and not a relocation move for my job, is it fair and/or okay for me to request a salary increase?

Nope. You’d be asking your company to increase their expenses because of where you want to live. If you move for work-related reasons, it’s reasonable to talk about a cost-of-living increase. But if you’re just moving because you want to, you can’t really say “and it’s going to cost you more every month!” (Just like you probably wouldn’t want your company to ask you to take a pay cut if you moved somewhere cheaper.) I’d look at it this way: The ability to move wherever you want is a perk of this job, but you need to factor in how well your current salary will work in whatever city you’re thinking of choosing.

3. Do-not-hire lists

Is there a legal way to put an applicant on a block list due to them coming late to a previous interview with no reasonable explanation, being very rude, not showing up at all, or not showing up because they believed the interview was for the following day, even though they received a confirmation email with the specific date and time?

You mean an internal block list, where your company has a way of tracking that this isn’t someone eligible for hire in the future (as opposed to trying to block them from work with other companies too)? Sure, having an internal do-not-hire list is legal and very normal; companies do it all the time. You’re allowed to look at someone’s behavior and decide you don’t want to hire them, now or in the future.

4. How to ask an internal hiring manager if she’d consider me for a new role in her department

I’m currently an admin assistant and work at one of our regional offices. I interviewed for an internal position in Finance a month or so ago and was unsuccessful due to lack of finance experience. I received feedback from the interview that I “couldn’t be faulted” but they went for someone with more experience.

Fast forward a month or so, and another entry-level position position has arose in Finance. I’m still interested in working in that department but don’t know how to circumnavigate this. A coworker I confided in recommends that once the job becomes common knowledge, to phone the hiring manager and ask if they feel I should reapply, although they said that they might not be able to give a clear answer but may have some comments on whether I should. I would prefer to do this via email myself but don’t know which method is best or what exactly to say- how do you feel I should approach this?

Yeah, I’d use email to at least initiate the conversation — because that will give the hiring manager some time to compose her thoughts and figure out how to respond, whereas if you call her, you’re going to put her on the spot and you’re much more likely to get a “sure, go ahead and apply” answer (even if she doesn’t think you’d be the right candidate) because she wants to be nice and she feels blindsided, whereas if you give her time to think about it, you might get a more nuanced answer.

I’d say this: “I really appreciated your talking with me last month about the X position. Our conversation made me all the more interested in working in Finance. I noticed that you’re currently hiring for Y and I’d love to throw my hat in the ring. Before I do, I thought I’d check with you first to see if you think it might be a good fit. I’d love your thoughts (and won’t be at all offended if you don’t think it’s quite the right match). And of course, I’d be glad to talk in person if that’s easier — I just didn’t want to blindside you with the question if I called you or popped into your office without warning!” (That last part is there so that you’re not signaling “I’m someone who uses email for even sensitive conversations” but rather “I am thoughtful and willing to talk in whatever way is easiest for you.”)

5. Employer says they were trying to contact me, but I haven’t seen anything from them

I received an email from an employer who I submitted a resume to a few weeks ago. The email read that they attempted to contact me a few times and since I had not responded, they were assuming that I was not interested. This was the first time I have heard from this employer. I checked everything on my email and phone from the last month and saw nothing from them. I replied to the email saying that I am indeed interested. Also I called and left a message because no one answered. I have still not heard from them and am confused about when and how they tried to contact me. Is it possible that they are being dishonest? Should I call again or wait to hear from them?

It’s very unlikely that they’re being dishonest; they don’t have any motive to be. If they want to reject you, they can just reject you; they wouldn’t need to come up with a cover story about why.

It’s more likely that they did indeed try to reach you and were using the wrong contact info for some reason, their messages went to spam (have you checked there? does your spam auto-delete messages periodically?), or who knows what else.

I’d check that everything is working as it should, start checking your spam folder regularly if you’re not already (at least while you’re job searching), and if possible provide them with a different means to contact you by (like a different email address from a different provider). Beyond that, though, there’s not really anything you can do; sometimes this kind of thing happens.

{ 271 comments… read them below }

  1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

    #2, I agree with Alison here. Based on the earlier conversation about commute distance, it would be like asking your employer to reimburse you mileage to work because you moved farther away. Don’t do it! However, if you want a raise, do the other stuff that will get you there….do great work, be valuable to them, etc.

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      Agreed. If an employee came to me and said “I want to work remotely and get paid more because I’ll be working from an expensive city,” I would be very much taken aback. You’d be asking for MORE money to be LESS accessible (even if in perception only). Not something I would consider saying yes to for even a hot second.

      1. Jerry Vandesic*

        All that being said, if the the pay that OP#2 receives in the new city is not competitive with salaries in the new city, then OP#2 should keep their eyes open to new job offers. While their existing employer might not be willing to pay the higher costs of employees in the new city, another potential employer might be open to paying more.

        1. Anna*

          But that’s not really what the question is about. I mean, the LW seems happy in their job to the point of wanting to work remotely if they move. The issue isn’t that the employer isn’t “willing” to pay a higher wage due to a higher COL, it’s that the employee wants to move to a different city and work remotely and was wondering if that would be a reason to ask for a pay increase. The company isn’t moving; the employee is.

          1. Jerry Vandesic*

            All true, but if the employer wants to keep the employee in the new city then they need to realize that the costs would naturally go up. Over the past two years I have had multiple people who work for me on the east coast ask to move to our SF office. We agreed to those moves, and as part of the move we adjusted compensation to reflect the higher salary bands for SF people. If we didn’t the employees would have left for other opportunities soon after the move, and we didn’t want them to leave. The way that I think about it is if we had to hire someone in the SF office, it would be at the higher rate, so why wouldn’t we pay it to someone we already know and like.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Yes, but in that case you’re thinking about if you had to hire someone in that location. In the OP’s case, she’s not moving to a location where her employer needs staff, just one that she wants to move to. Being able to do that is a huge perk.

              1. Jerry Vandesic*

                It is definitely a perk. But it also means that the employer is able to retain the employee when the employee is looking for a move. If they want to keep the employee, they need to understand that the compensation dynamic has changed. Employers need to pay what the local market requires, even if the employer lets an employee move to a new location strictly for the employee’s benefit. If the employer is OK with losing to employee to a higher paying opportunity in the new city, then they don’t need to respond.

            2. MK*

              When you say you agreed to the move, do you mean that you didn’t care where they worked or, as I assume, that they filled open positions in SF? Jobs that you would have to hire someone for anyway? It makes a difference.

              If the OP’s boss wants to retain her, then the OP can just negotiate a raise. There is no reason to bring her living arrangements into it.

              1. Jerry Vandesic*

                The roles were pretty flexible in that they worked on clients across the US. At the time we were looking to fill positions in all offices, so the resource pool was pretty fluid. Moving someone to SF meant we could close out a SF req and open a new east cost req (at a lower cost than the SF req).

                But the big issue for me was wanting to keep good people that I knew were good. If I didn’t bump the comp, they would have left and I would have needed to fill the position at the higher cost.

                1. Alternative*

                  “But the big issue for me was wanting to keep good people that I knew were good.”

                  I think it’s fantastic that you do that!

    2. CakeWad*

      I actually had someone do this. He chose to move a 45-minute commute away, then asked for a raise to cover the gas!

    3. Anony-moose*

      100% agree. One of my friends recently asked to be transferred from his NYC office to one of his company’s Europe-based offices. He’s been at the company for six months. They offered him London. My response – “AWESOME!”. His response “Well, they better give me a raise if they expect me to move to London!”. No. They don’t EXPECT. You asked. *face palm*

      1. mskyle*

        Oh, that seems pretty reasonable to me, and typical for the kind of company that has offices in NYC and London. It would be bizarre to pay someone an NYC salary for a London job – it would be very strange to be making thousands less than your colleagues working the same job.

        My stepmother once took an internal transfer from New Hampshire to Paris (something she very much wanted to do), and I think the salary adjustment was fine, but they still only gave her 2 weeks of vacation. Her French colleagues were all horrified and basically forced her to take additional vacation time!

      2. Hotstreak*

        If his company has higher pay scales for London vs NYC then his salary should be brought in line with what they typically offer (just like it would had been if they recruited him to work in London on day 1).

        If I requested a transfer to the West coast USA, hoping for Portland or some smaller city, I would absolutely expect a raise if offered work in downtown San Francisco.

      3. MK*

        I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask about salary adjustment and even refuse the transfer (though you asked for it) for financial reasons. But I wonder at your friend’s attitude; it’s as if he is annoyed by getting what he wanted.

        Also, though London is notoriously expensive, I cannot think of any European capitol that is exactly cheap to live in. What was he expecting?

        1. Mander*

          London is freakishly expensive, though, at least for housing. My husband is there while I’m getting our house in another city ready to sell; the rent on a studio flat in an average part of town is over twice the mortgage payment on a two bedroom house with a large garden in the other city. I know that Paris, Berlin, etc. would also be pricey but I don’t think they are as dramatically different from the rest of their respective countries as London is.

    4. sunny-dee*

      Also, the OP may not be allowed to move, period. My company will not allow me to move to California, New York, or Massachusetts because of the salary differences — but also because of the differences in other compensation, like health insurance, OSHA requirements, workman’s comp and unemployment insurance, and leave.

      My company has offices there, but if I wanted to move, I’d have to put in a request and, assuming it was approved, wait until the next budget period. If it weren’t approved, I couldn’t move and keep my job, because even if my salary stayed the same, the other benefits wouldn’t be appropriately updated.

  2. Sherm*

    #5 Yeah, a similar thing happened to me (although I still got an interview). I checked my spam folder — nothing there, besides “real spam.” And the person who was trying to contact me excelled at a job where accuracy and attention to detail are very important. Strange things happen indeed.

    1. FiveNine*

      The OP got the email fine that said they had been trying to contact him/her, so it’s probably not a spam filter issue. It could be a wrong phone number. But I personally think some places actually use this language in form rejections (I know that goes against AAM response but it makes no sense that all the rejection letters with this language are the only contact that successfully makes it through to the applicants.)

      1. Anonygoose*

        I worked at a job where similar wording was part of a form letter. If we couldn’t get through to the person for any reason whatsoever (bad phone number, no voicemail, our phones weren’t working, etc.), we’d send that same letter. Drove people nuts.

      2. Stranger than Fiction*

        Yes, I think they either miss-dialed her number (and it could have only been one time, not many), OR, perhaps they got her mixed up with someone else, i.e., they dialed another candidate’s number because they had a couple resumes in front of them, then when they didn’t hear back, they emailed the wrong candidate.

