I thought my in-person interview was a phone interview, wearing the same dress as a senior colleague, and more

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

1. I thought my in-person interview was a phone interview

I scheduled a phone interview for today (I thought) and waited the recommended 15 minutes for the interviewer to call me. As I was calling her, I received an email asking where I was, since she had expected me at noon, or “did you think this was a phone interview?” I immediately called the number listed in her signature and apologized for the confusion, saying I believed it was a phone interview and would be happy to reschedule to come in. She followed with, “Well, my number is in my email so you could have called sooner.” I simply apologized again and we scheduled another interview for next week.

My question is, how do I make up for it? The only information I got for the interview was a time and date that she was “looking forward to speaking with me.” The wording of the email said, “My company is looking to fill an account coordinator position. If you’re interested, I’d like to set up a time to chat” and her email signature just included her email, office phone number, and cell phone number, no address for the company. Now that I’ve been through this, I know not to make assumptions, but I’m stuck in this situation.

How can I apologize for the confusion and show that I’m still interested in the position before I go in for the actual interview? I don’t want to come off as someone who can’t follow directions because I really want this position, but I’m already getting bad vibes and feel like my opportunity is basically gone. (And I have definitely learned my lesson…always confirm format/location in advance!).

You both made mistakes here; it’s weird that she didn’t offer an address for the location of the interview, and yes, you should have asked whether she wanted you to talk in-person or over the phone. However, once she realized the miscommunication, there wasn’t any reason for her snotty “Well, my number is in my email so you could have called sooner.”

As for what to do now, not a lot beyond showing up for your interview and being awesome. When you do show up, I’d say something at the start of the meeting like, “Again, I’m so sorry about the miscommunication over the format of the interview. I’ve learned to clarify in the future!” Or you might send a confirming email the day before that says something like, “I just wanted to confirm that I’ll be at your office at 10 a.m. tomorrow morning to meet with you about the account coordinator position. I’m so sorry about last week’s misunderstanding, and I’m really looking forward to talking with you.”

And don’t let this throw you off. Miscommunications happen. You weren’t the only person to blame for this one, and if she acts like you committed a heinous crime, she’ll be giving you good information about what she’d be like to work for.

Read an update to this letter here.

2. Can I wear the same dress that a more senior colleague owns?

I have recently lost quite a bit of weight and have been buying new clothes. I bought a dress, intending to wear it to work but now realize I’ve seen a colleague wearing one the same (it’s from a chain-store which mass produces clothes, but their items are not cheap). We work on the same floor of about 100 people but don’t work directly together. She is more senior than me. Do I have to return the dress or can I wear it to work anyway? Would it make a difference if it was a really old dress that I was unable to return?

There’s no reason you can’t wear the same dress as a colleague; in fact, with the ubiquity of mass-produced clothing stores, it happens all the time. (Think about all the people buying their work clothes from places like Ann Taylor, Loft, J Crew, Banana Republic, etc.; there’s inevitably lots of overlap in what people end up purchasing.)

The only thing that would give me any pause if the dress is in a particularly noticeable and unusual pattern — if it’s bright yellow with green polka dots all over it, it’s distinctive enough that it might jump out to people. But even then, it’s not a big deal (unless she’s become known for wearing this highly distinctive dress in loud colors, in which case, yes, it would look weird if you showed up in it too).

3. Is it really okay to have a friend check your references?

I’ve seen a couple of times now people in comment threads suggesting that a job hunter should have a friend call a former employer, pretending to be a new employer looking for a reference, to make sure the former employer wouldn’t say something bad about their candidacy. This surprised me because to do something similar with a letter of recommendation in academia (i.e. get a copy of a letter under false pretenses and then read it yourself to see what your recommender is saying) would be considered hugely unethical. Is it really fine to have someone call former employers on your behalf like this? Or are there distinctions that I’m missing here?

Yes. It’s a very different thing. Reference letters in academia are governed by well-established rules and ethics. Professional references outside of academia are a whole different thing. There are even services devoted to checking your references for you; there’s no reason that you can’t do the same thing for free by having a professional-sounding friend call and inquire about you. (I mean, obviously an employer who found out you had done this wouldn’t be thrilled, but it’s not the same thing as violating convention around recommendations letters in academia.)

Doing this doesn’t require that the friend spin an elaborate story. It can be as simple as, “Hi, this is (real name) and I’m calling about a reference for (your name). Do you have a few minutes to talk with me about her?”

And you’d be surprised by how few references will ask for more information. When I was working in drug policy, I usually wouldn’t proactively offer up the name of the organization I was calling from, because that was back in the days when some people still reacted weirdly to the idea of not sending people to prison for using marijuana. I’d just say, “My name is Alison Green and Jane Smith gave me your name as a reference.” Very few people asked, “What organization are you calling from?” (When they did, I of course told them. But I was surprised by how infrequently it came up.)

4. My boss’s illnesses are inadvertently triggering me

I’m in a new position which I love. However, I have a bit of a problem. My boss is great, and I love them, but they are very often ill. As someone who went through a couple of traumatic medical experiences (a number of hospitalizations, invasive procedures, pain, etc), the idea of someone being physically ill shoots my anxiety through the roof. I suppose you could consider it post-hospitalization PTSD. It’s extremely scary for me, particularly when they announce they feel very sick/have been sick that day. I try to laugh it off, but it does give me vague feelings of flashbacks and some sense of paranoia. And clearly, it’ll affect my work performance that day as well. What is the best way I can deal with this?

Honestly, I think therapy. Even if your boss is sick more often than most people, this is going to come up as issue anywhere you work, when coworkers get ill. Since it’s not something you can easily control in your environment and you’re going to keep running into, I’d work on your reaction to it instead — and a good therapist (possibly a cognitive therapist, although commenters may know better than me) is probably your best bet for doing that.

5. Can I apply for an internship in my home town that wants local candidates only if I haven’t moved back yet?

I live in the Caribbean where my husband has attended medical school and I have been working on an MBA since last year—we’ll move back home to the west coast by Christmas, and spend about six months there before we move to the east coast for his clinical rotations. Six months is obviously too short a span for a full-time job, but there’s a great internship that just opened in my area for which I qualify nicely. The problem is that they’re only looking for people who live in *that* area, and I’m not technically living there right now (although I do have a permanent address I can use for the application). It’s such a good opportunity that my husband would be fine with my moving back home earlier for it.

So the question is, can I even apply? Would an employer find it problematic to hire an intern that needs to make such an effort to work in the region? Or, if I’m straightforward about my situation, would it be a good enough story to keep me in the running? I’m going to be back in town eventually anyway, I just don’t want to lie or completely drop the chance to apply.

Yes, apply! Just explain your situation: “Winterfell is my home town and I’ve been planning to move back by the end of the year. I’d be delighted to move back slightly earlier than I’d originally planned in order to take this internship.”

Also, under your address on your resume, include this:
“(In the process of moving back to Winterfell)”

{ 243 comments… read them below }

  1. Afiendishingy*

    #1: to me the interviewer’s question “or did you think this was a phone interview?” when you didn’t show suggests that when she looked back at the correspondence she realized the wording was ambiguous. With any luck she’s like my colleague who ALWAYS panics and thinks she’s to blame when there’s a scheduling mixup with our staff :)

    1. The Other Dawn*

      That’s exactly what I was thinking: she realized her email wasn’t as clear as she thought it was. The fact that she said the OP could’ve called sooner tells me she’s not someone who readily accepts responsibility for her mistakes; it’s someone else’s fault. I think most normal people would’ve said, upon realizing the ambiguity, “I’m sorry for the misunderstanding,” and rescheduled without issue.

      1. Sadsack*

        Yes, as Allison wrote, it was a snotty way to act toward OP. OP should be alert for other indications about this person during the interview. Personally, I think the interviewer has already made herself seem like she’d be difficult to work with.

      2. JB (not in Houston)*

        Yes, I agree. And honestly, if I’d have received that email, I’d have thought it was a phone interview, too. I’ve never heard someone use the phrase “time to chat” to mean anything but a phone conversation unless we were already in the same room (like, “I got this email from the shipping department, do you have time to chat about this for a minute?”). Now I know I should always clarify if someone uses that word in an email.

        I’m actually not crazy about using the word “chat” in a business setting–to me an interview, especially an in-person interview, is too serious to constitute a chat. But in the last few years I have realized that I am way out of the mainstream on that one.

        1. Honeybee*

          Me either, especially with any lack of cues about location (“We’ll meet in my office in our location on 123 Baker St.”, “Here are directions to our location”, etc.)

          I kind of agree with you on the “chat” language because I found it confusing in my most recent job search process. I almost universally understood it to be a phone or Skype meeting, which it always was. But in one case, “chat” was the term used for a sort of informal pre-interview talk to see if I was interested and a good fit for the position, and the interviewer – the head of the lab in which I’ll be working, and my boss’s boss – told me that anything I said during the talk wasn’t part of the formal interview process and that I was allowed to be candid with my questions. Ummmmm…I don’t believe you? I thought a phone screen typically WAS for the purpose of seeing if people are a good fit, and I applied for the position, so I’m definitely interested…? I just treated it like a normal phone screen.

          And then a lot of interviewers used it to indicate the phone screen, and then some people used it to indicate a second phone interview. In fact, few people actually used the term “interview.”

    2. Erin*

      Yeah, she knows she’s partly to blame. I don’t like how she got rudely defensive about it though. Like Alison said, misunderstandings happen.

      Apologize one more time, do the interview, but do take her rudeness into consideration when thinking about if this is place you want to work or not. It might have been a knee-jerk reaction for her and she’s actually a lovely person, and you can find that out at the interview.

      Or she sucks, and you’re getting more interviewing practice. :)

      1. OP #1*

        That’s exactly what I did. We rescheduled over the phone, then later in the day I sent an email with an apology and confirmed the time and location for the interview. I’ll apologize once more in the actual interview and then move on, and hopefully it won’t affect my mojo during the interview. We’ll see how the interview works out to see what she’s really like!

        1. Not Yet Seeking*

          In the interview, instead of apologizing a third time, I would instead just spin out an allusion to it, something like: “It’s good to meet with you, I’m glad we were able to work out the scheduling.” Keep it upbeat – if you keep hitting the apology note, it will read as you both being hung up on the mistake, and taking responsibility for it. If you present an apology again you put the interviewer in the position of either needing to tell you it wasn’t a problem, or needing to take responsibility for it herself. It would be more productive for both of you to skip that dance and move forward.

    3. INTP*

      I agree with this. Either she knew she was ambiguous, or she has had other candidates in the past think it was a phone interview, but she’s too oblivious to realize it’s her fault for communicating so poorly and thinks it’s just coincidence.

  2. anunyabizness*

    #4 – For therapy around trauma and PTSD, look specifically for a therapist who specializes and is experienced in trauma work, as not every clinician does and it can be a whole thing of its own. Somatic therapists or therapists who do (non-touching) body work (i.e., working not only with what you can verbally articulate but with what your body expresses and how trauma impacts you physiologically) as a particular modality might be useful (on top of the speciality in trauma). Some of the information around somatic psychology can sound a little ‘woo’ (especially from the older practitioners who started doing it before all of the science was in), but there have been a lot of solid breakthroughs recently in psychoneuroimmunology that support the importance of ‘whole body’ approaches to trauma recovery.

    1. Lizzie*

      I came here to say exactly that first bit – not every therapist works with trauma, so definitely look for someone who has experience with it. Also, don’t be afraid to shop around for someone you feel is a good fit for you, either. It’s very common to set up an initial appointment and have you ask them some questions, give them a general idea of what you’re looking to work through might be, find out what their method usually is for trauma clients, and see if you’re a match. Anyone worth their salt is going to be fine with this and frank about whether or not they can help you (and if they aren’t, or you feel you’re not a good fit, they can give/you can ask them for a referral to anyone they might know with trauma experience that could be).

      1. jmkenrick*

        Yes. And if you go a few sessions and it’s not clicking, don’t be afraid to shop around. Like any other relationship, you need a certain amount of chemistry and if you’re not really jiving with your therapist, it’s not going to be helpful.

        1. TheLazyB (UK)*

          I am not keen on my current therapist. And at times i’ve HATED her. But she’s been far more effective than anyone i’ve seen in the past, and i do think i’m far less likely to relapse, but have a good plan for if i do.

          Just to throw that out there…. And YMMV as always.

          1. Jillociraptor*

            One of my best therapy experiences was with a therapist that I personally just didn’t like very much — it was good for me because I didn’t feel any pressure to “get better” for him or help make sure his ideas worked, which had held me back with other therapists in the past.

            What you want to make sure of OP is that you feel like you can be honest with the person, and it feels like you’re moving forward.

