update: job candidate called me four times in one day

Remember the letter-writer who had an internal job candidate call her four times in a single day and send her a passive-aggressive follow-up? (She also noted in the comments on the original post that the candidate’s language ‘”was very much in the tone of ‘why aren’t you doing your job and answering my calls?’” Here’s the update.

First of all, I didn’t end up telling my boss about how strongly this interviewee came across. I was going to wait until after the interview to see if the problem would sort itself out, but now I’m thinking that was a bad idea. She came in for the interview and went straight to my boss’s office instead of coming to mine to check in for her interview. It turns out she used to work in our department years ago (I’ve been here for three and had never heard of her), but she still seems to have a pretty good repartee with them. Maybe it’s a good thing I didn’t badmouth someone who they apparently love who used to work here.

So that was a few weeks ago. Apparently, they’re interested in calling her back for another interview because I was asked to schedule one over the phone. To give you the timeline here, I was asked to schedule a batch of them at 11:00 a.m. I did so but wasn’t able to forward them to the candidates before lunch. Around 10 minutes later, my boss began sending out emails to the candidates notifying them to look for the meeting request. 24 minutes later (I kid you not), the candidate emails me saying she should have received the meeting request and to please see the highlighted text in the email below from MY boss “for more insight” (candidate’s exact words).

First of all, 24 minutes. I’m in awe of how little respect she seems to be demonstrating for my time. Second of all, she’s carrying that same attitude she had when she messaged me earlier in the process. It seems like she’s at it again with the whole “you need to drop everything now and send me this because you were told to do it” attitude. Clearly, I’m going to send the meeting request to her ASAP because it was already on my list, but what gives?

Knowing that she’s apparently a strong candidate and has a good relationship with my boss, do you think there’s any language I could use to say “She really doesn’t seem to understand professional norms or have much respect for other people’s time and I wouldn’t be comfortable working with her.”? I’m at a complete loss.

Yes. Yes, absolutely, and you should because this may be information that your boss would be really interested in. I would be.

The fact that your boss knows her doesn’t make this irrelevant or not worth mentioning. For all we know, your boss might have noticed similarly pushy/rude behavior with her in the past and is hoping she’s changed, and would very much want to know that she hasn’t.

I’d say it this way: “I wanted to mention to you that Jane Warbleworth has been a little abrasive with me about scheduling interviews. The first time we were bringing her in, she called me four times in one morning and then IM’d me to say she couldn’t get ahold of me, and from her tone sounded like she thought I wasn’t doing my job, even though it had only been a few hours since I left her the message she was responding to. This time, she sent me a pretty aggressive email less than half an hour after you emailed her that she’d be getting a meeting request. I know you’ve worked with her before, so maybe you know that there’s nothing to worry about here — but I wanted to pass it on to you in case it’s the kind of thing you like to know.”

{ 248 comments… read them below }

  1. Michelle*

    I think you should tell your boss. There is an advantage for not saying anything earlier in that you are on more solid ground. There are a few incidents now, you didn’t just complain in the first instance. Also maybe your boss didn’t work closely enough with her to have dealt with this behavior in the past?

    1. RVA Cat*

      This. She sounds like one of those “kiss up, kick down” people whose bosses have no idea how they treat the staff.

      1. Trout 'Waver*

        Totally agree. If she is one of those people, the boss may be unaware.

        Even worse, the boss may take your silence as a sign that you can work with her.

      2. Old Admin*

        “She sounds like one of those “kiss up, kick down” people whose bosses have no idea how they treat the staff.”

        I’ve worked in Europe, and there they call that sort “a cyclist” =bows upwards, kicks down.

            1. Julia*

              This German woman will have to try that term out in a conversation (it fits my co-worker to a T!) soon to see if other Germans recognize it or if it’s just Old Admin’s co-workers who use that.

    2. Artemesia*

      I’d probably start as gently as Alison suggested but would be a little more blunt if he seemed at all receptive; I’d want to let him know that you think she would be difficult to work with and rude to staff and might create moral problems. Obviously if the first words out of his mouth suggest he can hardly wait to hire her, then tact is necessary, but otherwise I’d be a little more forceful.

      Hope you can cut this candidacy off at its knees; the fun is just starting.

      And I would take a print out of her rude email with the quote from him underlined; that is perfectly outrageous and I doubt any boss would not think so when you emphasize this came 24 minutes after he sent the Email.

      1. snuck*

        I might be inclined to forward her email to the boss and add “Hey Joe, mind if we have a quick chat?”

        And then he can see it in all his glory. He might not look at the time stamps and put two and two together… hence the ‘chat’ but it gives him the chance to see it all.

        1. snuck*

          Didn’t include and should have:

          And in the chat I’d gauge the reaction. Is the boss receptive… You could start with a heads up saying “I just wanted to let you know that in the half hour I was going to send these out I was interrupted and so these took a little longer to go out, but I was surprised to get this email back so swiftly and wanted to touch base to make sure I’ve done the right thing along the way” and if the boss is receptive you can then go on to say “I also wanted to say that Petunia was quite forward and a little aggressive in her approach before the first interview too, and she didn’t actually come through me to your office for the interview – this surprised me a little, and I thought you might like to know in case this is useful to help understand how she works with others”… but you could leave the last part off if the boss appears annoyed.

          1. teclatrans*

            I think forwarding the email and asking for a chat makes sense, but I would still lead off with the 4 calls + aggressive IM, because IMO that is the more egregious behavior, while the email confirms initial impressions. Also, laying it out chronologically helps show that there is an ongoing pattern, and also that she waited to sound the alarm until the pattern became clear.

          2. TheSnarkyB*

            I’d leave out the whole first but, since it seems an unnecessarily roundabout way to get to the point. It also invites the boss to say that she should have sent the emails immediately, which then makes her look like she’s NOT doing her job (if boss had a strong preference).
            I’d use the chronological approach instead, as commenters above/below have noted that that behavior is more egregious.

  2. Mimi*

    I had a candidate yesterday who, in the space of 2 hours, sent me 2 emails, left one voicemail, and called (according to my caller ID) 11 times. When I reached out to her later, I politely (but firmly) told her that, per my message to her, I would be back in touch next week and that I had to respectfully ask her not to call me again.

    1. Liane*

      Wow. If it were me, come next week, the update would be, “I decided not to move forward with your application. I need someone in this position who has much more expertise in the areas of professional norms and business etiquette.”

      Yeah, the last sentence would be unspoken. Everything after “expertise'” at least.

          1. Mimi*

            That’s generally been my experience. When I told the candidate, she seemed pretty bewildered by the idea that her communication was excessive (this is not an entry-level professional, either). She just said “Okay…” and I ended the call.

            Ten minutes later, an email apologizing for all of her calls and emails. Argh!

            1. Blurgle*

              How many times do we hear of people told – and very forcefully at times – to do exactly what she did?

              1. neverjaunty*

                Yes, it’s a shame that career ‘experts’ give job-seekers terrible advice. I’m not sure that hiring personnel are obliged to fix that.

              2. Audiophile*

                I’ve never contacted someone that many times.

                I still cringe at the thought of cover letters I used to send, where I’d talk about following up in a week to schedule an interview. I don’t think I ever followed up, but I certainly remember my mother heavily suggesting that I should.

                I doubt I missed out on any jobs by not keeping to my “threat” to follow up.

                1. Ruffingit*

                  Yeah, I cringe at the stuff I sent too BAAM (Before Ask a Manager). I actually would call to follow up, which was met with “What? Who are you wanting to talk to? Um..yeah, we got your application.” It was such a waste of time and I hated doing it.

            2. Christopher Tracy*

              That’s when I would have emailed a form rejection. May be a little harsh, but it may also be the thing that gets through to her that she needs to listen and back off when people tell her to.

            3. TrainerGirl*

              I had a friend who operated exactly this way. She would apply for a job and then want to know who she could call to “hurry it up”. I don’t think she’d ever worked for a large corporation, and I warned her not to bug anyone, and that she’d just have to wait for the background check, drug test, etc. to be completed before she would get an offer. Thank goodness she listened, and she got the job. But I was amazed that she really thought this was a good idea.

      1. MillersSpring*

        It would be a kindness toward their future development: “You should not have contacted me more than once to follow up on an interview, much less XX times. That’s excessive and rude. I’m moving forward with candidates who have displayed better professional etiquette.”

    2. BringtheCannoli*

      I work in a Career Center at a university, and I had a student who did this to an employer that I referred him to. I sat him down afterwards and explained why it was inappropriate and how he had damaged his relationship with that individual; but he was having none of it. Apparently I had no idea what I was talking about (despite the employer telling me this feedback directly). Long story short, this student is no longer receiving employer referrals.

      1. Andy*

        leave the gun.
        (how many times can I comment about rudeness in one string? Plenty!)

      2. College Career Counselor*

        I find that when you tell them that they’ve damaged the reputation of the university AND their fellow students who are following in their footsteps, it has an impact. Sometimes. Not always, however. I’ve done the same thing you did with students who think that the “rules of professional etiquette” don’t apply to them.