        1. SSW*

          Hi all,

          I am the OP and I think it might have been that. My mom said the same thing. That maybe they mis-dialed my number or mixed me up with someone else like another person said. This happened Monday and I still have not gotten a hold of them. I called and emailed multiple times and didn’t get anyone. This is so bizarre, something like this has never happened to me. But I am going to make a last-ditch effort to call them since a few of you sound like you were able to eventually get a hold of someone.

          Thanks for the input. I really appreciate it.

            1. SSW*

              Yeah, I called one last time today. I am just letting it go. After something like this, I don’t think I’d want to work for this company anyway.

      3. TootsNYC*

        My spam filter works erratically.

        My offer letter for my current job went to spam, and it was from someone I’d been successfully emailing back and forth with.
        It turned out not to be awful, because I had a verbal offer, but I also showed up late because all the info on showing up at 9 for orientation was in that letter. And I went off the verbal, “we start work at 10” info from my direct manager.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I’ve had clients — people with multiple terminal degrees — claim they emailed me, only to find out they used an email address that I never use, despite the fact that I have only ever sent them email from my regular address. But this other email address is internal to them, so it is already in their address book, and when they start typing my name, that’s what comes up.

      I wonder if something similar could have happened to the OP, but maybe the potential employer had someone with a similar or identical name already in their address book.

    3. Treena Kravm*

      I was applying for jobs and followed up on an application after 4 weeks by calling. The woman was sighing in relief because apparently she’d emailed and called twice each. They had assumed I wasn’t interested in the position and I was the only one on their top candidate list. I went back and sure enough, two emails in spam. But NO missed calls or voicemails (that she was sure she left!).

    4. HigherEd Admin*

      I just posted in last week’s open thread about this happening to me! The recruiter claimed to have been trying to contact me all week, but I hadn’t received any email (I checked spam, too) or phone calls. In the end, it worked out and I nabbed an interview, but I still don’t know whether they used the wrong email address, they never actually reached out, or what.

    5. MsChanandlerBong*

      I had the same issue this week. I work remotely (as an independent contractor), but I work with the same project coordinator a lot. I sent her three emails (one with my original question and two to follow up, letting her know I needed the info to meet my deadline). I never got a response. I was able to find her on FB and say, “Hey, it’s not like you to be out of touch without letting us know beforehand. Did you get the emails I sent?” She hadn’t gotten any of them, and they weren’t in her spam folder, either. They just…disappeared.

      1. Helen of What*

        Since you’re on the sending end of this, did you check your outbox? Sometimes things get stuck there.

        1. Book Person*

          I know some email hosts like Office 365 block a lot of spam mail before it ever reaches the inbox/spam filter. I’m an admin on my company’s email and get regular stats from Office about how many emails were blocked and how many permitted through (though no details on the domain names). It’s very frustrating, actually.

          1. More Cake Please*

            Yes, I’ve heard Office 365 blocks items with external links in them. Consequently, we’ve had everyone remove their email address and the “www.” from our web address (so it doesn’t auto-link) from their signature lines. Our emails weren’t getting through, or getting through sporadically, to our customers.

      2. Marcela*

        Hmm. Emails that vanish sometimes can be the consequence of two misconfigured servers. The idea is that if a mail cannot be sent, for example because the recipient server is off, the original sender will try again several times for several days. There is a method to reject spam based in that idea, so servers reject the email the first time, telling the sender “please wait and try again later”. The problem is that some old or misconfigured servers do not try to send again, so if there is any problem, the email gets lost.

        As a user, there is no so much that you can do, except be alert in case there is a pattern of your emails not being received. In that case the solution is to change email providers, as annoying as that sounds.

  3. Palmer Eldritch and Timothy Archer walk into a bar*

    #1: I’d just like to raise the possibility that maybe your boss was suffering some kind of “nail emergency” and did a little fast work to relieve the issue. Seriously: I have accidentally torn / broken / chipped / injured my nails on many occasions, and sometimes it can hurt and a short clipping session will fix it. Given that he did it quickly and out of sight makes me wonder if this is what was up.

    Speaking only for myself, if I’d been the interviewee, I wouldn’t have minded. I guess some people would find this rude, but I’d be inclined to view it as an indication that the boss was feeling comfortable around me.

    1. Not Today Satan*

      If that’s the case, which I doubt, he should have excused himself and come back when he was done.

      1. The IT Manager*

        Some people seem to think nail clipping is a kind of personal grooming that should only be done in private. Others think of it something that can be done in public spaces (like combing hair briefly). Neither should be done in an interview, but it sounds like the LW and her boss have different opinion on where nail clipping can be done.

        That said, nail clipping emergency? They do happen but still should not take place in an interview because full focus should be in the interviewee.

        1. OP 1*

          I agree with this. I thought nail clipping is just generally not something you do at work, and if you must, do it in the bathroom, but definitely not during an interview– especially one that would last for 15 mins tops. We’re not talking about a marathon interviewing session, and we had time built in between interviewees, so even if it was an “emergency,” surely it could wait another 5-10 mins.

          1. HigherEd Admin*

            I can be a little OCD about stuff like nail emergencies. Like, if I don’t fix it or address it right away, all my focus will be on my nails, rather than the interview. I would’ve opted to discreetly trim my nail then and there, too, for the sake of bringing my attention back to our conversation.

            1. De Minimis*

              Also if the nail emergency it’s bad enough you can accidentally scratch or cut someone. But it should have been done prior to the interview.

              1. De Minimis*

                That is, you could accidentally scratch or cut someone while shaking hands, for instance…

                1. Tyrannosaurus Regina*

                  That would have been me. If I had a nail “emergency” I would have been so worried about scratching the interviewee during a handshake that my focus would have been imperiled for the rest of the interview. I *probably* would have tried to white-knuckle it through without resorting to discrete clipping but I’m sympathetic to anyone who couldn’t.

            2. Magda*

              But you probably wouldn’t be able to get away with trimming your nails if you were the interviewee, no matter how much of an emergency or how discreetly you did it. In fact, I’m trying to imagine if an interviewee had written in saying “I trimmed my nails discreetly during a job interview, do you think that was a problem?”

              In the grand scheme of things I don’t think what the interviewer did is too terrible, but it did strike me as a little rude in that it’s a kind of blatant “I’m the interviewer and I can do this, and you can’t” moment. Of course I understand that there are many things interviewers get latitude for that interviewees don’t, but for me personal grooming is a little bit of a bridge too far.

              1. Chickaletta*

                This. Whether someone thinks it’s gross or acceptable to do in public, the fact that the manager felt he was entitled to trim his nails during a meeting speaks volumes for what kind of manager he is. And if it was a true emergency (like some others have suggested in this thread), the considerate thing to do would be to say “Excuse me, there seems to be a problem with my nails that I need to take care of before they get any worse. I’ll be right back”. Just like any other so-called emergency.

            3. JC*

              I had no idea other people felt this way. To me, the idea of a nail emergency that necessitates halting a business meeting sounds crazy (and I’m a woman, too). But then again, I don’t care at all about nails (am a nailbiter, have admittedly gross nails), which I’m sure seems crazy to a lot of other people!

              1. the gold digger*

                A nail emergency to me is when my nails are splitting and the tiny split part is snagging on things and is painful. I would, without a second thought, get out my nail clippers – of course I carry a nail clippers in my purse, next to my migraine drugs, bandaids, tweezers, and emergency chocolate – and clip the split off. I wouldn’t be able to think about anything else otherwise.

                1. TrainerGirl*

                  Wow, your purse is like mine! My bf calls it “the drugstore”. I carry a nail file and buffer, and emergency tea, no emergency chocolate though. Although my purse is full, I’m rarely without the things I need.

              2. Helka*

                It can also depend on what your nails are like; for whatever reason, mine are extremely soft and tear easily, so the beginning of a torn nail can quickly and easily turn into something that goes down to the quick and starts bleeding if I don’t catch it right away. I’ve gotten a bit fanatical about keeping my nails smooth to prevent that.

              3. Decimus*

                I could see it. I’ve had split nails that have driven me crazy. I wouldn’t do it as an interviewee, but as the interview-ER I could see it if it was a couple of quick clips to even out one nail.

              4. TFS*

                I agree – I’m actually finding this whole thread here quite amusing. I also am driven to distraction by chipped or broken nails, but the idea that it’s an emergency that can’t wait 15 minutes is ridiculous to me.

                1. Nichole*

                  I am very serious about my nails, to the point that I spend a significant amount of time weekly on nail-related activities and actually consider my nails a hobby, and I’m also moderately confused about the concept of a nail emergency. I’ve definitely had immediately annoying nail issues and occasionally immediately painful issues, but I would consider it very rude to tend to nail care while interviewing someone, especially when it will only be a few more minutes. That said, I don’t think as a one time thing it’s worth dwelling on for the OP. The interviewee was probably so busy trying not to screw up that they barely noticed anyway.

                  And Helka, if you’re interested, Nutra Nail Green Tea Strengthener is inexpensive and works well on repairing weak, thin nails along with a good hand lotion or cream. I don’t use it all the time anymore because it works a little too well -very hard nails are actually more likely to break- but it was great when I first started taking an interest in my nails and they were weak and ragged from years of nail biting and letting them get soaked in hot water without gloves (washing dishes is the devil). Julep Oxygen Base Coat is a little pricier, but very good as well and it’s not super shiny. Strengtheners usually dry quickly and go on clear, and usually only have to be applied once a week or so, so they’re a good way for people who don’t necessarily care about pretty nails to prevent frequent or painful breaks.

            4. simonthegrey*

              I understand this (if my nails are rough, i cannot get past it) but I would opt for a small file or even the file on my nail clipper and smooth the rough place, and deal with the rest later.

        2. Laurel Gray*

          Well said, IT Manager. OP’s manager could have excused himself for the 90 seconds it would take to leave the room, clip the nail over a waste basket and return to the room.

          A part of me thinks this is “more okay” because OP’s boss is a man. If a woman did this, I could see some people calling this grooming vs “an emergency”.

          1. Hotstreak*

            I don’t think that gender is playing a role here. If anything, women generally are given more latitude for things like this because they more commonly maintain nail styles that open the door for more “emergencies”. Nobody bats an eye of a woman takes a file out of her purse and takes five seconds to fix something, where as a man may be looked at strangely for that behavior.

