I was given an IQ test at a job interview, my manager won’t let me follow my doctor’s orders, and more

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

1. I was given an IQ test at a job interview

I applied for a copywriting job about a week ago and was told to bring my portfolio along. I spent ages preparing work samples, competency questions, strengths and weaknesses, and so on. When I got to the interview, I was given a spacial-awareness-based IQ test. I have a learning difficulty similar to dyslexia, which makes those tests very difficult for me.

When I finished the test, I was told to wait in a room. After a while, the interviewer came up and said that he could not continue with the interview, as I had scored 6 in the IQ test and their minimum benchmark was 10. He showed me to the door without reviewing my portfolio and after putting a cross through my CV.

I find this a bit strange for a few reasons: I understand why a finance company would ask for an IQ test, but this was a copywriting job. I guess it was some arbitrary way of testing how smart candidates were? Also, it seems ridiculous to dismiss a mid-level candidate before the interview. It’s a small company in a regional area so they can’t have had that many applicants. I understand why such a test would be used for a more general graduate scheme or competitive position, but not even interviewing me as I didn’t pass it, although it was completely unrelated to the role and I hadn’t been informed of it?

Yeah, it’s ridiculous.

Some employers do a terrible job of thinking through how to screen for the qualities and skills they need in a role. Most commonly, that manifests in silly interview questions (“what kind of animal would you be?”) or lack of rigorous probing into the person’s abilities, but sometimes it manifests in a love of tests that don’t actually relate to the work of the position. It sounds like that’s what happened here.

(And while a spatial relations test is particularly odd for a copywriting position, employers shouldn’t be giving IQ tests for any position. They can be legally questionable when used in hiring — not fully prohibited, but with some serious grey area around disparate impact — as well as really not an effective way to screen.)

2. My manager doesn’t want me elevating my leg post-surgery

I am recovering from a minor knee procedure. It has taken a long time to be pain free. In fact, I may need more serious surgery sooner than later.

My orthopedic physician has directed me to elevate and ice the knee during those time of higher pain. My new manager is opposed to me raising or elevating it when meeting with clients (I work in government). I have done this only a few time with clients but very, very discreetly. I dress very modestly, wearing longer skirts, dresses, and pants. I sit on the corner of conference table with a chair to the right so I can place the leg/knee up with the table shielding the whole thing. I believe the clients don’t even know I am doing this. They are across from me and can’t see under the table.

I understood her objection to this but didn’t know it to be a absolute ban with my current medical situation. It is more of a reflex to raise it if it hurts. I have suggested that I could place a blanket over my leg to reduce her concern that I don’t look professional to the client.

A week ago, while she was on vacation, someone else on staff complained to her that I was doing this (and talking about my knee status with this client) during a client meeting in the lobby area of the building ( I have a pretty good idea who it was). My first thought was I probably did this as a reflex, but who could be monitoring me that closely? Is my medical issue being talked about with others of the organization? It feels like I am being picked on. What should I do to follow my doctor’s directions and still meet her expectations?

Your manager is being unreasonable. It’s not like you’re putting your feet up on the table in a show of how laid-back you are; you’re discreetly elevating a leg on your doctor’s orders.

Say this to your manager: “My doctor has given me specific instructions about keeping my leg elevated at specific times, and I need to follow those instructions in order to have a good surgical outcomes. For the next X weeks, I may need to elevate it in client meetings. Would it be helpful for me to talk to HR about accommodating this and/or get documentation from my doctor?”

If she continues to push back, go talk to HR. This is the kind of thing that’s appropriate to take to them, and they should intervene.

3. Putting off callers who my boss doesn’t want to meet with

I’ve been an executive assistant to the CEO for past 9 years. One particular issue that arises often is putting off someone the CEO doesn’t want meet or speak with. Usually it’s a representative from a company that wants to buy ours. By the CEO’s vague answers of “Tell them I’m fully booked this month,” I assume she doesn’t want to schedule anything at all, ever. I do not feel comfortable telling these callers that she is not interested unless she deliberately tells me to.

Sometimes, after several calls, the putting off tactic works. However, recently I haven’t been unable to shake one particular person for several months. Responses such as “her schedule is full” are followed up with “Can you give me some dates and we can see if they work?” I always respond by saying I need to speak to her about her schedule before committing to a time. Unfortunately, I get the same vague answer from CEO and the cycle begins again.

What is the best way to handle this? Is there a secret code to get the point across?

Well, you could try, “Right now we’re not booking anything additional in her schedule.” But I’d also talk to your boss and see how she wants this handled. Say this to her: “Sometimes when I tell callers that you’re fully booked this month, they want to try to schedule for the following month or whatever the next available date is, or they’ll call back month after month. For people you don’t want to schedule anything with, is there something more definitive I could say to them?”

You could suggest language like, “Her schedule is very full, but you’re welcome to send written information for her to look over” or “because we’re triaging her schedule, I’m not able to offer you an appointment” or “She’s asked me to rely that she won’t be able to meet with you but appreciates your interest.”

4. Employee keeps finding new ways to violate policies

I have a particularly poor employee who does decent actual work, but she is horrible for our office culture and never does anything so wrong that she gets fired. In fact, she seems to just pick a new policy to ignore each time she gets called out for ignoring another. For example, earlier this year, she was spending an outrageous amount of time on personal phone calls. I went through the process of addressing it with the team, addressing it to her personally, then taking her to the HR office to discuss it. Finally, the personal calls stopped. Now, she is leaving work early without telling anyone, let alone asking permission. I have addressed the team about it and talked with her personally.

I feel that this will never end. She will just find another policy to ignore, never causing enough trouble to get fired for repeated offenses. I work at a rural, post-secondary institution. I am a new manager. What can I do to make this vicious cycle stop?

Tell her that you’ve noticed a pattern where she violates various policies until she’s told to stop, and that going forward you need her complying with all office policies, without exception. Tell her that if she continues to violate policies, you’ll need to let her go, and that this is the final warning she’ll receive. Put this in writing, and coordinate with whoever needs to sign off on firing her, so that they’re in the loop on what’s happening.

(Also, if you’ve noticed other issues aside from the policy violations, address those at the same time, so that it’s not a constant trickle of discussions of problems.)

Also, stop addressing the whole team about problems that are really confined to one person; that’s annoying and frustrating for everyone who isn’t doing the thing you’re addressing.

5. Moving from non-exempt to exempt

I’ve been at a new position for just over a year. My manager is fantastic and treats me fairly. I’m given respect and responsibility in my position and my duties have been growing substantially over the last year. I started by assisting with the coordination of a project and I’m now managing two projects by myself. I tend to have a lot of overtime, but since I work for the government I am asked to take it all as comp time.

My manager has asked me to rewrite my job description so it more accurately reflects the changes in my duties. She said that it will likely move me to an exempt position (I’m currently non-exempt).

I know the definitions of exempt and non-exempt, but what are the pros and cons of the change? Is there anything I need to be prepared for or think through before the transition?

Well, I’d ask about whether you’ll still be getting comp time, or whether you’ll be giving that up entirely. That’s the biggest change. (Note: In general, it’s not legal to give non-exempt employees comp time in lieu of overtime pay, but the government has conveniently exempted themselves from that rule.)

If you’re going to be giving up the comp time when you work over 40 hours a week, that’s potentially a big change, and you’d want to do the math to see if you’ll ultimately be taking home less in salary and paid time off.

{ 270 comments… read them below }

  1. PNW Dan

    OP 1: “I understand why such a test would be used for a more general graduate scheme or competitive position…”

    I can’t even see this being remotely useful in those situations. IQ test measure only one thing–how well you do on IQ tests.

    1. katamia

      Exactly. A person’s IQ doesn’t reflect how well they’ll do at their job. It doesn’t measure people skills, drive, willingness to follow orders (other than actually sitting down and completing the test), charisma, ability to handle stress, how well a person’s skills match up with the job opening, etc. IQ is a pretty useless measure of intelligence, actually.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Yeah, it’s really a strange approach. In some ways, it would be like using college grades as a screening mechanism for someone who’d been out of school two decades and working that whole time. It makes no sense to use something like that when you could be looking at an actual track record of how they operate at work and what they’ve accomplished.

        1. Sans

          Actually, I know of a situation like that. We live in PA, and my husband got laid off in 2003. He decided to investigate the possibility of adding a teaching certificate onto his B.A., and going into teaching. He went to a local university’s dept. of education open house. They told him that PA law said you couldn’t enter a teaching certificate program unless you had a 3.0 in your undergrad degree. It didn’t matter how long ago that degree was (in my husband’s case, 20 years). It didn’t matter what he had done since to show his capabilities. Nope, if he didn’t graduate with a 3.0 twenty years previously, he would have to take random undergrad classes with the sole purpose of getting As and raising his undergrad GPA. And by random, I mean random – they didn’t care what subject they were in.

          I could understand requiring a recent college grad to have a 3.0 But to judge someone who has been working for 20 years by their GPA 20 years ago … stupid, stupid, stupid.

          Needless to say, he didn’t become a teacher. We couldn’t afford for him to be off work long enough to take pointless undergrad classes and then take the teaching certificate.

          1. MK

            Eh, that’s really not the same thing. Maybe the long ago GPA was not relevant to whether he was qualified to enter a teaching program, but neither was your husband’s work experience.

            1. OfficePrincess

              Eh, that really depends on what the experience was. If he’d been working in the field for 20 years and wanted to then teach in the same field, I’d say that was even more relevant than entering the program with a recent 4.0 GPA.

            2. Engineer Girl

              It depends. There’s two major components for teaching: The ability to teach and understanding the subject matter. Someone that has 20 years experience in the subject matter need only learn how to teach to a certain audience as they are a master of the subject matter. I’ve certainly seen teachers that could barely handle some subject matter.
              Also, GPAs have become inflated. A current 3.0 is equivalent to a 2.7 from 20 years ago. The subject matter is also relevant. A 20 year old 2.9 in particle physics may mean more than a 3.2 in humanities.

              1. AnonaMoose

                “GPAs have become inflated.”

                Please tell me more. I’ve never heard of this…(and it’s certainly making me feel better about my own undergrad GPA 15 years ago.)

        2. Jessa

          Not to mention a lot of IQ tests skew against certain minorities and socioeconomic classes. There’s a lot of literature that IQ testing is biased towards what’s basically middle/upper middle class persons. They have tried over the years to mitigate the bias, but it’s still there. So this may also be a way to hire a certain group of people without actually saying “we don’t want poor people, or people of culture or ethnicity x.”

