can I be friends with candidates who I reject for jobs, telling an employee to talk more normally to foreign colleagues, and more

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

1. Can I be friends with candidates who I reject for jobs?

I am a hiring manager and I meet A LOT of candidates that I do grow to like. I have had some applicants ask if we can be friends after I send them a rejection email. I’m new to the area and only have work friends, so I really do want to be their friend! Can I?

How often is this happening? If on occasion you really click with someone and a friendship develops organically, I don’t think anyone would criticize you for that. But if you’re routinely finding friends among the job candidates you reject, I think there’s a risk it might come across oddly to anyone who happens to notice it.

There’s a middle ground though — there’s no reason that you can’t consider these people to be business contacts now that you’ve gotten to know them in a business context. You could treat them just like you might any other business contact, and if over time that eventually turns into a friendship, then so be it. But I wouldn’t go straight from job rejection to clubbing, or anything like that.

2. Telling an employee to talk more normally to foreign colleagues

I manage a small team at an international organization. We work virtually with our global teams and have calls with people all around the world every morning.

One of my new-ish team members does this thing on these calls where she talks to our global colleagues in a slow, overly enunciated, high-pitched voice that sounds to me like she’s talking to a child. I suspect she thinks that she is helping to bridge the accent barrier. In reality, I think it sounds like she is patronizing and talking down to them. It drives me nuts and sets my teeth on edge. I have consciously not invited her to more senior or sensitive meetings because of this.

Talking to her about this, however, is complicated by the fact that she herself is from another country and she has told me in conversation about how as a child her teachers in school were very cruel to her about her accent and the way she speaks, telling her it made her sound stupid or unintelligible. Do you have any suggestions for how I can approach this sensitively with her?

“Jane, I’ve noticed that you make a point of slowing down and over-enunciating when you talk to our coworkers in other countries. I really appreciate that you’re trying to make it easier on them, but your normal speech is very clear and easy to understand and I think it will come across better to just speak to them the way you would to me. If someone has trouble understanding, they’ll let you know, but I’ve found our global staff does better when we don’t change our speech with them. Will you try that and see how it goes?”

3. I spend time sending people info and then they never respond again

I run a local chapter of a national nonprofit that offers career development, industry education, and networking opportunities for members. This is a 100% volunteer role.

I frequently get emails from people who are interested in the group and want to know how the group can benefit them. I love getting these emails because it’s an opportunity to showcase our benefits and new members are of course very important. I generally spend about 30 minutes responding to each email with detailed information and links, and encourage them to register for any upcoming events. About 75% of the time I get no response, and the other 25% respond with simply “Thanks.”

Am I wrong to be annoyed by this? Should I follow up with them to see if they found the advice useful or if they have additional questions?

You aren’t wrong to be annoyed by it; it’s annoying when you spend a lot of time helping someone and hear nothing in response. However, the people contacting you might not realize that you’re doing this as a volunteer; they might assume it’s your paid job to answer these types of queries.

But more importantly, you are spending way too long on these emails! Can you create form letters or an FAQ or something else to streamline the process so that you’re not composing from scratch each time?

I think it’s fine to follow up with people who you don’t hear back from if it’s part of the outreach strategy you’re using to attract members, but I wouldn’t do it if the real motivation is just to prompt a response (although I can understand the impulse).

4. My peer interviewer is now interviewing for the same position

I recently applied and interviewed for an internal management position in the department in which I currently work. Our department frequently utilizes teams of peers to assist with interviews. I have taken part in these peer interviews for other candidates in the past, but never for a management position.

About a week after I interviewed for the manager position, one of my coworkers (Angie) let me know that she was going to apply for the job and didn’t want me to be surprised. I appreciated the gesture, but was perturbed by the fact that she had participated in one of my interview sessions the previous week! My understanding is that there was at least one other candidate who was interviewed and Angie also participated in that interview.

The more I think about it, the more I feel that Angie has violated some kind of unwritten “code” here. The position had been posted at least a week prior to interviews beginning and it has been known around the entire department that this position was being created, at least for the past 3-4 months. I feel that if she was interested in any way in this position she should have recused herself from the interview process. Am I way off-base in thinking this is inappropriate? If so, is there any possible way I can express my frustration with management without coming off as peevish?

It’s not ideal, but there are legitimate reasons that she might not have known during your interview that she was going to want to apply for the job too. She might have been interviewing for something else that then fell through, or dealing with a personal situation that didn’t allow her to contemplate a promotion at that point, or all sorts of other things. Certainly if she’d been planning to apply the whole time, she should have recused herself … but if the timing just worked out badly, making a stink about it isn’t going to be a good use of your capital. That’s especially true if Angie ends up being the strongest candidate, since they’re not going to not hire the strongest person just because the timing for her expressing interest was bad. Ultimately, your employer’s interest is in hiring the best candidate, not in creating a perfectly fair process. (Don’t get me wrong — fair is good. But it’s a means to an end, not the end itself.)

The most you could do would be to say something like, “Since Angie is now a candidate herself and I’m sure would have recused herself from participating in peer interviews if she’d known that was going to happen, will her feedback from the peer interviews still be part of the decision-making?” But really, I wouldn’t even recommend that because it’s likely to make you look less confident than you want when you’re going for a management position (especially one where you’d be managing Angie).

5. New overtime law means I’ll get less pay when I take vacation time

Currently I’m a salaried manager, but with the new overtime law that goes into effect on December 1, I will be hourly. I plan on taking some vacation time in January. If I do, I will not get my five hours of overtime and my pay will decrease. I don’t feel like that is right. What can I do?

Yeah, that’s one of the impacts of the new overtime law. (And actually, what you’re describing is how it works currently for people who were already non-exempt under the old law.)

You could try pointing out to your company that your regular weekly pay generally covers 45 hours of work, and ask if they’d be willing to make that your vacation pay as well … but it would be pretty normal for them to decline to do that. It’s not unreasonable to ask, though, especially right now while people are working out all the changes that will result from the new law.

{ 244 comments… read them below }

  1. So Very Anonymous

    #3: Boilerplate is your friend! An FAQ is a great idea, but if you prefer to respond via email, come up with some boilerplate that you can use (links, general information) and then tailor as necessary if you want your email to sound more personal. I had a job that regularly involved responding to patrons with that mix of tailoring and boilerplate. The mix allows you to feel like you’re offering some personalization and a bit of your own voice, but the boilerplate — in addition to providing basic information — can also help you distance a bit from feeling let down if you don’t get a response, because you’re not as invested in what you’ve written.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Yes! And in a lot of email programs, you can set up the answers you use most frequently as “signatures” so that you can then just select the right one from your signature drop-down menu and boom, there is the language you want for your response.

      1. caledonia

        In outlook, there is a “quick parts” option, which I prefer over it being in my signature (as I use my signature on all emails but the templates vary from email to email).

        1. Fortitude Jones

          You can make multiple signatures in Outlook. If you want a FAQ template as a signature option like Alison suggests you could make one, but then make a generic signature for all regular correspondence too – you would just check a box making the latter your default signature.

        2. Coffee Ninja

          Thank you for this! I’ve been copying & pasting a bunch of form emails from a Word doc. Quick parts will be a lifesaver!

          1. Grey

            Yes. Thank you. I’d been copy and pasting from an email I’d saved in my Drafts folder. I just added the text to Quick Parts. Much easier now.

            1. Jadelyn

              Yeah, I’ve got a “Templates” folder in my inbox, and I’ve emailed myself my form letters so I can re-use them. This will be much simpler!

          2. Grey

            I went searching for a shortcut and I found one:

            Choose a name a for your Quick Part.
            When composing an email, press the first letter of the Quick Part’s name, then press F3.
            Done.

          3. TootsNYC

            Outlook for the Mac is different; some features are missing or work differently.

            Apparently a similar function is called AutoText on the Mac side. I don’t know how it works; I just found it doing a quick google for Quick Parts.

        3. LBK

          W H A T

          I had no idea this was a feature Outlook had! The lack of an easily accessible email template feature has been my one major pain point since my office switched over from Lotus Notes. Thank you for the tip!

        4. Lady Blerd

          Oh my god, how did I not think of this. I have standard email I send my boss for routine requests and I’m always copy pasting from previous emails because I can’t use my email templates. Thank you!

        5. animaniactoo

          For reference, if you’re using a Mac you will not have a “QuickParts” option. However, I WAS able to find that there is a Scrapbook which serves the same function. You can find it under the “Options” tab when you’re composing a new message.

          The major difference in use seems to be that you have to “copy” your composed text and then click “add” on the scrapbook to add it from the clipboard.

          (and one day…. one day Microsoft will actually make versions that are identical for Windows and Mac…)

      2. Jadelyn

        …I have made official Outlook templates for some of my form docs, but they’re a pain to get to and manage. It had never occurred to me to make signatures of them, that’s such a great idea, thank you so much!

    2. Emmie

      I highly recommend that you follow the form route for info about the org, and / or a helpful website / brochure. When I’ve inquired about helping or supporting NPOs, I’d expect info to be really standard (forms.). It’s okay to answer specific questions, but I’d expect no more than five minutes generally on those things.

    3. K Bennett

      Gmail offers “canned replies” which are saved and easily pasted in with a couple of clicks. I use several of these for exactly this type of situation — someone needs a lot of information about a common topic.

      Also, your group’s web site should have all of this information easily available to potential members, with a link right on the home page. Join Now! :) A quick response with a link to the site should cover 90% of initial contacts by potential members, with a followup if they have specific questions.

      1. Murphy

        I save SO much time with Google’s canned responses. I send a lot of form emails and they’re all there for me.

      2. Joseph

        Also, your group’s web site should have all of this information easily available to potential members, with a link right on the home page. Join Now! :)
        Yeah, this is really the most important thing. If you regularly need to spend 30 minutes writing emails to answer questions, then there’s clearly some key info missing on your website. In particular, the passage from OP “want to know how the group can benefit them” jumped out at me. This is *exactly* the sort of information that should be on your webpage.
        Why? Because for every person who’s interested and emails you to ask how it could benefit them, there are probably ten people who visit the webpage and don’t email you. So if the webpage doesn’t spell it out, they might incorrectly assume that you have nothing to benefit them.

        1. Kelly L.

          One of the things I did in my current job was, we had an FAQ on our website, but people kept calling with questions all the time. So I tallied up what questions were actually frequently asked, and added those to the FAQ. Some of them were already there, which, fine, some people are never going to read a website or would just rather hear it from a live person, but there really were some things we were missing.

