I threw up on the floor during an interview, former employees are banned from our holiday party, and more

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

1. I threw up on the floor during an interview

I recently had an interview with a company about a position that I was excited about. I was just getting over being sick when I scheduled the interview, so I pushed it back a couple days just to be safe. On the day of the interview, I still had an intermittent cough, but overall I felt fine.

Toward the end of the interview, which was going well, I ended up having a coughing fit, with a deep dry cough that would not go away. The interviewer got up and showed me to the watercooler and told me to take my time, being very nice about it. However, I ended up coughing so hard and so deep I threw up on the floor a little bit, right in front of the interviewer. I did not know what to do, so I said something to the extent of, “Well, that just happened,” apologized, and asked where they kept the cleaning supplies. He said not to worry about it, wished me good health, and promptly showed me to the door. Is there any chance of recovery here? Should I call them and apologize?

Oh no! This is so not your fault at all, but I can only imagine how horrified you were. For what it’s worth, only a jerk would hold this against you. People get sick, and they sometimes get sick at inopportune times.

I wouldn’t call to apologize, but in your post-interview thank-you, in addition to building on points covered in the interview, you could also say something like, “Thank you again for for your gracious response when I got ill — that was basically the last thing I’d ever want to happen in an interview.” (Personally, I would also add, “At least we now each have an interviewing horror story that can top anyone’s else,” but that may or may not fit your style.)

2. We’re banned from bringing former employees to our holiday party

I work at a medical office, and last year we had our first holiday party. It was held off-site at a hotel banquet hall. Buffet-style dinner was served, it was open bar, and there was a DJ and dancing. It was a lot of fun, but the organizer of the party, an administrator, instituted a rule last year and wants to do the same this year: No former employees allowed. We are welcome to bring a spouse, or any plus-one guest, but that guest can’t be a former employee of the company.

This seems crazy to us! We are a close-knit group, and we keep in touch with our former coworkers after they’ve moved on and we just can’t imagine why this rule is in effect and how it is justifiable. One exception is made for a current employee who is engaged to a former employee. What are your thoughts on this?

I think it’s misguided, but I bet it’s rooted in some specific concern about former employees who were fired or otherwise didn’t leave on great terms. Why not ask the party organizer what the reason is for the rule? It’s possible that you’ll hear something that makes sense to you, but if you don’t, you might consider pointing out that specifically excluding former employees when other plus-one’s are invited is likely to lower people’s morale and make them wonder about how they’ll be treated when they leave the company themselves at some point. (Not that missing out on a holiday party is terrible treatment, but it says something about how the company views its relationship with them.)

3. My reference changed her mind

I am currently interviewing for my dream job, and I made it all the way to the final interview. I gave them my three references, two of whom were contacting by my potential employer. Shortly after sending my references, one of my references emailed me AFTER she agreed to be a reference, to explain that she may have to speak to the fact that I left my job before my contract was completed. This person is fully-aware that I was working for her directly after completing undergrad, on the other side of the country, and that the job was all-around a poor fit. I contacted my potential employer to have my reference changed, and to be honest, I am both sad and disappointed by the actions of my reference, which I was forced to remove.

Can you please tell me what you would have done in this situation?

I totally get why you’re taken aback but … the flip side of this is that if the job was a poor fit, you don’t want to use this person as a reference anyway. Your references should be people who can speak glowingly of your work. As crappy as this feels, your reference did you a favor by letting you know that she didn’t feel she could do that — and it doesn’t sound like a totally surprisingly message, given the circumstances you describe at that job! It would have been better if she’d let you know earlier on and that was her big error here, but sometimes people have trouble delivering that kind of message, especially if they feel put on the spot or need to think over what their assessment really is.

I’d say just let her know that you appreciate her candor, and then reflect on who stronger references might be.

4. Employer berated me after I withdrew from a hiring process

I recently was told about a job that, on paper, sounded like it was perfect for me. I’m not in the job market, but given how interesting it sounded, I applied. An HR rep reached out to me literally moments after submitting my resume. We set up a phone screen for a week out.

The phone screen occurred and they told me they’d like to bring me in for a full day interview. But the call was odd and left me feeling like something wasn’t right. I felt like I wasn’t a fit for the culture of the company. Furthermore, the person who would be my manager is someone I felt would be very difficult to work for. This seems like a rash judgement, so I slept on it for 2 days, discussed pros and cons with my spouse, and came to the conclusion that this wasn’t an opportunity that was worth leaving my current position for. Not wanting to waste their time (not to mention, burn a PTO day) for an opportunity I wasn’t that interested in, I sent an email thanking them for their time, but unfortunately, I had to withdraw. Everything I read online says you should give a reason in these sorts of emails. I didn’t want to say, “your culture seems like a poor fit and my would be boss seems like a jerk” so I said that the timing was not right for me to make a career change. I wished them luck, and thought that was that.

I got a pretty heated email back telling me I had wasted their time, and this is a small town and I shouldn’t burn bridges. I did not reply.

I wish I could tell you that I took this email as confirmation that my gut instinct was right on, but instead I wonder how I could have handled the entire situation better. I’m sure life will present me other opportunities I don’t wish to pursue, so I’d like be better prepared next time.

That’s ridiculous on their end; the whole point of each stage in the hiring process (including that initial phone screen) is for both sides to assess whether it’s the right fit, and at any time, either party can decide that it’s not and end the process. This employer telling you that you’d wasted their time is the same thing as an irate candidate saying that after being rejected. It’s absurd.

As for the note you sent, you handled it fine. There’s nothing you can do to prevent asses from acting like asses, and you shouldn’t take their terrible behavior as a sign that you did something wrong.

5. Company used to pay us in advance and now we need to pay it back

I work for a company that pays us two weeks in advance. They are now deciding that we need to pay it back, either by forgoing a check, cutting them a check, or taking unpaid vacation. It seems unfair. Do we have any recourse? (We are in Massachusetts, if that matters.)

Probably not; they’ve essentially been advancing you money all this time, and now they’re switching to the more traditional system of paying you after the work has been done. I’d bet they decided to do this after having employees leave with that advanced pay, not having worked the next two weeks, and realized they had no practical means of recovering it. Or it’s occurred to them that this will happen at some point and they want to avoid it. It’s a reasonable call to make — but ideally they’d give you as much notice as possible so that you can plan, and/or work with people to make this easier in other ways (like dividing the “payback” amount over a series of checks rather than all at once). You could try asking them for more notice, if that would help.

{ 255 comments… read them below }

  1. Ryan*

    #2 It doesn’t seem that weird that they wouldn’t want former employees there? And unless you’re dating, engaged, or married to one then why would you bring them? Maybe they had an issue last year you’re not aware of or maybe they’re trying to cut back on attendees to save money. Doesn’t seem like a very grievous offense. On the other side, if I had moved on from an employer then I wouldn’t want to attend their holiday party anyways, seems awkward. I bet I’m not alone there.

    1. Nobody*

      I can see why an employee who left on good terms might want to get together with former coworkers and catch up. I can think of some former coworkers of mine whom I’d be thrilled to see at the holiday party (if my company had one, haha). I think it’s weird in general to bring a friend (who’s not a significant other) as a plus one, but if the company allows bringing a random friend or family member, it kind of sucks for them to say it can’t be someone who worked there in the past. But yeah, it’s their party, and they have the right to restrict who attends, especially if they’ve had issues with former employees making trouble at the party in the past.

      1. SCR*

        Yeah but getting together with former coworkers is very different from “company sanctioned and paid for holiday party.” I like my old coworkers just fine and hang out on occasion, I’d never expect to go the holiday party with them. It would feel like I couldn’t move on or something.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          This. I would feel weird about it myself. The only way I wouldn’t is if I left on good terms and the bosses asked me to come by actually sending me an invitation.

    2. BananaPants*

      I also find it really weird – why would a former employee WANT to attend a former employer’s holiday party unless they’re partnered with a current employee? Everyone has moved on and it would seem very awkward to me too. If they’re really as close-knit a bunch as OP2 claims, then former and current employees should still be hearing from each other regularly and don’t need a get-together on the company dime in order to stay connected.

      Caveat: I’ve never had a holiday party I could invite my spouse to; it’s held in our office cafeteria and is employee-only. Maybe parties where you can bring a +1 are a different thing?

      1. Honeybee*

        I work on a team that still has very strong connections with former employees, both ones that have moved to other teams in the same company and ones that have moved onto different companies. The nature of our work is also lasting, and former employees are frequently referenced in a professional context too for the contributions they made to our workflow. I could see why former employees would want to show up at our holiday party.

    3. Allison*

      I agree. I left a company on good terms about a year and a half ago, but I’d feel very weird attending their holiday party.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep. It was nice that the company did this for a while. They probably figured out that they cannot afford to keep doing this.
        Some companies launch people’s careers, people come and go at a pretty good pace. If this is one of those companies, then they can easily forecast in five years the company Christmas party would be very expensive. They could be nipping the problem now, before it gets big.

        OTH, if everyone is friendly with everyone who has left, why not have your own get-together separate from what the company is offering?

        I think that it was nice of the company to do this for as long as they did. I would not expect it to be a sustainable thing.

        1. Allison*

          I don’t know if that’s the reason, since former employees could only attend if they were someone else’s +1. It’s not like they allowed every former employee to attend.

        2. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

          I don’t think all former employees were invited last year (which sounds like it was year one).

          It reads like HR reached out a head of time saying it’s an open +1, except former employees.

      2. Alienor*

        This year I got invited to the holiday party of my former group within the company I work for, and I even feel weird about attending that – we’re technically still colleagues, but I don’t know everyone in the group anymore, we don’t work together daily, and I really don’t belong at their party. I can’t imagine how weird it would be if I had moved on to a completely different company.

    4. Sarahnova*

      It probably depends on your field. In mine it’s common to leave a company and come back, and the company often treats former employees as alumni they want to maintain connections with. And many people do enjoy connecting with their former coworkers. Welcoming ex-employees who want to come is a healthy attitude, IMO; after all, nobody’s forcing them.

      1. Sarahnova*

        Oh, and ex-employees often continue to be freelancers for the organisation in my field as well.

      2. Green*

        Same with law firms. If you leave on good terms, to go to a company (vs. another law firm), you’re a treasured former coworker to be treated much better than you ever were when you worked at the firm. ;)

    5. Erin*

      Yeah, I was thinking there must have been an incident at some point that wasn’t made public. It seems unfair to punish everyone, but asking to keep the holiday party to employees and their plus-ones is not unreasonable at all. And they’ve already made an exception for the person who is engaged to a former employee.