          2. Not Today Satan*

            Yeah, I had one therapist with whom I worked for a year and who I liked a lot, and another therapist whose personality I didn’t really like, but who was a good therapist. In some ways I think the latter was better for me, because I wasn’t concerned with “impressing” him or whatever. But as you said, YMMV. (And at the time I was seeing the first therapist, I do think it was beneficial to be seeing one with whom I had a personal connection.)

          3. Chrissi*

            You always have to be on the lookout for the fact that you may not like your therapist because they are doing their job – i.e. pushing you (gently) into talking about things that make you uncomfortable or that you would shy away from. My feeling is that if you dislike your therapist in the first 2 or 3 sessions, there’s something wrong. But, if you dislike you therapist sometimes further in, it just means it’s working :)

          4. jmkenrick*

            Certainly. I never said and I’m not trying to suggest that your therapist has to be someone you’d want to share a beer with. But there needs to be a certain amount of connection. If you don’t respect the person, or don’t feel that their insights are helpful, then you’re probably not getting the best use of it. I’ve heard lots of people claim therapy wasn’t right for them, and then proceed to describe a therapist who just didn’t connect with them at all. That’s not beneficial for either party.

      2. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

        That is solid advice. Three things to add:

        There are a number of therapists with specific expertise in illness/chronic pain. This is a subset of trauma that is right up your alley.

        And, just in case, because some people worry about this: psychology no longer focuses the idea of trauma on just war, rape, severe abuse, etc. Those things certainly are trauma, but what you experienced is too.

        One more: consider looking at someone who does EMDR.

    2. Sigrid*

      Fully agreed. I tried therapy a number of times but never looked for one who specialized in trauma (at the time I didn’t realize how much of my depression was do to past trauma) and it never took. When I did end up with one who specialized in trauma, things started improving dramatically. Don’t be afraid to shop around! Therapists are used to that; they want you to be with someone who is going to work for you as much as you do. And good luck. Trauma therapy is very, very difficult, but worth it.

    3. Nashira*

      Thank you for the tip. My current therapist is very supportive, but her approach to trauma mostly consists of journaling and I… Can’t do that. Like, tried and the dreams/intrusive memories got more intense and all my words ran away.

      I had thought maybe I was just wanting to leave her because we keep talking about uncomfortable things, but maybe it’s not that at all…

      1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

        Oh my – yeah, there are TONS of new and effective methods for treating trauma. Journaling isn’t something that you have to do at all.

      2. Sigrid*

        Eeesh, yeah, I really suggest finding someone new, who specializes in trauma. There is a treatment for trauma called Prolonged Exposure (aka “immersion therapy”), where you consciously try to relive the trauma, which may be what your therapist is aiming for with the journaling — but that’s only effective in a subset of PTSD patients, *and* it is done under the guidance of a trained professional. If journaling is causing you to be overwhelmed and you don’t have (and aren’t being given) the tools to deal with the overwhelming-ness of it, it’s not going to effective, and may ultimately be counterproductive. The point to most trauma therapies is that they are done with guidance and provide you with the tools you need to process the trauma, not that they shove you into the deep end and let you sink or swim. And it’s ok to leave a therapist! Your therapist should want you to be with the therapist who is able to best help you, just as you do.

        1. Nashira*

          Thank you for the encouragement! I’m going to see if my EAP can refer me to somebody with the skillz to handle my stuff. (If they’ll cover a few free sessions, so much the better… Muahaha.) I have left a therapist before, but man – it’s easier to “break up” when you don’t like them!

    4. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

      That is good advice. A few things to add:

      I’d look specifically for people who list that they work with chronic pain/illness. That should not be hard to find if you are in an urban area. Even if your illness has ended, they will have expertise in all the phases of experiencing an illness.

      Just in case, because some people worry about this, be aware that “trauma” isn’t limited to war, sexual assault, severe abuse, etc. That used to be the sole focus of trauma research, but the definition has expanded greatly. What you are describing will absolutely fall into the trauma category.

      Consider looking into a therapist who does EMDR which has been shown to be effective for this type of thing, often in just a handful of sessions. It sounds weird, but it is rather mainstream at this point.

      I will add that CBT is not where I would start here. As many others have said, you want someone who uses trauma-informed methods. CBT can be useful supplement (and nearly all therapists will have training in/use some aspects of CBT), but as a stand-alone, it’s probably not quite the right thing for this situation. That is, of course, just my opinion.

      1. teclatwig*

        So happy AAM has so many informed commenters, I don’t have much to add. I just want to add support to several of these points:

        Find a therapist who works with trauma. I personally have had great results with a combination of EMDR (it helps repattern your memory processes so that triggers are defused and the fight/flight reflex doesn’t come up) and bodywork (craniosacral and visceral manipulation), but there are lots of approaches out there, including art therapy, dance therapy, and more.

        Not CBT. Cognitive behavioral is great for many things, and would be great if you were mostly concerned with how you are acting/responding to your fears. I am on shaky ground here, and maybe someone else will correct me and explain that CBT is great for trauma, but I am pretty well convinced that PTSD (and yes, you can have PTSD from “minor” experiences, which is not how I would classify OP’s trauma anyway) is body/reflex-level issue.

        Somatic work. I am only beginning to learn about this, mostly through exposure to a biodynamic craniosacral practitioner who is studying somatic therapy. If anybody is interested in more info about trauma and the body, I highly recommend looking up Peter Levine’s work (Taming the Tiger and Trauma-Proofing Your Child being the two I am familiar with).

        1. Chrissi*

          I’ve done CBT for depression and it was great. But I had some mild PTSD (from a burglary of all things, apparently it’s common) and I just suffered through it (bad idea). The CBT doesn’t seem like it would work for that, because like you said, it’s a body/reflex issue. My understanding is that PTSD generally gets better much faster w/ therapy (the right kind).

          1. AM*

            Because your brain runs your body CBT for fear based issues can, indeed, be very helpful. Two empirically validated treatments for PTSD, both used extensively with veterans as well in a variety of other circumstances, are Prolonged Exposure (PE) and Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT). They share a focus on exposure to memories of the fear inducing events, as well as exploring belief structures related to them. They are both really great time limited treatments with wonderful outcomes (something like 80% of completers do not meet diagnostic criteria for PTSD following treatment. And, from a more personal point of view, they result in people developing incredible power and self efficacy. They help people rebuild their lives.

        2. Sigrid*

          CBT doesn’t have much efficacy for trauma. It’s one of those things where the categorization of PTSD fails. PTSD is *technically* considered an anxiety disorder because it has more in common with anxiety disorders than anything else, but it’s actually not terribly similar to anxiety disorders. CBT is generally quite effective for other anxiety disorders, but not very effective at all for PTSD. Fortunately, there’s been a lot of research into specific treatments for PTSD, and there’s now a lot of treatments that can be quite effective; EMDR is a good one. But because PTSD is a strange beast, there isn’t one treatment that will work for everyone — OP#4, please try to find a trauma therapist who is experienced in multiple treatments, because you might need to try different things until you find something that works. And good luck!

          1. Renee*

            This has been very helpful. I have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder (GAD) and CBT was helpful for some of the associated depression and feelings of isolation, but it did not work well for the anxiety. CBT requires the emotion to be subject to logical assessment, and my anxiety was not. I’ve since had a breakthrough with regard to recognizing childhood abuse (denial is an interesting thing) and I believe that the anxiety is complex PTSD resulting from that. I love my counselor, but she is one of those super supportive empowering types, which has been wonderful for someone like me, but it doesn’t address the roots of the anxiety. CBT is pushed hard by my provider, and I was frustrated by how it didn’t seem to work that well for my primary issue. The posts here have been very helpful in explaining why CBT didn’t address the anxiety and they give me some avenues to pursue. I also have a pain disorder that I’ve come to associate with the abuse and anxiety and the relationship of those things is something I have just started to examine.

    5. Anx*

      I have a specific phobia related to illness and the body that is not a result of PTSD or trauma in general (that I know of, I’ve had it since age 7).

      I’ve had to make sure I worked with someone who took time to study (yeah, I didn’t work with a professional but a student) issues specific to body phobias (I’m blood-injury-injection phobic, or BII) as it presents differently than other specific phobias.

      I wonder if PTSD induced phobia and anxiety about body issues is similarly specific in its presentation and treatment?

  3. Our great computers fill the hallowed halls*

    #1: … she’ll be giving you good information about what she’d be like to work for.

    I have to disagree slightly with Alison on this. I think she already gave you some good information about what she’d be like to work for.

    (It’s not just the snotty “you could have called earlier” – it’s the fact that this person apparently has issues with clearly scheduling a meeting: as the person who is ‘hosting’ the interview, I would put the onus on her to make it clear that it was supposed to be F2F)

    1. Dutch Thunder*

      I’m with you on this. As candidates we can often be so focused on what we’re doing wrong/right and what impression we’re making that it’s easy to take our interviewer’s disapproval at face value, whether it’s a reasonable response or not.

      OP #1 did not commit some terrible crime. It was a simple misunderstanding, she’s learnt from it, and both the OP and the interviewer contributed to it. The interviewer’s reaction would put me off a bit.

      I mean, “you could have called earlier”? So could you, interviewer!

      1. Windchime*

        No kidding. Or you could have given OP……an address. Like someone who was expecting OP to show up at a physical location.

      2. Stranger than fiction*

        Seriously she’s almost too apologetic I mean an interview email would generally at least have the address and usually even more specifics like where to park what entrance to use there may be an application attached or a list of people you’re meeting with… This was let’s chat but you google and find out where I’m at

    2. Today I am Fiona*

      I had a boss once who would do things like that deliberately. I heard her complain many times about candidates that would (gasp!) ask for our address. She seemed to think this was a test that would weed out poor options. At the time, all one would get when Googling was the PO box. When I was interviewing, I happened to know the general area because I had noticed the sign near the street. I still couldn’t find the office (it’s really tucked away), and had to stop in another business and ask. Later I found out that a lot of people had done the same thing. I bet that place HATED us.

      I send out maps when interviewing. I’m not hiring people to make deliveries to our apparently top secret location, what would making them find it by themselves prove?

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        It would prove that they had gumption, and moxie, and other old-timey words.

        No, seriously though, the idea of putting a puzzle in front of an applicant and seeing how they do isn’t a horrible idea in and of itself, but considering how nervous most people are about interviewing, I think the point many hiring managers are missing is that applicants deserve to be explicitly TOLD that they are being presented with a challenge. Unless the position is astronaut engineer, and chances are good that they’ll have to MacGyver together a space suit from a sandiwch baggie and bubble gum, there’s no benefit to putting them on the spot like that without telling them.

        1. Today I am Fiona*

          Yes, I think that was her plan. Unfortunately it has backfired tremendously. If this is the only criteria you are hiring on (and it was the MAIN criteria for reasons I do not understand), then you are going to get some really weird employees (and yeah, I’m including myself in there :)).

      2. Merry and Bright*

        Yes to this. I send maps when I am arranging a meeting with people from an outside organization and a job interview shouldn’t be different from this.

        Also, I’ve been to a few interviews where they were held at another location (e.g. there was a lack of available meeting space so the organization rented an external office for the day). Not always ideal but it can happen.

      3. Allison*

        Sounds like another one of those “I shouldn’t have to tell them, they should just know/be able to figure it out” things. I’ll never understand people’s deliberate decision not to communicate key information because they “shouldn’t have to.”

        1. Sammie*

          At current job–I had to fly in for my interview. I arranged my own travel to site (which I found by Googling). This seems to be pretty typical these days.

      4. Ad Astra*

        I have always appreciated interviewers who sent me information about the exact location of the building, where to park, which floor the office is on, etc. It reduces the anxiety of showing up to an unfamiliar place and lets me focus on showing the interview what I have to offer.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          It also gives you a hint as to how that company supports their employees. A supportive, proactively helpful HR department or hiring manager is a tremendous plus when evaluating whether that job might be right for me.

          1. HM in Atlanta*

            Exactly! At this stage, you would have received (probably way too specific) instructions on our office location, where to park, what building entrance to use, what elevators to use, and notes on the construction going on around our office park because it might affect your drive time. This person probably runs off candidates every time she/he hires.

        2. some1*

          Yes, this. Especially if it’s an org/department tha isn’t set up for visitors and you have to call someone from the lobby to enter the building.

          1. Joline*

            Yep. THat’s what I did when we were hiring and I had interviewees coming in. Phoned them to arrange and then sent them an e-mail with time, street address of building, floor, and then the phone numbers of myself and a backup and instructions to call from the courtesy phone in the floor’s lobby since we’re on a secure floor.

        3. Elizabeth West*

          Agreed–Exjob was located deep in an industrial park, and if they hadn’t told me explicitly where it was, I never would have found it! And CurrentJob has restricted access, though it’s typically dealt with at the front desk.