      3. W.Irving*

        Tangentially-related aside, but thank you to all you college career counselors out there! Your friendly but firm, “I completely understand where you’re coming from, but…” advice during my first job hunts were invaluable to me landing my first few jobs. Plus, I would have never gotten my favorite jobs to date without your referrals and tireless efforts at fixing my resumes and cover letters. So thank you, lovely people who help turn us not-so-blissfully ignorant youth into employable adults! You may not hear it enough, but you guys really do change our lives!

    3. CeeCee*

      This call multiple times seems to becoming a trend that I cannot, for the life of me, wrap my head around.

      I came in Thursday to find 12 missed calls after hours and more than half of them were from the same number that called 7 times in less than 6 mins. And according to the timestamp on the 1 voicemail they left, they called 4 times, left a voicemail, and then called another 3 times. IN 6 MINUTES!

      You’re calling a business after hours! What do you expect?!

      1. Not Karen*

        Yikes! That’s even worse than the coworker I had who e-mailed me on the weekend expecting an immediate response. Of course I didn’t discover this until Monday.

        1. Honeybee*

          I had a coworker do this – they emailed me on Sunday at 6:30 pm and then again at 7:30 am on Monday wondering if I got their message.

      2. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Maybe your number is one off from mine, and my father was dialing wrong. He’s been known to do that when he has something he wants to communicate. Nothing earth-shattering or even urgent, mind you, but because it’s on his mind NOW he must talk to me NOW.

        1. Hlyssande*

          I call my mother repeatedly like that because she often doesn’t hear the phone the first time or two.

          But for a business thing? Heck no.

        2. Christopher Tracy*

          My mom is the same way. She will call you five or six times in a row (I once had 12 missed calls from her that turned out to be non-urgent, she just wanted to know why I wasn’t picking up), leave voicemails, send texts, and if you don’t answer right away, will bust out Morse code.

          1. Violet Rose*

            I’m glad it’s not just my mom! I was once in an area with spotty reception and wasn’t checking my phone, so I sent her a message “on holiday, be back in a few days”. When I checked my phone hours later, I had iMessages to/from multiple addresses, an email, and a message on facebook FROM HER BOSS (who was a teacher at my high school, so it wasn’t weird to get a friend request from her) asking me to check in.

            I asked her, now very irritated, if she understood what “on holiday” meant. Her response? “It was such a weird message, I thought someone else was pretending to be you.” ?????

      3. Mimi*

        I feel like candidates don’t realize that most businesses have caller ID – in my case, all calls (missed, forwarded to voicemail, etc.) get routed to my email as well. So I was able to see while checking email in a meeting that this candidate had called 11 times.

      4. Audiophile*

        If I’ve already been contacted for an interview and I can’t get a hold of you, I may call twice in one day. Then, I’ll stop and try the next day or a few days later. I will leave a voicemail and email, if I have one available. After that I let it go. Maybe you found another candidate or didn’t mean to call me. It happens.

    4. Elle*

      I wonder if all of this has to do with the age that we live in – we are no longer able to WAIT for an answer! Things have become instantaneous, and we have turned into an impatient lot!

      1. Rana*

        I wonder if it’s a phone/text distinction, too. I know I’ve fallen into the habit of thinking of texts as things that can sort of sit – I send them to people I don’t expect to respond right away, if at all – but when I call someone, I’m hoping that they’re there so we can have something resolved quickly.

        Multiple calling in the absence of a response is still rude, though, even if it’s tempting.

        1. Jessica (tc)*

          I do that with emails vs. phone calls at work. I had a coworker who (although hourly) constantly checked her work email. One week when I knew she was on vacation, I sent an email asking her to send me some information when she returned the following week. She emailed me back five minutes later and said, “I can’t help you this week. I’m on vacation.” Okay, (1) I already knew that and addressed it in the email and (2) I also received your out-of-office message telling me you’d be back on Monday. The purpose of email was to get it on your radar for the following Monday when you return. *sigh*

          1. JessaB*

            One of my biggest pet peeves is people who cannot read the text of an email and respond as if they had no clue what you said to them. This is partly because I used to supervise an email customer service team, and the biggest issue I had with employees was when the customer gave a tonne of details and the answer missed all of them. Or the customer asked a specific question and it never got answered at all.

            Drives me completely up a wall. If I had gotten the email back that you did, I’d have stewed until the employee came back, printed the thing and sat down with them about “see, I said this and this, and you completely ignored it all. You need to actually read the thing not just skim it.”

        2. KH*

          I’m the opposite. If I text or IM you I expect a pretty quick answer. If someone texts me, I’ll feel obligated to answer within a minute.

          I can wait, I’ll use email.

    5. NJ Anon*

      You are a lot nicer than I would have been
      In my world, there would have been no getting back in touch next week, or, like, ever.

    6. Mirilla*

      I have seen someone do something similar and that person ended up being an absolute nightmare to work with. She called the office repeatedly asking about the status of the job, on many days. Now I know if someone calls repeatedly to write the name down! Their impatience is a sign of their personality and they will display the same behavior as an employee.

    7. I am Fergus*

      I had a recruiter the other day send 6 emails in 9 minutes. Also had one a few years back call 7 times in 2 hours.

  3. Michael*

    As a hiring manager, I would definitely, definitely be interested in this kind of behavior.

  4. Joseph*

    Should you tell your boss? Yes, yes, absolutely yes.

    First off, your boss would absolutely want to know. At the heart of every single interview is one simple question: “Can you make my life easier?” If the answer is no, then you shouldn’t hire the person. Right now, she’s being a major pain, wasting staff time (both yours and apparently your co-workers),

    Heck, even if you wanted to look at it from the purely selfish perspective, this person has already decided that you’re unhelpful, slow to respond, whatever. Do you REALLY want to keep your mouth shut and have her come in for the interview and mention that you weren’t doing your job – you know she’s going to present it as YOUR mistake?

    Alison’s wording is pretty good. I’d add that you need to control your tone here. You’re not angry, you’re just calmly providing information that “hey, this is going on, wanted to make you aware that this is what’s up”.

    1. Sami*

      You make a good point about how the candidate has (probably) made up her mind about the OP.

    2. Jessica (tc)*

      I agree completely. I honestly wouldn’t want to work with someone who has made a snap judgment that I’m too slow at my job when she has no information to base that judgment on (except her selfish desires to be #1 in line for everything you do, apparently. Is she going to demand your time and attention when she’s back in your department?

    3. JessaB*

      Also, as a boss I’d be very interested in knowing how someone treats the staff. There’s a pretty strong rule that if you’re rude to the staff you’re not going to be nice to customers either.

      1. Joseph*

        “There’s a pretty strong rule that if you’re rude to the staff you’re not going to be nice to customers either.”
        At one of my past companies, we would always ask the receptionist who scheduled the meeting and greeted the candidates at the door for her opinion of the candidate before making any offer. Beyond the obvious “you’ll be a pain to work with”, there was also a (fairly reasonable) belief that anybody who treated our low-level staff bad today would treat the customers’ low level staff bad tomorrow.

        1. OP*

          Man, I really wish they would have asked me about the candidates. They’ve hired so many people I got a bad vibe from and they’ve (shockingly, I know) turned out to be horrible.

          1. True Story*

            Sad to hear your gut feeling was right. I had hoped this was just a case of a slightly out of touch interviewee. Maybe a bit overeager and overly familiar.

            Definitely tell your manager about this! You’re the known entity here (I guess they know her, but your work is the most immediate). If she’s going to cause problems and there are other similarly qualified candidates, your boss may want to take the path of least resistance and pass on her.

  5. LBK*

    So…this is weird, but somehow this update actually made it little bit less obnoxious to me. I think that knowing she used to be in the department and already knows your boss personally changes the context a little so that she’s coming off more like she’s just extremely over-eager and she’s not tempering that excitement well. Before it read more like she was just acting entitled by nature of working for the same company, when realistically that doesn’t give you that much more sway as a candidate to dictate how the process goes.

    Your boss may even be encouraging this if she’s acting very casual with the candidate about the interview process – I wonder if she’s informally offered her the role and has positioned the hiring process as basically just a formality? That would definitely explain why the candidate is champing at the bit to move the process along so she can start her new job.

    I’d still say something to your boss, but I’m an iota less annoyed now than I was by the original letter.

    1. Oryx*

      Funny, I had the exact opposite response and, to me, that history makes it even worse.

      If she’s already worked there then she should know how the process works and using her relationship with the boss to essentially tell the OP what to do (as indicated in this update with the email) rubs me the wrong way. Even if the candidate has been informally offered the role, the OP is still someone she has to work with in the future and it’s best to not annoy your prospective new colleagues before you’ve even formally interviewed, regardless of a history with the organization.

      1. Alton*

        That’s an interesting idea that I hadn’t really thought of. You could be right.

        I’m more in the “it makes her look worse” camp, though. When the initial letter was published, I was more inclined to see her as over-eager and nervous. Knowing the context, it looks more like entitlement to me, like maybe she’s taking this for granted and is over-eager more in the sense of acting like she already has the position or has seniority over the OP.