          1. YuliaC

            And even when there’s a great website with all the necessary info easily accessible and visible, some people will just not bother to read. We send a canned, slightly personalized, email to all people requesting basic information. The email points out the first steps people need to make to start using our resources, and then asks them to find the rest of the info on the website, with specific links included in the email. About 30% of people still do not read the website after that, and keep emailing and calling us instead.

      3. eplawyer

        Wait, what? Gmail has “canned” replies? I send emails with forms for clients to fill out and having this would save me time. Where does one find this?

    4. Hornswoggler

      Maybe you could also add the title ‘Volunteer’ to your email signature, thus letting people know what your role is.

    5. ZVA

      This is excellent advice. I’m in sales and often use a mix of boilerplate & personalized when reaching out to someone for the first time… It saves a ton of time and does help me feel less invested, which is essential for me! (I think too much personal investment + too much time spent are the keys to OP’s question.)

    6. Kore

      Yeah, I work a job where I send people info, and while some of the emails DO take a long time of behind the scenes work, the actual composition of the email takes maybe 5-10 minutes at longest, because I have a form and then cut and paste the specifics.

    7. Jenbug

      Yes! You can also set up templates in Outlook that you just double click to open and send. I make them any time I find myself sending the same/similar information to multiple people in the same day/week.

    8. OP #3

      Thanks for your comments! We definitely have FAQs and boilerplate all over the website, but generally people email me because they’re not getting their very specific questions answered. Each email is very different, usually focusing around their current situation, and boilerplate responses unfortunately doesn’t cover it.

      1. esra

        In that case, maybe a lighter overview would be a good idea? An abbreviated version of whatever you’re currently writing, to gauge interest. Then if they reply you can get into the nitty gritty.

      2. Koko

        It’s hard to say without knowing the specifics, but is it possible that these questions are really beyond the scope of your organization’s mission to answer? It’s nice to answer everyone’s questions, but sometimes–especially when you’re relying on volunteers–it just isn’t feasible to answer them all. You can put a notice on your Contact Us page explaining what types of queries you can answer and which you can’t. You might have some queries that you’ll only answer for members, which both incentivizes membership but also makes the workload manageable for you.

        I’m thinking of a consumer health advocacy group I used to volunteer with. We had a lot of people writing in asking us for what amounted to medical advice. Obviously there were also legal reasons we couldn’t answer those questions, but it was also beyond the scope of our mission. We wanted to increase consumer access to Vitamin B, and in pursuing that goal we might tout the benefits of Vitamin B or share stories of people helped by Vitamin B as reason why access is needed, but it wasn’t part of our mission to counsel people on how and in what situations to use Vitamin B.

        Maybe you could make a list of what types of questions you get and decide how important each type of question is to your organization’s mission, vs questions that you’re answering just to be nice and because you can.

      3. pussycats and toast

        Yeah, I’ve been there — people love to waste other people’s time.

        Something I’ve seen other people use to some effect is setting up an auto-response to general inquiries to the tune of, “Thanks for your email! I’ll do my best to get back to you within X amount of time, but until then, here are frequently asked questions and links to our services/recommended partners.” If that feels too impersonal, you could still use a form letter that communicates the above as well as a short version answer to their question. If they reply with more questions, then you can get into it, but until they demonstrate actual interest and follow-through beyond a one-off query, I don’t think you owe them that time.

        It can be hard not to write detailed responses to someone asking questions on a topic you’re super passionate about. Just try to remember before you spend 30 minutes writing a response that the likelihood of that person following through on your advice or acknowledging your efforts is slim, and re-evaluate how much of your own time it’s really necessary to give.

      4. EB

        If they have super specific questions then maybe they need to come to a meeting and ask the questions in person.

        I teach a large college freshman class every year and each student has very specific questions about the class and assignments. I found that I was spending way too much time emailing students. I found that having a policy that complex questions must be asked in person during office hours, in class, or after class has made the email not only manageable, but shortened conversation length, as I don’t have to outline every possible scenario students could be referencing in an email and could get the student the actual information they need. This is particularly helpful when students don’t know what questions to ask , and ask questions about one subject when they are looking for unrelated info.

        If you are basically spending a lot of effort for little return-half hour emails and less than 30% respond- this could make your life easier.

        you might even take a cue from some software companies who offer to line demos once a week. It’s too much to demo your platform and answer questions to everyone who contacts you, so if meetings happen only once a month you could hold an online skype or google hangout once a month for people who can’t make the meeting.

      5. TootsNYC

        also, a smaller response at first might actually get more interaction.
        If they get a long thing, they may give up on reading it.

        Think of it in stages. To people who ask the first question, you give Level 1 responses.
        When/if they reply w/ more info, give them Level 2. And so on.

        In a way, you’re testing them: Are you interested enough for me to spend Level 2–level resources/time on you?

    9. Dust Bunny

      My position is paid and not in the same field as yours, but I get a lot of inquiries about our particular discipline that are well-served by more-or-less form responses. Yes, I tweak them to individual inquiries, but I don’t have to rewrite them every time. I’m actually *not allowed* to spend too much time on things like this because it cuts into other responsibilities and gets into an area that should be filled by the person inquiring (we’re an educational entity; beyond a certain point, these kinds of things should be carried out by the researcher, either in person or by proxy). You are doing too much of the work for them.

    10. Elizabeth West

      I was going to say Outlook has email templates. You can create them and save them as a form. Then you just choose it and you can customize any way you like (name, etc.). This is the perfect situation for some sort of template.

  2. Jeanne

    #4, I have to agree the situation seems a bit off. It’s really hard for me to tell if she received an advantage from sitting in on your interview (and possibly others). But Alison is right. If you make an issue of it, the idea of you managing Angie or being managed by Angie looks worse to the hiring manager. You’re going to have to at least pretend to be the bigger person about it. Good luck!

    1. plip

      I tend to agree too. Would there have been any discussion Angie would have been privy to about how good/bad your interview answers were? Would that kind of inside knowledge give Angie a leg up? Maybe she didn’t plan to apply all along and it’s just turned into a big mess…but I wonder does your company have any contingencies for when this kind of thing happens so the playing field is level?

      1. MK

        But a level playing field is not something the company does or should prioritize. The point is to hire the best person, not give everyone an equal shot at the job.

        That being said, this is a mess. Angie must have had some kind of input in the others’ interviews (otherwise, what’s the point of her presence there?) and now this has to be disregarded, because she cannot have been impartial. Even if she didn’t intent to apply all along, I would not trust the input of someone whose takeaway from the interview process was “I could do this job better”; that’s just not the mindset you want interviewers to have. But how can you take her opinion out of consideration?

        I think it boils dow to this: I would not give Angie the job, unless I could be sure that, even if anyone else had been part of the OP’s interview instead of her, I would still hire Angie. Practically speaking, that means she wouldn’t get the job unless very, very clearly the best candidate; if she was more or less equal to another candidate, I wouldn’t choose her; on top of everything else, there is the morale issue too.

        1. Another Day Another Dollar

          Yes, this. As the hiring manager, I’d feel the peer interview results were tainted if I couldn’t separate out Angie’s comments/input, and I’d really question Angie’s behavior here since she’s undermined the hiring process for all those candidates for me as the hiring manager. It might or might not rule her out, but I’d be concerned about her judgment.

          1. Another Day Another Dollar

            Maybe “assessment process” would be clearer way to phrase than ” hiring process”.

    2. Gwan

      It also seems strange that she can just decide to apply for a job that has already held interviews. Maybe she knows something OP doesn’t (i.e. they decided none of the previous candidates were suitable and are re-opening the process)? Otherwise it seems weird and unprofessional on Angie’s part, even without having sat in on the interviews, although I suppose she has a bit more latitude as an internal candidate.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        If she’s a really strong candidate, they’ll welcome her application at any time; it wouldn’t make sense to let process trump getting the best outcome.

      2. Fortitude Jones

        It also seems strange that she can just decide to apply for a job that has already held interviews.

        It’s not strange if, like Alison pointed out in her answer, the company only allows internal candidates to post for one job at a time. For all we know, Angie could have applied for another management position in another department and didn’t get it, so decided to throw her hat in the ring for the open position in her own department. I did something similar late last year and was granted an interview after they’d cut off external applicants. The only difference is, I didn’t sit on any prior interview panels.

      3. Bwmn

        This is obviously not necessarily any more true than anything anyone else has said – but I have to wonder if after some initial interviews someone involved in the hiring process asked Angie to apply.

        I’ve worked at places before that were interviewing external candidates while at the same time trying to encourage an internal candidate they had their eye on to take the position. In the once case I’m specifically thinking about, the internal employee was part of the external interviews and actually was part of how our Executive Director was then saying “look at how much you know about the position, think about how great you’d be, etc.”. While this person had been asked before and declined – so the organization was seeing what other candidates were out there – she remained their preferred candidate and it just took a little longer to get her on board.

        Angie somehow deciding to sit on the interview panel as part of some larger “and now I’m going to apply late” plan seems far more odd to me than there being something else at play.

        1. MillersSpring

          +1 Came here exactly to say this, and I think this possibility is quite likely. The interview process probably showed to Angie or to the hiring manager that Angie should apply. I think Angie was very kind to let the OP know.

          1. Bwmn

            I agree. I also think that ultimately as fair or unfair as it is – lots and lots of hiring processes aren’t an even starting point. There’s a preferred candidate in mind (either inside or outside an organization), internal candidates get preferred status, etc. – so while this situation is a bit more visibly awkward and understandably frustrating – I think that these situations happen all the time.

        2. AMPG

          Now see, I would feel like a candidate you have to talk into applying is by definition not the best candidate for the position. I understand encouraging someone to apply who might have thought mistakenly that they wouldn’t be a strong candidate, but that kind of hand-holding at the very beginning of the process seems like you’re just setting yourself up for trouble down the road.

          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            Nah, not in a lot of cases. Sometimes someone isn’t sure they want to manage their peers, for example, or leave behind doing X in favor of managing X, or they’re not thrilled about having to work with person Y who currently they can easily avoid. I’d actually rather know that someone is thinking it through rigorously (and thus has some doubts) than that they’re just plunging right in because it’s a promotion.

            1. Bwmn

              The situation I mentioned basically included a lot of that. I was working for a legal organization, and the manager of the legal department (who was a practicing attorney) left and the person who they wanted to replace him was an attorney but not a practicing attorney. She knew the organization in and out, and the hope was to somewhat change the expectations of the role, etc. It also meant she would be reporting directly to the Executive Director and she had some hesitancy with that.