        3. Anna

          I once had to request college grades from an electrical engineer who worked for a nationally known company and had 30 years of experience (no gaps) in his field, most of it at a senior level. While this request for grades was made for all technical staff, I was particularly embarrassed with this candidate as he was a leader in his field and had more year experience than I was old. He was incredulous, but complied.

          The company I worked for was a small firm (now long defunct—shocking) run by a pompous president who reveled in making sure everyone knew how smart he was, particularly publicly at others’ expense. I did not last long at my HR assistant job before I quit. I could not bear the thought of bringing good people into such an caustic environment.

      2. Anon for This

        I work for a company that makes IQ tests and even we don’t use them for employment screenings. There isn’t much that would indicate if someone would be a successful employee.

          1. Koko

            I believe (reaching back to a high school psychology course taken in the 90s) that their original and most appropriate use is to benchmark a child’s intellectual development against a group of their age peers. The intelligence quotient is their mental age divided by their physical age, with a score over 100 indicating early advanced development and a score under 100 indicating delayed development.

    2. T3k

      Yeah, one place I interviewed at a few months ago required all applicants to take this IQ test (though they inform you of it during the first interview when you schedule the next). Everyone, from the financial advisors to secretaries, had to take it. Worse yet, this company prides itself on having “brilliant” employees to the point some reviews say they come off as being snobby because of this inflated feeling of superiority.

      1. misspiggy

        I don’t get it – if this particular test damages the chances of people with disabilities like dyslexia, how is it legal to use it for interviews? This wouldn’t fly in the UK due to disability and nondiscrimination laws (although as with everything in the UK you’d need money to uphold your rights).

        1. TL -

          Heh. It also has strong cultural biases that are believed to have a racial effect – it’s written from a very WASP brothel standpoint, apparently.

          1. Observer

            That’s not really true. The original tests were seriously culturally biased. The current tests (all of the major ones have undergone multiple revisions) are far better, although not all are equally good. But, that’s not even relevant. The OP says that it was a spatial iq test, and based on the scoring, it was not one one well knows (and well standardized and reasonably well understood) tests. So, they are not even testing for general intelligence, which does have some relevance. Rather they are testing for a niche capacity that doesn’t seem to have any relevance to the position in question, and using a niche tool to do it. I’d love to see them defend this in court if a deep pocketed entity went after them for its discriminatory effects.

            The truth is that the original tests didn’t just have a racially discriminatory effect, either. The pools against which these tests were “normed” were way to homogenous, so if you lived in the wrong part of the country it could hit you.

            1. the gold digger

              I had to take an intelligence test for a contract job – the owner, who fancied herself as some kind of expert in identifying great people, made everyone take it. I missed the question about what you call the person who runs an apartment building. In Texas, it is the apartment manager. In TestLand, it is a “superintendent.” I had never heard that word used in that context before.

              I think the people who wrote that test also wrote my college economics textbook, which made a big deal about taxi medallions. I had never taken a taxi before I went to college and I sure had no idea what a taxi medallion was.

                1. sam

                  it’s a giant metal “badge” that gets bolted to the hood of a taxi that basically says that it’s licensed to operated as a taxi within the jurisdiction. In NYC, because they rarely ever issue new ones, existing medallions can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

              1. Observer

                Well, there are a LOT of IQ tests out there, and they range from garbage to pretty good, although I would agree that even the better ones are not perfect. But, I’m fairly sure that your test was not one of the majors, as “superintendent” as apartment manager is an extremely regional thing, and all of the tests have tried to get away from that. AND they didn’t draw their original pool from the areas the use the term “superintendent”, so it’s not even like they were using an old version of one of the standard tests.

                But, this does illustrate the problems with the cultural bias that existed quite strongly, and less so today – it’s not just racial. If you are from the “wrong” part of the country, you’re not going to do well. And, that’s just stupid.

                1. the gold digger

                  This was the Birkman test, which I think is actually more of a personality test (just googled), but she used it as an intelligence test. If a job applicant did not get above a certain score on this test, which I think had only 15 questions, the applicant would not even be interviewed.

                  I was very uncomfortable with the entire situation (she had me giving them to people applying to be HR manager) and asked a friend who was an HR director at Kraft what she thought. She told me it probably wasn’t legal but sometimes could be, so I called the Texas Dept of Labor to ask and man, did that woman get angry! That’s probably the reason I was fired from that job. :)

                2. Observer

                  Well, according to it’s proponents, the Birkman test is NOT a “personality test”, it’s a “behavior assessment” which describes your “normal” behavior, your needs and your reaction to stress. It’s supposedly SO accurate that you can take it once and never have to take it again, but just keep checking back to it for years.

                  I suppose if you believe that personality and behavior are so static that the same assesment will be accurate for decades, this one is as good as any.

              2. MashaKasha

                A Dr. gave me an IQ test when she checked me for adult ADD. By then I already knew what range mine was in (long story…) so didn’t have anything to prove, so just relaxed and gave the test my best effort. I totally bombed this question on the language test “what do friends and enemies have in common? Describe with one word.” I tried everything I could think of, but nothing I came up with wasn’t the right word. Finally I gave up, after all English isn’t my second language, so I figured, maybe I don’t know the word… Turns out, I was supposed to say “relationship”. Goes to show you how much intelligence these tests really measure.

                Pretty sure it’s called apartment manager in our parts too (Midwest). When I hear “superintendent”, I think of a school district.

                1. OfficePrincess

                  I’m a native English speaker with a decently high (though decade old) SAT score and I still would have been stumped on that. I mean, it’s technically correct I guess, but how are you supposed to come up with that on your own?

              3. Natalie

                My management accounting textbook always feels that we need a lot of backstory for every word problem. But it was last updated in the 90s so there are quite a few problems involving companies that make fax machine components.

            2. TL -

              Yeah, the racial discrimination came from cultural bias – the study I’m thinking of found black kids raised in white families did better than black kids raised in black families, normalized for socio-economic status. That same effect would play into geographic origin as well.
              Though what I’ve read (mostly media pieces) are saying there’s still bias in current models, just not as bad.

        2. Stranger than fiction

          That was my first thought and the Op should write in letting them know that.

    3. Daisy

      Well, graduate schemes can get thousands of applicants, so I suppose it would be a way of whittling down the applications right out the gate- you’d have enough people left that even if a few great people got cut by the IQ test you wouldn’t notice. Plus, they wouldn’t have relevant work experience to look at. There are presumably better solutions to those two things though.

    4. Katie the Fed

      This isn’t even an IQ test. A real IQ tests takes several hours and covers a lot of different types of capabilities. This sounds like some pseudo science.

      1. Muriel Heslop

        I give a lot of acdemic assessments and this doesn’t sound like an IQ test. It seems like some kind of nonverbal assessment, which seems strange for a copywriter.

    5. BananaPants

      My husband had to take the Wonderlic Cognitive Ability test when applying to work as a recruiter with a staffing firm. Yes, the same one that NFL players take before they’re drafted. When the firm later rejected him after the final interview, it was ostensibly because he scored too high on the stupid test. They said that the firm only hires employees who score within a specific range; they said that in their experience, a high score meant he needed an intellectually-stimulating environment would be too likely to leave for a different job within 6-12 months! It’s certainly their right to do so, but his work history was in retail and call centers, which are not known for being the most intellectually-stimulating environments.

      6 months later he applied for a similar job with a different staffing firm and the exact same thing happened again (with a similar score. His score was similar both times, in the mid-30s.

      His current employer doesn’t do a personality or IQ test.

      1. Natalie

        The name jogged my memory – my bf had to take that test to work as a maintenance guy at a property management company. Between that and their not-great benefits, I have no idea what’s going on in the HR department there. He loves the job itself, though.

      2. hermit crab

        Some police departments apparently do the same thing — every once in a while there are lawsuits that make the news, when someone who wants to join the force gets rejected over scoring too high on an IQ test. I think the courts have mostly upheld those policies too.

        1. Sue Wilson

          There are some jobs where objecting to too high an IQ makes the parameters of the job sound really shady, and ‘police officer’ is one of them.

      3. Oryx

        Yes, I had to taken the Wonderlic for my ExJob. I am horrible at math and left that test thinking “If I don’t get that job because of stupid fractions I’m going to be so pissed.”

      4. RMRIC0

        I was given similar reasoning for several office/staffing jobs I applied at (though it was more based on my resume – which was mostly writing and photography gigs) – no one seemed to accept that I was perfectly capably of entertaining my own brain, I just needed money and health insurance to do it!

        1. voluptuousfire

          I know! Right out of college I interviewed for a receptionist position and was rejected because they thought I would be bored in the position. I know it was because I was too smart. The comical thing is that in the interview, they talked about how every receptionist they had was promoted into a higher or different role within 12 months. By the time I would have gotten “bored,” I could have been promoted!

    6. Raptor

      The first response that popped into my head for ‘what kind of an animal would you be?’ was Cthulhu.

      1. AnotherFed

        LOL! I’d hire you for that one (if I were the sort to be making hiring decisions based upon animal questions).

    7. CJ

      I’ve encountered IQ tests in employment situations only one time. In the spring of 2008 I was contacted by a small Silicon Valley startup whose CEO browsed by resume on Dice and asked me to give him a call. The company had an interesting product under development, and the position was a technical lead for a small software quality assurance team. At the conclusion of our chat, the CEO informed me that he asked all candidates to take a general IQ test from the vendor Brainbench before a site interview would be considered. I was told it would take about an hour of my time.

      I rolled my eyes at the other end of the phone. Never in Silicon Valley has anyone ever asked me to take an IQ test. I thought about saying thanks-but-no-thanks, and that I preferred not to work for a company that didn’t know squat about interviewing, but I held my tongue.

      The test actually turned out to be a lot of fun, except for the annoying timer in the middle of the window that kept the pressure on. I scored well, and the CEO invited me for a site visit. He also raised the topic of compensation, practically beaming with pride when telling me that his company paid top dollar for talent. The budget he had to work with? Well, let’s just say it was barely half the going rate for comparable positions in the valley.

      At that point I really did roll my eyes, then thanked him for his time. Not only was he out of touch with respect to using IQ tests as an interview tool, he had no understanding of the going rate for experienced quality assurance engineers.

  2. Jader

    #4- Yes, please stop addressing the whole team when your issue is with one person. It’s either a waste of their time or, if they are anything like me, they spend a bunch of time going over their past actions trying to figure out if it’s them you’re talking about.

    1. Ms Information

      +1! Good performers always worry they’ve done something wrong and the real culprits never think it’s them – or don’t care.

