food gift etiquette, do interviewers decide whether to hire you in 90 seconds, and more

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

1. Do interviewers really decide whether to hire you within the first 90 seconds of meeting you?

My friend and I got into a friendly disagreement, and I hope you can speak to this issue. Friend thinks that a hiring manager will decide whether to hire you or not within the first 90 seconds of meeting you. I think that is complete nonsense and if a hiring manager makes decisions like that, I do not want to work for them.

Sure, in 90 seconds you can decide whether you find a person pleasant and approachable (not to mention notice sex, race, age, and their hair), but I would be mortified to find out those were the most important things. After 6 months of remote job search, that’s not at all what my experience has proven to me. I’ve had many interviews with in-depth questions and skills testings. I certainly hope all that played a role in the hiring manager’s decision to extend an offer.

Your friend is wrong. I’m sure there’s a small handful of hiring managers out there who operate like that, but they’re in a tiny minority. Most interviewers are, you know, interviewing and making their decisions based on the entirety of your interview, background, experience, and references.

It sounds like your friend has a sort of fatalism about interviewing, which some people find comforting (since it allows them to think that it’s basically out of their hands), but it’s really not how it works.

2. Should we return the leftovers from a food gift?

We had a patient bring lunch to our dental office staff. Should the leftovers be returned to the patient or kept by the office? I think it would be rude to return the leftovers. What do you think?

Keep them. They were given to you as a kindness, not on the condition or with the expectation that you’d return anything remaining. And yes, you risk making the patient feel bad, especially if there’s a lot left.

Thank her, eat what you want, and put the rest in the kitchen for anyone who wants more later (or let someone take them home if there’s no office kitchen).

3. My boss lowered my pay after I gave notice

Can my boss change my title and lower my pay because I’m giving three weeks notice?

Your employer can’t change your pay retroactively, but can change it going forward. That means that they can say “from tomorrow onward, your new pay is X,” but they can’t say, “We’re going to lower your pay for last week.”

You can in turn decline to work at the new rate, so you could say to your boss, “I’m not able to work for that rate or that title. Given that, should today be my last day or would you like me to work out the notice period at my normal rate and with no change in title?”

Also, your boss is an ass.

4. My boss told me to take the week off and come in at the end for a meeting

Is my boss legally allowed to tell me to take the week off and come in at the end of the week for a meeting? No mention of why he is telling me to not come in or if I’ll be paid or not. I have made no request for vacation time either.

Yes. However, if you’re exempt, you need to be paid for that time. (Exempt employees must be paid their full salary for weeks in which they do any work, and that meeting at the end of the week counts as work.) If you’re non-exempt, you don’t.

I’m not sure what the context is here, but this is the kind of thing that sometimes happens when someone has committed some sort of serious offense where firing is a possible consequence, and the employer is trying to decide how to deal with it.

5. Required to turn over raffle prize

If an employee won a raffle at a trade show on a business trip, can a company legally force that employee to give the prize they won to the company?

I can’t think of any law that would violate, although it’s an awfully short-sighted, stingy policy that’s going to alienate employees. That’s not really the way to build morale or encourage employees to go above and beyond the bare minimum.

{ 339 comments… read them below }

  1. katamia*

    I can think of situations where an interviewer might decide NOT to hire someone in 90 seconds or less, but I’m sure most interviewers don’t do it like that.

      1. the gold digger*

        Or, in a skype interview, take a phone call and refuse to turn off the phone, even after the third call.

        And then refuse to close the window to block all the street noise. And then make a comment about how the interviewer must not know anything about 3rd world countries.

        And then answer only the questions posted by the male interviewer, ignoring the female interviewer.

          1. Marcela*

            Did you move your blog, then? I was worried about you… I was outed once and it wasn’t pretty. I moved my blog too and at least they could not find it.

              1. Brisvegan*

                Glad to hear it. I was worried about you.

                I was also going to ask for an invitation, since I love your blog. :)

                Take care.

          2. AnonaMoose*

            I wouldn’t have called him Slick. I’d call him Nails On A Chalkboard. And OMG I have no idea how one would not rip his head off. Verbally, of course.

        1. Jo*

          I miss your blog! :) It’s gone all closed…just as it seemed to be heading towards a denouement too…!

        2. LBK*

          I never cease to be amazed by the parade of ridiculousness that marches through your life. I feel like you need to be a sitcom.

        3. Meg*

          Gold Digger- I’m sad you set your blog to private! I enjoy reading about the antics of Sid.

          1. the gold digger*

            It’s only temporary! Send me an email at anitamke (at) (the email that is hot) and I will add you to the list.

            Some figured out who Doris is IRL and posted something about the blog in a place that Primo’s family would be sure to see it. I just have to get through a family event this weekend and then can re-open late next week – the family probably would not be looking at this site where I am outed after this weekend.

            1. Laurel Gray*

              Please keep us updated on this in the open thread this weekend! I was so pissed when you first posted about this happening. Your blog is hilarious , I’ll be sending you an email request too!

      2. thelazyb*

        Don’t tell people that!!! If they shout at the receptionist when they’re there for an interview imagine what they would be like every day.

        If you need that advice, you do not deserve that advice.

        1. JMegan*

          >>If you need that advice, you do not deserve that advice.

          That’s an excellent way of putting it!

        2. TootsNYC*

          agree! Now and then I run into an applicant with a big error on their résumé, and I never tell them, out of fairness to whatever person they apply to next.

      3. BetsyTacy*

        Do not shout at the receptionist and when you show up at the wrong time, do not chastise the admin that they have it wrong and you are correct, especially when the appointment time was emailed out and your interviewers were all cc’d on it.

        In the words of my coworker, ‘Wow. This person better be Nobel-worthy to get over that first impression.’

      4. Elizabeth West*

        Do not roll your eyes at your interviewer when she comes to collect you and you see that she is a woman.

        Seriously, this happened to my first supervisor at Exjob.

    1. snuck*

      Yup. There’s time’s I’ve decided very quickly that someone is on the “let’s get this over with and move along” list… usually it’s things like presentation (a high eye for detail means you actually don’t skip large chunks shaving!) or a need to have a people person approach (and instead you’ve been surly and rude to everyone and corrected us on the seating positions in the room)… And frankly if you haven’t put your age on your resume, claim to have more than seven years of experience in a not entry level role and have been a bit shady with dates around things like education etc … and you rock up and are clearly under 25 I’m not going to trust your ‘mid level experience’ if your first question proves you are flubbing your way through.

      1. Elysian*

        Well, a couple of these kind of worry me.

        a high eye for detail means you actually don’t skip large chunks shaving!

        I can see where you might draw conclusions from that, but you would really ding someone for it? My husband is exceptionally detail oriented in his work, but extremely uncoordinated on his face. I’d hate to think that’s the reason he didn’t get hired some place – though to be fair, he’s in tech where such eccentricities are more forgivable.

        if you haven’t put your age on your resume

        Do you expect this? You shouldn’t.

        are clearly under 25 I’m not going to trust your ‘mid level experience’ if your first question proves you are flubbing your way through

        I could understand decided not to hire someone for flubbing an interview question, but there are enough people that “look younger” than they are that that really isn’t something you should use as a guage. It’s easy enough to verify employment dates if you want to hire someone, I don’t think you should draw conclusions about someone who looks under a certain age.

        In short, it sounds like you’re the kind of employer that might have given OP1’s friend their sour outlook. I don’t think the things you find important really are.

        1. Myrin*

          I generally agree, with the caveat that we don’t know where snuck is located – where I am, it’s totally normal and expected to put your date of birth on your CV and it would be frowned upon to not mention it.

          1. Elysian*

            You’re right, I shouldn’t assume! But like you did, I thought that the places where putting your birth date on your application used CV and not resume as the word for the document. I think that language pushed me in a US-centric direction, but you’re right to note that there are some places where that would be expected.

            1. Jen RO*

              I learned that when I talked to Americans I should use “resume” instead of “CV”… :)

        2. Allison*

          It’s a regional thing. In some parts of the world you do include details like your age and marital status.

            1. Aly*

              The people in those other parts of the world, presumably. Just because your culture doesn’t value certain information or take it into account when hiring doesn’t mean that others won’t.

              1. stellanor*

                I recently read a lot of resumes from a part of the world where it is normal. In my part of the world considering that information when making hiring decisions is *illegal*, so my colleague and I both crapped bricks when we saw everyone listing their age, nationality, marital status, and whether they had children! We can’t ask about it because that leaves us wide open for discrimination suits so we were sitting there like “OH GOD DON’T TELL US WE DON’T WANT TO KNOOOOOOOW!”

                1. Shar*


                  In my area, asking for any of this information pretty much sets us up for pending court dates.

            2. Myrin*

              I’ve seen some posts right here on AAM with situations that wouldn’t have happened if they’d taken place where I live, where it’s expected to list your date of birth. The guy from a few weeks ago who looked very young and had interviewers not believe him being older than a teenager although he was almost 30 comes to mind, for example.

        3. Sunshine Brite*

          Yes, and those going with the college during high school option who get out into the workforce more quickly than others.

          1. Cautionary tail*

            Yes, my offspring did this. She’s a year ahead plus taken a boatload of AP classes and classes at the local university. She’ll graduate from her current uni a year and a half before others her age.

            1. KJR*

              Mine did this as well. She was able to transfer 42 credit hours to her university before she even started. She’ll have her doctorate and be practicing in her field by the time she’s 22. (This is assuming all goes according to plan of course!)

            2. katamia*

              I didn’t do the college in high school route, but almost every class I took my junior and senior year of high school was AP, so I was able to graduate college in 3 years instead of 4.

        4. Lady Bug*

          I’m one of those look young people, I’m almost 40, people think I’m in my late 20s. I’d be pretty annoyed if people thought I doctored my resume to make it look like I had a career during middle school.

          You have no idea if someone has a medical/skin condition that affects their shaving. I could see judging someone for showing up in dirty ripped jeans for a position that generally requires business dress, but poor shaving.

          1. Allison*

            I look young too, I’m only 26 but I look like I’m a teenager, so sometimes it takes someone a while to process that I’m an adult who actually knows how to do her job, rather than a wittle intern who needs constant instruction and guidance.

            1. Beancounter in Texas*

              And even so, why can’t someone who is young kick butt at their job enough to have seven years of not-entry-level experience?

              My piano teacher in college earned her bachelor’s degree, studied in New York City under Byron Janis and Adele Marcus, debuted in Carnegie Hall and returned to **establish the music department** at a small religious college before she was 28 years old. She didn’t let her age limit her pursuit of excellence. (And in the early years, she didn’t reveal her age to her pupils either.)

            1. manybellsdown*

              Ugh people always say “oh you’ll appreciate it when you’re 40!”, about looking younger than you are, but they’re not considering how that impacts you professionally. Like, great, 28-year-old guys think I’m attractive, but that’s not really helpful. If I didn’t have to explain to every school administrator that I did not actually have a child at 14, that’d be great.

        5. aebhel*

          Yeah…my husband regularly gets mistaken for being high-school aged. He’s 30, and definitely has more than 7 years of experience in his field. I realize that’s an extreme case (and the flubbing questions is a definite tell), but I’d be very leery of assuming someone’s age based on how they look. It’s easy to get that very wrong.

          1. J*

            I get this all the time – I’ll be 30 in a few months, have ten years of post-secondary education and a graduate degree, am good at my job, and my employers have trouble sending me to conferences for fear that I won’t be taken seriously because I look about half my age.

      2. Allison*

        While I don’t interview, I’ve definitely overheared recruiters on the team say “yeah he’s not doing well” and conclude the candidate’s not getting hired after they’ve spoken to a couple different people. But I can’t think of a time someone said “I just met him in the lobby, and there’s no way he’s getting the job.”

        1. Sparky*

          Someone interviewed for a retail position in a books store in Denver and they showed up wearing a bathing suit. They were going to the beach afterwards. Denver has swimming pools, lakes, rivers and reservoirs but not really beaches. And anyway, don’t wear a bathing suit to the interview. And I think they tried to negotiated the hourly wage to two or three times what the book store indicated the pay would be. Anyone who even glimpsed this person knew that they were not going to get the job.

        2. wanderlust*

          We once had an intern candidate show up in compression shorts for her interview. The second I saw her I knew there was no way she was getting a job. I work at a university and my then-boss was big on the student interns dressing professionally.