              Her reluctance made sense and the organization was seriously interviewing in case she just never saw herself in the role/managing attorneys. I think seeing a situation like this from an inside but removed position – it made sense and wasn’t sneaky or nefarious. But I could also empathize with one of those interviewing external candidates feeling that the situation was stacked against them.

            2. AMPG

              Right, but I would expect that an honest conversation with someone higher-up and some time to reflect would take care of that. I’ve successfully recruited people to apply for internal promotions with that method. But when you’re still trying to talk someone into applying once you’re already in the interview process, I think you run the risk that they won’t ever take ownership of the role. It sounds like the situation Bwmn describes worked out, but I would consider that an exception based on my own experience.

              1. Ask a Manager Post author

                But again, like I said in the original post, there can be explanations for that (“she might have been interviewing for something else that then fell through, or dealing with a personal situation that didn’t allow her to contemplate a promotion at that point, or all sorts of other things”).

                Obviously if someone seems really reluctant when you’re at the offer stage, that’s a bad sign. But it’s worth getting them in the process and talking over their concerns and seeing where they end up.

      4. TootsNYC

        I had a colleague come and apply for a job I was filling BECAUSE she saw that I wasn’t moving very quickly to fill it, and she thought, “Maybe it’s because they’re not good enough, but I might be.”
        And she was.

        As a hiring manager, if the peer/staffer that was sitting in on the assessments came to me and said, “I’ve been listening to the questions, and everyone’s answers, and I’ve realized, I have skills here. And as I’ve been evaluating the needs of the department, and the answers, I’ve started to think about how *I* would organize things, and I’m starting to get a stake in the outcome. I think I’d like to apply for that job,” I’d be totally OK w/ that.

        This isn’t a sports competition. I need the best person for the job.

        Of course, I’d be wanting to factor in how Angie is going to work with the people she interviewed.

        1. Nonprofit Nancy

          Would you worry that the other candidates are going to feel like Angie behaved unfairly? Even if it’s not true, there’s a perception issue that would concern me. And as an employee who was not promoted, the last thing I would want is to be managed by the person that I *think* screwed me over by sneakily torpedo-ing my interview. This would certainly affect how she and I would work together, which would nix the “best person in the role” argument – because promoting this person might be terrible for morale and cause at least one of her direct reports to quit immediately.

          If I were the hiring manager I don’t think I would have allowed Angie to apply for a job in which she had been previously conducting interviews. But, this system is foreign to me and seems to be likely to cause this kind of problem.

    3. hbc

      It’s so obviously off that I wouldn’t stress about it. I mean, what kind of reasonable human beings wouldn’t factor this in? “Oh, looks like only Angie nailed the peer interviews, the only reason I can think of is that she’s a superior candidate.”

      Just about anyone would see that there could have been a conflict of interest and weigh the peer reviews accordingly. And if the decision maker doesn’t see it, there’s probably so many other things wrong with the decision making process that this one oddness won’t make a difference.

      1. Kimberlee, Esq

        Eh, I kinda disagree with this idea. Interviews aren’t really about giving a bunch of right answers, they’re about sussing out whether or not the candidate would be good for the role. I don’t think Angie sitting in on the other interviews gives her a particular advantage in the interview process; ultimately, she’s as qualified for the job as she is, that’s not going to change. Unless it’s obvious she’s trying to sabotage OP or other candidates, I probably wouldn’t discount out-of-hand her notes on the interviews. I certainly wouldn’t let her decide who we hire, either, but unless her notes are just dramatically different than other interviewers’ I would review them the same as anyone else’s.

      2. AMPG

        I would want to know how connected the steps in the process are to each other. For example, if the feedback from the peer interviews is sent up the ladder to someone who reviews them and decides who moves forward, they might not connect the dots to say, “Hey, Angie wrote some of this feedback, but now she’s an applicant, so I should take that into consideration.” And if she scored the other applicants lower than her co-interviewers, but not so low that she was clearly an outlier, it would be easy for her own peer interview score to put her on top of the pile. And it doesn’t even have to be done maliciously – it could easily be a case of sitting there thinking, “I could do this job better,” and letting that bleed into her reviews.

      3. Nonprofit Nancy

        So agree. Angie had the huge benefit of watching a series of interviews for the role she wanted – seeing what went over well, what went badly, *what the questions were.* All the other interviewers were coming in cold. It’s really too bad. However, I agree that OP cannot raise this herself without looking petty. If it was me, I’d ask someone else in the department to flag the potential problem here. Then again, perhaps Angie won’t be hired anyway and it will all blow over.

  3. Cat steals keyboard

    #1. I’ve never heard of people asking this when being rejected and think it’s kind of odd. Are they specifically saying they want to be friends or that they want to keep in touch?

    #3. I know this feels personal but I think the majority aren’t going to respond. And you are spending way too long and investing too much personally which might be why you feel so disappointed. But if they did all reply it would take a long time to process those emails.

    1. MK

      #1, my first thought was that these candidates, or at least most of them, are seeing this as networking, not an offer of friendship.

      1. AnonAnalyst

        I wouldn’t be surprised if that is the case. I’ve asked recruiters or hiring managers if I can keep in touch when I have been particularly impressed with an organization or team and would be interested in future opportunities there. I’ve never meant it as an offer of friendship, though; just more of a, “would you mind if I reach out to you and check in occasionally?” kind of deal.

      2. ZenJen

        Exactly–they might have clicked with OP on a personal level, but it’s a BUSINESS relationship and should be treated as that. Unless both people are clearly saying “we can be friends and this is separate from business relationship” I wouldn’t assume they’re my new BFF.

      3. INTP

        Yep. Or they’re trying to forge a “friendship” with the end goal of getting a job from you.

        If they do specifically express interest in friendship, I’d be careful. Maybe it’s genuine sometimes but rejected job candidates with loose interpersonal boundaries can be very bad news.

    2. Becky with the anonymous hair

      But also, did any of your friendships over the age of ten begin with one of you explicitly asking to be friends? This made me wonder if OP means that they sent a friend request on Facebook. In which case, MK is probably right that this is networking. Either that, or just overenthusiastic use of Facebook.
      I would suggest that OP doesn’t accept the requests in case the applicants apply for other open positions at her company.

      1. esra

        *Cough* That’s actually how several of my adult-life friendships have started. That said, it was with coworkers/acquaintances who were like “You’re cool, want to be friends?”

        It would be extremely odd coming from a recruiter/hiring manager.

        1. JuniperGreen

          I am new to my city and am having the darndest time clicking with people and finding a new social group. Is this really all I have to do??? (Seriously though, I’d love any friend-making tips as an adult)

          1. Koko

            You need to find your tribe! I believe in every large enough city there is a tribe of people who have similar values and outlook and orientation to you, among whom you will feel at home. You just gotta find them.

            I really encourage things like team sports, volunteering, and other purposeful group activity for meeting people. I always felt nervous and awkward at mixers/happy hours. But when you’re working towards a goal or task together, you don’t have to come up with small talk or an opening line to approach someone with, you don’t have to try to walk up to a group of people already talking and awkwardly insert yourself into it. Instead, you’re focused on the task at hand, and generally chit-chat will tend to happen naturally while everyone is working, especially if it’s a few hours or more.

            And there’s just something about working hard alongside someone that bonds you more strongly and quickly than not working hard. When the project is finished you both know that you wouldn’t have been able to succeed without the other; you had to rely on each other; you had to trust each other. That bond has more substance and durability than having a couple of drinks together.

            The other cool thing is the friends I’ve made volunteering are more diverse than the friends I’ve made in other ways – they’re people who on the surface I wouldn’t seem to have much in common with and we’d have probably never really talked to each other. But because we spent 5 hours staffing a booth together, or 3 hours pitching a camp together, we got to talking and found that we actually quite liked each other and that we did have a lot in common beneath the surface.

          2. Hillary

            In my stupidly insular upper Midwestern city, the best way to make friends is to find a faith community, a sports team, or a club associated with a hobby. Most of my friends are people I went to college with, plus their spouses and other connections (i.e. high school or grad school with someone in the group).

            I’ve heard it’s hard here compared to other places. My friends who moved to the coasts have met friends at bars and networking events, but here we mostly socialize at home and don’t invite strangers.

          3. RR

            I was living in a small city without many people my age and I found a couple things helped: 1) activities where we could do stuff together we knew would be fun without knowing each other super well (bar trivia is particularly good for this), 2) creating a regular thing that people could bring other friends to in order to expand all of our social circles (We had a biweekly dinner/drinks hangout that rotated apartments and it was a great way to have regular social interaction and make friends with new people.). Both of these things need a couple people to get them started, but once you have a regular thing going, encourage people to bring other friends!

            I found I enjoyed many people in a group setting and then later on developed more individual friendships with some of them. I think it’s easier to break into a new social scene that way.

          4. Regular Lurker

            Does meetup.com have active groups in your area? I moved about four years ago and have made really good friends in my area by joining meetup groups.

            1. zora

              Meetup has worked great for me, too, but IME you still do have to ask people out loud to be friends.

              If there is someone I really enjoyed talking to at 2-3 meetup events, I just straight up say “hey, this has been fun, do you want to get coffee sometime outside of the group?” Or some other activity relevant to the conversations we’ve had. Then we exchange numbers and become friends outside the group as well. It was nerve wracking at first, but it totally works, so it’s gotten easier!

          5. esra

            Meeting friends as an adult is so tough. Lots of good advice here. For me it’s just boiled down to 1/ being braver about striking up conversation at work/places I’m interested in (book stores, comic shops, art stores) and 2/ trying to be more outgoing at work.

          6. Marillenbaum

            I would recommend starting with some sort os structured setting, like a game league or book club kind of thing: it helps that you already have something in common, and a thing to talk about, AND they are generally already open to making new friends at this event, since it’s kind of the point. From there, it can be easier to build additional friendships through the friends you make there.

          7. Lissa

            I have never once made a friend randomly, like at a store/striking up a conversation. I’d love for that to happen, but it never does. I was super friendless for awhile, then joined some geeky activities like larping/dungeons and dragons, and met a few cool people, then met more people through *those* people, etc. Until Then, I always felt weird and awkward around people like coworkers, etc. — like oh, we get along fine but there’s no way I can transition this to a regular friendship….

      2. LBK

        Yeah, I was wondering if the OP was getting invites to be friends on a social network of some sort and equating that with like…asking to be actual friends. Otherwise it seems crazy that this has apparently happened multiple times.