      1. TiredManager

        It can also send the offender the wrong message. By you raising it with the whole team she might think it means everyone else is doing it, so she is no better or worse than them. (Yes, even if you raise it separately with her, been there, seen that!) I had one manager who did this all the time, and people missed the point most times.

        1. SG

          Also, it sounds like this employee’s policy flaunting is fairly obvious to the rest of the team as well. I’d be driven up the wall if I had to sit through a team meeting when we all knew it was one particular person doing it. It would make me feel like the manager didn’t actually want to manage, but rather hope that by making it seem like a group issue the person would just feel bad enough to stop.

          1. Jessa

            Yes and a lot of times this ends up being “okay so now nobody can do anything resembling x, even though only one person is abusing x,” and seriously punishing all the good employees because of one bad one. Which stinks. And lowers morale. And causes good people to leave. Please, please, I beg people with the authority to do it, stop punishing everyone when putting one person on notice will do.

      2. Rebecca

        If I could agree with this a thousand times, I would! My manager is ALWAYS doing this, running around the office yelling “IN MY OFFICE”, and then we go stand there for 5 minutes until the smokers arrive, and finally she paces around, and goes on and on about how good we have it, and we don’t want to get cracked down on because of “X” going on, and all the while the biggest culprit is clueless! It still happens, over and over, lather rinse and repeat on the group talks. I privately asked her to please discuss with the person involved, as everyone thinks “oh, that’s not me”, but she insists on treating us like we are in a kindergarten classroom. So maddening.

        1. Lillie Lane

          She actually yells at the whole team to assemble in her office? Yikes. Sounds like a prison camp.

          1. F.

            I had a female manager (executive level) who would convene impromptu staff meetings by standing in the middle of the office and bellowing, “Get in here now, Shi*heads!” One time, one of the paralegals and I refused to answer. I was let go (ostensibly “laid off”) a few months later. Best thing that ever happened to me!

              1. Laurel Gray

                In fairness to F., people here have told similar stories of male managers and disclosed that they were male.

              2. Bend & Snap

                If F. Hadn’t specified, I would have thought the manager was male. It’s a male/aggro sounding command.

                1. AnonaMoose

                  Ya, I don’t know too many femal leaders (or females, period) who say ‘sh&thead’. It’s a very male/football coach from hell/high school job assistant manager kinda vibe, isn’t it?

                2. F.

                  It was rare to hear that kind of language from a professional woman in the industry I was working in at the time. It is equally unprofessional behavior for either gender.

          2. Rebecca

            Yes, she goes door to door and demands we assemble right then and there, regardless of what we’re in the middle of. Of course, there are always those in the bathroom or smoking or on the phone, so we stand there. I really wish she’d use a meeting request so everyone knew when these things would happen, at least.

      3. The Cosmic Avenger

        I agree with your thesis, but actually I tend to get annoyed at the waste of my time in those situations, and of the implication that I need that lecture when I’ve never evinced even a hint of the problem behavior. I guess earlier in my career I might have worried that it was aimed at me, even mistakenly, but after a while I just got offended at being lectured at when the person doing the lecturing knew that I was not part of the problem they were addressing.

        1. Vicki

          This sort of thing reminds me of elementary school when one or two kids would act up and the teacher would turn the lights off and tell us all to put our heads down on our desks for 5 minutes and be silent.

          Punish everyone because one or two people did something wrong, but never directly punish the offenders.

    2. anon17

      When I started a new job 2.5 years ago, I was new to office work, being exempt, and many other things, and there wasn’t (and still isn’t) any documentation about how to do the job. At first I found it helpful when my boss would “remind” the team to do X, or not to do Y, because I didn’t know any of that (and if I was learning from others who were doing that, I had no other resource to rely on to say we shouldn’t). However, I usually only need to be told things once, so after the initial reminder, I started wondering if I was missing something and inadvertently doing something wrong still.

    3. Mallory Janis Ian

      I’ve seen so many group announcements where everyone in the department knows who the offender is and that the issue is being addressed only because of them, but the offender NEVER thinks it’s them.

      Early in my career, I would think, “Oh, good! Now so-and-so will have to start abiding by the rules.” Now whenever there’s a group announcement about something that only one person is doing, I just know that the person in question will never suspect that they are a culprit (and they’ll definitely never suspect that they’re the primary culprit).

      1. Lillie Lane

        Yep, yep, yep! Staff meetings at a former job were aggravating because the whole team was reminded again and again about certain policies (usually involving abuse of the color copier) when *one* person was the problem. And she never thought she was doing anything wrong. So the problem was never resolved, and we had to hear about it again and again.

    4. Tomato Frog

      Yep. I always worry that it’s me when it’s not. Also, if I know it’s me, I feel irritated and condescended to because the manager didn’t talk to me directly and give me a chance to take responsibility.

      1. AnonaMoose

        Boom. It’s like you’re being ratted out by the most passive aggressive nag you’ve ever met. Here here!

    5. KT

      THIS a million times. Us nervous nellies are convinced the manager is talking about us and we stress about getting tot he office earlier and earlier (as an example), while the culprits who role in 15 minutes late assume it’s someone else, or everyone

    6. Koko

      I think it also creates the perception that behavior problems are widespread enough to warrant having these periodic meetings to remind everyone of the rules. (I’m recalling food services places I worked at with mostly other teenagers.) There’s a social phenomenon where in any given social setting, a majority of people are generally aiming to rank somewhere around 70th percentile. They don’t want to put in a huge amount of effort to be the best, but they want to know they’re slightly better than the average person. Therefore, the perception that group members have about how hard the rest of the group is working will tend to affect how hard they think they need to work. Aside from people who have innate curiosity and interest in their work that motivates them (and most of us at best only have that for some aspects of our work, not all of it), most people are engaging in some sort of balancing act like this all the time, weighing how much effort is realistic and appropriate to give without slacking off but neither burning out, and they look to their peers to gauge what those varying levels of effort look like.

      1. Koko

        The reverse of this is also why a core group of 2 or even 3 high performers can grow into a team of high performers. When each employee looks around them and see talented people working hard to accomplish lofty goals, they want to do the same to keep up, to fit in, to earn the respect of coworkers they admire, etc. They raise the bar for what’s expected of the whole team. (Some people will resent that, but those aren’t people you want on your team.)

    7. LQ

      I’ve absolutely gone into my bosses office after he gives a speech about doing X or not doing Y to say – is that me? Did I do that? I want to know?

      Finally he told me he’d bring up any thing that was a problem directly with me. Should just do that anyway!

    8. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

      Yes. Part of the reason you should avoid this is that it’s really important not to give negative feedback to people who are doing a good job unless they need to improve at something. Conscientious people (ie, often your high performers) almost always think it’s directed at them, and low performers almost never think it’s directed at them. In the meantime, you’re fussing at your best people and dragging them down. Don’t do this to them or to the health of your team.

      Sometimes managers do this because they think it’s a kinder, more indirect way to handle a problem without embarrassing anyone. It’s not – it’s just not effective and often harmful. It’s not your job as a manager to keep people from feeling “on the spot” – it is your job to address problems directly and promptly.

      1. Former Diet Coke Addict

        YES, this, exactly. My Notedly Horrible Boss held a meeting in the winter where he basically raked us all over the coals–told us how he didn’t really need us, he did a fine job with the company all by himself, we needed to communicate more because nobody told anybody anything, and so on. We all walked out feeling awful–he had basically spent an hour yelling at us, after all–and then the following week when my boss was talking to one of my coworkers, he said “Oh, that wasn’t for you guys! That was for our technician!” Well, you could have fooled us, since you dragged us all into a meeting to tell us how you didn’t need us. I cannot even tell you how much it killed morale for everyone–but did it have any actual effect on the poor performers at my job? Not a whit. Not an iota. It all just made us hate our boss.

    9. Anonathon

      Also came here to echo this! Earlier this year, we had a whole serious meeting and created these new policies … because one person was making mistakes. End result? Said person kept making those mistakes and the rest of us were stuck with a new policy to compensate for errors that we’d never made in the first place. More recently, we were told in an all-staff meeting not to do XYZ because it was unprofessional and I spent all day wondering if I’d done XYZ unknowingly … only to be told by my boss later that “of course” she wasn’t talking about me. Um. Okay. How would I know that, given the way the message was delivered?

    10. Clever Name

      Yes! I’m getting increasingly unhappy at work because my coworkers are having trouble understanding how to do a certain type of project, and it’s increasingly frustrating on attending several meetings about time management or how to accurately scope this type of project. From what I understand there is going to be another meeting about adequately documenting fieldwork, which I’ll be pissed to attend since it’s such a basic aspect to our work, and not doing it is just pure laziness. I’m also annoyed because I’m being asked to finish these coworker’s work because they’re “too busy”, nevermind that I also have a heavy project load yet somehow manage to meet deadlines in addition to doing others’ work.

      (Sorry, that was a rant. I’m pretty pissed today.)

    11. Today's Satan

      Manager at Toxic Job used to this. I stopped him one time after a group meeting and asked if he was somehow talking about me. He said No. I told him it was really frustrating for all of us to sit there getting chewed out for something only one person did. His response? “Don’t step in front of a bullet that isn’t meant for you.” WTF? How about “Don’t create ill will and waste your employee’s time.”??

    12. M-C

      Totally with Jader on not telling off the whole staff about one person’s problem, for all the reasons previously cited. OP#2 seems to feel that working in secondary education means the staff should be treated like the students, which is insulting at the very least. Moreover, this kind of collective blaming strategy doesn’t even work at all with the students, so what makes you think it’d work better with adults? Stop it!

      Also, I think you should address the problem as not a series of violations, but as one which always boils down to time theft. Put that way, it might be easier to convince both HR and the perpetrator that this is a serious problem, one worthy of firing.

      Finally, you might also start by wondering why you’re being so wound up about actual time (although lengthy personal calls are always disruptive unless someone has a private office and makes sure to close the door).. I hope this isn’t an exempt employee whose time you’re trying to manage so closely, that might backfire. Are you pretty sure you could replace this person without too much hassle? But also you might start the conversation by telling the person that it seems that they don’t have enough to do, and do they have suggestions about that? Like would they prefer to work part-time? Or just assign them a bunch of extra work :-).

    1. Colette

      I wouldn’t ask how it would benefit me, but it is a good time to talk about a raise, particularly if your compensation would be reduced by losing comp time.

    2. Brett

      The problem is that this is a government position. Managers normally do not have the authority to give a raise outside defined merit review. Many local government employers eliminated or suspended merit raises in the last decade, so there might not be any mechanism at all for the manager to give a raise.

