my top candidate has another offer, coworker doesn’t want anyone to ask questions at meetings, and more

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

1. My top candidate has another offer but we can’t interview until next month

I’m hiring for a an open position and conducted a phone interview with a great candidate (we’d already interviewed him once before in a prior round but didn’t hire him) and told him that in-person interviews would take place after the holidays, with someone in place by early February.

I got a call from the candidate today saying he got an offer from another company and what was our timeline? This candidate is my favorite, but we’re hiring three people and were planning on having in-person interviews with four to five people with the whole team. Any thoughts on how to reply to this candidate?

You have to decide whether you want him enough to expedite things or whether you’re willing to lose him to the other offer. Since you interviewed him previously, you might have a good idea of how strong a fit he is for this role. If you don’t, you could quickly set up an in-person interview with him now (like in the next few days, if possible — which I realize might be tricky given the holidays). If you go that route, ask him what his timeline is for needing to give the other company an answer, so that you know how much time you have to work with.

But if you know that you wouldn’t be willing to make him an offer without interviewing your other candidates first and that’s important enough that you’re willing to risk losing him (which is often, although not always, the right choice), then all you can do is to tell him that he’s currently your top candidate but that you unfortunately can’t expedite your interviewing timeline (and explain why so that he understands — people’s schedules or whatever the reason is), and that you understand if that means he needs to accept the other offer.

2. Coworker doesn’t want anyone to ask questions at meetings so they end faster

One of my coworkers does not want anyone to ask questions at the weekly meeting so that they can “get out of there faster.” Anyone who does ask a question is approached before the next meeting and basically warned not to make the meeting “longer.” Should the manager be told about this?

I’d sure want to know about it if I were your manager. Or you could just ignore the person who’s doing this, or the next time it happens you could reply, “Part of the reason for the meeting is for us to have a chance to ask questions. Please stop pressuring me and others not to use the meeting in the way it’s intended.”

(Of course, make sure that the questions you’re asking are meeting-apprpropriate — meaning that they’re on-topic and things that make sense to discuss in that forum, as opposed to following up on them one-on-one with the relevant person afterwards. If you’re not doing those things — if you’re the person who makes meetings drag out by asking things that genuinely don’t make sense to discuss in that context — then your coworkers are likely to be legitimately annoyed.)

3. Custodians using my desk for their breaks

I’ve been in my current job (at my alma mater) for about a year and a half. My desk is in the public part of our office, but I am not the receptionist. We have student office workers who fill that role, but because my desk is in the public part of the office, and I am older and radiate authority, people tend to address me first rather than the student worker, distracting me from my actual work. To mitigate this, I have a shelf lined with plants that acts as a bit of a shield from the front door/window. It’s not perfect, but it helps, and has the added benefit of making my desk a pleasant work space.

I live close by and walk to work, and sometimes if I’m out running errands after hours, I’ll swing by to drop off or pick up things (like gym clothes or lunch containers) so I don’t have to carry them during my walking commute. A few times I’ve come in to find the custodian sitting at my desk. Our previous custodian did this, but she left after a few months and I figured it was an anomaly. But I came in the other night and the current custodian was sitting at my desk in the dark, looking at his phone. Last night I stopped in to drop off some holiday gifts I was planning on handing out today, and while no one was sitting at my desk, someone was charging their phone using the charger I keep there.

I told my coworker about it — she has been here longer — and she was upset on my behalf. She told me the custodians have an office with a desk that they should be using. On the one hand, I feel like it shouldn’t be a big deal, since I’m not using my desk at that moment, and it’s not as if it’s my private office they’ve entered. If I wasn’t stopping by after hours I might never have known (except that there was what looked like a piece of food on the wrist pad of my keyboard one morning that I know was not from me). On the other hand, I do feel a bit weird about it. Is it unreasonable for me to bring it up with their supervisor?

I don’t think it’s a big deal as long as they’re not going through your stuff, rearranging things, or leaving trash behind, and as long as you don’t have confidential materials around. But if it’s bugging you and they’re supposed to use the custodians’ office, it’s not unreasonable to say something. You could simply say, “I’ve come by a few times after hours and found the custodians either at my desk or using my phone charger. I’d rather people not use my desk when I’m not there — could you ask them to stick with the desk in the custodians’ office?”

4. How many interviews are too many?

I am in the process of interviewing with what appears to be a pretty innovative, growing, start-up company. I had a one-hour phone interview with the hiring director, followed by a one-hour in-person interview with that same director and two of the managers under him last week. I’m interested in the position and the people I’ve met seem easy to talk to, passionate about their work, and intelligent.

During the in-person interview, the manager who had the position I was most interested in said he’d like to follow up by having me speak to a few members of his team because they take hiring the right people for their culture very seriously. I agreed to that because it never hurts to hear more about the company you might be working for. Since then, I’ve had a 20-minute phone call with someone from HR and with someone who works in Finance. I have a call with an engineer this afternoon and one scheduled with an IT person tomorrow. And I just got a request for another call with a sales director for later today.

How many of these calls are too many?! I have a full-time job and I’m struggling to fit all of these calls discreetly into my work day! It’s been four years since I’ve been out in the job market. Is this common practice now? Do I risk being seen as inflexible if I don’t take all of these calls during the work day? Should I walk away from this company or is this some kind of tactic to weed out candidates who aren’t really desperate to work for them? Help!

Yeah, that’s way too many, and it’s the sign of a company that’s disorganized about how they hire and not terribly thoughtful about candidates’ time. If they wanted you to talk to all of these people, they should have scheduled a half-day visit to their office and had you do all the meetings in one swoop.

It would be perfectly reasonable for you to say something like, “It’s tough for me to schedule this many separate calls because of my schedule with my current job. Would it be possible to combine the rest of the conversations you’d like me to have into a half-day at your office or over the phone?”

5. Why do I get compliments that go nowhere?

I receive a lot of compliments. I’m told I’m “sharp, talented, a problem solver, bright, reliable, and highly professional.” I constantly hear “I knew I could count on you” or “you are such an asset to have on our team.”

I present/network at a lot of community meetings, rotary clubs, and chambers of commerce as a part of my job. Within my job, my employer has responded well by increasing my salary and including me on more and more strategy and planning.

So my question isn’t necessarily how to get my employer to recognize me better, but what to do with all this positive feedback I get in order to grow my career beyond my current employer. Why do these compliments never come with a job offer, or board offer, or a LinkedIn invite? What do I need to do differently?

Most of that stuff won’t necessarily fall in your lap. More often than not, you have to specifically go after it. (Well, maybe not with LinkedIn, but someone has to make the first move there too, and there’s no reason it can’t be you.) Going after it means applying for jobs, telling people in your network that you’d be interested in working with them, talking to organizations about serving on their board, etc.

All that positive feedback should give you confidence — but don’t expect that on its own it will translate into offers. Most of the time, you have to actively pursue those things.

{ 326 comments… read them below }

  1. Karenina

    Number 4: That sounds like a company I used to work for. At least in their case, the thinking was about finding a ‘good culture fit’, which mostly meant getting along with as many people as possible. (And no, this approach did not make their hiring very diverse.) But in the background, it was clear that we were losing good candidates because we were taking too long, hold too many (often unnecessary) interviews, being inconsiderate with their time, and they were moving on to more organized companies.

    The place I work now gave me 1 phone screening with their recruiter, 1 phone interview with the hiring manager, and 1 in-person interview where I met (one on one) with the senior of the team I’d be joining, the supervisor, the hiring manager, and the VP of the department. I did have to take time off of my other job in order to make that 2-hour interview work, but it was worth it. They gathered the information they needed to make a decision and did not waste my time.

    So if nothing else… no, that is not the norm outside of smaller, more disorganized companies. It’s appropriate to question it, push back, and frankly: ask yourself if you think that’s a culture you want to join.

    1. Random Lurker

      My company does this too and I just don’t know how to make it more efficient. I’ve lost a couple of people because of it, and I usually chalk it up as for the best, because the committee approach really is indicative of our culture, so if it isn’t for you while interviewing, it probably won’t be for you once you are on board.

      Still, I understand how frustrating it can be for a candidate. First I screen you on the phone. Then I like to have a one hour in person interview. Then I’ll fly you for a half day interview to our HQ to meet everyone else. I’ve had a couple of candidates who won’t makae that trip (afraid to fly, child care, etc), so then it turns into death by a thousand cuts with phone calls with 4-5 other people. And then, finally, our CEO likes to have a skype call only when a hiring decision has been made, but before we extend the offer. So the candidate has gone through the wringer with us.

      It *is* important to our culture to complete these steps. Wish I knew how to make it easier, however.

      1. Fjell & Skog

        Do you explain the possible steps to the candidate ahead of time? At least let them know that there may be a trip involved to HQ. Some people might know right away that they won’t be able to do that, and stop the process which could help save everyone’s time.

      2. MsCHX

        Combining steps makes it easier. As AAM suggested. There’s no reason the calls with HR, Finance, IT and the Engineer can’t be blocked back to back. Most people expect to take 1-2 hours for an interview. Schedule a 90 minute block with a candidate and have those people follow each other. The final quick call with the CEO is fine.

        It is inconsiderate, and has nothing to do with “company culture” to expect someone to meet (via phone or in person) with your company 6-8 different times.

        1. BaileyLea

          I just wish the whole thing had been thought through and set up more effectively so that I’m not taking several 30 minute phone calls every day during the week. I mentioned this in a different response – I suspect this the hiring manager’s first time being in charge of the process. I think he had good intentions but all these phone calls were getting excessive. I mentioned that very politely and he apologized profusely. So, I’m still hopeful about this opportunity.

        2. Jesmlet

          Or maybe the problem is with the culture itself. It sounds like this is a company that takes way too long to make decisions and doesn’t know how to balance thoroughness with efficiency. Why spend the money on flying people to HQ when they could just as easily do a skype call. If they want to see the headquarters, then that can be an option, but it shouldn’t be mandatory if they’re not in the area. What are you really going to get in person that you can’t get in a video call? I would be surprised if the excuses like fear of flying and lack of childcare weren’t just made up because they disliked the inconvenience of having to make such a big trip for seemingly no good reason.

          And the call with the CEO after a decision has been made but before an offer has been extended? That just sounds like you’re screwing with them on purpose unless they get the offer on the skype call with him. Why make them go through that step thinking they haven’t passed all the tests when they really have?

          Maybe I’m just jaded because of one particularly horrible hoop jumping experience I had with one company involving ridiculously long personality tests, strange cult-like emphasis on culture, and conversations about planning client picnics and methodology that were designed to look for a bunch of hidden bullshit that made no sense anyway. Newsflash: your hiring practices aren’t working if 50% of your employees leave after less than a year.

          1. Honeybee

            Hmm, I don’t know about the first part. My company does both Skype interviews and in-person interviews as part of our process – we fly about 3-5 top candidates out to our HQ to do on-site interviews. There’s a lot you can pick up on in person that you can’t get in a video call. Speaking from an interviewee’s side, I am way more comfortable chatting with people in person than I am in a video call – video calls feel more unnatural. There are also studies showing that non-verbal communication doesn’t come through as clearly via video calls and that interviewers rate candidates interviewed via video call as less likeable – and candidates rate their interviewers as less trustworthy and competent. And that, of course, is assuming that the video call is problem-free and crystal clear.

            We’re also a company that hires a significant number of people from outside of our local area – candidates often have to move long distances (and sometimes immigrate) in order to take a job here. Personally I wouldn’t want to move cross-country for a job that I haven’t interviewed with people in person.

            1. Jesmlet

              I do think it should be an option, but having the fallback be multiple phone calls instead of a video call just doesn’t make sense.

              Maybe there are things you don’t pick up, but I’ve had to interview people over skype before and besides shaking their hands and seeing what kind of shoes they’re wearing, there wasn’t much else I felt I wasn’t getting. Plus with a skype interview, it’s their space and their computer and I’d imagine some would be more comfortable with that (though others might not which is why either should be an option).

              1. Ask a Manager Post author

                There’s some pretty interesting research saying that people are perceived as less likable over video, and that it may be related to the very slight time delay that you don’t get in person.

                1. Jesmlet

                  I’ll have to look into that. There’s probably an endless list of little things that affect our perceptions of people that can’t be addressed but this could be. Unfortunately my company is never going to fly people out to meet us but I’ll have to factor that in.

          2. Random Lurker

            I feel I should defend this a bit, because really, I put this out there as an example that some companies use it, not as open season to call a culture problematic. All these steps are explained to people in the interview process. Again, I reiterate that I wish it could be more efficient, but I stand by the process and don’t consider it outrageous or a problem with decision making.

            As far as flying people to HQ, as I mentioned in my post above, I think it is important to base the decision to do that on the position being hired. Entry level position where the person will be working remotely? Maybe nice, but shouldn’t be mandatory. Mid-level leader who is responsible for a remote site and needs to build relationships across other organizations in the company (as is the case in my example above) – I wouldn’t consider anyone for that type of role who didn’t get a chance to interview with key individuals in HQ.

            Final CEO call – sure, it’s annoying, but his time is more valuable than anyone else’s in the company. He has no time to meet with a candidate if we aren’t sure that he or she is “the one”. I’m aware of maybe 1 candidate he has vetoed by the time it got to that stage. As I move up in my career, this final step seems more common than not.

            1. Jesmlet

              Yeah I’m probably taking my frustrations out from that past horrible experience on the tiny bit of info I have on your company. I do think in general that a lot of companies that emphasize culture as an essential test they have to pass are probably missing out on the benefits of diversifying their working population. Not talking just about the visible diversification, but the diversity that comes with people with different temperaments and ideas about the way a work environment should be. If you just hire people that you got along with the best (obviously they have to pass on skills and experience too), there’s less of a chance that new ideas will get brought to the table about how to potentially improve the culture.