        4. the gold digger*

          I had an interview with a big company that sent me an ariel photo of their campus with arrows showing where to park, which door to enter, etc. It was really nice.

        5. LizB*

          Yep. I just had an interview at a place kind of out in the boonies, and the interviewer sent me an email with the address, a description of the building, a description of a few different routes to get there depending on which highway I was coming from, and the receptionist’s phone number just in case. I was so grateful, and had no problem finding the location.

        6. zora*

          When I was an HR assistant in hiring waaayyy back in the day, I created a labeled map that I had to create in Publisher that we could send to all our interviewees. Now that all you have to do is screenshot from Google Maps there’s basically no excuse for not trying to help out your interviewees ;oP

      5. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        There are some companies who don’t want you to know where they (physically) are.

        I once worked for a large company — some of their offices were customer-service oriented and well-located; in other cities, they didn’t want you to know where they were. In those areas, you would call for service and they’d send someone out to you.

        I had to visit one of their offices, I got lost, called them, and they gave intentionally vague directions, until I talked to the manager and told her who I was and why I was coming out… then I received explicit directions.

        Now OP #1 – do not assume that the world is all voice-mail, iPhone, e-mail — unless stated specifically, assume that any interview is face-to-face, especially if you’re local.

        1. Observer*

          Now OP #1 – do not assume that the world is all voice-mail, iPhone, e-mail — unless stated specifically, assume that any interview is face-to-face, especially if you’re local.

          That’s a non-sequitur.

          And why should anyone always assume that any interview is in person unless stated otherwise? Especially when, as in this case, the wording sounded like a conversation and NO PHYSICAL LOCATION WAS PROVIDED. Normally, I would say “Do not make ANY assumptions, because many employers won’t be happy to have someone show up when it was supposed to be a phone interview, either.” But “let’s chat” with a phone number, but no location sounds enough like a phone interview that I think it was a legitimate mistake.

        2. AnonAnalyst*

          I would disagree with the last point. When I was last searching for a job, I had interviews with a lot of local companies and almost all of them set up an initial phone interview. I think only one went straight to an in person. Perhaps this is different in some areas, but the initial phone interview seems to be standard in my large, east coast city.

    3. Creag an Tuire*

      Leaving aside the lack of an address, was this OP #1’s first interview with this company? Because it seems to me that pretty much everyone phone-screens their applicants before inviting them in these days, so for the interviewer to think OP would assume the opposite reflects a lack of understanding modern professional norms.

    4. Renee*

      I would have taken this as a telephone interview as well, and I would not have called earlier as I would have assumed that she got hung up on an unexpected meeting or call. 15 minutes seems perfectly appropriate to me. She asked for time “to chat,” not time “to meet.”

  4. Gene*

    Re: #2, another thing I’ve never understood. What does it matter if another woman wears the same dress as you (barring, of course, wearing an old bridal gown to a wedding)? Or is this one of those non-logical things that will be perpetually beyond my ken?

    1. jmkenrick*

      Well, generally women’s clothes are more varied than men’s (with exceptions) so overlap can be more noticeable. If someone has a very distinctive style of dress, it would look odd if it suddenly appeared that another employee was imitating that.

      But I disagree with your implication this is limited to women. I have some male coworkers who sport some great clothes, and it would be noticeable if another coworker out-of-the-blue started dressing like them. You just don’t want to give the impression you’re imitating people to brown-nose.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        When I was writing this answer, I was thinking, “This is a question I’d never get from a man.” I think it’s just not a thing for them the way it is for women. Yes, if someone started copying someone else’s very distinctive style, sure — but wearing the same shirt once? I can’t imagine being asked about that.

        1. jmkenrick*

          I wonder if that has to do with how fashion in general is marketed towards women versus men. I think women are taught to “express” a lot more with their clothes.

          1. Tyrannosaurus Regina*

            We’re also expected, on some level, to follow fashion in a way that’s more obvious than with men’s clothes. Even in the relatively more conservative and stable realm of work wear, styles change much more noticeably in the women’s department than in men’s. So to stay looking fashionable theoretically means buying more clothes and having more recognizable individual items. (ie, a guy might have more than one Generic Dark Suit, but who’s really going to notice?)

            Reminds me of that newscaster who did the experiment where he literally wore the same suit every day for a year to see if anyone would comment the way they always commented about what his female co-anchor wore.

            1. KT*

              I was thinking of that too…no one notices when a man wears the same suit EVERY DAY, let alone matches another coworker, yet we panic when we show up to an event and another woman has the same dress (which is inevitable, since there’s only so many places to shop)

              1. Malissa*

                Well there was one day at my old job where three guys had the very same Carhart shirt on. They sat in a row at the staff meeting. All three were oblivious until one lady pointed it out.

          2. HB*

            I wonder if the idea of this being an issue more for women is that we often see famous women pitted against each other when they wear the same thing in a “who wore it better” type comparison.

        2. Our great computers fill the hallowed halls*

          I’ve always wondered about the expression “I love a man in a uniform”.

          I don’t really understand it. Is it “for real”, ie, are uniforms really a turn-on for an appreciable number of women?

          And, if it’s “for real”: is it the ‘uniformity’? Or is it that uniforms carry some vestige of ‘authority’ with them? Or … something else?

          But the thing about women and not wearing the same outfit makes perfect sense to me. It’s nothing I’ve ever put great effort into thinking about, but I’ve long assumed it obvious that every woman places a great deal of value on being unique. Yeah, yeah, yeah, this is true of people in general. But it tends to manifest itself differently in women, especially when it comes to a social situation and the general category of “looks”. I could speculate about it from a sociological standpoint – it’s part of human courtship, etc – but it’s late.

          Oh – and as to how this urge to be unique manifests itself in men? Usually via motorcycles. Once purchased, your average motorcycle remains “stock” for an average of about 35 minutes before the owner slaps new saddlebags on it or fits it with new pipes or whatever. I’m completely serious: next time you see a group of bikers on the highway, or a bunch of bikes parked outside of a bar, take a close look at them: each one will be unique. It’s more or less how guys play ‘dress-up’, except it’s all manly and involves tools and stuff.

          1. Saurs*

            Men have been doing actual real-life Dress Up, heels and powdered wigs and powdered noses and all, for donkey’s ears now.

          2. The Other Dawn*

            In my case, yes, I love a man in uniform. But not any uniform. Mainly military and firefighters. I guess what attracts me is the authority the uniform implies. No surprise, my husband is former Army.

            As to women wanting to be unique, I’d agree with that mostly. For me personally, though, I spent the first 40 years of my life wanting to blend in with the wallpaper because I was obese. Every clothing item I bought was plain: usually no patterns, no bright colors, and always baggy. But now that I’ve lost weight I’m trying to buy things I never would have worn before. It’s hard, though, to break long-established clothes shopping habits. I constantly have to make myself stop looking at the plain t-shirts and move over to the shirts with patterns or other details.

          3. sylph*

            Everyone modifies their motorcycle. It’s not a “male” thing, it’s a “rider” thing.

          4. Kelly L.*

            I think when women “love a man in uniform,” it has more to do with the personality traits that we perceive as connected to that uniform–like, if it’s a firefighter, we might think “he’s brave and saves people from fires and kitties from trees.” :) And some uniforms are very flattering to the male physique, as well. It’s not the sameness.

            1. A Dispatcher*

              To me it’s the flattering to the physique part. About a second after you spend all your time working with a bunch of firefighters and cops, the personality traits bit of that uniform thing goes right out the window (or at least it did for me). From a purely aesthetic viewpoint though, I do think most of the guys I know tend to look better in their uniforms than out- when they fit correctly anyway. Most of the women look much better out of the uniform.

              1. Natalie*

                A uniform might be the only thing that they’ve been fitted for, rather than buying size X because they think that’s close enough.

              2. The IT Manager*

                Probably because even with a good fit, the style does not flatter the women.

                Let’s be honest, though, I love a man in uniform is usually not said about the overweight firefighter or cop. It’s said about the fit ones.

                1. Observer*

                  Mostly, because the uniforms were designed for men and then retrofitted, usually without the input of women who have some clue of what works in “active-wear”.

                  It’s better now, but in the 70s in NYC, the police uniforms for women were HORRIBLE. Most women wore the pants because the skirts were ridiculous, but women in the shirt and pants tended to look like pigeons, especially if they were on the short side.

                  It’s still not great but at least the women don’t look ridiculous anymore.

          5. The IT Manager*

            The I love a man in uniform usually applied to military, firefighters, and police officers, and I assume its the heroic traits associated with these jobs is what attracts these women. I do not think they actually love any man in any uniform; I really think it’s the ideal of those childhood heroes jobs that they are attracted to.

            But I’m guessing since if I have ever said that it was with at least a touch of irony.

            1. Our great computers fill the hallowed halls*

              Makes sense. I mean, despite frequent visits to bored women at home alone, the Maytag Repair Man probably doesn’t get a whole lot of action. Given the contrasting experiences of plumbers, pool maintenance workers, and young men in the pizza delivery business, not wearing a uniform would appear to provide an advantage.

          6. Lady Bug*

            Not all women, I definitely prefer a man in jeans, a tshirt and tattoos to a uniform (assuming it’s all clean and fits and they aren’t “dad” jeans). Uniforms and suits are just too “perfect” for me, I need relaxed. Ironically my husband is former military, but is a jeans tshirt tattooed guy now.

            1. Myrin*

              Not to mention, I’ve found the uniform thing to be strongly dependent on culture. I’ve never heard about uniforms being considered sexy before I got involved with American websites a few years ago. It’s just not a thing here.

              1. Jen RO*

                I came here to say the same. Here policemen are seen as incompetents who are only after bribes, not the kind of thing to project an attractive image!

              2. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

                It was a thing in England in Jane Austen’s day– she specifically mentions how handsome Wickham, for example, looks in his regimental uniform, and Mrs. Bennet sighs to herself about how she used to love a red coat herself (and does still, in her heart!). I seem to remember similar sentiments regarding the naval uniforms in Mansfield Park and Persuasion.

        3. BRR*

          Maybe I’m the odd one out but another guy in the office has a very similar pattern shirt to one I own. I just wait for him to wear it then wear it a couple of days later (not the day after so people can forget about his).

          1. JB (not in Houston)*

            Ha, I do this too! I used to have a coworker who had remarkably similar taste to mine. We had quite a few of the same clothing items. So I would wait until she wore hers and then wear mine a few days later.

            That didn’t help with another coworker who I tended to dress similarly to. We didn’t have the exact same pieces, but we tended to wear outfits of very similar style in the same colors on a lot of days. It really looked like we were coordinating our outfits. But that was actually pretty funny, not embarrassing.

            1. ID10T Detector*

              One of my best work friends and I have very similar tastes and body shape – so we shop in the same places. Which was usually fine, since we are both remote workers and not often on client sites at the same time. Until the day we were, and she came to my hotel room to walk down and get breakfast together – and we had the same dress on. I changed, and then the next day borrowed the shrug that she wore with the dress because I liked hers better. So I literally wore the same outfit the day after she did. We all had a good laugh about it.

            2. Mallory Janis Ian*

              I have a sort-of colleague (she works on the same campus, in the special-collections archive related to our department, and her husband is a professor in my department) who people mix us up all the time. I first noticed it when a student approached me in the food court at the student union and started making conversation with me; before long, I could tell from the context that he thought I was co-worker’s wife. That happened several more times at various places around campus.

              Then I had lunch with my coworker and his wife, and his wife and I started comparing notes. Turns out, she had been approached multiple times by people who thought she was me. We are both plump, brown-haired, glasses-wearing women of around the same age who dress somewhat similarly and have similar hairstyles. I guess people categorize us as being similar enough in appearance and demeanor to be interchangeable as long as we’re not side-by-side.

            3. Sparkling water*

              I work in a department where we have had days when we all wear a black t-shirt by coincidence. Weird.

        4. themmases*

          I honestly think this whole “not wearing the same clothes” meme is an adolescent mean girls thing that people are afraid to let go of in case it’s etiquette. If it’s truly important to someone to always look unique, they have a ton of options: sew/knit/craft, thrift, put their wardrobe budget into having things made or customized, put more effort into putting together creative outfits rather than depending on unique objects, stop shopping at mass market retailers or only buy items there that are so basic they’re effectively anonymous. The answer is not to expect everyone else to realize that J. Crew is *your* thing!

        5. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

          No we don’t get concerned about wearing the same suit or necktie. In fact we would jokingly compliment each other on good taste…

      2. frequentflyer*

        ” You just don’t want to give the impression you’re imitating people to brown-nose.”