      But since the OP is being switched from non-exempt to exempt, the description rewrite should also involves a change in grade or title. There are normally defined rules for change in grade or title that allow for a one-time raise (e.g. for my employer, you can increase 10% or to the grade minimum on the new position, whichever is higher). The drawback of this is that a chance in grade or title normally reverts you back to probationary employee, resetting your merit period, seniority, and sometimes your vacation levels. Since the OP has only been there one year anyway, this is not a big deal. For a longer term employee though, this could mean losing one or more weeks of vacation a year as well as seniority linked perks like parking spots.

  3. Artemesia

    Framing ‘repeated violations’ in terms of each single policy or issue makes no sense. She has already demonstrated repeated violations and should be gone or on probation by now. If your kid steals candy, then steals money, then steals someone’s toys — that is not 3 unrelated events. An employee doesn’t have to evince the precise same flaw repeatedly to be repeatedly unsatisfactory. She needs to have her repeated violation of policy as just that ‘repeatedly ignoring policies’ and there needs to be a formal statement of this issue and she needs to be on notice that the net instance will mean termination. Allowing someone to flip you the bird like this in this manipulative way drastically undercuts your authority and the morale of the office. And lecturing everyone about a problem that is HER issue will just breed resentment among those who do what they should. You don’t need to treat her like everyone else when she is the miscreant. Good luck and get your ducks lined up with HR. She needs to be gone if she doesn’t lose the attitude and the behavior. She should have had her last ‘chance.’ The next violation should be done and out.

    1. Engineer Girl

      This. Please don’t treat the employees the same. Treat them equally. That means that only the offenders get talked to and the non-offenders are left alone to do great work and get good performance reviews.

      1. TheSockMonkey

        My boss does this–when one person does something wrong, she addresses it with everyone. I asked her to consider only addressing it with the “‘offender”‘ and she claimed that she had to address it with everyone in case someone else was thinking of doing the same thing. (Ugh).

        Also, she claimed that from an HR perspective, she had to give the same warning to everyone or else the person in question would feel singled out. This is one of my management pet peeves. I guarantee the OP is pissing off good employees in how she’s addressing this.

        1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

          Why would you avoid singling them out if they are the only one doing this? They singed themselves out. This is ridiculous. Also, that”from an HR perspective” is patronizing – it sounds like she’s saying that she has special knowledge – something you couldn’t possibly know – so she’s making wise decisions that are beyond your ability to understand.

          1. TheSockMonkey

            Yeah, I tried all sorts of arguments. This is just how she “manages.” She makes things up that she thinks sound convincing and then shares them as though they are true.

            On the plus side, I just gave notice today. (Wooohooo).

        2. Artemesia

          ‘Being singled out’ is called management. Duh. People like this simply are not competent to be managers.

    2. ReMarkable

      I agree with this 100%, don’t think the different violations should all be written warnings. Your language in the write ups should cover the violation and the company policy as a whole. Being a new manager is stressful and having an employee not acting mature doubles the stress. Correct this employee’s behavior or fire her. The other employees will be happy because they see the dumb shit she doing and are looking to you for leadership.

  4. Sue Wilson

    They can be legally questionable when used in hiring — not fully prohibited, but with some serious grey area around disparate impact — as well as really not an effective way to screen

    Yeah this has future discrimination suit all over it. And honestly, I don’t think it has to be a disparate impact case. They are directly asking for information about mental processing.

    1. UK HR bod

      I can’t comment if the OP is in the US, but in the UK this could be grounds for a direct discrimination suit right now – it has directly disadvantage the OP due to something which could be a disability. I say could not because I’m doubting it, but because there is a specific definition of disability in employment, and oddly it’s tribunals rather than doctors that decide whether a particular condition fits the definition. The OP would have to show that the requirement to do the test put her at a disadvantage because of the condition, and that it was not a proportionate means of getting the information required (I’m guessing not). The OP should also consider letting the test provider know (if she can remember the name) that the test was used in such a way – they normally have rules that would prohibit tests being used like this without making accomodation or at least warning someone.

      1. Tau

        Yeah, I read “learning difficulty similar to dyslexia, which makes those tests very difficult for me” followed by the employer refusing to interview her at all based on the results of the test and my eyebrows went waaaaay up. This is not disability discrimination… how, exactly?

        1. UKAnon

          Well, if they could prove that having an IQ of 10 or above was necessary for the job then it wouldn’t be but… I wish them luck with that.

          1. Sue Wilson

            In the US, they would also have to prove it’s neccessary, but because of the way IQ tests work and what they measure, that would be a duel of expert witnessess.

            1. UK HR bod

              In the UK you wouldn’t really need expert witnesses, as it’s not the disability you are ‘proving’ – it’s the criterion (technically a provision, criterion or practice – PCP) imposed which potentially disadvantages someone with a disability. The tribunal system isn’t a court of law in the civil or criminal sense, so you don’t have to prove something – just show it’s not reasonable. In this instance, someone with dyslexia or similar is likely to be at a disadvantage in any form of test – not because of IQ, but because many of these tests don’t take into account learning difficulties. Some do of course, but you would usually expect the question to be asked beforehand. So OP would be able to say that the recruitment practices, specifically the test, amounted to a PCP which disadvantaged her. I don’t think there’s an argument against that. The only defense is that they are trying to achieve a proportionate aim, for instance, requiring that a worker in a women’s refuge is female, or (not so easy to demonstrate as proportionate) that a teacher in a religious school follows that religion. The tribunal would balance the disadvantage to the OP (i.e. potentially deprived of the role due to the test) against the proportionateness of the requirement.

          2. nona

            This either isn’t a real IQ test or they’ve translated scores into a weird new scale. Considering most of us are between 85 and 115.

            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              Oh good point — this is not a standard IQ test if that’s their scale.

              OP, I’m curious: Did they call it an IQ test, or are you calling it that as shorthand?

            2. Nashira

              And that ginormous standard deviation really, really ought to be a clue to people about the general uselessness of IQ tests. Especially when combined with WASPy bias in so many tests…

              1. Case of the Mondays

                So I’ve heard a lot about WASPy bias in standardized testing. I absolutely don’t doubt it. Since I fit into the white middle class norm, I probably didn’t catch any of these issues when taking standardized tests. I’m sure I could google it but can you give me an example of a question that would pose a bias problem?

                While I certainly think the fact patterns skew WASPY, wouldn’t the math still be the same? Let’s say the question is Ginger is having a bridge party with 12 guests. Ginger wants to have three varieties of scones. If 50% choose blueberry and 25% choose cinnamon and 25% choose apple, how many of each scone does Ginger have to purchase?

                It doesn’t matter if you know what bridge is or what a scone is. You just need to know that each guest is getting one.

                1. Student

                  There’s a big vocabulary component to many tests like this. They deliberately use language that is not in common use. The unusual vocabulary is heavily skewed towards words that are found in wealthier “white” households instead of minority households. Think about the differences between historic white literature vs. historic black literature in the US.

                  Kids with high exposure to predominantly white reading material – news articles by white authors, classical books by white authors, etc. – have better outcomes on these tests because they are written with this vocabulary slant.

                  There’s also a pretty heavy slant towards unusual words with a Latin (the dead language) basis. It used to be really common that “well-educated” people took Latin. So, kids who have an education in Latin or a Latin-based romance language tend to have an edge in these types of tests. I took Latin, and I can tell you that there are not a lot of minorities in high school Latin classes.

              2. nona

                Btw – I think I’m close to derailing this thread right now, so I’ll stop after this – I don’t know what the standard deviation of any IQ test is. Two thirds of people score between 85 and 115. A score of 100 is average.

                1. Pinkie Pie Chart

                  This is a bit simplified, but here goes. The standard deviation is the likelihood that the actual number will deviate from the midpoint. In this case it’s 100 +/- 15. 68% of Americans will fall into this category. Add another 15 on each side, s0 70-130 (2 standard deviations), and you will cover 95% of Americans.

                  Think about polls you see. You get the number +/- an additional percentage. It’s the same kind of thing. Being 100 +/- 15 is actually a really large number of people, so IQ tests don’t really show too much unless you are way above or below the norm.

                  (Sorry, taking intro stats right now.)

    2. Katie the Fed

      There’s also a body of research which shows some demographic groups perform more poorly on standardized tests.

      1. Sue Wilson

        Yes, and there is a body of case law regarding that (although not always favorable to the petitioner), although it would be disparate impact, since they’re not directly asking about information about demographics.

  5. Chrissi

    #2 – you don’t say whether you are federal or other govt, but I’m federal and we are mostly covered by unions. If you are, and your boss won’t let you do this, you need to talk to your union rep or the EEOC union rep since this is possibly covered by ADA (or, in your case, Title IV of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, I think).

    I have a coworker who had very similar needs after a knee surgery and he rushed it and has had multiple surgeries since then because he never truly recovered. Don’t let your boss force you into the same situation.

  6. Ms Information

    Re #4 . I can imagine a scenario where a manager gets guilted into addressing policy violations with the group rather than with the individual, that is, when the miscreant is good at deflecting criticism by claiming that others are also taking personal calls or leaving early or whatever. The danger here is also that the normal flexibility of a good workplace can then be lost through rigid adherence to rules in order to “catch” the miscreant in their flagrant flouting of same. So the PIP type of follow up has to have clear standards but can’t be zero tolerance just for one individual. Nor do you want zero tolerance for everyone else as well. Whew! I had this challenge over overly casual dress in a generally casual dress environment.

    1. Artemesia

      I don’t see a problem with Zero tolerance for one individual if that individual has already had a pattern of frequent violations. You aren’t firing Brittany for talking on the phone that one time, you are firing her for a series of repeated infractions for which this was the last straw. This requires documentation and clear feedback but at that point ‘one more violation’ is adequate for firing.

  7. Myrin

    I’m aghast by both the manager and the coworker in #2.

    If I were a client anywhere, I certainly wouldn’t mind someone keeping their foot elevated (unless they stuck it directly in my face), especially as it’s usually pretty clear if someone does so because they’re “super relaxed” or whatever or if they’re doing it because of pain/surgery/bloodflow. I can’t understand the manager’s thought process at all.

    But I’m also side-eyeing the coworker hard. Specifically telling the manager the OP is still a horrible foot offender when manager is on vacation? Why an earth? I especially raised my eyebrows at (and talking about my knee status with this client) – why is she so offended by the OP’s foot/leg that she feels she needs to address this with a client? I have to say, if I were the client, I wouldn’t bat an eye at the elevated leg but I’d be confused as heck by the coworker who felt the need to somehow specifically point this out to me (and maybe even talk about sensitive medical details that really aren’t my business).