          And indeed, I overheard my boss tell the young lady that it was not appropriate to wear shorts to an interview, and asked if she would like to reschedule for a time when she could come dressed in a more professional manner. She apologized, left, and never rescheduled.

        3. Xarcady*

          I did make a decision on a candidate once, based on what I observed in the lobby. He arrived, 4 hours early for his interview, was rude to our receptionist, and tried to get his interview moved up to “right now, since I’m here.” He was not nice to anyone in the lobby.

          He had no idea that the person standing there, filling out a FedEx form, was me, the hiring manager. I nicely told him he could come back at his scheduled interview time and we’d talk to him then. He said, “Who are you? I want to talk to someone who can make decisions around here.” To which I replied, “I’m the person who will be interviewing you at 2 pm.” At which point, he suddenly turned all politeness to me. But in my mind, I was, “There is no way you are getting hired here.” I do not like people who are rude to those they perceive as below them, and nice to those who might be able to do something for them.

          1. ReanaZ*

            Wow. That was more fair than I would have been. I probably would have gone with, “I am the person who was going to be interviewing you at 2:00pm. However, based on this interaction, I’m happy to cancel this interview entirely.”

            In my head, I would be wishing I were on a sitcom and could say, “I was the person who was going to be interviewing you at 2:00pm; now I am the person who will be having a late lunch margarita at 2:00pm telling everyone what a wanker you are.”

        4. stellanor*

          I recently made the call to hire someone based on phone interviews. (We were hiring for a temporary remote team, and weren’t able to fly someone out for interviews. Which in retrospect was not the greatest idea we ever had.)

          About three minutes after he walked into the room on the first day I could tell we’d made a mistake. He could skillfully hide his massive ego over the phone but was totally incapable of doing it in person, and he promptly quit when we declined to change major aspects of company policy just for him.

          I also once did a phone interview where about 90 seconds in it became clear that the person was reading from a script. Nnnnnope.

      3. A Teacher*

        So I live in the US and we don’t put our ages on our resumes. Just not done. If someone looks young, like I teach high school and until I hit my 30s, parents commonly told me I looked too young to teach, especially if I pulled my hair back, I’d find it frustrating to deal with your attitude about age and appearance. Do you also judge someone that has messy hair? Regardless if the wind messed it up, the missed a piece while doing it, or the humidity makes it look like crap. What about make up? Your reply just comes across as really judgy and like you don’t look for depth in an applicant. Could be wrong, but how I judged you in 90 seconds.

        1. anonanonanon*

          The hair thing is one of my biggest pet peeves! At my last company, one of the execs used to make comments about people’s hair all year round, ignoring the fact that our subway stop is right next to a large body of water and that the only way to get to the office was to cross a bridge which had incredibly strong wind gusts, which was equally bad during the summer and winter. When it was pointed out, he said that people should get cars or take cabs so they arrived to work looking professional. It was ridiculous.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            My hair does a straight frizz in humidity, without there being a body of water nearby. I’ll leave the house in the morning with my hair glossy and swingy from the blow brush and haircream, and by mid-morning it is sticking (not hanging) straight down like the straws of a broom.

            1. anonanonanon*

              Mine does the same. Summers tend to have 80% – 90% humidity here and I don’t know why I keep bothering to do my hair in the morning because it always looks awful and frizzy by the time I get to work.

              1. Honeybee*

                Mine does the same, except I’ve got kinky hair so instead of hanging down it poofs out into an Afro no matter what other style I’ve started with. Me and hairspray have become close friends.

                1. stellanor*

                  When I was working in a different city with super high humidity I discovered my hair poofs out, afro-like, in 90%+ humidity. No one told me until I went into the bathroom at like 4pm and realized my hair had EXPLODED and no one mentioned it! On the one hand I guess that’s polite, but on the other hand I wish someone had told me so I could have wrangled it into submission rather than taken six hours of meetings looking like a brunette dandelion.

              2. catsAreCool*

                Hair gel helps me, but then again, I let my hair look curly. The hair gel tends to make it look manageable though.

          2. Career Counselorette*

            Ugh. Having had to pull my hair back into a dumb ponytail for about two solid weeks so that I’m not coming into work looking like an 80’s workout video because of the humidity, I would be so pissed if some asshole with a $5 haircut (to paraphrase Tina Fey) had a comment about my hair.

          3. KJR*

            My hair is fairly curly (think Keri Russell in her Felicity days prior to the short cut), so the humidity is the bane of my existence. It grows in volume as the day goes on…I did just find a nice coconut hair oil at TJMaxx which has substantially cut down on midday frizz problems, but now I smell like suntan lotion…which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just weird for work!

            1. Honeybee*

              I use coconut oil as a pre-shampoo treatment and I haaaaate the way it smells, lol. I rinse it all out, but sometimes the smell does linger a little bit and I get a whiff and gag a bit. My dog loves it, though – she’s always trying to lick it out of my hair.

              1. KJR*

                Pre-shampoo, huh? I’ll have to try that! That’s hilarious about your dog! Mine tries to lick lotion off my legs, it’s so gross.

          4. Honeybee*

            I should buy an entire car to avoid my hair looking a little windblown on my way into work (a quality, I add, has no effect on my actual work)? That exec has got some serious problems.

          5. Gene*

            Part of the reason I didn’t get hired for CurrentJob was the first time I interviewed, even though my manager wanted me, was his manager thought I had “weird hair”. Hey, it was the early 90s and FirstWife(MaySheRIP) liked my hair permed. He also commented on my tie tack (a 3-D sterling frog). When the person they hired turned out to be a basically useless, high-maintenance PITA, they did a second hiring round and I’ve been here ever since.

            1. Kat*

              Was it a permed mullet? Lol my dad grew his hair long in the back and permed it. He’d also use some styling product to make it look wet.

              He still hasnt lived it down :)

      4. JenGray*

        I’m not sure how you would clearly know someone is under 25 unless they actually said what their age was and it would not be unheard of for someone who is 25 to have 7 years experience somewhere. If you start working at 16 you could have a lot of experience by the time you are 25. Also, if you have doubts about someone than this is where references and school records can help. Hiring is just not only about the interview and how someone answers questions. I have heard of plenty of people who look good on paper and interview well but aren’t good employees. As an example, when I got my old job I was one of 6 people they interviewed. I guess that there were two finalists for the job- me & someone else. Well my boss later told me that they checked both of our references but the other persons wouldn’t call back to provide a reference. Come to find out the other person was fired from her last job for embezzlement. If I wouldn’t have taken the job than they would have hired her which would have been bad because there was some cash handling in the job. Of course at the time the employer didn’t know this and only found out once it was reported in the local newspaper. And her embezzlement was a large amount of money and went on for a long time- I think it was over a 10 year period or something. The employer did end up pressing charges which is how it ended up in the newspaper.

        1. Honeybee*

          My brother didn’t go to college and he started working at his professional skilled position when he was somewhere between 18 and 19, so by the time was 25 he really did have 6-7 years of experience and was mid-level at his job.

          1. Anna*

            Yep. It’s important for people to remember that not everyone has the same job/education trajectory.

        2. Shortie*

          True. I had 8 years of full time work experience by 25, 7 of which was not entry level. And unfortunately, I still looked 16. :-/

      5. Graciosa*

        Yes, there are people who appear much younger than they are, but Snuck also pointed out that it was clear that the candidate was trying to fake the experience that would have matched the resume claims. Under those circumstances, I’m willing to believe Snuck assessed the situation correctly as someone under 25 who was trying to bluff their way into a more senior role – and anyone who lies on their resume is flunking the ethics test and not someone I would hire.

        I’m not sure if this would have been discovered in the first 90 seconds, but perhaps if the first question was “Tell me what you think is the most important aspect to control to ensure successful chocolate teapot production?” and the candidate answer was “Plugging in the woks” it might slip in under 90 seconds.

    2. A Kate*

      In my interviewing experience, I’ve often decided I’m not sold on a person in 90 seconds (of talking to them, not them sitting around in the waiting room etc.). I’d say for about 50% of candidates. That sounds like a lot, but I try to remain open to having this first impression changed over the course of the interview.

      But that leaves the other 50%. I’d say half of those candidates I’m not sure about in the beginning. Some really impress me by the end, others are just okay, so we pass them over for candidates we’re really sold on. Sometimes colleagues had different takes on candidates I thought were mediocre (in this second group), and can sway me on them with that new perspective.

      We’re usually in agreement with the first group. And often the best examples of why we don’t want to hire them come from later in the interview. But often we know within the first 90 seconds.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I suppose it is “You never get a second chance to make a first impression”.

    3. Excel Slayer*

      I’ve heard the 90 seconds thing all over the place, but I’ve never seen anyone actually cite any evidence for it. I’ve got a feeling it started out as exactly what you say (i.e. first impressions matter), got an arbitrary amount of time attacted to it (I’ve heard 60 seconds too) and has been exaggerated in the retelling.

    4. AMD*

      Phone interview explaining (not apologizing!) for calling in late: “I was having trouble dialing in because I am driving home.”

      Only took five seconds to make that decision!

      But others, I was not impressed in the first ninety seconds but did reevaluate my impressions and chose a candidate who I might have passed up based on his first 90 seconds.

      1. Cautionary tail*

        I phone interviewed somone who was driving. They had the phone on speaker and aced my series of six questions. I then brought the person in for an interview and hired them.

      2. Lady Bug*

        I wouldn’t necessarily judge someone for doing a phone interview while driving. If they are working and have after work commitments (picking up kids etc), it may be the only time they have to talk. Although, I’d be hesitant because I wouldn’t want my interviewer to hear my reaction to being cut off!

        1. Kyrielle*

          But dialing while driving? I would expect them to be road-safe, and especially if the job involved driving but even if it didn’t, it would make me question their judgement. Cautionary tail’s story of phone interviewing someone who was driving and had the phone on speaker – assuming CT called or that the candidate called while the car was parked – doesn’t trouble me at all. But trying to dial *while* driving? That would worry me quite a bit.

            1. Lady Bug*

              And I could see that causing the candidate dialing issues, I’ll tell mine to call home, and it replies “calling 911.”

              1. Nanc*

                My pre-mocha brain translated that as your phone knows there’s a problem at home and was calling for help!

          1. Honeybee*

            My car – as do many modern cars – has an integrated Bluetooth phone-link system, so I can dial numbers saved into my phone by speaking the name of the contact into the system. In fact, if I said “I had trouble dialing in,” this is what I would mean – it’d be shorthand for trying to call in, because sometimes my car understands the wrong name (usually when I’m trying to call my husband, funnily enough).

            And even if your car doesn’t have it, many cell phones have voice assistants that will call someone for you if you ask it to.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              I still wouldn’t do it—talking on the phone while driving, even hands-free, is too much of a distraction from your driving and driving is too much distraction from the conversation. I would pull over if I had to do that while in the car. Not to mention, it’s illegal in a lot of places, so I wouldn’t want my potential boss to hear a voice suddenly say, “Do you know why I pulled you over, ma’am?”

              1. AMD*

                This is my thought – it is dangerous to be distracted, and my manager and I wanted to ask questions that required in-depth thought to answer. Studies are showing that even hands-free phone systems are as distracting as regular cell phones.

                Also, the candidate pulled over when asked (so it wasn’t an issue of time) and didn’t apologize for calling in late or address why he was calling while driving. If he had said something to acknowledge that interviewing while driving was not his first choice, that might have made a difference – or if any of the rest of his interview had been impressive. But nothing he said was strong enough to shake that first impression of “I will interview for this six figure salary job that requires good judgment and adherence to safety rules while driving, without even stopping to dial into the conference line first.”

              2. Alison Hendrix*

                This is me – I can’t even talk to someone straight while driving, so I know full well I should not be on the phone while I’m actively driving. My brain can only handle either driving w/ mindless singing, but expect me to trail off in conversations because my brain would try to focus on what’s around me.

                Oddly I can multitask in the kitchen or computer just fine. Just not behind the wheel.

    5. Sunshine*

      I probably do decide whether I’m going to -interview- someone within 90 seconds, while reading resumes. But once they’re past that step it’s silly to make a judgment that quickly, unless they do something really egregious.

    6. Felicia*

      There was only once where I decided to NOT hire someone in 90 seconds or less, and that was when they got the name of the company wrong, and mentioned they were excited to do x, y and z if they were hired, and the job had nothing to do with x, y or z.