        In a female context, wearing the same dress/same style of clothing doesn’t look like brown-nosing – it looks like being a copycat and since it’s a senior colleague… it might not go down so well. I’ve heard a horror story where my Senior Colleague A introduced Colleague B to her favourite boutiques, then when Colleague B totally changed her style to match A and even wore some of the same designs, A stopped talking to B (it’s been years). Once, I brought a Fossil bag to the office, and Senior Colleague A brought a Kate Spade one in (same colour, 95% similar design), and I could totally see her staring at it. Knowing her history, I never brought my Fossil bag in again.

        If you think your senior colleague is ‘magnanimous’ enough to not talk about it, and if the dress isn’t too recognizable and is very much what you’d wear on a regular basis (i.e. not a sudden change of style), you can definitely try wearing it. For myself… I’d rather not take the risk. (Disclaimer: the people in my office like to gossip about stuff like that, so I’m more risk averse in that way.)

        1. AdAgencyChick*

          Yeah, my initial reaction to the post was “Of course it’s OK for OP to wear the dress!” and then I thought about it and realized that, in my industry, dressing too similarly to another person would also be seen as copying. And in a field where you’re supposed to be creative and generating original ideas, it’s not good to have the perception of you be “copycat.”

          We’re also in NYC, land of amazing shopping where we can all, if we want to, spend time ferreting out that Perfect Little Item that no one else is going to have. And we do (or I admit I do, at least). And that’s on top of the kazillion online shopping sites we all have access to! I freely admit that when I found a really adorable (and reasonably priced!) pair of shoes on Nordstrom’s website, and my coworkers went bananas over them, I just smiled and said thank you for the compliments without saying where I got them from. #sorrynotsorry

          That being said, I wouldn’t think even in a creative field that people are going to perceive you as a copycat for having one dress in common with a coworker (after all, two people with very different styles can sometimes have a little bit in common), unless that dress is really distinctive in appearance. In that case, it might in fact be that “special” item that the senior colleague thought she was going to have all to herself when she bought it, and she might be annoyed that that’s not the case. Hopefully she’s enough of a grownup not to let that annoyance actually affect any interactions with OP, and hopefully OP doesn’t have five more outfits that look just like this colleague’s.

          1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

            Yeah, I was a nanny in college for a couple of older kids. Over the years, the teenage girl started looking more and more like me…haircut, clothes, shoes, no makeup. I though it was very sweet and flattering and we had a great relationship. She was a kid, though. I would totally feel like an adult were copying me if this were a pattern.

        2. Bwmn*

          I agree with this, and in addition to issue of style there’s also the potential for more subtle body image issues depending on how a garment looks on Woman A (height, weight, size, etc) vs Woman B. I used to work in an office where a colleague had a shirt I thought was really attractive and distinctive enough that I wasn’t necessarily planning to wear it to work. While she had always been distinctly thinner than me, once I realized that she was mid to late pregnancy and still wearing it – there was no way I was going to show up to the office in a garment someone else was able to use as maternity wear.

          So in regards to OP2, in addition to how distinctive the dress looks – I also think it’s reasonable to be fair with yourself on how the dress looks on you compared to the senior colleague.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        We had a couple of matching shirt/pant combos the last two weeks–typically, the joke is, “Oh, you got the memo!”

        This whole thing is making me flash on that episode of Full House when DJ, on her first day of school, discovers she’s wearing the EXACT same outfit as one of the teachers. >_< A huge deal when you're a kid; not so much when you're an adult.

    2. T3k*

      Yeah, I never understood the whole “How dare she wear the same shirt/dress that I have!” concept, especially when the majority of us buy our clothes from mass produced stores. Hell, I’ve heard of some prom dress sites that now mark dresses as off limits at particular schools if someone from that school has already bought it for the upcoming prom. Personally, when I run into someone wearing the same shirt (happened on a few occasions) I smile and go “nice shirt!” and continue on. Plus, it’s rare for me to see other women wear the same shirts so they automatically get awesome points in my book (I tend to wear more male-oriented designs).

      1. A Dispatcher*

        A very popular local dress store here has a “gown registry” where they keep track which school’s prom/ball the purchasers plans to attend. I’m not sure if they mark the dress off-limits though, or just merely inform the next shopper who would likely decline anyway. I think in the prom context it makes a lot of sense.

        I wouldn’t ever be mad if someone was wearing the same thing as me in other situations though (hey, it means we both have good taste, right!), but I will consciously avoid it myself if possible. A coworker wore a gorgeous cardigan with a very distinctive pattern to work one day and I loved and it complimented her on it. I saw it while out shopping a few days later and picked it up myself, but it’s relegated to non-work only status just because it is SO distinctive.

        A last note – I don’t think it matters if the colleague is more senior or not. Whoever wore it first “owns it” so to speak. Again though, like Alison said, that’s only for very distinctive pieces or something a coworker is known for.

      2. BananaPants*

        I bought my high school senior prom dress at a boutique which would not sell the same dress to a girl attending the same prom. They asked up-front which prom I was going to, then only showed me dresses that would be unique (at least, from that shop!).

      3. dangitmegan*

        My former coworker and I accidently dressed alike a lot. It was weird because we have very different styles, but we’d both show up in shirts that were the same unique coral/orange color and jeans or in black dresses with gold belts. It was never the exact same items but we looked like we were purposely twinning at least once a week. Once we went on a group excursion to go zip lining and we both wore gray tshirts, denim shorts, and very distinctive bright blue sneakers. We thought it was amusing if a little weird.

        Then one day we wore the same top from Old Navy in different colors and realized our other work friend was wearing it in yet another color. It wasnt even that distinctive of a shirt…just a plaid button-front. That person was so annoyed that she put on a sweater to cover it even though she was roasting. I didn’t get her reaction. It’s not as if Old Navy makes couture.

        1. Career Counselorette*

          My current manager and I have shared our love of Express clothes, and we have actually purchased the same tops without realizing it. We’ve never worn them on the same day, strangely enough- I jokingly asked her if she would send me home if we came to work wearing the same thing as her, and she said, “No, but you should text me in the morning and ask me if I’m wearing it first.” (I’ve never gone that far, though.)

          Another co-worker of mine, while she doesn’t wear the same clothes as me, always seems to be wearing things in the same color or pattern scheme as me, on the same day. (E.g. if I’m wearing a black and white polka-dot skirt, she’s wearing a black and white polka dot blouse, etc.) It’s totally weird because we don’t talk at all outside of work and there’s no way we’d know what the other was going to wear the next day. Usually I’ll say something to her like, “Ready for our Amazing Race audition?”

        2. JB (not in Houston)*

          Ha, I just made a similar comment above. I used to have a coworker that I would do this with. We thought it was funny.

        3. themmases*

          I had the same situation with a former coworker! We liked it. We have pretty different personal style but we happened to each have a couple of favorite outfits that were the same color palette or superficially very similar. The first time it happened we hadn’t been working together very long and it was just one of those silly incidents that encourages you to become friends.

          I have a bunch of stuff from mass market places too and I just don’t care when I see it on other women. I realized that might happen when I bought this stuff, it fills a need for me, and for the most part I see people styling it very differently anyway.

          1. Ms Information*

            I have the same distinctive jacket as my boss which we discovered when I wore it to a meeting with just her and a higher up. She had almost decided to wear hers that day too! We thought it was funny – and since I’m tall and she’s short it would have looked even funnier, like Dr. Evil and Mini Me. I’ve told her that since she needs to wear authoritative shoulders more often than me, she should wear hers without fear. She often travels or is otherwise working out of the office so I can just check her calendar to see when the coast is clear. We have fun with this stuff.

        4. Mallory Janis Ian*

          That reminds me of a mom’s group I joined when my kids were small. Most of us had never met in person. Our first meeting was at Panera Bread, and we all — to a person — showed up wearing: denim pencil skirts, sleeveless summer sweaters, hair in a pony-tail, and Ked’s open-toe slides. I was as if someone had sent a memo. Or I guess I was unwittingly participating in the SAHM uniform circa 2002.

      4. Elizabeth West*

        The prom/ball thing is a little different–people want to stand out at those things. Plus, you have all those celebrity stories with, “Priscilla and Tawny showed up at the Bloop Awards in the same couture gown! Who wore it better!” thus inviting less-than-flattering comparisons. I kind of wish we could stop that.

        1. Becky B*

          I do too. More and more I keep tracing things back to someone just trying to sell us something (or sell us on something). Like it’s such a tragedy to wear the same outfit–why do we think that, really?? And yet the discomfort is there.

        2. Gene*

          I would truly love for all the women at one of those events to get together and all plan to wear essentially the same outfit. The E network would implode on itself.

      5. eee*

        to me, a dress is way different than anything else, because (if you’re me) it’s your entire outfit. (Also I tend to wear bright, patterned, “statement”y i guess, dresses). Today I’m wearing a bright blue and yellow dress, and sandals. No necklace, no cardigan, and I don’t carry my purse around with me at work. So if someone else was wearing the same dress as me, it would be awkward because it would be like our entire outfits were the same. Although I guess it’s true that I can’t quite explain why that would bother me so much.
        Although the other day at work, a co-worker who has the same (rare-ish) first name as me, wore a black and white striped sleeveless dress, with open toed black flats, and a pink pedicure. I was wearing my (slightly different) black and white striped sleeveless dress, with open toed black flats, and a pink pedicure. It was a little eerie. Walking down the halls together, we probably looked a little weird.

      6. MissLibby*

        The first year my daughter went to homecoming, she ended up in the same dress as one of the “popular” girls. Apparently the girl’s mom was volunteering at the dance and made a big deal about it…it was really weird. Um, if you want your daughter’s dress to be unique don’t buy it at the mall store where everyone buys homecoming dresses! There were four other girls all wearing the same dress (different from my daughters) and they all thought it was funny and took pictures together.

        I guess my point is that who thinks about this stuff outside of high school?

        1. Observer*

          Obviously this mother did

          But, yes, the whole concept boggles my mind. When this kind of stuff comes up in my office (same color, style or even, rarely, the same items) it’s either “so you’re twins today?”, “ooh how many people are wearing today” (for some reason we’ve had days where a bunch of people showed up in the same color (other than black or gray) or “great minds…!”

          NO ONE has ever made a fuss.

          1. Joline*

            I think we actually had a photo go around one day where three of us had a photo because we were all – two women and a man – wearing coral shirts. It was an unusual enough colour to stand out. Happened more regularly with blues, etc.

    3. UKAnon*

      I am equally confused! All I can think is that women are judged *so.much* on their looks that if two women are in the same outfit there are going to be comparisons and somebody isn’t going to find it flattering. But… that shouldn’t be happening in the workplace anyway. IDK what but something about this sits wrong with me; as I don’t understand the big deal to start with, though, I think I shall just have to remain confused.

    4. Sarahnova*

      It’s not non-logical, but it is subtle and intimately bound up with social judgements.

      Women are judged a lot more on their looks than men, and are also expected to express themselves and send a message about who & what they are through their clothing. So there are two things going on: 1) a woman who appears to be copying another woman’s clothes is not living up to expected standards for women to “develop her own style”; 2) a woman who finds another woman is in the same dress at, say, a formal event, may be hacked off because now she doesn’t look unique and therefore can expect to be less noticed or receive fewer compliments.

      I’m not saying any of this is good. And, in the case of the OP’s letter, it really doesn’t matter unless this dress is extremely distinctive. But I’m not allowing this to be dismissed as “illogical” (dem crazy womans) when in fact the pressures that cause women to feel this way are perfectly real.

    5. Evergreen*

      At least for me, choosing nice, distinctive clothing is a way to be noticed for a decision you’ve made (by people who wouldn’t otherwise notice my spreadsheet skillz). Turning up in the same thing as someone else kind of spoils that feeling.

      But it’s not something I’d get too upset about unless it was a deliberate thing (like the wedding dress example!) I just try and wear common stuff a little bit less frequently.

    6. The IT Manager*

      In situations where it matters it is usually meant to be embarrassing that two women are wearing the same distinctive outfit. IDK why, but when we’re getting dressed up we’re supposed to be have our own unique style.

      Men don’t have this problem. They’re a limited number of suit styles. For a guy in a suit, often the only distinctive piece where you might notice a match is the tie. A similar suit and color of button up shirt (because all styles are practically indistinguishable) is not uncommon. Although if some man has a distinctive style and another man started copying it in a way that he bought the same distinctive pieces, I think people would notice. Not a lot of men have a truly distinctive style or pieces though.

    7. Allison*

      I don’t really get it either, I mean as long as it’s not intentional what’s the big deal? I once showed up to an event and another woman was wearing the same dress as me, and I thought it was awesome!