      I assume they’re footing the bill for this – some company holiday parties can’t even allow room in the budget for spouses of employees, let alone ex employees. If you allow for more people you might find yourselves in a potluck, BYOB situation.

      Maybe you could set something up at a nearby bar for the ex-employees after the party, to just grab a drink together afterwards.

      1. Green*

        We had a weird letter on here about some vindictive employee that wanted to come back to the Christmas party…

        1. Stranger than fiction*

          This is what I was just thinking of. And, on that day, we had so many horror stories on the subject of ex-employees behaving badly, or just exes/family/friends behaving badly in similar situations in general.

    6. Artemesia*

      One of the highlights of the year at my old employer was the fancy Christmas party at the division director’s home to which both current and retired employees and their spouses were invited. Everyone loved to catch up and it was lovely. In our line of work people who leave for other jobs are not likely to be in the area anyway, and I guess they were not invited, but retirees often were and were always included.

      I can’t see it as an issue to be concerned about either way. Perhaps the policy was created when a disgruntled employee caused a scene.

    7. Ad Astra*

      What gets me about the policy is that is seems to be in conflict with this particular company’s culture. Generally speaking, it’s not an insane policy or anything — but most places where it would be inappropriate or weird to bring a former coworker to the Christmas party are places that don’t need to make rules about it. The fact that OP’s company saw fit to institute a policy suggests it was once quite common to bring your old colleagues to the party. If you enjoyed that, and then it was forbidden, you might be a bit bummed.

      But, the company might still have a very good reason. Or, it’s possible that the OP is misreading the company’s culture. It’s a little weird to forbid former employees as plus ones, but it’s not egregious.

      1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

        last year we had our first holiday party.

        the organizer of the party, an administrator, instituted a rule last year and wants to do the same this year

        See, to me it reads like the had there first party last year and the person who organized it started the first party with the rule of “no former employees.” So even though people at this office may be friends with former coworkers, it wasn’t as though there was a precedent of including them in things.

        My guess is that the Administrator probably had “inside” knowledge that most employees would not have, i.e. Bob left on bad terms and said nasty things on his way out, or the reason that Sally left suddenly was she was harassing Jane.

        1. Ad Astra*

          Hmm… I did miss the part about last year being the first party. There might be a precedent if the company had thrown similar parties for other occasions, but that probably isn’t the case. So now I’m wondering why the OP is so bothered by this.

    8. KSM*

      For my partner’s holiday party, there is a beloved employee who left. She was part of the social committee, participated in every event, and helped plan the holiday party every year. She’s been gone for 2 parties, and has been brought to the party as a +1 both times (or possibly given her own invite, dunno) and no one bats an eye. She socializes with everyone and catches up.

      1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

        We had a former staff member who left for medical reasons. My boss made sure she was invited to our holiday party and summer get together. It was really wonderful for team morale.

    9. Bob*

      We have happy hours for employees who leave and ex-employees typically show up. These aren’t company-sanctioned or sponsored events so it’s just a bunch of people going to a bar. I quickly lose track of how many times I hear things like “I can’t believe you guys still work at that place”. We are often recruited to follow them to their new companies. Our managers and directors usually come depending on who is leaving but they are clearly not pleased when they see the ex-employees arrive. I have little doubt these people would be barred from attending any official company event.

      1. SCR*

        Yeah… I got laid off from my last job and was lucky enough to get another one within a couple weeks but I’m still mildly bitter and it’s only been 3 months. Anyways, we’re all expats and a part of a small community and friends and whatever and I’ve been invited to non-official and official old work happy hours. I got so anxious about going to my first one just in case my boss or CEO was there, so I waited till the end of the time when people may be there and then showed up, and with a non old work friend. My friends thought I was being weird but I don’t want to see the guy who laid me off right before I would have been entitled to flights home, gratuity etc. It was painful and I have made those “can’t believe y’all are still putting up with that stuff” comments. One can be civil but why should they have to be? It’s supposed to be after work fun.

  2. Artemesia*

    When my husband decades ago was interviewing for law firm jobs he was told a story about someone from his law school (FOAF anecdote of course so we don’t know for sure) who after the interview and big lunch when he was being wined and dined, was offered a cigar. He barfed all over the interviewer’s desk. The legend was that they made him the offer anyway.

    I like the ‘well now we have a ‘worst interview experience ever story’ response.’ Stuff happens, sorry it happened to the OP.

    1. the gold digger*

      My friend was a Peace Corps volunteer in Paraguay. He was in town at the forestry service for a meeting, all fancy in his suit.

      He had giardia.

      He thought he was farting.

      He – was not.

      “Don Sergio,” he said to the head of the forestry service. “Do you have any toilet paper or paper towels I can use to clean myself and the chair?”

      Don Sergio replied, “No! You know we are an underfunded agency in a poor country! We do not have money for such things.”

      So my friend walked back to his guesthouse with dirty pants.

      1. Tookie Clothespin*

        I’m leaving in July for the PC…I’ve already been told i’m not a TRUE volunteer until i’ve crapped my pants…


        1. Lizzy*

          My best friend, who came back from Azerbaijan last year, said everyone in her group did and that it is indeed a PC rite of passage.

          1. VintageLydia USA*

            You’re usually working in remote locations with a completely different diet and often questionable sanitation standards. Any one of those alone would cause digestive issues. All at once and it’s almost guaranteed.

            1. Honeybee*

              And gastrointestinal diseases/distress are some of the most common illnesses in developing nations.

              1. Winter is Coming*

                Three years ago I was in the Dominican Republic with my husband and made coffee with tap water. BIG mistake. I thought it would be heated enough to be safe. It was not. My stomach hurts just thinking about it.

          2. Green*

            Bugs that may or may not bother the locals (in water, food, etc.) can bother foreigners. There’s sort of a generic umbrella called traveler’s diarrhea for stomach issues of unknown origin.

            1. BeenThere*

              Oh yeah, I had Sri Lankan friends who had immigrated to Australia and raised children here. Traveling back to visit family with the children was the stuff of nightmares for them because the kids has no immunity to the local ‘bugs’

      2. Green*

        You can ask all of your former Mormon missionary friends to tell you about the time(s) they crapped their pants in professional settings. Depending on how closely you define “friends.” :)

    2. Broke Law Student*

      When my dad was an associate at a law firm, he drank and smoked a cigar at a retreat and then vomited publicly. They made him partner.

  3. Stephanie*

    #1: I belched during a phone interview once. I was talking and it just sort of happened. Loudly, too. I still ended up getting the job, so you might be fine!

    #5: Oh weird. I’ve never heard of that before (but it’s happened in at least this case). I’ve always been paid a pay period behind. I mean, obviously I’d want successive paychecks, but I could see how someone would quit and not do any work (because he’s already gotten the check).

  4. Corporate Cynic*

    OP – I’m so sorry this happened to you and hope everything works out for the best. That said, thanks for providing the best AAM headline since “I punched a coworker at the office Christmas party”!

    1. Sherm*

      Yeah, I have to admit that I laughed, even though I feel bad for the OP and know it must have been mortifying.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I know it was. A similar thing happened to me. Though I didn’t barf. I had an allergy-related coughing fit and needed to interrupt and ask for water, and it completely derailed the interview. The two women I was speaking with looked at me like I was from another planet. I’m glad I didn’t get the job–why would I want to work with people like that?

        I started taking a water bottle with me after that. No ice, so it won’t sweat.

        1. Merry and Bright*

          I’ve been to that interview too. With the same interviewers. A human being would just get us some water. Not an a-hole interviewer though.

        2. Isabel*

          Day two of working with a new freelance client, in her home office, she asked if I would mind if she put on a guided meditation. She said I could join her in meditating or keep working. But typing seemed loud. So I just sat quietly. Out of nowhere I had a coughing fit for no reason. I was not sick. I went into the bathroom to drink water and to muffle the sound with a closed door.

          Maybe my subconscious was trying to tell me just how weird this client would turn out to be (so weird.)

    2. eplawyer*

      OP 1, I know this was horribly embarassing to you. But it’s okay. Stuff happens. Especially when you are nervous in a high pressure situation. Quite frankly, if I were interveiwing you and this happened, I would just check you were okay/not about to faint/etc. Then let you know it was all right.

      I once had a client who was so nervous he threw up on the witness stand. Fortunately, the garbage can was nearby but it was still gross. The judge was understanding. Grossed out, but understanding.

  5. Grey*

    The problem, #4, is that you said, “the timing was not right for me to make a career change.” As most people would know that before submitting a resume, I can understand why they feel their time was wasted. I’m sure they’re wondering why you’d even apply for a new job when it’s not a good time for you to accept one.

    Saying, “it doesn’t seem like a good fit” might have been better.

    1. Ann Furthermore*

      Yeah, but I still think that’s over the top for withdrawing after just a phone interview. I could see a potential employer getting ticked off if a candidate sent an email like that after going through the hassle of scheduling a full-day interview and coordinating time on multiple people’s calendars, but a phone screen is what — maybe an hour or 2? The whole purpose of a phone interview is that it’s a low risk/cost way for both the employer and the candidate to evaluate each other and decide if it’s worth pursuing things further. If either party decides that it’s not, then no harm, no foul.

      I think the OP’s instincts were right on, given that s/he got an email along the lines of, “You’ll never work in this town again!”

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I can see it taking some exploration of other jobs/companies before you realize “hmmm, actually, this doesn’t seem like the right time for this.”

      1. Merry and Bright*

        Yes! Also people do get approached or told about vacancies when they aren’t actively searching at the time. Anyway, who interviews for fun or to waste time?

      2. Ad Astra*

        Yeah, if someone gave me the “timing’s not right” excuse, I would assume that something new has come up or the situation wasn’t clear until now. It’s a very diplomatic way to go if, like the OP, you’re not applying for other positions and likely won’t be making a change any time soon.

        It’s much stranger to get huffy about someone “wasting your time” after a phone interview — which takes, what, half an hour?

      3. Artemesia*

        Yeah but you probably don’t say that. I have been involved in expensive recruitment activities for high level candidates who apply and then go through the process till they get an offer and then use that as their reason for not accepting. I think you need to know if you actually want to make a move before you run the process out; in these cases the offers were stellar in terms of money and benefits — they asked for the moon, got it and then said it wasn’t good timing for them. A lot of resentment ensues when that happens. (although of course not rude expressions to the candidates face as happened here.)

        1. Wehaf*

          If they’ve gone through a lot of the process (to the point of negotiating terms) that’s completely different to the OP’s case, where all that happened was a phone screen.