            That being said, I agree about the manager excusing himself for a moment. Faking a half sneeze or coughing is a great cover, and can buy you a few minutes to run out for a nail emergency, bathroom emergency, forgot to turn your phone off, whatever.

        3. Koko*

          It does always fascinate me that there’s so much mixed opinion about where on the grossness scale nail-clipping falls. As long as it’s done over a trash can, even out in the open, I’ve never found it to trigger my disgust response, but I have long figured out that some people consider it really gross, on par with picking your nose in public.

          1. Mephyle*

            I think there’s another factor – many, many people find themselves bothered by the sound, whether it triggers their squick threshold or not.

            1. AnonymousaurusRex*

              Yep. This. The sound sends shivers down my spine. I can barely stand it when I’m clipping my own nails. I’d much prefer my interviewer to discreetly pick his nose than to clip his nails during an interview.

              But the concept of “nail emergency” is pretty foreign to me. It’s not like you are doing anything really active with your hands during an interview, so I can’t see why it can’t wait until the interview is over.

    2. Stranger than Fiction*

      At least this was an interview, and not a restaurant in Hawaii. We were there on vacation once, stopped at a little burger joint to eat, one woman ran the whole place- waited on us, cooked the food, etc., and after she served us our food, sat two tables down and clipped her toenails. True story.

    3. bridget*

      I can see how ideally in polite society, one would keep all nail clipping private, but I also have had painful hangnails that are going to drive me nuts unless I just clip them.

      As a general matter, I am a little baffled at why we as a society think of nail clipping as a gross ritual only to be performed in private. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a family where we all would clip our nails wherever convenient, without it seeming like a big deal, but I just don’t get it. It’s not obviously unsanitary or anything like that. We do brief grooming habits in front of others all the time. I think of nail clipping in the same category of other things that are occasionally required for personal maintenance, and as long as one isn’t making a big show of it or distracting from the event at hand, are fine to briefly do in front of others.
      – Applying lotion or hand sanitizer
      – Nose blowing
      – Small clothing adjustments
      – Pulling my hair into a ponytail if it’s bothering me
      – Plucking hairs that I’ve shed off of my clothing (maybe this is the closest to brief nail clipping?)

      I wouldn’t take a shower, use a neti-pot, change my clothing, blow dry my hair, or cut my hair in front of others, but their more minimized cousins are fine, IMO. In the same vein, I wouldn’t be offended by the OP’s boss (and probably would barely even notice), but I wouldn’t give myself a full-on manicure in front of others.

      1. NinaK*

        Hi, “Team Grossed Out” here totally against the nail clipping.

        The reason it is different from other adjustments (like ponytails) is that the noise is awful (!), nails on chalkboard to me, AND those little bugger fingernails can fly at random and hit someone. It isn’t the idea of personal grooming that is wrong, it is that particular act that is fraught with potential mishap =)

        1. bridget*

          But lots of people think nose blowing sounds are super icky, but I think most people agree that if you just have to do it once, and you’re not having an episode of excessive congestion, it’s fine to blow your nose briefly in a meeting or something. And it has the same (probably bigger) risk of particles being blasted into the air that can be bad for someone else. I’m skeptical that OP’s boss, who did two clips under a desk, is creating a real risk of eye injury.

      2. Brandy*

        I agree. And the sound doesn’t bother me one bit. I think its a choose to let it bother or not issue.

      3. Cath in Canada*

        The act of clipping fingernails doesn’t bother me, but finding otehr people’s clippings (e.g. on their sofa -shudder!) really, really does.

        Toenail clipping should always, always, always be done in private. Mind you I’m biased because I hate feet in general and toes in particular. Especially my own, but other people’s too.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      If he was restless, maybe he had a hangnail and it was hurting. I probably would have just said, “Excuse me; I’ll be right back,” if it were distracting me that much.

  4. Palmer Eldritch and Timothy Archer walk into a bar*

    #3: Call me cynical, but I think OP3 was hoping for the existence of some kind of national “do not hire” list, like a credit check or the ever popular “do not fly” list. And that’s for sure what we need, is a nationwide list that will keep you unemployed for up to 7 years because you were late to an interview, or you got the date wrong. Best of all, I want to see every hiring manager, recruiter, and headhunter given the power and authority to put names on that list.

    1. Min*

      I don’t know… Considering how many people think that it’s illegal to give bad references, I can see someone thinking that you can’t deny an interview based on previous interview performance.

      1. Three Thousand*

        Yeah, the OP is probably aware that there are illegal reasons for not hiring someone and isn’t too sure if this is one of them.

      2. Stranger than Fiction*

        Really. If that’s the case, the Op should not be in a position to hire. That’s just plain scary.

    2. Apollo Warbucks*

      I read the letter to mean an I renal list for the OPs company not them trying to start a nation wide blacklist.

        1. JMegan*

          Don’t get too mad at the autocorrect – I can’t speak for anyone else, but it certainly made my day!

    3. Pill Helmet*

      Maybe I’m cynical too but I also thought they meant an external do not hire list when I first read it. It’s not obvious which OP 3 really meant.

    4. Gandalf the Nude*

      I’m happy to assume poor phrasing, but that was how it came across to me too. Like a reverse Glass Door.

    5. TootsNYC*

      I’ve been told to not write negative things on the resumés I keep on file. To put the on a post-it note, so that I can peel them off if I ever want to forward the resumé, or so I can (I guess) tamper with the evidence if the company gets sued for libel.

      But I would say that it’s better to simply be factual. Make a list or write on their resumé the factually observable things they actually *did*:
      -came for interview on wrong day despite confirming email to and from
      -unpleasant to receptionist
      -many typos in emails

      Or whatever. Then, when someone looks at the “do not hire” list, they know *why* you think they shouldn’t be hired. And you’ll remember as well.

    6. MashaKasha*

      Back in the 90s, one company in our area was doing exceptionally well, made the list of 99 best companies to work for in our state etc. So they decided they could afford to have a do-not-hire list. A friend that worked there told me a horror story once about how a friend of hers, whom she’d recommended, made that list. The company called her twice. Mind you, that was before cell phones and voice mail. She had a land line and an answering machine.

      First time they called her to schedule an interview, they left a note on her answering machine. Her family then promptly erased it by accident.

      Because the company believed in second chances, they called her again. It was during work hours, so she wasn’t home and her 12-year-old child answered the phone. The company then left a verbal message with the kid (“tell your mom that her interview is…”) and the kid, of course, forgot to give mom the message until it was too late.

      She was then blacklisted from that company.

      I always thought it was a weird and counterproductive way to weed people out. But I guess that back at the time, they had so many people applying for jobs, they thought they could afford to lose a few good ones over something as stupid as this.

      1. Panda Bandit*

        That’s awful and imo the company was in the wrong for multiple reasons. It sounds like they would decide on their own interview time and day without getting any input from the person they wanted to interview. If I was setting up interviews and didn’t get a verbal or written confirmation from the candidate, I would assume they didn’t get the message.

      2. Kathlynn*

        My grandma did this twice last time I handed out resumes. “she couldn’t remember who called”, so I lost out on two different interviews. Well, I assume they were for interviews. All she remembered was “oh someone called from [place] for you”. The land line is now off my resume, and I only have my cellphone on it.

  5. Not Fiona*

    #5: I had this happen for an internship. The manager was so insistent that he tried to contact me that I was doubting myself, even though I was very careful, checked spam, tested my phone, etc. (I found this out after the fact.) If you really have been careful, and you have like triple-checked, they are either sloppy or lying. I wasn’t hired for that internship, but did really well in my classes. A professor hired me to help her on a project and I proved I was good. An internship spot opened up and that time I got it. The same manager who insisted he tried to contact me suddenly had no problem reaching me, same email, same phone. Guy was a liar! Luckily I didn’t have to deal with him much and I learned a lot at the internship.

    1. MK*

      Have you considered that you were the sloppy one and gave him incorrect contact information? Just a thought.

      1. Not Fiona*

        Of course! But like I said, I was very careful. I double-checked things and had people call my phone to make sure there were no problems. I’m confident I didn’t screw up. That Guy = Liar.

        1. Merry and Bright*

          I had something similar back in February. A interviewer said he had called my mobile phone 11 times and tried emailing me. None of those calls came up on my call log; there were messages from other people on my voicemail but none from him. There were also no messages even in spam. Yet he quoted my phone number correctly as well as well as the right email address. It was a lot of benefit to give to that doubt.

          1. Buu*

            Might be one of those people who hang up too quickly, because there’s not an instant reply.

            1. The Cosmic Avenger*

              They would still show up as a missed call in your phone’s call log.

          2. MK*

            If he was lying, the easiest thing would be to quote the number incorrectly and go “oh dear, I have been calling the wrong number”. But it’s also possible that he didn’t call 11 times, people do exaggerate like that.

            1. Anna*

              People exaggerate by giving you general and huge overstatements. “I must have called you 20 times.” Nobody exaggerates by saying a precise number. “I called you 11.75 times. The .75 is because I had just finished dialing the number and I was interrupted.” If someone tells me they called me exactly 9 times or 11 or any other weird number, I’m going to suspect they’re lying or a real weirdo for counting the precise number of times they called.

          3. Sadsack*

            My significant other and I have had this happen where one tries to call the other and the call simply does not register, at all. His phone will show the outgoing call in his list of recent calls, but my phone received nothing from him. He says I didn’t answer and it didn’t go to voicemail. It is bizarre. It has happened a few times in the past year.

            1. AnotherAlison*

              I have this happen. In my office, I have about half a bar of signal. Sometimes I will call or text my kids, and they don’t get it and it doesn’t show that it bounced on my end. I’ll show them my phone — “Look, I did too text you” and they’ll show me theirs that they didn’t get it. (Happens both ways & with my husband too, so I don’t think they’re deleting messages.)

              1. Kyrielle*

                I’ve not only had this happen, I’ve then sent a message to the person from my phone and THEN gotten the message they sent me.

                Power cycling my phone sometimes helps, if I wasn’t in an area with poor signal.

            2. Gandalf the Nude*

              I get this a lot. In fact, it once happened ahead of an interview at a coffee shop where the interviewer was supposed to call me when it was time to start so we could find each other. I never received her calls, and she never received mine. When we finally met, 20 minutes after our scheduled start time, we compared phone logs and all the outgoing calls were there but no incoming. It was really stressful because she kind of ripped into me when her call did finally come through. Just a cluster all around.

            3. Taylor*

              This has happened to me a few times–strangest thing is, there won’t be any missed call in my log, but a voicemail will magically show up. Go figure.