      But when my sister and I fell in love with the same dress while shopping for a family event, my mom said she’d get us both the dress since it was such a good deal, but one of us needed to get a different dress for the event. I mean, it’s not as though she said we couldn’t both wear the dress, but the three of us silently agreed that wouldn’t be a good idea.

      For OP #2, she already bought the dress, I see nothing wrong with wearing it to work.

      1. TL -*

        Yeah, with your sister it would be weird. It would also be weird for brothers to wear the same outfit, though. Or siblings to match at all after about 7 or 8.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          There was a set of twins in my grade at school who wore matching outfits every single day, from the time they started kindergarten, all the way through junior high and high school, until they graduated. They never wore individual outfits until they went to college.

    8. Mike C.*

      In Formula 1, teams construct their own cars for each of their two drivers and one of the side effects is that it’s difficult to compare the skills of drivers between teams because one could argue that the difference in performance is due to the car, not the driver. However, that also means you can compare the two drivers within a team directly because they’re driving the exact same car.

      In some social situations, you can have similar comparisons between two women who wear the same dress. Then the catty folks start making comments about who looked better in the dress and so on. But this is only a hypothesis.

    9. Mephyle*

      About men wearing the same shirt, see Corner Gas S01E03 – you can find the whole episode on Youtube.

      1. Original Poster #2*

        Thanks for your responses Alison and commenters! I’m relieved because I thought wearing the dress would be a huge no-no!
        Just to clear a few things up:
        The dress is not a full outfit as it is sleeveless – you would need a blouse or jacket or something to avoid freezing in the office air-con.
        It is not a completely ubiquitous office dress but not very distinctive either.
        Where we live is a small city with limited boutiques so it is hard to avoid the chain stores and therefore this situation.
        Although my colleague is more senior she doesn’t have authority over me and we are roughly the same age.
        Seeing as she is likely to look just as good in it as I do I think I’m in the clear to at least try it once and see how everyone reacts.

    10. Sparkling water*

      The article from November says a lot about the subject –

      Australian newscaster Karl Stefanovic wore the same suit every day for a year to draw attention to an all too common form of sexism.

      From the article –
      Co-host of the Australian morning news show “Today,” Stefanovic became frustrated with the unsolicited fashion advice and appearance-based criticisms viewers regularly offered his female co-presenter, Lisa Wilkinson. He then decided to conduct an experiment. He wore the same blue suit on air every day for a year, and, as the TV personality revealed to Fairfax Media, absolutely nobody said a thing.

      The article continues on if anyone would like to read further.

  5. Dan*


    Honestly, I’m not sure you actually made a mistake here. It’s so, so common to have a phone interview before an in-person interview, and I would have assumed that “set up a time to chat” would be a phone call as well — even for a local employer. And as the first commenter on today’s thread points out, when the interviewer asks, “Did you think this was a phone interview?” was pretty much a concession that she mis-worded her email. Because of that, it would be tough for me to be overly differential with the scheduling snafu.

    Frankly, I think you should take this as a red flag. That you have a manager who communicates vaguely, recognizes that, and then makes it seem like it’s your fault, is not a good thing, and can be pretty hellish to work for. Sure, we’ve conditioned ourselves to be overly differential to a potential employer, because we want the job, but think about what it’s going to be like working for this manager. In the real world, you’re not really allowed to call out your manager for screwing up, but there’s a huge difference between that and apologizing for their screwups.

    I think you should ignore the scheduling snafu and forget it ever happened, unless the manager brings it up. If she brings it up with anything short of a sincere apology, make note of it in your own mind. You do not want to work for a manager who communicates poorly and then blames it on you or otherwise makes it seem like its your fault. Your work life is going to be hell if you do.

    1. jmkenrick*

      I agree. I think the interviewer should be a little mollified in this case; generally people start with phone screens, not in-person interviews, and if you’re going to do things outside the norm it’s usually on your end to clarify that.

    2. RE: Unclear Phone Interview*


      This was a test to see whether you are a doormat/desperate for the job/or just a kind soul that will tolerate a-holes.

      “I’m already getting bad vibes”
      Go with that feeling.

      When you have finally had enough, and quit without having a job lined up, YOU will be the “flaky” one….and this woman will give you a bad review and/or a bad reference, to boot.

      If this is who you would have to report to…RUN away, don’t walk.
      Tell her that you are going to “pursue some other options.”

      If this is the screener or gatekeeper:
      You may have just run into one of the many inexperienced, unorganized, just plain bad, clueless, possibly a temp-with-no-benefits-at-a-call-center loosely called “recruiters”

      -Been Here

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          I agree, this hiring manager just probably has their poor planning and communication leak into everything they do, and any employee who doesn’t read her mind and proactively fix it is a “troublemaker”. So it’s likely more of a natural process of elimination than an intentional one.

    3. Saurs*


      The LW doesn’t say, but if the interviewer is the hiring manager, this is, as you say, an excellent opportunity to see how well the prospective manager fares — in person, as she’s behaved pretty badly over the phone — at acknowledging rather than deflecting a mostly harmless but rather telling set of errors on her part (failing to clarify, assuming that “chat” automatically indicates an in-person interview and that a candidate for this position wouldn’t expect some kind of phone screening to precede an interview, providing no address or details about the building).

    4. BRR*

      I think it could be a red flag but it’s not a definitive red flag. I’d watch out for other signs but this isn’t a stand alone deal breaker.

      But I also find it strange it wasn’t a phone interview. I recently applied to position A at a place and I didn’t get past the application phase but they offered to bring me in for an interview for position B. I was surprised they didn’t want to phone screen me first. I was considering asking for a phone screen but ultimately weighed whether I wanted this position and in the end turned them down (declining an interview or offer is so empowering). Not wanting to phone interview me first actually caused me to look at this job more closely and I realized I didn’t want it.

      1. Sunflower*

        I agree that you should not let this be a deal breaker. Esp if this person is HR and not the person you would be reporting to.

      2. OP #1*

        I don’t think the confusion was deliberate on the interviewer’s part, but the response was just strange. It could have been the day was stressful or she wasn’t necessarily sure how to handle the situation, but I think I’ll reserve passing judgement until I meet her in person. I’ll definitely be keeping it in mind for future reference, especially if it comes down to accepting the job or not.

    5. Ad Astra*

      Yeah, I’m very turned off by the hiring manager’s vagueness, and even more turned off by her snottiness. Some people aren’t very good at conveying tone over email, so I might suspend judgment until I met with her in person. But it’s not looking great.

    6. NickelandDime*

      I agree Dan. I’ve rarely had invitations to phone interviews or face to face interviews or even coffee meetings that were so vague I had to follow up and ask questions. There is usually an itinerary or some kind, and the names of the people you will meet with, or might meet with, an address, etc. I know mistakes happen, but I don’t like the haphazard way this was done, and the snotty response from the employer.

      The last vague, kind of disorganized interaction I had with an employer ended with her not calling me at the scheduled time for the phone screen and me never hearing from them again. Just unprofessional.

      I’d go to the interview, but keep my eyes peeled for other issues. And I would ask lots of questions about management style and communication style. I think there may be a problem here.

  6. Charisma*

    #1 – I’ve had something similar yet different happen. I assumed I was having an in-person interview because they specifically mentioned the words “meeting the team” in the interview invitation (1 week before interview). They did forget to list the address and I thought I was showing initiative by finding it on my own. Turns out it was supposed to be a Skype meeting! To which they sent me the invitation 15 minutes before the scheduled interview time! How brilliant that I would have put two and two together if I wasn’t arriving in their lobby at exactly that time! In the end, I ended up performing the interview at the computer of the surprised and somewhat embarrassed Hiring Manager. Needless to say they were a mess, the interview was a mess, and I did not end up working for them.

    1. Anonna Miss*

      What kind of evil person sets up a Skype interview on only 15 minutes notice? Skype interviews are hell, even when you have adequate prep time to sort out the background and the lighting. I can’t imagine doing it with so little forewarning.

      1. The IT Manager*

        Well if Charisma had intuited that it was a Skype interview all along she would have able to prepared for a Skype interview even without knowing the Skype number.

      2. Observer*

        Not evil – scattered. Charisma noted that the hiring manager was embarrassed. But, far from surprising that they and their hiring practices were a mess.

      3. Charisma*

        Well, the Hiring Manager did have a whole week to send it out to me after I confirmed my available time-slot, he just didn’t until the very last minute?

        Yeah, this was back in 2011/12 and I remember Skype interviews being really popular all of a sudden, I had never done one before and certainly wasn’t expecting one. Even with the last minute Skype invite I still felt like an idiot for not verifying the nature of my interview ahead of time and just assuming that it was an in person one. The really odd part was that they still had me perform the interview via Skype even though only one of the four people was offsite. So it was me, and three other people in their respective offices on their own computers and just one person offsite, all on Skype. I guess if all of the candidates are interviewing that way why mess with it? Like I said, the whole thing was a mess. However, it makes for a great story with lots of little random details that pop up over time ;) I would have been offended by the whole thing if I hadn’t found the situation completely amusing at the same time.

  7. Engineer Girl*

    #2 – Most dresses are accessorized differently, depending on the woman. If anyone notices that it is the same as senior management, just tell them you’re dressing for the position you want!

  8. landscape architect*

    #4, and others who have mentioned PTSD symptoms in relation to other things. There is no reason you need to live with the symptoms.They are treatable. My life has changed, dramatically, working with Somatic Experiencing practitioners. SE people have specific training, to some extent described in this book: http://www.amazon.com/Waking-Tiger-Peter-A-Levine/dp/155643233X. Here is the wiki entry, which covers some of the basics: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Somatic_Experiencing
    A list of practitioners can be found here, though you might have to dig a bit as it is a site for people that want to train in the work: http://www.traumahealing.org

    The most worthwhile money I ever spent . . .

    1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

      I will second this. Words to look for in therapist profiles:
      Chronic pain/illness

  9. Juniperloki*

    #4 – see if there’s a listing of local therapists via your insurance or local hospital – most health systems have a referral database.

    Sounds like cognitive behavioral therapy could help – I bet lots of people have had issues like this. No reason to suffer – will be hard work but well worth it.

    Good luck! You can succeed!

    1. Blue Anne*

      Yep. My father died when I was a young teenager and in the last couple of days he had constant wracking, wheezing coughs. For years anyone with a bad cough made me really twitchy and upset. Therapy helped. This is not as unusual as you might think.

      I hope it works out for you, OP.

    2. Anon for this question*

      Also, I wouldn’t recommend the Psychology Today website in general, but I would recommend their list of therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists. You can sort by specialties and treatments offered.

      This was a huge help to me. One of the most popular types of therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, has a 70% success rate, but apparently I’m in the 30%*. I found a therapist who uses Dialectical Behavior Therapy and had experience with my kind of ~*issues*~ through that website.

      *I’m not against CBT. Just didn’t work out for me.

      1. Sigrid*

        +1 I found my therapist by searching Psychology Today for therapists in my area who specialized in sexual trauma. In the 15 years I’ve been trying therapy, she’s the first one who actually helped, because she’s the first one whose specialized in what I needed worked on. PT is a questionable publication in general, but IMO their lists of mental health care providers are second to none.

  10. Sy*

    I had an interviewer once that said the same thing – ‘let’s set up a time to chat’ and meant in person. I did clarify (though email) by asking if she wanted me to phone in and she seemed almost offended that I hadn’t understood her. I ended up getting the job and declining. Their entire in interview process was off putting and weird and by the end of it I dreaded the idea of working with any of those people.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      See, I don’t want to blame the OP, but I do think that it’s incumbent on everyone to not make assumptions and to ask for clarification if they’re not sure. I’ve been snidely told that I should have known certain things, especially early in my career, and initially I assumed it was my fault, so I tried to fix it. I said things like “I’m sorry. How can I tell when you mean to bring you 20 teapots when you say ‘bring me some teapots to test’?” And either they would explain that 20 is standard for teapot testing because we should always do 5 lid tests, 5 spout tests, and 10 body tests, or they would snap “You should just know what I mean!”, and I would know that I should start spending a lot more time job-hunting.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        Reminds me of that scene in “The Devil Wears Prada” where Miranda says, “I need 10 or 15 skirts from Calvin Klein.” Andy tries to clarify what she wants, and Miranda replies, “Please bore someone else with your…questions.”

  11. AM*

    #5 says they only want local candidates, and further says she plans to move away from the area in six months, in addition to not being local right at the moment. I’d think the not local right now is overcomable, but it seems to me the reason for the requirement is an effort to arrange more long term possibilities, and if she’s planning to leave in six months that rather violates the spirit of the plan. Don’t you think that’s more of an issue than her current locale?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      If that’s their reasoning, maybe — but their reasoning for the requirement could just be because they find it easier to interview people in person, have had bad luck with hires who moved for the job and then weren’t happy there, or who knows what else. No harm in applying, being open about her situation, and finding out.