      Otherwise I judge based on the answers to all the questions and the writing exercise. After the hour long interview is OVER, sometimes i know if I’m going to hire someone. But 90 seconds AFTER the interview is over, not 90 seconds INTO the interview. Big difference. And I don’t know 90 seconds after with everyone. The last person we hired, we were debating about 2 great people for a solid three days.

    7. Chocolate lover*

      There have been a couple times where we’ve ruled someone out in the first couple minutes. Not often, but there was such a blatant personality and goal mismatch, it was a clear no-go.

      We have never decided to hire someone that fast though.

    8. NicoleK*

      My new coworker, when she was a candidate interviewing for the position, started off her interview with “my coworkers, they’re high maintenance…..”

      I would not have hired her, but my boss overlooked that (and a few other red flags)

    9. grasshopper*

      Definitely knew that someone wasn’t going to be hired within 90 seconds when they messed up on using the diminutive form of my old boss’s name.

      Boss: Hello, nice to meet you. I’m Elizabeth and I’m the boss.
      Candidate: Hi Betty!

      You can’t recover from making a really bad first impression with the boss who is very particular about her name.

      1. Nora Charles*

        I hate, hate, hate it when people use a nickname from a given name without being given express permission to. For some reason, a few people shorten my (2-syllable) name to the first syllable, then insist that it’s my nickname. Ummm… no, it isn’t; it’s just what you randomly decided to call me. (For the record, these are not especially close friends or family members from whom a nickname would be welcome.)

      2. TheLazyB (UK)*

        I’m Elizabeth and when I was a kid people used to shorten it to Liz all.the.time. Perfectly good name. BUT NOT MY NAME.

        1. Nora Charles*

          And Elizabeth, which is a beautiful name on its own, has so many nicknames that I would never assume I knew which one to use – or whether to use one at all. Liz, Liza, Eliza, Lisa, Elisa, Ellie, Nellie, Nell, Betty, Beth, Betsy, Bitsy, Lizzie, etc.

          1. Nora Charles*

            And Bess and Bessie (can’t forget the Queen of England and the Queen of the Blues!).

        2. bkanon*

          My brother and I both got into trouble in school for refusing to answer teachers when called by other forms of our names. Our parents backed us up, though! If it’s not my name, I’m not responding.

    10. Graciosa*

      I did have one hire I decided upon after only five to ten minutes of a thirty minute interview. In this case, my team had been doing most of the work of the selection (including candidate screening and initial interviews) and had come back raving about one candidate they wanted me to hire as soon as possible.

      After about five or ten minutes of conversation when we met, I concluded my team was right and I was sold. I would have made an offer then, but I thought it might have been seen as a little flaky from the candidate’s point of view and decided I had better finish out the interview.

      I did switch topics and spend most of the remaining time on management style and expectations – a candidate getting an offer needs enough information to decide whether to work for the prospective boss.

      The result was a great hire who is still doing a fantastic job for the company in a different role (promotion!).

    11. T*

      I’ve heard this many times regarding dating. Statements like “women decide to date you (or sleep with you) in the first 30 seconds” get thrown around all the time. I feel the same way about that as interviews – you can lose any chance of a date but nothing will guarantee a date, not even being a super attractive (unless the person is shallow). I suppose you could do something so offensive that you instantly lose any possible chance of getting the job (or date) but you typically have time to still win the other person over. Likewise, no candidate is that amazing to win a job (or date) in the first 90 seconds. You can get off to a great start by being well-dressed, courteous, friendly, etc but you could lose that advantage throughout the course of the interview (or date).

      I do think a person often forms an opinion of you very quickly but that opinion will be confirmed or change throughout the interview.

      1. ReanaZ*

        Yeah, I was going to chime in to say I feel similarly about this as dating. I absolutely can and do decide I am NOT interested in someone within the first 90 second of meeting them. I can tell you when I am NOT going to get along with someone within 90 seconds. There are plenty of occasions where I would decide someone was NOT right for a job position/culture fit within 90 seconds, without even anything terribly egregious happening. But “not kicked out in the first 90s seconds” doesn’t mean I’m going to hire you or sleep with you (uh, and definitely not both?). It just means you’ve made it through the first culling round of NOPE.

    12. TootsNYC*

      Yeah, I’ve rejected a person or two in 90 seconds, maybe less. But I’ve never chosen someone that fast.

  2. Adam V*

    #3 – I think (IANAL) that’d be considered “constructive dismissal”, so you could not only walk away immediately by saying “sorry, that’s a change in my rate that I don’t agree to”, but you could get paid unemployment for the three weeks – although it sounds like you’ve got a new job lined up, so you might just call them and say “hey, turns out my old boss let me go today, so I can start earlier, if that works for you.” Still, if they’re not ready for you right away, you could get unemployment for the intervening period.

    #5 – I wonder if it’s a company rule intended to ensure no vendor can get too buddy-buddy with a salesperson or something. Still, in the case of a raffle, that’s really crappy to do.

    1. Adam V*

      Man. I just looked up “constructive dismissal” laws for Texas, and it sure makes it look like they have to do something illegal for you to win a constructive dismissal claim.

      1. KJR*

        I believe you are correct; there has to be a hostile work environment (in the legal sense) for this to apply.

    2. Natalie*

      They don’t refer to it as constructive discharge, which I believe may have a specific EEOC-related definition, but my state allows UI if you quit for a “good reason caused by the employer” that would cause an average person to quit. So OP might still qualify for UI.

    3. INTP*

      For #5, I think you are right about it being an extension of some other rule. It is common if not standard for an anti-corruption policy to require that gifts over a certain dollar value be shared with the department, donated, or disposed of – sometimes even food gifts must be shared if they are pricey foods. If there isn’t specific verbiage about contest winnings in the policy, I assume it would apply to raffle prizes as well. It seems highly unlikely that a raffle prize would be a bribe or possibly appear to be a bribe – you would have to be pretty powerful for it to be worth the whole production of a rigged fake raffle just to give you an ipad or whatever – but at the same time, deciding that the Anti-Corruption Policy can be ignored when you decide it doesn’t apply pretty much defeats the purpose of having one.

  3. PJ*

    2. Who returns leftovers to the gift giver?? “Hey, the food was good, but not good enough that we ate it all.” Just give or throw the rest away!

    1. A Dispatcher*

      Yeah, I would be mortified to give food back like that. I’ve returned serve ware/containers of course, but always empty and cleaned.

    2. NutellaNutterson*

      I can see it if they bought, say, pre-packaged meals for 30 and it’s an office of 6, AND the patient was still in the office. “Hey, would you like any of this too? There’s so much delicious food here, and we can’t possibly finish it all.”

      1. Dice-K*

        Maybe. Otherwise it seems absurd to seek out a patient and return the leftovers of a food gift. We need more details from this OP!

        1. Artemesia*

          The only way that makes any sense at all is for homemade dishes in their own containers. Some people take their stuff home from a potluck.

          1. Jesse*

            Veering slightly from the topic, but my old boss hosted a holiday party at her home for our team. It was a potluck, and at the end of the night, I went to pack up my leftovers, and the boss insisted on keeping them. Which, OK, it was delicious (if I do say so myself!). But then come to find out, she hosted another party that weekend with the food that we had all made!!

            1. Koko*

              My thoughts on the etiquette of this:

              1) It’s a host perk to keep the leftovers from a potluck. They opened their home to a large crowd of people and took care of them and probably shelled out for drinks and additional food. It’s gracious as a guest to leave anything that survives the foraging crowd as a host gift.
              2) However, the host should never try to stop a guest from taking leftovers home. Maybe they are worried about getting their dish back, maybe their food budget is really tight and they need that food to get by, maybe whatever other reason, but you let the guest take the food if they’ve decided to take the food.
              3) You do not serve leftovers at a party.

              1. JB (not in Houston)*

                Technically, if we’re getting into etiquette, the person who has the potluck at their house is not the host, anymore than a park would the host if people had a picnic there. A host is someone who absorbs the costs of an event. If you have to bring your own food, then you are as much a host as anyone else.

                1. Koko*

                  I think it’s a less involved form of hosting. You’ve still had to clean your house, get it set up, and welcome people into your space for a few hours. Guests are using your bathroom and bathroom supplies, and they’re either using your dishes and glasses that you’ll have to wash afterwards or you probably paid for the paper products that they’re using instead. And most potlucks I attend, rather than make guests register to bring certain items, the host usually provides at least one big entree and enough drinks for everyone, so that guests can bring whatever side dish/appetizer/dessert they want to bring. The host is also the one who has to worry about noise complaints from the neighbors, making sure everyone has parking or finds their way to the event, circulate and introduce folks to each other and make sure everyone is having a good time, etc.

                  As someone who was raised to never show up to anyone’s house empty-handed, I don’t think bringing a bowl of cheese dip to a party makes me as much a host as the person who did all of the above. Providing food is one of the smaller aspects of being a host – many parties don’t have food at all, but the host is still a host.

                2. JB (not in Houston)*

                  @Koko I think you will find Miss Manners disagrees with you. Those may be your feelings on it, and that’s fine among you and your friends to think in those terms. I mean, all social groups have their own rules.

                  I was speaking more broadly of the rules of etiquette. Having a potluck at your house doesn’t make you a host, anymore than having a bridal shower at a restaurant makes the restaurant the host. And the rule to not show up empty handed is also one that’s not an actual rule of etiquette. You are supposed to thank your host by reciprocating, not bringing something. Like I said, you and your friends and social circle can have different rules for yourself–that’s how groups work! But that doesn’t make your rules the accepted etiquette rules.

              2. Jesse*

                I did think after the fact that I have been trained by some other people’s preferences to take my leftovers with me, and it might actually be more polite to leave them. I was still shocked when my boss basically grabbed the dish out of my hand, and even more so when I heard how much her subsequent guests had enjoyed it!

            2. Artemesia*

              I’d hate to be a guest for a meal of leftover potluck — I usually don’t take mine back because something that has sat out and been dug around in all evening is not likely to be entirely safe or palatable after that.

  4. Graciosa*

    Regarding #5, there may be legitimate reasons for the employer’s position. Some companies do have codes of ethics that dictate what you are allowed to accept from companies that your employer may do business with. A fake, rigged, or simply very generous “raffle” with prizes from a supplier – or someone who wants to be a supplier – could definitely create some ethical issues or a conflict of interest.

    In this case, a trade show on a business trip could easily fall afoul of that kind of code. The other companies there are likely to be in a similar industry as the employer, and probably seeking a business relationship.

    Most of those codes make reasonable exceptions for very minor items (pens, keychains, etc.) but don’t allow you to accept a $10,000 home entertainment system (even if you “won” it in a raffle open to multiple potential customers).

    If we were talking about a raffle unrelated to the employer – for example, if the employee visited a nearby casino after a day at the trade show and won there – the employee should get to keep it. Off-duty activity that isn’t related to the employer (not a potential supplier, for example) is not something the employer should care about.

    But if the employer’s policy is related to its ethical standards for doing business, it’s part of the job and not an unreasonable requirement.

    We don’t know that this is the case here with only one line of information, but I don’t agree that requiring employees to give up prizes won at a trade show raffle is always a bad policy. There isn’t enough information in the single line of the question to decide that here.

    1. fizzchick*

      That would make sense if they had said they weren’t allowed to accept it. But being required to turn it over to your company doesn’t remove the conflict of interest, it just ensures you’ll be miffed at your bosses.

      1. Carpe Librarium*

        Also, often companies simply require employees to declare gifts of this nature on a formal register held by the company.
        The assurance/audit/compliance team can then track that list and review it for big-ticket items, multiple gifts from a particular supplier or to a particular employee or department etc to asses whether any potential conflicts or suspect transactions arise.

      2. MattRest*

        Government contract employees have very strict ethics rules regarding gifts. If you can’t give the gift back, you can distribute it to random employees in the break room (i.e. items in a wine or fruit basket).

        I’m not in sales so I have no idea how this applies to trade show raffles, though. Or even if this is relevant to the OP…

        1. LJL*

          THat is the way it worked at the state that I worked for. Anything above a particular amount (I believe it was $25) had to be used by the entire department or institution.