              1. Stranger than fiction

                Amen to that. Although the hiring process here is pretty easy (arguably too easy), we have the most homogeneous group of people here. It’s like they look for a certain type that’ll just come in, do their work, and not make waves, i.e. have ideas.

            2. Sketchee

              I personally enjoy when a CEO shows that his time valuable by delegating important to others that he trusts, even when it’s hiring. You make great points that different individuals and companies have different priorities. This kind of culture works for some and not others. Since I care more about efficiency than culture for cultures sake, it probably wouldn’t be a fit for me. Yet I know many people who really just want to be around similar minds and this might be an important and happy process to them

    2. Jessesgirl72

      I’ve always met the team during the in-person interviews. As Alison said, the norm is to take a half day to interview/test, show you around, meet the team, and then often ends with lunch with a handful of them.

    3. Sadsack

      The thing here that is strange to me is that the candidate is speaking with employees in very different departments and fields. Will the position be working closely with finance and IT? The company having OP talk with a bunch of different people in unrelated roles doesn’t make sense to me.

      1. BaileyLea

        I’m the OP for question #4 — Thank you all for your advice/input! I did push back on the last 3 phone interview requests and said something very similar to what Alison recommended. I wasn’t able to combine any of the calls but the hiring manager apologized about the process being so disorganized. He is a new manager and I think this is his first time being in charge of the interview process so that might be part of the issue. Plus this is a small company so I suspect you are all correct in saying this is an indication of general disorganization within the company. I’ll be sure to ask some questions about internal processes in my follow up call with the hiring manager. And to answer @Sadsack’s question, this is a project management position so I will interact with all of these different types of team members at varying levels.

        1. LBK

          I wonder if he’s new to hiring as well. If he is and hasn’t built confidence in his ability to make good hiring decisions, he might be trying to get as many second opinions as he can so if he makes a bad hire it doesn’t all fall on his shoulders.

        2. One of the Sarahs

          I’d take is as a bit of a red flag, because if they’re this disorganised about interviews, they’re likely to be the same in other decision-making processes.

      2. Aglaia761

        Even if the role requires working with multiple departments, everyone doesn’t have to be part of the hiring process. Ultimately, the hiring authority should come down to the department the person is working in. There’s time during the onboarding process to introduce the new hire to the other departments. In fact, I think its better to introduce the other departments during that phase than during hiring.

        I was hired in an Assistant Director position at a non profit last year and I really liked the way they handled the process. I had a phone screen with the Executive Director. She shares that duty with the HR Director. Once I passed the phone screen, I came in for an interview with my boss and the HR Director. Once I passed THAT, I came in for a final interview with my boss and Grandboss.

        Once someone new comes onboard, and it doesn’t matter what level their position is, they meet with all of the department directors over a 2-3 week period. Each director goes over their role in the agency as well as how the position interfaces with that department. Each new hire also has to go out on delivery routes from 2-3 locations so they understand how our services impact our clients in different jurisdictions.

    4. Nico M

      The problem is “getting along with everybody” . Why isnt a sample good enough? Is there a pattern? Eg if Rita, Sue , and Bob too always disagree on candidates merits, its them that are the problem.

    5. Koko

      We have a fairly rigorous hiring period but we try to be pretty considerate. There’s a phone screen with HR, then a 90-minute in-person which is 45 minutes each 1-on-1 with the would-be boss and the would-be grandboss.

      If boss and grandboss are pleased and ready to hire, then they invite the candidate back for another 2-hour in person block with maybe 3-5 people you would be working most closely with. The second round is mostly to check for fit, but also to be honest, we all really love working here and second-round interviewers typically see it as a chance to show a prospective coworker what a great place it is to work and how well we work together and increase their odds of accepting our offer.

      The phone screen and first in-person are typically the same week, and the second in-person is usually the following week. The offer usually comes a few days to a week after the in-person depending on schedules.

      So it’s a lot of interviews, but they don’t have to be scattered all over the place. We also are flexible with offering slots early morning, over lunch, and end of day, so candidates can take only a half-day off or use a long lunch if they get one.

    6. Lemon Zinger

      “It was worth it.”

      THIS IS SO IMPORTANT. Companies need to be thoughtful about the time they’re asking of potential new hires. My current employer was very straightforward with the hiring process and I only had two in-person interviews, but taking time off from work to interview was still difficult!

    7. Rachel

      Yeah, I don’t think #4 is THAT odd. Lots of companies have thorough interview processes for a reason…

  2. Marisol

    For #2 I would be inclined to ignore the coworker’s request, and refer *her* to the manager instead of telling the manager myself. Something like, “Jane, there’s a legitimate reason to ask questions in the the weekly meeting and if you have a problem with that, take it up with Manager, not me.” That could probably be softened a bit if necessary, but basically I’d push it back onto her rather than making it my problem to solve in any way.

    1. Jessesgirl72

      I hope she mentions that part when she complains to the supervisor. That and using my personal phone charger would send me over the edge.

      1. Emi.

        It wouldn’t bother me if someone used my phone charger if it was plugged into the wall, but someone once plugged their phone into my laptop. NO.

        1. Lance

          What, seriously? Yeah, that’s a big, fat, massive ‘no’. It’s one thing to sit at a desk; it’s another thing entirely to touch someone’s electronics.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

            I think people are super clueless about the security issues with plugging into someone’s laptop (and that goes for folks at all levels of employment, not just custodial staff). I’ve seen folks do this before and then react with great offense/surprise when told exactly why it’s a big deal.

      2. caryatis

        As long as it’s a charger that plugs into the wall, I don’t see the problem. We’ve all had moments when we are desperate to charge phones–it’s the nice thing to let others use it if you are lucky enough to have a charger and somewhere to keep it overnight.

        1. Jessesgirl72

          There is no “letting” here- the custodian helped himself. And the custodian has his own office where he could keep his own charger.

          I don’t mind lending it, but I would be really annoyed at someone just using it.

        2. Ann Furthermore

          Every year I find something that works as an all-purpose Christmas gift that I can give to many people. This year it’s a portable charger about the size of a tube of lipstick. You plug it in, charge it up, and then throw it in your purse or keep it in your car until you need to charge your phone but have nowhere to plug in. It will fully charge up your device, and then you can recharge it and keep it until you need it again. Pretty handy.

    2. Partly Cloudy

      I used to know someone who had a custodian (overnight) using her desk for his breaks. She knew about it and didn’t mind, but started noticing what she thought was food debris. She asked him to please stop dropping mayonnaise on the floor by her desk. Fast forward a few weeks (again, I don’t remember, but something shady happened with the guy) and management ended up pulling an internet history for my friend’s computer for the overnight hours and yeah, the custodian was fired for watching p0rn at work. Ick!

      1. Koko

        “Well obviously we’ll have to burn this desk and chair and buy me new ones, Boss. I’ll submit my receipt for reimbursement.”

        1. Partly Cloudy

          Without giving too much identifying info, it was a hospital type setting so I’m sure there was an abundance of heavy duty de-germifying substances around. But still. I totally agree with you!

        1. Partly Cloudy

          My same friend had another co-worker who opened a credit card in my friend’s name (essentially identity theft, and he was subsequently caught, fired, and arrested). So that one’s pretty bad too. My friend had some really bad luck with co-workers!

        1. Partly Cloudy

          I guess they do when they’re dried, day-old, and you’re giving your co-worker the benefit of the doubt because why would you ever think he’s using your desk for THAT.

          1. Rat in the Sugar

            Yeah, out of context you probably just wouldn’t be thinking that it might be something so gross, wouldn’t even cross your mind.

          2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

            I was about to say this. They don’t look alike “fresh,” but I can totally see how they could be confused for each other after drying out.

            Ugh, so so so gross.

        2. BestInShow

          Australian mayonnaise looks a lot like semen actually. Their mayo is not as thick as the American type.

    3. Rhys

      I would really not be comfortable with somebody using my desk without my knowledge. It’s not ok to use somebody else’s phone charger without asking (what if they broke it?) and it’s really not ok to eat in somebody else’s space. Just because it’s not a private office doesn’t mean it’s not her space.

      1. Artemesia

        My concern with complaining would be retaliation — subtle retaliation. What if they sabotaged the computer or germ contaminated the surfaces or something. Given the level of hostility people show when reprimanded it is nervous making; it would be better if the boss happened by after hours, saw the janitor and made the call rather than the person whose desk it is. And it would really make me stow and lock up all personal items including laptop if one is used.

      2. Person of Interest

        I once came into work after dinner to pick up something I had forgotten, to find a custodian sitting at my desk with her feet up, using my desk phone for what was clearly a personal call (this was in the days before cell phones). And she had the nerve to give me a dirty look for interrupting her when I asked her to move so I could get what I needed. I was so surprised that I just got my stuff and left quickly; knowing myself, I probably mumbled “Sorry!” or something like that! Whether it’s worth making a big thing about I guess depends on the nature of your work and workplace. I worked for a large university then, so complaining about the custodial staff probably would have had no effect.

        1. the gold digger

          I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Chile, working with a group of indigenous women. In our office of five, everyone had her own desk. Rosa, the director, had her own office. But I would come back from lunch to find Rosa sitting at my desk. In my chair. And she was totally unashamed of it!

          I would ask her to please move so I could sit at my own desk, but she would tell me she was busy. I suggested that she and I could trade desks – that I would be very happy to have an office to myself rather than share an office with a co-worker who blessherheart always put her purse on my desk because there wasn’t room on her desk and with the three sociology student interns who were allowed to use the work computer, also in my office, for their school projects and who left their filled ashtrays on my desk.

          Nope. She wanted the status of having her own office (even though she claimed to reject Western hegemony and first world capitalist values), but was too lonely in there.

          In my performance evaluation, which was sort of like the reading of a slam book, she complained that I did not like sharing my space.

          1. MyFakeNameIsLaura

            Just because she personally rejected western hegemony and first world capitalist values doesn’t mean she should give up the status implied by the office because *other* people buy into the values and are supposed to treat her accordingly. If she gave up the office she’d then have to fight even more people assuming she was the cleaning lady or whatever. That’s not necessarily a problem you have when you’re white or white passing.

            This does not in any way mean it was okay for her to take over your desk.

            1. SassyFrassy

              >If she gave up the office she’d then have to fight even more people assuming she was the cleaning lady or whatever. That’s not necessarily a problem you have when you’re white or white passing.

              Did you catch that this was in Chile? I assume if you have an office full of indigenous coworkers, they won’t decide that you are a cleaning lady because you moved your desk out of the office.

        2. Oryx

          When I worked at a small college, our phones were tied to our emails so all missed calls showed up as emails and our system kept a record of all outgoing calls.

          I came in one day to a whole bunch of missed calls (with no voicemails) from the night before and when I looked into my outgoing calls, several had been placed to the same number after I’d left for the night (the library was kept open until the building closed at 11pm). That missed call called back and I answered and from that convo figured out that a student had been using my phone behind my desk after I’d been leaving for the night to call his ex-gf.

      3. Xarcady

        My team lead in one job used to eat her lunch in my cubicle–I came in later than everyone else because I was the evening supervisor. She’d leave crumbs all over the desk. And the desk blotter would have smears of her foundation makeup all over it, so I’m guessing she fixed her makeup there as well. I don’t wear makeup, so I know it wasn’t mine.

        And then when her boss told her to clean out her very messy cubicle, she’d put boxes of stuff under my desk. And I’d wait until she was gone for the day and move them to under the printer table.

        It was annoying.

        1. Adonday Veeah

          In my fantasy, I’d move her boxes to the recycle bin! “Oh, were those yours? I was just cleaning up around my desk and I thought they were trash.”

    4. INTP

      Yeah, I wouldn’t mind the sitting in my chair to rest, but leaving food debris, using my charger, etc. would drive me nuts. Beyond the not-insignificant ick factor of someone being in your space using your things when you aren’t around, those little charger cords are not long-lived and I already have to buy a couple of new ones a year usually, so if people are using them at night regularly, that would shorten the lifespan significantly. I’ll loan a charger in an emergency, I’m not crazy, but I don’t want to supply the janitorial department with chargers at my own expense.

      Depending on workplace culture, I might tell someone to see if the janitors can be asked not to use my desk, or I might just lock up all of my things in my desk and leave a “Please clean up your crumbs!” sign. (I say that just because I definitely had some colleagues in grad school that would have seen that complaint as a classist, territorial thing.) But either way I definitely don’t think it’s something unreasonable to be bothered by.

      1. Rusty Shackelford

        I don’t think it would be classist to say “Someone is using my desk while I’m not here, and they’re using my equipment and leaving crumbs. I’d like this to stop.” Because it’s not about the fact that it’s a janitor. It would be annoying no matter who did it.

      2. Candi

        On the charger cord, I currently use a third-party cord I got at Target. $27 and change on sale, and it’s put up with everything short of been tied tightly around a lamp pole. (I have cats who like to sit on my phone when I’m not looking and take off when they’re startled.)

    5. irritable vowel

      Me. too. I am a germaphobe so the thought of someone sitting at my desk and potentially coughing their germs or putting their unwashed hands all over my work area makes me want to die. (And I’m sure it’s happened, too.) That being said, when I was a kid my dad worked as a night janitor in office buildings and I would go with him sometimes, and I totally entertained myself by going through people’s desk drawers looking for candy. So I suppose any janitorial malfeasance that happens in my current work environment is only what I deserve…

    6. Stranger than fiction

      Haha, I wouldn’t be able to tell if the crumbs were mine or there’s. But I’ve been wondering myself if the cleaning crew has been using my desk. My chair seems to be higher sometimes and papers that I thought were on the left of my desk will be on the right.