    1. A Kate

      I read this as the coworker telling the manager that the OP had mentioned her knee issue to the client (presumably along the lines of explaining why she was elevating her knee?).

    2. UKAnon

      Hm, I read it as the OP talking to the client about their leg – in which case it depends. All the gory details = not good. “Sorry about this [if they notice at all], I’m recovering from minor surgery” = fine.

      Definitely push back though OP! As per the discussion the other day, you have the right to do this, so don’t feel overawed by demanding it.

      1. Myrin

        Ah, I see! Since both A Kate and you read it that way and I’m not a native speaker I take it your interpretation is the more likely one. Anyway, I completely agree with you about what’s an appropriate level when talking about the injury to a client (maybe they even asked, who knows?).

      2. OfficePrincess

        Yeah I’m not sure what the boss wants exactly when it comes to “talking about it”. If a client does notice OP put her foot up, or is wearing a brace, or limping or whatever and asks if everything’s ok, what does boss want OP to say? “No Comment” or “Can’t say” would be much more off-putting than “I’m recovering from minor surgery but don’t worry, I’m fine”.

    3. Ad Astra

      I came here to say the same thing. All the OP has to say is “I recently had knee surgery, so I’m going to need to elevate my leg while we’re meeting. I hope that’s not too distracting.”

      It’s bizarre that the manager thinks this is unprofessional, and extra bizarre that the coworker is tattling about it.

      1. Dynamic Beige

        Yeah! If anything, people love to talk about their various health problems and it might be a way to find some common ground with the person you’re meeting with.
        “What kind of knee surgery? I tore my ACL a few years ago, so I completely understand!”

        1. Ad Astra

          Because torn ACLs are incredibly common in female athletes, I’ve seen a lot of young women notice each other’s scars and bond over chit chat about physical therapy, having to quit their sport (doesn’t always happen, but it’s common), and what they’re doing now to stay in shape.

        2. TootsNYC

          But that might be the type of TMI that made the coworker notice the OP’s conversation with a client in the common space. It’s best not to get into details.
          And I would suggest being extra sure not to let the whole knee thing become A Topic of Conversation with the clients. That’s not particularly professional. I think that in this manager’s eyes, even some sort of bonding wouldn’t be worth that.

          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            I don’t think it’s at all unprofessional to say, “I recently had knee surgery so I’m going to elevate my leg while we talk.” It would be weirder if she didn’t it without explaining.

          2. Dynamic Beige

            If the OP came in on crutches with a huge cast on one leg, whoever they were meeting with would see the problem and probably say something about it. The issue here is that whatever surgery the OP had, you can’t see it/it’s not obvious. Needing to raise your leg because you broke your toe/knee surgery/some other medical condition that’s not immediately obvious is not something you’re doing just ‘cuz… you have to. It just seems weirder to me that the OP is making an effort not to be seen doing something for “professionalism” yet if they are caught by someone who doesn’t understand the situation, they might think it’s unprofessional/too casual/weird.

            Pretty much everyone has either injured themselves badly or knows someone who has. Quickly mentioning at the beginning of the meeting “I’m going to have to sit here, I recently had knee surgery and am going to need to elevate it. I hope you understand.” Is a way of addressing the issue right away. Yes, it might become A Topic of Conversation but how many meetings never stray from the agenda? I’m sure that the OP is smart enough to say “I’m sorry your Great Aunt Matilda had diabetic nerve pain and had to elevate her feet as well, it sounds terrible! But we better get on with discussing the Spout Welding Issue that you’re here for… if you’ll turn to page” and steer the conversation back to why they’re all there.

            1. zora

              Yeah, or this client had an appointment when the OP was out of the office for surgery, and therefore asked ‘I missed you when you were out, is everything ok?’ ‘Oh yes, I was out for knee surgery, but it went well and I’m glad to be back at work, how are you?’ etc. I mean, come on, there is nothing wrong with a little personal related small talk with people you have a regular business relationship with.

  8. OP1

    Hi guys.

    Yes I was so disheartened to be sent home immediately after spending days preparing for my interview! The test given to me was a free online IQ test- I’m not sure who accredited it.

    But this is what’s outrageous- look at the second question in this test- not the test I was given- iqtestfree.net
    That is NOT an IQ question, it is a general knowledge question. The answer is New York as it’s the only one that isn’t a capital city- the question is a test of your knowledge, not capabilities. And I was given a free unaccredited test just like this..

    1. UKAnon

      Ok, so I did give that a go (killing time at the moment) and I can conclude quite firmly that I am smarter than the test because I can see the grammatical error in “How many bags of coffee did he has”

      (Not that grammar is an indication of intelligence, but if you’re going to claim that stuff is then I am going to judge you by your own standards)

      I’m sorry OP – if it’s any consolation, it sounds like you dodged a bullet!

      1. Myrin

        Exactly what I thought! (I also think the New York question is worded quite inappropriately for the result they want. The way it’s phrased (“from these four words) makes it seem like they’re looking for a difference regarding grammar or syllables or morphology or whatever in the words, not for a difference between the citites.)
        I was also immediately reminded of this old internet cat meme “I can haz cheeseburgers?” and couldn’t take it seriously afterwards.

      2. Merry and Bright

        Actually, UKAnon, the whole way it is worded makes me question the test quality right from the start. It’s like reading a very bad scam email.

    2. Marzipan

      Good grief. “You know you are intelligent…but how much intelligent?” “You will get a free estimation of your intelectual quotient”!?!

      1. Marzipan

        Also, having just done the thing, it’s particularly unreasonable of them to expect a score of 10 since that’s the highest score possible on this test. You’d expect almost everyone to be better at some areas than others, and in some contexts knowing whether someone’s strengths lie in verbal/spatial/numerical reasoning could be relevant – but you’d need a much longer test, administered by a competent person, to be able to assess this. Refusing to interview anyone who doesn’t achieve not just a high score, but a *perfect* score, on a questionable-looking free online resource… well, it’s a bit odd. Bullet dodged, I think.

        1. jules

          There are several maths questions which strikes me as quite useless for a copywriting job. OP, sorry you wasted so much time in interview prep, but it really sounds like you dodged a bullet! You’re better off without them!

        2. Myrin

          The one the OP linked to isn’t the one she took herself, though. It’s still not a good idea obviously but maybe the test she was given at least had a higher possible score than 10.

    3. Sunshine Brite

      So if you needed a 10, you had to get a perfect score? This random internet trivia is even more ridiculous than the letter even made it seem. Also, super discriminatory especially given the learning disability.

        1. OP1

          The test I posted wasn’t the one I was given, but similar.

          I actually think not telling me about the IQ test before I went for the interview is really bad- but there’s a reason I’ve never appliedfor grad schemes with non-verbal competency tests. I can’t pass them. I’ve got a performance IQ that is “subnormal” and a “gifted” verbal IQ.

          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            I don’t have any problem with them not telling you about it before the interview. I have a problem with them using it at all — but there are lots of tests that would be appropriate for them to use (relevant to the job), and it wouldn’t be weird if they didn’t warn you about them before the interview. That’s not the part that’s problematic here!

    4. Sigrid

      *boggles* Ok, this is so far out of the realm of reasonable that you probably dodged a bullet. Or a dozen. No sensible company would use a ridiculous internet “IQ” test as a hiring screen.

      1. Elizabeth West

        I know, right? Gah. That was the dumbest test I’ve ever seen.

        Also, I wouldn’t have passed because I don’t math. I have an LD and I would wonder if it were discriminatory too. Especially for a copywriter job.

    5. Nea

      This is very likely one of those cases where you should be glad you didn’t get the job because the workplace is so incredibly dysfunctional. This is a company with an HR department that:
      – replaces actual assessment of skills with rote following a random internet test
      – considers it appropriate to farm out thinking about the job with a random internet test
      – considers it appropriate to brutally reject candidates for the sin of attempting to interview there, to the point of defacing a resume in front of said candidate (nobody’s talking about that, but in a way, I find that the most outrageous of all, actively defacing your resume in front of you.)

      It’s as if the HR person is actively trying to tank the company by letting word get out how they treat candidates.

      1. OP1

        The test I was given was better quality than the one I linked. Does how accredited it was make a difference?

        1. Sunshine Brite

          I think so if they’re using it as a reliable tool. If it’s not properly accredited/shown to be statistically reliable it’s as good as throwing a dart at a board blindfolded after being spun 3 times.

        2. HM in Atlanta

          Very much so. It should have been tested for both reliability and validity as it relates specifically to hiring for your position. There should also have been a page you had to check box/initial about what to do if you have a disability and need an accommodation. An ability to offer other options is part of that process to determine if it’s valid for hiring.

        3. nona

          Yes, the reliability and validity make a difference.

          An actual IQ test still wouldn’t be good, though.

        4. Nea

          Frankly, accreditation doesn’t count at all when it looks as if HR is actively searching for a reason to be flat-out insulting to applicants. The passage of time is not making me any less appalled at the idea of him making you stand there and watch as he symbolically destroys your CV.

    6. Katie the Fed

      Ah, I KNEW it was some pseudo-science not-real IQ test. I just had a feeling.

      What a bunch of loons.

      1. AMT

        I wonder whether it would be a good idea to drop a note to upper management just to let them know that the hiring manager is engaging in these bizarre hiring practices. I’m trying to decide whether there’s a way of doing that without sounding bitter about not being hired.

        1. ProbablyDontDoThis

          The only way I can think of is very passive-aggressive – putting a photo of the defaced CV up on social media with the caption “This is how @company informed me my application would not be moving forward.” The PR department will be the ones calling the manager, then.

      1. Muriel Heslop

        Or psychologists, diagnosticians, and assessment specialists!

        And not all IQ tests take hours. The Stanford-Binet has a brief version, and the KBIT is a brief. Many nonverbal IQ assessments take less than an hour. Giving a full-scale IQ test often takes a few hours. A full battery of assessments would definitely take several hours (and would not be given all in one sitting.)

    7. Soharaz

      I thought it was New York because it was the only one that was two words not one…do I still pass?

  9. CollegeStudent

    “Also, stop addressing the whole team about problems that are really confined to one person; that’s annoying and frustrating for everyone who isn’t doing the thing you’re addressing.”

    YES to this. Every employer, teacher and parent needs to realize this.

      1. LCL

        It is interesting to me that now, everyone says this is a bad idea. When I started this job in 2003, addressing the whole group for a few people’s transgressions was an ingrained and accepted practice. It was part of the culture, and is part of what I was taught. The reasoning was, you don’t want anyone to feel singled out, and some people would go ballistic if you tried to talk to them about anything. Serious specific performance issues still warranted an individual conversation, but the group stuff was encouraged to, I don’t know, sharpen up everyone’s understanding of the rules?