        2. Adonday Veeah*

          This. I work for a public agency. Anything that I am given or that I win in the course of my job must be reported. Five dollars is the cutoff. A vendor gave me a coffee mug recently with their logo on it (awesome mug, by the way). I had to verify that it was worth less than $5, otherwise I’d have to report it as a gift or give it away to staff, for instance, in a company-wide raffle.

          When I worked for the for-profit sector, this was never an issue.

      3. little class act*

        Actually I’ve heard of giving it over to the the company if the gift is over a certain dollar amount and would give the appearance of accepting a bribe, creating bias, etc. The gifts are then usually redistributed to people for whom bias could not be an issue (due to their roles) or perhaps even given to a charity. This is especially true for those in sales or those maintaining supplier relationships, and for anyone in the financial services industry. There’s probably info on this policy in the LW’s employee handbook and/or code of ethics, but if she still has questions, she should speak with her manager or HR or legal department (this is often outlined in the aforementioned documentation too)

        1. Elsajeni*

          I’ve also heard of companies where gifts and prizes are handed over to the company, then eventually become prizes in an employee drawing at the end of the year or at a holiday party. Which sounds like it could preserve a lot of the fun for employees, in a way that just redistributing the prizes by fiat or even giving them to charity might not — it’s still fun to enter a raffle for the chance to bring back a really cool door prize for the Christmas party, as long as you know in advance that that’s what you’re doing.

      4. grasshopper*

        In addition to avoiding the appearance of bribery, you also want to make sure that there is some equity between staff. Outward facing staff who are seeing clients, or attending conferences or have relationships with vendors have many more opportunities for all the nice gifts and prizes. Back office staff who don’t have those relationships should have the same opportunities for goodies.

        1. Koko*

          I get that that would be more fair, but why is it important for everyone in the office to have the same access to client swag? The back office staff may not get gifts from the client, but they also don’t have to put in face time being diplomatic and/or sycophantic with the client. The client-facing staff earn the gifts they receive through the strength of their people/relationship skills that keep the business relationship going.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          When employees at Exjob got gifts from customers, it was generally accepted that it was theirs to keep. If vendors gifted something to the entire company, we shared it. And of course employees who got food from customers (like sales reps who got a gift basket) would usually just put it out for the office folks to plunder. Which was kind of unfair for the shop personnel, so we made sure when a certain vendor brought us the yearly Christmas ham, etc. that they got first shot at it.

          The industrial park had a raffle on Employee Day that everyone who worked in the park could enter. It was totally random. But with all the companies in the park and all the employees, you very rarely had a shot at winning anything.

          1. periwinkle*

            There aren’t many things I miss about my former job but I do miss holiday treats. Part of our group was an outpatient clinic and we had pharm reps come by regularly with food gifts. Since they were meant to be shared by the entire office there was no problem with accepting them. Around the holidays we were inundated with cookies – we’d get at least a dozen tins of Danish butter cookies.

            My current employer has very strict standards for what we can accept from current and potential vendors (and for what we can gift to them). I was about to start work with a new vendor but the contract hadn’t been finalized yet; when I realized I would be at a conference with the vendor present, I had to clarify the degree of contact I was allowed to have with them while the contract was still pending. Saying hello: yes. Chatting about the weather and gosh, this is a big conference: fine. Buying one of them a latte: no, not even out of my personal funds. We do a lot of fed work and have to be way careful.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              I love those butter cookies. :)
              What I miss are the potlucks. Not long before I was laid off, we had a chili dog day. I ate so much I wasn’t hungry again until after ten that night. MMMMM.

      5. INTP*

        Those policies often allow you to share the item with the whole department, donate it to charity, or dispose of it, so that you can graciously accept gifts and avoid offending the givers. That makes sense to me. If that’s the case, though, the boss should have mentioned other options, not “You have to give it to the department” even if it’s a useful business item and that’s the logical thing to do.

    2. MK*

      If there is an ethical issue, the policy should forbid accepting gifts and/or entering raffles. But asking you to hand it over to the city mpany is severely problematic, because, well, what happens to the gift? If it’s something that the company can use, fine, but who would keep that home entertainment system?

      1. Another HRPro*

        This person’s policy may actually forbid accepting gifts in totality or at a specific value level and the OP didn’t recognize this and accepted the raffle gift. In this case, management would require that they hand the gift over and most likely return it to the vendor.

        1. Anna*

          Wouldn’t you have to prove it was rigged, though? The idea of a raffle is that it’s random.

      2. INTP*

        Mentioned above, but often employees are allowed to accept the gifts to maintain a good rapport with the client/vendor/giver. They aren’t allowed to keep them because that could result in those decision making employees having a conflict of interest in which they might have personal reasons to sign the client or choose the vendor that is not the best decision for the company (i.e. large gifts). It’s not an arbitrary or nonsensical policy.

        My guess as to why this applies to a raffle is that they probably haven’t added specific verbiage to the policy to account for things like raffles where a gift is unlikely to be a bribe. Raffles might also have items of lower monetary value that employees are allowed to keep if they win. The policies usually have a limit like $50 or $100.

    3. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      Yeah. Raffles at trade shows seldom follow legal rules for sweepstakes. Prizes should be considered gifts, and if there’s a gift policy, the iPad you won needs to follow that policy.

      Gifts you get for the course of business are subject to what your employer decides. Our policy is “enjoy!” but if we changed that policy, that wouldn’t be wrong either. *

      There’s not enough in the original post to know if it’s a good or bad decision on the employer’s part.

      * true story, someone once won a Harley Davidson Motorcycle through the course of business. The drawing itself was legitimate, but the people conducting the drawing went first to the owners of our company to ask them if they would like the winning to be made to either the company or the company principals, before anyone was notified. In reason #1829 of why I am so crazy loyal to my place, the principals had them award the prize to the actual, low level at the time, employee who was the cs rep name on the order that won.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        “Raffles at trade shows seldom follow legal rules for sweepstakes.”

        I don’t know what the rules are for this sort of thing but I was asked by a client to provide artwork for a giveaway. Anyone who stopped by their booth would have the chance to win an iPad if they filled out this survey on another iPad. The client told me that anyone who didn’t agree to [something] (I can’t honestly remember what it was, sign up for their newsletter, provide their e-mail) those entries were automatically not considered for the draw. Which didn’t seem right to me, somewhat shady and underhanded.

        And yes, your company rocks for allowing an employee to win something as amazing as that and not bogarting it for some other reason.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          Yeah, legalities are very very specific. The reality of tradeshow raffles is that can (and often are) rigged in some way to favor clients or contacts that the person wants to win. Much closer to gifting than winning a prize of chance.

    4. snuck*

      Generally I’ve had to formally (register) declare all gifts over a nominal value (~$50) and any gifts at all I have had to gain permission from line management to keep (and the value of the gift depended how high the sign off had to be, based on company finance policies).

      Gifts that were generally given as a result of the work of a team of people were usually handed over to the general work area (small things like bean bags and Xbox games would go into a rec area at work for example, as would TVs etc) … gifts that were a bottle of wine or a box of chocolates would be shared.

      High end gifts of limited use (expensive art objects etc) would be passed through to management to ‘award’ out at some stage.

      Never encountered high value raffles at a trade show thankfully, that’d have been fraught with complications.

      1. Artemesia*

        I had a friend who worked for a small law firm where when gifts arrived at Christmas the senior partners took them all home. This was true even when the person dropping them off expressed appreciation to the staff they had worked with and clearly intended the gifts to be shared. My husband’s firm always took such gifts — often gift baskets — to the break room where they could be enjoyed at the office and then everyone could take a couple of things home — I enjoyed the box of chocolates and bottle of wine that would come home but so did the secretaries and the runner. And easy way to maintain espirit de corps. (I did love the client who had the honey baked ham delivered to our door every holiday seasons though)

    5. AshleyH*

      At Old Job any vendor gifts or the like we’re required to be turned into HR, who then was tasked with distributing the gifted items evenly across all departments. This was to prevent one department that received a lot of stuff (like development) getting everything while the finance team got nothing.

      I thought it was a really dumb rule, and I worked in HR (unfortunately with no power to do anything about it)

    6. Sigrid*

      Many hospitals now have strict rules about what doctors are allowed to accept from pharmaceutical reps/companies (basically: nothing), which includes winnings from raffles. But in those cases you are supposed to decline the gift, not accept it and then give it to the hospital. Also, if it’s a raffle or something similar, you’re supposed to just decline to take part in the first place (if you can).

      My wife works for the state government, and given that they’re not allowed to accept ANYTHING EVER from ANYONE, I’m pretty sure she’s under similar rules for raffles.

      1. Sigrid*

        I just checked my hospital’s gift policy. Employees are supposed to decline gifts, including gifts won in raffles, but if they can’t, they are supposed to register them no matter the value and turn over anything above $100 to administration, who will donate it to charity. This seems to be in line with what other people are saying about company policies to prevent bribery (or the appearance of bribery). I will say that my hospital takes the “no gifts from pharmaceutical reps” very seriously. You will get in a lot of trouble if you accept (and keep) anything.

          1. Miss Betty*

            My sister, who is a nurse, has mentioned to me before that as long as there’s some sort of “educational presentation” by the vendors, they (and the doctors) can eat the food, which are breakfast and lunch items, not things like food baskets. I don’t think there are any rules stating how much of the “educational presentation” people are required to listen to.

      2. Dynamic Beige*

        From what I’ve been told, back in the 80’s it was completely insane what drug companies would give to doctors. Week long cruises as an example with no meetings or CME. Even in the 90’s there was a lot of stuff going on. About 10 years ago I was in a meeting with a major pharma company and the new rules were being discussed about what you could and could not give to a doctor. I’ll never forget how it came down that you could no longer pay for a doctor’s green fees at a golf course. There were so many questions about that. One guy stood up and said something along the lines of “so if I’m just at the course and Dr. Bob happens to be there — I didn’t ask him to meet me there — I can’t just pick up his fees?” the answer was No. So he asked another version of the same question from a different angle. It was like it Would. Not. Compute. that he could no longer do this in any way, shape or form which showed how much he had relied on that as a way to spend time with doctors.

        1. hermit crab*

          Haha, I definitely benefited from that sort of thing as a doctor’s kid growing up in the 90s! Mostly it was just swag (there was never a shortage of pens or notepads in our household) but one time we went white-water rafting with a whole bunch of other families.

          1. Underemployeed Erin*

            As a doctor’s kid, I really enjoyed some of the more unusual swag like I think we got “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare” and a set of CDs that had one CD per decade. We also had measuring tapes in addition to the pens and notepads.

      3. Suz*

        FYI – The ban on gifts to physicians is an FDA regulation, not just a rule the hospitals created.

    7. Ad Astra*

      I would hope a company with an code of ethics that strict would make that very clear during orientation and again when an employee was sent to a trade show. It doesn’t sound like that’s the case here, since the OP bothered to ask a third party. Something’s strange.

      1. Graciosa*

        We sign to acknowledge and agree to the code at hiring and annually thereafter.

        Even if only the first was done, the employee would have been on notice – I’m not sure I agree that repeated reminders are necessary. We do them because it would help us in our defense if we ever had an issue with an employee that produced a governmental investigations (FCPA, for example). If you can prove a robust compliance program, it can lessen or eliminate the penalties against the company because of one bad employee.

        But from a perspective of individual fairness, signing once should be enough. Monitoring employee activity (trade shows, supplier visits?) so the message can be repeated should not be necessary.

      2. INTP*

        It’s not really super strict for employees to not be able to accept gifts of high $ value. I could see it not being emphasized to employees for whom the gift policy is not relevant 99.9% of the time, or those employees signing it but forgetting about it or assuming a raffle prize is different from accepting a gift directly.

    8. Beancounter in Texas*

      When I worked for a well known electronics company, too many product samples weren’t making it to company’s sample database at all and buyers were taking the products home to keep for personal use. We’re talking brand new cell phones, DVD players, portable music players (e.g. iPods), digital cameras, massagers, clock radios, cordless telephones, etc. and all the accessories. When a new CEO came on (to save the company from financial flailing) and learned this was happening, he shut it down. I don’t know whether the buyers thought the samples were gifts, but it certainly was abused as such.

    9. BananaPants*

      Several of us went to a trade show recently and entered a raffle. We all won coffee mugs, which were acceptable under our employer’s gift policy, but the grand prize was a 3D printer. I have no idea what would have happened if one of us had won it but I suspect we would be required to either return it or give it to the company.