      2. snuck*


        And small things like going direct to the boss’ office for the interview – normally you would give someone (the OP sounds like the admin person scheduling, maybe doing PA work?) a heads up you were there, you don’t just glom up to the room and expect them to drop everything for your interview, you aren’t there for a social coffee time. What if the boss was interviewing someone else still? On a phone call? It was a pretty big assumption to make. Swanning around and talking to everyone in the office is annoying too – it’s sort of… peeing on trees… “I am here, I used to be here, I will be back” behaviour.

        And the boss might not be aware of some of that stuff. He might not be aware she was abrasive, he might not have worked with her at all if he came over to this role after she left, she might have been always great to him but really crappy to those below him.

        Generalisation warning/not intentionally sexist gender assumptions ahead: I find that in my past field (electrical engineering/IT) male bosses didn’t really see or understand the subtle but significant territory crap that women bring… There’s times where I’ve felt like slapping my boss upside the head as he’s stared at me blankly when I’ve said “we need to talk to X about her shortening her work skirt to the point she can’t load the copiers, and yes, it’s a problem” or “Y’s suggestion for a seating change will give her social priority over staff that she doesn’t control and she’s been trying to capture for a long time, I propose seating play Z instead” … The subtle stuff about whether you are clearing your phone messages in time, or responding to emails quickly enough – she’s crossed the line on those and assumed too much for a job applicant, and the boss mightn’t realise this, but she’s sort of pissing on trees already.

        1. Mookie*

          Wait, what’s territorial about the length of a skirt? And why would women be the only ones trying to score seating most favorable to them? I’m legitimately confused.

          1. Roxanne*

            Years ago, I worked with a woman who I believed has serious self-esteem issues. She loved to subtly flirt with men because she loved the attention; there was never any intention of dating any of them. If there were new female employees that she perceived to be a threat to her getting full attention from men, she would start spreading rumours about them. Heels had to be three inches or more; skirts had to be short to get the appreciative glances of her male co-workers of her toned legs.

            It was a bit…sad. In the end, it wasn’t good for her. She was hired as the admin to the VP, a prestigious position where we were. I think he was aware of her behaviour and didn’t like it but still felt she was a decent worker. There was a re-org and a shuffling of staff and without warning, she found herself an admin for a mere director, essentially demoted.

          2. snuck*

            Roxanne has hit the nail on the head for this scenario….

            We had a woman who was always very subtle and it was intimidating to the men she worked with but they couldn’t really put their finger on it, and she was kind of relentless but it was indirect stuff – standing too close etc. She used to be their peer but chose to work sideways in another role and resented leaving their technical role and made sure everyone knew it. When she shortened her skirt to the point that it was physically impossible for her to load the photocopier (one of her jobs) without flashing her knickers we were finally able to pull her aside and say something concrete.

            As for the seating plan, in a cube farm you inevitably wind up with a few staff who can’t sit neatly in the same team area as the rest of the team, maybe they are just over a wall but have to walk around another cube to get to their desks… and a staff member who wanted more authority than they were entitled to once relaid the floor plan out so that she was effectively a gate keeper to a bunch of staff she wanted control of, but wasn’t the manager of – she put herself at the ‘doorway’ to the area, sat them all behind her so they’d have to pass her, and has a history of being a time keeper. Now we can manage the timekeeping tendencies, but we can also change up the seating plan so she doesn’t get to stare everyone down on their way in and out too.

            1. Zillah*

              But I’m not sure that’s a woman thing – I think it might just be a people thing, and you both happen to have encountered it in women.

              1. snuck*

                Everyone does things differently… and there’s no absolute rule that you can apply to anyone.

                That said… there are frequently comments made about women and how they dress, with reference to women who are using their style of dress to flirt or manipulate. This isn’t about whether short skirts are appropriate, this is about using a variety of tools (including dress) to subtly influence the workplace. And my male bosses have really not done well at spotting and managing the more subtle power plays women generally try to pull. I’ve had one or two that were really switched on to it, but most were surprised and then would watch and learn when things like this were pointed out.

                1. addlady*

                  I think that all snuck is trying to say is that in a male-dominated environment, it’s hard to catch women’s power plays. Not because women are more power-hungry, but that due to culture women have a different set of tools to work with.

    2. NK*

      Interesting take on this. I am currently waiting to hear back on an internal job opportunity and the hiring manager is someone I’ve worked for before. Because we have a good rapport, I’m confident that he hasn’t forgotten about me, and so I’m pretty laid back about the process (despite knowing that it is likely an extremely competitive candidate pool and so I am in no way a shoo-in). Of course, everyone reacts to these situations differently, but I’d think being internal and having a good relationship with the hiring manager should make someone less jumpy about the process, not more.

      1. LBK*

        I think the key distinction here is that you’re not feeling like a shoo-in, which is why I mentioned the possibility that the boss is the one encouraging her to think the process is a formality. If that’s not happening, then I’m with you that having a rapport with the hiring manager should make her less jumpy because there isn’t the usually “Are they even thinking about me!?” opaqueness panic that happens during hiring.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think the issue is with the “why aren’t you doing your job?” tone that she’s taking with the OP. If that email this time around had just been “Hey, Lucinda told me you’ll be reaching out about scheduling an interview, and I wanted to give you some times I’m available,” I wouldn’t have a problem with that. But it sounds like in all her communications, there’s been a tone of “why haven’t I heard from you yet, slacker?”

      1. LBK*

        Fair point. The “for more insight” phrasing is definitely obnoxious even to my overly generous reading tendencies – if this is from a place of enthusiasm rather than entitlement, it’s not coming across correctly, and that’s still a problem either way.

      2. Joseph*

        In light of the history, that’s how I read that email too. If it was standalone, maybe you could argue that it was just following up, but after calling 4 (!) times the first time AND harassing another employee to track you down, it definitely comes across as Candidate assuming OP was going to mess up.

        “I had trouble getting in touch with you the first time*, so I’m pre-emptively emailing you to make sure you don’t drop the ball again**.”

        *Not true in reality.
        **Also not true.

        1. OP*

          Yeah, this is exactly how it came across to me. I don’t know if I’m just being overly sensitive about it because people in my department often think I don’t do anything (HA!), but the candidate really rubs me the wrong way.

    4. Meg Murry*

      Yes, knowing that she used to work for the boss makes me think she wasn’t trying to be passive aggressive, but rather was over-eager. Or maybe the person that had your job in the past had to be prodded like she was prodding you? I know there are certain people that I have to keep calling until I get them if I want to get something from them because they don’t check their voicemail and the situation has too many questions to handle via email (and/or they are the type to answer 1 question when you ask 4) – maybe your predecessor was that person? After all, if you didn’t have caller ID, you wouldn’t have known she called 4 times.

      But yes, I’d let your boss know that Jane seems a little intense with her follow-up, and brusque with you – especially if you will have to work together in the future.

      1. really*

        There’s a difference between prodding someone who takes days to get back to you (when you have a deadline) and not even waiting a day let alone 30 minutes.

      2. OP*

        That’s a really good point. I got some background information about the employees who worked here the last time she was an employee and it was dysfunctional as all get out. The person in my role evidently did nothing and that permeated all the way through the department (which was fraught with things like two married co-workers, one of whom’s spouse worked in this department too, were having an affair and both eventually divorced their spouses to marry each other). It was all bad.

        So maybe that’s where she’s coming from, a dysfunctional and fairly useless department. It’s not like that anymore but she wouldn’t know that.

    5. TootsNYC*

      I’m w/ Onyx–this makes her behavior look worse.
      And it would make me even less interested in working with her. She thinks she’s right because she used to work there, and she’s going to be as bossy as hell.

      Before, you might be able to chalk it up to cultural norms. And that you might have a chance to influence her to tone it down, bcs she’d have some level of uncertainty in starting a new job, and might be open to learning.

      She doesn’t–she thinks she knows everything!

      1. Rafe*

        This is closer to my first impression, which is that she’s a diva, or is (or thinks she is) the office superstar. And maybe she is (?). NOT DEFENDING HER BEHAVIOR. But I might look a little more into this possibility, the whole scenario is suggesting a backstory the OP admits is there but is maybe not fully knowing.

    6. Hannah*

      I don’t know if it makes her less obnoxious but it definitely gives a lot more context to her behavior! On the original letter I had commented that she sounded desperate, and I felt bad for her. Now I see I was off base, this person sounds really entitled. But it sounds like she actually may have the standing with the boss to act that way. Interesting update.

    7. Artemesia*

      Comes across the opposite to me. She used to work there and thinks she already has status to scold the OP. The email was outrageous i.e. quoting the boss’s note to her in this scolding way less than half an hour after receiving the note from the boss. The first time I read it, I thought ‘clueless’. Now I think ‘malevolent’. This person would be a nightmare to work with.

      1. LeRainDrop*

        I totally agree with this. The boss needs to know that this is how the candidate is treating the other staff.

    8. Honeybee*

      But if that was the case, there’s no need to email/call repeatedly. The job’s in the bag, so be easy.