  3. MK

    #5, to be blunt, compliments don’t cost anything. People may mean what they say, but they are simply complementing you, not delivering a thoughtful assessment of your professional self. Asking why it doesn’t lead to job offers is a bit like asking why the person who told you you look good today didn’t ask you out; “you look great” is not code for “I want to date you”.

      1. MK

        I really didn’t mean to be harsh. But it seems to me that the OP is imagining some fairy-tale scenario where she knocks someone out with her professionalism and skills, and they offer her a job on the spot; like the end of a film, where the young protagonists does some super impressive thing and the CEO of this huge company who happened to be around goes “how would you like to come work for me?”.

        I think it’s important to realise that, even when people mean all they say, they only mean what they said, not what you would like them to mean by that. If someone who heard you talk at a conference tells you later that you impressed them, chances are you did impress them; but reasonable professionals aren’t going to offer you a job or a board seat just on the basis that you gave a good talk. They might invite you to apply, if they have an open position, but many wouldn’t even think to do that, unless they are actively looking for someone like you.

        And, unfortunately, some people are just being polite.

        1. shep

          Re: a CEO going, “How would you like to come work for me?”, I knew a guy in college who managed to snag an internship with a major airline in college because of a letter of complaint/suggestions to fix said complaint he wrote to their staff. One of the C-suite people apparently liked his suggestions so much he offered him the internship.

          Which, I mean, good for him, but WOW is that unicorn-level rarity. That’s like the debut author who somehow magically lands their dream agent and a three-book deal with her very first novel. It DOES happen, but banking on being that success story is a horrible idea.

          1. SophieChotek

            And it happens, but it is rare. A friend of mine did land a 2-book deal from major publisher on first novel — but I agree, really rare. But it then make everyone else hopeful. (Like some of that bad job hunting advice, that everyone once in a while work.)

            1. shep

              Yeah, I’ve also had a few friends land great agents and multi-book deals with a Big Five, one of which was with a first-first novel. Even with that exceptional luck, though, they ultimately mid-listed upon publication. It’s rough. :/

              1. Fact & Fiction

                Meh! Tell me about it. Was lucky enough to land a 3-book deal for very low 6 figures (fourth book after got serious about publishing, not first) and series didn’t perform as well as they hoped because…well, reasons. Annnyway, still plugging along but it’s a rough industry for sure! Even the “dream” scenarios like mine often don’t turn out as hoped.

                1. shep

                  Still, that’s a wonderful accomplishment! My debut is in limbo with a very well connected but VERY new non-traditional publisher (indie and brand-based, but with corporate backing–I know, very, very weird).

                  I’m nervous, but I’ve also seen the way traditionally published authors are treated and I figure I might as well take my chances. I would still love a traditional deal, but in the meantime, I’m happy to explore other options.

          2. Barney Barnaby

            That is incredible, but it’s also an internship. If the intern doesn’t work out, you just say good-bye at the end of the summer. Interns are also relatively inexpensive.

            It’s a lot more rare, I think, to get actual full-time, permanent jobs based on those type of things, connections, impressing someone at the Rotary Club, etc.

            1. shep

              Apparently! Or at least someone with enough clout to issue him this internship that let him jet across the ocean every other weekend just for fun. Obviously he had to pay for food and lodging once he got there, but the flights were free. This was also about ten years ago, and my memory of exactly who he spoke to isn’t crystal-clear anymore.

              1. Emi.

                Wowie. I should write more complaint letters. All I’ve ever gotten was Dannon Drinkables, and it turns out Dannon Drinkables are terrible.

            2. Formica Dinette

              I can’t speak for the airlines, but I know the execs at Nordstrom’s read them and respond personally.

            3. Candi

              Sometimes the letter gets kicked that far upstairs because the customer’s problem(s) are just that tricky/hard to deal with. (This can be a good or bad thing.)

              http://positivesharing.com/2008/03/top-5-reasons-why-the-customer-is-always-right-is-wrong/

              But I think this is one of the ‘dating is like jobs’ thing. Some people will compliment, but want you to reply with signs of interest before trying to go farther. (The weave of society and culture is hard to pick and reweave, but we’re getting there. Slowly.) So the LW might have to say clearly, “Yes, I’m interested in learning more about jobs in the company/hearing more about what it takes to be on the board/etc.” to get a nibble.

              As much as a cue as ever to do some subtle networking.

          3. nonymous

            I had a colleague in grad school that got an internship after engaging with the hiring manager via twitter with a short suggestion and then following it up with a very strong application. The position typically generates multiple strong applications, but it was the convo via social media that set my colleague apart.

            Having said that, I’ve had the experience of seeing a few individuals cycle through that position, and the social media guy, while generating the most positive response from the management team, did not accomplish the most with his time there or since.

        2. MyFakeNameIsLaura

          I understand where you’re coming from, but there are a whole lot of people who are given this exact message – not just from media and pop culture, but from well meaning, well intentioned people. It’s very very common when you’re working in a low level retail, administrative, food service, or other type job to be told that the right person is going to notice how great you are and give you a chance at a higher level. So it’s no surprise to me that people believe compliments will translate into actual opportunities. Heck, I was told those things all the way through college. It really put me in a bad place professionally because I didn’t understand that I’d been lied to – I just thought I wasn’t good enough, which made it harder to work on the actual skills I needed to move up. To be honest, it’s still hard. I don’t take feedback well because in some ways I’m sure it’s all just fluff or manipulation.

        1. Jessesgirl72

          Me too. I’m also flummoxed that the OP expects a board or job offer based on a speech she has given. That’s like expecting a marriage proposal after being told you look good, not merely a date!

          I am sure the OP is forging connections that could lead her to opportunities, but they aren’t going to fall into her lap. She seriously needs to adjust her expectations.

          1. Koko

            There are generally only two scenarios in which boards approach people to be members rather than the other way around:

            1) The organization is forming and needs an entire board built from scratch, so the person forming the organization reaches out to people they think would make a good board.
            2) You have something the board desperately wants to leverage on behalf of the organization – most often it’s connections to wealthy and influential people who you’re willing to solicit on behalf of the organization for favors and donations, but sometimes just giving a lot of money yourself or donating pro bono services is enough.

            That’s pretty much it. If you don’t know anyone starting an organization and you aren’t in possession of something quite valuable that an organization wants, you’re not going to be invited to sit on board. You may find that some organizations hold elections and you could throw your name in the ring.

            1. TCO

              I know a lot of people who have been recruited by boards (the board I sit on does it, too). In smaller organizations, in particular, you don’t need to be wealthy or influential. But people who get recruited tend to be connected with the organization in some other way (volunteer or donor or work in an adjacent field/org). They have also usually openly expressed enthusiasm and support for the organization to board members or key staff. Otherwise, how can you expect the board to even think you might be interested? They’re not mind-readers.

              If OP is younger, she should know that a lot of organizations really want committed younger people on their boards since that age group is often underrepresented. It sounds like OP has a lot of colleagues who think highly of her. If she wants to join a board, I’d encourage her to reach out to those contacts to ask whether there are opportunities to volunteer for board or committee service. They’ll probably be delighted.

              1. A Teacher

                Agreed. I sit on the BOD for an animal rescue. I fostered and then took over more roles within the organization and now sit on the BOD and serve in a coordinator role–granted its a volunteer position but still, something I have on my resume.

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          Yeah, I agree wholeheartedly. I was really surprised that OP made the leap from “they give me compliments!” to “why aren’t they offering me jobs?” I think it’s helpful for OP to reframe her interactions as part of building her professional reputation and network, which are always valuable, not just for getting a new job.

    1. Jen S. 2.0

      I don’t disagree with MK; #5 seems to have made a huge leap of logic that someone else thinking well of you and saying so means they want exactly what you want out of the contact, and that they are eager to offer you something. There are several holes in this logic, with one of the big ones being that many, many, many people who may think very well of you have nothing to offer you that you want. Just like I meet good-looking men who aren’t single, cheaters, or interested in me (as in MK’s example), people at business events don’t necessarily have open jobs that suit your experience, or perfect board slots just waiting for a person they did not meet until today. Further, attending a networking event is an excellent way to meet people, which can lead to relationships, which can lead to working together, which can lead to offers when something opens up. There’s a lot more time and effort and consistency and serendipity in there than going to one happy hour.

      But, as Alison noted, it sounds like #5 is not explicitly saying that they are job-searching and/or looking for board appointments, and yet expects that offers should follow a good chat after which they get a compliment, simply because the complimenter is so impressed that they want #5 on their team. Especially if you already have a job, why would you expect that people would randomly have jobs to offer you? A LOT has to fall into place for that, and it goes double if they don’t know you *want* a job.

      (…And how many jobs do you need? Do you actually *need* a job offer?)

      Please note, I absolutely have networked my way into jobs, I have gotten many a lovely compliment, I have sat on boards, and I have had people that I have met at events or people with whom I’ve worked on a project probe me about my interest in joining their team. I understand and have experienced the situation #5 is envisioning…and I STILL am unclear as to why they expect it to happen with such great frequency. Yes, it certainly happens…but not usually like magic after one meeting, or by a quarter of the audience after one speech.

      All of that said, I agree with Alison — if you would be happy with a LinkedIn connection to launch the relationship, send the invitation yourself, because others are not going to have the same priorities (or read your mind).

      1. Oh no, not again

        I didn’t get the impression that the OP was expecting job offers after one talk– sounds like they speak frequently and are getting all kinds of positive feedback, but aren’t sure how to turn that into opportunity. The OP didn’t just mention job offers and board positions, they also mentioned a LinkedIn invite. That would be a good start–does anyone have a good way to ask for an invite? That would be a constructive starting point solution (and something all newbies, myself include, who haven’t learned the ins and outs would appreciate. Everyone has to start somewhere).

        1. LQ

          I mean…I don’t know if this is stupid, but if I want to connect with someone I met on LinkedIn, I’d sit down and send an invite myself, with a note, saying “It was nice to meet you at Thing. You ruled when you talked about Stuff.”

          With LinkedIn you can send connection requests yourself, you don’t have to wait for others to do it.

          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            Right, exactly. If you want to connect, send the invite. It would be over-complicating things to ask someone to send the invite instead of just issuing one yourself.

          2. Oh no, not again

            This might seem silly to most, but what I’m (poorly) trying to get at is, what is the etiquette of invites? If the person you’re trying to network with would be considered essentially a superior rather than a peer, it is okay to invite them first? It’s tough figuring out unspoken business rules (for me it is) when everyone already seems to know. Which is why I’m puzzled at the responses to the OP. If they already knew, they wouldn’t ask, so while the people responding are level 300 on up, maybe the OP is at the introductory level?

            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              It is fine to invite them first. The most effective invitations include a note with them, not just LinkedIn’s default text. Include a note reminding them how you met (if there’s a chance they won’t recall) and say that you’d like to connect and keep in touch. That’s really it.

        2. Emi.

          Why can’t you just send a LinkedIn invite yourself? Is there some rule of LinkedIn etiquette I’m missing?

        3. Artemesia

          The answer is that the OP needs to take the initiative in all of these things. e.g. I just moved to a new town a few years ago where I knew noone except my daughter. Today we have a circle of good friends and a very active social life; we even shared a cottage in Europe this summer with one couple we met here. We will be at a New Year’s Eve dinner party with two other couples etc etc. I very actively socially networked when we got here but I can’t recall a single person who took the initiative to invite us anywhere. I would go to meet ups and classes and book discussions and have great chats with people but in every case it was I was initiated a follow up — inviting a woman to have lunch that bloomed into reciprocation and then couples get togethers or inviting a couple to join us for dinner or whatever. From there in many cases they would follow up with invitations and the relationship developed. When you want something most of the time you need to take the steps to make it happen. If someone is complimentary of the professional talk, then ask them to connect on linked in mentioning you enjoyed meeting them at the Teapot Build meeting or even follow up with a request for an informational interview if that fits. When you make these connections and cultivate them, you are then in a position to ask their advice down the road about your career and future job searches.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

            Yes, this. I think OP may be seeing things as if they were a medieval lady who is looking for a knight to carry them over a puddle. Even old timey ladies would drop a handkerchief to get a knight’s attention—they didn’t just stand awkwardly at a puddle.

            So with that loaded and gendered analogy, drop a handkerchief, OP#5. In this case, that would be sending the other person a LinkedIn invite, asking if they’re also going to be at X professional/networking event, or inviting them out for (professional) coffee.

      2. CM

        I think OP#5 needs to be more forthcoming about what they are looking for, and use the compliment as an opening to talk to the person more. Like, “Thanks, I appreciate it. Your work at Organization is really interesting too. Would you be willing to have coffee and talk with me about it sometime?” And then at the coffee, mention that you’re looking for opportunities to join a board. Or be even more upfront and say, “I see you’re on the board of Organization. I’m looking for opportunities to join a board. Do you have any advice for me?”

        This letter reminded me of a longtime board member at my organization who did pro bono accounting services for us, but never asked for any kind of recognition. I took over a new role in the organization and decided to set up meetings with board members to ask what would make them happier. (This had never been done before.) I was surprised when he said that he wished board members would spread the word about his accounting firm, and that he saw his board work as a business opportunity and was disappointed that it had not generated a lot of business for him. He had been on the board for over a decade, and we all just assumed he was doing it out of the goodness of his heart since he had never once mentioned his business. Don’t make somebody take you out for coffee and ask you what would make you happy. You will have to wait around a long time.