        (I understand now why the group lecture is a bad idea, but it took me a long time to get there.)

        1. M-C

          I someone is likely to go ballistic when a problem is addressed, you need to fire that person pronto. How are they behaving toward their peers, if this is how they react to their supervisor??

  10. Sigrid

    #2 — Your boss is completely unreasonable. I can’t imagine a client objecting to a discreet knee raising, especially because, to me, it’s always obvious if someone is doing something like that because they’re in pain rather than “too casual”. This goes double if you say something like, “excuse me, I recently had knee surgery and need to elevate my knee” when you raise it, although of course you’re not obligated to do so if that makes you uncomfortable.

    Also, I’d assume such things are covered under ADA and therefore your manager is also on shaky legal ground, although I could be completely wrong.

    1. Sigrid

      Or the Rehabilitation Act rather than the ADA, which I didn’t know existed! Sorry, IANAL.

      1. Elysian

        Lawyers also frequently mess those two up! They’re basically the same for most intents and purposes anyway, so you’re good :)

    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      In the ADA at least, there’s some haziness around temporary disabilities (such as recovering from surgery), so it’s not certain that she’d be covered. But this is the government, so they’re likely to have very bureaucratic HR that will counteract any craziness from the manager around this; I’ll be very surprised if talking to them doesn’t solve it.

      1. Katie the Fed

        I’m 99.999% sure it will solve it.

        I had a “temporary” disability after my accident and they bent over backwards to make my accommodation requests work. It’s actually one thing we do really well. Go us!

      2. M-C

        Depending on the OP’s circumstances, I’d also try taking more time off to recover properly, weeks if necessary. Most surgeons would be sympathetic if you explained that you needed more time because your jerk of a boss objected to you following their directions.. And merely mentioning the possibility might be enough to cool things down.

  11. TotesMaGoats

    #4-Or you could fire her, which sounds like the best use of everyone’s time and energy. Just because she does “decent” work, doesn’t mean you can’t fire her. Repeated violation of policy is just as bad as not doing any work.

    1. TootsNYC

      Just think–once you fire her, you might find someone who does “better than decent” work and doesn’t push the envelope trying to get away with essentially stealing from the company.

      1. Brooke

        Amen.

        I’m seriously thinking of leaving my job because this type of behavior is tolerated so much that we “high-potentials” are resented and pretty much driven crazy.

  12. Allison

    “Also, stop addressing the whole team about problems that are really confined to one person; that’s annoying and frustrating for everyone who isn’t doing the thing you’re addressing.”

    I too am going to agree with this. If my manager did this and I wasn’t the offender, I’d suddenly get super paranoid. There’s a slight chance I might think “ah, that’s not allowed, good to know” which I’m sure is how OP’s expecting people to react, but I might think “crap, was I doing that too much? am I gonna get in trouble?? oh no . . .”

    OR, if I knew I was the offender, I might be a little mad that my manager is broadcasting it to the rest of the team, rather than just deal with it directly and privately. Just like when I was at a dress rehearsal for a recital and having wardrobe issues (costume not fitting right, bra that I thought would help was clearly making the situation worse), and someone made an announcement about how we needed to wear the right undergarments after my group rehearsed our number on stage. I actually approached her and asked why someone couldn’t just tell me that there was a problem, and I honestly don’t remember how she responded, probably something like “huh? what? I don’t know you, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

    ANYWAY, the point is, if there’s a problem, the best way to handle it is privately and directly. You should only address it with the team if there are multiple offenders or if you don’t actually know whom the offender is.

    This is, of course, assuming that by “addressed it with the team” you meant that you told the whole team that X, Y, and Z were unacceptable and against the rules. If what you meant was that you pulled the whole team (except her) into a room and you all talked about what a problem employee she is . . . please don’t do that either. It’s one thing to talk to another superior about how to address the problem, but it’s rarely a good idea to gang up on someone.

    1. AnonAnalyst

      OR, if I knew I was the offender, I might be a little mad that my manager is broadcasting it to the rest of the team, rather than just deal with it directly and privately.

      Yeah, this. I’m usually not the offender in these situations but am always paranoid that I am. However, once at my current job I was the offender, and I was super annoyed and embarrassed that my manager approached the situation that way since I don’t make many mistakes. It felt like I was being called out in front of the rest of the team for a fairly minor error that wasn’t something I would usually overlook, and I felt like approaching me privately would have been a more appropriate way to handle it. So, I’m going to agree with everyone else that there’s no good outcome to approaching problems this way, even if the offender recognizes that you’re talking about them.

  13. Katie the Fed

    #2 – Go to your EEO office and make a formal request for reasonable accommodation. This is too easy and won’t be an issue at all. I’ve seen much more complicated requests in government.

  14. GigglyPuff

    #5 Also something to look into, the couple places I’ve worked, exempt employees only get paid once a month instead of twice when I was non-exempt, which for me because I haven’t been particularly good planner, sometimes makes the budget a little thin towards the end of the month.

  15. Allison

    #1, sounds like someone doesn’t know how to hire the right people! Even if the IQ test was a legit test and not a piece of trash someone dug up on the internet, it’s still not a good idea to hire people that way. Intelligence and professional competence are two different things. You can be really smart but have no professional skills and no idea what you’re doing, and you can be a bit of an airhead but still manage to succeed at work. This is why most employers place importance on whether you can do the job they’re looking to fill.

    1. KT

      IQ is such a weird standard to use in the workplace…a high IQ doesn’t necessarily translate to job-skills, management nuances, etc.

      1. Nashira

        Ayup. I tested – in a properly administered one as a kid – as having about a 140 IQ. I have to work very hard to manage appropriate social responses etc because autism. I would be a terrible manager.

        But if a company hired primarily based off test results… Yeah. We’d both be very unhappy.

  16. OP4

    Thank you for your feedback on this issue!
    I hear you loud and clear – I shouldn’t be addressing an issue that is caused by one person, with the whole team. I promise to stop immediately! The reason I was doing that is because I am new to this team and wasn’t sure if everyone was unaware of the policies or just one person. It is clear it is just one person.

    That is an easy fix compared to this troubling employee. She has years of experience in this office and has given managers before me an even harder time. However, they chose not to manage the situation, leaving me without any documentation to build a case from. So, I am starting to do that. I cannot just fire her – I do not have the authority or the support to do so. She will have to keep causing problems to build up a case for termination.

    I spoke with her this morning. She claimed ignorance and tried to explain away her leaving early. I was direct and firm on the office policy. You all are going to grate me over the coals but – She got up and left before I could say the bit about noticing a pattern of her ignoring office policies and that she needs to follow them all without exception – or face the consequences. I need to work on my authority. Can I bring this up during our 1:1 meeting next week?

    1. Christy

      Make sure you’re documenting now, as you’re addressing things piecemeal. My girlfriend inherited a situation like this, and she’s slowly but surely building her case for termination. It’s better than doing nothing like everyone else was.

    2. Myrin

      From what it sounds like, her having to keep causing problems to build up a case won’t be an issue, will it? I mean, she got up and left! While talking to her manager! Or, even if it weren’t her manager, how rude and unprofessional! It does sound like you have good instincts, though, OP, and are still getting used to your new role and the authority and firmness that comes with it – I’m positive you’ll handle the next confrontation exactly the right way! :)

    3. TotesMaGoats

      Ideally, you call in her into your office now and say that her leaving was unprofessional. Don’t wait on it. Please don’t wait on it.

      1. Ms Information

        Yes to calling her back immediately and a big yes to addressing this in your 1:1. Also sypmpathy for how hard this is! A confirmed miscreant got that way because they are very, very good at forcing managers to back down, as your predecessors did. Props to you for taking this on and don’t get discouraged along the way. A wise old former boss of mine described it this way – the manager is the fox, the bad behaving employee is the rabbit. The fox is chasing for her lunch but the rabbit is running for her life (i.e. job). The rabbit is way more motivated. You’ve got to be as tenacious!

      2. Ask a Manager Post author

        Yeah — she’s making a power play and you need to stamp it out. Tell her that you need to finish your meeting and she needs to come back in now to finish the conversation. And now part of the conversation needs to include, “I need you to stay in our meetings until I let you know we’re finished. It’s not okay to get up and walk out when you decide you are done.”

        And at least it sounds like you have plenty to document. Assume this is going to end with you firing her, and start documenting it all if that’s what your office requires.

    4. MsM

      I don’t even know that I’d wait that long. Maybe tell her you know it’s a lot to absorb, but you need to finish the discussion, and give her a meeting time?

    5. edj3

      Don’t wait for your 1:1 next week. You need to talk to her now. She needs to stay until you are finished with the topics for discussion.

    6. OfficePrincess

      Absolutely yes. Getting up and walking out while you’re still speaking is incredibly disrespectful and absolutely should be part of the conversation. I mean, I doubt there’s a specific rule but you can’t just do that.

    7. Katie the Fed

      Ughhh yeah. I inherited someone like this when I first became a manager. The previous manager told me about all this guy’s problems but clearly hadn’t done anything to address them. Thanks buddy!

      If you need, do what I did and have some practice rounds with someone you know and trust. Before I had my first tough conversation with this employee, I asked a friend/colleague to play the role of a slippery, rule-skirting employee and come up with every excuse in the book so I could practice maintaining control of the discussion and staying on topic. That way, nothing he said would surprise me. It was ENORMOUSLY helpful!

      You’ll gain a lot of respect from your other employees once you address this. They know about it, and they’re sick of managers letting it slide. If you address it now, you’ll be in good shape.

      1. Ms Information

        Practising is a really good idea. It takes prep to handle a conversation where one party will be working hard to derail.

      2. Ms Information

        She will get respect but possibly also some stick for cracking down if the policy flouter is popular. Just human nature and managers have to rise above. :)

        1. OfficePrincess

          Eh, if I see you constantly leaving early, spending all day on personal calls, or generally finding ways to avoid work, I’m going to like you less and less each day. I’m not sure how long someone like that could remain popular.

          1. Ms Information

            Well, as much as a group might want “something done”, many also feel bad to see someone lose their job, especially if they like them on a personal level because they think the performance issues are due to personal issues, bad luck, etc. A bad employee is pretty good at manipulating these impressions and may even believe them themselves. All the more reason for the manager to step up!