  6. Bend & Snap*

    I’d forward the email after the conversation with the boss, just so he can read the tone for himself. That’s super obnoxious.

    Also, I’m not sure what your role is, but the “hop to it” aggression could make her difficult for you to work with if she does get the job. I’ve particularly seen this attitude from some people toward admins (thankfully not in my current company).

    1. TootsNYC*

      I might forward it w/ a note that says, “Is she always so pushy? She was on my case in setting up the interview, too–she called 4 times in 2 hours, and then sent me an email that implied I wasn’t doing my job right since I hadn’t been able to call her back.”

    2. OhNo*

      Agreed that this kind of behavior would make her a pain in the rear to work with. In my experience, the “hop to it” attitude often goes hand-in-hand with the “my work is more important than anything else you could possibly have going on” and “you’re not busy, you’re just lazy” attitudes.

      Definitely something to be avoided if possible.

    3. Jadelyn*

      Or reply to her with something like “I am currently working on these and you will receive yours by the end of today [or other more realistic timing than RIGHT NOW OH MY GOD RIGHT THIS ACTUAL SECOND].” and then BCC the boss on it. Followed by talking directly to the boss about it and the prior history.

  7. Brownie Queen*

    the candidate emails me saying she should have received the meeting request and to please see the highlighted text in the email below from MY boss “for more insight” (candidate’s exact words).

    This definitely needs to be shared with your boss. Despite her having worked there in the past, this is not overeager, this is just plain rude and disrespectful of you and your time.

  8. Mollyg*

    Let this go. She is rude…so what. Does this job require people skills? Many jobs such as computer jobs and other technical jobs and writing jobs don’t. She could be rude because of a disability such as autism spectrum disorder. Are you going to deprive this person of a job and your company of a potentially good worker because of a trait that may not matter?

    1. Adam V*

      1) She already has a job, so no one is depriving anyone of that.

      If you want to say “deprive them of an *opportunity*”, then yes, it’s perfectly to discuss someone’s actions to the person who can make that determination. Note that the OP here is not the one making the call – she’s merely passing along information.

      2) Every job is going to involve some amount of working with your coworkers, and so far the person in question has done a very poor job of treating OP (her potential future coworker) with the respect she deserves.

      1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

        2) Every job is going to involve some amount of working with your coworkers, and so far the person in question has done a very poor job of treating OP (her potential future coworker) with the respect she deserves.

        This. I don’t care if you are the world best ____. If you are rude to your (future) co-workers, I don’t want you on my team.

        There is never an excuse to be rude when speaking to a colleague.

    2. TootsNYC*

      I think it matters! There are tons of OTHER good workers who are at least pleasant to be around and are respectful. Should our OP deprive them of a job, in order to give it to someone who makes everyday life unpleasant?

    3. Laura*

      We don’t speculate about disorders or disabilities on the comments. Please refrain from doing so in the future.

      1. Sunshine*

        Except we do. All the time.

        But I agree we shouldn’t, and appreciate you trying to curb it.

        1. Petronella*

          I actually would love “no speculating on diagnoses or disorders when not mentioned in the OP” to become a norm of this blog, like “no overt hostility, no disbelieving the OP, use Game of Throne character names when possible” are part of the code of conduct.

    4. Andy*

      I think rudeness always matters. I think politeness is an essential part of professionalism. I think rudeness is antithetical to a good work environment. No matter the type of position.

    5. Merida May*

      Could we please not fizzle out in to speculation of whether a person who is being jerky is on the spectrum? Just once?

    6. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Hey Molly! To expand on what Laura wrote, I ask people not to make comments like that because we definitely can’t diagnose based on anecdotes on the internet, and — really importantly — these statements often stigmatize people with those diagnoses. It’s also generally not actionable — it doesn’t change the advice for the person. Thanks!

      1. Mollyg*

        I disagree. It is important to openly acknowledge that some people’s perceived rudeness is outside of their control. Failure to do this leads to discrimination and good workers left out of work.

        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          Here’s the thing, though. It’s actually not outside their control. People with spectrum disorders have more difficulty with social norms, but it isn’t like they’re incapable of learning them or adhering to them once they know them. Plus, we have had people with self-disclosed disabilities on here ask us not to make that kind of speculation! When they are the ones saying it’s harmful, well, they are the authorities on that, and I think we ought to respect their wishes.

        2. VintageLydia*

          But speculating on a POSSIBLE disorder based on behavior that is very common in neurotypical people, and giving them the benefit of the doubt on that basis alone is, to put it bluntly, ridiculous. OP should convey this information to her boss and let them decide.

          And for the record, I know plenty of overly blunt people with ASD, but not this sort of rudeness (at least, not any more than NT people.)

        3. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Agreeing with the two comments above, and noting that this is actually a rule of the site, so please follow it even if you disagree with it. Thank you.

        4. lurker*

          My ADHD is out of my control, and yet it is still my responsibility to get my job done, interact with customers without them ever feeling ignored or missing details, and work as much as I can on the ADHD to successfully achieve all of the above.

          The fact that I have to do that is nobody’s business. I’d be completely devastated if I found out people were speculating I had it and ignoring my errors in the process.

          Do I occasionally bring it up when I’m around somebody who’s overly picky about eye contact, in the hopes of letting them know I’m still paying attention (it’s something I have trouble maintaining despite medication, and appears to be a pattern I picked up as a child to help me concentrate when important words are being spoken…I’m working on it!)?

          Yes, sometimes…but it’s primarily backfired into them being even MORE picky about whether or not I “got that” and making an extra big show of saying it’s not a big deal when I forget one small detail on the third, one-line page of the TODO list (to give an example of how they’re mistakes everybody would make). Because ADHD totally means I’ll miss what they said and not even be able to realize it right!?

          So I stopped. It’s patronizing, is completely backwards from what I actually have trouble with regarding ADHD at work, and I hate it.

          Don’t assume people want your help in this fashion. Please. I wouldn’t want to be yelled at, which doesn’t happen in a healthy office environment anyway, but I would certainly want to know if I were unintentionally rude because of my ADHD! (Maybe less so on the one-offs, but especially if I were this egregious)

          1. Old Admin*

            I have to agree, telling people about a condition (be it arthritis or autistic spectrum, as examples of “physical” and “nonphysical”) will frequently backfire in unpleasant ways.
            I’ve had this happen to me both at work and within a dysfunctional family.
            Work met me with blank stares, and my reputation for being “difficult” worsened.
            Family used the information about me to discredit me in a court case (about custody of an infirm relative). Sigh… sure, it reflects on them, but it saddened me greatly.

          2. JessaB*

            Not to mention on the eye contact thing, there are cultures in which that kind of eye contact is considered incredibly rude and stare-y. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

        5. Miss Nomer*

          This is completely speculation though. The basic fact is that the candidate is being totally rude and that’s not acceptable.

        6. Preux*

          Hi, autistic person here. There is nothing about autism that would force a person to behave as this person is described behaving. It is true that it could cause someone to not easily pick up on the fact that this kind of behavior is inappropriate, but that is something we are capable of learning if taught, just as I hope you might be capable of learning that Internet diagnosis are rude if you hear it enough times.

        7. EmmaLou*

          You can disagree. But this is Alison’s living room and in that living room she’s asked that we not speculate on medical conditions, et al. It’s so important to her that she’s listed it on a lovely embroidered plaque on the wall. Sadly, the embroidery doesn’t show up well in the photos and gets translated to plain text readable to all with a link right above the “Comment” window. It’s a pity the illumination of the borders is exquisite. At least it is in the one I imagine, in the living room I imagine us all sitting in to discuss. Do enjoy the cats. Shoes on or off, Alison? I don’t know if we’ve ever asked….

          1. Old Admin*

            I imagine EmmaLou as an oldtimey Southern lady phrasing the criticism in that beautifully roundabout way… but yet so to the point.

              1. Old Admin*

                Shoes off, I dare say, as my imagined Old World household would supply slippers for visitors.
                Nice carpet! Oh, and look at the framed Miss Manners letter over there. Right next to the row of leather bound books by Captain Awkward, and the fine computer setup (with three flatscreens and its own NAS) humming away on the polished mahogany desk.
                OK, I’ll stop imagining now. ;-)

                1. Bibliovore*

                  Books, oh yes, in the doll house that is in the imaginary AAM land there are floor to ceiling built-in book shelves in The Library.

                2. SebbyGrrl*

                  A library like this?


                  I interviewed there once and only wanted the job to get to use/hang out in that library.

        8. JessaB*

          Mollyg, honestly, no. Not every person deserves every job, nor a chance at it. Reasonable accommodation does not require excusing someone for being rude consistently in a job where they have to work with others. Politeness can be taught (former Special Ed teacher for severely multiply disabled persons here.) And for those who it cannot be, there may be specific jobs they are good at, and there may not be.

          There’s a reason that there is disability income. Not every person can work. It is not discrimination per se to require someone in a job that includes working directly with others or customers to be polite.