    10. Sparkling water*

      I enter contests as a hobby and I do know that you have to note the retail price of the wins on your taxes. It is considered extra income. I have won national sweepstakes where the prize value is so high that the companies that I have won prizes from have to send me an extra form to deal with at tax time. The contests where I have won say perhaps a can of soup or an apron or whatever do not send those forms.

      And if anyone wants to know of a great company to win prizes from, Little Debbie is the best. They were over the top with how nice they were when I had a slight problem with the prize. They also usually have several contests running at the same time on their website.

    11. Robin*

      There’s also a tax consideration. I won a car at a work related convention, and was issued a W-2 form for its cost that year. So I ended up paying extra income taxes ($8K) — would the employer then reimburse if they took the prize?

      1. Robin*

        I should add that the prize was given by a GSE, not a vendor or company that would present a conflict. In every day business, we can’t accept gift $ 25 value.

    12. Cath in Canada*

      Yeah, we (public healthcare organisation) have rules on accepting big-ticket gifts and prizes. Little stuff is fine, but big things need to be declared and are usually put into the door prize raffle at the Christmas party, so all employees have a chance to win them.

  5. katamia*

    Re #4, does that mean that if you’re an exempt employee who’s sent home for four days and then told to come in at, say, 2pm on Friday, you spend those four days at home, and then are fired when you come in on Friday, you’re paid for the whole week? Does coming in to be fired (not that I’m saying that’s the OP’s situation) count as working? I’m still trying to get the hang of this whole exempt/non-exempt distinction.

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      I’m pretty sure coming in for a HR meeting counts as work. The law doesn’t make any reference to a particular amount of time being worked before the emoloyee must be paid so with out any threshold to pass I guess answering a 5 minute phone call is considered the same as working 30, 40 or even 50 hours, in terms of getting paid. Employers can dock your PTO balance if they want to (they really shouldn’t it’s bad management, but they can if they want) if you run out of PTO then you still have to be paid. You can be disciplined or even fired for missing to much work.

    2. Darcy*

      From the DOL website:
      Subject to exceptions listed below, an exempt employee must receive the full salary for any week in which the employee performs any work, regardless of the number of days or hours worked.
      Deductions from pay are permissible [for] an exempt employee: … for
      unpaid disciplinary suspensions of one or more full days imposed in good faith for workplace conduct rule
      infractions. Also, an employer is not required to pay the full salary in the initial or terminal week of
      So depending on the reason for being told not work, and if the employee’s employment ends, they could potentially only pay an exempt employee for the time worked that week. However, many employers would rather just pay the time to avoid upsetting the employee and having to fight a claim of an improper deduction.

    3. Yep*

      When I came to work to get fired I most definitely did not get paid for it. It was a meeting that took maybe five minutes, though.

      Also, I too was told to take a few days off – “administrative leave” – and they said I was not being fired, and then I was. And I was not paid for those days off. This company did many borderline illegal things, though, so I wouldn’t read too much into that. (Sorry I didn’t really answer your questions katamia – but that’s been my experience – I definitely did not get paid for being sent home and then fired.)

      In any case, it doesn’t look good for the OP, unless there is a completely different context here that he or she didn’t provide us.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        It is possible that the OP is the only person who is going to be out that week and there is some big meeting that has to happen, but other weeks there are more people out. It might not be a firing, it might just be a discussion that has to be done about upcoming timelines.

        Otherwise, OP, I would ask if you can just conference call in for it since you’re on vacation that week. If it is just a routine meeting and that was the best time for it for whatever reason, they should have no problem with that request — unless you are the one who will have to do presenting or something. But if they’re being all weird and cagey about it, insisting you must be there… best case scenario surprise! you’re being promoted! or it’s Senior Person who has been here for 40 years last day on the job party. Worst case, you’ve already figured that out.

  6. Thinking out loud*

    5: Yep yep, I worked for a large company that did a lot of work for the government, and there were lots of ethics trainings, classes, and rules. Depending on the circumstances of the raffle, I wouldn’t have been able to keep a prize if I won it because if concerns about “the appearance of impropriety” – that is, even if you’re not giving someone a contract in exchange for a fixed raffle, it might look to someone as if you are.

    1. Katiedid*

      I completely agree about not being able to accept the prize – said as a government employee who once had to drive four boxes of chocolate chip cookies back to a vendor who had forgotten to take our agency’s name off of their customer list before sending it to the bakery for client Christmas gifts! They were from a wonderful local bakery and it was the most depressing delivery ever (the vendor was mortified she made the mistake)!

      As someone else said, though, I see a difference between that and this case where they’re telling the employee that they have to turn it over to the company. That has more of an air of “No, Wakeen, it’s a complete coincidence that Horatio the CEO happens to have a brand new set of expensive golf clubs in his car the day after you had to turn an identical set over to the company. They’re not the same ones at all!”

      1. plain_jane*

        It is highly something or other (I’m sure there is a German word for it) that some government employees are denied both work-supplied coffee and the ability to be given cookies.

        1. JC*

          When I left the government and worked at a non-profit with free coffee, it felt lavish.

          When I was a fed I also wasn’t allowed to accept rides from contractors, because they had monetary value (e.g., I could have paid for a cab). So there were times when I was traveling with a contractor and they were driving their personal vehicle and offered me a ride, but I had to instead spend taxpayer dollars on a rental car rather than accept their ride. Government efficiency!

      2. Lily in NYC*

        One of my former coworkers accepted a gift of a $1000 purse from a company that was visiting us – we are also not allowed to accept anything over $50. I was disgusted but I didn’t report her because at that time, this was the sort of place where I would have gotten in trouble instead of her.

    2. Silver*

      Came here to say pretty much the same thing. I worked for a govt affiliated org for a while and any gifts from suppliers over a certain amount (eg $100) had to be registered and handed in to office manager who would then use them as prizes the org gave to its audience or otherwise repurposed them within the org..

      This was to remove any notion of impropriety in the granting of contracts and our dealings with suppliers. This org was grilled on a yearly basis by senators so had to be air tight in how it dealt with matters internally or it could very well cause problems.

    3. Marzipan*

      Out financial regulations include quite a lot on how accepting things from companies/individuals can create the appearance of impropriety, and how/why to avoid that. That can include handing anything we’ve received in to be raffled for charity, or at the very least sharing it with colleagues. If I won something from a supplier or potential supplier, I would need to declare it to my employer so they could record it on their ‘gift’ register, and I certainly wouldn’t expect to be able to keep it (unless it was of minimal value, and it would still be registered).

    4. Erin*

      Geeze. I feel like that’ s only okay if it was disclosed beforehand. Winning something and *then* being told you can’t keep it is pretty uncool.

    5. JC*

      Yep, I am a former federal employee and this seems totally normal to me. I guess I get the distinction between being told you have to decline a gift vs. handing it over to your company, but really, it doesn’t seem like a huge difference to me. I think there are situations in my current job and were in my old fed job where I had to hand some kind of compensation over to the organization (being paid to speak at a conference because of my position with my organization, for instance). I see how that is different than what seems like my boss walking off with a raffle prize, but really, in the end I still do not get the prize whatever the circumstance.

  7. Around the World in 90 Seconds*

    1 – It’s possible that they’ll rule you out of contention within 90 seconds, but you’d probably have to mess up the first question or two

    3 – “Also, your boss is an ass.” – One of the best lines I’ve seen on this blog in the rougly year and a half since I’ve been reading it. (Right up there with “Fourth … no, I can’t even go on. It’s too ridiculous.” – as said in the famous “20-finalists-had-to-prepare-dinner-for-a-party” post of 2014. You know the one.)

    4 – Yeah, if you’re being told to take time off (involuntarily), that doesn’t sound good (unless work happens to be slow and you expect it to pick back up). I’d spend some of that time off looking for a new job. Sorry.

  8. Morgan*

    With regards to #1. Homo sapiens use logic with regards to coming up with responses to situations only after their hormones and emotions have already acted. We are most used to thinking of hormonal decision making with regards to sexual attraction and “chemistry”. Studies show that sexual attraction is established within 8 seconds of meeting someone. That is a hormonal response. We understand emotional responses in terms of cognitive behavioral therapy or impulsiveness or “just letting our emotions get the best of us”. Those are examples of emotions taking presidence over logic. That is just how people act and make decisions. In fact logic will probably be used to simply justify an already made hormonal or emotional decision.

    This is why power poses are correlated with intetview success. They produce good hormones and people like you more no matter what you actually say. So in short, you want to be eliciting the best possible hormonal response from your interviewer. A response that will be made in the first few seconds of meeting them. So yes, the first few seconds matter A LOT and the best way to effect them is by getting lots of sleep, weight resistance exercise, vitamins and minerals, and a balanced diet with high quality fats and proteins.

    1. TheLazyB (UK)*

      Power poses have been debunked :( I will try and remember to come back and post a link later, if someone doesn’t beat me to it.

      1. SevenSixOne*

        Power poses MAY have a positive effect on a person’s success in the same way Dumbo’s magic feather made him able to fly.

      2. Koko*

        Debunked in what sense? I am not familiar with all the claims made w/r/t them, but I manage my anxiety disorder in part through posture control. Curling forward and making yourself smaller feeds into the anxiety biochemical feedback loop, while sitting/standing tall with shoulders back and broad disrupts it. Anxiety is nothing more than an inappropriately-triggered fight/flight/freeze response to perceived danger, and curling forward is an instinctive response to danger because it protects the most vulnerable part of your body. Opening up and making your organs and midsection exposed/vulnerable signals to your body that you aren’t in danger and disrupts the stress hormone response. I routinely head off anxiety attacks without medication through posture and breath control, and it seems perfectly logical to me that the anti-anxiety postures that reduce stress hormones would also make a person not suffering from acute anxiety also feel generally less stressed and more relaxed and confident, which could indirectly help them interview better.

        1. JB (not in Houston)*

          From articles I read, a study came out showing that doing them won’t increase testosterone levels and risk-taking behaviors, as the original study had said. But they haven’t debunked that the poses can change your subjective perception. Also, the debunking study wasn’t a replica of the original study. So I say keep using your postures.

          1. Koko*

            Ah, that makes sense. The hormone I’m familiar with it acting on is cortisol rather than testosterone, and it doesn’t seem that intuitive that it would impact testosterone very much.

        2. Tara*

          Also, it seems important to note the difference between power poses in an interview and poses used for anxiety. Anxiety poses are meant to change how *you* feel, and can have an actual effect. Interview poses are supposed to change how *someone else* feels about you. Power poses in an interview may help you a little, by making you feel calmer and more confident in yourself, and therefore less likely to do one of many things that gives the interviewer a bad impression of you, but power poses don’t in themselves have that huge of an impact on the other person’s biochemistry. I believe its that part that was being debunked.

        1. MashaKasha*

          +lots from me too!
          If my interviewer is basing his or her hiring decisions on hormonal response, that’s a dead giveaway that I don’t want to work for them, thxbai

    2. MK*

      I think this theory overestimates the power of first impressions and underestimates how much logic plays a part in human decisions, especially in a situation like hiring, when people are actively trying to use logic to decide. I mean, it’s possible that a hiring manager will have a strong yes-or-no reaction within 90 seconds of meeting the candidate; but not all people will provoke such instinctive reactions, and also, if you are interviewing lots of people, there will be more than one “yes”. But then logic will take over, and not just to justify the first impression for people will approach this task seriously.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        Yes, hiring people based on immediate hormonal response generally considered poor business practice, and generally ends badly, usually sooner rather than later.

        I would agree that body language and attractiveness (among other things) can definitely have an impact on how people view you, and that this can work positively or negatively. There are a lot of weird unconscious biases at play when we evaluate people. But there is no magical trick of pheromones or body language that will force people to like you even when you’re saying horrible or asinine things. And if an interviewer is anything but incompetent, charming your way past a substandard or inaccurate resume is unlikely to work.

      2. Morgan*

        I think a logical way to think about it would be that the human endocrine system is very powerful and everyone has one, regardless of their analytical abilities, while very few people are particularily intelligent. In fact, most managers are not managers because they are intelligent but because they have been at their organizations long enough to become managers.

    3. hbc*

      Yes, logic is often used to justify a decision that’s already been made, but that doesn’t mean that emotions rule the day on every decision for every person. While we may be wired to make quick judgments so we’re not sitting around pondering exactly what that noise meant while a lion bears down upon us, we’re also capable of looking down from the tree we scrambled into and realizing that we’re not in immediate danger. Since we’re not offering them a job on the spot, the importance of any emotional reaction is minimal for most people.