        1. Artemesia

          Great advice but a caution too to go slow. I have known big shots who were resentful that young professionals they met immediately shifted to ‘networking’ and asking favors in the first casual conversation at an event. A delicate touch is needed so you don’t come across as a grasping user. It is a delicate dance.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

            I agree, but I think CM has also done a good job of offering fairly broad language (i.e., not “how do I join your Board, but how do I join A board”). I’ve found that if you couch your requests as if they were mentorship, convey gratitude quickly, and are timely about following up, people are more willing to help than feel skeeved out.

            All of that, coincidentally, is networking, but ideally folks look at networking as an opportunity to build relationships, not an opportunity to be a user.

          2. nonymous

            also, I’ve found that a great way to get mentor advice is simply to ask about the person’s own path. So in a conference setting “I read paper xyz from your team, how did you identify scenario A/get funding for activity B/etc” or in a board context, even a simple “How did you get involved in board xyz” can start a good discussion. People like talking about themselves and it usually creates opportunity to demonstrate your own knowledge of the industry.

            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              More to it for sending a LinkedIn invite? There really isn’t (beyond what I wrote above). There’s a lot more to if if you want to build the relationship after that, but the initial invite is really not complicated. You just send it.

            2. a different Vicki

              If you think the person will look at it and think “who’s this Wakeen person?” you might include a note like “we talked at the Teapot meetup last week and I’d like to connec, to provide context. (I have turned down invites that are from people I’ve never heard of, with no obvious work/business connection: say, I’m in Teapot Quality Control, the other person is listed as “Accounts Payable, Neverland Coffee Exports.”)

              1. Oh no, not again

                Thank you. I don’t have a LinkedIn account, but knowing what to do is helpful if I set one up. I tend to default to the sidelines– I’m not a mover and shaker and have been in the same job for about six years. There’s no opportunity here. Eventually I’ll have to find something else because of need. I am so out of touch with social media and it seems as though LinkedIn is something people are supposed to do. The job I’m at now is entry level sales and the first desk job I’ve ever had. All jobs before that were fast food or light physical labor. I am a complete beginner. I have zero clue. I don’t know how to schmooze with business people without it looking like I’m a) completely selfish and b) sucking up (see point a) because I have no connections. I can’t give leads to people to help them in order to maybe get a little help someday. Thinking “out loud” here…the only thing I think I might be able to do is if I get more involved in social issues in my community and meet people that way. That’s something I really care about. Is that a good way to go about meeting people for possible future business opportunities? I can’t wrap my head around seeking out people in sales and trying to network with them. It would feel stilted. Sorry for the word vomit. Still trying to figure out how I fit in and where I can fit in.

      3. Koko

        On networking, I can’t recommend enough the book “Give and Take” by Adam Grant. In it, he shows that the most successful networkers are people who are giving-oriented. They are always doing favors for people, so they build up networks of people who feel indebted to them. And they often cash in those favors on behalf of other people.

        They’re basically what Malcolm Gladwell called “connectors.” They listen to people they meet at a cocktail hour talk about their new documentary film project in Portugal and say, “Hey, I know a great PA who’s fluent in Portuguese, and I think she might be looking for work. Should I introduce you?” Now both the director and the PA feel they owe the connector a favor, because he gave both of them something they needed. Next time the connector needs a more one-sided favor, the other person is more likely to happily repay the earlier generosity shown.

        They build up such vast networks of people that they eventually become the go-to person to ask if you need an introduction or you’re looking for someone with an unusual talent or you need an off-the-record reference.

        Good networkers help bad networkers find each other.

        1. Hilary Faye

          I love this! I’ve never really thought it through but it’s really spot on. I always get frustrated when I’m approached by various people to “network” and it’s really just a list of things I can do for them. I’m far more likely to help someone who helps me in some way. The relationship shouldn’t be so one-sided. Thanks for the book rec – I know what I’ll be reading over the holidays!

        2. One of the Sarahs

          I’ve never read the book, but this is so much what I see good networking to be about. I think some people get confused, as it’s often presented as “sell yourself”, when really it’s about making connections like this. I love the whole “You’re into this, do you know this person’s work?” approach, because even if they already know them, it’s a way into an interesting conversation.

    2. Marisol

      I don’t think what you are saying is harsh, and I don’t disagree with you. However, I think you might be misunderstanding the question a bit by taking it too literally.

      I think the main thrust of the OP’s question is this:
      …but what to do with all this positive feedback I get in order to grow my career beyond my current employer

      But your answer focuses on this:
      Why do these compliments never come with a job offer, or board offer, or a LinkedIn invite?

      I think it’s safe to say that if the OP is a star performer, she is also smart enough not to literally expect job offers to magically appear when she gets a compliment. I saw her second question as more rhetorical in nature. If were the OP, I might feel underestimated by getting an explanation of the obvious.

  4. Schmooples and the Binkie-Boo

    #1 If your hiring process takes a long time then you risk losing candidates you like – but I think AAM’s advice about how there’s no such thing as a dream job also applies to candidates. Yeah, he seems great. So did the guy I had to fire one time. If you hire in haste you may regret it – take the time to interview and be aware that you may lose your favourite but right now that’s just a fantasy and you have no idea what he’s actually like to work with.

    #2 I feel we are missing some context. Is this person nervous or socially anxious or totally confident? Succeeding or struggling with their workload? Having an issue with someone else in the team? What’s the wider picture?

    #3 I truly feel your pain as my workspace is a big deal to me and I hate people going anywhere near it when I’m not there. However, I do think it’s worth pointing out that it isn’t actually your desk – it’s the desk you’ve been assigned, sure, but it doesn’t technically belong to you. It belongs to your employer. I realise that sounds a bit cold but it’s a distinction worth making. It is very rude for people to leave food on it or use your stuff though and I totally feel for you (though I think you should put your charger away when not using it). But if you use ASM’s script there’s a chance you will be told it’s not your desk (though maybe this is field specific and I’m way off).

    Here’s what struck me when reading your letter: it sounds like you’re feeling invaded and short on personal space. It’s not just people sitting at your desk when you’re not there – it’s the other stuff you mentioned like people bothering you about things that aren’t your job and generally just not quite sticking to the boundaries you want. And that sucks.

    1. Random Lurker

      For #2, I can’t help but to wonder if the missing context is what Alison hinted to in her answer. Are 30 minute meetings turning into 60 because someone (and there is always one!) asks inappropriate questions that are better suited for one on one, goes tangential on something for several minutes, or continually revisiting topics that have already been covered? That’s my personal hell. Telling your coworkers not to ask questions is not the right way to deal with this problem, but I can understand the frustration and attempt to regain structure.

      1. NJ Anon

        This! At Oldjib we “learned” not to ask questions. Our boss loved to hear himself speak. Meetings would last 2.5 hours. At new job it is more like what Random Lurker is describing. People go off on tangents that are better suited to 1:1 conversations outside of the meetings but our boss doesn’t reign them in.

          1. Chinook

            That is mine too. It is the job of the chair of the meeting (whether it be the manager or someone else) to speak up if the questions are off topic, not the job of someone who is just an attendee. If they have a real problem with that, then they should bring it up with the chair, not the questioner after the fact. (I speak as someone who both chairs meetings and goes off on tangents, so I know it happens. Luckily, there are people in those meetings who know how to silently tell me get back on track with hand signals and know that I don’t take it personally).

            If I found out that someone was going around to attendees and telling them not to ask questions, I would be royally p*$$ed because why else would be having a meeting if not to discuss stuff? Otherwise, we might as well save everyone’s time and make decisions via email.

            1. NJ Anon

              Why? Because the boss said so. Because he wants everyone to know how smart he is. We had no choice but to be held hostage at the meeting. He was a bully and narcissist.

      2. Joseph

        <i<Are 30 minute meetings turning into 60 because someone (and there is always one!) asks inappropriate questions that are better suited for one on one, goes tangential on something for several minutes, or continually revisiting topics that have already been covered?
        I don’t think this is the case.
        1.) OP specifically said (twice) “anyone who asks a question” is told to stop. Presuming that OP is correct, it seems unlikely that the entire group is filled with That Guy.
        2.) If this was the case, I don’t feel like OP would have written in. Telling people to never ask a legitimate question so “we can get out faster” is completely different than telling someone to not ask time-wasting things like you’ve mentioned.
        Also, re: missing context. I don’t think there needs to be any. I’ve worked with several co-workers whose thoughts about meetings are “let’s get out of here ASAP”, so they groan every time someone asks a question or raises an issue even if it’s completely legitimate to do so simply because it makes the meeting last longer.

        1. Jessesgirl72

          Yes, this has been my experience too. Sure, there are always some who ask unnecessary questions, but there are also those who don’t want legitimate concerns raised because they want the meetings to be short or non-existent.

          1. AMPG

            Same here. I’ve worked with a few people who genuinely felt the only good meeting is a canceled meeting, regardless of how well the meeting was run. They were all professional enough not to pull what the OP is describing, but there was often side grumbling.

          2. pescadero

            Well… after 20+ years in the work world, I’ve come to the conclusion that ~90% of meetings should be non-existent, and the 10% that should exist are still regularly twice as long as necessary due to unnecessary twaddle.

        2. Roscoe

          Well, I like to assume ignorance before malice, and I think a lot of people who do ask those time wasting questions, don’t get that they are wasting everyone else’s time. So they may not be intentionally doing it, but it doesn’t mean its less annoying.

        3. Future Analyst

          I think that there’s nuance involved here too. I think that asking a question in a meeting to which the answer pertains to only you is not the best use of everyone’s time. The question can be legitimate AND a waste of time for others, and most people don’t care to make the distinction. Company culture can also affect this: some managers/leaders encourage people to ask questions with wild abandon, not caring that it wastes time for many others.

          FWIW, I actually laughed when I read question 2– it sounds like something I would have thought was a great idea when I was younger. :)

        4. Koko

          Agree with your assessment. I’m familiar with the pains of, “This meeting is supposed to end at 5 don’t you dare raise your hand to ask a flattering question designed to ingratiate yourself to the meeting leader that is worthless to everyone else in the room at 4:59.” But I don’t think OP would have written in, and written the way she did, if that’s what was going on here.

        5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          Yes, this.

          I was part of a team that often had to have 2-3 hour meetings when we were making publishing decisions (I was the facilitator). Everyone knew that that was the timeframe and would block out the full amount of time, and then if we got out early, cool. If we took the full amount of time, I never let us run over, and no one felt conned into a neverending meeting. The important thing was allowing each person adequate time to pitch their piece and to have a robust discussion about it. One of the important ground rules we set was to be open to changing one’s mind about publication and not prejudging pieces before we discussed.

          One of the guys on the team, who had always been a fairly aggressive interrupter (and who was slightly overbearing), began adopting a bullying process of telling the other team members not to ask questions and trying to curtail discussion so he could leave after 1 hour because… he wanted to. He would announce his “vote,” even though it broke with our groundrules and protocol, and then he would refuse to engage in discussion about “his vote.” His pieces had already been selected, and he didn’t care about the other pieces, so he would try to ram votes through and other nonsense. It pissed everyone off, and I had the unenviably task of quickly nipping it in the bud (both privately and in the actual meetings). Once he saw that EVERYONE was irritated with him, not just me, he finally stopped being obnoxious. He would still complain to me about how long the meetings were, but he at least stopped complaining about it in the meeting during another teammate’s pitch.

          So while OP might have a guy who is hyper-sensitive to meetings dragging on, it’s also possible that OP#2’s coworker is selfish and bullying, like my guy.

          1. One of the Sarahs

            In my second degree, the other mature student in my tutor group would try to put pressure on people to not talk in our tutorials, and keep it fast, so he could leave by 3:30 instead of the 4:30 the slot ran to. He’d use this snide, verging-on-bullying approach, talking about how boring it was to hear about other people’s projects, and I could see it really freaking out the younger students, because he was a big personality. Me, I’d say “hell no, I’m paying for this class, and I need to use all of it – you leave early if you want”. (He really didn’t like me)

            1. Marisol

              I think your approach to handling this was awesome. Standing up to bullies is very satisfying, especially when you’re looking out not just for your own interests, but for the interests of the group. It takes a level of maturity that I don’t think most people have in their twenties–at least I didn’t. You have to get some hard knocks in first!

            2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

              I love that you did this—both because it was an “Emperor has no clothes” moment, and because it modeled for the younger students that not all folks further in the program are jerks.

              It’s also amazing to me that he was so rude. Doesn’t he realize that it’s boring for everyone else to hear about his project, too? Part of being a good colleague is not being unreasonably selfish, like your guy sounds.

      3. TBoT

        I wondered if perhaps the “get out of here faster” person is critically overworked and desperate to get back to what they’re doing. It’s definitely possible that they’re just annoyed by spending time in meetings and want it to be over with, but I’d want to make sure there wasn’t something else going on that was leading to the pressure to wrap up faster. (I know I’ve had times when I had way more on my plate than I could handle, in spite of talking very directly to my manager about the fact that I had basically been given two jobs’ worth of work to do. During those times I haven’t said “Please stop asking questions so we can go” in meetings, but I’ve certainly thought it.)

        1. Jessesgirl72

          Even so, that is something to take up with the Manager- it’s not inappropriate to intimidate your coworkers into not asking questions.

          1. One of the Sarahs

            Yes, this. Leaving other people without the information they need causes them problems – and if they’re *that* overworked, it’s not going to help them in any meaningful way.