              1. Brandy*

                Ive also seen where people show me on their phone that they texted me, but I can show on my phone that I never recd it. And we’re on the same data plan.

        2. MK*

          It’s possible the problem wasn’t with your phone but theirs. Or that there was a temporary glitch with the service. Or that they filed your contact details incorrectly. Or that you did make a mistake; they happen, no matter how many times you double-check. I just find your certainty that he was a liar a bit over the top.

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            We had this odd issue where we couldn’t call my mother in law on our home Vonage service. We would hear it ring, but it never actually rang on the other end. I don’t know what they did, but they fixed it after a month or two of back-and-forth.

            Stuff like that (or even BRR’s story below) has taught me that, whatever I think is going on, there’s always a chance that it’s something much weirder than I would ever imagine was possible. So in this case, while it sounds like they could be a compulsive liar, it could be they actually tried the correct number and heard ringing, but it never rang the OP.

            1. BRR*

              For a phone screen at a different company they called and my phone would ring but when I answered they couldn’t hear me. The phone new if I got a job it was going to be replaced haha.

              1. The Cosmic Avenger*

                I hope you got a new job…and ran that old phone over with a steamroller! We have to show these ornery gadgets who’s the boss, don’t you know? :D

                1. BRR*

                  I did get a new job and new phone :D. I kept the old one and actually needed it when my new one fell out of my pocket on a roller coaster. Reminded me how much I hated the old one haha.

            2. LD*

              FYI, when a caller hears the ringing, it’s not actually the ringing of the phone on the other end. It’s a feature the telephone companies created because originally there was silence until the person being called answered their phone. Callers were concerned because they thought their calls weren’t being completed, especially when someone was unavailable and didn’t answer. Callers would think the call didn’t go through. So the companies created a sound for callers to hear so they would know the call was being made from their end. Have you ever had the experience of making a call and hearing the “ring” on your end and the person picking up starts dialing in your ear because they didn’t get a ring on their end? The call was still being connected and just that split second was enough…even though the caller hears the phone ringing, it’s not really ringing. (Trivia fact of the day…)

          2. jamlady*

            I had an issue once where their application system had switched my contact info with my current supervisors. She found a few emails in her spam folder a few weeks after I applied. It was a contract and she knew I was applying for more work after it ended, but had it been another situation, that could have been bad. It used her name and everything in the body when reiterating candidate interest, but used my name in the subject line. Sigh.

        3. BRR*

          I don’t doubt you at all. For my present job it didn’t show the call or voicemail until I went into the back of the grocery store and lost service and when I came back to the front I had a voicemail. I called right away in the parking lot and the hiring manager said, “I got worried when you didn’t call back yesterday.” Almost had a heart attack (I was unemployed at the time). First paycheck I got a new phone :).

          1. Judy*

            I had a co-worker with a cell phone who never seemed to answer it. (Never seemed maybe is only answered it 20% of the time.) Once I was standing next to him, and his voicemail notification went off. We had been talking for a few minutes, and the phone didn’t ring. He didn’t show any missed calls.

            I’ve also had voicemails show up without missed calls, but it is pretty rare.

          1. Rene UK*

            Argh, this happened to me….I had made an appointment with a plumber to correct a job they had made a mistake on for 3:00. I went to pick up my kids from school, got back at about 2:30–the plumber never came. Called them–“Oh, we called an hour before the appointment and you didn’t pick up so we cancelled the appointment.” ????? I didn’t make an appointment for 2 because I wasn’t going to be there….But, I made another appointment and stayed there all day. No plumber. I called again, and was told the same thing. Hm. Well, I had been in the garage for a few minutes; maybe I missed it….(didn’t occur to me to check the call log.) made another appointment….this time *carrying the phone* the whole day. No call; no plumber. I called again…turned out they had called the wrong number. The plumber came the next day–but there was no apology.

        1. MK*

          I don’t think it amounts to “Thou shall never ever even imply that the commenter might have misspelled their contact details on an application form”. I wasn’t suggesting that they lied, just that they might have made a mistake when writing down (entering) their info.

        2. Liane*

          Yes, TheLazyB has a very good point!
          Also, it is just as possible that the manager’s actions *after* she finally got an internship there confirmed her suspicions that he was lying about not being able to reach her before.

    2. Pill Helmet*

      I don’t think suddenly being able to reach you definitely means the guy was a liar. Maybe he went back later to try again and realized he had a typo in your email address, fixed it, and contacted you again. Or maybe something was wrong with his equipment that he didn’t know about.

      Recently I was having trouble with a website I registered at to make a purchase. I couldn’t figure out the problem, even after numerous attempts to log in. Turned out I had entered my own email address with a typo in it ( instead of That was me typing my own email, that I’ve had for years, and not even realizing I typed it wrong. It’s really not inconceivable that something like this might have happened when the guy tried to contact you.

      Also, I have had a slew of messages appear on my phone months later that got lost in space somehow. Once I got a text from my parents asking if I wanted to BBQ in the middle of February with 3 feet of snow on the ground. It was a text they’d originally sent me during the summer. And I assure you, they had my correct contact information.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I’ve had texts and emails that strangely showed up several days later. My husband sent a text to my brother asking whether he and his family would like to go on a float trip with us that day, and he never got it until four days later. I don’t know where the things go — floating around in the cloud somewhere?

      2. AnonAnalyst*

        Yeah, this seems weirdly accusatory. I’ve had people call me (like, I’ve seen it in their cell call logs) that never even rang or registered on my end. I’ve also had voice and text messages show up days later, and emails never come to me. The last one has even happened at my work email address a few times, and the oddest part is that coworkers that have been copied on the emails have received them and I haven’t (and yes, the address was correct, and no, it wasn’t caught in a spam filter – checked all of that).

        Things sometimes go wrong with technology. It sucks when it happens, but automatically assuming the worst of the caller/sender doesn’t really seem fair.

    3. Ann Furthermore*

      I’m guilty of the “sloppy.” I have a friend who does amazing baking. I asked her to make some minion cupcakes for my daughter’s birthday. She lives close to where I work, so she said she’d swing by around 5:00 to drop them off. At about 4, I texted her and said, “Hey! Are we still on for the great 5PM cupcake caper?” and the reply I got was basically, “WTF?” I responded and said, “This isn’t Jane’s phone?” and got a reply of “Nope.” Then after she called me to tell me she was closeby, I realized that the number I had for her in my phone was one digit off.

      For some reason I could not stop giggling about the visual of someone getting a text out of nowhere from some random person about a cupcake caper.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Ha. I had a random guy text me a picture of porn once. I’m sure he intended it for some buddy of his and got the phone number wrong.

        I called him up:

        Me: You just sent me a nasty-picture.
        Him: Wha!? Huh? erm . . .
        Me: You take my number out of your phone and don’t you ever send me a nasty-picture again as long as you live.
        Him: Yes, Ma’am!!

        LOL — I’ve been telling everybody this story of how I got a porn pic and got to play the role of an offended school-marm. It wasn’t even terrible porn, but he should be careful who he sends it to.

        1. SSW*

          This hilarious!!! These comments have made me feel better. I’m the OP for #5. Wow, reading all these comments convinces me even more that there had to have been a mistake like a mis-dial or using a number from another applicant mistakenly. Why wouldn’t they double check their information and give me the benefit of the doubt rather than assuming I’m not interested though? And how come that email came through fine?

        2. Mander*

          Oh man, this reminds me of the time when I accidentally topped up a stranger’s phone to the tune of £20. I rarely use more than £5 a month, and it was a lot of money to me.

          I sent them a text asking them to return the favor, and of course got no response. I’m still a bit mad about it.

          1. Mander*

            I should clarify that this happened because I typed my own phone number in wrong. The company wouldn’t credit it back because it was my fault.

    4. Future Analyst*

      Depending on where he is in the city, my husband’s phone sometimes doesn’t register calls from me, and I definitely have all of his correct info. Nothing shows up in his missed calls log, and unless I leave a voicemail, he would never know that I called. We use the same wireless carrier, so it’s definitely his phone that doesn’t log the calls.

    5. SSW*

      Hi, I am the OP for #5 and thank you for this because I checked my spam folders as Alison suggested and my phone and I don’t have anything from them. I have received calls from other employers at this phone number and emails to that address as well. No one has ever said they couldn’t get a hold of me. I don’t think they’re lying but I definitely think there was probably some kind of mistake with the phone numbers and some other applicants. Especially after reading what everyone has said about these types of situations happening to them.

      1. LD*

        Yes, it happens. And people can get things wrong all the time. When we were moving, the moving coordinators never contacted us and we left them numerous messages on their voice mails and emails and they never responded. Turns out one of their secretaries/administrative assistants was sending us the paperwork and had misspelled the name in the email address…and even though she got a bounce back message saying it was not delivered, she didn’t do any follow-up, didn’t check the email address, didn’t call us, didn’t call HR, didn’t tell her manager…she just “let it go”. (I wish they’d let her go.)

  6. Pill Helmet*

    #1 – I’d definitely find it odd of an interviewer did this but I’m not sure how much I’d really care. It was only two clips.

    To that point, I’m wondering if he had a hang nail or something that was driving him absolutely nuts. Sometimes things like that can make it impossible to concentrate until you do something about it.

  7. eemmzz*

    Clipping his nail a couple of times out of sight isn’t a big deal in my opinion. Now if he had got his foot out and started on his toe nails however…

    1. Not Today Satan*

      I’m surprised how many people think clipping nails in an interview is ok. I’m beginning to think we’ve been warped by taking public transit and working in open office plans, etc. Personal grooming should be done in private, and definitely not in a remotely formal situation.

      1. Merry and Bright*

        I wonder what the reaction would be if the candidate had a fingernail emergency mid-interview and clipped away.

      2. B*

        I completely agree with you. Clipping nails should be done in private behind closed doors. I can’t imagine all of a sudden having a nail emergency but for me this would have been a great way to self select out. I hate that noise, creeps me out, and that’s my thing but I would have found it very rude if he started doing this.
        My other thought – you wouldn’t accept it from a candidate so it’s not ok for an interviewer.

        1. Anna*

          Not that it’s okay to just clip nails willy-nilly, I’m still not sure why it’s so shameful. We’re talking about a couple of nails clipped quickly; not tampon insertion.

          1. esra*

            For me, it’s the chance of them flying around. You know sometimes when you clip, and it just goes flying? Ugh, that would be so gross in public. And where did this interviewer put the clippings afterward?