      If anyone is guilty of twisting logic because of emotion, it’s the psychological darwinists/evolutionary psychologists (or, to be fair, reporters who write about their work) who create just-so stories about cavemen that coincidentally support what they suspected all along.

    4. LBK*

      Fortunately most of us entrust hiring decisions to people rather than wild animals, so primal urges can be safely ignored in favor of using your self-aware human brain to do things like read a resume and ask questions. You’re looking for an employee, not a mate.

      1. Morgan*

        People are animals. We share like 95% of our DNA with fleas or something. Homones are also a very important part of being human and relationship formation. There is nothing wrong with them. Obviously our endocrine has evolved along with the rest of what makes us human.

        1. LBK*

          You can give me whatever scientific explanations you want but you’re not going to convince me that I give even 1% as much weight to my hormonal response to a candidate as I do to their resume and interview.

          1. Morgan*

            I think that you would be better off to admit to yourself that your hormones play apart in determining your initial attractions, desires, and feelings about others and then work from there. As opposed to trying to deny or supersede them.

        2. De (Germany)*

          “We share like 95% of our DNA with fleas or something.”

          No, we don’t. It’s 97% for our most closely related species, chimpanzees, insects are much further away.

          Humans, for example, don’t have receptors to respond to pheromones, or at least, in 30 years of research, scientist have yet to find evidence for them.

  9. Nelly*

    I decided not to hire someone as soon as I met them because they were 30 minutes late for an interview, and scruffy, BUT they ended up giving the best answer to an interview question and showed great attitude in some areas that I changed my mind and took a chance on them anyway. She got the job and a lecture on not being late.

    1. I'm a Little Teapot*

      :) I was 15 minutes late for my interview at CurrentJob. I showed up to the sprawling suburban office park 15 minutes early – but they were doing construction, someone moved the signs so they pointed to the exact opposite direction from where I was going, and when I finally got there I was confronted with a locked door and no one to let me in. I very apologetic, and fortunately my interviewers knew about the sign snafu and were very understanding.

    1. MashaKasha*

      It doesn’t even work that way in dating! Much less in interviewing, when actual team productivity and company bottom line are at stake.

  10. Brooke*

    #1 – As a hiring manager and interviewer, I occasionally decide NOT to hire someone in the first 90 sec (because they’re unapologetically late, rude, or are clearly not displaying the expertise their resume claims), but it takes a long time to decide TO hire someone. I consider their behavior and answers throughout the interview process, I may compare them to other strong candidates, and I may even rethink the job requirements. A good or bad hire can really make or break your team, so I take the time to make sure I’m hiring the right person. If I made a desision about you in 90 sec … well, that’s not a good sign…

    1. qkate*

      Yeah, it usually takes me a good several hours, and talking with the multiple people I’ve had sit with the candidate, to make a decision TO hire someone. I think the quickest NOT to hire decision I’ve ever made still took a good 15-20 minutes or so, and this was someone whose response to most every question I asked was tossing bits of his portfolio across the table at me and saying no more than “eh, you can see it all in there”. It was like he didn’t even want the job. That was a fun conversation from an anthropological standpoint so I sat for the full hour anyway.

      People like looking for quick answers but the truth is that as far as good managers go, we really take hiring decisions seriously. To say that I or others make hiring decisions based on hormones is disappointing. There’s a lot of us that work really hard to check our biases and hire well.

  11. Kora*

    #1 – Every couple of years there’s a study that reportedly proves hiring managers make their decisions in under 90 seconds, or under 7 minutes, or whatever. I’m pretty sure either the studies are bunk or the reporting is, but that’s probably where your friend is getting it from.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think those studies refer to the initial look at the resume though (when you’re deciding whether to move the person forward), not the interview.

      1. qkate*

        I’m currently hiring and rejected 3 of the first 4 applicants due to lack of a cover letter–even though the job posting explicitly asked for a cover letter with specific topics covered in it. The 90 second estimate is probably about right for that sort of thing.

  12. Not My Usual Name*

    4. When I was terminated, I was sent home, after having given back office items (pass card for the door etc.) and given a letter “inviting” me to a meeting to discuss it. The letter did have a sentence on it saying something like “The period when you are not in the office will be paid and does not count as part of your holiday entitlement”.

    I used that time to update my CV (Thanks Alison for all the fantastic advice on here!) and setting up appointments with recruiters.

  13. V.V.*

    “You can in turn decline to work at the new rate, so you could say to your boss, “I’m not able to work for that rate or that title. Given that, should today be my last day or would you like me to work out the notice period at my normal rate and with no change in title?””

    Oooo ooo ooo!!

    Follow up question! If a person gives notice, and the boss lowers their pay going forward, and the new terms are not acceptable, will the employee then be eligible for unemployment if they quit on the spot?

      1. BRR*

        I also wonder if it would be worth it in regards to unemployment vs. salary and benefits.

    1. Jake*

      It entirely depends on the state, as states manage unemployment. In Kentucky it would be a no brainer yes, but from what I’ve seen in Pennsylvania so far it would be one heck of a fight.

    2. Liane*

      Also, it is not uncommon for states to have a “waiting week,” that is, the first week you are unemployed, the state will not pay you. So the OP would get 2 weeks’ unemployment. Plus, it takes several weeks, 3-4 in my state, for them to get the first payment out.
      Still, you might want to put in for it if you Really-Really want OldJob to pay for the boss being an ass about a generous notice, since what an employer pays into UI is based on number of claims. Of course a boss like this would contest the claim and lie when doing so.

    3. LQ*

      Varies greatly from state to state and what the new terms are. (If you get a different title but keep the pay, I don’t know that any state would give it to you, but if they cut you to minimum wage most-but not all- states would give it to you.)

  14. BrandyTeapot*

    I have definitely had interviewers be enthusiastic about my written application materials and adore me on the phone. Then when I show up in person to interview, they see I’m a very big fat woman and they go quite cold. I don’t get the job.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if it only took a 9th of a second, really.

    1. V.V.*

      Hopefully it takes you a less than a 10th to realize you don’t want to work for butt – munches like them either.

    2. Elfie*

      Oh, that sucks. As a fellow very big fat woman, I commiserate. Although I did have an interviewer recently tell me I was ‘feminine’, and that that was ‘a string to my bow’. Thankfully, I didn’t get the job, and I feel like I dodged a bullet there. Who wants to work for misogynists anyway? I’m trying to get away from one in CurrentJob! Jeez, I work in IT – how I look has zero impact on how capable I am in my job.

      1. Paige Turner*

        Eww :( I’ve never heard that expression- I guess that it was meant as a compliment but grossssssss.

        1. The Strand*

          Yeah, I had to google that one myself.

          Elfie, have you tried government / schools? Depending on what you want to do. The smartest, most capable IT leader I knew had risen up the ranks in a state college – as both a she and someone who was a larger person.

      2. Koko*

        There’s a great book called “Such a Pretty Fat” that is an author’s hilarious memoir of how she pitched the idea of writing a weight loss memoir and then…had to try to lose weight. She based the title on how frequently people gave her the back-handed compliment, “You have such a pretty face, though!” Highly recommended and very entertaining read.

    3. Suz*

      The exact same thing has happened to me. Once I had a 2 minute interview. The person interviewing me didn’t ask me a single question. I found out later from my friend who referred me for the position that she cut it short because she assumed I was pregnant. Nope, just fat. But the joke was on them. I was hired by the next company I interviewed with and the asshat interviewer was out of a job a year later when the company went under.

  15. Excel Slayer*

    #5 – If your company has an offical bribary policy, then I’d consult that and see what it says (in my company you aren’t suppose to accept any gifts over £100, and if you do manage to end up with one anyway you have to declare it). It could be entirely down to ethics, like other commentators have said above, that your company doesn’t want you getting expensive stuff from potential customers or suppliers.

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      The bribery act is such a ball ache, I had to do so much reporting and development work to ensure we complied with it when offering entertainment to clients.

      1. Excel Slayer*

        Fun times! Luckily it doesn’t affect me much, as I’m not client facing and the most exciting gift I’ve ever got from a supplier is a stress ball.

  16. hbc*

    OP1: We just had a candidate where the first two interviewers independently said some version of, “I was thinking ‘Hell no’ for the first ten minutes.” They ended up talking for more than an hour, and he was everyone’s first choice. We’re currently in the process of hiring him.

    Anecdotes are not data, but then again, it sounds like friend was trying to make a universal statement, which means a single counter-example can torpedo it.

    1. Malory Archer*

      Because I’m curious…what did he do in the first ten minutes that was so egregious? And how did he turn the interviews around?

      1. hbc*

        It turned out that he was talking to our recruiting company about a completely different job, and the recruiter thought he would be a good fit for our position. He came in saying things like, “I don’t know why I’m here” and “I’m not sure this will be a good fit.” Which makes sense in context, but…the recruiter forgot to give us that context.

        Over the course of the discussion, the interviewers and interviewee learned that what we would have him do is completely in line with what he’s done previously, even if it didn’t look that relevant on paper. Coming to that mutual decision was pretty powerful, in the end, but it was a rough start.

  17. Pretty Ugly*

    Re #1 If you’re physically unattractive, it’ll take less than one-ninth of a second for them to decide NOT to hire you…regardless of your education / intellect / personality / work experience…and it’s not even illegal, even if they flat-out tell you “You’re too unattractive to work here” (unless they also flat-out say you’re too unattractive because of your age/ gender / race / religion, or whatever else is considered a “protected class”)

    1. HR Caligula*

      There is one state, Wisconsin, that prohibits discrimination based on “physical characteristics”, which includes weight.

      There is also a few cities with some type of protection including San Francisco and DC.

    2. The Other Dawn*

      I haven’t experienced anything like that directed at me in the workplace, but I sure have in my personal life. It amazes me that this is one area where people still think it’s perfectly acceptable to discriminate.

      I did, however, see it in action at my old job. A woman came in for an interview, which I believe was for a front desk position. She was maybe 60ish, had bright red hair (RED red, not a redhead), tons of makeup, extremely long nails, tons of jewelry, and buck teeth. My boss interviewed her while I sat in. I thought it went great. She was very nice, professional, knew her stuff, and was well-spoken; she was the best candidate we had. But when she left my boss said no way, that she was way too garish looking. He said he knew when he first saw her that he didn’t want to hire her. Now, I can understand if we had tons of customers and visitors coming in he might ask her to tone down her appearance within the guidelines of the company dress code. But we saw very few customers. It was more of an office manager position with limited interaction with customers and visitors. We ended up hiring an emotional hot mess because he placed more importance on the person’s appearance. Looks were very deceiving in that case: she was fired within 2 months.

      1. Kelly L.*

        +1. Yes, not being conventionally attractive can limit your opportunities, because some people are asses and hire based on their primal urges–but not everybody is an ass, and there are tons of bosses that will give a chance to the non-gorgeous. It may vary geographically or by field, but on the whole, you can totally get jobs without being pretty. I’m heavy and plain and have gotten plenty of jobs over the years.

      2. Pretty Ugly*

        Let’s just put it this way…physically attractive doctors are the ones doing cosmetic surgeries (not to mention pediatrics, or other “patient-facing” practices), while physically unattractive doctors are the ones doing autopsies. Of course a physically attractive doctor can also do autopsies if he/she chooses, but a physically unattractive doctor WILL NEVER do cosmetic surgeries no matter what

        1. Pretty Ugly*

          …and by “physically unattractive” I’m not talking “average looking”. I’m specifically talking “below-average looking” (like Janet Reno looking)

          1. The Strand*

            Actually, I think Janet Reno just needed someone to help her pick out more flattering outfits and a better pair of frames. To me she looks like a lot of Midwestern grandmas.

            1. Kelly L.*


              I think we’re just used to people looking Barbie-glamorous on TV, and so ordinary-looking people look weird when they’re on TV. But walking down the street in the town where I live, no one would bat an eye at Janet Reno.

              1. Nora Charles*

                Yeah, she’s not beautiful, but she just looks like an average, everyday person to me. I’d say “frumpy” is more of a descriptor, and that has to do with style, which one can change.

                Also, she always seemed very trustworthy to me. Some people in politics are a little too flashy for me to trust.