    8. Laurel Gray

      Getting up and leaving in the middle of your manager addressing your performance issues is a privilege I have never had. Is it possible that you can start the write up today? Also, is there anyone higher up on the food chain that can back you up in all of this? This employee sounds toxic as heck. Best cure for that is a pink slip and no job to leave early this fall.

    9. A good old canuck

      OP 4 – Do you have these policies in writing? If she is claiming ignorance, I wonder if you could provide her with written policies that she needs to review and sign off that she has read the policies. This may help manage the “plea of ignorance” that she makes. You might want to pick out the policies that are most relevant and have her review them. It seems that she cherry picks the policies, but I wonder if there is a pattern or theme to the policies that she is choosing to ignore and you can select policies based on that.

      Also, it sounds from your letter like you are looking at each individual policy violation as separate infractions. They are, but her pattern of behaviour is what stands out to me. This is what needs to be addressed and I would definitely bring it up in a 1:1. I probably wouldn’t even wait for your scheduled 1:1. The fact that she walked out of the meeting with you is blatantly disrespectful. Honestly, I wouldn’t let this wait and I would talk to her again today. I know that it is tough to assert your authority, but this is how you do it. If you let this go (I am including both the multiple policy violations and the walking out of a meeting with you) until the next time you have a scheduled 1:1 then it is just sending the message that her behaviour is acceptable.

      Addressing inappropriate workplace behaviour does not need to wait until your next scheduled 1:1, it is reason enough to have an unscheduled 1:1.

      1. Sunshine Brite

        I’d say yes to written policies with a email stating that these are some of the policies discussed on such and such a date. We will meet at such date and time to discuss further as our meeting was not over prior to your exit or something like that.

      2. Ask a Manager Post author

        Yep — “Since you said you’re unfamiliar with the policies, here is a copy of our employee handbook. I need you to read this over by Wednesday and confirm with me that you’ve done so. I want to be clear that I expect you to know our policies and follow them, and that there won’t be any leeway going forward.”

        1. OfficePrincess

          This would also be a great time to pull out any copies of policies she signed during onboarding.

    10. MicheleNYC

      I would definitely bring it up during her 1:1 meeting next week since you were not able to address during your chat this morning. I can’t believe she got up and walked out before you were done speaking with her. She has been in the office for years so there is no way that I remotely buy that she did not know the policy. It takes 30 seconds to say/ask your manager to leave early and most people know that you just don’t leave early without speaking to someone. I really hope you have been documenting everything that has been happening so that you can begin the process of managing her out.

    11. Ama

      Oof. I was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt (I’ve worked with a lot of people who have trouble with rules and policies in the abstract, but once you directly address how it applies to their particular situation they’re fine) — but it sounds to me like she’s intentionally testing how much she can get away with under your management.

    12. Brandy

      She doesn’t respect you. I know if I tried leaving early or walked out of a meeting I would be gone. Flat out.

    13. TootsNYC

      Yes, you can bring it up, and you also can bring up the idea that she got up and left the conversation before YOU had dismissed her. Whether you have that conversation now (which is what I’d suggest–because you want to send the message that her leaving was incredibly disrespectful to your authority and is a Big Deal) or next week, make it the first thing you bring up.

      “I am your manager, and you should not have left that conversation until I told you we were done. You are not in charge. I am.
      “In fact, this is simply one more offense in a strong pattern of disrespect for the lines of authority here, and where you are attempting to circumvent and derail the discipline of the office place.”

      And Christy is right–even if you only address things piecemeal, build a list. Then you can show the list. To her, and to HR.

    14. OP4

      After she left, she immediately emailed me restating her position on the matter, still claiming that she did not know she was doing anything wrong.
      I went to her and said that I got her email and would respond, but we would not need the back and forth had she not been so disrespectful and left our meeting when she decided she was through. I said when we have meetings, I need you to stay until I let you know we are finished.
      She says she doesn’t mean to do anything wrong or overstep me. We discussed that communication is extremely important and that much of the issues we are having stem from a lack of communication.
      I have a really, really hard time believing she doesn’t know she’s doing anything wrong. My response to her email is still going to be firm on expectations and need to follow polices – or else we will have to escalate on through the disciplinary produces.
      I very much appreciate all of the help and feedback!

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        You need to escalate to disciplinary procedures now; don’t wait until next time. She knows exactly what she’s doing, and you’re signaling to her that you’ll keep giving her leeway.

        1. Sunshine Brite

          This! Act now. It’s already a ridic situation that’s only seemingly getting worse.

      2. John

        The issue is not lack of communication. You let her off the hook by suggesting that is much of the problem. She is openly defying you.

      3. Observer

        Stop “discussing”. You need to state your position. And, you need to do so without excuses. Also, don’t go to her, call her to you. I’m not a fan of power plays, but when someone is doing this to you, you need to push back.

        For instance, the issue with her walking away was not about the inconvenience and back and forth it caused, but the simple fact that you don’t walk out on your manager. Period. No explanations or justifications needed. In fact they are counter productive. There simply is no place for argument of discussion here.

        1. Katie the Fed

          This. Holy shitsnacks. This isn’t a discussion!

          Next conversation should be “Since you’ve made it clear that you’re not willing to follow the policies of this organization I’ve spoken with HR and we’ll be moving forward on disciplinary action up to and including termination.”

      4. fposte

        Additionally, make sure you know exactly what does have to happen to get her fired–who has to get what documentation in what amount of time. And put that on your schedule and make meeting those goals a priority.

      5. Kadee

        You’ve gotten the advice you need to work through this, but I wanted to add just a word of support and encouragement. It’s hard coming in as a new manager when the previous manager(s) ignored/worked around a problem instead of addressing it. You’ve got this, though. You will either make her a better employee or you will take care of this so the next manager won’t have to. Either way, it’s a win. Wishing you the best!

    15. Observer

      As the others say, document your head off. And, it’s not just official policy violations that you need to document. Walking out before you were finished with what you had to say may not violate an official policy, but it’s utterly inappropriate. Document that.

      And, yes, bring it up.In fact, the FIRST thing you should do in your next 1:1 is to tell her that YOU set the agenda, decide what gets discussed, and when the meeting is over. And, cut short any excuses, “explanations” or arguments. The only acceptable response is an apology and acknowledgement that it won’t happen again.

  17. Snarkus Aurelius

    Hey OP 4?

    Whenever you address a group because of one person’s issues, the entire group knows -exactly- who you’re talking about and the person in question thinks it’s about someone/everybody else.

    Stop it.  It’s passive-aggressive in addition to wasting everyone else’s time.

  18. Erin

    #2 – Get a doctor’s note. A very specific doctor’s note. I understand you need to elevate when you’re in pain, which could vary from day to day, but if you can, get in writing how often each day you’ll likely need to be doing this.

    And if I’m reading this right, your coworker snitched on you for discussing your injury with a client? That’s baffling for so many reasons.

    1) I would think being transparent about your situation to clients would make the whole elevated leg thing not a problem. Don’t go on and on about it obviously (I’m sure you weren’t), but a quick explanation should be welcomed. 2) Is your coworker implying you shouldn’t be discussing anything personal with clients? I can’t see how that would work. In my office, clients and employees often make small talk about kids or vacations or yes even medical issues – I think it helps develop better relationships. And 3) This person told on you? Really? Cause apparently they’re in third grade? Your medical condition is between you and your direct manager and it’s no one else’s business.

    I’m so angry on your behalf. Get that doctor’s note so you have your needs specifically documented.

    #3 – Thanks for writing about this, because it’s an issue I often run into as well. :)

    1. Michelle

      We recently had a quick HR training session that addressed medical issues in the workplace (it addressed many items but medical info was a hot topic of discussion). We were told that you don’t have to talk about your medical issue with anyone but your direct manager and HR, so accommodations can be made if necessary. Obviously, a coworker would notice if you had surgery, but it really isn’t this coworkers place to be discussing your medical status with your manager and I really hope the manager is not talking about your medical status your coworkers because that probably violates some kind of medical confidentiality policies.

      I am the keeper of the calendar and was told to not put “dr. appt” on a the calendar, just “appt” because personal medical appointments/info is no one’s business but yours and your manager’s.

  19. AnotherFed

    #5 – If you’re federal government, then the difference between exempt and non-exempt is far less noticeable. It’s very likely that you will still need to put all of your hours on your timecard (and essentially charge for them), so usually that means you still get comp time or OT. Showing lots of people working extra hours is a prime way for an organization to show that they need more billets. This is especially true when it’s somewhere where not doing the work isn’t an option or is hard to tie to measureable negative impacts.

    1. AnotherFed

      One caveat – I think moving to non-exempt might take you out of the union. I started low enough to be non-exempt, but I don’t recall the union being particularly active or useful for us (or necessary – I don’t mean they were not doing things they should’ve been, just that there wasn’t much for them to worry about), so I didn’t even notice when I moved up to the point I wasn’t covered anymore.

      1. Chrissi

        Our non-exempt employees are covered by the union. The only employees not covered are managers and higher.

        The difference for us between exempt and non-exempt is that the exempt employees get “Comp Time for Travel” for working outside of regular business hours if that work is only travel. For the non-exempt, they must take overtime pay in that situation. It’s weird and I’m not sure we’re even doing it correctly still. Also, we can all apply to get overtime (2 weeks in advance), but the exempt employees are paid at 1x their normal rate, and non-exempt is 1.5x their normal rate. I’m not sure if that’s because of the status or because of the pay level (in our agency all the exempt employees are at least a grade higher than the non-exempt employees)

  20. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

    Using an IQ test in employment screening is incredibly bizarre. IQ tests can be very helpful when a psychologist uses them to assess educational needs or to zero in on a diagnosis, but beyond that, it’s pretty odd. Also, it would be especially easy to create a relevant exercise for a copy editor to demonstrate their skills.

    And yes, any sort of test like this can be baised. I used to teach ESL to adults. The class was, in part, geared toward preparing them to take the GED. One of the “easy” reading samples on the sample test was about Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It was in the easy section because the test assumed that the reader would already know the context of the story. It felt like a really stupid and insulting waste of time to explain Sleepy, Grumpy, Sneezy, etc. to a group of adults from no fewer than 10 countries who really were there to improve their job skills. For them, the sections where “basic cultural knowledge” was assumed were nearly impossible. I’m trying to teach them English so they can be more employable and have more control of their lives, not help them re-write their childhoods so they can pretend like they grew up with an American mommy reading them bedtime stories.

    1. Case of the Mondays

      Just curious, did you have to actually know the seven dwarfs to understand the question or were the names used as lazy placeholders and you could substitute any name and the question would still make sense?