            1. KarenT*

              Exactly! Even if you catch them all, the idea of someone sitting in an interview with a palm full of nail clippings…ugh!

              1. KarenT*

                And while I do understand the concept of a nail emergency, I don’t understand one that can’t wait ten minutes.

      3. Cheesecake*

        It is not ok for me either. I don’t understand what is so urgent about clipping nails but if it was now or never, he could have apologized and went outside.

        While candidate represents herself, interviewer represents the whole company. It is hell of a job so i can’t imagine why hiring managers do these questionable things during interviews.

        1. Three Thousand*

          Because a lot of applicants can’t afford to be picky about jobs and interviewers know they have all the power. Of course that’s less true now than it was a couple of years ago.

      4. Sigrid*

        We’ve had Nail Clipping Wars in the comments before. Some people think it’s ok to do in public, some people don’t. Neither side is going to convince the other.

        1. Zillah*

          That’s true, but I feel like doing it during an interview is a little different than doing it in public in general. There are plenty of things I don’t think there’s an issue with doing in public that I don’t think anyone – interviewer or interviewee – should do in an interview.

          1. Sigrid*

            Oh, I agree, it’s just that I saw things heading down the road of the more generalized Nail Clipping Wars and wanted to point out that said wars are pointless. Too late, it seems…

      5. OhNo*

        I don’t think most people commenting here think it’s okay (as in perfectly fine to do and not weird at all) – just that there might be an unusual or “emergency” nail situation in which it might make sense, and that they wouldn’t begrudge the interviewer doing so because they’ve been there and it sucks.

        It would have been better if the guy had said something about it or apologized, rather than just doing it under the table and hoping no one would notice, but hey. Not everyone feels comfortable saying, “I have a massive hangnail that keeps catching on my sleeve, hurts like the dickens, and is making it impossible to focus. Give me one second, I really apologize for the interruption.”

      6. Anonicorn*

        While I don’t think it was the most appropriate thing to do, I will say that if a quick nail trim was the most concerning thing happened while interviewing with a company then I wouldn’t discount a potential offer from them.

      7. OP 1*

        Completely agreed. I did not even consider the possibility that anyone would think this was okay. But I do agree with Alison’s thought that it helps the candidates assess how it would be to work for him.

    2. the gold digger*

      I moved into a house with some other Americans when I was a Peace Corps volunteer. One roommate used to sit at the DINNER TABLE and PICK AT HER BARE TOENAILS.

      It did not take too long before I stopped eating when she was around. It takes a lot to put me off my feed, but watching someone pick at her toenails and then eat with her fingers is too much, even for me.

      1. AW*

        There was an episode of Martin where the title character lets one of his friends, Cole, stay at his apartment for a while. Cole started driving him nuts with his habits (IIRC, they were all gross habits) and the final straw was Cole clipping his VERY GROSS toe nails in the living room. One of the toe nails flew across the room and hit his girlfriend, Gina, in the face!

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Someone I know had an ex who would clip his gross toenails all over their living room and leave them. She asked him repeatedly to please not do that, but he blew her off. One day she gathered them up and put them in his cup of coffee. He stopped doing it.

          1. EvilQueenRegina*

            My ex’s friend once found her flatmate’s toenails on the kitchen worktop. Probably best not to even go there.

        2. simonthegrey*

          When I was a kid, my dad used to trim his toenails in the living room onto a plastic mat (like a shoe mat). The dog would try to eat them. One time, he succeeded. After that, dad trimmed his toenails in the bathroom with the door closed like a normal human being.

    3. anonforthis*

      A former coworker of mine seriously f-ed up when we worked together. Like, in a way that negatively impacted the project we were all working on. He basically lost something really important and instead of continuing to look for it or telling someone, he just assumed it would turn up, or that it wouldn’t matter. Well, it did turn up, but after our deadline. It would have changed the outcome of the thing we were working on.*

      We had a team meeting where he basically had to fess up to everyone. We’re in this meeting and our supervisor is talking, and while it was a pretty casual work environment, we were all totally shocked/disgusted/taken aback when my coworker pulled out a toenail clipper and starts clipping his nails. In the middle of a meeting. In front of everyone.

      Our supervisor stopped, stared, and then said “[coworker], are you..clipping…your nails?” We were all just…pretty horrified and just totally shocked that someone thought that this was ever OK. Apparently this is something he does when he feels stressed and he felt stressed enough that he HAD to clip his toenails right in the middle of the meeting in front of everyone.

      *Apologies for the vagueness, but my field is very specific and I don’t want to be too detailed.

  8. Christy*

    For #2: I’m looking to relocate to a cheaper area for personal reasons (from DC to Kansas City) and you better believe the government (my employer) is going to cut my pay. It’s about a 9% cut because the cost of living adjustment for KC is so much lower than for DC. Sigh. It’s still a win overall, because I’ll get the automatic pay bump if I ever come back.

      1. JB (not in Houston)*

        It seemed unfair to me until I thought about it the other way around–I wouldn’t have a problem with them raising her pay for moving to a more expensive area. In fact, I’d think that was the fair thing to do. So I guess I can’t say it’s unfair to do it the other way around, if I think of current salary as consisting of the salary for the job + a cost of living stipend for living in DC. Move away from DC, take away the COL stipend, but her real salary stays the same.

    1. The IT Manager*

      To be fair, those rules were created before someone could actually work virtually when you had to live where your job was so the job had to done in the location with higher or lower COL, but, yes, them’s the rules.

      Just be glad that it’s only the military and NOT all federal civilians who are paid more if they are married. Yes! The US military pays service members with the same rank and experience differently based on whether or not they have dependents (ie a spouse or children). Just a spouse, no children, and the spouse makes more money than the military member, s/he still makes more than someone of the same rank without a spouse. (again a historically engrained unfair discrimination based on marital status (1) only men were in the military and their wives did not work (2) it was acceptable to pay a married man more money because he had a spouse/family to support)

      1. the gold digger*

        I didn’t realize the pay was different. My dad was career air force. Base housing is assigned by need, not by rank. I mean, there is enlisted housing and there is officer housing and the colonels and the general have the houses on the top of the hill, but the more kids you have, the bigger house you get, regardless of rank. If you are a single person with no kids, you are not getting the four-bedroom house.

        PS Even though he was a married officer with a family, my dad did not make enough money to pay for my college. That was all on me. :)

      2. TootsNYC*

        You also paid a married man more so he wouldn’t succumb to the very real financial pressures and go work for someone else, or muster out of the army for private industry.

          1. the gold digger*

            The married man has more expenses than the unmarried man.

            But it’s not like people join the military for the money anyhow. If they did, we would not have a military because there really is not a salary large enough to make it worthwhile that you might have to be shot at as part of your job description.

      3. Joline*

        It’s one of the main reasons my parents got married! That and that it’d be easier/cheaper to bring her to Canada.

      4. jamlady*

        Being a military spouse, I guess I never realized this isn’t common knowledge. Dependent benefits are a part of a military contract. It’s also why many service members end up married young and fast (usually with a child in the first 2 years). Your pay bumps do stop at a certain number of dependents though. Also, lower levels of the military, if single, are required to live on base. If a married service member chooses housing on base, their BAH is either cut or nonexistent. These rules vary depending on branch and instillation (i.e. Edwards AFB doesn’t have much housing and the cost of living is higher in California, therefore the BAH is higher than individuals stationed at Fort Hood where housing is everywhere and cost of living is very low).

        Sexism aside, military culture is generally that spouses don’t work – they’re young, unskilled, and uneducated – and military families need the dependent pay to survive. Many military spouses are on WIC and other forms of supplementation because military base pay, regardless of BAH and BAS, is so low.

        1. jamlady*

          Another note: I’ve heard people argue against dependent supplements if the dependent spouse is employed. However, job security for military spouses is very low and that only increases the incentive for military spouses to choose unemployment over a career. Dependent benefits are not apart of a welfare system, but rather a rewards system aimed at the service member (in a culture that condones marriage and children, since that’s what keeps our servicemen and women sane).

        2. the gold digger*

          spouses don’t work – they’re young, unskilled, and uneducated

          My observation as an air force brat is not that they don’t work because they’re unskilled and uneducated but because there are not jobs for them because they have to move so much and because of where they might be.

          We lived in Spain and Panama when I was a kid. I don’t know how it was in Spain (I was little when we were there), but in Panama, any of the base jobs that could be done by a non-civil service civilian – cashier at the commissary, lifeguard at the pool – was reserved for a Panamanian national. I expect it was in the treaty between the US and Panama.

          So if my mom had wanted to work when we were in Panama (other than with the home bakery business she started – people would stop me in the street to ask when my mom was making Swedish rye bread again), she would have had to work off base in Panama City, which would have been difficult because she’s not Panamanian and it probably would have been illegal, just as it is illegal for my Mexican co-worker’s wife to work here in the US – he has a green card, she does not.

    2. edj3*

      And the quality of life here is pretty darned good–the commute alone is worth the pay cut. I moved from Boston back to KC three years ago and I am still giggling over the rush hour which is really about 15 minutes.

    3. Anna*

      But it’s not really your wage that’s being cut, it’s your COLA, which says it right in the title. When your cost of living changes, your allowance for it will change.

  9. CAinUK*

    #5 – I sometimes feel like “I tried calling/e-mailing” or “I didn’t see your call/e-mail” is pretty much the new “My dog ate my homework.”

    Texts, to be fair, can be delayed (it depends on cell reception). Emails generally aren’t, and rarely go to spam (and can easily be found when they do). So if an email just isn’t there, I cast some serious side-eye.

    #1 – Meh. Two clips, out of sight? No big deal to me. I disagree with other posters that this was some horrible faux pas and he should have excused himself to do this in private. That would have been more disruptive. Sure he could have said “Sorry about that – I had a nail that was hurting and wanted to focus,” but I don’t think I’d clutch my pearls at this. But if this is a larger pattern of gross behaviour then yeah, it’s worth addressing.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        I’ve had some bizarre Outlook issues with my work email lately. Outlook on my computer will randomly disconnect from the server. I’m going about my day happy to have no email interruptions, and then I’ll look at my phone and see there are 10 emails I didn’t get on my computer.

        1. Ali*

          When I was a writer I had to get in touch with a PR director via email. I never heard from him, so I figured he was just swamped in work. At an event two weeks later, he told me he found my email in his spam and then had to fix his settings to ensure I didn’t go in that folder anymore. I thought it was strange since my domain name seemed safe, but I guess office settings can be weird like that.