            1. catsAreCool*

              I think the pictures of her that I’ve seen mostly show her looking irritable – it’s not a flattering look.

        2. Kelly L.*

          Cosmetic surgery–the kind done for purely aesthetic reasons and not to, say, reconstruct a “normal” appearance after an injury–is an industry that profits when people feel bad about their looks. As such, it’s a field that’s going to have issues in that area, yucky though that fact is.

          But that doesn’t mean unattractive doctors are limited to autopsies. They have the whole rest of the field of medicine open to them too (barring any other beauty-focused specialties I’m not thinking of). I’ve met various doctors over the years and most of them are just regular-looking people. Haven’t met a Clooney yet.

          1. The Strand*

            There are a lot of gorgeous, youthful student doctors and health professionals, but if they don’t take steps (and even if they do), the lifestyle can wear on them, hard, like anyone else. There are indeed overweight doctors, PAs, and nurses, and ones who are not at all gorgeous or style-impaired.

            Yes, cosmetic surgeons – and dermatologists – and nutrition – may draw people who are into “aesthetics”. Fields also draw people who have a significant problem; I knew a urologist who went into the field because of his dad’s illness, and an aspiring neurologist who was trying to solve a rare disease she had. Or people decide they want to be a radiologist or podiatrist because they figure their lifestyle will be more manageable.

            Also, I feel it should be pointed out that many cosmetic surgeons themselves show signs of “work”. If they have a trusted friend they went through training through, and they don’t like their nose, why not?

            1. Kelly L.*

              Yeah, that’s another factor–people who work in plastic surgery can probably get stuff fixed at a discount ;)

          2. Stranger than fiction*

            Yeah, I’d say about roughly half the plastic surgeons in this area are good looking….but, I will say that ALL of them seem to have beautiful, knock-out gorgeous, office staff. (and in this area, plastic surgery is sadly very very common, even high schoolers get it, sadly). I know this because I used to work for a company that financed plastic surgeries and the doctors were my accounts that I sometimes had to visit. (and ok, yes I’ve had one procedure)

        3. LBK*

          I’m not really understanding what you’re trying to get at here. Surgeon seems like an odd profession to use as an example because presumably you choose your area of concentration, no? Cosmetic surgery also doesn’t seem like a reasonable profession to base this impression on because physical beauty is their business. It’s like saying ugly people don’t get hired as models – well, that is kind of the point.

          Outside of industries specific related to physical beauty, though, I really disagree with the assertion you’re making here for the vast majority of hiring managers. Not to be too harsh on my coworkers but there are certainly some not-so-hot people in my office who’ve been gainfully employed for years.

          1. Myrin*

            Similarly, every dentist I’ve ever been to had horrid teeth (I’m not exaggerating, I mean every single one) and none of the eye doctors had fashionable glasses.

            1. Nora Charles*

              But I’ve never been to an eye doctor who didn’t have glasses.

              My dentists have all had perfectly nice teeth, though. And the oral surgeon who took out my wisdom teeth was one of the best looking health professionals I’ve ever seen in my life.

            2. AJS*

              My eye doctor is one of the most handsome men I’ve ever seen. Think Bradley Cooper only better.

              1. Buffay the Vampire Layer*

                I used to go to an eye doctor who looked just like the Croatian guy from ER. It was amazing.

    3. qkate*

      I’m sure this happens some places but I’d hardly extrapolate that to a 100% generalization for the world at large.

  18. LookyLou*

    #1 – I think this is true if you don’t take it literally. I don’t think many employers would rely on 90 seconds with an interviewee to decide to offer the job or not, if so then most interviews would only last for minutes. But I think most employers make some crucial decisions from the impression you give within the first 90 seconds. Just think of everything that can happen during that 90 seconds – you enter the office, you shake hands, you introduce yourself, you sit down, make some comments, and then start the real interview. If you’ve screwed up something in that amount of time you pretty much lose the chance unless your interview goes amazingly well. I think that they determine if they WANT to hire you and the rest of the interview is you either supporting that decision or changing their mind.

    #3 – Frankly, if someone is being demoted with a pay decrease during their last 3 weeks, I have the feeling that this isn’t because notice was given. Most employers don’t have the luxury of just demoting people without any thought or planning. I could see that perhaps this was in motion before she gave her notice and perhaps even why she gave her notice . Either that or they already have a replacement for her position and aren’t paying her the same rate for doing less work in a lesser role.

    1. PoppyTea*

      With #3, in a small enough business, it’s not that hard for a boss to arbitrarily decide to retaliate in some ridiculous way. I had one tell me that he was going to charge me for using break room freebies (coffee, use of the mini-fridge to store lunch, ect) during the duration of my notice period.

    2. eplawyer*

      I’m actually leaning towards “the boss is an ass” which is why OP gave notice. OP didn’t want to work with an ass anymore, found new job. Boss is now proving her right on leaving.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      #1 – I’d say it’s possible to lose the job in the first 90 seconds, but pretty much impossible to move to a “yes” in that time.

    4. Artemesia*

      I don’t believe that it ‘just was a coincidence’; this is a pretty rare occurrence. Lots of small business owners behave like asses towards employees because they can — they are the kind of the hill and ain’t no one telling them what to do and an employee who leaves for another job is ungrateful and disloyal and how can I hurt them. It is after all to be immediately dismissed when you give notice; this is just a variation on that. I love Alison’s suggestion and would be on my way to file for unemployement that day.

    1. Jerzy*

      How about one that says: Your ass is boss?

      (Probably not work appropriate though, huh?)

  19. some1*

    I feel like 3 and 4 have a back-stories. Hopefully the LWs weigh in. Both situations sound crappy.

  20. KT*

    #4, I’d be really prepared for this to be a “you longer work here” meeting; that’s the only time I’ve heard of people being told not to come in, but come in for a meeting. That’s usually so they can get the release paperwork all squared away. I’d take this time to really get cracking on a job search.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I can’t either. This exact thing happened to me when I got fired. Except I didn’t have to come in for a meeting–they FedEx’ed me a letter. I got it the day after I saw my job advertised in the paper (I saw the writing on the wall and had begun looking). Then my boss and coworker packed my stuff and FedEx’ed that to me, and I mailed back my key fob. I was really actually relieved to be out of that place.

          1. Hlyssande*

            I got let go from a temp assignment via a phone message left with my roommate from the agency when the agency contact knew I would be commuting.

            I never got my stuff back.

    1. Erin*

      Agreed. So sorry, OP.

      I wouldn’t worry about whether or not you’re getting paid for this time, because you’re probably about to lose your job and should thus be worrying about more serious, long-term things. I’d take this time to reflect and think about what you want to do and where to go from here. Take time for yourself, but get that resume in order too.

      And hey, if we’re wrong, you haven’t lost anything, and you’ll have a resume ready to go if you decide you want to start looking for a job elsewhere regardless.

      1. Allison*

        I would, only because if OP is going to be without income soon, every cent from here on out is gonna count. 4 days worth of pay can make a huge difference.

  21. E*

    RE: 1

    I’ve been in interviews where I knew within 90 seconds that the person was a bad fit for the company. In many contexts it would be impossible to assess if someone could perform the duties well or not that fast.

    On the other hand, I had a candidate who was one of the weakest of the bunch going into second round interviews, rocked it, and was the one I hired.

  22. Lindrine*

    I’ve done a LOT of interviewing candidates recently. I don’t make my mind up in the first minute and a half. However, it is true that if your resume is strong and you give each skill a rating (programming skills for example) or stay you have a level of proficiency, I am going to ask questions to evaluate your actual knowledge. Pro tip: Don’t rate yourself as a JavaScript expert if you only copy/paste. This will not fool anyone who has real life programming in JavaScript.

    1. BeenThere*

      I had the similar with Java. Interviewed a guy with zero professional experience with Java but a long history of older procedural languages who said he was intermediate level as rated by an instructor whom he took a Java course from. So I ask him to write me a simple piece of code in Java… queue blank looks, then I asked for a Hello World… more blank looks so I broke it down asked him to write the method signature… he couldn’t do it. He wasn’t even a beginner, he didn’t even meet the grade for someone who had done their first class of Java 101.

      Our team didn’t have time to train someone in OO programming so the job went to the grad who was nervous as all hell but understood the basics. He worked out really well and came up with some great solutions.

      I always use this as my cautionary you have to test the skill if you are basing your hiring decision on it. People make up fabulous lies about their abilities all the time.

  23. determined*

    #5 – this could be the case for government workers, or those who work in municipalities or school districts. I used to work a lot of trade shows in Old Job and we often raffled off prizes over $100. Pretty much every time someone from those types of places won, they couldn’t accept it. Some could only accept gifts up to a certain limit (for example, a $25 gift card to Red Lobster), so we had to work our raffles around that too.

    1. HR Recruiter*

      Yes, to all of this for #5.

      In the great state I live in our wonderful governor (whom I hope never becomes President, for other reasons) decided government employees get too many perks like getting paid half as much if they would if they were in the same positions in the corporate world. So anything over $25 must be turned over to the employer. Loophole the employer can than use it as a prize for employees.

      Also, my spouse works in the medical field where they favored “vendors” that provided the best lunches and dinners ($100 steak dinners with unlimited alcohol). they got in big trouble as well and now cannot accept anything.

    2. Artemesia*

      I represented vendors at a trade show I would have alternative prizes for those who couldn’t accept e.g. a stack of gift cards for the amount acceptable — maybe $25, 50 and 100 that I could offer to people who won but couldn’t accept the big prize.

    3. Kyrielle*

      Yeah, I’m in a private company that does business in multiple countries, and I just went through our mandatory business ethics training. Basically, the same thing here as there. The appearance of impropriety is a *big* legal deal, for the companies *and* the employees (who are also liable).

      Considering my contact with clients and vendors is exactly 0, I suspect I may have to follow those rules for the first time on the third of never, but I do know they’re there and I’d need to follow them if the situation ever did arise.

  24. Richard*

    #1 – I’d say that after the first few minutes, I usually know whether it’s worth talking to them more or not. That doesn’t mean I’ve made a final decision to hire them. I’ll then try to give them a chance to prove me wrong, one way or another. It takes more than 90 seconds, especially if they’re nervous, depressed, or otherwise beaten down by the job search process, since it can take a few minutes for them to connect well enough to talk, but it doesn’t take long to triage out the first set of “No, this just isn’t going to work.”

    Some things I can tell in the first few minutes:
    * I at least know whether or not they can hold a conversation, look me in the eyes, and interact with people on the team.
    * I often do a group interview, and if the interviewee doesn’t look a female or minority member of the team in the eye or acts dismissive of them, that’s something I try to probe, usually by having the other interviewers ask more questions. I don’t want to unfairly read prejudice where it doesn’t exist, but if they can’t work together, they aren’t going to be on the team
    * Did they bother to read the job description? I’ve been surprised by interviewees who clearly didn’t realize what job they were interviewing for, even after they’ve had the job description re-iterated to them in the email confirming the interview.
    * On a phone interview, with someone who will be working remotely: Do they understand how to use a phone? If I remind them that they need to occasionally take a breath, will they? (We had one person who didn’t realize the phone line was dead for more than 10 minutes, because they were still rambling on. When we reconnected, we listened for several minutes, trying to break in, but the voice activation wouldn’t let us).

  25. LuvzALaugh*

    I would agree with Alisson OP#1 with the caveat that there have been times I knew I wouldn’t hire someone in the first 90 seconds. This was for extreme issues that talent and experience just couldn’t fix. To show you I am not evil here are some reasons I didn’t hire people regardless of their qualifications. All did not happen within the first 90 seconds some did :
    *Asked me out on a date during the interview
    *using street vanacular during introduction
    *It is clearly posted not to use tobacco on the property but applicant stood in front of the door and smoked anyway before coming in.
    *calling me from the lobby and both sounding annoyed and expressing annoyance that I have not met you out there when you are actually 15 or more minutes early. I actually do have other things to attend to today that’s why I scheduled an interview time.
    *Mom came in with candidate

    If it makes you feel any better there have also been times I felt pretty strongly that we had the right person quickly during the intervew. This was only because I conduct extensive phone screens. I already knew they had certain skills and after alot of experience interviewing, it doesn’t take too long to determine fit. Still kept an open mind and confirmed opinions with the group making the decision, looked at concrete objectives to make sure the “hunch” was supported, but it does happen.