          In addition, OP sat on the decision for a few days – plenty of time for new information or discussions with a spouse or partner to change things. What if an applicant discovered she was pregnant? Had cancer?

        2. Honeybee*

          Yeah, but this is the phone interview stage. It’d be more understandable if he’d been flown out, wined and dined, been through negotiations and turned it down. But a phone screen is actually purposed for exactly this kind of thing – for the candidate and the interview to suss out their needs and see if they may be a good fit. This sounds like a company or interviewer who doesn’t realize that interviewing is a mutual decision-making process.

    3. Apollo Warbucks*

      I disagree the OP had every right to change their mind, the company’s responce was not appropriate.

      All the OP did was have a conversation they didn’t make any promises, string anyone along or waste their time.

      1. KarenT*

        Exactly. I’d even say the OP didn’t change their mind in this case–they learned more about the role and decided it wasn’t for them. That’s one of the benefits of doing phone interviews.

    4. Nobody*

      Well, that kind of thing happens the other way, too. There have been a couple of times when I’ve had a phone interview then been informed that the company decided not to fill the position. Shouldn’t they have figured that out before they started interviewing people? It might be slightly annoying to feel like you’ve had your time wasted, but it definitely doesn’t justify a response like the OP got!

      1. Allison*

        I’ve been the bearer of bad news in these situations. Part of my job is contacting passive candidates, and while it’s no big deal to tell someone who took a month getting back to me that we filled the role, I hate messaging someone, getting an enthusiastic response days later, only to then have to tell them “actually, they filled the position” or “sorry, looks like we’re holding off on this” or “the recruiter isn’t talking to any more candidates” because no one bothered to tell me those things until *after* I approached them with an interested candidate.

        1. F.*

          I have this happen to me, too, and it makes our company look very bad. The worst is when they tell me to rustle up some candidates, I contact them, and then the hiring manager ghosts. I have a situation right now where I can’t get a straight answer from the hiring manager about whether he wants to fill the position or not and I have a likely candidate who could be a very good hire IF we don’t flake out on him and let him slip away. And then management wonders why we can’t get good applicants when we run recruiting ads. We have gotten the reputation of being just a resume collector, and that had greatly damaged our recruiting credibility.

          1. louise*

            YES! Yes yes yes. Our company president is always reminding me we want a constant pipeline of good candidates and last week one of the hiring managers remarked that he heard I’m not calling applicants back. I told him I don’t call an applicant unless I’m scheduling an interview and I don’t have any open positions at the moment. I’m not going to waste my time interviewing for things we “might” have open in the future when recruiting is supposed to only be about 20% of my job…I’ve got to get to all the stuff that got put on the back burner when we went through hiring blitzes that required 100% of my time multiple times earlier this year.

    5. Karowen*

      I’m with you, Grey. As others have pointed out, the response was way over the top but I can get being a little frustrated that you spent time with this person and coordinating schedules when, based on the reasoning for withdrawal, there was no question that the person was going to leave their job.

      That said, given the response for a fairly innocuous reason, I can’t imagine “not a good fit” would’ve gone over any better.

    6. Mimmy*

      That’s what I was thinking as well. OP says he didn’t want to say the culture was a bad fit, but something like that is a very appropriate reason that can be explained without needing to go into detail.

    7. A Cita*

      I disagree. I wouldn’t read that literally. I would figure the OP was politely backing out. Could be a timing issue, or it could be some other reason altogether. I would take it as OP is politely and professionally backing out of the process. No need to parse out the explanation. Besides, it works the other way all the time when candidates are rejected.

      1. JMegan*

        Exactly. We run the risk of overanalyzing the specific wording – as the company clearly did – and missing the main message, which is that OP isn’t interested and is politely declining. It’s a version of “It’s not you, it’s me,” and should be taken as such, whether or not it’s literally true.

        OP, sounds to me like you dodged a bullet, at least as far as their HR is concerned!

      2. Nom d' Pixel*

        Same here. Part of being an adult is learning to make diplomatic excuses. Really annoying couple invites you to a dinner party–“I’m sorry, but we have plans that evening”. Red flags in a job interview–the OP’s response sounded polite and respectful.

    8. RG*

      Well it’s not like life stops once you submit a resume. Most people would reasonably conclude that there was some change in the job seeker’s circumstances that probably warrant staying put. Unfortunate, yes, but that’s life.

    9. OP #4*

      Hi – OP checking in. This was actually my thought too, which is why I thought maybe I hadn’t handled it right.

      The people pleaser in me felt like I had to give them a reason that was along the lines of “it’s not you, it’s me”. They seemed very proud of their culture (bragging about how hip they were on the call), so I was paranoid that saying “it isn’t a fit” would come down badly on me.

      After a week, I don’t feel too bad about it anymore. I did come to them, but a 20 minute phone call shouldn’t have been taken as commitment on their part.

      1. Nom d' Pixel*

        Their culture involves threatening people who don’t do what they want (the whole small town thing). It sounds like you dodged a bullet.

      2. LeighTX*

        My husband had a similar thing happen–he heard about a job in another city, sent in his resume and had a couple of phone interviews with the hiring manager and other staff, and then we decided that it just wasn’t a good time for us to move. He emailed the hiring manager and explained why he was withdrawing from consideration, and the manager blasted him in a very rude email accusing him of wasting their time. It was an over-the-top response, especially considering they’d not even spoken in person yet. I felt like it was a clear sign that the job would have been a terrible fit.

        We heard a couple of years later that the manager had been fired; apparently my husband wasn’t the only one who caught the brunt of his temper.

    10. Elizabeth West*

      Nope, it makes no difference what her reason was. They were rude, petty, petulant, and bratty to send that reply. I have more adjectives, but they’re not polite.

      People who are already employed look at other opportunities all the time. Like Alison said, it’s also a chance for a candidate to evaluate the company. Frankly, one that responds in this manner to a potential employee isn’t anywhere I’d want to work. Imagine how they treat current employees.

    11. Lizzy*

      I think you are being harsh. It is not uncommon for passive candidates — especially those content in their current positions– to consider outside opportunities. Employers are very aware of this and since passive candidates can afford to be pickier, there should be no surprises or feelings of resentment when they drop out of the hiring process. Even active candidates pull out of the hiring process all the time, going as far as turning down offers after an organization has invested so much time and energy into them.

      Just as employers have a right to drop a candidate any time, even for the most superfluous reasons, active and passive job candidates have a right to see what is out there and decide what is right for them.

  6. Little Teapot*

    Alison, these new ads are driving me mental. The videos automatically play – with sound. On a device this slows down the loading time and makes posting comments more difficult. I’m on my work computer now and obviously forgot to mute all the sound as the ad just started blaring :/ The new ad size is massive and takes up all my phone screen and as other people said, it’s impossible not to click on it while attempting to scroll.

    I was following the weekend’s thread and I don’t know what the answer is but I think AAM rocks and I would be willing to pay a monthly fee to keep reading. I know various websites do it, or provide ‘paid premium’ content which non-paying users don’t have access too. Maybe you could do a poll? Ask who’d be willing to pay?

    There as to be a happy medium as you need to make money and we want to keep reading!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Like I said on the weekend thread, I’m going to talk to my ad network on Monday once they’re open to see what adjustments they can make.

      If you get ads that auto-play sound, please email me the URL since that’s the only way to get those tracked down and banned.

      1. Little Teapot*

        As others have mentioned, it was some celebrity video. I’m sorry I don’t have the URL.

        I second what someone said below about you being open and responsive; in terms of hosting a website you are definitely the epitome of a kind and gracious host! So many others are ‘like it or lump it’!\

        I also second a tip jar idea :) Maybe something like this? http://smallbusiness.chron.com/set-up-paypal-tip-jar-blog-50123.html

        I totally get most of your readers are passer-bys and not people who stick around for the long haul and thus are less likely to contribute.

        I don’t think there is one easy answer, but I do know for something I value so highly I am prepared to pay. I’ve purchased a resume review and Alison’s ebook, and if a tip jar/subscription were available I would purchase too.

        AAM is my favourite website; I read it constantly. Alison is known as a God between myself and my partner (who I’m sure is sick of me crapping on about AAM at every chance I get!).

        It’s issues like this which truly highlight how awesome you are, Alison :)

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I appreciate that! I don’t think it’s an economically viable model for the site though; the number of regulars (the people who would presumably donate) is dwarfed by the number of non-regulars who just come for cover letter or resume help and then leave. Currently their visits make up a huge portion of the site’s revenue. So I think it makes sense for me to just get the ads working in an appropriate manner.

        I had mentioned on Friday that I was going to be experimenting with a few different ad formats this month because traffic is slower in December, and that’s what this is. This particular experiment happened right before the weekend, which has meant that my ad network people haven’t been in their offices to make the changes I’d like.

        1. Florida*

          Alison, I love that you are so responsive to commenters complaints about the ads. You could certainly take the approach of “if you don’t like the ads, find another blog to read.” Or “this is the cost of reading the blog, please shut up.” But you have never done that. You always tell us you are working on it, suggest ways we can help, and get the problem solved.
          I absolutely appreciate and admire your approach to dealing with this.

            1. Elizabeth West*


              I looked at it on my phone last night, and I don’t have an ad blocker there as far as I know, and I didn’t see anything. It was on the phone’s internet, though, not a browser.

          1. Honeybee*

            This is one of the big reasons I turn off Ad Blocker on this website. I want to continue to support the site and Alison is so supportive of selecting non-intrusive, appropriate advertising. (I even click on a lot of them sometimes, because they’re based on my search results!)

        2. William*

          FWIW, my ad experience’s been much better over the last couple weeks. Thank you for continuing to work on this!

        3. regular*

          Hi Alison,
          Consider pulling that thread out of the weekend free for all and making it its own thing? That thread usually gets so long that I don’t have time to read it all and if you are talking about site support, I’d like to read it.
          Thank you, in specific and generally!

          1. Liza*

            Yes, I skip a lot of the comments when I’m in a hurry, so I too would like to see site support notes turn into posts of their own.

            Also, Alison, I know you’ve just explained that it wouldn’t make sense to change the site to a subscription model–but would you be open to adding a tip jar? I tried not using my ad blocker on your site but I found the ads made my browser less responsive. I turned the ad blocker back on, and I would be happy to “tip” from time to time to make up for that!

            1. Little Teapot*

              What a great idea! I know of some sites that have a tip jar – we could add whatever amount via paypal to support Alison: it doesn’t have to be in your face, just a small button on the side with a link to pay.