      3. ZenJen

        I can see that, but if it was me, I wouldn’t accept them unless I was running the company Facebook account.

        Having job candidates request me on my PERSONAL FB account??? Heck no. I’m VERY picky about who I accept on my FB (I’m not a friend collector).

    3. Jennifer

      Hahahaha, one time I wanted to DATE someone we’d interviewed. I think he was interested as well. But he didn’t get the job (which is probably all for the best because I doubt anyone else would have wanted to be around that level of awkwardness/hormones going off), so that didn’t happen. I don’t think you can really do anything after the rejection comes in.

    4. TootsNYC

      It’s happened to me–that I’ve interviewed someone who gets beat out for the job, but I really enjoyed their company. My interviews are pretty informal, and people’s personalities really show through.

      I’ve never really pursued it, because it was sort of awkward, and my schedule doesn’t have alot of “hanging out with friends” time in it.

      If I were the sort of person to have a casual party every three weeks, I’d absolutely think about inviting some of them, though.

  4. Emma

    #1 – I would be very weirded out if someone who rejected me for a job then promptly turned around and tried to befriend me, no matter how well we clicked during the process. I get that some of these people are reaching out to you, which is better, but I think you want to go slow building these friendships – and don’t pursue them with candidates who haven’t reached out first.

    There are ways to make friends that don’t involve your work.

    1. plip

      I think it’s a little strange – sometimes I meet people interviewing that I think would make great friends (my kinda people, they seem interesting, we share hobbies or some such) but I’ve never asked anyone to be friends after or had them ask me….

    2. MillersSpring

      I think it’s possible maybe after the candidate lands in a great different job, then you send them a congratulatory email, they respond warmly, then you could let them know about a professional group event, then maybe happy hour or something even tamer such as an interest you realized you shared. I think this is especially workable if you’re similar in age and/or professional levels.

  5. Cat steals keyboard

    Also, re the over-enunciating coworker. AAM’s wording is great because it sounds like her issue could be thinking she’s hard to understand and feeling insecure about that so I think telling her that her normal speech is fine could be the key here.

    1. Foxtrot

      Yeah, over-enunciating is weird. Slower speech, though, could be very helpful depending on the language skills of the foreign contacts. I lived in a foreign country for a while and had to function in a new language. I had no problems with people who would slow down a little and give my brain time to make the new connections. Depending on how long the non-native speaker has been dealing with the new language…I’d actually welcome a slower pace. It also sounds like the coworker may have had to learn English as a kid. Maybe she’s remembering what it was like for her to be new on top of the self consciousness?
      On a side note, hearing issues run in my family too. The doctors said that while a lot of people talk louder to people with hearing issues, you really just need to go slower, especially when it’s genetic. We all started slowing down around my grandpa and it actually did work better than yelling.

        1. valereee

          I’m not sure everyone will ask for it — many people at a lower level might lack the confidence to do that.

          1. valereee

            I’m thinking that if I were in a job that required Spanish speaking, and I had to ask a colleague more than a couple of times to slow down and enunciate, that my colleague might be thinking, “God, this woman slows me down,” or “this woman’s Spanish skills aren’t good enough for this job.” I certainly wouldn’t be comfortable asking more than a couple of times unless I had support from someone else in the room — someone who WAS speaking slowly and enunciating (thereby affirming that my request wasn’t burdensome) or someone who was also saying, “Yes, please slow down and enunciate for me, too.”

            1. Koko

              Yep. One of my colleagues hired someone ESL and he did make a point to privately speak with each of us before we met with him to request that we speak slower and try to minimize our use of industry jargon with the new hire. (The new hire is an expert on a tool that is used in many verticals but has never worked in our vertical before, so many of the industry-specific words we throw around are extra-foreign to him.) He didn’t just leave it up to the brand new employee to ask colleagues to slow down.

          2. YuliaC

            Also, people from some cultures think it is impolite to ask the person talking to them to slow down or to repeat. I was talking to a non-native English speaking client yesterday, explaining an important to her point, and she kept smiling and nodding. Later in the conversation, I discovered that she did not understand most of my explanation. When I asked if I spoke too fast for her, she said yes, a little bit. When I asked to please tell me when I need to slow down, she blushed (!) and said she didn’t think that was a polite thing to do! So now I am watching my speed of speech and trying to enunciate with her, all without sounding condescending/patronizing. That is not an easy line to walk…

          3. MillersSpring

            Yes, if I took a job where Spanish was required, I’d do much better if everyone spoke a bit slower and enunciated clearly. And I’d be self-conscious to ask or to point out that I was missing a lot especially if it’s critical work knowledge or instructions. Especially on a global conference call like OP described.

          4. Mookie

            But the OP has explained that this organization serves people from and exists in many different places in the world. Clients and employees alike are probably used to encountering varying proficiencies and fluencies across multiple languages.

        2. HannahS

          I doubt it. When a foreign language that you’re supposed to understand is flying around, most people aren’t going to feel comfortable asking everyone to slow down. Especially since people will generally slow down for a few sentences, and then speed right back up.

        3. Kimberlee, Esq

          Yeah, my sister has severe hearing difficulties and I’ve never heard her ask anyone to slow down.

    2. Rat Racer

      Yes, a second vote for Alison’s wording here! Whenever I’m giving constructive feedback, I try to couch it in “I know your intentions are good.” It is so much more effective than the +/-/+ sandwich methodology they pushed on us back in the day. The added bonus is that imagining my employees’ best intentions helps me get over my own frustrated thinking of “why the heck did you do that??” It gets me walking in my employees’ shoes and gives me the empathy I need to deliver the message effectively.

    3. Bwmn

      I don’t know if there’s away to include this in AAM’s wording – but I also have to say that over-enunciating isn’t an uncommon speech switch that I’ve seen among those speaking to non-native English speakers. I’ve seen it as a response for being asked to speak more slowly and find that it ends up creating its own odd thick accent.

      However, the other thing that it might be worth observing before having the conversation is whether this is just a non-native English speaker response or is somehow tied to speaking on the phone. I definitely have a somewhat different phone voice – particularly when I’m holding the phone to my face as opposed to speaker phone. If this person has been chastised for their voice before, it may also be a combination of a phone voice + a non-native speaker response.

  6. abankyteller

    1. If this happens to you a lot, I need your secret, because making friends as an adult is hard and you must have awesome charisma.

    3. You need boilerplate answers! Cut and paste!

  7. Kathlynn

    #5, if they aren’t ready/willing to add 5 hours of vacation pay permanently, maybe they’d be willing to do it at least this one time, given it would have been your pay had the laws not changed.

    1. Annoyed

      Why should they add vacation pay? She’s not getting a raise at the new year, she just becoming eligible for OT. Getting OT pay included with PTO/vacation pay is very rare. And her pay is not “decreasing” for that week, as she claims, it is staying the same as her current pay. She is just not going to get the extra OT pay. And why should she get OT pay when she’s not working OT?

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        It’s actually decreasing that week if my read of the question is correct — I think they’ve lowered her hourly rate so that when you factor in her regular overtime, her overall annual pay stays the same (which is one option for employers with the new overtime law). In theory that keeps the total annual pay the same, but if there’s a week without overtime for some reason, the pay that week would drop.

        1. SirTechSpec

          But if that does happen, it’s not a (direct) result of the overtime law – it’s a result of the employer *lowering their pay* in response to the new OT law, in which case they should be VERY willing to consider all the implications.

          I think so many people have been classified as exempt (legally or not) for so long that we’ve gotten away from the cultural assumption that 40 hours a week is supposed to be a full-time job, and you’re not really supposed to be running your business in such a way as to require more than that – or if you are, there’s a penalty to employers/bonus to employees to at least make sure they’re well-compensated. With that mindset, not getting OT pay during vacation week doesn’t seem like a “penalty” because not working overtime is the norm.

        2. EddieSherbert

          Wow, this didn’t even occur to me (even though you mentioned it was an option in earlier articles Alison!) because it kind of seems like a lousy thing to do to your employees.

          And, apparently, even if it “evens out to the same amount”… it would feel like you are penalized for vacation (you’re not, it just works out badly, but whoa, I would absolutely feel that way too).

          Makes me rather nervous for how my office is going to handle the change :/

        3. Stellar

          This is what I assumed from the letter as well. I wonder if it would make sense for OP to point this out to the company as an unintended consequence and ask for the base pay to be calculated with vacation days factored in.

  8. caledonia

    OP 3: I work in admissions for a university. The lack of response is just the nature of it, in fact I prefer it because if people do reply, its usually to try and argue with me about the requirements!

    I think you are annoyed because it’s taking you 30 minutes each time which is a lot of time over a week if you get many emails. By creating standard/form/boilerplate responses you won’t be spending anywhere near as near the same amount of time and hopefully your annoyance should lessen because of it.

    1. Artemesia

      This. It would never occur to me that the response I was getting to such questions were highly personal answers. I expect an organization to be well organized enough to have standard informative information they can send to people who inquire. Zip zip. ‘Thanks’ is all that should be expected. What else?

      1. Colette

        Yeah, I’m not really sure there’s another way to respond. If I received that email, that’s probably all I’d do. I’d assume the sender doesn’t want to know what links I clicked on, the events I registered for, or that I’ve decided it’s not for me.

    2. MK

      I get the feeling that the OP think that as a volunteer she should be thanked for her time, but a) people may not know this isn’t her paying job and b) even if she isn’t getting paid, it is her job; the organization is the one benefiting from her volunteering, not random people who have no connection with it yet. And many people wouldn’t actually appreciate their inboxs being fludded with “thanks so much for the info!” e-mails.

      Also, it’s not clear from the letter if the issue is lack of thanks, or the fact that these people aren’t asking more questions or becoming members or participating in events. Because if it’s the second, well, they have no obligation to do that. It’s to be expected that a good proportion of people inquiring about something will decide against it.

      1. ZVA

        Yeah, this is a good way of thinking about it; ultimately, this is the OP’s job—a job she’s doing for her organization, not for the people who email her. These are professional interactions; the problem is that she’s taking them too personally, IMO. I’m in sales, and if I took every rejection or straight up lack of response to heart, I’d become bitter and resentful pretty darn fast…

      2. CM

        I got the sense that OP #3 wanted more than just a perfunctory “thanks,” like some sort of substantive followup that justified OP #3’s efforts in putting together the email. But for the email recipient, they asked for information, you provided it; they probably appreciate it and find it useful, but don’t necessarily need further interaction with you. Sometimes it’s awkward to continue an email conversation when there’s not much more to say, and the next step is just for you to think about what the person sent you and decide what to do. If OP #3 needs feedback, I think it would be appropriate to follow up in a month or so and say, “Just wanted to see if you found the information useful. Please fill out our survey” or something like that.