    As a side note, because I have seen people ask before, the reason that I ask you some of the same questions during an in person interview that I may have asked on the phone (phrased differently if appropriate) is to see if you give me the same answer, to see how your body language matches up with what is coming out of your mouth ect ect.

    1. Erin*

      Wow. Yes, someone could reasonable decide not to hire within 90 seconds if one of those deal breakers came up. Good God.

    2. UKAnon*

      Street vernacular I’d probably let pass unless it was NSFW, but asking you out on a date? I hope you didn’t even interview, just said “That was inappropriate and unprofessional and I am afraid we won’t be offering you the role on this occasion. Thank you for your time.”

  26. Erin*

    #1 – I read that 33% of interviewers decide whether or not they’ll hire you within 90 seconds. But, I can’t seem to find any information on the study that came to that conclusion, so…

    I do believe people decide within 90 seconds if they like someone or not. And being likable is undoubtedly a component in getting hired.

    But, to actually decide to hire in 90 seconds? It’s hard to believe, considering they’re seeing multiple candidates. Even if they decide they like someone in 90 seconds, they may have eight other people they haven’t interviewed yet. And again, being likable is only one of many traits they’re considering about you. You could be likable and they enjoy talking with you, but you just don’t have the experience they’re looking for, or they’re leaning towards hiring internally, or any number of things.

  27. Ad Astra*

    Exempt employees must be paid their full salary for weeks in which they do any work, and that meeting at the end of the week counts as work.

    Does this mean I should get my full salary if I take a day off and don’t have any PTO? A while back I took a Friday off unpaid to go to an out-of-town wedding because I hadn’t accrued enough vacation time to cover it.

    1. fposte*

      Looks allowable–“Deductions from pay are allowed [ . . . ] When an employee is absent from work for one or more full days for personal reasons other than sickness or disability.”

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yeah, they can’t deduct if you’re “ready, willing and able to work,” but they can deduct in the following limited cases:

        “When an employee is absent from work for one or more full days for personal reasons other than sickness or disability;
        For absences of one or more full days due to sickness or disability if the deduction is made in accordance with a bona fide plan, policy or practice of providing compensation for salary lost due to illness;
        To offset amounts employees receive as jury or witness fees, or for temporary military duty pay;
        For penalties imposed in good faith for infractions of safety rules of major significance;
        For unpaid disciplinary suspensions of one or more full days imposed in good faith for workplace conduct rule infractions;
        In the employee’s initial or terminal week of employment if the employee does not work the full week, or
        For unpaid leave taken by the employee under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.”

  28. MashaKasha*

    #1 – I think it depends on the field. In mine (IT) we need tangible results from a person, which requires more information about them than whether my heart skipped a beat when he walked through the door. Admittedly, I’ve only been on the other side of the job interviews a few times, but that’s still enough interviewing experience for me to assure #1 that their friend is incorrect; or rather partially correct. We’ve had people come in to our panel interviews that would charm the pants off everyone in the first 90 seconds and then we’d ask concrete questions and things would go downhill fast. I remember one guy who made an amazing first impression and then BS’d through the answers to technical questions. It wouldn’t have been half as bad if he’d said “I don’t know” or “I forgot what that is”, but he made up his own answers on the fly, which were miles away from being correct! That’s an automatic NOPE. We need the person to deliver results and get things done, not just sit there and look pretty!

    OTOH the 90-second theory has finally explained to me what I thought was the interviewees’ bizarre behavior. Almost every one of them would walk into the room and immediately start talking about one of two things: 1) football, or 2)golfing. Guess this means they were trying to make a good first impression on the male interviewers – which somehow makes me feel left out, but oh well.

    1. UKAnon*

      “Almost every one of them would walk into the room and immediately start talking about one of two things: 1) football, or 2)golfing. Guess this means they were trying to make a good first impression on the male interviewers – which somehow makes me feel left out, but oh well.”

      My mum has a beautiful trick of explaining the offside rule in great detail to men who query or are surprised by her interest in sports. As both a woman and a football fan, I don’t know if I’d be able to resist the temptation if an interviewee was trying to build a rapport with the men that way…

    2. Windchime*

      The BS’ers always get a big fat “nope” from me. Helpful hint to candidates: If I am asking you a technical question, I already know the answer. So when you make up some bullshit answer on the fly, you’re not fooling anyone and it would have been better for you to say, “Gee, I don’t know.” Don’t be like the guy who self-rated his SQL skills at a 9 and then couldn’t tell me how to drop a table. He was either delusional or lying, but it doesn’t matter which–he was not going to get hired either way.

      Oh, and he was very handsome and personable, and wore a nice suit. But that gets you nowhere in IT.

  29. AndersonDarling*

    I never thought about the conflict of accepting raffle gifts on company time. I had no idea other organizations had these rules. I’m going to talk to my HR about updating our policy, or at least considering the ethics.
    But I would have a really hard time handing over a ps4 if I won one at a conference.
    Do these policies cover all raffles? What if I was representing the company at a charity event or fundraiser that wasn’t related to our business? What about goodie bags that are given to all attendees at a conference? I always figured my ticket cost paid for the goodie bags.

    1. Excel Slayer*

      Our policy only covers an event where a gift could reasonably be seen to be a bribe (‘gifts’ here includes very swanky meals etc as well as PS4 type gifts). So, for example:
      1) If you are representing Chocolate Teapots Ltd at an event for local charity Save the Baby Goats and you win a Ps4 as the top prize in their raffle then that’s fine (as Save the Baby Goats is neither a potential supplier, an existing supplier or a client).
      2) If you go to a conference and get a goodie bag sponsored by Spouts R Us (supplier of fine spouts for teapots), and the goodie bag contains two pens and a bar of soap, then that’s fine (as the gift is of no real value).
      3) If, at the conference, you get lucky and win a second PS4 from the raffle held by Spouts R Us, then you can’t have it (as it is from a potential supplier).

    2. Apollo Warbucks*

      In the UK there are laws regarding what is appropriate to accept or offer in terms of gifts and hospitality. the general rule of thumb is not to accept anything that could give the impression of impropriety.

      Small incidental gifts are normally OK (mugs, pens, t-shirts, etc, etc) but more than that needs to be handed to the firm and is raffled off for charity.

    3. qkate*

      The only time I’ve had a job where this was an issue was when I worked for a state university. Ethics are a Big Deal, both real and perceived. I wouldn’t worry about it too much unless your work is somehow related to government (gov’t agency, contractor, subject to heavy regulation, etc).

  30. Shannon*

    Re: OP #5 – if they work for any branch of the US government, that would not be uncommon. The civil service laws dictate that a public employee cannot “benefit from their position.” That includes things like earning personal frequent flyer miles off of work-paid trips, accepting gifts from the public, and so forth. Our travel and training rules at work note that any products received at a conference, whether as the result of a drawing, a package given to you at registration, and so forth are all under that rule – they are the property of your department. You can use them – for example, if you win an iPad – but they must be used for your work, and if you leave your job, they remain behind.

  31. Brett*

    #5 First of two stories related to #5. A few years ago, I was playing a contest at a large (14k+) conference. It was run by a company that was not at all a vendor of our organization, and I was mostly doing the contest for fun. It involved doing various activities at the conference to earn points, mostly taking selfies with celebrities in our industry.

    End of day one, the organizer finds me and say, “Hey, you are in the lead by a landslide. You won the daily prize!” It was a gift certificate to a really nice local restaurant. I never considered the idea that there were daily prizes and had to turn it down on the spot because I had no idea how our gift policy would deal with that. On top of that, I did have a huge lead and the grand prize was a mac book. The next morning I called the offices right away to find out how our policy worked, and found out I could have accepted the gift certificate but the mac book would be an issue. I won the rest of the daily prizes, but talked to the organizer and “took second” at the end.

    Interestingly, the best prize was that lots of people suddenly knew who I was and recognized me because I was the person who took all those conference selfies with so many industry celebrities.

  32. Laurel Gray*

    OP #4 – do you handle money or bank reconciliations? I ask because that’s the first type of work that comes to mind when someone says a boss made them take days off mandatory like this.

  33. Brett*

    #5 Second story involves a friend of mine in the industry who also works for local government. At the same conference a year or two later, we attended an ~200 person meetup run by a direct vendor (also the conference sponsor). There was a raffle there, and the grand prize was a conference registration to a different conference run by the same vendor.
    This other conference is a smaller premier specialty conference, but registration is around $1600 plus another $1000 or so for hotel and travel. The main conference is free registration because our organizations are customers, which meant that neither of our government agencies would ever allow us to attend the premier conference because of the difference in registration costs. Most of the other prizes were small things worth $10-$20 (and really, the grand prize cost the vendor very little).
    She won the grand prize, and was ecstatic. She could finally go to that conference. She was planning to take vacation days and pay her own travel if she had to, but she could finally go. And then she got back home, and, just like LW #5, her employer required her to surrender the prize to the agency. All her plans to attend were quashed.

    Fortunately, her boss is awesome. With the free registration, he budget travel for her to the premier conference and sent her there instead. And it turns out there department head is awesome too, she leveraged the free registration into arguing successfully for sending the boss too despite the cost. The conference was so beneficial to them, that now both get to attend it every other year instead of the main conference despite the cost.
    So, even though my friend had to surrender her awesome prize to her employer, they ended up taking care of her and she received a useful longer term benefit out of it.

  34. Anonymous Educator*

    Well, I don’t know how other people do interviews, but in the hiring I’ve been involved in or led, it usually works something like this:

    1. Post an ad or reach out to recruiters
    2. Get a bunch of résumés
    3. Sift through the cover letters / résumés and try to figure out which ones to call for a phone interview
    4. Slog through some phone interviews (about 15-45 minutes each) as a first screen
    5. Decide which candidates to bring on site for a more in-depth interview
    6. Interview those candidates—depending on the position, it could be a one-hour interview with two people or a full day meeting a variety of constituents
    7. Narrow it down to two or three finalists
    8. Invite those back for a second interview
    9. After checking references, make an offer… or go back to #1

    I don’t see any point in that 9-step process in which I (or someone else on the hiring committee) can decide within 90 seconds to hire anyone. Personally, I don’t even decide within 90 seconds if I like a candidate, because one of the tests I give of a good candidate is “Can you, at some point, let your polite guard down and show some vulnerability, or are you just going to talk a good game the whole time?” And, usually, good candidates don’t let their guards down until about 15 minutes into the interview, so there’s actually no way I could decide in 90 seconds!

    1. Erin*

      I really like your logical approach to this.

      I had argued that while I find it hard to believe that an interviewer can decide within 90 seconds that they’re going to hire you, I do believe (generally speaking) that people *can* decide within 90 seconds of meeting someone if they like them or not.

      But your thoughts here on not even liking someone right away in this context, because they need time to let their guard down a little, makes a lot of sense.

  35. Dr. Doll*

    We had a couple of guys go to a conference and receive expensive computer equipment as a conference promotion. They get to keep and use the computers, but the machines did have to be tagged and inventoried as university property, since the university paid for them to go. Seemed like a reasonable compromise.

  36. Qlarue*

    I’ve decided in less than 90 seconds not to hire someone. He came to the interview wearing jeans and a baseball hat. That was a very short interview.

  37. bob*

    #4: OP you must have a hunch that something is wrong in this situation? I’m pretty sure this isn’t something that is coming completely out of left field so what’s the back story? Big mistake, bad boss or what?

  38. The Other Dawn*

    My boss and I just had a conversation about this an hour ago. He said that he usually knows within the first 5 minutes if he doesn’t want to hire someone. I would say that’s true sometimes and not totally unreasonable, but 90 seconds seems a little short.

  39. Lisa Petrenko*

    I don’t think they mean the manager makes a decision in 90 seconds, but those 90 seconds are the most important 90 seconds you have to make a lasting positive impression. Those 90 seconds WILL influence how everything after comes across. No smart person would say in 90 seconds this is the person I want, but there are countless times where those 90 seconds make the interviewer think I would rather stab myself in the privates with a letter opener than see this person every day at work. So they are both right.

  40. Lisa Petrenko*

    The only time where I can think of you being told to take a week off then come in for a meeting is if an allegation of a serious infraction has been made against you and they need that week to investigate and having you there would interferever or be too dangerous for them. Usually you are told that though, unless they fear you will work to cover your tracks before they find out the truth.

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