              But then again I’ve heard so sites who make like $1 off it so unsure if it would be worth it.

            2. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I really appreciate that! But there’s no need — the ad model is really the best fit and I’d feel a little weird about asking readers for donations. But thank you!

    2. DHT*

      Yeah, autoplay video ads about the death of a celebrity (CelebTV? REALLY?) are not wha I expect to see on a site like this. :/

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        Yeah, I have no problem with ads. I run a site of my own, so I know they’re needed to keep things going. But a giant video of Lindsay Lohan just doesn’t fit in with the content of this site.

    3. Anna the Accounting Student*

      I’m not getting autoplay video ads at the moment (thank goodness!), but I’m on an iPad and there’s a very big ad for four apps. With outsized icons, too — each is about a third the width of the post’s text. And they’ve placed themselves between the end of the post and the start of the comments, which I haven’t really seen on sites with ads as otherwise unobtrusive as they are here.

  7. ohhello*

    OP #2- I understand where this policy comes from. We do not have this rule at my company (retail, so there is inherently a lot of turnover), but I wish we did. As a manager, I’ve had to deal with the side of many former employees that goes completely unnoticed by their co-worker friends. These are not employees that I have had to fire, but employees that had serious performance issues (which were discussed with them), and who eventually left the company, after they were not advancing/getting raises/perks they believed they were entitled too. One such employee gave notice and had the most dramatic and spite filled exit I’ve ever seen. Lots of name calling on her part, and it was one of the worst days I’ve ever had at work. The problem was that all the other employees LOVED her. Imagine my surprise when she arrived as a plus one of another employee to a work party. I was not able to enjoy the event at all, and neither were any of the other managers. We spent the whole time worrying she was going to start flipping tables.

    It is very possible that not every former employee who was a great friend was in fact a great employee, and the point of a holiday party is for all current employees to enjoy it.

    1. some1*

      This is why we have a “no former employees” policy. One former employee really burned bridges when she left, and I felt like I couldn’t invite other former employees and not include her. (But we don’t allow any +1s, either)

      1. Artemesia*

        That seems really sad. Perhaps more people should have the courage to just exclude those who burned bridges instead of using policy to deal with one or two jerks.

        1. OfficePrincess*

          But if current employees can’t bring plus-ones, keeping it to employees-only sounds pretty reasonable.

        2. Honeybee*

          Sometimes dealing with things on a case-by-case basis is a way to introduce animosity, especially if the person in question had lots of drama at a high level with management but the individual contributors don’t know about it, or if the drama was only with a few people and the remaining employees want to keep it private. For instance, what if Joe was a much-beloved employee but was fired for harassing Sally, and Sally doesn’t want that (or the extent of it) to be public knowledge? Then you’ve got to argue with people why Joe – who they perceive as amazing – can’t come but Doris – who clipped her toenails at her desk and talked on the phone loudly but was otherwise a good worker – can.

    2. Ankh-Morpork*

      Yea – I would bet the policy is based on one particular former employee who they know is still close enough friends with someone that currently works there to be invited as a plus one. And rather than have a super awkward conversation about it they just made a general policy. I wouldn’t even be surprised if the organizer was evasive if you question them directly about it – they might not want to start trouble by revealing that a well liked former employee was actually a drama lama to the managers.

    3. Ad Astra*

      I was going to say it seems unnecessary to have a specific policy about this, but maybe I’m giving people too much credit. It seems obvious that someone leaving on not-great terms would choose not to attend, but your story suggests otherwise. In retail and food/bar service, where employees tend to be more chummy than in other industries, a rule might be useful.

      1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

        We had a Senior VP who was allowed to resign under the guise of he was leaving to join/take over his family business, when in reality enough of his employees were threatening to quit or had emails/voicemails that demonstrated a hostile work environment.

        Well, guess who was still chummy with people not on his team? And managed to always score an invite to both casual and actual work events? We never knew if it was the bully mentality of wanting to show his former staff he still had power, or if it was a way to thumb his nose at the people who fired him , but it sucked.

        Also, I think of the AAM where the former employee was hosting a party and having t-shirts made up. I think some former employees who leave on bad terms can’t let go.

    4. themmases*

      Yep. My partner had a coworker like this who was incredibly unpleasant while they worked together and left in about the rudest way possible. (Calling in sick then coming into the office to print her resume, circulated her new offer letter widely within the office, cut short her notice.) For some reason she had friends in the office though.

      Former employees at my partner’s company have left and come back, so they’re usually welcome at company events at +1s and even around the office if there’s a reason. An exception had to be made for this person when she started making excuses to come by the office and just hang out, strongly hinting that she might like to come back a few months after she left. Her friend was asked specifically not to bring her, though; they didn’t institute a blanket rule.

      At her last holiday party this person hit me all through dinner! She sat next to me with her back to me (so already, not a polite start), and did this wrist flipping gesture for the entire conversation that hit me every time. She never apologized or even acknowledged that she noticed she was *hitting a person* with her obnoxious gesture. I’m thrilled she’s not welcome anymore and I definitely tell that story now at the holiday parties I’m invited to and she’s not.

      1. Naomi*

        I initially misread that at “this person hit on me all through dinner”, which would have been a different kind of problem…

        1. Procrasinator*

          I, on the other hand, read it as “hit me,” decided it couldn’t possibly be that someone HIT themmases, so assumed it was a typo of “hit ob me.”. But nope! Yikes. She couldn’t have just been oblivious!

      2. louise*

        I worked somewhere that never locked the employee entrance to our walkout basement because it was such a small town and everyone felt safe. A former employee used to wander in and hang out in an employee-only area to chat. We finally started locking the door a little more consistently after I walked down to the basement one day and found her down there with a stroller (and a child in it) just hanging out by herself. So weird!! I think she was incredibly lonely. If she had tried to snag a +1 invite, the OM would have made a rule.

  8. Seal*

    #5 – I used to work for a university that went from paying my particular job class semimonthly (1st and 15th) to biweekly. For whatever reason, the switchover meant that we would have had to go almost a month between paychecks. The university offered interest-free loans for the amount of your regular paycheck that we were then allowed to pay off for up to a year. Made the transition so much easier and scored a lot of points for an institution that was often viewed as hostile to its lowest paid employees.

    1. Florida*

      I love this! It’s the type of solution that probably only a small number of people took advantage of (relatively speaking), doesn’t really cost the university anything, and builds TONS of goodwill.

      1. Rachel*

        My boyfriend’s employer did something similar, although in his case he went from being paid monthly to being paid biweekly. They offered loans for the difference (since the check amount was much smaller) but then they deducted from his paycheck for the next few mon until it was paid back.

  9. Ruth (UK)*

    5. Can someone explain this one further to me? I’m a bit confused. If you’re being paid two weeks early, but not being overpaid, I can’t see where you need to pay anything back to correct it. Surely they just pay you two weeks later next time and then it’s fixed… Or if they wanted to soften it, pay you one week later next paycheck and correct it by a further week the next time. I can’t see where you’d need to pay back any money unless the issue was that they paid you too much. Unless they decided they day after payday that they want an on the spot correction but that seems a bit odd to me to give the money back only rob have then pay it back to you again so shortly later..

    1. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon*

      Yeah, I’m a bit confused too. I had in mind that it would be eg usually paid on the 1st for work done up to the 15th, when paid for work done up to the 30th. Now they want to pay you on the 1st and again on the 30th but not inbetween. I don’t see where you’d need to pay money back? Unless they don’t have enough physical resources to do a sudden switch like that (which would be odd but… maybe?) and so are effectively laying you off for two weeks?

      I’m not seeing debt, though. Help!

      1. Ruth (UK)*

        I also wasn’t sure how taking unpaid holiday would help… Surely if you take unpaid holiday, you’ve actually now been overpaid (even more) unless you correct the pay before the holiday is taken…

        1. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon*

          All that I can think is that they’re supposed to be paying back the two weeks’ overpay, then receiving it again two weeks later – I don’t know why, tax reasons, maybe? But then, surely that means they’ll be taxed twice on earnings? And what about employees who don’t have two weeks holiday left?

          I really can’t fathom this, and I think my brain might explode if I keep trying. Hopefully somebody with a clearer sense of how it works can clear things up!

          1. Ruth (UK)*

            It also strikes me that we are both uk people who are confused. I don’t know if it’s at all relevant but I wonder if pay periods work slightly different in the states, enough so that we’re missing something that’s obvious to an American reader?

            1. Brightwanderer*

              It seems to be more common for people to be paid in two-week increments in the US? Every job I’ve ever had in the UK (that wasn’t temping) has paid me once a month, and often that payment covers two weeks in arrears (that I’ve already worked) and two weeks in advance rather than being a whole month of either.

              1. Myrin*

                Paying once a month is normal in Germany, too, and I’ve never encountered regular payment in advance (there might be industry- or company-specific exceptions to that, of course), not even half-half like you mention but only ever the full month. I feel like the problem with understanding the question would be the same, though, whether it were one month instead of two weeks or not.

            2. Cambridge Comma*

              I think you might just be commenting at a time of day when the US hasn’t woken up yet.

            3. Ad Astra*

              Yeah, I’m also confused and American. It is quite common for Americans to be paid either every two weeks (slightly different dates each time) or twice per month on set dates (like the 15th and 30th), but it’s not unheard of to be paid weekly or monthly in the U.S.

            4. Angela*

              I’m going to use my company’s actual pay dates as an example. On Dec 11th we’re going to be paid for the hours we’ve worked for the dates November 23 though December 6th, as we are paid for 2 weeks at a time (most US companies are either weekly or every 2 weeks, monthly is RARE). My understanding of the OP’s issue is that (for example) she is receiving a check on Dec 11th but it’s going to be for Dec 14th through Dec 27th – time that has not been worked.

              It’s not so much “paying back” as it is not receiving a check for a month (it will be that long to get to where they are only paying for hours already worked) and for a ton of people, that would mean picking which bills get paid or paying no bills to be able to buy food.

              1. TB*

                “(most US companies are either weekly or every 2 weeks, monthly is RARE)”

                Really? I’m in the US and I’ve been paid monthly ever since I became salaried instead of hourly. As has my husband. I had no idea it was rare.

                1. S.I. Newhouse*

                  I’m pretty sure being paid monthly is illegal in some jurisdictions. Some areas have laws requiring a paycheck at least twice per month. (That’s always how I’ve been paid except for one or two jobs which were weekly.)

                2. Angela*

                  I may have spoke too quickly about it being rare, or maybe I’ve just never worked in an industry that does it. But I do payroll and have never worked for a company that pays anyone monthly.