      I guess I can see how someone speaking English as a second language though might not recognize that in this context the words were being used as proper names and not adjectives.

      1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

        The reading selection was basically a summary of part of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. There were so many fairy tale words in there (even stuff like “once upon a time” which is hardly ever spoken in job-related conversation)- and learning fairy tale vocabulary is not a priority for people who are working on job skills. The vast majority of Americans would have found the story very familiar (it was totally the Disney version), and quite easy to read since you already understood the context. I mean, you probably could have understood it on some level without the context but if someone was missing the cultural context, it would take them longer to read than someone who could skim it and basically already know the answers. That means that my students were less likely they would get to all the questions on the test when they encountered this kind of thing.

        Part of how they divide (or divided – this was ages ago) the readings into easy/medium/hard is by whether the context of the reading will be familiar to the reader. It’s a more advanced skill to read about a topic you know nothing about than it is to read about a very familiar topic.. A beginning reader needs to start with stuff that is already familiar – think of a 5 year old reading “Dick and Jane played with their dog” vs. “Dick and Jane installed new spark plugs”. BUT – there are huge assumptions about what will be familiar to someone taking the test.

        My compromise here was that I ended up introducing some classic children’s books into the class by framing it as empowering the students (who, by random chance, were all parents of children under 12) read to their children – most of whom spoke decent English. This went over well, but if they hadn’t been parents, it would have probably been pretty insulting to teach them from fairy tales.

  21. Michelle

    Op #3- I go through this a lot, especially lately, as my boss is writing a book and editing another book. I usually say ” He is not taking appointments right now. Please feel free to mail or email the information and he will have a look when his schedule is less crowded. Please be aware that it could range from a few weeks to several months before he has time to look at your information”. That usually gets the message across. The most important thing, IMO, is to not let them think they will get an appointment. When I am asked when will he be available, I tell them his schedule changes frequently and I’ll be glad to take a name and number but I can’t promise he will be available to respond anytime soon.

    However, I did have one man who called every month. He became condescending and rude and got worse each time he called. I finally just told him that we did not want to do business with him and would never do business with him due to his lack of professionalism and because he was so rude. Then I told my boss what I did and he had no problem with it.

    I realize that salesmen/saleswomen have to follow leads and bit a bit aggressive, but when someone clearly has no interest in whatever your pitching/promoting/selling, for goodness sake take a hint and move on.

    1. Elizabeth West

      Your boss is awesome. Sometimes you have to be tough with those people.

      When I worked at the environmental company, a salesman from an equipment company called and asked for the field services manager. I told him, “Sorry, Bob is out in the field today on a job; would you like to leave him a voice mail for when he returns to the office?” The guy started yelling at me, saying, “LOOK HERE MY TIME IS VALUABLE AND I WANT TO TALK–”

      I hung up on him. When Bob got back in, I told him what I did and he said “Good,” and that he hoped the guy called back while he was in the office because he would LOVE to talk to him. Heh heh heh. (He never did, though, darn it.)

    2. Beancounter in Texas

      Since your boss doesn’t seem interested, I think Alison’s last suggestion is spot on.

    3. jmkenrick

      “I realize that salesmen/saleswomen have to follow leads and bit a bit aggressive, but when someone clearly has no interest in whatever your pitching/promoting/selling, for goodness sake take a hint and move on.”

      Invariably, there is someone behind them, telling them to keep calling until they hear a firm ‘no.’

      She’s not talking about a standard vendor, but someone who wants to purchase their company. That person is certainly within their rights to keep following up until someone gives them a clear answer.

    4. Jen

      A trick that I use when I know that the boss or an employee has no interest in talking to the caller is that I tell them I can’t pass on their call, or give out employee email addresses, but they can send me an email and I will forward it for them. If they call to follow up I tell them that I forwarded the email (whether I did or not) and that if the employee is interested, they will contact them directly.

      You could also probably ask your boss for permission, when needed, to tell a particular caller that she is not interested in their services/offer/whatever.

    5. OP#3

      Thank you for sharing your experience and techniques you have used to get the message across. I will definitely try this one next month when this person calls again.

  22. Retail Lifer

    #1 I don’t get some of these tests. Before I decided to try and get out of retail management altogether, I was eliminated from the running for management positions at a pet supply store, a party store, and a supermarket because I couldn’t pass the math test. It was algebra and geometry. ALGEBRA AND GEOMETRY. I’ve been in this field for 20 years and I have never, ever needed to know anything but the most basic math. I can see needing better math skills than what I’m used to for a supermarket or pet supply store, but there’s no way anyone regularly uses what was in that test.

    My current job required a math test AND a grammar test, but the math test was multiple choice and wasn’t timed so I passed. The grammar test was no problem. Two years into this job and the knowledge needed to pass both tests has never been needed.

    1. Beancounter in Texas

      I recently applied for a job and there was advanced algebra on the math portion of the test (and fractions, which I haven’t thought about in fractions format since 5th grade). I was proud that I remembered how to do it.

      I did have a special case where geometry came in handy for me as an admin working in the regulatory department at RadioShack Corporation. Certain regulations affected certain electronics based on screen size measured in inches from corner to corner, but our vendors in Asia sent measurements of length and height in centimeters. Trying to communicate back through the channels to request the measurement corner to corner was time consuming and often unfruitful. The answer: Pythagorean’s Theorem! I’d get my answer in centimeters and use Google to convert to inches. DONE.

    2. TootsNYC

      I bet you’ve used the grammar, though–do you never write emails, employee reviews, letters, etc.?

      And you never add or subtract?

      1. Retail Lifer

        The grammar and math tested were well beyond anything I’ve ever used here and ever will. This is retail – all we need to know is basic math, and even then we all have access to calculators and computers. Nothing basic was on the test – it was literally all algebra formulas and geometry. “Grammar” is probably the wrong word for the other portiont of the test – I can’t remember most of it except for a multiple choice section looking for synomyms for words no one ever uses, like eyrie. I knew that from Game of Thrones, of course, but have yet to use it at work. Pretty sure I never will.

        1. Windchime

          This sounds like a not-so-subtle way of weeding out people who are not native speakers of English.

  23. BadPlanning

    In addition to the other suggestions already made to OP #2, would it help to bring in a small foot rest and or side table — like a collapsible one that you might use for camping. It might create the visual shift from “I like to casually prop my feet up on the office chairs” to “I need to elevate my leg from time to time and here’s my accommodation to do so.” Of course, there’s the risk that that’s even weirder.

    Also, having some family members go through some similar surgeries…their conversation strongly resolved around it and the recovery. A lot. I mean, it does consume a lot of their time so it is a natural thing to bring it up, but I think it’s easy to talk about it way, way more than other people are interested (the surgery, the PT, recovery, pain, etc). So I guess I’d suggest the OP self check if they aren’t chatting about their knee too much. It could well be that the coworker is a busybody. And I hope you knee makes a full as can be expected recovery!

  24. TootsNYC

    For #2, I’m thinking it might be better if you stopped being so discreet. Wear a brace, even if you don’t need one (or a bandage). Carry a cane. Have a chair out where people can see it.

    Be really, really open about it, physically (maybe not verbally). And then it’s harder for her to argue that you’re being self-indulgent.

    oh, and yes–esp. since you’re government–go to HR immediately and get your “accommodations” documented fully, etc. Don’t rely on the good sense and humanity of your manager (since she has none).

    1. Retail Lifer

      I have a very minor accomodation needed for a medical issue and upper management wasn’t cooperating. It’s amazing what a doctor’s note and a disussion with HR can accomplish.

  25. Jen RO

    I don’t know if anyone is still reading, but my company makes all candidates take the CCAT (maybe it’s famous – I’d never heard of it, but it shows up on Google). It’s not an IQ test per se, but it’s similar – some logic questions, some basic math questions, some vocabulary questions… most of them irrelevant for 99% of the positions we hire for. Oh, and it’s all in English, for non-native speakers. A lot of people fail because of the vocabulary parts and simply not understanding some questions. Those people are usually programmers who only need to be able to send basic emails in English, not read Shakespeare…. Yeah, it’s ridiculous and everyone hates it (including HR).

  26. Buu

    The reactions to from OP2’s coworkers are baffling to me. Surely “briefly* telling the client about your Knee problems is actually the way to go if they are so concerned about professionalism? Like:
    ” Mr Stark can I briefly mention I am recovering from surgery so need to keep my leg elevated,I just wanted to let you know in case you were wondering why I’m sitting this way.”
    I almost guarantee most people will say ” I am sorry to hear that” and think no more on it.

  27. Lisa Petrenko

    I think you went too soft on the first 2 questions. Both seem to be things that may warrant a visit to a lawyer. The first specifically mentioned a learning disability that would affect those tests so there may be laws requiring accommodations (but do you really want to work somewhere where an interview requires that hassle? ). The second, they must allow you to follow doctor’s orders. It would be the same as denying reasonable accommodations for an employee with a physical disability. If your manager have you issues, go to directly to HR and if that doesn’t help have a lawyer contact them on your behalf. This is so outrageously out of line, I might skip HR and go directly to a lawyer.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      They actually don’t necessarily have to allow you to follow doctor’s orders. If it’s a disability that’s covered under the ADA, and if your employer itself is covered under the ADA (employers with fewer than 50 employees aren’t), then they need to reach a reasonable accommodation with you — which may or may not be the exact thing your doctor has recommended. But otherwise doctor’s notes aren’t binding.

  28. CJ

    I’ve encountered IQ tests in employment situations only one time. In the spring of 2008 I was contacted by a small Silicon Valley startup whose CEO browsed by resume on Dice and asked me to give him a call. The company had an interesting product under development, and the position was a technical lead for a small software quality assurance team. At the conclusion of our chat, the CEO informed me that he asked all candidates to take a general IQ test from the vendor Brainbench before a site interview would be considered. I was told it would take about an hour of my time.

    I rolled my eyes at the other end of the phone. Never in Silicon Valley has anyone ever asked me to take an IQ test. I thought about saying thanks-but-no-thanks, and that I preferred not to work for a company that didn’t know squat about interviewing, but I held my tongue.

    The test actually turned out to be a lot of fun, except for the annoying timer in the middle of the window that kept the pressure on. I scored well, and the CEO invited me for a site visit. He also raised the topic of compensation, practically beaming with pride when telling me that his company paid top dollar for talent. The budget he had to work with? Well, let’s just say it was barely half the going rate for comparable positions in the valley.

    At that point I really did roll my eyes, then thanked him for his time. Not only was he out of touch with respect to using IQ tests as an interview tool, he had no understanding of the going rate for experienced quality assurance engineers.

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