      3. OP #3

        Thanks for your comments. The issue is actually both – I spend a lot of time answering people’s specific questions (stuff that can’t be answered by boilerplate/FAQs). I’m not getting lots of these per day, but more like 1-2 a week, so I wouldn’t be upset if I got a “Thanks for your help – see you at the next event” emails; in fact, I would actually prefer that. When they don’t respond, I have no idea if I answered their questions or if they actually plan to show up at the next event.

        I guess I’m taking it too personally and I’ll have to work on not getting annoyed by lack of response.

        1. MillersSpring

          You might try asking a question in the first paragraph. That has helped me ensure a reply when I don’t want recipients to see it as FYI material. That said, I do think you’re expecting too much of the recipients to follow up and let you know which action they took.

        2. sarah

          I do think some people don’t respond to emails like this if they don’t have another specific question because they’re trying to save you time/avoid annoying you. I myself am an “always send a thank you follow up” type, but I have enough colleagues who work according to the “STOP SENDING ME EMAILS THAT DON’T REQUIRE MY IMMEDIATE ATTENTION” mindset that I’ve decided this is just a personal preference thing rather than a matter where the etiquette is super clear and obvious. I agree that you might up your response rate some if you include at the start of these emails something along the lines of: “Please let me know if this answered your question and if we’ll see you on Thursday!” — but some people are just not that on top of their emails!

        3. MK

          But maybe they don’t want to come to the next event! What are they supposed to say then? And they can have no idea how many inquiries you get. Frankly, OP, most people, if they thought asking these questions were to be taken as a semi-commitment, they wouldn’t ask them.

          I think this is either a case of your FAQs being very inadequate or you are going way overboard with helping. e.g, when I was still practising to be a lawyer and worked for a one-woman law practise, it would be my job to take initial calls from perspective clients who wanted to know if my boss would handle whatever they needed. They give me detailed versions of their situation, but my answers were succint: “no, you need a notary for that”, “no, you should got to goverment department X for help”, “no, we don’t handle these kind of cases”, “no, we don’t practise family law”, “no, we don’t take cases in the other side of the country”; alternatively, “absolutely, let be put you through to the admin to book an appointment, (please bring documents Y and Z with you when you come)”.

        4. Mookie

          I know that you mentioned that most of the queries you receive are too specific to be covered by boilerplate and/or can’t readily be incorporated into pre-existing or future boilerplate, but I tend to think these exercises, though frustrating in the moment, can end up being pretty useful for the organization you’re volunteering with.

          The e-mails themselves and your responses can be archived and appropriately indexed for future volunteers to cull from at will, some of the internal content you’re pulling can be organized into handy, bite-sized guides and expanded FAQs for other volunteers and staff for public events (they’re bound to field just as many questions in person, if not more so), and if you’re doing any research outside of your organization organizing and indexing these sources would probably be quite valuable, as well.

          Any means to justify your spending 30 – 45 minutes one or two times a week on this kind of correspondence should reduce your frustration and help make you feel productive–and I wonder whether there are other volunteers performing similar attacks and if they’re feeling similarly annoyed. Pooling your resources, time, and responses might help shave off some time each week. Also, doing so on such a regular basis may actually indicate a problem somewhere: FAQs should be covering a lot of this information and ought to be written to help visitors to find answers themselves and/or make productive and correct assumptions that don’t necessitate contacting you at all. Once those have been given the once over, you can always advise inquiring minds to attend an event and speak with someone directly for more personalized attention. Finally, a generalized request for feedback–one of those “rate how we did” prompts, maybe in the signature line–might encourage more assiduous correspondents to directly acknowledge that you’ve helped them, thus clearing up the mystery.

  9. Edith

    #5: I’m having a little trouble figuring out what’s going on here. You work 45 hours a week and will continue to do so after the law kicks in, meaning you’ll be earning 7.5% more each week, is that what you’re saying? So for the week you’re taking off in January you’ll be paid the same amount you’re paid now? If that’s what’s happening it sounds like you’re thinking of the extra money as a raise, so not earning that extra money one week feels like a pay cut. But it’s not, really. Not getting overtime when you don’t work overtime isn’t a pay cut. It’s just not getting overtime.

    Or are they cutting your base pay 18% so you can work the same hours without them having to pay you more? If that’s the case, then wow that sucks. Knowing my pay was effectively being docked 18% each time I go on vacation would certainly make it harder for me to enjoy my vacation. I would talk to the higher ups. I think it’s likely it didn’t occur to them that this would be the natural consequence of switching around your pay.

    1. Bellatrix

      Yeah, that would really suck. I’m in Europe and your holiday pay is based on average earnings for the the last quarter (basically, they calculate an hourly average that includes any overtime at a higher rate, bonuses, extras for night work, etc.). I think that makes sense, because that extra compensation really is part of the terms of your job. So the OP still wouldn’t get 45 * X, but at least get 40 * (X+bonuses).

    2. Annoyed

      Right. I’m not understanding how the OP would be paid “less” for the week she is on vacation. She just won’t be getting the overtime pay.

      1. Willis

        Well, if it’s the second scenario Edith described, she very much would be being paid less than her previous salary while on vacation.

      2. LBK

        She’s paid less in the sense that her paycheck will be smaller than it normally is. I get what you’re saying that technically it’s not a “pay cut” to not be paid for overtime when you didn’t work overtime, but the end result will effectively reduce her check to less than what she usually takes home. It sounds like she has always and will always work 45 hours a week, so I don’t think it’s unreasonable for her to have budgeted or otherwise based her financial activities around that amount instead of a 40 hr/wk hourly rate.

        1. doreen

          I don’t disagree with that- but although this situation is going to be new to a lot of people once the rules go into effect, the situation itself is not new. It’s happened to hourly workers who regularly work overtime probably since overtime laws have been in existence. And depending on the specifics of her job, that might be a reason for them not to adjust the vacation pay to include the overtime- it’s one thing if she’s going to be one of a very few non-exempt workers , and it’s quite another if the employer had a lot of non-exempt workers who regularly worked overtime even before the change. For example, my son is a janitor in a housing complex. Between apartments needing to be cleaned after people move out and the need to provide services on weekends , he generally works 5-10 hours of overtime per week. He does not get that 5-10 hours of overtime pay when he is on vacation. There may be someone in the office who is currently exempt, normally works 45 hours a week and will be non-exempt after the change. If that person gets a 45 hour paycheck for a vacation week and the janitors and maintenance staff , it’s not going to go over very well.

    3. That Would Be a Good Band Name

      I think a lot of employers will go with option 2 rather than increase their payroll costs. If you have someone that was exempt and expected to work 45-50 hour weeks (at OldJob all of our managers made between 30-40k and were expected to work no less than 9 hours/day and 10 was preferred) then the business either sucks it up and pays more for those people or cuts their hourly pay so the take home pay with OT remains the same as their salary. OldCompany was already barely breaking even, so very well may have no ability to do this, I’m sure other companies are in the same boat. And that means if you “only” get paid 40 hours for vacation then that paycheck is less.

      Which as a non-exempt person that works 50 hours a week, I’m already familiar with this. It can be a little shocking to spend more money than normal (because who doesn’t spend more than a typical week while on vacation?) and then to get a paycheck that’s smaller than usual.

  10. NewHerePleaseBeNice

    #2 Ugh. My colleague (with whom I share an office) has a ‘special’ voice that she uses when she’s on the phone to colleagues in our satellite offices in India, South Africa, China, Brazil etc. She sounds so patronising and rude – it’s excruciating.

    Thank you Alison for the good advice on how to politely bring this up in conversation!

    1. Green

      How bad is this? I spend a lot of time volunteering with people who are learning English (a range of skill level from “almost none” to conversational, refugees from all over), and I find that I do adjust my speaking style occasionally at work when speaking to people from countries where English is not a major language. I do tend to slow down, avoid contractions, avoid idioms, and occasional repeat key points in a slightly different way… I don’t want to be awful and rude to international colleagues, but I do know that several international colleagues feel very insecure regarding their language skills and do not regularly work in English…

      1. SarahTheEntwife

        I think this is something that can be particularly hard to describe in text, but what you’re doing sounds fine to me. Do you have a fellow volunteer or a client that you’re friendly with who you’d feel comfortable asking for feedback?

  11. Pot Meeting Kettle

    OP 1. I had read on other message boards of a hiring manager who contacted the interviewees off hours, which had genuinely creeped out the candidates, who in turn contacted their superiors and got the hiring manager into trouble.
    I would really recommend you not proceed in the same way.
    Esp in this case there is a imbalance of power – they really want a job, you are technically a person who has the power who give them a job. They will feel unable to say no to any requests from you for friendship, because they don’t want to refuse you.
    There are many other ways to get work friends – online forums, other coworkers, ex-classmates… try other avenues. Best of luck.

    1. MK

      While I agree that this is a bad idea, OP says that the candidates are the ones making the move, not her. Also, this is all happening after they have already benn rejected, so the imbalance of power isn’t an issue (unless the OP regularly interviews for the same roles, so they are likely to be candidates for her again).

      1. Emma

        She says some of them are, but suggests there are more she’d like to befriend.

        I do wonder if, like others have mentioned, the candidates are seeing it as networking. It just seems so odd to me that the OP is jumping straight from getting to know them a bit as part of her job to full-on friendship.

        1. Elizabeth West

          That’s what I thought. I don’t interview people, but I can’t imagine asking anyone who has interviewed me to be buddies. Maybe connecting on LinkedIn or something if we had a good conversation (which would mostly be about work).

          If we had the same interests and ran into each other outside the work setting, such as a meetup group or something, then yes, I might be open to a friendship. But this could happen even if I never applied for that particular job.

          1. Mookie

            I do think mine’re pretty exceptional cases, but twice I’ve ended up becoming friends with–but, crucially, not being offered a position by–interviewers and hiring managers. One had ended up losing her budget over the course of a prolonged, three-month hiring process (she was apologetic but also frustrated with the feet-dragging from within the department) and we kept in touch regarding some industry developments and eventually cultivated a low-pressure, shop-free relationship. In the other instance a second interview ended up turning into a “working” interview that proved exceptionally useful when we realized I wasn’t a match for the position and that theirs was an organization I wouldn’t be remotely comfortable in. Halfway through the day we sort of laughed it off, abandoned the “interview,” and went to a late lunch.