      1. Splishy*

        bad luck with hires who moved for the job and then weren’t happy there

        I had a recruiter for a Michigan company specifically tell me he only recommended people from the “snow belt” to his client because they had to many “sun belt” natives leave after a year or less because of the weather. I didn’t get the position, but it was good to know my homeland of Wisconsin had at least one positive going for it. :)

        1. AnotherFed*

          That was true of where I grew up, too – it was also in the great white north, and so many employers got tired of people without strong ties to the area giving up on all that winter and going back south.

      2. cv*

        I can easily think of companies and nonprofits where being familiar with the local area would be important, and a short internship would be compromised by the intern having to learn lots of local knowledge. I moved across the country and took a job at a nonprofit with ties all over the community, and it definitely took a while to learn the local background – where would be a convenient location for two people coming from different parts of the city to meet at different times of day depending on traffic, which nonprofits in which fields might be good collaborators, what venues might be good for hosting events, etc. That was a very place-based organization, but I can definitely understand why an organization might prefer local candidates.

    2. #5 OP*

      You might be right, AM. I will say that the application said that internships could last anywhere from 2-6 months depending on their needs, so I thought I could fit in the gap one way or another if they wanted me enough.

      1. The IT Manager*

        Actually this sounds like it could* be perfect for you since an internship is designed to be of limited duration. You’ll have no luck finding a long-term job that’s excited about someone leaving in 6 months.

        *That said you may not be a fit if the local requirement is specifically because they want to hire someone fast or only after a face-to-face interview or improve the job prospects for local student (which you aren’t really anymore).

        You have nothing to lose by trying.

    3. Treena*

      A lot of internships require a working knowledge of the area. I’ve seen a lot of ads for non-profit internships in LA that say they prefer local candidates. Learning the local culture, neighborhoods, resources, etc. is really time consuming and may not be worth it to the org to spend 3/6 months focusing on that before getting into real work.

      So it’s not really you have to always have been here and want to stay forever, just know the place better than someone who googled the area for the interview.

  12. Chocolate Teapot*

    1. “Set up a time to chat” would infer a phone call. “Set up a time to meet” would suggest in person, at least to me anyway.

    Even so, I would have thought that when the interviewer confirmed the appointment time, that would have been the point at which the location should have been confirmed.

    1. AnonAnalyst*

      I agree, this is how I would have interpreted it too. If I were interested in the position I would still proceed with the rescheduled interview, but I would definitely take note of this as a potentially important piece of information about how this person/company operates should the process progress further.

      When I’m confirming an interview time with someone and I expect it to be a phone interview, I’ll usually say something like, “please call me at XX at that time, or if you prefer that I call you, please let me know what the best number to reach you is.” It’s not outright asking whether or not it’s a phone interview, but (I would hope!) if someone is not on the same page it would signal that I am not in fact planning to come in in person while confirming we’re all working with the correct contact information.

      1. cv*

        I haven’t set up many interviews, but I scheduled a ton of phone meetings for my old boss and I always confirmed who would be responsible for making the call and what phone number to use. I’d do the same for an interview, for sure. Skipping that confirmation certainly isn’t the end of the world, but I found it was a really helpful practice to get into.

        (As was sending meeting confirmations the day before, since my boss had a ton of meetings with a wide variety of people all over the place, often at restaurants or coffee shops. Maybe 10-20% of the time I’d get “oh, can we meet at a different Starbucks since now I have a meeting afterwards?” or “I thought we said the Starbucks on Main Street, not Oak Avenue” or “I totally forgot and now have a conflict” or “let’s do 9 instead of 8:30” or whatever. My boss did get stood up by people just not showing up occasionally, but it was virtually never my fault after I started sending confirmations with the details clearly outlined the day before.)

  13. Brandy*

    #2: when I was in my 2nd year in the workforce, the VP of a department I worked closely with had the same dress I did. I think it was from Ann Taylor or something like that. I forget who “wore it first,” probably her, but became a little joke whenever one of us wore it. My dress was loud- bright green/black/geometric pattern. Only thing I’d note is that I did rotate it through a bit more carefully (1) because I know she’d notice every time I wore it so couldn’t wear it weekly! and (2) wanted to make sure it was staggered so we never showed up on the same day. My office was about your size. We never showed up with it on the same day, but honestly, it would have just been a little silly chit chat and NBD.

  14. The IT Manager*

    I’m willing to cut the interviewer in #1 a bit of slack because she’s doing a lot of these interviews and it’s easy to forget that her normal is not standard for everyone. That’s what happened to you. I assume if you thought there was any confusion about format you would have called. Since you didn’t you must have assumed that it was a phone screen based on your prior experience. Given it was a local company I think I would have clarified, but I have limited interviewing experience so have old fashioned ideas in my head. I would still have clarified for a phone call who calls whom and at what number (rather than using the number in a signature or website).

    But she was kind of jerky about it. Her guessing that you thought it was a phone call without prompting means she realized the problem/her mistake on her own so she should own some of the miscommunication too.

    1. Allison*

      I would as well. People make mistakes, miscommunications happen. If someone in HR is setting up interviews, they may be really frazzled trying to schedule many candidates for many different roles, or it could have been someone who doesn’t normally schedule interviews at all! If you’ve never done it before and all of a sudden you have to step in and schedule a bunch of people because the coordinator is busy, it can be daunting. Although HR teams should have a confirmation e-mail template to send to candidates specifying building location, parking stuff, which entrance to use, etc.

      If it was a hiring manager, they might not have a lot of experience hiring, or they may just be really busy. If they’re hiring for the team, it means the team is lacking an important player!

    2. OP #1*

      I believe it also was a little bit of the “I don’t want to annoy this potential employer and risk my chance of a job” mindset. In the industry the company is in, being a self-starter and a go-getter is very important, and in trying to show that, I sort of blew my chances by not paying attention to the details (which is also a very important trait in the field). The lesson was learned here to always confirm and ask for clarification, and even if it messed up my chances with this company, I’ll definitely never make that mistake again.

      1. Allison*

        The only time an employer might be annoyed and turned off is if your question was clearly answered in a previous e-mail, which may tell them you either didn’t read the e-mail, you’re forgetful/scatterbrained, and/or you can’t be bothered to take two seconds to find fairly accessible information and you rely on others to spoonfeed you everything.

        For example, if they had told you the address in an e-mail and then you send them another e-mail asking for it, that could’ve been irritating.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Yes, and just for reference—don’t make the email the ONLY source of your information. Put the address somewhere besides the email! I have nightmares about not being able to access my email or it gets deleted, etc.

          1. Allison*

            I usually either write it down on paper before I go. a memo in my phone is also fine, but I remember going to one interview while my phone battery was on the fritz (turned out to be a bulging battery but I hadn’t figured that out yet) and I’d remembered how to get there but forgot the actual address, and naturally my phone died when I went to look it up. Driving slowly to read the business names listed outside each building didn’t work since I kept pissing off people behind me. I had to pull over and go into a local business to have them look up the building number!

            Don’t be me, people!

  15. KT*

    #1–this is just bizarre. I would cut your losses and consider this one a blessing. This woman sounds like crazy-town

  16. TotesMaGoats*

    #2-My boss and I owned several of the same suits. As in the exact same item. After showing up to a small event looking like twins (same suit, same shoes, same hairstyle and even the same kind of jewelery), I started checking with her before a big event like a gala to make sure we weren’t going to be twins. But she was my direct supervisor and we were pretty close, so it worked. Otherwise, wear whatever the heck you want!

    #4-I second therapy. If it’s that debilitating then you really need to speak to a professional. PTSD is a very real thing and doesn’t get the credit for ruining people’s lives the way it should.

    1. The IT Manager*

      I’ll just add one more comment about this … even women’s basic professional outfits can have more variety than men’s suits with bits of flair ie stitching, colored buttons, etc, so that it’s more obvious when they match than men.

  17. name*

    #4 sounds like b*llocks. Traumatised by someone else getting ill? PTSD from a hospital stay, are you having to go to the hospital? Do all illnesses trigger it? Or just the ones you’re told about?

    Definitely see a therapist if you’re telling the truth, but I’d be so, so, careful about saying that to other people. Having a close relative who’s been actually diagnosed with mental issues, I’ve no time at all for people who diagnose themselves, and in a work setting I’d lose a lot of respect for the person to says they’re “triggered” (red flag) by something like someone else getting ill.

    1. AnotherFed*

      I think this could have been said more kindly, but I agree with the recommendation that this is something to not bring up at work due to the potential to get exactly this reaction. That’s unfortunately true for a lot of mental illnesses, but especially so for things that are more unusual, and to add to that, many people tend to associate PTSD with military vets and may be dismissive of any other way to end up with PTSD.

    2. I've Found The Ultimate Arbiter of Mental Health!*

      I’m sorry, are you the mental health police? A mental health practitioner, perhaps? Who are you to decide which mental health issues are valid? It is perfectly possible to have PTSD from a variety of things, not just the widely-known causes like abusive relationships or war.

      Besides, your comment reeks of privilege. You DO know that not everyone is treated the same by medical practitioners, right? Nor that not everyone has the same access to medical care, especially in the good ol’ US of A. Or that even if you do have practitioners nearby, finding the right care can take months or years? It happened to me – I’ve spent 7 years trying to get to the bottom of a medical issue and only now have I found someone who seems to be helping. And I am SO, SO lucky to have health insurance.

      I lose a lot of respect for people who immediately dismiss other people’s health issues because they have not somehow proven that they are “worthy” of your acknowledgement.

      1. Observer*

        It’s worth noting, as well, that even with good access, a some doctors and some situations are more / less easier on a person than others. And, in some places (regardless of level of access, which a different issue) the culture leaves something to be desired. And that can contribute, because it can raise the level of powerlessness, which is generally a problem.

    3. Aunt Vixen*

      This is pretty uncalled for. People have all kinds of triggers that those of us fortunate enough not to have been traumatized can’t even imagine. I once knew of a young woman who had genuine violence and abuse in her background and what set off her terrifying flashbacks was math (because one of the worst episodes had occurred while she was doing trig homework). It’s true that a trigger like other people not feeling well is going to be pretty debilitating, so I’d agree therapy is indicated, but it’s really not for us–strangers on the internet–to decide, as you seem to be on the verge of doing, that when the OP says “trigger” she just means she finds a thing unpleasant or upsetting.

    4. KT*

      So she didn’t self-diagnose, she said “you could consider it post-hospitalization PTSD”. Obviously what happened to her was traumatic. She may lack the vocabulary or clarity to describe exactly how it’s impacted her, so she chose that word to explain how much it affects her.

      Mental issues and trauma and incredibly complex and can’t be defined in just one way. I’d give the Op a bit more compassion and understanding.

      1. Erin*


        Not a self diagnosis, just an explanation of how she feels, in a way that we may understand what she’s talking about.

        Just because you have a close relative who has a diagnosed mental illness, that doesn’t take away from what she’s experienced here. She presumably hasn’t seen a doctor yet, so it’s possible she has a legitimate condition that has yet to be diagnosed.

        Even if she doesn’t, as KT said, trauma issues are very complex, and the OP deserves more understanding from a forum like this, where we always give the OP the benefit of the doubt they’re being truthful.

        I hope you’re more compassionate with your relative.

    5. OfficePrincess*


      We generally default to compassion around here and give the OP the benefit of the doubt. Going through “traumatic medical experiences (a number of hospitalizations, invasive procedures, pain, etc)” could very easily cause a reaction in someone who is predisposed to mental illness. That’s how it works. Two people could go through the same thing and have different reactions. It’s why not every soldier from the same unit has PTSD – not everyone is the same. And OP is asking for advice on how to overcome it, not asking for others to change their behavior. It’s responses like this that keep feeding into the stigma surrounded mental illness.

      1. Case of the Mondays*

        This this this. The fact that 2 people can have vastly different reactions to the same experience can make it so much harder to recognize a problem and get help for it because you think you shouldn’t be feeling that way or weren’t exposed to something bad enough to need help.

        I keep rewriting and deleting the next paragraph because I can’t decide how much to share. I’ll just skip to the punch line. I was in Boston the day of the bombing, a couple blocks away, heading to the finish. Other friends of mine were there too. My friends had no psych issues at all and just bounced right back. I took it much harder and didn’t feel like my experience was “bad enough” to warrant therapy. It took others reaching out to me with concern, suggesting that it would be normal to be traumatized and that I should get the help I need. Almost a year later I finally did and am so much happier. More than anything, I needed someone, a professional, to justify how I felt before I could allow myself to work through it.