        2. Joseph

          It’s possible that’s the case, but it doesn’t justify the response. Quite frankly, if you’re so overworked that the extra few minutes of questions is going to make or break your day*, you probably should be trying to figure out a way to either duck out early or skip the meeting entirely to put out the fire.
          *Assuming the number/type/length of questions is reasonable. If it isn’t, then that’s an issue…but that’s also an issue that needs to be raised directly with the manager or meeting organizer so they can take control.

      4. Trout 'Waver

        My boss likes to schedule hour-long meetings for 4:00 pm. He does this intentionally to try to get people to work past 5:00 because he never has an agenda and the meetings are open-ended and often go long. When people ask questions, it makes everyone in the meeting stay even later.

        Under those conditions, I could definitely see people telling others not to ask questions.

        1. Temperance

          Is there a reason he wants people after 5, or is he just one of those people who likes feeling powerful and important?

          1. Trout 'Waver

            He doesn’t really follow the work of anyone who reports to him, so he only grades on attendance. More people working late = more productivity in his book.

        2. Purest Green

          This is the worst! I’m guessing you can’t all schedule individual 4:00 pm meetings with each other so you aren’t available on the calendar.

        3. the gold digger

          I worked for a company that had its HQ in Australia. (I am in the US.) I didn’t mind (much) the monthly meetings that started at 5 p.m. or later my time – I just took them from home, but what I did mind was the CEO not sticking to the agenda or to the times. I know we have to have full team meetings to talk about these things, but if the Oz teams runs an hour over, they are still at work. I have already worked a full day and just want to eat supper and go to bed. But I never knew how long the meetings would really last. It was a great mystery.

      5. nonymous

        I think a legitimate approach if people are feeling that meetings are going on too long is to reaffirm how the meeting is expected to run. For example, is there an agenda and can it be circulated ahead of time? Who is the facilitator? At what point will the facilitator suggest that a discussion be tabled for future/smaller group follow-up? and of course, a reminder for attendees to be mindful of everyone’s time. Even in a smaller group where everyone benefits from hearing the discussion/answers, there is probably a point (for me it’s around the 45 minute mark) where brains start to wander. It is perfectly reasonable to say “this discussion is going on longer than we had planned, can we find time later in the week to continue”. It’s also reasonable to say that in order to cover all items on the agenda.

      6. Stranger than fiction

        Right, this person went a little overboard in response to something probably. But the appropriate thing to do would be 1. Send out agenda ahead of time, so people can be prepared, and 2. Leave at least a small window of time afterward, say 10 or 15 minutes for (well thought through) questions.

    2. neverjaunty

      But #1 isn’t just about hiring taking a long time – it’s about multiple one-on-one interviews and the promise of more. That’s not caution; it’s disorganization.

      1. Jessesgirl72

        You are conflating OP1 and OP4.

        OP1 is the hiring manager, who hasn’t done multiple interviews yet.

        OP4 is the one trying to be hired, who has done a million phone interviews.

      2. Jessie

        I think you’re referring to #4 – that’s the disorganized mess of multiple interviews. #1 is the phone interview with a good candidate who got another offer, but the LW can’t do their in-person interview until next month.

  5. cncx

    OP 4 only you can know the vibe this job is giving you but the absolute hands-down worst job i ever had made me do a million interviews. For me, it is a sign of (pick one or all): disorganized HR, disorganized line manager, management who doesn’t know what they want, people who don’t know what they are doing. Unless you got some good vibes from the talks you had, i would RUN FAR AWAY QUICKLY that is way too many interviews.

    1. BaileyLea

      cncx – that’s part of the dilemma. The hiring process is disorganized but every person I’ve spoken to or met in person has been great! I keep thinking “I’m done with this, this is ridiculous” but then I have another phone call with a team member and get off the phone thinking “I really want to work with these people.” Thank you for the advice!

      1. CM

        This wouldn’t scare me away at a small startup, especially since when you brought it up, the manager acknowledged that the process needed work. This company doesn’t have set processes yet and they are open to improving how they do things.

      2. Optional lurker

        I think that you also need to ask the recruiter if this is the last step and what you should expect after this. Would they go to offer stage? Need more time etc?. Sometimes (especially in smaller/start up organizations that don’t do a lot of hiring) the more you make yourself available for interviews it signals to the hiring team that well Op was ok with meeting So and so..so maybe we should have them meet So and So as well, There wasn’t any pushback on that interview so lets have OP meet random person # 3 because OP might interact with them at some point in time.

        I know that there are nice ways to push back because your time is valuable as well and presumably you are taking either PTO or time out of your day to meet with these people. 30 mins a person can really add up. Also you giving them boundaries on how much additional time you are willing to give them should give you some piece of mind as well and it may help them decide who else you really need to meet before they can make a decision especially if you are the only candidate/final candidate that they are looking for. You may have more leverage than you think because chances are they don’t want to start from scratch in their search. Unfortunately its not uncommon for hiring leaders to stop the interview process when they have identified 1 or 3 candidates that they really like. Good Luck- let us know how it goes.

        1. BaileyLea

          Optional lurker – I was worried about exactly what you pointed out – that I was making myself too available. I did politely push back on all the phone calls and received an apology from the hiring manager about the overwhelming number of requests. I will take your advice on asking how many more steps are involved in the hiring process. Thank you for the advice!

      3. One of the Sarahs

        If I were you and you go ahead, and have the chance, I’d ask about how they make other decisions in the interviews!

    2. Junior Dev

      I’ve never thought better of a company because they had a convoluted hiring process. The worst are companies that try to be “creative” and waste your time with stuff that’s at best irrelevant and at worst unreasonable or an invasion of privacy.

  6. Some Sort of Management Consultant

    Maybe it’s the “free seating” millennial with not home base in me (joking, joking) but it’s just a desk and a chair. Nothing particularly intimate.

    1. MK

      Well, not really. It’s a desk and a chair that your employer has provided for your use; it’s not unreasonable that you don’t want people to treat it as a park bench. “free seating” is a very different arrangement where your employer specifically does NOT assign you a desk, so it’s not the same thing at all.

      I agree that there is nothing intimate, and it’s usual for people to use your office occassionally, if they need to write something down urgently, or if they need to put whatever they are carrying down for a few minutes, etc. But using it on a regular basis (when they apparently have a desk of their own) and leaving trash around makes for a valid complaint.

    2. Colette

      My desk has:
      – cleaning cloths
      – Over the counter health related things (such as bandaids)
      – Kleenex
      – copies of my timecards
      – tea
      – a calendar with pictures of my nieces

      Nothing particularity private, but also nothing I want a random stranger pawing through or using.

    3. Erin

      Having been a receptionist, I have to disagree. It sucks when your space is not really yours, when everyone else in the office gets their own space.

      But at least that sort of comes with the territory when you’re a receptionist – if other people sit at your desk to cover phones while you’re on lunch, for instance – but the OP isn’t a receptionist! She deserves to have her desk be her desk.

      1. anonderella

        I am a receptionist, and I get unfathomably upset when someone takes my pens. I am not a pen depot! We have a supply cabinet for that stuff – which I stock, so I know there are pens there.

        That said, I do actually get a little irked when people eat at my desk and don’t clean up after themselves. I have to collect mail at lunch, and when I come back it is not uncommon for me to slap the mail down on my desk, right into a big wet circle leftover from someone’s drink.

        1. Stranger than fiction

          Many years ago, I once ordered really obnoxious neon pens with my name in sparkles on them. Guess what? I’d still see them in other people’s offices and once even being used during a board meeting.

      2. Liz2

        As a receptionist I designated the most public drawer the “open” drawer with basic supplies, office guides, stamps, etc. so people could get what they wanted. I made sure to show it to everyone regularly also. That helped keep the other drawers “mine” without much fuss, but it is something to watch for and I never kept anything on the desk that wasn’t just open public.

        Plus sitting or needing something at a desk is one thing, using someone else’s property is another level of uncool.

    4. Alton

      I disagree. It can feel like a violation of personal space if you’re normally the only one who uses that desk and chair, and a lot of people keep personal belongings in their desks (I have a spare phone charger, tea, and a first-aid kit).

      Also, I used to work in a job where we had shared work spaces, and frankly, it was a pain. A lot of people wouldn’t clean up after themselves (I once found a half-eaten McDonald’s meal in a drawer) or would move things around in such a way that I wouldn’t be able to find them, which cut into my productivity.

      1. Schmooples and the Binkie-Boo

        Sure, but I’m not sure you can reasonably stop other people from sitting there.

        1. Emi.

          Well, you can at least ask them to, or ask their manager to ask them, especially if they have a desk of their own. It’s worth a shot.

            1. anonderella

              This was a terrifying comment : )

              leaving thank you notes tonight for the clean up staff that come Weds..

    5. AnotherAlison

      We had a potluck in an open area near my desk last week, and someone put their plate in my trashcan when I was on the other side of the room. I mentally reacted to that, and it was an extremely small thing, so I can totally understand where the OP is coming from (there are large area trash cans 10 ft from my desk, my trashcan is tucked under my desk). Honestly, I eat at my desk. I use my keyboard and mouse 8+ hrs per day. I put my desk phone on my ear. I have my drinking cups sitting on my desk. The desk is probably covered in my personal microscopic filth, and it would be kind of gross to know that someone else’s hands have been all over my stuff.

    6. LQ

      I’m kind of with you on this. Coworkers use my desk fairly regularly when I’m not around because I have a tall desk and it is usually clean (as in very little stuff on it). As long as they clean it off I don’t care.

    7. Rhys

      When it’s your assigned desk that you are the exclusive user of as far as anybody knows, that space is personal to you. Especially if you have personal items/decorations which it sounds like the letter writer does. I have pictures of family, assorted thotchkes, food for my lunches, a phone charger, cough drops, lip balm, ibuprofen and more at my desk. I spend more time here than I do almost anywhere else and I would hate to think that just because I work in a cubicle and not a private office people might decide they can just hang out in my space and potentially use my personal items.

    8. Koko

      I would definitely feel a little bit violated to learn someone had been rummaging around my desk and using my office. Granted, I am in an office with a door, but my space felt no less mine when I wasn’t. It’s covered in my decorations, badges from conferences I’ve presented at, a sun lamp I brought in, and my plants, plus full of lots of personal items like OTC medication, lip balm, lens cloth, energy bars, toothpaste and deodorant, etc.

      Most people spend as much time sitting at their desk as they do sleeping in their bed. It feels like a personal place.

    9. Sadsack

      So you wouldn’t mind finding someone else’s food crumbs on your desk and chair when you come in to work?

      1. CMT

        Honestly, that probably wouldn’t bother me too much. I do totally understand why other people feel differently about this. But, no, I would not mind if somebody sat in my desk overnight. I would be annoyed by crumbs, but not outraged.

    10. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      I’m with you on this, although I absolutely understand (and often think it’s ok) that others can feel territorial about their desk space. I’ve just never worked anywhere where I felt my desk was so sacrosanct that it would offend me if anyone else used it when I wasn’t there, even if that person had their own workspace/break-space available. But I think my take is deeply informed by what my jobs have been; I have had coworkers who felt 100% the opposite on this issue, and a lot of it had to do with their role/position or the nature of the material they were handling.

      I do get riled, though, when non-coworker “outsiders” (I count janitors as coworkers) use my desk without a head’s up because I work with information that’s openly shared internally but that is confidential to outsiders. But again, it’s not as much of a feeling of being disrespected or having my workspace violated as it is concern for complying with my profession’s ethics requirements.

      That said, if someone were leaving a mess at/on my desk or rifling through my personal stuff (I mean files, etc., not office supplies or a phone charger left openly available), that would probably ruffle my feathers. But I’d just ask folks if they could clean up after themselves. And if that didn’t work, I might run it discreetly up the line.

    11. James

      How is the chair set up? This is non-trivial–some people have bad knees/backs, carpal tunnel, or other issues that make their set-up unique and which make changing the set-up not just inconvenient, but downright painful.

      There’s also organization. Where you put office supplies is unique–where you put your PostIt notes, paper clips, pencils, etc. If someone moves your stuff around you have to spend time finding it. This is also non-trivial–you’d be surprised how much time is wasted looking for lost items! Plus, not being able to maintain an organizational scheme is a not-so-subtle way to emphasize that you don’t matter. Ever work with a mechanic or woodworker? If you move their tools they become irate, for these reasons.

      None of this is a deal-breaker, but it’s stuff that makes sharing work space–even “just a desk and a chair”–an issue worth at least discussing with the folks you’re sharing it with.

  7. CAndy

    Did #3 really just say that she radiates authority at the same time as writing in to ask for advice on how to deal with people sitting in her chair?

    That’s quite funny.

    1. Imaginary Number

      OP #3: It doesn’t sound like they’re doing anything other than sitting in your chair and looking at their phones. Which, being that your desk is part of the open part of the office, shouldn’t really be that big of a deal. The only issue I see is where someone was using your phone charger, but in all of the office environments I’ve been in, borrowing a charger that’s sitting in the open and plugged into a wall isn’t a big deal at all.

      I would also seriously reconsider referring to yourself as “radiating authority.”

        1. Jessesgirl72

          This! That is the thing I find ironic!!!! They are supposed to leave the space cleaner, not dirtier!

      1. neverjaunty

        Pretty sure the food debris is not being generated from the phone charger.

        Also, these dudes have their own desk and own space; it doesn’t appear to be an office where they’re stuck using LW’s desk or nothing.