            Both experiences seemed innocuous at the time, but on screen they do read as a little aberrant. The important point is that there lacked a power differential between us, and I had no expectations from them for any kind of job, gig, or project. Likewise, they didn’t try to refer me, as an applicant, to any competitor or client. Finally, these were fortuitous circumstances, unlikely to be replicated, and there was no weird stage-managing.

            1. Mookie

              If the industry’s small or locally insular, you might meet them again under more promising circumstances. Also, if you feel as though they’d benefit from some general feedback, advice, or mentoring, you could offer it without strings and with the understanding that you’re not going to revisit the hiring process. That could, theoretically, lead to an amicable friendship, but the boundaries would have to be clear and explicit.

    2. Anon #1

      Thanks for your input! That is a fantastic point. I’m do feel lucky I have found a lot of great friends in my workplace, so I am not too worried about it. But those are great suggestions!

      How would you recommend kindly declining their invitations?

      1. KellyK

        I don’t think you have to refuse if they’re the one to make the request. You should just probably avoid making the first overture, because of the power imbalance. Also, keep in mind that they are probably thinking of you as a work contact first and foremost, so don’t jump from trading business cards and connecting on LinkedIn to inviting them over to your house. Pretty much what Alison said about letting friendship grow naturally from being business contacts.

      2. self employed

        Maybe saying you’d love to connect on LinkedIn and/or the next XYZ conference or event? To me that says “professional contact,” not “BFF.”

      3. Joseph

        I think it depends on exactly how they asked in the first place.
        First off, I’d just re-read their emails (or mentally review their phone call, as applicable) to verify that it actually was for friendship. It’s just such an unusual request that I’m wondering if there might be some crossed wires here – someone says “Hey, can we keep in touch?” and you’re thinking “Meet up as friends” when they really mean “We’ll connect on LinkedIn and casually exchange emails every couple months”. Networking with your interviewers isn’t super common, but it’s not a bad idea either – maybe you remember them for a position two months down the line, maybe you pass along their name to colleagues elsewhere, maybe you know that another firm is hiring.
        2.) Figure out how you would like this to go. Are you okay with them being part of your professional network or do you just want to fully decline (which is a legitimate option, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise)? Then you tailor your response appropriately.
        >If you want to help them professionally, you could either mention “propriety” or go with the old stand-by of “no time”, then follow up with something like “…but if you would like to connect on LinkedIn/keep in touch via email, I’d like that and I’ll let you know if I hear of any potential fits at my company or elsewhere.”
        >If you just want to fully decline and leave it at that, then you can just say that you enjoyed meeting them, but can’t, though you “wish them luck in their search” or “hope they find a good fit soon” or something like that which explicitly does not mention any offer of help or future contacts.

    3. AndersonDarling

      I can imagine getting an AAM letter from one of the rejected candidates. “I reached out to the recruiter to network and she invited me out to a happy hour. Does that mean I’m going to be offered another job?”
      Hiring is such an emotional, roller-coaster ride that it would be confusing for most candidates.

      1. Shazbot

        I’m waiting for the grislier version: “I reached out to the recruiter to network and she invited me out to happy hour. Now she won’t leave me alone. She calls all the time, and yesterday I found my pet bunny boiling in a pot on the stove.”

        Kidding. Mostly.

    4. MillersSpring

      An imbalance of power is the case if the candidate is desperate, but oftentimes candidates are not desperate and have been contacted by a recruiter. So after the hiring process is done, the hiring manager and candidate might indeed have found enough in common to connect on LinkedIn then meet up socially over a common interest, whether it’s racquetball, quilting, animal rescue, or zumba.

      Also, I have been desperate for a job and interviewed or taken roles that were a step down and found myself interviewing with people who were actually my peers professionally.

      Finally, two of my closest friends are women who supervised me many years ago. As the years passed and we each moved on to other companies, I caught up to them professionally and the very slight age gap (5 years) is not noticeable.

  12. Grasshopper

    #3. In addition to boilerplate suggestions, if you want a response then give the people a reason to respond. If you’re just providing information then most people won’t reply. If you ask questions or engage these people then you are continuing the conversation.

    1. Leena Wants Cake

      As someone who works in a volunteer position very similar to OP #3, I want to second this advice. When I respond to inquiries, I always end by asking if they can come to our group’s next event to get a better picture of how the organization operates, who the members are, and what they do. I think I get maybe a 60-70% email response rate and ~40% of those folks do indeed show up for an event. Also, I’m wondering if the sheer density of information that they are getting handed in OP #3’s email is overwhelming to the recipients (another reason to not respond). I would stick to delivering a short boilerplate response (with links to further info) and briefly answering their specific questions, followed by an explicit invite on date/time. Best of luck to my fellow volunteer volunteer wranglers!

      1. OP #3

        This is a great suggestion! Also, you may be right about the density of responses. When they ask an open-ended question, I try to answer it fully (including providing links to more info). Perhaps I need to scale that back so as not to overwhelm them.

        1. Leena Wants Cake

          Plus it saves you time on the responses! And I find that attendance at an event provides a much more rounded picture of the org than I would be able to convey via email.

        2. SophieChotek

          And I think if they really are interested, they will continue the conversation with even more specific questions. I’ve done that before — emailed someone, gotten a (somewhat) boilerplate reply, and then if it still does not answer them, email back and respectfully ask for more info. (Honestly, I usually don’t get any, but sometimes I do.)

        3. Persephone Mulberry

          Honestly, that was my first thought upon reading your question – that you were going overboard in your enthusiasm. I pictured myself sending a general inquiry and receiving back a long or multiple paragraphs of information and going “whoa, I’m just gonna read that…later.” And then likely forget about it for two weeks.

          Also, if you’re getting open-ended questions, it’s certainly okay to reply back with a question or two of your own to draw out more detail so that you can give a more focused response!

          1. Kelly L.

            I was thinking that they might think it’s a form email, maybe even automatically generated, especially if it’s super duper well written, and thus don’t think of thanking OP because they think it’s a robot.

  13. self employed

    #3, you may have a website issue. Your org’s site should answer many if not all of the questions of a basic inquirer. Perhaps you can write some new copy for the site that answers the most popular questions.

  14. EAB

    Different perspective here: I speak French and manage French employees. I’m pretty fluent, but conference calls in French are the bane of my existence. There’s fast-moving cross-talk, the call quality isn’t always great, and people don’t speak clearly into the phone.

    I really appreciate it when my colleagues make an effort to slow down a bit and enunciate a little more, and I try to return the favor in English conference calls. The key is not to talk like you’re speaking to a slow child, but like you’re speaking for TV or radio — measured cadence, good projection, and clear-but-natural enunciation.

    My employees have told me how much they appreciate it, and how they have difficulty understanding a lot of other English speakers who don’t do that, especially men with deep voices who mumble a bit and speak really quickly. They are often not very comfortable saying that they didn’t understand — they just try to get by, and often miss content as a result.

    Your employee’s voice might sound patronizing to you, another native English speaker, but I would really recommend checking with your colleagues on it for their take. You might find they love listening to Jane because even the weaker English speakers can follow her easily.

    1. the gold digger

      When my husband talked to non-native English speaking co-workers, he would speak slowly and not use contractions, which sounded very odd on my end.

      But as a non-native Spanish speaker (I am fluent) who is often on calls with native Spanish speakers, I know how much harder it is to understand a foreign language over the phone when you don’t have any visual cues. I really appreciate it when my Spanish-speaking co-workers slow down for me! I have never felt condescended to.

      1. Mreasy

        Yes – I was going to chime in and say that. In this case it sounds like it is over the top, but when I deal with a German associate with only middling English (who is brilliant, btw), I try to slow my pace down & simplify vocabulary for this reason. (When I don’t, there are misunderstandings.) Perhaps she’s had the experience of not being understood & is overcorrecting for it?

        1. boop the first

          Ugghhh… I simplify my vocabulary a bit too, but probably too much. I drive myself crazy over it, but it seems completely involuntary. Everyone has a “phone voice” and a “talking to stranger voice”, and it’s a self-defense type of thing where we want to fit into a group well enough to not be exiled from it. Add a heaping spoon of social anxiety and distaste for the sound of my own voice, and bam! Every new person I meet immediately asks me where I’m from, because now I have some unusual accent. This then piles more negative social experience onto my history and it just gets worse and worse. *facepalm*

      2. Rob Lowe can't read

        I tend to not use contractions with my beginning ESL students (who are children, not adults). It probably does sound odd to other native English speakers, but I’ve run into legitimate problems before using contractions so I trained myself to not do it. (Can vs. can’t is frequently challenging because I don’t naturally stress the final T in the contraction, so it’s not always easy to distinguish the two.)

    2. Purple Jello

      >>The key is not to talk like you’re speaking to a slow child, but like you’re speaking for TV or radio — measured cadence, good projection, and clear-but-natural enunciation.<<

      This is true for English speakers also. Conference call connections can be terrible.

      1. Brogrammer

        Yes! I spend a lot of time on conference calls and even when everyone is a native English speaker it can still be difficult to understand what people are saying.

      2. Marillenbaum

        Seconding this. The quality of calls isn’t always great, and even when it is, it’s tough to listen for comprehension without the added benefit of visual cues. Even when it’s happening in my native language, someone using their radio voice really helps.

    3. Not Karen

      I am a native English speaker working with other native English speakers and we still have trouble understanding each other on conference calls!

  15. Phoebe

    I could be wrong, or misunderstanding what Alison is suggesting, but it has always been my understanding that you can’t be paid for overtime without actually working 40 hours first.

    1. Sophie Winston

      Often holiday and vacation time are included as hours worked, by law or company policy.

      But specific to this question, the FLSA is all about minimums. There’s nothing preventing a company from paying you more than the minimum, whether it’s paying you through 5 on a Friday when you’re actually allowed to leave at 2, or choosing to base vacation pay on average pay over the prior year rather than 40 hours at your hourly rate.

      1. Natalie

        I’m not aware of any state level laws that include vacation or holiday time in overtime calculations. But they can certainly be voluntarily included.