                3. HB*

                  Yeah, many states have rules about how long you can go before being paid for that time (e.g., work performed between the 1st and the 15th must be paid by the 20th).

                4. EB*

                  The majority of US states have laws that require paychecks at least twice a month or more frequently. There are a handful of states that don’t have such regulations, and as a result monthly paychecks are more common in those state. Moving from a state that required twice-a-month payroll to one that had no such requirement introduced me to a whole new set of norms.

          2. ...&Vinegar*

            I think you’re right; are employees being asked to repay the entire amount, including all taxes, FICA (a US thing), etc? If not, how will the employer manage the repayment schedules such that the employee isn’t paying those a second time? Same question for health insurance, retirement contributions, etc etc. And is the employer going to sort out the payments made for health insurance, etc, so that all those employees have no interruptions in coverage? This sounds like an incredibly messy option, and I’m surprised it was suggested. Other options may be labor intensive, too, but this one looks miserable on all fronts.

      2. Myrin*

        I honestly didn’t even get that the company probably wants to do a “pay for work already worked” model now until I read Alison’s answer. I totally read it as a weird “My company doesn’t want to pay us anymore” thing, because all the letter says is basically “we’re paid two weeks in advance” and “now we have to pay money back”.

        Anyway, as long as they keep the payment-every-two-weeks rhythm with the new model as well, I don’t see how there can be too much money on the employees’ end, either.

        1. Myrin*

          Alison, my comments here have been sent straight to moderation the last few times I commented – did I do anything, like use offensive language or something similar? It’s only been happening for a few days.

      3. lulu*

        I agree with you. That’s the first option listed by the LW, “forgoing a check”, but I don’t see it as paying it back, just waiting another 2 weeks to get paid. That’s tough if you live paycheck to paycheck, as many people do, but not the same as owing the company money. The 2 other options (giving them a check, or taking unpaid vacation) don’t make sense to me.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

          I’m guessing the “paying it back” mention was to preclude an “that’s it, we’re outta here and we’re taking our money with us!” reaction. It sorta makes sense if you attach a precise $ amount that’s been currently prepaid to the individual.

          Unpaid vacation? I guess I haven’t had enough coffee yet. How would that help anything?

          General topic: we were paid in advance at a job I had when I first started working, Wakeen’s Horse & Buggy. I flashed back to how big a deal this would have been for me then. IDK how I would have made rent/bills.

          1. Oryx*

            The only thing I can think with the unpaid vacation is the business basically shuts down for a week or two (or however long) and sends everyone home without pay until the business is able to open back up again.

            1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

              Right? But isn’t that then paid vacation?

              This is one of those I’m my own grandfather questions, isn’t it?

              1. Oryx*

                Send them home *without pay* — it’s not a paid vacation if they aren’t getting paid for the time off.

                1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

                  That wouldn’t accomplish anything, though. If I pay you in December to work January, and you don’t work January, you still owe me for January. You work February instead. Now we are even.

                  For March pay, I decide to pay you April 1, end of period instead. You didn’t get a check from December until April.

                  AND I am my own Grandpa!

                2. fposte*

                  But they’ve *been* paid for the time–they were paid for it before it started.

                  I have to say, though, that I would check with the Massachusetts DOL on the pay shift just to be sure; any other state but Massachusetts or California and I’d say “No, nobody will care,” but Massachusetts has some serious labor laws that I wouldn’t assume would let this pass.

                3. LBK*

                  Massachusetts does have laws that appear to require a maximum of bi-weekly payment, so going 28 days without a check may violate that. I’m not entirely clear, though, because it seems the bi-weekly requirement is intended as a byproduct of the requirements around being paid within X days of the end of the pay period – I’m not sure switching from paying 14 days before the end of the period to 5 days after would violate it because you’d still be in compliance with the timeliness requirement relative to the end of the pay period.

                4. fposte*

                  @LBK–to be honest, payroll rules are like the worst word problems in the world to me, so I don’t try to figure them out. But I can do the arithmetic, and “Massachusetts” + “employees” = “tread very carefully.”

            2. One of the Annes*

              I took the options to be that you could either
              1) forgo a check or
              2) not forgo a check and a) pony up two weeks of vacation while still working those two weeks or b) pay the company two week’s worth of salary.
              I’m not sure why anyone would opt for 2b, though.

          2. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon*

            I guess that might make sense – though I seriously doubt that more than one or two people would quit a job over a couple of weeks’ pay. Unpaid vacation would then make sense if they have an agreement to pay out holiday when you quit/take out of your final pay cheque, maybe?

            Foregoing a cheque I am having more trouble with. If nobody’s being paid for a month at some point anyway then surely everybody’s already foregoing a cheque? What am I missing on that?

          3. Hannah*

            My company is going through this shift right now. To help soften the blow of getting a paycheck with one week’s worth of pay “missing” they are offering to let employees cash in up to one extra week of PTO. Usually, they have a use it or lose it policy at the end of the year and do not pay out for unused vacation time. For those of us who struggle to use up all of our PTO this is a nice opportunity to turn the time that would have been lost into some extra cash. But I could see someone referring to this as requiring them to take unpaid vacation some time in 2016, if they had to turn their banked PTO time into cash to be able to pay their bills on time.

            It is absolutely eye opening to see how affected some people are by a one week delay in pay. Credit cards and grace periods are your friends, people! Or, you know, savings…

            1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

              That makes sense. That’s a humane option, even though I’ll bet that 100% of all people are distressed. The only other human option I can think of would be to offer interest free loans, deducted from pay at a rate of $20 a week or such but what an administrative nightmare.

              1. F.*

                I am not a tax accountant, but I seen to remember reading somewhere that interest free loans can have tax implications, at least in the USA. (please correct me if I’m wrong)

                1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

                  Ha. Okay well mum’s the word then because we would **never** do that at Wakeen’s absolutely not. We never give interest free loans to employees in need and take back reasonable payment through payroll deduction. It does not happen. Never.

            2. jhhj*

              Every few years we screw up and pay one DAY late (for 20 people) and a huge number of them are completely destroyed by this (we pay for the problems, or we warn in advance and give them interest-free loans). And these are people earning 60-80 a year, not minimum wage, and getting paid every 2 weeks, not once a month.

              1. Xarcady*

                Yes. At OldJob, when we switched from weekly to every-other-week pay checks, the person who complained the most and the loudest, and who went around spreading misinformation (such as that more taxes would be taken out of your pay check) was the most highly paid employee in the company, and she made over $100,000 per year.

                1. BananaPants*

                  There are a lot of upper middle class professionals essentially living paycheck to paycheck, either by choice or circumstance. We unfortunately fall into that category; we have a six figure household income, but miss one paycheck and we’d have a problem. I have a substantial payroll deduction coming out now on taxes for my grad school tuition that my employer pays for, and things have been tight for the last 2 months because of it. I can’t wait for January! It’s not a good way to live and we’re working on rebuilding savings so that we’re less susceptible to this kind of thing, but it’s slooooow going.

              2. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

                A day late I could slide, but skipping a paycheck would kill me right now.

                I make a good salary, but thanks to a couple of car thieves, I wiped out my entire cash savings earlier this year (PSA: sometimes it really would be better to have the rental car coverage on your insurance).

                I’m slowly building back a cushion, but I have no wiggle room right now — Sallie Mae gots to get paid :)

                1. Emily*

                  I’m paid monthly, and my check covers our mortgage plus a few other bills. January is always fun, when my paycheck is delayed due to the holiday/year change. I think I won’t get my January check till the Jan. 4th this year.

              3. Case of the Mondays*

                A lot of financially stable people have auto deductions where their excess goes to savings accounts or stock accounts that take a few days to transfer back over into checking. I could certainly go a day without my check but a week could screw up my auto transfers. With enough warning I could turn them off or get money from savings back into checking but that usually takes a few days to accomplish.

                1. Cat*

                  Yeah, I’d be pretty annoyed about that because some of my auto transfers are set up for right after my paycheck. Since my company has never been late, it hasn’t been an issue. And I could turn them off but . . . I shouldn’t have to, to be honest.

                2. Honeybee*

                  This is what I was going to say. I’m pretty financially stable, but I like to keep most of my payments on auto-pay. A day or two won’t be so bad, but more than that and we’re talking overdraft fees because the money isn’t there. I’ve tried to set them up so that they are a few days after the paycheck date but they have to be on or before the due date!

            3. Granite*

              An organization I worked for did this as well. They were paying non-exempt folks on the last day of the pay period. The timing meant that folks who worked overtime near the end of the pay period wouldn’t get paid for it until the following pay period, which is an FLSA problem. When they made the switch, folks went three weeks between paychecks instead of two, but were allowed to cash in a week’s worth of PTO to ease the transition.

              1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

                UGH. This is how we pay now. I will take a year’s sabbatical if we ever have to change because there will be blood everywhere.

                A year might not be long enough.

            4. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon*

              Ah, now I see! Well explained, thank you.

              (Credit cards really aren’t a saving grace in 90% of cases, though, and even for people who save usually savings can fluctuate – our boiler just broke, so there’s our savings gone for the next 3-6 months – so it would behove OP’s company well to try and make better transitional arrangements if they can)

              1. Artemesia*

                Well the reason personal financial management includes having a large emergency fund to deal with totally predictable events like boilers, car breakdowns etc is that unexpected expenses are really not ‘unexpected’ — we all have them, even if we don’t know precisely what they will be. Of course people who are working for very low wages are often not in a position to have accumulated those funds and so it is hardest on them to have this kind of event.

                1. MashaKasha*

                  I had a good-sized emergency fund that I used up completely during my divorce. (Lawyer’s retainer fee and a downpayment on a house, because come to find out, no one wants to rent to a family with a dog.) And I never really replenished it. Kid 1 went to college, then kid 2 went to college, and here I am five years later still with hardly any emergency savings to speak of. And my salary is well above the median family income for my area, so I have no problem believing that tons of families in my area have no emergency savings for valid reasons.

                2. Honeybee*

                  Yes, and also if multiple things happen at once that can put you in danger. Boiler breaks? OK. Boiler breaks and my regular paycheck is delayed by 2 weeks at the same time? That’s too much of a strain.

                  I am trying to build up emergency savings, but I just moved into my new role 3 months ago AND I just graduated from graduate school – so I am also trying to pay down debt. I have a little savings but nowhere near the 6 months that “they” say you should have.