        1. fposte

          Yeah, ordinarily I’m an advocate of trying to let go possessiveness about workspaces, but when you have your own designated space, you don’t need to make yourself at home at somebody else’s. (That may even be part of the point of having that custodian-designated space, in fact; that they can be comfortable without disrupting somebody’s desk.)

      2. MsCHX

        Don’t touch/use things that don’t belong to you or aren’t designated as common use items. That is rude.

      3. Artemesia

        People who lounge at other people’s desks will not just be sitting there, they will be fiddling with their make up or nibbling their treats, or leafing through their calendar/diary while they eat their sandwich or digging through the drawers because they are bored. And of course the food mess which will begin to grow as the interloper gets more and more comfortable thinking of this as their break space. The OP needs to stow and lock up everything personal that she doesn’t want touched — words are not going to solve this.

        1. The Southern Gothic

          And make sure their (hopefully new) chair is parked somewhere other than the desk. This alone can be a huge deterrent – anyone looking to lounge around is probably lazy enough to choose a desk with a chair instead of a desk without one.

    2. LW #3

      Apparently my authority aura dissipates in casual clothes.

      Or maybe it’s the desk that radiates authority! Maybe that’s why they all want to sit there!!!

      Crap. Am I gonna have to lug this thing to Mordor?

      1. Jessica

        Kudos — that was a very witty response to a somewhat snarky and (IMO) unnecessarily pointed comment.

      2. Lora

        *high five*

        This is an actual thing in the world. Where I work, people who have super fancy electronic adjustable height desks are considered Authority even though the moving people put them there for everyone to use in an open office.

        If desk configuration was truly up to authority, I would have a massaging foot bath under mine. All my colleagues would have to smell peppermint foot bath stuff all day, and FEAR MY WRATH.

    3. Jessesgirl72

      That was unnecessarily snarky.

      And no. Because it was in context of people approaching her because she’s not a student worker. And also, she’s not there when the custodians are deciding to take her desk.

      1. Kelly L.

        This. People approach her when she’s there because she looks more “like a grownup” than the other person. She can’t radiate any authority when she’s not there!

      2. Rat in the Sugar

        I’m not sure why multiple people here are saying that comment was snarky or pointed, it seemed like a very mild joke to me. OP says she “radiates authority” but has trouble getting some people to do what she wants (or not do what she doesn’t want them to). Ironic. Doesn’t seem snarky or pointed to me.

        1. Caity

          Well it’s something happening when she’s not there, so the amount that she radiates authority when she’s physically present (which I took as light hearted phrasing anyway) is not actually relevant to her problem, which is that her desk is being used when she is not physically at it.

          1. Brogrammer

            Clearly whatever the radius of her authority is, it’s not large enough to extend to her desk when she isn’t there.

  8. Erin

    #2 – Are questions really what make the meeting run long? Why? Do people get off topic when answering? I’m having a hard time imaging this for some reason, when questions should be a vital part of meetings. Is there maybe something else that’s dragging these things out?

    If it is questions, maybe just cut them off when possible, saying you’ll email the person later, or the whole team if that makes sense, but assuring they’ll get an answer. Just not right that second if it’s going to take a long discussion.

    And nail it in the bud if people go off topic, saying that we really have to wrap up at X time. Or, say that at the beginning of the meeting: “I have another engagement right after this so we need to keep this rolling so we wrap up by four.”

    But yeah, not allowing questions to be asked at all seems like a bad answer to the problem.

    1. Edith

      That’s solid advice on how to keep meetings from going long, but that’s not the issue at hand, and it sounds like that’s not an issue at all except for in the mind of OP’s overzealous coworker.

    2. synchrojo

      another question for #2– Does your coworker make this request in all meetings, or just this particular “weekly meeting”? is this weekly meeting truly necessary, or is it just a space for updates that could be handled via email? Is your coworker directly affected by the information under discussion, or is she just there to be informed? Perhaps your coworker is annoyed about the meeting’s very existence in the first place, or her mandated participation in it (confession: update meetings drive me batty!). Granted, telling people not to ask questions is still not an appropriate response, but it’s worth considering whether to re-think this meeting’s structure, length, or existence.

    3. Junior Dev

      When I was involved with nonprofits we would have a set agenda for board meetings, with time slots–from 6:15 to 6:20 we will review the financials of XYZ project, from 6:20 to 6:30 we will discuss next steps for next month’s fundraising event, and so on for the whole 2 hour meeting. If it was 6:29 and you wanted to keep talking about the fundraising topic the whole group had to agree to take time from something else. The president introduced the topics and kept discussion on track, the vice chair kept track of time.

      The topics would have action items listed that we hoped to accomplish by the end of the meeting, like “determine who will call ABC organization to see about renting space.”

      I wonder why this format is not more common in office meetings. Maybe the consensus model does not go well with a traditional office heirarchy, but I think it could be adapted. Also, a lot of software development teams seem to have a quasi-consensus model at this point.

      1. Government Worker

        We did something similar at our board meetings at the nonprofit I worked at, though we often had one or two topics that were designated for 45+ minute discussions. The reason not to do it more often is that for the quarterly board meeting there was usually at least one staff discussion and an executive committee meeting prior to the board meeting to set the agenda. It was often very strategic. Where do we signal by allotting a lot of time that we want substantive input, and where do we signal through allotting little time that we’re looking for sign-off on the staff proposal?

        I’ve put times next to agenda items for staff-only meetings, but I’ve found it they end up being a guideline rather than a rigid structure.

  9. Not Today Satan

    For #1, if I were truly impressed with him from the last round, I would hire him, or at least interview him again more quickly than planned. You’re hiring three to four people and interviewing five–what are the odds someone who already impressed you is the worst out of the whole bunch?

    Maybe it’s different in your field, but when I interview it’s really hard to find people who are a good fit, and I wouldn’t give up on one so easily.

    1. MsCHX

      That’s what I thought too. You’re hiring for 3 positions, not 1. You really like him and may lose him over some technicalities. Interview him on a faster timeline, make an offer, if he accepts, continue the process for the other 2 spots. If he declines, you’re not really “out” anything.

    2. Manic Pixie HR Girl

      Completely agree. My answer would be to let him go if it was only one position, but not for three. Am I correct that this is a lower level and/or individual contributor role? I apologize for the assumption, it just seems unlikely that you would be hiring for that many very high level positions at once. If I am correct, it’s really not necessary to do multiple interviews. Sure, it typically doesn’t hurt, but if you are at risk of losing your top candidate, it’s better to move quickly.

      If this was me, I would get him in for a formal, in-person interview this week, and then go to my boss/whomever I needed to speak with to OK this decision, and say, “I want John Doe for one of the three slots but he has an offer on the table. Can I get an OK to accelerate his candidacy so we can get him an answer by the end of the week?” (Or whatever is realistic?) I work in Red Tape Central, but in these scenarios we are typically able to move swiftly to get the right candidate in. It’s definitely the exception, but I think it applies here. ESPECIALLY since you have 2-3 other positions to fill and only four other candidates.

    3. Stranger than fiction

      I started to go there, but realistically they probably need to accept the other offer within 72 hours right? That’s pretty quick for the Op to both bring him in, make a decision, and get him the offer to compare.

      1. MsCHX

        But sometimes you just ‘know’. And OP already feels that she wants him, the interview is a technicality.

    4. Katie

      I had the same reaction. I participate in (but am not the ultimate decision-maker for) hiring decisions at my job, and we were in a very similar position, interviewing for 3 positions, initially from a pool of about 8, which was reduced to 5 due to hold-ups on getting people in for interviews. I interviewed an extremely competent individual early in the process who seemed like she’d be an excellent fit on our team – I went right to the hiring lead the next day and said that we should hire her ASAP, not wait on the other candidates. I had the exact same reasoning in mind – out of 5 people, there’s no way she was going to be in the bottom 2, and we should scoop her up before someone else did. She starts next month, I’m very excited about having her join our team.

  10. blackcat

    OP3, you may be getting people sitting there in part because of the accessible phone charger. I know it’s a bit of a pain, but I’d highly recommend moving it and anything else useful to a drawer. I have a desk in a cube farm, and I have had my phone charger vanish completely–clearly someone wanted to borrow it and just forgot about returning it. Leaving small, useful items like this out is asking for them to get used and/or stolen.

    I don’t think you can do anything about people sitting in your chair, but you can (and absolutely should) say something about food debris on your desk. That’s really unacceptable, particularly coming from a custodian, who might even have the task of dusting or cleaning your desk!

    The only thing I think you can do with the chair is making sure you push it all the way in, under the desk. That’ll make it slightly less attractive as a place to sit, since someone would have to go through the effort of pulling out the chair.

    1. blackcat

      Ugh, the second paragraph should say “I don’t think you can *say* anything about people sitting at your desk.” Time for more coffee!

    2. Michele

      Putting away phone chargers, even if it means taking them home in her purse is a good idea. I wouldn’t put them in a drawer unless the drawers all lock because people will just start digging through the drawers and before LW knows it, the snacks, lotion, and other convenient things she keeps in there will be gone. It could also be good to move the plants at the end of the day (for example to a shelf) so it is harder for people to hide there.

      I have been in the same situation a couple of times. Leaving food and garbage behind really bothered me. In one situation, I knew who was doing it and asked them to stop. The next day they did it again, so took all of the fast food garbage that they left on my desk and dumped it in their work area. That stopped them. The other time, it was someone on another shift and I never found out who did it. The signs were more subtle, like a single chip being found on the floor. Then I checked the history on my computer. They had been using it and going to sites that I had never been to. I started widely announcing that I was working with IT to keep track of anyone who logged on to that computer and if anyone saw who was using my cube, please let me know. No one told me who it was, but the use of my space stopped immediately after that.

      1. Elizabeth West

        I never ever kept anything I didn’t want to lose at NewExJob–we had subcontractors who cleaned every night and there apparently were some problems with snacks people kept in their cubes coming up missing. We also had a lunch thief on our floor (it stopped after they put a dummy camera in the break room). They said later it was a cleaner, but I kind of suspected it was a coworker (or both), because it sometimes happened during the day. I never lost any food out of my cube. I did lose a frozen meal one morning, but I suspect someone accidentally grabbed it thinking it was theirs. I wrote my name on them after that and it didn’t happen again.

        All my chargers and headphones, etc. lived in either my tote bag or my purse and went home with me at the end of the day. It’s just better to take those kinds of things with you.

        1. Michele

          No one steals food around here. I like to think that we just have an honest culture, but it could also be that we are a bunch of biologists and chemists, and nobody wants to take the chance.

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          We once had subcontractors, but the building GM didn’t bother to tell us. We got to work and someone had destroyed everything on my desk (I am a pile-maker), another had stolen money from our boss’s desk, and there were weird flakes that looked reminiscent of asbestos on our desks (turned out it was from the ceiling tiles, but old asbestos-filled buildings will creep you out). Everyone’s first guess was that it was the janitors, but I knew the folks on our floor, and it didn’t seem like their style. So we ran the keycard readers and found out that we’d had subcontractors (thanks useless GM), so we unfortunately ended up having to do a lot of locking of drawers.

  11. S.I. Newhouse

    With question 1, I’m wondering why there has to be a two month gap between interviewing and hiring. If there is no intent to hire before February, why are interviews being held in December and not in late January at the earliest? I am sure I am not considering something important here, but on the face of it, it seems like a poor practice. I’d hate to be the job seeker in that situation.

    1. Jessesgirl72

      Two months is not at all lengthy, in my experience. It takes awhile to get applications, screen them, do phone interviews, decide which ones merit in-person interviews, arrange for their travel (that alone once took 3 weeks,) decide who to hire and negotiate their salary. For my current job, I applied the first of the year, did the phone interview in mid-January, did the in-person interview in mid-February, got the offer mid-March, and started mid-April. And that was without the disruption of the holidays!

      1. Jessesgirl72

        P.S. Thinking about it, even when my husband was hired by his old company, who cold-called him and asked him to come back, the process took 2 months.

          1. Jessesgirl72

            HR redtape. Some of it was getting them to actually post the job, and some of it was trying to negotiate back lost seniority- not to restart him as a “new hire”- which was a yes to the pension, which we didn’t expect, and NO to the extra week of PTO. They claimed even if they hired a new VP, he would only get 2 weeks vacation, same as a college hire. I don’t imagine they’d get too many takers to that deal as a VP, but that is what they claimed.

            His current job, he was hired in with the amount of vacation a senior employee would expect, and not back to college hire levels.

    2. fposte

      I’m not seeing a two-month gap–they’re interviewing in January (“after the holidays”) and hope to have somebody in place by early February. However, a two-month gap would actually make more sense to me: you usually need at least a week to get references corralled and checked and to get the hiring committee together and more often it’s two, and then a week for your offeree to be allowed to think the offer over, plus at least two weeks’ notice for the new hire to finish up at the old job and more if they need a break between or need to give more notice. Unless all the interviewees’ schedules slot nicely into that first week of January, I don’t think getting somebody in place by early February is that likely. (Admittedly I’m colored by academics here.)

      1. S.I. Newhouse

        Okay, that does make sense. Thank you. I think I misread the post; somehow I didn’t get that they were conducting phone interviews before the holidays, in-person interviews in January, and having the prospective person in place in February, which is reasonable (though I still don’t like it from the perspective of a job seeker).

    3. Michele

      The bigger the company, the longer the hiring process takes. We have lost a couple of good candidates from our department because we took too long. I can’t blame a job seeker for moving on when we drag our feet in red tape and extra steps just so someone feels involved in the process.