        2. Blue_eyes*

          I hate that! For a while gmail wasn’t pushing my alerts properly to my phone, so it wouldn’t make a noise when I got an email. I’m often not on my computer, and at this point I mostly check my email when I hear the chime, so it was really frustrating. The worst part was, it would work sometimes so it took me a while to realize it wasn’t pushing notifications consistently.

      2. katamia*

        Yeah, I emailed someone about a job I was really excited about once. Very short timeline, so I just assumed I didn’t get it and moved on. Then I got the emails about 10 days later (one dated the same day I’d sent my email, and then a couple others days afterward) asking me to come by (very informal kind of job, very short duration, so the lack of an interview wasn’t super weird). I was so mad.

    1. Judy*

      I’ve had several emails in the last few months at work that don’t come, but when someone does a “reply all” I see it.

      I’ve also had several emails sent to both my husband and I that I never received in gmail. Yes, I checked spam.

      My experience is that email is much less reliable than texting. I don’t text that much, but have not yet had anyone wonder about a text not received. I’ve had plenty of “hey you didn’t respond to X, do you want to do that?” about emails.

    2. baseballfan*

      Or “The check is in the mail.”

      Unrelated to employment, but I once had my home and car insurance canceled because of an issue with the credit card authorization, and the agency said they had emailed me and gotten no response. I asked what email address they used, and it was nothing like either of two different addresses they had for me. I guess that address does belong to someone, otherwise the email would have bounced back. But it never came to me.

      So because of a typo or some other mistake on their part, I got to go through the hassle of restarting my insurance and paying extra for the privilege!

      1. AnonAnalyst*

        I would have been livid. That resolution sucks.

        I’ve been on the receiving end of account emails intended for someone else before, and, thinking I would really not like to have my account information emailed to other people, I contacted the company after the first occurrence to let them know that I wasn’t the intended recipient and they should at the very least remove the email address from the system.

        It was ridiculous how hard it was to get the company to update its records. You’d think the heads up that I was not in fact the account owner would be enough, but nope. It took me years (culminating in a phone call to the company, as at that point I was pretty sure they were violating some sort of privacy regulation, since they were sending me account and financial information) to get them to stop sending me emails about this account. I guess it’s good I’m an honest person, because otherwise, I suspect I could have done a lot with the info I was getting…

      2. Shan*

        I had something similar happen to me, but for my internet. I had requested that my mail be sent to a different address, but they never updated it in the system. On two occasions, I had to pay a fee of $150 to have my internet reinstated. I think on the second occasion they waived the fee, because they noticed that they had messed up.

    3. Allison*

      I haaaaate when texts get delayed. I remember one night I was having a bunch of people over for dinner, and because my door buzzer is forever broken, people text me when they get to my place. Only for some strange reason, my phone didn’t deliver any of those texts, and if it hasn’t been for the Facebook message app I’m not sure how people would’ve gotten in! I restarted my phone the next morning and suddenly all the texts came through.

      Why, AT&T? Why you do this?

    4. SSW*


      I’m the OP for #5. Not completely sure what point you’re making here. Can you explain a little more? I have already checked my spam, email and phone from the last month and have gotten nothing from this organization. I got the email, the first of any contact, on Monday so I don’t see why any other email wouldn’t have come. They also didn’t specify in the email how they tried to contact me. They just wrote that they’d been trying to contact me. They didn’t give any details of whether they called or emailed. Which is part of why I was confused and still am because I have been trying to get a hold of these people by phone all week to no avail.

      1. simonthegrey*

        I know my phone is 2 years old and due to planned obsolescence it is almost entirely a brick anymore. My best friend’s phone is the same age and model, and when we try to call one another sometimes it is a cascading fail of calls not connecting but looking like they’re connected, going to voicemail, voicemail showing up a week later, texts coming through twice or just showing up as undeliverable, etc. Technology gremlins, yo.

    5. MsChanandlerBong*

      I promise not all of us are lying! I work remotely, and I had to ask my project coordinator some questions about a project. I emailed her two days in a row with no response. Finally, I tracked her down on FB and sent a message saying, “Hey, it’s not like you not to respond to emails; can you give me the details on the Teapot Project?” She said she never received them, but they are in my Sent folder, with the time stamps showing when I sent them. They aren’t in her Spam folder, either,

  10. Laura*

    #1 – The sound of nail clipping freaks me out so bad. People clipping their nails in the office is a huge pet peeve of mine. If I was the candidate or the co-interviewer, I would have been grossed out. Sorry, but I cannot imagine a nail emergency so urgent that I would ever make the decision to take out a pair of nail clippers in front of others and start clipping away.

    1. OP 1*

      Agreed! And to have the clippers on hand at work means that he generally thinks his office is an okay place to do that.

      1. Colette*

        That’s a weird statement. Should he keep them at home? Presumably he’s not going to store them in a communal bathroom.

        I understand some people are sensitive to the noise/idea of nail clipping, but others aren’t. Assuming it was an issue that needed to be dealt with, his options are:
        – discreetly clip the nail
        – excuse himself and leave the interview for a few minutes, cutting the interview time short
        – do nothing and remain distracted by it throughout the interview.

        If I were the candidate, I’d prefer he choose the first one.

        1. Zillah*

          I agree that it’s not super weird to trim your nails in the privacy of your office, but… I’m just having a really hard time envisioning a situation in which you need to trim your nails right now. Like – what kind of “nail emergency” can’t wait 10 minutes? I’ve literally never experienced that.

          1. Colette*

            I’m a fiddler, and if I have a nail with a rough edge, it will distract me. I’d try to ignore it, of course, but it would distract me.

          2. OhNo*

            If you need an example… I chip my nails quite often once they get past a certain (very short) length, and once my nails start to chip, I have to cut them immediately or they will get caught on the spokes/tires of my wheelchair and rip off. For me, this can’t even wait one or two minutes, because I move frequently and every time I move, I risk tearing my whole nail off. Safer by far to take two seconds, clip the chipped nail short, and not have to worry about it.

            (Trust me, about the third time you rip most of a nail off and then can’t move at all because it hurts too badly to grab the wheels, you start thinking of these things as “emergencies”.)

      2. Rat Racer*

        Well, but if you have an office and you close the door and clip your nails into a wastepaper basket, that doesn’t sound like a total faux pas.

        1. Laura*

          I agree that it’s not as bad to clip your nails if you have a private office. Personally, I work in a sea of cubicles with low walls and there are a couple people who are guilty of what is, in my opinion, a faux pas. It is always the same people, so of course it is just a differing opinion about what is appropriate to do in the office and what is not.

          But I still can’t imagine a nail situation so incredibly urgent that it couldn’t wait 20 minutes. Even an annoying hang nail, which I’ve had many times myself, would never be so urgent that I’d start clipping my nail in front of others.

      3. Episkey*

        I actually keep a pair of nail clippers in my purse at all times. If one of my nails break, I need to cut it off or else I will spend the rest of the day chewing at it. I’ve been known to just clip the one that broke at my desk too, though not in front of other people.

        1. ThursdaysGeek*

          Mine are in my pocket, and as Natalie points out, they are good for cutting other things too. I have them available when others need them, which also happens. If my nail breaks, I can go to the restroom to take care of it, but it needs to be handled pretty much immediately.

    2. Allison*

      To be fair, sometimes nails break, and you either have part of your nail still hanging on or a jagged edge, both of which will snag on basically everything all day! I agree that people shouldn’t be doing routine nail grooming at work, but if they need to make a couple clips to fix a problem nails, I totally get it.

      That said, I can’t imagine why that would need to be done during an interview. Either fix it before the interview or wait until they leave.

      1. Karowen*

        Or in the very least, apologize. Not groveling or anything, but it’s not difficult to say “Sorry, that was driving me crazy!”

  11. Sabrina*

    My cell phone has a non local area code in a city that borders another state with a different area code too. Sometimes people get confused. I got a Google Voice number that was local, but recently found out that if they think it’s spam you’ll never get the call or voicemail.

    1. Audiophile*

      Wow that’s incredibly nice of Google to decide for you. What would we do without them?

      1. Sabrina*

        Never trust anything that can think for itself if you can’t tell where it keeps its brain.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Really? I just checked the last 3 years of calls in my Spam folder, and there’s nothing in there that I didn’t mark as spam or block myself. But, just like email, I always check the spam folder at least every few days if not once a day.

      1. Sabrina*

        Yep! I had a debt in collections, (long story but I thought I was paying it off and I wasn’t). They were calling me and leaving me messages about it, and I had no idea. They then sued me and when I got served, I found out about it then. I was pretty pissed I thought why wouldn’t they call before escalating. This was over 2 years ago. Just this week I found the voicemails in Google Voice that had all been marked as spam. I didn’t block them or mark them as spam. I didn’t even know how to do it until this week when I was marking someone else as spam and finally looked up how to do it. I never thought to check it (since I check my Gmail spam folder every time something goes in there), I didn’t even know Google Voice HAD a spam folder.

    3. Growing Pains*

      This may be it! My cell phone area code differs from my local area code by one digit (e.g. 383 vs 303). So many people jot down or dial the incorrect area code.

      1. Sabrina*

        Mine isn’t even close. I live in 402, across the river is 712, and my cell is 224. I know my vet has made that mistake, (Said she left a long message about giving my cat an enema and how he was responding to it on SOMEONE’s VM, but it wasn’t mine!) I’m sure HR people have too.

    4. sittingduck*

      I have this same problem in the state I live in now – there is only one area code for the whole state, but my area code I brought with me from the state I used to live in. Some poor lady in my state was getting all sorts of calls for me when I was looking for a job – eventually an interviewer was nice enough to clue me in that he had reached this other person because they had failed to look at/dial the area code that I had on my resume.

      I got a google voice number too – but didn’t use it much because it got a bit confusing (because I didn’t know the number by heart and people would ask ‘is this your number’ and I wouldn’t know what they were talking about.)

      1. SSW*

        WOW. O__O Now I know there was some kin dof mis-dial of mistake. I am the OP for #5. After reading all of the comments from different people. I KNOW something went wrong. But I just don’t know what or how. And why would the employer not double check the information and make sure they weren’t making any mistakes? And why just assume that I’m not interested? And I have been trying to contact these people the whole week, I’ve called multiple times and could not get anyone to pick up the phone!