                3. Tara R.*

                  I literally cannot imagine living in a situation where something like that is not a dire, immediate emergency. Of course, I also can’t imagine living in a situation where you take home enough cash to pay comfortably for basic expenses and have enough left over for the rest of life– kids playing sports, grabbing an occasional meal out, buying new clothes when you need them. I still remember the month my mom cut absolutely *all* superfluous spending, picked up a bunch of extra shifts at her second job, and still racked up her line of credit higher.

                  BC teachers, they’re so greedy, doncha know? (I was in 11th grade during the strike, and sooooo many people tried to draw me into “Wow, aren’t those selfish teachers interfering with your education?” I coldly responded to many of them “Well, my mom’s a special ed teacher and her salary has left her with no ability to help me with university in any way whatsoever even though she desperately wants to, so I would say Christy Clark is the one interfering with my education, actually.”) (Not that I think uni students are entitled to help from their parents– quite the opposite. But it killed me that she wanted to help me so badly, and she couldn’t.)

            5. MashaKasha*

              Sorry, but the credit card comment rubbed me the wrong way. I’ve worked my tail end off for years to build an excellent credit history and a high score. I’ve never paid a late fee or interest on a credit card in the eighteen years I’ve had them. And I would be pretty damn unhappy if my employer suggested that I go into credit card debt for the first time in my life, because they need to switch their pay schedule.

              That said, like I mentioned on another comment, I was in this situation once, was offered to cash in a week of PTO, and happily used that option. It’s less than perfect, but it’s a decent, viable option if the employer offers enough PTO, which mine did.

              Also, in our case, it wasn’t a delay in pay. We missed a week. We were told that we’d get that week’s money back when we would leave the company, not sooner. So, to me, for example, it was more like a two-year delay in pay.

              1. Hannah*

                Sorry, I didn’t mean to get too off topic, but I will clarify that I just meant the grace period prevents you from having to stress about the money coming through on your exact payday. I use credit cards just like you, I have never carried a balance, but whatever I buy this month will be on next month’s statement. So if your cell phone bill is due the 12th and payday isn’t until the 15th you have that flexibility to use your card and then pay it off right after payday. I’m not suggesting to go into debt or live outside your means, credit is NOT your friend in those situations. But the grace period can be a nice “pro” if there aren’t other factors that make credit cards a “con” for you overall.

              2. CADMonkey007*

                You can charge whatever you want on a credit card, if you pay off the full balance each month there’s no interest. It’s just a different want of managing cash flow. (Plus you get the credit card points!)

                1. MashaKasha*

                  I know, I’m already doing that and collecting my cash. Which is why I wouldn’t have been able to throw an extra week or two weeks of bills and expenses on it as well.

                  No matter how you slice it, your monthly expenses still stay the same, and, if they are/were about equal to your monthly income, then with one or two weeks of income subtracted you’ll be in the red no matter which account(s) you put them on. Come next month, you’ll still have to pay those bills and you’ll still be one paycheck short.

            6. LBK*

              Your paycheck is supposed to be the one reliable part of your finances – I don’t think it’s reasonable or fair to expect that people should have to utilize whatever cushion they have to accommodate their employer. That’s meant for personal emergencies; my employer deciding they need to change up the way their payroll works is not my problem.

              I’m normally all for give and take in an employee/employer relationship, but finances are one place where that relationship should be one-way. This is as unconscionable to me as employers making employees use their personal credit cards for big business expenses like plane tickets and hotels – you don’t get to interfere with my personal finances for your own convenience.

              1. Ad Astra*

                This is where I’m falling on the issue. Asking employees to go a month without a paycheck because of the company’s screw up (or just the company’s choice? idk) is a crummy way to treat the people who work for you. Even people who are both fortunate enough and responsible enough to have a sizable emergency fund should be miffed about using it this way.

              2. MashaKasha*

                I don’t think it’s reasonable or fair to expect that people should have to utilize whatever cushion they have to accommodate their employer. That’s meant for personal emergencies; my employer deciding they need to change up the way their payroll works is not my problem.

                Thanks, you said it better than I did.

            7. Elizabeth West*

              That would be nice, but a lot of people who live paycheck to paycheck can’t get a credit card! *raises hand* It would be helpful–I’m trying to clean stuff up so I can.

              I like what your company is doing, however–at least they’re trying to make it easier on everybody.

              1. Windchime*

                Same thing with savings. It’s easy to say , “This is why you should be saving; just use your emergency savings account”. A lot harder for those who live paycheck-to-paycheck and who have no savings. (See also: “Save money by buying in bulk!” Easy when you have a lot of money, not so easy when you have a choice between $16 covering one giant case of toilet paper vs a quart of milk, a loaf of bread, and a couple of bananas to tide you over till payday).

                1. LBK*

                  And even those people who do have savings usually build them up over time. If my car broke down last month and I had to deplete my savings to fix it, that money isn’t going to be back there for a while. If I made enough to immediately replenish it, I wouldn’t have had to take it out of my savings in the first place.

                2. Rana*

                  Yes. While I do have a credit card, it has a balance on it left over from a previous year’s emergency payment, and it has taken me a long time to get it down as low as it is. Just because it is possible to put something on that card temporarily, doesn’t mean that it would be a good idea. What if another emergency popped up? There goes whatever margin I had.

                3. Elizabeth West*

                  Or a place to store the bulk!

                  I used to wish I had room but now that I do, it’s just me so there’s not much point in buying, say, half a side of beef. I’ll never eat it all. The most I do is buy a large pack of paper towels.

                4. MashaKasha*

                  Only time I saved money by buying in bulk was when I had two teenage boys living in the house. Other than that, especially when you’re living alone, I don’t think there are any real savings to buying in bulk. So I wouldn’t worry about it.

    2. doreen*

      I think “pay it back” is being used very loosely to cover anything from actually writing a check to the company (which I suppose someone might want to do for some reason, although I can’t think of one) to skipping the next paycheck to getting smaller paychecks for some number of weeks… I can see how it might be easier to say ” We’ve been paid for two weeks we haven’t worked and we have to pay it back somehow” instead of “We’ve been paid for two weeks we haven’t worked and we have to get the amount we’ve been paid to match up with the hours we ‘ve worked somehow”

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I think the problem comes in where people cannot go four weeks without a paycheck.
      If the person is prepaid for the work, they can pay it back and receive a paycheck at their usual time? Or they could take unpaid time off which would reset the starting point also.
      That is the way I read it. But you know…morning… coffee, etc. I could be reading it wrong.

      I do agree that the company should let people make the transition over a few pay periods. This is really asking a lot of people, even though it makes sense from the company’s perspective.

    4. MashaKasha*

      It actually happened at an ExJob following a merger. Previous owner used to pay one week in advance, while the new owner’s schedule was to pay after both weeks have passed. E.g., for a period of 11/30-12/13, previous owner would pay on 12/4 and the new owner would pay on 12/11. So, when the pay schedule was transferred from the old owner to the new, one week was going to be left unpaid. One of the options they offered us was to sell a week of unused vacation and use the money to get through the unpaid week, which is what I did. Don’t remember what the other options were, but it came down to all of us working a week without pay. We were told that the discrepancy would correct itself after an employee leaves the company, ie they’d get paid for that lost week when they got their final paycheck from the company. Don’t remember if that was indeed the case. But, yeah, it happens. It is very weird, unfair, and inconvenient for anyone who has bills to pay, but it happens.

      1. Ama*

        Something similar happened to me at my last job in academia. When you went above a certain payment threshold you got transitioned from biweekly to monthly paychecks. When my COL raise pushed me above the threshold, no one bothered to tell me until the first week I transitioned to monthly (my boss didn’t even know about the change until I told her I’d gotten a notice from payroll). However, because our payroll ran a period behind (you got paid not for the most recent pay period but the one before that), that first “monthly” check was for my last bimonthly pay period — meaning I essentially had to make half a month’s pay last for a whole month.

        It evened out later, and I happened to have a lot of savings and no large pending expenses at the time so I could manage, but I pointed out to my boss that I didn’t appreciate getting no notice that I was essentially having to skip a paycheck, and that in other circumstances it could have made my life very difficult.

  10. Mookie*

    LW 1, the interviewer handled this well enough (really textbook stuff, like offering the water and giving you a bit of extra physical space, declining your assistance in cleaning up, providing you a swift and dignified exit) that I don’t think it’s going to be an issue for him or for the company. You were honest about being ill, they granted you a later interview, you showed up and performed well. People vomit; it’s cool. Alison’s scripts are great, and reflect the kind of demeanor every hiring manager wants in a potential employee, somebody who can navigate minor social faux pas with grace and humor and spin a potentially awkward situation into a minor bonding exercise. (I’m an inadvertent pratfaller myself, and a really embarrassingly frightened interviewee, with the shaky voice and the shaky hands and the inability to remember complicated things like my own name. Sometimes I’m lucky enough that I do something so inordinately dweeb-y that I can’t help but feel more cheerful because things can’t get much worse, which generally results in tea and sympathy and self-effacement, and those are useful for gauging the humanity of the hiring manager, as well.) Don’t sweat this!

    1. Sarahnova*

      Yep. I’d use Alison’s line; good people don’t hold it against you that you are human, and the ability to crack a self-effacing joke often scores you major points and really helps you connect with someone.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I love this perspective. It does work.

      OP, you have my sympathy, totally. And you are about to learn something about this company, as in do they put people first? Can they see you as a human being and not just another gear in their big organization?

      FWIW, you did every single thing you could think of to prevent the problem. You took every caution within your power. Please hang on to that thought. No one can more than that of anyone else.

      1. Windchime*

        Exactly. And I have to tell you that I interview a lot of people, and if this small mishap happened to a candidate who was really great, it would not make a bit of difference. We wouldn’t say, “Oh, Lucinda was *amazing* and would have been a great employee. Too bad she vomits when she coughs, though!” We’d think, “Wow, she is great. I sure hope she is feeling better for the second round!”

  11. Mando Diao*

    #2 strikes me as something that irks the current employees more than the former ones. Of course everyone who still works there would want to see their old coworkers, but I can’t imagine that the former employees are all that interested in attending. They have parties to attend with their new employers. However, I can’t imagine why there’s an official policy against it, though to be fair, I’ve never worked anywhere where there was a desire to send invitations to people who don’t work there anymore. The party is specifically for current employees; it would never occur to me to want to invite someone who is now working somewhere else.

  12. hbc*

    #2: If your field is one where it’s common for people to move on to other things without hard feelings, I can see why you’d be disappointed, but “crazy” is really strong. There might be people who were fired or where there was a “mutual decision” who would love a chance to come back and stick it to the company. There might just be one person they’re worried about, but are worried they’d get sued over a policy of “Invite anyone you want but Jane” or stir up bad feelings for those who liked working with Jane but weren’t aware that she was stealing from the company.