          Yes, there are jobs where it doesn’t matter as much, jobs that are not customer facing, that work with only a few employees, with accommodations that explain that the person is not trying to be rude (and someone available to coach and model proper behaviour.)

          But, there is zero evidence here that this particular potential employee has anything other than an entitlement complex.

      2. Allie*

        Thank you, thank you, thank you.

        Without going in to details, I have a lot of experience in this field and it drives me nuts when people armchair diagnose rude behavior as ASD. That really is not my experience with ASD (the typical patient is often the kid who practices social behaviors over and over and would be so careful in a situation like this). I completely agree that it wrongly stigmatizes these disorders as “jerk behavior”.

    7. Bend & Snap*

      It matters a lot. If this is how she treats people when she’s trying to impress them, it doesn’t bode well for being part of the team later.

      All jobs require people skills. Even technology and writing jobs require dealing with people; you can’t do them in a vacuum.

      1. Joseph*

        “All jobs require people skills. Even technology and writing jobs require dealing with people; you can’t do them in a vacuum.”
        True. In fact, I’d go so far as to say communication/people skills sometimes matter EVEN MORE in technology or scientific jobs.

        Here’s why: If you’re in a non-tech job like sales, your customers are usually at least somewhat familiar with what you do. I mean, I might not know why Teapot X is the best on the market (that’s your job! sell me!), but I at least know what a Teapot is and why it’s important to own one.

        In technical jobs, your customers (or internal people you serve) often understand neither what you do, nor why it’s important. So you have to be great at communication to do so in a way that can be understood by someone with little background in the topic.

        1. Turtle Candle*

          Oooh, yeah. Someone I was helping to interview once said that he was interested in the job because he had an “abrasive personality” and “couldn’t let something go when he thought he was right” and so a solitary job like writing suited him. But… he’d still have to work with the rest of the tech writing team (for editing and assignments) and the development team (for information), and none of us relished the idea of dealing with someone who voluntered up front that he was abrasive and stubborn. Yes, the writing part of the job is largely solitary–but you still have to work with coworkers, and so soft skills are still necessary.

    8. VintageLydia*

      “Many jobs such as computer jobs and other technical jobs and writing jobs don’t.”

      In what universe is that true anymore? Maybe back when computers were weird futuristic devices that no one knew how to work and you’re only potential employees were rude bores, but that hasn’t been the case in at least a decade, probably longer (after all, the oldest people in IT are likely grandparents now if not, ya know, dead of old age.)

      And even if she has ASD, this behavior is still not acceptable and is really offensive to actual people with actual ASD because more often than not, rude people are neurotypical and it’s not an indication of any particular pathology. If she doesn’t get this job because of her behavior towards the OP, that’s the candidate’s fault, not OP. Besides, Alison has asked MULTIPLE times not to armchair diagnose people. We are not doctors. We don’t have all the relevant information. And in almost all cases the advice is the same so it’s at best a red herring.

      1. neverjaunty*

        Yes, thank you. The idea that a job doesn’t require “people skills” is not only nonsense, it’s disproven by OP’s letter – the lack of people skills is causing problems for this job candidate in applying for the position, and would be an ongoing issue in her work with others, including the OP.

      2. addlady*

        Yes, I know many people with Autism who are good-natured and sweet. Sometimes they say blunt things, but autistic doesn’t mean malicious or rude.

      3. MashaKasha*

        Right. I’ve probably worked with dozens of people on the spectrum in my career. Gave birth to one (who is also an IT professional, by the way). Might be one myself for all I know. Somehow everyone I’ve known was able to get their job done without acting like they’re the king or queen of the office. ASD has nothing to do with the ridiculous crap she’s pulling.

      4. Solidus Pilcrow*

        “Many jobs such as computer jobs and other technical jobs and writing jobs don’t.”

        In what universe is that true anymore?

        Here Here! As a technical writer (it’s both technical and writing — see what I did there?), a huge portion of my job is interacting with people and building relationships. You won’t get anything done if you piss off your subject matter experts or approvers.

      5. catsAreCool*

        As someone who works at a technical job, yes, people skills matter. Where I work, we don’t have to be social butterflies, but we are expected to treat each other nicely.

    9. NK*

      That’s really up to the boss to decide though. OP isn’t saying “don’t hire her”, she’s saying “here’s some information about the candidate that you may (or may not) find useful”.

      1. Sarianna*

        This reminded me of that meme that says to replace ‘political correctness’ with ‘treating people with respect,’ and made me smile. :) Thanks, The Other Dawn!

    10. hbc*

      Yes, I will deprive a person of a job (and give it to another qualified candidate) if she can’t even keep civil while setting up an interview. If you don’t have people skills enough to avoid being actively annoying to your future coworkers, you better be bringing a lot of really good skills to the table. And have a plan to work remotely.

      1. Jeanne*

        Companies ” deprive” someone of a job every time they pick one person when 20 applied. You can set the criteria you want as long as you follow the law. The law certainly allows denying a job for rudeness.

      2. JessaB*

        Especially if she’s doing it to someone who might be either lateral to her or below her on the org chart. You just don’t treat your downstream that way. If you can’t respect the admin who has the job of caring for the boss’ time, and you end run around people who are probably supposed to have a basic idea about who is in the building, why would anyone want to hire you?

    11. Mental Health Day*

      Who wants to work with or manage a rude person regardless of the cause?

    12. J.B.*

      Please don’t be ableist. It’s fine to kindly point out the boundary to someone who doesn’t recognize it. And I happily fall on the side of making the effort. That doesn’t mean you should ignore the boundary.

    13. (Another) B*

      Are you going to deprive this person of a job and your company of a potentially good worker because of a trait that may not matter?

      But it DOES matter. So, yes.

    14. everything matters*

      This type of comment is what leads to a teacher’s aid getting hit and nothing being done because the student has/is ………… (fill in the blank).

    15. MashaKasha*

      This trait absolutely matters, because, by insisting that her peers/subordinates drop everything else they’re doing and make her every request their top priority, and by conveniently shielding the management from the fact that she’s doing this to people, she has the capacity to slow a team’s work down to a halt.

      Her people skills or lack thereof do not matter. Whether she’s on the spectrum or not most definitely does not matter. What matters is that she forces her colleagues (possible future colleagues at this point, mind you) to make her their top priority when there is no earthly reason for them to do so.

    16. Mallory Janis Ian*

      It does matter. If someone acts like a rude jackass, I’m not the one depriving them of a job, or the opportunity for a job, if I don’t like working with rude jackasses. If they don’t want to be passed over for being a rude jackass, they should stop being one.

    17. LizzE*

      Unless someone works remotely and performs a job that entails long periods of solitude, most jobs require solid interpersonal skills. I’ve worked so-called writing jobs and I absolutely had to flex my people skills. I use to be a grant writer — one who preferred working from home, in solitude, when deadlines loomed — and I still had to work and communicate with other departments to ensure my proposals reflected the organization’s work/mission.

      “Cultural fit” is often a dirty term to job seekers, but it’s instances like this where it is appropriate to consider a candidate’s ability to work on a team. Rudeness might be something you can ignore, but it can be a hindrance to productivity and a morale killer for other employees.

      1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

        Unless someone works remotely and performs a job that entails long periods of solitude

        My first thought was lighthouse keeper! And then I spent a significant amount of time wondering if there were still open lighthouse keeper positions — there are! However the job description I saw included:

        The ideal candidate will have extensive knowledge about lighthouses, be friendly and outgoing, and well-steeped in local maritime history.

          1. JessaB*

            Yep. Loads of people love lighthouses and love to take tours, and even some that are no longer operating as actual guides to shipping have people there to do history tours and things. A number of them have been let out to people who do restoration work because they’re amazing historical buildings.

        1. LizzE*

          Hahaha. I guess even the most isolated jobs in the world require flexing your interpersonal skills.

      2. Isabel C.*

        This. I’m an introvert by nature, would be glad to work from home all the time, but still have to interact with people–and when I do, I’m under obligation to be polite and respect boundaries.

    18. Artemesia*

      Oh tough bananas. Rude people rarely are so very special in what they can contribute that the pain they inflict with their rudeness is counter balanced. And this wasn’t clueless behavior i.e. many calls, this was nasty behavior i.e. quoting the boss and suggesting the OP was not doing her job. I frankly don’t care about the poor poor applicant who has some disability that makes them boorish. If they can’t learn adequate social behavior (and people on the spectrum who are able to do the work generally can learn adequate social behavior) then you don’t want them derailing your operation.

    19. CarrieUK*

      It absolutely does matter. If I found out a candidate was treating the admin on my team that way, they’d be out like a shot. We’re all part of the same team and they need to act like it.

      Plus, no matter how good of a worker someone is, if they can’t get along with the rest of the team they are nothing but a headache for me.

    20. snuck*

      People with Autism are not necessarily going to be this rude.

      I’m kind of sick of seeing Autism thrown around in here everytime some one is rude or inconsiderate. 1/68 people have Autism. Far, far, sky high far more people are rude than have Autism.