    2. hbc

      They *have* to pay you overtime above 40, but they can pay you overtime for every hour above 30, or increase your pay every hour you work a week, or pay you your normal weekly pay rather than your 40 hour base pay. Heck, they can give you extra money just because they feel like it. The only risks they run are 1) setting a policy without thinking through the ramifications (like paying you during vacation based on the previous week, and you happened to put in 80 hours that week for an urgent issue) or 2) not having a policy and getting accusations of preferential treatment.

    3. BRR

      Technically it’s that a business isn’t required to pay you overtime until you work over 40 hours a week. They can always go above and beyond. So in the LW’s situation the employer could pay more to make up for it but as Alison said they’re likely not going to do that.

    4. Pari

      there is no law stopping companies from paying you OT for working less than 40. Technically a company could pay you OT for not working at all or from your first hour of the payweek.

    5. Brogrammer

      It’s legal, but it sucks to effectively take a pay cut over vacation since vacation pay is calculated from your base salary, not the amount that you make in a normal week.

        1. Brogrammer

          I’m pretty sure “It’s legal, but it sucks” covers at least 40% of the questions that come into this blog.

  16. Oranges

    Tangent on the accents. I have a very hard time understanding one of my colleagues. It’s gotten better as I’ve been around him more. But there were times when I was lost and a different coworker actually translated for me.

    What would be good language for asking for help understanding him sometimes? E.g. I’ve asked him to repeat himself three times and I’m still not understanding.

    1. Case of the Mondays

      I’ve had this happen with clients. Since it is so important I don’t miss anything, I just apologize, say that I’m struggling to understand them, and if we are in person, I have them write down what they just said and if we are on the phone I ask them to email me what they just said. If it is just one word, I ask them to spell it or define it. I still worry I am being insulting but we have to be able to understand each other. In the worst case, I’ve told them I’m getting an interpreter for their meetings because I want to make sure nothing is lost in translation. That wouldn’t work with an everyday coworker though.

    2. aelle

      I am the one with the accent; I often rephrase my thoughts, especially if I notice that my interlocutor hesitates or looks puzzled. Basically I often say the same thing twice, with slightly different words (like this!) So instead of asking them to repeat, try asking them to rephrase – it might help.

      During teleconferences I pull an empty email or Word document on the shared screen and write minutes as we talk. It’s happened once or twice that there was a complete miscommunication, and some of the participants noticed that what I was typing didn’t match what they had understood. Also, then you don’t have to type minutes after the meeting is over.

      1. Sarita

        That is such a good strategy. I’m often exceptionally confused when I can’t parse what someone’s saying (I even have trouble with other native English speakers–sometimes my brains just doesn’t like what my ears are hearing) and when I ask them to say it again, they repeat the exact same words in the exact same order and cadence. Less than 20% chance of comprehension when that happens, because I can already replay what I heard in my head, and it still doesn’t make sense. I really appreciate people who rephrase or use synonyms that sound different in those cases.

    3. lots of coworkers I can't hear

      What helps me is to ask people if they can say it another way. Usually that is enough to fix it.

    4. PX

      Are you just not hearing what he’s saying or is it not understanding what he means? If its the latter, I find it helpful to turn it round and say: “This is what I’m getting/understanding from this conversation, is that right?” – sometimes that helps get them to explain it in a different way which makes sense.

      Also, if it all possible/relevant, get people to draw things!

  17. Jesmlet

    It absolutely blows my mind that you’re spending 30 minutes on each email, especially as a volunteer. The organization should be really grateful to have you. With that said, +1 to everyone who suggested boilerplate responses in any form – signature, or just copy and paste from a word doc. I do it for my job and just personalize the beginning and end and some of the content if it’s needed. It saves a lot of time and energy and will probably help with the frustration of not getting replies back.

    1. OP #3

      Thanks for your comments! I obviously need to scale back how much time I spend on these emails. The problem comes when they ask questions that are specific to their situation and are not answered by an FAQ. So instead of asking “Do you have a mentoring program?” (and I can copy and paste the answer), they ask, “This is my tricky situation and I’m not sure if I should get a mentor or volunteer on this committee first. What do you think?” So, to me, I’m doing the potential member a disservice by not answering the actual question and just linking to the mentoring page.

      1. Temperance

        I actually disagree with you! I would like to the mentoring page, and tell them to follow up with any questions. People who are overloading you with details, in my experience, are the least likely to actually want to get involved/step up.

          1. Jesmlet

            I agree with this too, the ones who ask super specific questions are probably not worth all the extra effort you put in. Or just try scaling back on the standard questions and answer these specific ones and then evaluate how you’re feeling about the whole process.

      2. eplawyer

        I think you are getting too invested in giving the “perfect” answer to each individual question. Really, if you look back over the questions you get, you can kind of group them in categories: membership, mentoring, networking, committees. That sort of thing. Then create a standard response that allows them to seek more specific information. This actually can be done. Everyone thinks their question is unique when it probably is fairly common.

        Also, it is possible that you are providing so much information, that they now have what they need and are deciding whether or not to join the organization based on that. So the only response you would get is a future membership application. Not everyone is going to get in to an extended dialogue before joining an organiztion. They are going to gather the information they need, then decide what to do. They are thinking whether or not the organization meets their needs, not whether or not the person responding needs to hear from them.

      3. sarah

        So, I also think in these sorts of tricky situations, it’s fine to do a custom response, but you still don’t need to be spending 30 minutes on it. Like, if the link to the mentor page really does not answer their question, you could say something along the lines of:
        “Thanks for getting in touch! People in your situation in the past have done it both ways. My personal recommendation would be to volunteer on a committee first, but you are welcome to apply for a mentor now if you prefer.” So, a custom answer, but one you could write up in 30 seconds rather than 30 minutes.

        1. OP #3

          Yes, good point. I’m not saying I spend 30 minutes answering one simple question — that would be insane — but a series of questions that are very specific like that. Obviously I need to pare down my responses and everyone has provided great advice in doing so.

  18. valereee

    Re OP#2: is it possible this woman is operating from a position of knowing more about the situation than native English speakers? That is, maybe she has had multiple experiences (and/or multiple conversations with other nonnative English speakers about such experiences) of asking people to slow down slightly and enunciate a bit more clearly so she can follow a phone conversation, which already is harder to understand because you aren’t getting all the in-person clues, and that even with asking it never seems to keep people from speeding up and mumbling as the conversation goes on. Maybe she’s had conversations with other ESL business people and one of their biggest complaints is always that when they’re on the phone with business colleagues, they either have to constantly ask over and over again for people to slow down and enunciate, or they have to accept missing a certain amount of the context or work really hard to keep up and it’s a little exhausting. Maybe they’ve even said to each other, “Why don’t we model this for our colleagues? Maybe if enough of us do it for each other, they’ll get it.”

    1. OP #2

      I don’t think any of that is the case in our situation, but I appreciate that it might be in some.

  19. Jodi

    “My Life as an Hiring Manager: From Job Rejections to Clubbing” should be the title of a memoir.

  20. Interviewer

    #1 – Being “friends” with rejected candidates is such a grey area. Are they sending you FB friend requests, or asking to connect on LinkedIn, or literally asking you to meet them at the pub after work? The first one is odd, the 2nd one is really common, and the last one is where I would draw the line at “no.”

    I am not FB friends with coworkers, and there’s really no reason for me to be FB friends with candidates. For a candidate to ask feels like they want insight into my personal life, to create a personal connection and hope to use it to their advantage for the next opening. Even if they’re genuinely interesting, I don’t want them to know all about my kids and family and social activities.

    The LinkedIn request to connect would make way more sense, especially for professionals who want to expand their networks. I would only connect with candidates that I felt would be a good fit for a role in the future, though. No need to get their hopes up.

    And the invitation to hang out in person sends all kinds of wrong signals, and I would imagine the worst case scenario. Become friends, but they continue to apply for openings and you continue to reject them for roles, and the whole situation could go completely sour. Or become friends, and lose all objectivity about whether they’re qualified for openings, and things go south at work. Or you could end up feeling like they just used you to get a job.

    Anyway, without a lot of clarification on what you meant by a request for friendship, that’s how your question struck me. Good luck.

  21. Pari

    5. The problem here is youre still thinking of yourself as exempt and that the OT is a regular part of your salary. You need to reframe your thinking and start thinking about the 5 hours of OT as a temporary addition to your pay even though you work it all the time. It’s similar to people who get bonuses. If you assume your bonus is a given you’re setting yourself up for lots of financial and mental frustration when you don’t get it.

  22. Lady Blerd

    OP3: that is a pet peeve of mine as well hence why I at least shoot back a thank you when I get something unless it’s very routine.

  23. Franzia Spritzer

    #1 Way back when (before social media really existed), there was a recruiter who kept calling me in for great jobs, I’d go interview have a great sit down with her and for whatever reason not get hired. In that time we became great friends. One time she called me for an interview and asked how I was doing, and because we’d had a repport for about five years and we ran in similar social circles, I told her I was looking for a roommate. She turned out to be my best candidate for a roomy. A hundred years later we’re still thick as thieves.

    Which is to say, it can work, but I think a couple of other factors have to be present, such as running in similar social circles to begin with. Sometimes that alone is inevitable, like the art/music scene is small, or the cultural institution you both support is central to your core values, or you have similar hobbies or sports that put you in the same place regularly. With my roommate our circles overlapped in a lot of places and we saw each other out in the world often.

  24. Pari

    1. Generally no. Becoming instant friends with a ton of rejected candidates is going to look like you have no professional boundaries. And it’s going to look like you’re more interested in the job as a way to meet people. I worked with a guy once who literally followed a rejected candidate out of the building and asked her out before she made it to her car. We were shocked he saw nothing wrong with seeing our applicant pool as his means to finding a date.

  25. animaniactoo

    Unless Angie is a far and away stronger candidate to START with than any other candidate (I.e. Basically a shoe-in for the job, the interview is practically a formality), I would not allow her to interview if I was the employer.

    The primary reason for that is that having sat in on the other interviews as a peer, she has a frame of reference which gives her a significant leg-up in terms of how she preps for her own interview. She’s been able to see/hear great answers and bad answers and okay answers, and she’ll be able to utilize that to form her own answers. Even if she gets different questions, they’ll likely be about the same general topics and she’s got a frame of reference for it.

    That kind of advantage in comparison to the other candidates is so strong to me that I would avoid it at all costs unless the employee was that much a better candidate to begin with.

    1. Pari

      There are sometimes very good reasons to go through the motions of an interview. It’s a really good exercise to give feedback to an internal candidate who wants to progress. I’ve done this specifically to talk about how the person can become a more competitive candidate.