    It’s just not that common to have ex-employees at these events, and lots of ways it could be awkward.

  13. Xarcady*

    #5. I think the employees have the option to pay back two weeks wages, settling the books. and then get paid two weeks wages after they have worked those two weeks.

    But I think their company is making this unnecessarily complicated. Unless there is a bookkeeping/accounting/tax reason why the money actually has to be paid back, they should be able to just reschedule the checks. So the employees would get a regular, advanced paycheck, say on the first of the month. Then, instead of getting their next paycheck on the 15th, that pay date gets moved to the last day of the month. Why the company isn’t doing this instead is puzzling, and I suspect, since we are near the end of the year, may have something to do with balancing the books.

    However the company does the switch, they really need to give their employees a couple of months warning so that people can save up money to cover the gap. If the company is demanding the money right now, in the middle of the holiday season when a great many people have more expenses than usual–travel, food, gifts, etc.–then management is being extremely short-sighted. There are a great many people who simply do not have two weeks salary sitting around, ready to be given up at a moment’s notice.

    One place I worked moved from weekly pay checks to every other week pay checks. You could not imagine the angst and woe that resulted from that. People were afraid they wouldn’t be about to buy food for a week or pay their rent/mortgage, even people who were married/living together and had a partner whose wages would continue as normal. The company finally delayed the switch by 4 months, first to give people time to make preparations and second to time the switch to coincide with the Holiday bonus check, which would help to tide people over the gap in paychecks. (It was also an eye-opening look into the lives of some co-workers. Some of the ones who were most opposed were the most highly paid in the company. Just because someone makes a lot of money does not mean they know how to handle that money well.)

    1. doreen*

      I think the “unpaid vacation” option has to be referring not to an actual unpaid vacation, but to using taking off , using PTO and not getting a check ( because the advance payment would cover that time). That’s not really any different than forgoing a paycheck , unless it means that the company is being flexible about when that check is forgone.

      For reasons that are too convoluted to explain, my government employer has a five day salary deferral. To institute this, a new employee’s first five paychecks are for 9 days pay instead of 10. As AAM suggests, this was much easier on us than losing a whole week’s pay at once.

  14. Mae North*

    #5, your employers are assholes. There are ways to manage a switch from paid ahead to paid behind that minimize the impact to the employee (the one I usually see is smaller but still regular checks until the pay period ending date is in line with where the company wants it to be). Putting the onus on the employee to repay their check or go without any income for a period of time is not one of them, especially when so many people live pay check to pay check.

  15. Allison*

    #2, I kind of get this policy, because there’s such a high potential for former employees to cause trouble, or at the very least make the party awkward. It would be like one of your friends bringing your ex to your Christmas party, when they weren’t invited and your friend didn’t check with you, because your ex really wanted to see everyone again.

    It might be better for your company to have a rule that former employees would need to be approved by this or that person, although it’s hard to say who that person would be, so while “no former employees” may seem unfair, it’s probably the best way to avoid a bad situation.

    1. RVA Cat*

      That, plus it sounds like a pretty expensive shindig the employers are putting on, and it’s understandable the might not want to wine & dine former employees (except retirees – it would be classy to invite some esp. those who left during the previous year).

  16. TotesMaGoats*

    #1-I doubt it makes you feel better but the night before I started NewJob, I got a horrible stomach bug. I think I slept maybe 2 hours total and that was on a bathroom floor. I somehow managed to get to my job and after a walking tour of campus had a find a place to yak. It was awesome. I looked like death, I know. Everyone could tell how sick I was. I was so exhausted that I missed my exit home and had to go about 30 minutes out of my way (1.5 hours at this point) and past OldJob which restarted the crying jag. It was a great first day.

    I think you handled yourself very well and AAM’s suggestions for a reply are spot on.

  17. Myrin*

    OP 1, this part: “and promptly showed me to the door” made me think that maybe here lies the ultimate reason you think you blew it? Because you feel like that was a dismissal? If so, I really don’t think so. You say the interview was nearing its end anyway and the interviewer probably didn’t want to strain you any further as it was obvious how unwell you were feeling, not shove you out of his sight as far as possible because he though you were horrible.

    1. irritable vowel*

      Agreed — if they were otherwise gracious I wouldn’t take it as “get the hell out of here” but rather “we don’t want to keep you any longer when you’re so unwell.”

    2. Nom d' Pixel*

      Agreed. I would be worried about any place that would expect you to keep interviewing if you had vomited.

  18. The Expendable Redshirt*

    1) Throwing up at an interview? Well. I could see myself in that situation eventually. I’ve got a pretty strong cough and I vomit easily. The cough can show up in stressful situations, and I’ve thrown up in front of others due to nerves. It feels pretty embarrassing! I like Alison’s idea of including a mild comment (if you want to) in the thank you note acknowledging the event.

      1. BTownGirl*

        One of my friends was on her way to an interview and stopped to buy some mints. She realized too late that (a) she had bought the “sugar-free” kind and that (b) too much faux-sugar makes her very gassy. I thought something terrible had happened when she called me in a full Ron Burgundy In The Phone Booth state, but I did manage to pick up “job interview” and “farted”. She still got the job, OP! By appearing to take it in your stride, you’re telling them there’s nothing you can’t handle! Good luck!! :)

        1. Kelly L.*

          I had a cough once a few years ago and was taking cough drops to get me through the work day…well, I was worried about the calories and dental effects of snarfing as many regular cough drops as I would need, so I got the sorbitol ones…and the effects were not pretty. And now I say screw it, I’ll take the sugar ones.

    1. A.J.*

      Adding to the embarrassing stories here. One of my biggest stress symptoms is nausea. I was taking the GRE exam last year, and during the 10 min. break I ate a quick snack and had a 5 hr Energy drink. When I got back in the room and started the next part of the exam, my computer suddenly crashed and I started having a panic attack. Threw up in a trash can and continued with the next 3 hours of the exam, which was awful since I couldn’t even take a break to recover or get water. I consider myself fortunate to never have thrown up in an interview, but I have thrown up the day before a huge interview due to stress.

      1. BTownGirl*

        This is so common, A.J.! I’ve had an issue with anxiety for years and the nausea, ohhhh the nausea. For whatever reason, a cold bottle of water helps me tremendously. My doctor told me to back the heck away from caffeine too, so no Diet Coke (which is basically my favorite thing ever) for me before a bit meeting. Make sure you’re getting a good night’s sleep too!

  19. fposte*

    #3–to be a little more direct than Alison about one aspect: yes, it sucks that your reference backed out rather than saying no initially. But your statement that she should have taken into consideration the facts that “I was working for her directly after completing undergrad, on the other side of the country, and that the job was all-around a poor fit” concerns me, because it sounds like you’re feeling it’s unjust that she didn’t forgive poor performance. But references are based on the job you actually did, not on the job you could have done, and they’re compared, sometimes explicitly, to other people who do that job (I get asked a lot of this person is in the top 25% of the people who’ve performed the work, for instance). I’m especially scratching my head about the right out of undergrad and in a new home town qualifiers, because those aren’t usual or compelling reasons for poor job performance–lots of people work right out of undergrad, and lots of people move and work in new locations, and they’re not things that generally get professionally considered as a reason to accept poorer work.

    It may be that you threw those in as part of your venting and distress about losing this reference; if so, that’s fine. But I wanted to go deeper into this in case this is your ongoing narrative about this job. Because if you’re asked about it and your answer is basically “They didn’t cut me enough slack” (which is what you’re currently sounding like), that’s going to alarm prospective employers. What’s okay is to have had less than brilliant judgment about fit for your first post-college job, and to say “I grabbed too early at a job opportunity that I should have seen wasn’t the right fit for me, so I was struggling. Now I know how to find a job that really matches my skill set–like this one.” Ducking the responsibility for having underperformed at that job will hurt you; owning it (if it comes up) and demonstrating how you’ve grown will do you credit.

    1. Person of Interest*

      I sort of agree with this. If there is too much you have to explain about that job and the circumstances affecting your performance it’s probably better to leave them off your reference list altogether.

    2. Ad Astra*

      Part of me wonders if OP is under the mistaken belief that you must submit your three most recent managers as references, or something like that. I can’t tell if she knew it wouldn’t be a great reference but asked anyway, or if she was expecting a more positive reference than what this person was willing to give.

    3. Charityb*

      I agree. I suspect that the reference thought at first that she could give a good reference, but when she thought about it it became harder and harder to be both honest and positive due to the poor fit issues earlier mentioned. This is especially likely if OP and the manager got along as individuals; it’s tempting to say, “Oh, I like her, of course I’ll give her a good reference,” until you realize that you can’t say anything good about their actual work, just their personality.

    4. Anon for This*

      I like this comment. Also, is it possible the OP can find someone else at that job that she got along well with and could be a reference? I did that with a job that wasn’t a good fit for me. I found another position and left, but I stayed in contact with some folks there that knew the culture at the company was a poor one and that contributed a lot to my leaving the job. They have served well as a reference for me a couple of times.

    5. pieces of flair*

      Well, the reference didn’t say there was a problem with the OP’s performance. OP might have been an awesome worker, but she left before her contract ended. I work at a university and we run into this sometimes with research assistants. When they sign up, we make it clear that we require a 2 semester commitment. If someone doesn’t stay the full 2 semesters, we will say so when providing a reference even if their work was otherwise exemplary. We tell them that at the time they request a reference, however, not after we’ve already agreed to give one. Sometimes they’re OK with that and sometimes (usually) they opt to find a different reference instead.

  20. Bowserkitty*

    Ohhhhh OP#1, I feel for you. Like others have commented, this doesn’t mean you WON’T get the job! Things happen, they knew you were sick.

    I was luckily enough to get my stomach flu after my interview process…however, I did get it the day before my scheduled health screening, so I had to push that one back a few days and just hoped beyond hope it wouldn’t come back.

  21. Roscoe*

    For #2 I see both sides of it. I’ve definitely had jobs where I was invited back as a guest of current employee. It was great to catch up. I left on good terms, so there were no issues. It was also at a pretty prominent place in the city, so I was there now and then anyway. At that job, I can see why people would be upset about not letting former employees come.

    However, I’m guessing that there is a very specific person they are worried about coming, so thats why they made the blanket rule. As usual, I don’t agree with setting blanket rules for everyone, but it would be very odd to not have that rule, but then take the specific ex-employees friends aside and telling them that she isn’t invited, but others are.