      1. Honeybee*

        This too. Having autism doesn’t make you rude, either. Autism may involve not picking up on social cues and having an awkward/hard time interacting with people socially, but it doesn’t necessarily make you rude.

    21. Honeybee*

      I’m going to go with a solid no here.

      I work at a technology company; my job is technical and also requires a lot of people skills. And I work every day with a lot of technical positions/computer positions that ostensibly DON’T need people skills, but really do. It’s a common misconception that if you are a computer programmer or software engineer you don’t need people skills. Except that those folks work on very large teams and are probably working on just one piece of a larger software package. They have to communicate their process and results to other people, sometimes people who don’t understand the technicalities of their job. Unless you work at a one-person company, your job is going to involve interfacing with at least one other person. I work with software developers who talk at me in code (uh, I don’t speak C#, can you translate that please?).

      The flip question is why should I hire someone who is rude if I can potentially hire an equally qualified person who is not rude?

      1. Dweali*

        Because of the fact that IT people have to explain their processes to someone with little to no technical skills or figure out what a user really means when they say “its not working but it did before and now it’s not doing the thing it’s supposed to do” I say they have to have communication skills rivaling that of extremely high performing sales or PR people

    22. EAB*

      I’m a software engineer by training, now in engineering management. I manage a team of software engineers, and am responsible for hiring and sometimes firing them. As such, it’s a total myth that developers don’t need people skills.

      I would never hire someone who is rude in this way, because “people skills” are pretty darned important to me and the ~20 other engineers on the team whom that person has to interact with on a daily basis. If you can’t deal with a 30-minute wait, that’s a strong signal to me that you’re going to be difficult to deal with when I need you to wait 24 hours for code review and then rough up your idea in the review meeting. It suggests that if I as the engineering manager disagree with your approach to solving problem X, that you’re going to try to go around my back to my director. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

      I’ve dealt with enough software special-snowflakes to know that if you can’t follow basic rules about how to get along with your coworkers and management, you’re not a good worker in software or any other field. I don’t care what your code looks like — those personal skills are just as important.

    23. Hiding on the Internet Today*

      I find this comment pretty incorrect.

      I have a team of high powered computer tech people, some of whom may be on the spectrum. Our effectiveness relies on being good to work with, and people skills, like any other skill set, are learnable. There is no reason to be rude to your colleagues, and at the interview stage this kind of behavior will rightly knock someone out of the running.

      Good workers learn, or come with, the skills they need to support the company and the team, whether those skills be new tech or social.

      We like to have fairy tales of the brilliant jerk, but there are lots of brilliant non jerks, and I’ll hire them, because they make more productive teams.

  9. BringtheCannoli*

    Would it ever be appropriate to say something to her directly? For example, “I am so excited to hear you are interested in this position, and I am looking forward to speaking with you further. Please note, however, that it may take me some time to process these communications, so please contact me only if it has been more than 1 business day.” Or something less snarky?

    1. NK*

      I don’t think that is snarky at all, and I think it’s perfectly appropriate. Maybe to soften the tone a bit, the last sentence could say, “Please note, however, that it may take me up to one business day to process these communications due to other work priorities that come up, but I assure you I haven’t forgotten about you!”

    2. Levsha*

      I’m wondering this as well. I run into this occasionally and sometimes I’m not even annoyed, I just want to explain to candidates that company policy is that we respond to emails within one business day, so if it hasn’t even been 24 hours, no need to panic that I’ve forgotten you!

    3. TootsNYC*

      I might be more blunt, actually.

      “Hi, Candidate. I’ll be getting this out to you shortly. I’m going to ask you to be a bit more patient–as you can see from the time stamp, it’s only been 27 minutes since Boss let me know what next steps she wants to take. And since you’ve worked here before, you know that there are lots of things on my desk, all with different timeframes. I won’t be able to reply instantaneously to your requests, and nagging me won’t actually make it possible for me to reply more rapidly. I’m sure you can understand that, especially since you’ve worked here.
      You’ll have your meeting request by the end of the day.”

      1. Dweali*

        I like the straight forward approach but I would leave out the ‘nagging’ part….this person seems to be the type that would spin it to OPs manager about how rude and unprofessional OP is

        1. Christopher Tracy*

          Exactly. I’d cut out that sentence and the one after it so the rude candidate can’t use it as ammo against OP.

  10. Trout 'Waver*

    This reminds me of the old (paraphrased) adage, “You can tell someone’s character by the way they treat support staff.”

    Rude and pushy. ugh.

    1. Jen OT*

      Or subordinate staff (for lack of a better term) in general. That’s a big pet peeve of mine. There is no reason to be rude just because you perceive yourself to be “above” someone else.

    2. Hlyssande*

      Support staff, waitstaff, janitorial staff, anyone who could remotely be construed as subordinate.

      So rude. And that rudeness can rightfully cost someone an opportunity.

    3. Dweali*

      You ever notice that the people that treat support/janitorial/etc staff with respect are also more likely to consider these people colleagues/co-workers and will refer to them in those terms

      1. LizzE*

        Yup. I am currently in a temp position, supporting a C-level executive and a senior director. The C-level (and department head) is friendly with everyone and talks to the cleaning crew the same way he would talk to the CEO. When he copies me on emails to set up meetings he always refers to me as his colleague.

        The senior director is obsessed with hierarchies, exerting her authority when she is the most senior person in the room and with the idea that everyone has a place. I have actually seen her wince while speaking to a maintenance guy in our building. When she copies me on emails, she always to make it clear that I am her assistant (and that she is important enough to have one).

        I’ll be made permanent this fall, when my org’s next fiscal years starts. My new role will be 20-30% supporting the C-level executive and 70-80% project management. The senior director is struggling with this idea because she refuses to see me as anything other than an admin (even though I had 5-6 years as a marketing and development professional prior to joining the organization). Plus, she is losing me, which is major demotion in her eyes.

        1. Petronella*

          LizzE, congrats on your upcoming promotion and I look forward to an update wherein we hear about the senior director’s efforts to “put you in your place” by asking you to take her lunch order, referring to you as her assistant, and related shens.

  11. AnonyMeow*

    Depending on how receptive to employees’ feedback and ideas the boss is, I’d alert the boss.

    This exchange reminds me of a horrible hire we had last year, for whom the “insight” phrase would have been so natural. I knew she would be a poor fit from a few exchanges I had with her over the phone and in person and brought up my concern to my bosses. They went ahead and hired her regardless, saying that “we don’t really think she’ll work out, either, but there’s no harm in trying her out.”

    It turns out, there is a ton of harm in hiring someone whom nobody has confidence in from the get-go–she did more damage in the less than 4 weeks she was with us than I could have ever imagined. All the issues that cropped up were exactly extensions/variations of what my gut told me. So, I’d bring it up unless you know for certain that your boss won’t consider it with fairness and open mind.

    1. Trout 'Waver*

      I hate that approach. At least your boss fired her instead of keeping her around for another year and a half. A bad team member is way worse than an empty spot on the org chart.

    2. MoinMoin*

      That’s terrible for all involved. For all the obvious reasons from your end, but presumably she was coming from another position which she left only to end up in a job in which everyone else knew she wouldn’t succeed, then unemployed altogether a month later. I totally understand how and why she wouldn’t inspire a lot of sympathy and maybe her last employer was relieved to be rid of her, but why even get involved in that mess?

      1. AnonyMeow*

        Luckily, she was coming out of being a stay-at-home mother for a while, so this probably wasn’t a huge tragedy for her beyond the short-term opportunity cost and obvious emotional turmoil she must have gone through. I’m sure she doesn’t list the position in her resume at all. That fact–that she wasn’t leaving another job to join us–certainly informed the bosses’ decision to hire her.

    3. Marillenbaum*

      Okay, that’s a TERRIBLE line of thought from your bosses. It’s a big investment to bring someone on, and in that time you’ve spent onboarding, training, and ultimately firing the bad employee, your other candidates have moved on. Even if one is still available, do they want to work for the sort of company that takes such a cavalier approach to jerks?

      1. Trout 'Waver*

        I’ve heard this line of thought applied to temps, not permanent employees.

      2. AnonyMeow*

        This incident pushed me closer toward the “I gotta get out” territory, for sure. The month I spent with her was a complete write-off; I got nothing done. It was a learning experience for me, though, because I really had to bite my tongue a whole bunch of times, and try hard to look at “the way we do things” from her perspective and see the deficiencies (which, yes, there were).

    4. MashaKasha*

      Is “insight” a new buzzword? We’re the uncool kids I guess, and everything gets here two years late. Which is a good thing, because now I have two years to mentally prepare myself to hearing the word “insight” from my colleagues, in contexts that have nothing insightful about them.

      They already caught me by surprise once with “capture” a few years ago, and that took a lot of getting used to. I thought you only captured prisoners and feral cats.

      1. Honeybee*

        It *is*! People use it all the time at work. But then I use it too when chatting in meetings – it always makes people nod their head like I’ve said something extremely erudite.

      2. Lindsay J*

        “Insight” is on my list of words that I use when I want to say something much more rude. “Please advise” is another phrase on that list.