    6. Inksmith*

      I worked for a rape crisis centre, and now I’m triggered by reading about rape.
      And since we’re judging whether someone gets to have time for other people’s trauma and suffering based on nearness to a diagnosis – I have myself been actually diagnosed with mental illness, so I guess my having time for people like the OP would trump your not having it, right?
      OP – agree with everyone who suggested therapy – I thought working as a data analyst would mean I could avoid reading about rape, but it turns out, not so much. It’s easier, bizarrely, to get support for the issue than try to avoid it.

    7. Purple Dragon*

      Ouch !
      PTSD isn’t logical- and can be triggered by ridiculous things. Mine (properly diagnosed in case you’re wondering) was triggered by kids ringing the doorbell and running away. It took months for me and a therapist to figure out what caused it to flare up after several years (I was stalked for years).

      Different people react differently to trauma, and different types of trauma can have different triggers. Having a negative reaction to people talking about illness when you’ve been through the type of thing the OP did is understandable.

      And calling BS on someone suffering from PTSD is not helpful. I would have assumed you would know that from having a close relative who suffers from a mental illness.

      1. K*

        My psych prof knew someone who was triggered by oranges. Never did get the backstory on that one.

      2. Anonymous for this*

        Mine is a certain part of a wedding reception. I don’t really want to get into more details than that.

    8. PontoonPirate*

      I disagree with the tenor and overall content of this comment, but I think this is a really useful piece of feedback. OP, “name” is giving you a look at the kind of reaction you might (probably) will encounter if you bring this up in a public/workplace setting.

      It’s not necessarily kind or right, but right now I think we as a culture are encountering some “trigger exhaustion” and it’s creating a lot of reflexive pushback. There’s been a lot of discussion on college campuses around what kinds of lessons students should receive, as there’s been a generational trend to call out every uncomfortable situation as some kind of “trigger” for something else. I think people start conflating real triggers with “triggers.” Note: I’m not accusing you of doing this, OP! I have a lot of sympathy for your situation.

      Also, many people don’t have a fully developed sense of empathy.

      I eleventy billionth the suggestion of a good, trauma-informed therapist. Best of luck to you.

      1. BananaPants*

        This is a legitimate point, although the post by “name” is unkind. There’s a backlash against labeling anything that makes someone upset or uncomfortable as a “trigger” rather than the word being reserved for genuine triggers of anxiety or PTSD. If the OP shares this situation with colleagues it could lead to that erroneous reaction that “name” had. I would see a therapist and keep this quiet around the workplace if at all possible.

      2. Gene*

        I saw a t-shirt the other day that said, “Your triggers aren’t my problem”. When something hits the “there’s a t-shirt for that” stage, they are probably being overdone. Sorta like “gluten intolerant” (with apologies to the celiacs in the group).

    9. Anon for this question*

      PTSD triggers usually have more to do with sense memory than anything else. They generally DON’T make sense. To anyone. Including the person experiencing them. That’s certainly been true for me: I’ve recovered, but I used to be able to handle explicit descriptions of what happened to me, yet panic over being touched a certain way. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      If PTSD or any other mental illness were logical, nobody would have it. We would all be able to talk ourselves out of it.

    10. Nervous Nelly*

      Wow, accusing the letter writer of lying? Totally uncalled for!

      I have never had PTSD, but I used to have severe anxiety around the idea of public illness. Mine was brought on by having panic attacks that came out of nowhere that ended each time with me being violently ill. I was terrified I would get uncontrollably sick in public. I knew that it was time to go to therapy when I saw a man moving a trashcan in public so he could get something he had dropped behind it. He grabbed the trashcan to move it, I assumed he was about to throw up, and I jumped back and started crying (in public, in line to buy tickets to the aquarium– not my finest moment).

      So, long story short, this kind of thing can happen and the feelings of fear and panic can be very real. But therapy helps. It certainly helped me and I bet it would help the OP as well.

      1. Anon for this: the OP*

        I’m the OP. I very much do have emetophobia (fear of vomiting), and have had it since I was a child. After my hospitalization for a fairly rare stomach condition that involved two ER visits, a hospital stay, IV lines, TPN and NG tubes, plus an endo and colonoscopy coupled with extreme nausea and pain and being unable to eat, this progressed to flashbacks any time I am told someone has vomited, will vomit, feels like vomiting, or has vomited (my current therapist does feel it has evolved into a PTSD component, but I’m reluctant to go through any kind of controlled exposure therapy). Can you tell me what your therapy involved?

        1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

          Look into EMDR. This is a newer therapy, but one that is very effective for PTSD. There is lots of info online.

          And please don’t worry about anyone telling you that your trauma doesn’t count because it wasn’t war/rape, etc. The filed of psychology disagrees with them and has vastly expanded the understanding of trauma over the past decade or so. It might be easier for an outsider to understand why someone would be traumatized by a war-related incident, but this in no way minimizes the trauma that you experienced. Several others have commented that they have seemingly odd trauma triggers – but it’s not really odd at all – it’s normal. It’s your brains circuitry drawing connections that don’t make logical sense – but it is no less real.

          1. Purple Dragon*

            I second EMDR – It worked really well for my PTSD and really fast.

            When my therapist told me about it I thought it sounded way too fluffy, but it really does work !

        2. Nina*

          As someone who’s had emetophobia for years, I feel for you. It’s a depressing thing to live with. Exposure therapy is usually the first thing suggested for emetophobia, but since that isn’t something you’re comfortable with, I would try trauma therapy. I might even try it myself. Didn’t know there was such a thing until now! Another reason this community is awesome.

          Hang in there.

        3. Mrs. Psmith*

          OP, when I read your letter I immediately wondered if you had emetophobia. I’m currently working with my therapist (cognitive behavioral) to treat my emetophobia and am making great strides so far. It will take more sessions and it’s something I have to work on constantly, but it has helped tremendously. If you have not visited it before, please go to emetophobiahelp.org, this is the website that finally convinced me to find a therapist and begin my treatment and recovery (I’ve also had it since I was a child and I’m in my 30s now). The author of the website is a trained counselor who is a recovered emetophobe AND had PTSD, so she is living proof that this phobia can be overcome. My therapist and I are using some of the resources on that site as part of my treatment plan.

          I also wanted to mention that I was able to shop around for my therapist through my employee assistance program at work. They had a hotline to call and get referrals to different therapists (I told them I wanted to treat my phobia with someone who specialized in CBT). My company offers 5 free therapy sessions per year, so I’ve taken advantage of those as part of my ongoing treatment (I’ll have to pay out of pocket once I use up those sessions).

          1. Mrs. Psmith*

            Forgot to mention that the employee assistance program is completely confidential, they never tell your employer when/why you are using their services.

            Also, reading some of the other comments I wanted to make sure you know that treatment DOES NOT include making you vomit to “get comfortable with it.” It’s about reteaching your brain/body to recognize that the anxiety is what is making you feel awful and that you are not in danger. I avoided treatment for years because I thought that’s what it entailed, but that’s not it at all. I’m working through the hierarchy of fears on the website I mentioned earlier and I have complete control over how far I’m willing to go in that hierarchy.
            Good luck, and you can do this! Knowing that I have already started addressing and conquering my own fear (even though I still have a ways to go) has been a huge relief.

        4. Nervous Nelly*

          Well, what actually helped me was a combination of a few things. The therapy helped me deal with my underlying perfectionist tendencies which were causing me to be so stressed that my body would make me sick. But what helped specifically as related to being less afraid were three things:

          1. Going through with my therapist, in detail, everything that I thought would happen if I got sick in public. Why did that scare me? What was I worried about? Would people think less of me? No, not at all, they would be concerned about me, etc. Trying to think of the absolute worse case scenarios and then deconstructing them.
          2. Starting to carry around a small airsickness bag in my wallet all the time. Part of my fear was having to do with making a mess and causing a scene, so doing this basically nipped that part of the fear in the bud. To quote Garth from Wayne’s World, “if you’re gonna spew, spew into this!”
          3. Recognizing the beginning of the feelings of the anxiety attack that would lead to me getting sick. For me it was feelings of cramping in my stomach. Once I could recognize that, I learned over time to talk myself down. I’d say “if you get sick, its okay, but right now this is just anxiety” and then I’d distract myself. For the most part I was able to put my mind on something else, and the stomach pain would pass. Over time I got better and better at talking myself down, and eventually the attacks stopped.

        5. Observer*

          If that’s what your therapist is pushing then it’s time for a new therapist. It’s not that this is necessarily a bad route, but if it’s not something you can deal with, you need to find someone who can offer a different modality.

          I’m not surprised that you were traumatized.

    11. fposte*

      And your close relative undoubtedly has people thinking she’s making it up for attention or being a baby about it. What do you think of those people? Do you want to be one of them?

    12. Anon for this*

      I’ve been diagnosed with PTSD related to cancer. Most people don’t understand it. I never stayed at a hospital overnight. I was “cured” during my chemo and have been cancer free for 10 years. I made jokes all through chemo, stayed in school and graduated early from college.

      I can’t explain why it happened to me. I just know that I almost passed out just driving on the highway next to my cancer hospital on more than one occasion and had panic attacks so bad I couldn’t even leave the house. I avoided going to the doctor because I went to a doctor and was diagnosed with cancer. People I knew died. I’m safe right now and I still want to puke and cry at times just thinking about it. I did intensive therapy for a year. I can drive again, I can go to the doctor. I don’t even need anti-anxiety meds to do it. But yesterday when I felt a bump on my dog, I had the biggest panic attack I’ve had in years. It was a bump and not even a lump and it brought everything back. It wasn’t rational. That’s part of why it is mental illness.

      Most people in my life don’t know why I couldn’t work for a year and think I’m lazy or stupid even though that was 8 years ago. I’d explain it to them but I always assume they’d react like you just did and while I’ve told myself that was just negative self-talk, I realize I’ve been right to keep my problems quiet.

    13. Observer*

      What on earth!?

      If you actually have a relative with diagnosed mental illness, it should have taught you ONE thing – that this is a very hard to pin down thing until it gets to the point of people reacting to hallucinations i public.

      If you think that people can’t be extremely traumatized by hospital stays then you are both extremely fortunate in your experiences and incredibly ignorant of the reality of the world. And, if you think that only a repeat of a traumatic experience can trigger someone’s issues, you are just incredibly ignorant.

  18. Little Teapot*

    OP #3, similar thing happened to me. My sister moved out of a house and it ended badly with the agent – she didn’t do anything wrong, just a dodgy agent. We suspect she was giving her a bad reference and finally one day I called up and pretended to be a landlord seeking a reference. Well! The agent went to town and said every nasty thing you could think of about my sister. I knew 99% of what she said were lies but I simply did ‘mmhmm yes’ noises and at the end thanked her for ‘saving me from a bad tenant’. Obviously the next step was calling my sister, who then called the agent (sorry agent, my sister is a lawyer!!). But having firsthand information of what the agent said was incredibly helpful.

  19. Meg Murry*

    For OP #2, I know the answer should be “Do you like the dress? Do you like how you look in the dress? If so, keep the dress and wear it, especially since it must be work appropriate if someone else has the same one.” However, if OP is worried enough to write in to an advice columnist about it, I suspect that even if she keeps the dress, she either won’t wear it, or she’ll feel really nervous or self conscious every time she wears it, even if we all tell her it will be ok. And then it will become just one more thing in her closet that she doesn’t wear, or doesn’t like to wear. My closet used to be full of things that I talked myself into because they were good deals or were just ok and would be “good enough” or “I guess I could wear this to work” – and I almost never wore them if I could at all help it, because I just didn’t like them, and even if I put them on I would wind up changing – or if I did wear them, there would always be something nagging at me at the corner of my mind (example, a dress that didn’t fit quite right, and I spent all day tugging at it, even though it was probably just fine to anyone but me, or a print that just wasn’t my usual style that made me think “ugh” when I saw myself in the mirror). I’ve since given up on the sunk cost and given away a lot of the clothes that I don’t like, and hit ebay to buy duplicates or options in other colors of the items I do like – boring, but at least I’m comfortable and appropriate in my clothes.

    If OP loves the dress and thinks she could also get other wear out of it (is it appropriate for church, brunches, dinners out, family weddings, whatever?) than she could consider keeping it. If not and she can return it, I would return it – but possibly check online to see if the same dress is available in a different color or pattern if she liked the cut of it. I don’t think there is anything wrong with OP wearing the dress, I just don’t think it will make her happy, and she is better off spending her money on an item of clothing that she is at least neutral about. If I am wrong, and every time she puts on the dress she thinks “wow, I look great and I love this dress” than channel that feeling and go with it – but if it doesn’t make her happy, don’t force the issue.