  22. Brett*

    #4 One of the hardest things I ever did was pull out of the hiring process with Google. I did it right before the “fly out to Mountain View” stage after going through the lengthy phone interviews and tests, but I knew at that point that moving to Mountain View was not going to work and I had a job offer in hand that did work (the job I have now). I told them that location was an issue for me, and that I was not sure I could fit with the Google culture, so I did not want them flying me out when it was not at all likely they would change my mind.

    I mention this to contrast their response to the employer in letter #4. They stayed in touch with me over the next two years to make sure my job was working out. They passed my name on to the team I would have worked with so that I could network with them anyway and talk to them at conferences and online. Instead of threatening me with burning bridges, they went out of their way to build bridges. While I am long past the point where I could work for google, over the years since, this relationship has been mutually beneficial. I have helped connect their people when they have had business in our region while their team has provided me technical and networking assistance.

    The employer is really the ones burning bridges here in letter #4, not the OP.

    1. Liza*

      Someone close to me did that with Google! He accepted a job at a different company instead. Then a few years later Google bought that company, so now he works for Google anyway. :-)

    2. Not So NewReader*

      That’s a great story that really puts things in perspective. There really is no need for animosity on either side.

  23. Company Party*

    I think disallowing former employees to attend company parties is perfectly normal and that’s usually been the rule at all company parties I’ve attended. If they aren’t the spouse or partner of anyone there, why should they be there? They no longer work for the company, and probably have their own company party at their current company to attend. If current employees want to party with their former colleagues, they can do so at private gatherings, not on the company dime.

    1. Not Karen*

      I think the problem is, if I’m reading the post right, that former employees aren’t allowed even if they ARE spouses. So if you’re married to a former employee, your spouse can’t come, but if you’re married to someone who’s not a former employee, they can.

      1. Allison*

        Actually, they do make exceptions if a former employee is engaged or married to a current employee, but they can’t be current employees’ +1’s if they’re just friends with or dating current employees.

  24. KVaren*

    If OP #1 gets the job I really hope they send an update about whether anyone at the new job mentions that mortifying moment.

  25. Case of the Mondays*

    For number 1 and all of the sympathetic responses, I would love to send this to my 2nd grade teacher. She made very clear that there was no acceptable reason for anyone to ever throw up in class and that you should run out of the room to the next door bathroom. At that age I hadn’t learned to “hold in” throw up. If I had to throw up, it happened, right there. I was petrified of doing it in class because of her lecture. As I’ve gotten older and unfortunately had a digestive issue that does lead to throwing up sometimes, I have learned to mostly be able to get to a bathroom or more appropriate place for it to happen but that has taken serious time. The average person doesn’t have as much throwing up experience and it might just happen where it happens. That doesn’t mean you did it on purpose at all. Funny how we can remember the most random things from our childhood.

    1. Sookie*

      Wow, I thought my fifth grade teacher was the only one cruel enough to give that lecture. She did it right after a boy in the class didn’t quite make it out of the room in time. She yelled at him and told the rest of us that we would be on big trouble if it ever happened to us.

      1. Alienor*

        Oof, that’s harsh. Once in kindergarten, I threw up on the school bus just as it pulled up to school, and I still remember how nice the bus driver was about it – not only did he tell me not to worry about the mess (I’d been sitting just behind him, so it was on the back of his seat, which was even more embarrassing in my mind), he drove me home on the bus because my mother couldn’t come to pick me up.

    2. Mookie*

      Why is it that children are expected to control bodily functions and behave with perfect, obedient decorum, when adults can’t do the first and aren’t expected to do the second (because that’s a fascist, dehumanizing attitude)? The way we treat children sometimes is so shit; I’m not a parent, but I never think to myself, “gee, kids are so coddled and spoiled these days.” Kids are small, inexperienced, vulnerable human beings, not automatons you have to “teach” not to go wee-wees.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I was just thinking to myself there have been a few times as an adult that I did not make it to the bathroom in a timely manner. In situations such as a flu bug, it’s possible to have more than one problem- shall we say- I cannot see little kids handling two bathroom type difficulties at the same time. Adults can’t. And most certainly an adult cannot establish what problem, nor to what extent, the child is having just by glancing over at the child.

        I remember saying I did not feel right. Hey, I was maybe 8? I got told, “oh you’re attention seeking”. When I threw up blood, I had the last word on that topic. (Strep throat, left unchecked, will bleed.)

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I said that once while being disciplined in the library at school (during nightmare year with Abusive Teacher and her Librarian Minion). Librarian Minion told me to hush and do my whatever I was working on (I don’t even remember what it was–some kind of worksheet, I think). Finally, I couldn’t hold it in and bolted to the hallway, where I promptly ralphed in spectacular fashion—twice. I remember starting to cry, but I was also thinking, “You old bat, I told you I wasn’t feeling well.”

          My only regret is that I didn’t throw up on the Minion. :)

      2. Rana*

        I wish I knew. Since becoming the parent of a small child, I’ve been regularly amazed by how strangely a lot of people view children – it’s like they simply cannot comprehend that children are fellow human persons, with all the vulnerabilities and needs that entails, rather than odd little pets or dolls. And small children, unlike poorly-behaving adults, have an excuse for their behavior: their brains are not developed yet.

        1. catsAreCool*

          I don’t have kids, but I worked in a day care center for several years, and it always bothers me when adults act like kids are some sort of not-people creature. Kids are young, don’t know a lot yet, and need some protection, but they’re very much people, even when they’re little.

  26. Somov*

    #2 is bizarre… In my 20+ years of professional experience, I have never heard of a company sanctioned event of ANY kind, much less a party, where former employees would be welcome, whether they left on good terms or not. Am I misreading this post?

    1. LF*

      My company just had its holiday party and several retired former employees (from former receptionist to former shareholder) were there. But, we’re a smaller-size company and fairly tight-knit, and they were explicitly invited by the company.

    2. Not Karen*

      I’m reading it as one’s spouse is not welcome if they are a former employee. (But if your spouse never worked for the company, they are welcome.)

  27. Blaine*

    I just HAD a situation just like #4. A recruiter contacted me out of the blue on LinkedIn for a position with a massive global conglomerate. The position would have required relocation, which I am not against. However, the recruiting process itself rubbed me so wrong from the get-go. The position was a contract with an outsourcing company, so I wouldn’t technically be working for the big company, just the outsource organization. The recruiters were super-pushy and a little stalker-like (they called me 4X in a row, texted, AND sent messages via LinkedIn AND email to get a response to a small question). Anyway, I got setup for an in-person interview after a few short phone conversations with the recruiter and my future colleagues.

    After talking things over with my wife over the Thanksgiving holiday, I decided the job wasn’t the right one. So I emailed the recruitment team and did the whole, “It’s me, not you, I don’t want to waste your time when you could be interviewing other candidates” thing. They then got kinda crappy with me and while they did offer me more money, they also said that the interview was a formality, that I was basically hired. That last part was a bit of a warning sign: I’ve never had anyone express that level of desperation to fill a position before. Seeing as how they’d already tried to recruit the position with four other candidates who had turned them down, (I was No. 5), it seems that my intuitions were right-on.

  28. Jessie*

    Op #1: I was getting over being sick when I had my job interview. It had been several weeks since I’d actually been sick, but still had a lingering cough that wouldn’t go away. I did everything I could to try to manage my cough (numbing losanges, lots of water, etc) but in attempting to hold back my cough during the first part of the interview I inadvertently caused myself to have a HUGE gasping coughing fit that went on for over ten minutes and probably appeared like I was dying. I got the job.

  29. Isabel*

    Many years ago, an acquaintance landed an interview for her dream entry-level job, right before graduating college. This was at one of the top three corporations in her field.

    She was there for a couple hours and met the whole team. Someone glanced down at some of her paperwork and noticed, “Hey, it’s your birthday! Wait just a minute…it’s your twenty-first birthday!? We’re celebrating!”

    A bottle came out and shots were poured for all. And repeat. The interview continued on a less formal business. Comments such as, “We can tell you’ll fit right in – we love to party together!” (This field has always had a young, fratty culture. My acquaintance was a woman who enjoyed that.) You all know where this is going.

    She threw up on the floor. She did not get the job.

    1. Mookie*

      Because of the vomit?

      That seems… crappy to me. Maybe I’m making unreasonable excuses for this stranger, but if she’d been there a few hours and could have arrived with an empty stomach and had a bottle o’ liquor foisted on her in a spirit of “generosity” and comradeship, and everyone’s telling her how much they love to “party” with the implication being that she’d better love it, as well, that just smacks of some kind of not-very-serious I’m-kind-of-being-hyperbolic-here entrapment or something. I don’t know. Not entrapment, but some kind of catch-22 where you shouldn’t be drinking enough to vomit but social pressures may have dictated that you do, combined possibly with the nerves of a fairly young, probably professionally inexperienced person going on an important and nerve-wracking interview. I don’t like that.

      1. Isabel*

        It seemed so, at the time, since they had been over-the-top positive for hours and did not offer an explanation. I agree she dodged a bullet and I absolutely agree it was crappy! Of course we are all responsible for our own behavior. But the cards were stacked against her and she was an extremely responsible, hard-working, enthusiastic young person. Their loss.

        1. Mookie*

          To be honest, I didn’t know whether you were sharing the story in a spirit laden with the schaden, as they say, or if you were commiserating with LW 1, so I didn’t want to be too forceful about denouncing the company. I’m glad the consensus is that this is a shit thing to do to somebody. Your acquaintance sounds awesome, and I hope she landed a comparable dream gig at an outfit with more integrity. Plying folk with alcohol at an interview is crazy to me; punishing them for it is even worse.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      She dodged a bullet. “We like you when you are fun, but if you have a car accident or fall down a flight of stairs we don’t remember your name.” Better to find these things out upfront than six months into the job.

  30. Mkb*

    #5, my husbands old company did this while he worked there and it sucked. I’m sorry your company is doing this :(

  31. Let it Snow!*

    #5 happened at my company this year but in our case, they were only paying a portion of our firm’s employees in advance. My companies goal was to pay everyone consistently (1 week behind). One of the affected people complained so much that they never had to pay the $ back (she’s not well liked although I have no problems with her).

    Our solution was to provide 3 options:

    1. Get paid less in your paycheck every pay period for a few months.
    2. Forgo a paycheck.
    3. A third one I forgot.

    Everyone dealt with it but I do understand that it’s annoying. However, you have you to think of it differently: you were already paid for the work you’re about to perform.

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