    5. Artemesia*

      Every single person I hired in spite of some characteristic or behavior that concerned us during interviews e.g. talked too much, was boorish or aggressive etc etc came back 10 fold on the job. I had a very difficult kind of job to fill and it was hard to find candidates with the odd combo of education and experience who would work for what we paid so we couldn’t always get the optimal candidate — but they do show you what they will be like during the interview process and it won’t get better.

      1. Anon for Today*

        Could not agree with this more. If a person thinks it’s okay to be rude during an interview, they will definitely think it’s appropriate behavior on the job, as well. I was forced to hire a woman who interrupted me constantly during her interview, and guess what she did the entire time she worked for me? It was a nightmare.

    6. Jeanne*

      There’s no harm? How about the effect on morale for your current staff? How about if you lose good people because they don’t want to work with bad people?

      1. AnonyMeow*

        Seriously. I distinctly remember thinking, about two weeks in, “okay, if she’s going to be around much longer, I’m going to start looking.” She was going to be at the same level as me, and I’d have worked very closely with her, so this was a serious consideration!

    7. JessaB*

      I don’t get that, never did. It costs a whole lot of money to interview, check references, hire, train, bring someone into the company. Why on earth would you waste that money when you know the person isn’t what you want? Why subject your staff/customers to that?

  12. Faith*

    I don’t know if this is a good suggestion, but it came to mind. I would email the boss with the timeline in bullet points and sub points, with the subject line ‘Can we talk?’. While discussing it verbally is important, I think seeing it bulleted out will have a strong impact.

    Either way, yes, tell the boss ASAP.

    Waiting for an update to the update!

  13. Vera*

    Please share this information!

    I am hiring for a role right now, and only after we decided to take one candidate out of the running did our recruiting partner tell us how rude he was to her when she was trying to schedule the interview. He pushed back hard on our proposed interview dates, saying something to the effective of: “You guys need to be more flexible. It’s unacceptable to give such short notice to candidates. My world does not revolve around Company.”

    We begged her to not withhold this kind of information in the future, but she said she felt an obligation to present candidates in an unbiased fashion. I agree with that, but your first and foremost obligation is to the well-being of your company and department. Share this feedback!

    1. MoinMoin*

      Reporting behavior in a calm, factual, tone counts as unbiased! I’m glad you made it known to her, though, for the sake of all involved.

    2. TootsNYC*

      I would tell her I *want* her bias.

      That kind of bias is important. She is part of the test. The job candidates need to pass that test.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        +100. If more people would report data like this, fewer jackasses would be hired by unwitting hiring managers and search committees.

        1. Indigo Montoya*

          I reported my concerns to the executive director about a job candidate who would replace my supervisor due to things brought up during the interview. (I sat in on final interviews as well as had resumes ahead of time). The person was hired, and is still there years later causing havoc, and I was let go months later.

      2. Vera*

        Agreed! After all, the eventual hire will be working with our recruiting partner, too! Is this someone she wants to work with?

    3. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      One would think that a candidate saying “My world does not revolve around Company” would be very, very pertinent information for hiring!

      1. Vera*

        Yes, exactly!

        Our interview dates *were* just a few days after phone screens and required most candidates to fly in, so I definitely would have understood if a candidate couldn’t make that work. But there’s a million other ways of saying that, including something as simple as: “Unfortunately none of those dates work for me. But I am available A, B, and C.”

    4. SL #2*

      Holy christ. We’re hiring right now, and the absolute first thing we’re screening for is how the candidate treats me (the admin) in emails and phone calls. We’re absolutely wavering on a candidate right now because he’s been rather… iffy… in emails with me.

      1. neverjaunty*

        You should not be wavering at all on rejecting that candidate. This is how he treats you when he’s trying to make his very best impression; he’s not going to have a change of heart once he’s hired.

        1. SL #2*

          Oh, no, we would reject him right off the bat if he was rude in any way to me or to our front desk receptionist (who we ask for her impressions during the hiring process too). But it’s just taking him longer than anticipated to reply to a lot of things that I send him (scheduling for interviews, asking for writing samples and references, etc) than anything that, say, his would-be boss sends him (that are all about the exact same thing).

          1. roisindubh211*

            “it’s just taking him longer than anticipated to reply to a lot of things that I send him (scheduling for interviews, asking for writing samples and references, etc) than anything that, say, his would-be boss sends him ”

            I’d call that rudeness, tbh.

      2. snuck*

        Do you have enough other quality applicants? If so… stop burning fuel on one that’s an unknown and just move on from them.

        I’d only sit on the fence for a candidate if they were amazing on all the other fronts, and I felt it might be a language or cultural difference that was causing the communication to be less smooth.

      3. catsAreCool*

        ” the absolute first thing we’re screening for is how the candidate treats me (the admin) ” Good for you!!! That is so important.

  14. A. Nonymous*

    Oh dear. That’s really horribly rude! I don’t care how high on the ladder you are or who you know, that’s really out of line! If this is how she treats you, how is she going to treat say, cleaning staff or maintenance people? I’d mention it to your boss, depending on how comfortable you are with them.

  15. Rusty Shackelford*

    I’ve got a really bad feeling about this update. It sounds like your boss already likes her enough that he might discount anything negative he hears about her (“oh, that’s just how she is” or “you just took it the wrong way.”)

    Honestly, since I’m a coward, I’d probably go all p/a on this one and forward it with an apology to Boss. “I’m sorry, it took me about an hour to get all of the meeting requests sent, and I guess Jane was expecting something sooner, based on this message. I hope it didn’t cause any problems.” That way, if his response is “Oh, but Jane is awesome and anyone who doesn’t like her is WRONG” (since you’re already getting the impression that the office loves her), at least you wouldn’t have put your head on the chopping block.

    But like I said, I’m a coward. ;-)

    1. Buffay the Vampire Layer*

      I agree with you – this update makes me feel very uncomfortable advising OP to march on over to Boss with this new information. Better to present the information completely neutrally (and I really like the apology idea) and gauge from Boss’s reaction whether to continue the conversation with more background. This makes me feel like OP could really put her foot in it if Boss thinks Jane walks on water.

      Pocket sand!

      1. Jeanne*

        I reacted the same way that it could be dangerous to be the messenger. I would advise reporting in person. Start with a small piece of info and gauge the boss’s reaction. Then if needed you can back off and say all is good.

    2. Trillian*

      It’s the OP’s call, but I would recommend not. The candidate’s behaviour is not OK, and the OP is not OK with it. The boss might be left with the impression that they can get off with hiring a capable but unpleasant person because the OP would accommodate their behaviour.

    3. BringtheCannoli*

      I’d be worried that apologizing would then give the impression that you did actually do something wrong, even when you didn’t. I got dinged recently in a performance eval for taking blame when something wasn’t my fault or was out of my control.

  16. Allisonthe5th*

    Yes! Definitely speak up! There are always people who put on a great face around people they believe to be “important”, but treat everyone else like crap. I would take Alison’s suggestion and find a tactful, non-emotional way of reporting that behavior, but it says far more about who she is as a person than a judgment about you. We recently had a Sr. Leader leave the organization and my boss was trying to decide if he should pull all the stops to get him back. I said, “He may have been nice to you, but he had a different face with people he valued less.” Lo and behold, my boss decided perhaps it was good attrition and moved on. I hope you have a similar experience.

  17. JenVan*

    Never behave rudley to the gatekeeper! Not sure what type of position OP holds, but it sounds admin. It always amazes me when people treat support staff like garbage. First of all, it shows their total lack of character. Secondly, that only gets you put at the bottom of the pile! I know when I did admin work and people treated me like I should have nothing better to do than serve them, I would go out of my way to make them my last priority. I know that’s not the most mature way to act, but you get what you give.

    1. snuck*

      I once reminded a staffmember that admin staff are booking your travel and selecting your plane meals and seats and hotel rooms, sorting out your payroll hiccups and filling the copier and stationary cupboard with your preferred pens… or not.

      1. Honeybee*

        Yeah, this. When I was in my graduate program some of the students treated the admin like crap, and I was like…dude, the admin makes sure that your grant applications and application to graduate and dissertation filings go in on time. Or, you know, they don’t.

        1. snuck*

          A competent admin person is worth working hard to retain… it’s not just paperwork… it’s the fact they know what’s what out there, how to get stuff done, how to approach people, they usually have a sleeve full of favours (and know how to collect and retain them), and they Sort Stuff Out. A good admin is as valuable as any other good staff member in a specialist role – Admin IS a specialist role when done right… I actually believe to some extent in Secretary’s Day (but not, because I believe all staff should be valued appropriately through out the year, not just because a calendar designated day arrives).

          1. JenVan*

            I’ve worked in nearly every capacity as one in a law office can. From chauffeur (much like Lincoln Lawyer), to secretary, to paralegal, to licensed attorney. I would oftentimes feel much vindication when clients refused to speak with me about their case and when they made it to lawyer, lawyer would say, ” I don’t know, let me ask JenVan what’s going on”. Ha.

            Once the first statement made it to them and they realized it’s either $175 for my time or $550 for lawyer’s time, they suddenly couldn’t get enough of ME.