    2. JB (not in Houston)

      Unless the interviewers are asking really off-the-wall questions, I don’t think it gives her that much of an advantage. First of all, what sounds like a good answer to her might not be what the people interviewing her want to hear, so it’s not like she has the answers to an exam in advance. Second, if the interviews are doing what they should, they should ask questions eliciting personal answers–she’ll have to talk about her work history and what she’s learned about it, not someone else’s. What she knows about company and department from working there, not what someone else knows. Plus, Angie sat in on -one- of the OP’s interviews, which means there are other interviews that the OP had that Angie wouldn’t have been privy to.

      Angie would have a little bit of an advantage in that seeing a number interviews over a short period of time reminds you to not do certain things yourself–like, if you see a candidate trying too hard and failing to by funny, or someone blinking too much out of nerves and you know you do that when you’re nervous. Or the fact that everyone seems nervous reminds you that it’s probably fine if you also seem nervous. So it could make the interview less awkward and more pleasant for Angie. But it’s very unlikely to give her a real advantage over other candidates, not the kind of advantage that would get her the job if she weren’t already at the top of the list. This isn’t an entry-level job, so the people doing the hiring aren’t going to base their decision on that kind of thing.

      1. Nonprofit Nancy

        She has one advantage – she knows the strengths and weaknesses of other candidates, and can tailor her responses accordingly. Oh, OP didn’t know a lot about a certain software system? Now Angie knows she can bone up on that and “beat” OP’s answer.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          The interviewers have worked with both the OP and Angie. They presumably have a decent read on their existing skills.

          Regardless, though, it really doesn’t make sense to exclude potentially strong candidates from consideration. The goal is to hire the best person, not to run a perfectly fair process.

          1. Nonprofit Nancy

            I agree that fairness isn’t the company’s job – but could you argue that Angie wasn’t the best candidate until she had a leg up in the interview process that allowed her to appear to be so? Also, while I agree that OP can’t do much, I think if I were in her shoes I would feel badly used and it would damage Angie’s credibility in the role. I do agree that it’s a mitigating factor that they already know both people’s work, so that’s some comfort.

            1. LBK

              I think you’re not thinking about the downside of being an internal candidate, which is that you really can’t BS your way through an interview to make yourself look better than you are. You can’t sit there and tell your boss that you’re an Excel whiz when she’s already worked with you for 2 years and hasn’t even seen you make a pivot table before.

              It feels like maybe you’re overestimating how interview performance influences hiring decisions. It’s really hard to wow someone in an interview if you aren’t genuinely an impressive person – I’m curious what specifically you think Angie could do to make herself look better that she wouldn’t think of doing unless she’d been involved in other interviews.

              1. Ask a Manager Post author

                Yes, exactly.

                I also think that feeling badly used would be … well, a pretty big overreaction that wouldn’t be warranted by the circumstances, unless there are more details here that we don’t know.

    3. Nonprofit Nancy

      I agree – Angie isn’t coming in “cold” and the others are. Of course she’s going to look better – more polished, more practiced, more confident. We also discussed this in the thread above, but I feel like it would create resentment in her future employees that she appears to have gamed the system (even if management was completely on board). If Angie was a shoo-in from the front and the interview was a formality, that’s one thing – but I don’t know how management can credibly explain this to the rejected candidates, at this point. I would not have allowed her to apply. If I felt strongly about Angie, I would have rejected all candidates in the first round, then had a second hiring round featuring Angie and new candidates. And I’d change up the format of the interviews. BUT, I also think this “peer interview” system sounds odd and ripe for these types of problems.

      1. Nonprofit Nancy

        I mean, with the peer interviews – it just seems likely to lead to a candidate sharing things they might not wish to have shared with future peers or subordinates, like past setbacks/ challenges, why they have that long gap in their resume, etc. I may be overly sensitive though, I’m sure it can work.

      2. GrandBargain

        “… it would create resentment in her future employees that she appears to have gamed the system”

        Which means that having a process that is and is perceived to be fair *is* a goal that is nearly as important as selecting the best candidate. I presume that most, if not all, of the applicants (including the OP) are suitably qualified and strong candidates. A process for selecting the best among them needs to leave each with a sense of how they themselves will be treated.

        I will say that my reaction to this situation is colored by my experience as a past director of a member-based nonprofit (think professional association). It was written in the bylaws that members of the interview committee were not allowed to be candidates for any position during the time they served on the committee. During my term of service, one person on the committee decided to step down one week before the election and run for office. She is an strong manager and has done very well in that office. But, the way she did it left a very bad taste and leaves lingering doubt about her legitimacy in the role.

    4. LBK

      I get what you’re saying, but I don’t really think she’ll get a notably large advantage relative to the advantage she already has by being an internal applicant – already knowing the whole team, having an established reputation with the hiring committee, intimately understanding how the business operates, etc.

      I actually just interviewed someone yesterday for a manager position on my team (I wouldn’t report directly to him but he’d be at the same level as my manager). I really can’t think of anything I gleaned from interviewing him that I’d now be able to apply if I were to turn around and apply for the spot. Good interview answers are so personal that it’s pretty difficult to copy one unless you just straight up lie and try to pass off someone else’s experience as your own. You also can’t copy someone’s personality and demeanor in an interview – if what you liked about a candidate was their relaxed and friendly persona, you can’t really fake that in your own interview if you don’t naturally have it.

      1. JB (not in Houston)

        Yes, this. This is what I was trying to say. She’s an internal candidate. The people in the department know her. Her current manager knows her. Her peers know her. They know her personality, they know her work ethic, they know her skills. Her answers to the questions that matter have to be personalized based on her own experiences, as do the OP’s. She might appear more polished or calm, but that’s really, really unlikely to make the difference between whether the OP or Angie gets hired. They know these people already!

        My guess is that if you think this gives Angie much of an unfair advantage, you are likely to think there’s some secret trick to getting interviewers to hire you, like a “right” answer to the “what’s your weakness” question. Yes, I do think that it will help Angie personally feel more calm in confident when she goes in for an interview, so she gains the advantage of not losing as much sleep the night before. And that’s nice for her. I’d like that going into an interview. But it’s not going to give her any real advantage with the interviewers. It’s not going to give her any real advantage in getting the job. It’s maybe going to give her the advantage of letting her lunch sit a little easier in her stomach that day, and that’s about it.

      2. MillersSpring

        The ONLY way I can think that Angie could have an advantage from interviewing the other candidates, is if she mentioned their answers in order to promote her own skills. “Fergus and Jane both said they were weak at teapot spout work, but I have one year of spout experience.” “Ross and Phoebe both described their experience with chocolate teapots, but my additional caramel and raspberry experience put me ahead of them.” That kind of name-dropping tactic would be inappropriate, but for OP’s sanity, she probably should assume that 1) Angie would not do that, and 2) if Angie did make such comments, that the hiring manager would raise an eyebrow to it.

        1. LBK

          Yeah, and that’s where I think interview performance is overrated, especially as an internal candidate. An interview isn’t a court case where only the evidence presented during the trial can be used in the jury’s decision – if you’ve worked with the hiring manager for a year doing teapot spout work but forget to mention it in the interview, she can still take what she knows about that experience into consideration (and as I said above, this is as likely to hurt you as help you, because she might know first-hand that your spout work actually sucks and there’s nothing you can do in the interview to change that).

  26. Ponytail

    What I don’t understand is the application process for this job. How can people still be applying for the job (throwing their hat into the ring, as it were) if interviews are going on ? Every place I’ve worked without exception, has had a very linear process – applications have to be in by a certain date, then the shortlisting happens, then the interviews take place, and then the decisions made/confirmed. Late applications are rejected. If the first set of interviews are a dud, and don’t result in an accepted offer, either non-shortlisted candidates are looked at again or, more usually, the job is readvertised, with the new line “If you have previously applied for this post, please do not apply again” or words to that effect.
    So in the case as outlined, I could completely understand if the first interview candidates were rejected, and new applications received, but to have people applying for jobs while the process is already at the interview stage… it seems weird.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Lots of places aren’t that rigid about it, or will make an exception for an unusually strong candidate.

      The point is to hire the best person for the job, not to strictly adhere to a rigid process.

      1. Murfee

        It’s fine if the business only cares about getting the strongest candidate, but you can do that in ways that don’t cause mistrust with both those in the interview process as well as those witnessing it, and I think it’s short-sighted not to factor that in too. If there was any chance Angie might become a viable candidate for this role, she shouldn’t have been in in the interviews. It’s fine if Angie/management were waiting to see how things panned out (either with candidates for this job or elsewhere in the organization), but that could have happened without Angie ever being on the interview panel. Worst case, you lose her input on the candidates. From a business perspective, that seems like a better option. I guess I’m finding it hard to believe neither Angie nor management considered it a possibility that she might be a strong candidate for this role until now.

    2. LBK

      For hard-to-fill roles, it’s pretty normal to have a rolling application period where you’re continuously accepting applications and conducting interviews. It’s less common for entry level or non-specialized roles where you can be pretty confident that if you take applications for a month, you’ll like at least one of the applicants enough to hire them. But if you suspect it might take a lot longer than that to even get an applicant you want to interview (having this problem in my department now), it’s kind of shooting yourself in the foot to potentially screen out good candidates by having a hard cutoff deadline for applications.

      1. JB (not in Houston)

        Yep.

        I have to say, if I were hiring for a position from internal candidates, I’d not have any problem with Angie applying. I’ve certainly been in situations where I think a coworker is qualified for a position, but she (it’s usually a woman) underestimates herself and assumes she’s not good enough to apply, and it’s only after seeing other candidates that she realizes she does actually have the required skills. And I’ve also seen, as Alison mentioned above, people think they aren’t interested in a leadership position until they see others talking about how they would handle the role, and then they realize that they actually do have an interest in it. Sometimes it takes them hearing how about how someone else wants to handle a role to make them realize that they have real opinions on the matter and actually care about the role.

  27. Candi

    I honestly wonder if the coworker in 2 is unconsciously imitating that bad teacher she had when she talks in that high-pitched tone. (Which I associate with babies and people treating foreign languages like baby babble.) -_-

    A gentle but direct talk about using radio/TV voice, with a standard range of pitch, will likely sort things out.

  28. AmberRachel

    #1’s situation is weird. I’ve never asked someone I’ve interviewed with if we could be friends. Multiple people have asked #1 OP several times: How are they asking this? In person? On Facebook? Are they saying “I’d like to stay in touch”, or “Want to go the movies with me?”

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