  12. AvonLady Barksdale*

    #2: When I relocated for personal reasons and took my job with me, I moved to an area with a much LOWER COL. I was fully prepared to take a pay cut and was very lucky that didn’t come up. When I got a local job a few months later, I finally had to take that cut. Alison is very right– the option to move is a perk, and unless the company is relocating you, they’re going to act as if nothing’s changed. No company I know of is going to lay out money for changed personal circumstances. I just happened to get lucky because I was going the “opposite” way. There were disadvantages, though. I had to do a lot of practical things on my own that hadn’t come up before– moving my own office equipment, for instance. Buy a desk. Replace power cords.

    The flip side of that is that you owe the company nothing. I felt a little bad when I found a better job so soon after moving (I figured I would stay for at least another six months because the company had been kind enough to let me move), and my co-worker pointed out that they didn’t relocate me and weren’t out any money because I moved. So if you end up deciding that you need to find something different in your new city, it’s no harm, no foul.

  13. Britt*

    I’m going to advocate for the nail clipping boss on the fact that it was brief. I’m a nail biter and trying like heck to stop. So if a nail breaks (which happens SO MUCH in nail biters because they are so brittle/soft) I have to take care of it immediately otherwise it starts the whole nail chomping process and all my hard work goes down the tubes. If he had continued though with the whole hand? That’s a different story…

    1. OP 1*

      Even during an interview? I’m fascinated by this– I guess I thought it was just understood as Something You Don’t Do while trying to convince someone to come work for you.

      1. Britt*

        Before I tried to stop biting, I would agree with you. But since it’s such an ingrained habit, the broken nail or jagged piece woukd nag at me until I could fix it, literally until I couldn’t focus on anything but that. If it happened to me during a meeting, I would usually end up biting it because I couldn’t hold out. So again, maybe that’s the same case with this guy. My thought process wiukf be, I can take care of this in two clips and then be able to focus, otherwise I’m going to sit through this whole interview unfocused, figeting, and probably putting my fingers in my mouth.

        1. OP 1*

          Mmm, I would not have thought of this, thanks! Since a couple of people have mentioned it, I do know that he’s very particular about… well, everything, so I could definitely see this being something that was going to drive him crazy until he could do something about it. I don’t know that I can fully understand doing something about it in the middle of a short interview, but it’s good to keep in mind.

        2. Emily*

          I think I can relate to this. I have trich0tillomania – compulsive hair-pulling. I know others find it distracting or even gross to see me constantly touching my hair and occasionally pulling strands out, but I literally can’t stop myself. If I try to, I just mentally obsess about it and have a very hard time focusing. I have done it in some really inappropriate situations – presenting in meetings, while driving my car even though it meant taking my hands off the wheel, etc. The disorder is in the OCD family and it’s notoriously difficult to treat, with most treatments being only partially successful for at best 20-40% of subjects.

          1. Shan*

            I didn’t know that this was a thing. I do something similar, not as often as it sounds like you do, but I mostly do it while I’m driving.

            Sorry to hear that it affects you so badly.

          2. Anonymous for now*

            Yep. It’s not exactly the same, but same kind of thing – if I feel a blemish I cannot stop picking at it, even if it means creating an open ugly sore. Popping, squeezing, picking…I know it’s gross and my parents used to slap my hands away from scabs all the time, so I would do it in private. I don’t pull my head-hair but I will pull at my eyebrows, eyelashes, etc. and when I was a kid I would twist my hair in knots and then rip the knots out because it was soothing. If I don’t squeeze or pick something I see or feel on my face/skin, it will drive me nuts.

      2. Joey*

        ettiquette wise i think a lot of people see it as the equivalent of pen clicking, foot tapping, nail biting, sending a quick text, etc

        Sure most everyone knows you’re not supposed to do it, but I think as long as it only mildly and quickly distracting it’s not considered a big deal to do it occasionally to a lot of people. Not everyone is strict about these types of minor ettiquette rules.

  14. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

    I’ll throw out one more theory on #5. Some email providers are super aggressive on spam “protection” to the point where some emails flagged as spam never reach you at all. AOL is one of those, for example, they literally eat and will not deliver things they decide are Super Spam.

    The way they (the super protective ones, not just AOL) arrive at Whom You Should Never See is flawed. It would be possible for Company A to run a marketing campaign that is flagged and then to run emails to job applicants through the same server/IP, and have the super protective ones eat the job applicant emails. It’s also possible that an individual email from that company (vs a batch they did for job applicants) would go off a different server/IP/domain, and make it through.

    We don’t spam, but we have issues now and again (idiots who think “flag as spam” is the same thing as “unsubscribe”, idiots), and the tiny subset of email providers who eat vital emails entirely are a pain in the ass, and an inconvenience to their customers.

    1. LBK*

      Yep, my company runs into this issue with Yahoo emails. It just completely eats them, doesn’t even send them to spam.

    2. sittingduck*

      I think this happens with my company too – we use iContact – and I used to send test emails to myself to make sure it looked okay, and now the test emails won’t go through – I think my email server assumed it was spam because I was sending so many – annoying.

    3. SSW*

      Hi Wakeen’s Teapots Ltd.,
      I’m the OP for #5. Wow, that is something I had no idea about and would have never considered. That might be what happened because I got the email on Monday so somehow that one got through. I’ve had recruiters and employers call and email me on this number several times before. So it has to be something on their end, I checked my email spam and phone history once again and nothing. But why wouldn’t they do some checking and digging themselves to see if there was an issue like this? They just assumed I wasn’t interested rather than questioning themselves. Maybe this isn’t a company I’d want to work for anyway. Thanks for your input that is definitely something I will keep in mind.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Because some candidates are unresponsive. If they make a good faith effort to reach out to you and they don’t respond, it’s reasonable for them to assume you’re not interested. They sent you an email letting you know that; I don’t think you could reasonably assume they should start digging into their tech stuff.

        1. SSW*

          But did they make a good faith effort? They clearly didn’t dial the right number for the right person. Even if it is unreasonable for me to think they could dig into their tech stuff, the problem was clearly still on their end. This was a mistake on their part and it is unfair to me to lose out on an opportunity because of a mistake they made. Thanks for your input. I will just continue to do the best I can in my job search but also keep in mind that I cannot control the actions/mistakes of others.

        2. SSW*

          And I wasn’t unresponsive, I called and emailed this organization several times after I got that email. Okay, now I’m finished. I’m letting this go.

  15. An Omnom Mouse*

    #2, while it’s not insane to want to move somewhere else and work remotely, especially if the team is already distributed, it is asking too much to move to a city where you’d need a raise to meet the cost of living.

    When I search for candidates for positions that can be remote, I’m actually instructed to avoid potential candidates (NOT applicants, we’re talking about passive candidates here) in New York City and San Francisco, because those two regions have significantly higher costs of living than any other city and we’d need to pay more for an employee there than we would someone who worked in say, Denver, Philly, Atlanta or even Boston. We kind of have to shell out for the CoL in Boston since our headquarters is in that region, although sometimes I wonder if we would be avoiding people in this area too if our headquarters was somewhere else.

    So if I wanted to move from Boston to, say, Philadelphia, I would at least ask if they wanted to keep me on and have me work remotely. But if I wanted to move to San Fran, I’d just start looking for jobs in that area.

  16. Zara*

    I was once in a meeting with the PM, the PM’s boss, and another engineer when the PM pulled out a pair of scissors (full sized paper scissors) and started trimming his nails right there. His boss remarked on how weird it was (thankfully) but he didn’t take the hint and kept going. It was definitely one of the weirdest things I’ve witnessed working here.

  17. Katie*

    #1 – I’m currently dealing with some anxiety issues with some compulsive behaviors, one of which is tearing at my nails/cuticles until my fingers bleed and become painful. I was advised to keep nail clippers on me at all times, and to clip my nails whenever I find myself picking at them. If I don’t do it immediately, it’s literally all I can think about and I can’t concentrate on anything else until I clip the nail or tear it. It’s possible your manager is dealing with something similar, and wanted to be able to actually focus on the candidate – just putting that out there.

    1. Erin*

      #1 I don’t think it’s *that* big of a deal that you need to mention it after the fact, but it’s hard to say for sure without knowing the person and the rest of their personality. If I was the interviewee, I would be momentarily thrown off, but it wouldn’t make it or break it for me. I’d give the benefit of the doubt that they’re OCD, or whatever the case might be. If there were other red flags, then different story. I’d be like, they did this and said that and then he even clipped his nails!

      #2 I can’t see any way that would be reasonable. =/ If possible, you could offer to take on extra projects, increase your hours, or something along those lines to justify a pay increase.

      #5 It’s bizarre that they got both your email and your phone number wrong. These things *do* happen, but it might be a sign of disorganization at the company. A similar thing happened to me with a retail job once – they didn’t have my email and claimed to have left me voicemails that I most certainly did not receive. I was like, well, this is a bad sign. But I did end up getting hired.

      I’m also puzzled as to why they haven’t gotten back to you yet – they clearly thought you were a good candidate, if they attempted to contact you so many times. Since you both emailed and called, no, I would not reach out again. The ball is in their court.

        1. SSW*

          Hi Erin,
          Thank you for your input and thank you to everyone. I am OP for #5. I think you are right. After reading Alison and everyone’s perspective I am just going to let this situation go. I have done all I can and maybe it just wasn’t meant to be. I will not contact them anymore. Maybe they are not competent and professional if they would assume I’m not interested, not give me the benefit of the doubt, not try to get back to me, and not double check themselves to make sure they didn’t make a mistake.

          1. Erin*

            Sounds like a good plan – not unlike moving on after you’ve applied or even interviewed with other companies. =0) If they get back to you it’ll be a pleasant surprise.

  18. Laurel Gray*

    OP #1:

    I been reading your comments through out and I just have to tell you that I completely get your reaction to it all. The nail clipping during an interview is just another example of how the employer has the power during an interview. If I went on an interview and quickly clipped a hangnail driving me crazy I am pretty sure that would eliminate my candidacy. There are so many”don’t do” lists for people interviewing to adhere to and quirks and quirky behaviors are simply not allowed. In a perfect world, I could reapply my lipstick after 1+ hours in an interview where I can feel it feathering. But the world is not perfect, and therefore I don’t wear lipstick on them.

    1. Joey*

      You always have the same power they do- to walk away. What gives you less power is still within your control- your qualifications.

    2. OP 1*

      Thanks for this– based on some of the initial responses, I thought I was being overly sensitive to even think anything of it. And I know that the inequality of the situation makes me uneasy: if a candidate had done the same thing, we definitely wouldn’t hire that person (for the same logic as why I think my manager should’ve waited: it’s not a long interview, and it’s a formal situation in which you are trying to impress the other side).