            A good paralegal or legal secretary is worth the money it takes to keep him/her around.

        2. blackcat*

          This is a consistent problem among our new international grad students (who all happen to be male) in my department. Every year, the new batch has to get a talking to about how important the support staff (all female, except the lab support) are.

          The support staff bends over backwards to help me with things. They’re great! I go out of my way to be super helpful & nice to them too. And so even the times that *I* have failed at paperwork, it magically gets taken care of.

          1. NoBadCats*


            I began my career as a receptionist at a big five accountancy. My input was considered regarding new hires and interns. If they treated me like crap, I noted it. All interns had to, just like the midlevel auditors, sign in and out on my tearsheet at the front desk so that we knew where they were and what they were doing. Interns and auditors who blew this off or said, “Oh you know where I am.” were quickly reminded that it was THEIR responsibility to track their location, I was only responsible for updating the daily schedule which required their input.

            Years later, my time as a receptionist really paid me well. I am always super courteous and friendly with admins and other “invisible” office staff. This has resulted in innumerable perks just… appearing my my space, like a spendy tilting footrest (because my feet swell when I sit at a desk), an extra power strip to plug into which I can plug my heating pad on those days I need it, a new incandescent desk lamp when the fluorescent went all disco on me, the exact pens I like for editing in hard copy… the list goes on.

            But ever since my very first days working in a professional office setting, my method has been: do NOT piss off the admins or IT, either one of these departments can make your life at work wonderful or horrible. Act accordingly.

            1. Old Admin*

              I agree, my time as a system administrator taught me to be informative and considerate towards IT.
              I always: ask colleagues if they already heard of a bigger problem, put a clear priority on my IT requests (low, moderate, house on fire ;-), phrase nicely/with understanding, and supply details on what I could find out. The phone only is picked up in the rare case of workstation completely crashing and reboot impossible.
              The result is fast and excellent service, and apologetic messages if things can’t be fixed.

      2. OP*

        Not even going to lie…I do this with coffee. If people are acting like my time isn’t worth anything and they’re so much more important, I don’t stock the coffee they like.

    2. catsAreCool*

      I’ve never understood why people act rudely to other people when they think they can “get away with it”. Even if the admin or whoever doesn’t put you at the end of the list (and since someone has to be at the end of the list, that seems like a good place for rude people), what’s the point? When I worked in fast food, a few customers were just rude, even though I hadn’t done anything but welcomed them. I could kind of understand rudeness if I’d messed up or spilled coffee on them, but that wasn’t it. Maybe they get a feeling of power from it? Maybe they feel like they’re the center of everything, and people “below” them should be treated badly? Maybe their parents did this too, so they think it’s normal? And yet they have to live with themselves. I wouldn’t want to be that kind of person.

      1. Julia*

        I think some People are just rude, period. And some are probably rude at core, but have to hide it in front of their superiors (see the “kiss up, kick down” from above), so they let it out where they can.

    3. Artemesia*

      I was in a department which was merged into another department and watched my boss who had a frigging PhD in Organizational Theory totally alienate the key departmental AA the first week. It was just so horrifyingly bad that it was entertaining to watch this slow train wreck. (that was right after the shouting match between my department head and her new boss (both of whom had PhDs in organizationally related disciplines) A bright 8 year old should be able to figure out that this was to say the least unwise.

      Heck I just brought the 8 or so support staff that did work for me a fancy cookie on Admin Support day and modest but thoughtful gifts at Christmas (a crate of clementines, a loaf of fancy holiday bread — nothing expensive) I always had great service from all of them although I was just one of many many people they provided support for and not their boss.

  18. MarinaZ*

    This person already works in the same company and yet, no one told the OP that she used to work in same department? I think that’s a bit odd. For the OP to say that she wouldn’t feel comfortable working with the candidate seems a bit much to me–evidently other people work with the candidate and have in the past.

    1. Mookie*

      Everyone who has a job history has worked with someone. OP has valuable, first-hand experience with this particular candidate.

    2. OP*

      The last time the candidate worked here was way before my time, so I don’t know the whole situation but I know enough. The department now is a utopia compared to the dysfunction she used to work in while here…maybe she just thinks that kind of dysfunction is the norm now and that it’s up to her to take charge because nobody else is doing their jobs.

      I didn’t find out that she used to work here until after her initial interview but it wasn’t exactly “need to know” information for me.

  19. Knitchic*

    Late to reply to this, but please tell your boss. We had a similar type person working with us years back. Very few people could deal because she was super abrasive if you didn’t do things exactly how she felt they should be done. To the supervisors she was sweetness and light. They just thought she was meticulous. Believe me the sigh of relief when she found another job…if she showed up back now that we’ve had lots of tuner and management shifts I’d probably trip over myself telling our current boss. Bring those messages to your boss. I would phrase it as asking for feedback on your response time first maybe and then show the timeline for her responses to you. If they end up hiring her at least you’ll know it wasn’t for lack of having all the information.

  20. Finny*

    The person who used to be in the department is clearly trying to demonstrate to the boss she can do your job better than her. Also remember you do have to drop everything you are doing and do what the boss wants unless the boss says otherwise. All being said, I would watch out and be sure your position is not in jeopardy. A conversation with the boss is needed.

  21. AcidMeFlux*

    I was just thinking that, over the years, in tons of different jobs, whenever someone got fired or left (just before they would have been fired), the communal debriefing that took place would always consist of “She was awful to the receptionist when she came for her first interview but I didn’t want to say anything” or “I just got a really bad feel about him the first day when he said X”…..there’s are just about always clues abounding. I’ve learned to trust my instincts and share my opinions (carefully and discreetly) with the appropriate supervisors. Bad hires waste everyone’s time.

    1. Finny*

      Agreed. In this circumstance with the employee already in case you must tread cautiously. The other issue is why did the person leave the group? Why are they trying to come back? How did the group dynamic change when they left. Folks often forget that stuff rehire and think ugggg.

      1. OP*

        This is the kind of department that once you leave, you NEVER come back. So it’s interesting to me that she came back at all, honestly. We’ll see what happens.

  22. GoForth*

    I’ve been working with the same company for years – unusual these days I know. We frequently have people who leave come back in a year or two. It’s not unusual for us to forget the traits that made them difficult to work with, only for it to all come rushing back a week after their rehire.

    So a quick chat with the boss may help him recall that things weren’t all rosy the first go round. It’s possible to like someone and still find them difficult to work with.

  23. Petronella*

    In my experience, staff who used to work for the organization x number of years ago and have now returned, are often a real pain in the rear to work with. They act entitled, resist learning any updates to technologies or procedures, seem to think they have more of an in with the boss than they should, and act as though they have more seniority than they have.

  24. OP*

    I’m not sure anyone is checking this thread anymore but I wanted to provide another update, and it’s not great.

    The day after I sent this letter in, I learned that the candidate was hired. She starts tomorrow…I see another update in the future.

    1. Mona Lisa*

      Oh, no! We’ll be watching for further updates. Hopefully you and the other commenters are right about the dysfunction that used to be rampant, and she’ll recognize how competent you are once she’s in the office.

      We can dream, right?

    2. Seen this before*

      I saw your update here, so I am copy/pasting (hopefully you’re getting email notifications!!)

      I am not a psychologist, but…

      This woman is out-of-the-gate projecting very clearly that she’s going to be a bully the second she steps into that office.

      So often, bullies bully because they are insecure, and by being the loudest and meanest and pushiest, people won’t notice.

      And they’re insecure, because they have reason to be.

      She might be great on paper and she might even interview well, but this woman is going to make your life a walking nightmare, and she’s probably not actually that good at her job. She’s all bluster, no meat.

      Set your boundaries very early, and do not let them falter, or she will grind you down.

      1. OP*

        It’s been a strange dynamic so far because our entire management team knows her and is at least courteously friendly with her. I’m treading very carefully for now but if she attempts to bully now that she’s here, I’m not going to hesitate to talk to our bosses about her.

        And really, now that she’s a regular employee, I can treat her like one. That means if she interrupts when I’m working and tries to get me to do something immediately, I have the freedom to say, “I’ll add it to my list but I won’t get to it immediately because I’m working on X and Y right now.”

        1. AD*

          This is a loooong time after your update, OP, but I do hope you provide us with an end-of-year update on what happened!

  25. Seen this before*

    I am not a psychologist, but…

    This woman is out-of-the-gate projecting very clearly that she’s going to be a bully the second she steps into that office.

    So often, bullies bully because they are insecure, and by being the loudest and meanest and pushiest, people won’t notice.

    And they’re insecure, because they have reason to be.

    She might be great on paper and she might even interview well, but this woman is going to make your life a walking nightmare, and she’s probably not actually that good at her job. She’s all bluster, no meat.

  26. curious*

    I’m reading some old Ask A Manager columns while on a break at work. I know this post is from a few years ago. How did things turn out OP? Are you still with the company or did you leave due to this job candidate being hired? If you are still there, did the job candidate become a bully or calm down her antics?

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