  12. Allison

    #3, I totally understand your irritation! The times I’ve come to work to find evidence that someone used my workspace while I was away for a day or so (chair or desk settings messed with, stuff left on the desk, things rearranged) I get annoyed. I know it belongs to the company and not to me, but it feels like my space, you know? So yeah, feeling territorial is understandable. It seems rude, and feels like a violation of your boundaries.

    At least, it can. I also know some people don’t see the big deal. But just because some people are cool with it doesn’t mean you need to be.

    It would be like being in college and finding out your roommate let their friend sleep in your bed while you were away, or if you came back from class to see a roommate’s buddy using your desk to study. Sure, they’re allowed to, but it can still put you out of sorts because for all intents and purposes, the university gave those things to use for your own personal matters, your stuff is all over it, and now someone’s gone and touched everything.

    But I also don’t know what can be done, and how territorial you can *act* when it comes to your desk. If people think it’s a nice, comfy, convenient place to chill for a bit, and they’ve gotten used to using it, they might get mad at the idea that they can’t use it just because it’s “yours.”

    1. miki

      Funny story concerning the cubicle/desk as well: 2 years ago I checked out the book recommended on AAM: Sociopath next door and left it at my desk. Mind you that is the only English language book of hundreds in my cubicle. A month goes by and I receive a reminder email that the book is due and I realize it’s gone (I had other books to read, and this slipped my mind), so I go and order a replacement copy and send an email to the library that owns the original book I checked out. In the process of getting the new book the first one shows up on a coworker’s desk.
      We strongly felt that cleaning crew (one guy in particular) saw the book and took it to read it. (I guess he was a slow reader)

      1. Temperance

        That’s so rude! You don’t steal another person’s books. I mean, what the heck, they could be reading it!

    2. shep

      I’ve also come into work to find my workspace has been used sometimes–but usually by other staff/for interviews if I am out for the day. It’s very rare and I don’t usually mind, but if I hadn’t tidied up the day before or find the odd possession in a different place, I’m a little annoyed.

      I wouldn’t like anyone using my personal charger, though, that’s for sure. I will happily lend it to someone who asks and whom I trust, but when you start using my personal items/leaving crumbs/etc., that’s the line.

      (Also re: college roommates letting a friend sleep in my bed, maybe I’m just a hypochondriac, but that would absolutely squick me out! Dead skin cells, hair, oils…ew. I wouldn’t have let anyone sleep in my bed if I didn’t know them. I wouldn’t have even let some of my friends use my bed. Which I realize is not your point, but I thought it was a good analogy and also something I–personally–would absolutely take issue with.)

      1. Allison

        Right? In sophomore year I had roommates who loved having friends come visit them on campus, our suite felt like a frickin’ hotel sometimes, and every time I went away for the weekend I would worry that they were gonna let one of their friends crash in my bed. Even though the mattress had a plastic cover, even if they changed the sheets, I would not have been okay with that.

        I think part of why I’m territorial over the stuff that’s only temporarily mine is I worry people will get too comfortable. If I let, say, a neighbor use my parking spot when I go away, they might get to a point where they use it all the time, and I come home one day and their car is there and they say “ah man, saaaaahrry, I just needed it for a few hours, you don’t mind do you? I’ll leave later today . . .” Or with anything, maybe someone is a considerate guest at first, then they become less considerate and feel more and more entitled to use it every chance they get. I guess I feel the need to enforce strict boundaries to prevent people from walking all over me.

    3. Allison

      Also, this whole thing reminds me of a story. I was working from home one day, and my “workspace” at home faces the door and windows to the balcony we share with our neighbors. One day I see a man on our side of the balcony, which throws me off because this never happens. He looks at me through the window, then takes a chair from my outdoor table setup, and drags it over to my neighbor’s side. I go over to the window, poke my head outside and say “uhh, hi?” and he says something about needing a place to sit. He was, apparently, one of the men doing some kind of maintenance or renovation in the next door apartment.

      On the one hand, I know these men work hard and if they need to relax for a bit when they make a phone call, I should show some compassion and allow them to sit wherever they want. And it’s just a wooden chair, why is it such a big deal? It’s not like it’s the chair at my grandparents’ house John Glenn broke back in the 60’s (Imma sit in that chair sofa king hard this weekend!) On the other hand . . . that was my chair, dude! It belonged to me, I bought it and set it up – not my neighbor, not the landlord, not building management, if I don’t even know you you shouldn’t be taking my stuff to use without even asking! He didn’t even put it back after he was done, I had to go out and take it back before someone else assumed it belonged to my neighbor. To him it wasn’t a person’s property, it was just a thing nearby he wanted to use, so he grabbed it. The whole thing seemed small, but it was disrespectful, and that bothered me.

      1. Paige Turner

        Yeah, that would bother me, too! But back to how John Glenn broke your grandparents’ chair…?
        * gets popcorn *

        1. Allison

          Well, my grandfather worked for NASA, and one night had all the astronauts over (back when there weren’t that many, I think we’re talking really early missions here) to his house for dinner, and the chair John was sitting in broke. I think he was leaning back and it fell over or something. He didn’t have a fit and smash it or anything.

      2. Grits McGee

        A workman at my old apartment opened the closed door of my and my room mate’s storage closet and stole a bucket I was using to store gardening supplies. (He also thoughtfully dumped it out on top of everything else, spilling fertilizer, poison ivy-tainted tools, potting soil, and pots all over the closet. I was convinced he had stolen my $30 shears until I found them underneath a pile of Miracle Gro a year later when I was moving out.) When I complained to the building manager, she reamed him out and to make amends he replaced the painters bucket with an old, used, lidless kitchen garbage (smelly garbage residue included!).

        You’d think it’s ingrained in the social contract not to just waltz off with people’s stuff (and that doing so is stealing, but for some reason there are people that just don’t see it that way. I don’t blame you OP3 for being a little off-put. It makes you wonder when the other shoe is going to drop.

        1. the gold digger

          You’d think it’s ingrained in the social contract not to just waltz off with people’s stuff (and that doing so is stealing, but for some reason there are people that just don’t see it that way.

          Nope. I have talked to people whose attitude is, “It’s not that bad if someone poor steals from someone who is not so poor.” My prescription glasses were pickpocketed from my backpack when I was getting off a bus in Honduras. Another American I met shrugged and said, “But they have nothing!”

          1. Grits McGee

            Urgh. Do eye glasses even have that high of a street value if they’re of an indeterminate prescription?

          2. Allison

            I get that attitude, but here’s the thing about stealing something valuable: if you take something like a phone, wallet, glasses, car, laptop, purse with keys inside, etc., they need that thing. They might have the means to replace it, almost everything can be replaced, but taking it can (and almost always will) screw that person over for at least a few days, especially if they’re traveling.

            So yeah, no, you don’t get to take a person’s stuff just because you need it more than they do.

            1. Statler von Waldorf

              It’s easy to say that stealing is always wrong when you’re not starving and eating out of dumpsters. The urge to survive is a lot stronger than the urge to not screw over your fellow man, trust me.

    4. Chinook

      “It would be like being in college and finding out your roommate let their friend sleep in your bed while you were away, or if you came back from class to see a roommate’s buddy using your desk to study. ”

      I see those as two very different things. Sleeping in my bed is much more intimate than using my desk, even if I know you changed sheets. In fact, I was livid with one landlady whom I rented a room from who decided, while myself and another boarder were gone for a long weekend, to let her family members stay in our rooms while we were gone. I found out only because she was expecting us back later in the day and I saw her changing sheets (something she never did – that was our job). She saw no problem because the beds weren’t being used but I pulled up the Landlord & Tenancy Act and pointed out that, since I paid for my sleeping space, it is mine for the time I paid for it, regardless of whether or not I was present. What she did was illegal as well as creepy (because who knows what else her family members did or touched while in my room).

  13. MechE31

    At a former company, I was going for a mid career individual contributor role at a 4000+ person company and I had the following interview schedule:

    Recruiter Phone Screen
    Manager #1 Phone Screen
    Manager #2 Phone Screen
    On site Panel Interview
    On site manager #2 interview
    Director phone interview
    VP #1 phone interview
    (Manager tells me I’m the candidate selected)
    VP #2 phone interview
    CEO Write up. CEO must personally approve all candidates.

    The entire process took 3 months from the time that they contacted me for the initial screen until offer.

      1. MechE31

        I did take it and the culture was an interesting one. It was a company that was young (in company and employee age), but had grown very large, and still trying to break out of the startup culture. They expected work to be first and that you were available 24/7 with little notice. They were very good at making decisions and acting on them, but the management staff was very young and not very good as managers.

        It was a job I got a lot of enjoyment out of, but there were too many negatives. I don’t regret taking the job, but I wouldn’t take it again.

    1. Feeling Christmasy

      I wonder about lengthy processes like this one. As a candidate, if I was in a position where I really needed to get a job ASAP, it’s a risk I would be taking to wait out/go through the process. Particularly if you’re unemployed.

    2. Calallily

      I have to say that at least the majority were phone interviews. I had a friend that needed to drive across town and take significant time off to complete about 6 in person interviews… at least with the phone interviews you can select the location and even wear pjs if you choose.

  14. James

    #2: There are two issues that I can see here, both of which the manager should be aware of.

    First, there’s the obvious issue with the employee “basically warn(ing)” other employees. This is a Bad Thing. At minimum it’s undermining the manager’s authority and disrupting the team. It’s not his meeting, and he shouldn’t get to act like it is. He doesn’t like it? Tough. We’re adults, and should recognize that we don’t get paid to do what we like, we get paid to do what the company asks us to do (within reason, and “go to a boring meeting” is WELL within reason). Plus, the way this is worded, I’m inclined to believe it’s worse than that though. It sounds like it’s verging on outright hostility, and that’s something that DEFINITELY needs nipped in the bud! An uncomfortable work environment is bad enough; a hostile one has a number of ramifications.

    Secondly, though, there’s a problem with how these meetings are run. Maybe this guy is completely wrong and these meetings are super-productive. I’ve seen people like that–they think “work” means “working with your hands” and see meetings as a waste of time. But it’s far more likely that he has some legitimate complaints. Most meetings are run horribly. Maybe the questions stray too far off topic and go down rabbit holes they don’t need to. At the very least it’s worth looking into the way these meetings are conducted.

  15. I'm Not Phyllis

    #2 – I’d do both maybe – ignore her for sure, but if you’re concerned that other people might feel pressured not to ask questions during a meeting, you could certainly mention it to your manager (or hers, if it’s not the same person). I think we’ve all joked about this from time to time, but I’d never actually consider asking people not to ask questions during a meeting. However I’m totally on-side with Alison – make sure the questions are important to everyone in the meeting and meeting-appropriate. It annoys me to no end when people ask questions that are specific to them and have nothing to do with anyone else in the meeting (they should talk about it afterwards and not hold up everyone’s time) – but even this, I’d expect that to be something the meeting facilitator would handle.

  16. Mazzy

    I tried opening this on an IPhone and it just went to ads, pop ups, and an app store. I’ve never had this before.

  17. animaniactoo

    For #3 – I would speak to the custodians themselves first. Particularly if you stop by and see them there again. If that doesn’t resolve it, then I would go above them.

  18. Roscoe

    #2 I won’t lie, I have a very similar opinion as this person. I won’t necessarily approach someone before a meeting, but I think I do give death stares. I think the problem is so many people don’t really know what is a meeting worthy question/comment, and what isn’t. I hate when we end a meeting early, and the boss says “well, if there are no other questions, we are done” and someone brings up something that could be asked of the boss in private, or just after the meeting as to not take up everyone’s time. A lot of time, I think its just the brown nosing aspect of looking more “invested” than they actually are. It drives me crazy. So while it sounds like this guy might be a bit aggressive, I also don’t know that I have a problem with saying something like “please make sure any questions you have are things that need to be addressed with the whole group.” Some people just like meeting and talking, everyone shouldn’t be penalized for that.

    1. nonymous

      But the meeting facilitator should be able to say “let’s talk about this after the meeting” or “anyone working on project x, let’s continue. everyone else can leave”. As you point out, not everyone knows what is meeting-worthy and it is the role of the facilitator to herd cats. Some people will learn, but this behavior doesn’t seem to extinguish completely.

      1. LBK

        In my experience a looooot of meeting hosts aren’t comfortable doing that or don’t realize they should, especially if they aren’t one of the people involved in the tangential conversation. I’ve really only seen it from people with a lot of practice running meetings where they’re facilitating but not one of the main people presenting/discussing, like PMs.

      2. Roscoe

        True, but some meeting facilitators just don’t for whatever reason. So if you are my co-worker, I don’t think its inappropriate to ask that questions be kept to things that affect everyone.

      3. pescadero

        The meeting facilitator should be able to say “let’s talk about this after the meeting” or “anyone working on project x, let’s continue. everyone else can leave”…. but they never, ever, ever do.

    2. LBK

      I’m totally with you on this and I’ve gotten in the habit of just cutting off tangents and saying “It sounds like this is something that could be discussed offline” (yeah, it’s a buzzword, but it’s effective). I usually find it’s a mix of people who want to seem smart and busy like you say and people who are just clueless and don’t think about the fact that the 10 other people in the room don’t need to listen to a conversation about their solo project that doesn’t affect anyone else.

  19. Manic Pixie HR Girl

    OP#5: I have a friend who was recently in a *very* similar situation recently, getting heaps of praise in his industry but it not coming with any “soft offers,” so to speak, and in his case he was looking to make a change. However, these people who thought so highly of him? They had NO IDEA he was looking, because he hadn’t actually vocalized it! At an event he was at with a decision-maker at a company he was particularly interested in, he finally said, “I’m looking to move on into X role in the near future, and would be very interested in working with you if and when you have something available,” and she replied to him, “Call me tomorrow.” He had a formal offer and start date less than two weeks later.