    1. Sarahnova*

      Good points re: clothing. I have learned from experience that unless I feel really *excited* to wear an item when I first receive it, and look in the mirror thinking “damn, this looks good, I can’t wait to wear it for work/x event”, I just won’t reach for it.

      1. Allison*

        I’m learning that too. For me it’s a money thing, I just can’t afford to blow money on an item of clothing I don’t really love, or need (as in, “if I want to wear that new skirt I love, I’ll need a plain white t-shirt”; or someday I may need to buy something specific for a performance). But even if I need something specific, I won’t settle for something I don’t love unless it’s really cheap for what it is.

    2. A Dispatcher*

      This is really awesome advice about clothing in general. I’m sure I’m not the only person who only wears about 25% of what’s in my closet (and probably 10% of it regularly). I truly have been trying to be better about this but I know there is just some stuff I will never wear. I think I’m going to try some advice I read where you place all of your hangers backwards and after you’ve worn/washed an item it may go back in the correct direction. Anything still backwards after X amount of time gets donated.

      But anyway, getting back to the original question – if OP feels at all uncomfortable about duplicating her superior’s look, the dress will likely just end up looking very pretty on a hanger in a closet. If you think you’ll wear it outside of work, I’d say keep it, otherwise really consider whether or not it will see the light of day/be a worthwhile purchase.

    3. april ludgate*

      This is almost exactly what I was going to say. If wearing the dress will make you feel awkward/self-conscious at work it would be better to return it and spend the money on something you’d be more comfortable in.

    4. Paige Turner*

      I think you’re 100% right- I’d probably return it too, if I felt like it was adding unnecessary stress to my life.

  20. happymeal*

    #1 – I know several of you already said this, but I just. cannot. comprehend. not confirming an in-person interview with instructions to our building. Of COURSE OP thought it was a phone interview, that’s the only logical assumption when there is no additional details for an in-person interview!! ARGH PEOPLE.

  21. TL17*

    Re #2 – I am an attorney. One morning I was in court awaiting a hearing, and so I watched the hearing ahead of mine. The prosecutor arrived wearing a lovely dress with a flowered print. The defendant arrived shortly after… wearing the exact same dress. They both had a good laugh about it and the prosecutor said something to the effect that the defense lawyer (also a woman, but who was wearing a tan suit) didn’t get the memo about the dress. This could have gone very differently, but because everybody involved was willing to recognize that people shop at the same stores and this happens, it was funny and not a balance of power issue.

    FWIW, they accessorized completely differently and completely within their own personal styles, and both ways totally worked.

    1. Noelle*

      I once was in a meeting with about 15 people, half of whom were women. Every woman was wearing a very similar looking red shift dress except one. There were some laughs, the memo joke was made, and the meeting proceeded. It’s not a big deal if you don’t make it one.

      1. Kelly L.*

        At my old office, we constantly would have all but one woman wearing the same color on any given day. So you’d show up to work in brown and the whole rest of the office would be in purple and you’d joke that you didn’t get the memo about Purple Day. Then the next day you’d wear red, and so would everybody else, except one woman who’d be in green…

        1. Cath in Canada*

          That used to happen in my old office all the time! In my current office, we once had six people show up in horizontal stripes on the same day – there’s a photo of us somewhere. And so many guys on the ground floor wore a blue and white checked shirt one Thursday that they now have Checked Shirt Thursdays.

  22. Allison*

    #1, you’d think the interviewer would either say “okay, I’ll give you a call at X, time! is the number on your resume the best one to reach you, or is there a different one I should call?” OR give you important information about where the office is, how to get there, where to park, which office to go to, and who to ask for at reception. Your story should remind everyone that, if neither set of details is given, it’s probably a good idea to either e-mail to confirm (“so to clarify, you’ll call me at that time?”) or ask if there’s anything you should know about getting there or parking, or whom they should ask for at reception, stuff like that.

    1. OP #1*

      It definitely was a learning experience for me! As a recent grad with very little work experience, the process of interviewing is still something I’m getting used to, but I learned my lesson and I’m sure my experience will help someone else in the future.

  23. ACA*

    #2: At a previous job, a coworker and I had the same dress, though in different colors – it fit us completely differently, to the point where I don’t know that anyone other than the two of us even noticed. I’d go ahead and wear it.

  24. Ali*

    #1: I had an interviewer (from out of state, no less, as this was a job in a better market where I had a relative living) set up a meeting with me and sent me a link to a Google Hangout. We used Hangouts a lot in my last position, so I assumed she wanted to have a video interview. She did say she was looking forward to meeting me, but also provided no additional instructions that you would have for an in-person interview. So this company was in NYC, but she didn’t do what other employers I’ve met with there have done when they’ve mentioned you “take the (whatever) train” and get off at “stop.” I assumed, therefore, that I didn’t have to spend the money on a bus ticket and could just do the Hangout from home.

    She never showed up for the interview and when I e-mailed to find out what happened, she said “Oh you were supposed to be here. I don’t have time to reschedule right now; my calendar’s full.” That was a paraphrase, but her tone was kind of snooty and it turned me off to working for that company, unfortunately. I wondered why she sent an e-mail with a Google Hangout link to begin with, though, or didn’t add a note that it was there by default and it was to be an in-person interview.

    1. zora*

      I bet she got confused herself, actually. There is absolutely no reason I can think of to give someone a hangout link unless you a) already work with them, b) mean for them to use it for the interview. I would bet money that she planned to do the interview by hangout when she sent you the link, and the day of the interview forgot and thought she set it up in person, but wasn’t aware enough to realize that it was her mistake. I would never send a hangouts link to someone random that I had only communicated with once, that is weird.

      1. Meg Murry*

        I would be willing to bet she didn’t do I on purpose. For some annoying reason, gmail and companies that use Google as their email provider started automatically adding a field to all meetings (any calendar item with invitees) for a hangouts session by default – you either had to manually remove it from the invite, or go into your settings and untoggle a buried check box. It was really stupid of them to make it the default, and especially to just roll it out with no warning – if I wanted people to be able to video chat into my meetings, I would set it up that way on purpose, not allow it as a default alternative.

        It has made for a lot of confusion when I worked at a place that used Google as the email provider, and now that I work with a few international clients I can never tell if they mean it to be a hangouts meeting, a conference call, both, or what and it requires some back and forth every time.

        I love gmail for my personal mail, but sometimes the way they roll out features or change defaults is stupid, and doesn’t make sense for corporate clients.

  25. Erin*

    #2 – I agree with Alison – this should be fine unless it’s a bright color or funky pattern.

    I have the same top as one of my coworkers (that I’m wearing right now, coincidentally) and it’s never an issue cause it’s a black top.

    If the dress is black or brown or navy or gray I think you’re in the clear. And I agree with an above commenter how you accessorize it can make a difference too. If this lady is known for hoop earrings, go in another direction.

  26. AthenaC*


    Agree with others that you will want to look for a therapist that specializes in trauma. The way trauma affects the brain is not logical and thus cannot be treated with logic.

    After an awful, abusive marriage I had some really weird, random, unavoidable triggers. In order to function as a normal human being, I purposefully created good experiences around my triggers and basked in the good feelings to basically “reprogram” my brain and how it reacted to certain things. If there are any avenues for you to create good associations with hospitals, that could help you.

    But if at all possible, talk to a professional who specializes in trauma therapy.

  27. YandO*

    I applied to a position out of state (think 3 hour flight) and received an invitation that sounded like this ” would like a chance to talk with you face to face next week.”

    I assumed it meant an in-person interview, but nowhere in the email did they address the fact that I needed to fly in. I started looking at flights and figuring out if this was feasible, but then decided to email and request a Skype interview first (since we have not even spoken on the phone yet). It turned out, they meant Skype interview all along.

    Boy was I glad I checked with them first. I kinda assumed face-to-face means physically in the same room, but apparently that’s not the case.

    1. Ad Astra*

      I would also think “face-to-face” means physically in the same room. I’m glad you didn’t book a flight before you found out they meant Skype!

  28. Anon for this*

    OP #4- I know one of the hardest things to do when you have anxiety or stress regarding medical issues is to schedule an appointment with another doctor. But you should. I was so terrified and lived in fear so long and when I finally made the appointment and went in, I realized it was a safe environment where it could be different from my other medical experiences that had made me feel so damaged. One thing I still do is CBT worksheets where I can log my feelings and why I feel that way. I started it in therapy and still do it so I can see patterns of what triggers me and when I need a refresher in therapy I can have a starting point for us to work from.

  29. Nobody*

    #1 – Oh, that sucks! As easy as it is to say that you should have asked if it was a phone interview, I have to say I would have made the same assumption. It’s very unusual to have an in-person interview without a phone interview first, and if it was supposed to be in person, she should have given you some kind of directions or instructions on where to go. I agree with the other comments that she must have realized she hadn’t been clear because she figured out that you thought it was a phone interview. Just to throw this out there, are you sure her comment was meant in a critical way, and not an apologetic way, like she felt bad that you were waiting so long for her to call?

    I almost had the opposite happen to me once. A recruiter called me and said the hiring manager wanted to “bring me in” for an interview. I was surprised they weren’t doing a phone screen first, but I thought maybe they were just really impressed with my qualifications. We discussed a good day for me to “come in” the following week, and then the recruiter said he would confirm with the hiring manager and send me an e-mail with the details. I was waiting for some information on travel arrangements, and when I hadn’t heard anything a couple of days before the interview, I actually started thinking maybe I was supposed to arrange my own travel there. I almost bought a plane ticket because I was too embarrassed to ask the recruiter, but I finally gave in and called, and the recruiter acted like I was an idiot and told me it was just a phone screen. Well, sorry, but who says they are going to “bring you in” and asks what day you can “come in” for a phone screen?!

  30. JC*

    For #3, as reference-giver I would actually find it pretty disconcerting if I learned that you had a fake reference checker call me to see what I’d say. I wouldn’t think of it as at all different from asking a professor for an extra reference letter so you could see what they wrote, and might actually find it more disturbing because I took the time to talk to the person (vs. you reading a copy of a letter that I had already written).

    That said, if you did it I really doubt anyone would find out. I could only see it getting sticky if the reference-giver asked you about the place that called them for a reference and you then lied to them.

  31. Treena*

    Re #1, I always wondered about something that happened when I was a fresh grad. I had submitted a resume (with my cell phone number as the only phone number on it) as an attachment as part of an online application that required you to put your home phone number in. I was sitting in my car waiting for the call for a phone screen. After 10-15 minutes I called and asked what had happened and the HR person said she called my home phone and left a vm 15 minutes ago. I wasn’t very graceful about it, but I was really surprised they would call a number not on your resume…was I wrong to be confused? The set-up for the call was all by email.

    1. The IT Manager*

      I wouldn’t say you were wrong to be confused, but from the interviewer’s POV they called the number in their electronic system (which was your home number). As someone who sets up phone calls with co-workers sometimes, I always clarify who calls who and at what number.

      Now-a-days, so many people do not have a home phone that they should ask for “primary” contact number and not home phone.

    2. JC*

      Did you put your home phone number in the application, but not on your resume? Then yes, I could see how they might call you at home. Someone pulled relevant information from your application into a spreadsheet, and some people still view your home phone number as your “real” number they should call.

      In the future, if you don’t want to get calls on your home line, don’t put the number on the application. I do not have a home landline, so I usually put my cell phone number in as my home phone on forms. If there’s a separate spot for home phone and cell phone, sometimes I’ll put my cell phone number in both to make it clear that this is my primary phone number, and it is also a cell phone.

      1. Treena*

        Yea, I can see how that happened. The application field required the “home” number and the “cell” number was optional. I guess I figured I was being more honest by putting the home number down even though I never used it. Oh well, it didn’t harm me too much, I got a second phone interview with the hiring manager.

  32. WorkingFromCafeInCA*

    I only came here to say that I just started watching GoT two weeks ago, and I’m loving the Winterfell references :)

  33. AnnaBanana*

    Regarding having a friend check your references, sometimes it’s a REALLY GOOD idea especially if you’re temping.

    I was very fortunate in this case because I got the job in question, but shortly thereafter the hiring manager pulled me aside to tell me that I needed to stop using one of my references. He was an older man that I’d done some temporary office work for and I felt that I had performed really well in that position so he was one of my first choices.

    Well, when my new boss called him up to ask him about me his first response was “The police said I’m not allowed to talk about her.”

    New!Boss was surprised, but also persistent since that didn’t jive with what she knew of me. I was very lucky that she was the one doing the calling. Anyone else would have hung up immediately. She kept asking and eventually he figured out she was asking about ME and not the lady I replaced who had apparently stolen his identity. Needless to say, I asked him for a letter of recommendation and never had anyone call him again.

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