    3. Koko*

      Lipstick, no, because that’d be seen as vanity. But I think you could apply chapstick in the middle of an interview if you felt your lips starting to chap, because that’d be considered a reasonable comfort/care measure.

      I’ve been thinking about this idea, about how an interviewee couldn’t get away with it. But I think a big part of that is you’re usually more on display and less at home as an interviewee in someone else’s office. You’re sitting in a guest chair in the open. The manager is sitting right next to a trash can with a desk in front of him. I actually think I would have a much different read on the interviewer clipping his nails if they’d been in a conference room seated across a clear table from each other and the manager wasn’t anywhere near a trash can–that would be going too far. But somehow doing it over a trash can and out of view is the thing that makes it, not ideal, but ultimately fine if that’s what he had to do.

  19. it happens*

    #4 – Have you done anything to make you better prepared for a move to the finance department since you were last rejected? If so, that would signal that you heard what they said and are genuinely interested in making the move. If not, then I would wonder why you would think that you are a more qualified candidate now than you were before. You might want to talk to someone in the finance department about what you could do to be more prepared, whether it’s taking some courses or reading up and doing volunteer work, etc. Good luck

    1. OP of #4*

      Hi, number 4 is mine. I have been actively applying for some training and qualification to help me in that regard. They did say they other specific training opportunities they could other but obviously I shouldn’t sit around and do nothing. My current supervisors, who knew I was interviewing for the post, have been very supportive and are looking at ways they can develop my experience in finance matters and get ahead :)

      1. LBK*

        That’s great that they’re supportive! I might see if you can get some time to shadow with someone in finance for an hour or two just to see their daily work, too. That might help you identify some of the transferable skills you could try to develop even if you can’t do direct finance work in your current role.

  20. An Omnom Mouse*

    5) Is it possible that someone mistyped your e-mail when trying to contact you? I have a name that can be spelled a bunch of different ways, and my handwriting isn’t great, so I’ve often had people type my e-mail by hand only to have it bounce because they typed it wrong. Left out an L, for example.

    And spam systems can be terrible sometimes. I remember we posted a job to Craigslist and we got so many applications that a lot of them ended up going to my spam folder instead of my inbox! I hadn’t thought to check my spam when we were collecting applications, but now I know.

    1. Joline*

      Or they wrote it down correctly but then typed it in wrong when trying to e-mail you. I have been known to just forward or reply to my old e-mails when I’m trying to get a hold of someone – so a wrongly typed address would stick around for me until I tried again fresh for a different topic/job/issue.

  21. Retail Lifer*

    I get a lot of these “We’ve been trying to contact you” emails when they definitely have not called or emailed. These are always to sell insurance, though, and I think it might be their desperate way to get people’s attention and not just automatically delete the email. I think all job-seekers see their fair share of insurance spam if their resume is out there.

    1. Shan*

      +1 Since I have posted my resume online, I have seen a LOT more insurance/Nigerian prince scams appear in my spam box.

    2. Chickaletta*

      This is what I’ve been thinking. I myself have received a lot of unsolicited offers to sell insurance, “be my own boss”, or “control my income” since posting my resume on job search sites. Red flags all around. I delete those emails as fast as I’ll hang up the phone when there’s a pause after I answer.

  22. Amber Rose*

    Can I just say how much it grosses me out when people clip nails around me?

    Just. Euuw.

  23. Receptionist Without A Cause*

    I used to think ‘Do Not Hire’ lists were discriminatory and unnecessary… and then my office hired this one person who showed up hours and hours late to the first training session for her group. When the trainer told this person that he couldn’t bring her up to speed in the time left for that group and that she would have to start again with the next training class, she stalked out of the classroom and called him a crude name as she left. She clearly didn’t think she’d been overheard, because she was shocked later when she called to get her new training schedule only to find that we’d decided to let her go.

    Well, we kept hiring for that department and the hiring manager for that department had a lot on his plate. So when she sent in ANOTHER application, he didn’t recognize her —not even when she showed up to interview and he hired her again. This time she showed up for training, but didn’t pass the skills test you have to take during training to show that you’ve got the math necessary to do that particular job. Mind you, this is a text you take after the trainer has shown you what you need to do and done a few practice tests with you. The test portion is set up to help trainees succeed, not torpedo them. She failed the test and then showed up the next day claiming to be an undercover agent for Affirmative Action and the Better Business Bureau, I am pretty neither of which employ ‘secret shoppers’. Needless to say, that was a long afternoon and a lesson to me that sometimes Do Not Hire lists are there for a very good reason.

      1. SSW*

        You know, stuff like this pisses me off. There are so many people like myself out here who would love a good job opportunity, would be grateful and respectful to get one. Especially one with paid training! And some people get those opportunities, clearly undeservedly, and dishonestly and squander them with low-class behavior like this. I am so sorry you all had to go through this. WOW.

        1. Receptionist Without A Cause*

          Well, I got the sense the main thing she upset over was how she was treated by our HR guy when she attempted to complain about the second time she was let go. He can be fairly abrasive. The ‘undercover agent’ business was out of left field though.

  24. Duncan - Vetter*

    #5 – I also believe that companies have all the right to choose a candidate over another without having to come up with stories, thus what they said is true. There are chances that somebody misspelled your e-mail address, such errors can occur. However, when applying for jobs it is advisable to use an e-mail address that is easy to type and check it on a regular basis. It is also important to double-check the information you send in the application and make sure that all the data is correct.

  25. AW*

    LW#5 – I agree that this situation was probably some kind of mistake and not deliberate malice but I have had an employer lie about e-mailing me information during the interview process. I know it was deliberate because I had classmates that also applied for jobs with them. I warned them about this trick and sure enough the did the same thing to them. (It wasn’t just that an email didn’t get to them, it was the email with the same information this person claimed to have e-mailed. We all got any other email correspondence fine.)

    1. SSW*

      Hi Duncan and AW,

      I am the OP for #5 and you are definitely right about checking that your contact info is correct and checking your email regularly, which I always do. In this case, there was no application, I submitted my resume and cover letter to directly to their website. And I checked my cover letter and resume, the contact info was correct. I will take this as a lesson learned even though I still think the mistake was on their part. I will just continue to make sure all my contact information is correct on my applications, resume, cover letters and emails.

      And AW, WOW O__O . What type of organization was that? Sounds immoral and unprofessional.
      Thanks for your input guys, I feel somewhat better about the situation.

      1. Duncan - Vetter*

        It’s important to keep searching and applying until you find the job that fits your standards and expectations. Such situations can occur, but they must not stop you from achieving your goals. Maybe this was not the right company for you. Good luck!

  26. Liz*

    Also, I think another way to look at #2 is: Would you ask for a raise for personal reasons if you were staying put? Like, if you wanted to buy a house you can’t afford on your current salary. You wouldn’t, right?* You’d either stay within your means or maybe hold off while you look for a higher-paying job.

    So, if you wouldn’t ask your job to cover local personal-choice expenses, why should they pay for this choice?

    Side note related to that example: I bought a house while working at my last job, and while I DID stay well within my means, I mentioned to my boss I was surprised with so many hidden costs, unexpected repairs, etc. We were very friendly, so it was just the way you’d lament to a friend about the frustrations of first-time homeownership. But then I was MORTIFIED that it may have looked like I was complaining that I wasn’t being paid enough to cover my cost of living, or that I was setting myself up to angle for a raise or something. I was so embarrassed and obviously hadn’t meant it that way at all.

    *I realize, of course, that there are probably some people who WOULD because hey, we’ve seen it all around here. But I think most would agree that’s not reasonable! ha.

  27. A Bug!*

    #3: If you do set up an internal do-not-hire list, please make sure you keep enough information on each listed candidate to ensure that someone’s not going to end up rejecting an “innocent” candidate through sharing the name of a person on the list. My mom once had that problem and it was only through a coincidence that she found out why.

  28. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

    Re: Cost of Living Raise (#2)

    While I agree with Alison that you shouldn’t ask for a COL increase for this move, if your employer has a good salary review policy you may end up with one anyway. My former employer – a startup national nonprofit; most of us worked remotely – had a policy that addressed just this. Salaries were reviewed for market competitiveness and economic fluctuations on an annual basis; if you had moved to a higher cost-of-living location your salary would adjust upward at that point (and yes, if you moved to a lower COL location, it could go down.)

  29. Margaret*

    #1 – I think the interviewer was being totally in appropriate. NOT because I think nail clipping in public is inherently inappropriate, but because of the formality of an interview situation. Up above someone mentioned things they thought would be similar, like re-doing a ponytail. I would add reapplying lip gloss to that, too. Are quickly clipping a hangnail that’s bothersome, taking out a hair tie and re-doing an easy hair style, or quickly applying lip gloss things that are ok to do at work? Yes, generally. They’re personal grooming things, but can be done quickly and discreetly, and are things that could be distracting (the hangnail, tight ponytail, dry lips) if you don’t take care of them. But that doesn’t mean they’re ok to do anywhere in any circumstances.

    I think the ponytail is actually a really good comparison – I would be surprised if anyone says it’s not acceptable to generally re-do it anywhere in public. But I cannot imagine being on either side of an interview and doing it. It’s not noisy, it’s not considered a private grooming thing like some people think of nail clipping. But I just can’t imagine doing it in a situation where you’re trying to impress, it’s just an incredibly casual behavior. And like a hangnail, it could be very annoying, but if it’s distracting you to the point that you can’t ignore it for 5 or 10 more minutes, I’m sorry but that sounds like a medical or psychological problem that you should be dealing with. An able, normal adult should be able to ignore a minor body inconvenience/discomfort for a short period of time like that.

  30. Seriously, they were not trying to contact you...*

    Response to #5….
    They could reach you to tell you they were unable to contact you, but were unable to reach you otherwise, hmmmm, it even sounds ridiculous when used in a sentence. You’re right to be suspicious because organizations actually will engage in a bit of deceit in a few instances:
    1. If they plan to hire someone less qualified than you and the newly hired individual’s credentials will be public or easily found.
    2. If you’re the actual top choice (by merit) and to deny you the position requires written documentation.
    3. If they pre-selected the incumbent but were required by law to advertise the position as an opening.
    Many new jobs are found by networking, which can many times override selection by merit putting highly qualified individuals in a bind. But is also a litigious situations which requires craftiness to avoid. I would show up to the organization with their email, ready to interview, or schedule an interview at the very least.

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