    His story is not exactly typical, and obviously, some of this goes against the traditional “apply through normal channels” advice you get here, but networking is definitely a great way to get feelers out there for positions you might be interested in down the line. Don’t be afraid at these events, to say to some of these people, “Hey, I’m happy where I am now, but am looking to develop into XYZ skill/career/what-have-you, what advice do you have?” That is exactly what these events are for!

    1. Artemesia

      Bingo. Almost always you have to take initiative in these situations. I know of one person who was sought out cold in this kind of situation but I know tons of people who parlayed a situation into something valuable only because they took the initiative. Consider the 21st century equivalent of gumption.

    2. KTM

      Yes – I think this is really important for the OP to hear. I would say that I also get regular praise/compliments/ bonuses at my company as well as positive feedback from external people I network with but I would never expect that promotions or job offers etc would just fall in my lap. I’ve had a lot of success when I’ve vocalized what I’m interested in doing or the path I’m interested in taking. Usually these conversations happen with my boss but sometimes it’s with an executive (something along the lines of ‘I’ve really been interested in moving into management at some point’ or ‘I’d love to do more work in this area’ etc). Then when an opportunity comes up – they know I’m interested.

      1. Manic Pixie HR Girl

        I don’t necessarily think she’s expecting it. Rather, what I think she is asking is, how to get it from just compliments to something useful for her career, and not wanting to overstep in any way.

    3. Brett

      This is exactly what happened to me.

      No one put me on boards until I asked about. (And once I did ask, they kept coming until I stopped asking.)
      Even though I was looking to change, no inquiries were coming in except random recruiters. (I was applying for jobs, but interference from my current employer led to me keep those applications as quiet as possible.) When I took up one of those random recruiters (and found a very nice job out of it), all my industry colleagues were shocked that I changed jobs because they thought I had no intention of changing.

  20. Lora

    2. Urrrrgh I have never told anyone not to ask questions, but I’ve definitely thought it.
    http://paulgraham.com/makersschedule.html
    This is basically why.

    Also, I have some ex-colleagues and sadly some current ones who use meeting time to:
    -show off that they are not as dumb as we think they are (YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE, if you keep it up I can get you a shovel so you can dig the hole more efficiently)
    -get emotional validation for decisions they want to make but are currently lacking in spinal fortitude to make public
    -try to find out if we even have anyone working here who knows anything at all ever (LinkedIn is your friend)
    -engage in an ego-measuring contest with someone else (STOP IT NOW)
    -commiserate (there are no less than five bars within walking distance)
    And that nonsense needs to stop.

    But this is all handily addressed by the meeting-caller using the “let’s take that offline” move to re-direct people who are going down a rabbit hole.

    OK, let’s take people at their word that there are a great many questions. How come? Do people not arrive prepared for the meeting? Are there not the correct stakeholders/experts in the meeting to resolve issues that regularly come up?

    Another working class vs white collar class note – it’s incredibly frustrating to blue collar folks to listen to white collar folks Achieve Consensus for hours instead of making a decision and moving on with life, and this is definitely a source of “oh god stop talking STOP TALKING NOW” for those of us from blue collar backgrounds; if you’re middle/upper class, this building of relationships is obviously critical so you know you will have each others’ backs when the inevitable pushback/treachery comes, but to working class folks it just looks like a bunch of bs where people self-indulgently natter on about how thinking is haaaaaaard.

    Have also known regular group meetings which existed solely to update particular individuals on the department goings-on which would have been MUCH better handled by one on one type mechanisms. Those managers got thrown under the bus by the rest of us for wasting our time. “Lora, why couldn’t we ship that $7M project on time?” Well, that would be a question for Paul – Paul, why didn’t we make money this month? Then it was my turn to be told not to ask questions in meetings because I was Being Rude…

    1. the gold digger

      blue collar folks to listen to white collar folks Achieve Consensus for hours

      Oh Lord Have Mercy yes!

      My husband’s father was a college professor. My dad was a college graduate, but he was the first person in his family to go to college and he was an aircraft mechanic.

      My husband wants to explain his reasons for everything! All I want from him is “yes” or “no.” I don’t care why you do not want squash for supper. I don’t care why you want to cut the grass today instead of tomorrow. I CAN TAKE YES FOR AN ANSWER! Not everything needs to be discussed. Sometimes, we just need to change the kitty litter and move on with life.

      1. Mononymous

        Oh, this just flipped on a lightbulb for me. I’m also a first-generation college grad from a family of farmers and factory workers; my husband is the son of two college grads with a PhD brother. I only just now understand why I get so annoyed when my husband follows me around the house Explaining and Discussing This Thing for the Eighty-Third Time Today when I got the info I needed from him in the first five minutes on that topic.

    2. Manic Pixie HR Girl

      Maker’s Schedule! At my old job, most of my work was in the meeting/hour chunks/putting out fires/etc. However I had a non-insubstantial portion of my work that really needed quiet time to think and plan, not really the same as coding but requiring a similar level of concentration. It was the primary reason I stayed late on Friday evenings when I didn’t have plans … no meetings, no phone calls, no questions, no distractions. (Didn’t help that it was a low cube “bullpen” style that was barely a half step above open office …)

    3. Isben Takes Tea

      I’ve never heard the manager/maker schedule difference before, but it makes SO MUCH SENSE. I LOVE IT.

    4. LBK

      Re: your white collar vs blue collar point, I think a big part of this is also the value of emotional labor in white collar work. My impression is that that’s not as big of a consideration in blue collar work, which has its pros and cons. On the one hand you don’t have to dedicate entire meetings to workshopping solutions to balance practicality with politics, but on the other hand you probably get a lot more frustrated because you’re just expecting to suck it up when something happens that you don’t like.

    5. Spider

      get emotional validation for decisions they want to make but are currently lacking in spinal fortitude to make public

      Reminds me of a recent meeting here which, after almost an hour and a half, revealed itself to be nothing more than a forum for the boss to persuade two staff people to do their jobs, with the rest of us cast as spectators whose presence would passively put pressure on the two to comply.

      Like, say that here at Teapots Inc., we were gearing up to switch to new invoicing software next year. The boss calls a meeting for everyone who will be using the new software. Early in the meeting, he says to the two people who will be installing the new software that it would probably be a good idea if they drafted a list of similarities and differences between the old and new software to send out to the rest of us, and then asked the rest of us, “Do you all agree that this would be a good idea?” And the rest of us all nodded our heads and murmured, “Sure, that would be useful.” And then the boss spent the next 80 minutes (!!!) circling back again and again on, “Boy, it sure would be useful if we had a list of similarities and differences! Right, guys??”

      These two employees are really good at their jobs and routinely send us all documents like this, too, so it was even more bizarre for the boss to be doing this to them (and the rest of us — I felt like I was an unwitting party to a public shaming event, which I didn’t appreciate.)

  21. AW

    #2 – Are the meetings being scheduled in such a way that there’s actually time for questions or is there a call for questions 30 seconds before the meeting ends so that *any* question makes you go over time?

    The way you put scare quotes around “longer” makes me think this is someone who’s looking to get out of meetings early, but if meetings do go long then putting question time on the agenda could help. Also: Just scheduling the actual amount of time the meeting takes could help. Don’t put 30 minutes on the schedule if it is really needs to be 60.

    But I suspect this person just needs to be told by their manager that they need to knock it off and if the meeting goes the whole allotted time, well, that’s why they scheduled it that way.

  22. Single interview

    Re: #4, That seems like way too many too much to me. I have had 4 jobs in my life, and all of them were a single, in person interview that was between 30 and 45 minutes. I couldn’t imagine having to do all that as part of the hiring process.

    1. BaileyLea

      That was my first reaction too. But, I’ve since found out that this company really does have a great culture and a very low turnover rate so I’ve decided to stick it out and keep trying to fit phone interviews into my day where I can. I think I’m coming to the end of the hiring process and I’m hoping it will all be worth it!

  23. Calallily

    #3: I sometimes get a little too personal with my feelings about my desk. There are mornings I come in and it was clear that someone had been sitting at my desk or I’ll find my boss using my computer instead of his own – even though there is nothing confidential or personal to be found, it still feels like such a personal violation to have someone just sitting in your chair.

    My husband is a cleaner and for some reason it seems that the majority of cleaners seem to take the liberty of sitting around at peoples desks! He does it and so does our office cleaner; I know the cleaning company supervisors in town will often do surprise visits in the office when it is being cleaned just to catch them playing on their phone while on the clock.

    I talked to my husband and he said it is usually best to keep it away from management… a complaint like this can cause bad feelings between boss/cleaning company/cleaner. He has seen this lead to cleaners retaliating against the complainer in little annoying ways that they know you hate but don’t break rules. You also get pegged as either the ‘difficult desk’ or your boss as the ‘difficult client’.

    He said that everyone seems to prefer using little notes; he’s often gotten a tiny friendly note asking for him to either do or not do something at a specific desk. It is also the most direct way to let the cleaner know that you are not satisfied with something and give them a chance to change it before they get a talking to from their boss over something they didn’t realize was an issue.

    When the note gets ignored and the behavior continues, that is when you whip it into complaint mode as there is then no excuse for it to continue happening – unless something ridiculous like his one request to vacuum the carpet beneath one desk in a ‘zigzag pattern’.

    1. James

      What, you mean actually TALK to the person you have a problem with? Like an adult?!

      Okay, snark aside, that’s really good advice. The only thing I’d add is to bring up any potential legal issues involved. You’d be surprised what information could be considered confidential or sensitive, and if you keep any of that information at your desk you need to maintain control over who has access to it. This is not because cleaning staff can’t be trusted; it’s that they don’t want to take on (and in many cases cannot take on) that legal liability. In a world of multi-national conglomerates it’s entirely possible for your cleaning staff to work for a company directly competing with your own without either of you knowing it–it’s happened to me–and lawyers can have a field day with such situations!

  24. Statler von Waldorf

    For #3, this is a situation where an airhorn taped to your chair that will go off when someone sits on it just might solve your problem. The more moderate and sensible solution is to remove anything that makes your space welcoming. Hide the charger, and move the plants so they interfere with use of your desk. Make your space less cozy and welcoming, and the custodians will probably stop using it. I wouldn’t go to a supervisor over it, as that feels like it would simply attract retaliation more than it would get them to stop.

    1. Sadsack

      I agree with putting the charger out of sight. However, rearranging your desk every night does not sound sustainable, not should it have to be. Simply telling the supervisor to ask the staff not to sit there, eat there, or use the belongings there shouldn’t be a big deal. And retaliation should be dealt with swiftly. Of course, this is all as it “should be” in my mind.

      1. Statler von Waldorf

        There’s a lot of “should” in your argument. I’m far more cynical about human nature, especially when it comes to dealing with retaliation. Between the ‘suck it up’ brigade and the ‘but can you prove it’ crew, that is one situation I’d never want to count on “should.”

  25. Lemon Zinger

    I work in higher ed, like LW #3. I’m not sure what department she works in, but it’s very possible that she deals with sensitive student information. I work in an extremely secure office where our computers must not be left unsecured for any time, and files/private documents are present in the work space. The office is not accessible to the public and security is one of our top priorities/concerns. Cleaning staff know that this and other offices in the building are NOT acceptable places to spend down-time. That’s what the lobby is for. There are plenty of chairs and outlets to use.

    Several months ago, we had a cleaner linger too long in the office and leave an entry door unlocked. Someone followed her in and stole a laptop. Security was tightened even further after that incident.

    It’s possible that the cleaning staff haven’t been told what purpose the office serves. If you deal with ANY student information, nobody exclusive of the staff should spend time in the office. Cleaners are an exception, but they need to do their job and then leave the area. Period.

  26. EJ

    OP #3 — I get this. I used to have this happen to me. My desk was near the printers, so everyone used it as their free supply desk. Including supplies I kept in drawers. It makes you feel disrespected, especially when everyone else has a more private space.

    To anyone who thinks it’s not a big deal, put it this way…. This is your home for pretty much 8-9 hours a day. It’s assigned to you as your professional and personal space. But because it’s in the front and approachable to anyone walking by, it automatically makes it free range for anyone to touch? Say you have a desk in the back or a private office and the custodians chose your desk/office to eat and relax. You don’t think about it, because it would rarely happen. But how would you feel? My guess is you’d feel violated. You can’t control where you’re assigned to sit, but people in passing can respect it.

    I would bring it up to whomever is their authority… And keep things locked in your desk, including the charger. They may learn once the things they are accustomed to using get taken away.

  27. MWKate

    I have a friend that had to (separately, not in a single long interview) take an intelligence test, a personality assessment, interview with HR, interview with potential manager, interview with manager in adjacent dept, and with the bank president. For an entry level position.

    The pay was better and she’s happy there but I couldn’t believe she was willing to jump through all of those hoops.

  28. Norman

    Did I read OP1 wrong, or are they planning to have a massive interview with all four to five candidates and the entire team at the company?

    1. AJ

      OP1 here. No. These are for entry or mid level laboratory jobs. We have each candidate individually meet with the team in small groups over 2 hours. No group interviews.

  29. AJ

    OP #1 here again. It turns out our modified interview schedule worked for our top candidate anyway. His “other offer” was actually a lateral or even backwards move at his current job that he wasn’t really happy with. So he was happy to keep interviewing with us even with our long timeline. We will be making him an offer soon.

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