my interviewer left another candidate’s scorecard out, why online job application systems are so awful, and more

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

1. My interviewer left another candidate’s scorecard out

I had my first job interview this morning. I was feeling confident and excited to show them what I could bring to the position. That is, until I walked in the room and there was the other candidate’s scorecard sitting right in the middle of the table. Of course, I looked, but I really wish I hadn’t. There’s only two people in the running for this job, myself and the other scorecard. The scorecard was all 10s and one 9.

I did my best in the interview and there was one question I struggled with, but overall I felt like I gave good answers. Leaving the interview, I couldn’t help but think that there’s no way I got all 10s. I pretty much convinced myself to prepare for the generic rejection email coming next week.

My question is, was it super unprofessional of them to leave that card out? Was it a mistake or purposeful, like their way of saying the other candidate is great, this is just a courtesy interview? I am feeling very down about the whole experience. I really wanted this job and I felt I would be a really good fit for it, but I don’t think I could have possibly gotten a perfect score, especially given this is my first ever professional interview.

People say you know whether you nailed or tanked an interview, but I think the scorecard is really skewing my read on it. I can’t help but feel like I failed when I’m going up against what seemed to be the perfect candidate.

It’s very, very unlikely that it was done intentionally to send you a message. Employers don’t generally do that sort of thing (and frankly it would be awfully cruel). If they’re going to reject you, they’ll reject you; they reject people all the time, are typically pretty comfortable doing it, and aren’t usually looking for complicated ways to send signals about it ahead of time.

It’s far more likely that it was just an oversight. You were in the room where they were conducting interviews, and someone left the last person’s scorecard out.

For what it’s worth, if you don’t get this job, you know that it’s at least in part because you were up against a really excellent candidate, rather than having to worry if you just blew the interview.

2. Why are online job application systems so horrible?

I am wondering if you can help explain why job applications are the way are. Besides the frustration of having to write a resume and fill out an employment history, I am finding I being asked to provide more and more information up front with fewer and fewer chances of ever getting a reply.

I am often asked to list the street address of every employer I have worked for and every school I have attended. Also the name, email, and phone number of every supervisor, even if they are not my references. Because I work in a field that relies heavily on short-term and freelance work, it can be a huge undertaking to do this for every gig. I feel 100% certain in saying that HR uses none of this.

In addition, often these applications are designed incredibly poorly. The ones that fill automatically from your resume almost always fill in wrong. Today, I got stuck in one which would not save until I filled out every box, including information I did not want to disclose. Others have drop-down menus which don’t include my degree, sometimes my state, etc. Still others have no back buttons and well, on and on.

This cruel process has left me not only baffled, but discouraged and mad. And yet, I am a hostage if I ever want to move on from current job.

Yeah, it’s pretty ridiculous. I’m pretty sure the answer lies in incompetence, as it so often does. The people who design these systems don’t think through what’s really needed or what the user experience will be like, and the companies that buy these systems don’t bother to properly configure them for what they really need or bother to test them out as a user. Or they set them up once and then never revisit them again. And because the clients for these systems are employers, not job candidates, no one is assessing them through the eyes of the candidates.

3. I was asked to work on a snow day

I’m in Portland right now and we are having a huge snow storm that is closing most government and civil offices. Today our company shut down and gave us a snow day. This evening, my immediate boss notified everyone that offices will be closed again tomorrow. At the same time, she notified me that the owner lives close to me and offered to take me into work tomorrow, while admitting that the owner didn’t think it was safe for anyone to attempt to drive into work.

I just started my position a week ago and am not in a position to stir the pot. Also, the person I replaced left a good amount of work for me to catch up on. There are three other managers at the same level that don’t have to work, but because of my convenient location in relation to the owners house, I have to work. It just doesn’t seem fair! Is this illegal or just bad management?

It’s not illegal; no law requires that everyone be given the same days off or even the same number of days off. It’s also not terrible management to ask people who can work on a snow day to work; not every employer does that, but some do, and while you can quibble over whether or not they should, it’s not inherently wrong. The point of a snow day isn’t “holiday for everyone!” The point is “if you can’t get into the office, you won’t be penalized.”

In your case, if you truly don’t think it’s safe, you could say: “I really appreciate the offer, but I’m nervous about the roads so I’ll stay home and shovel.”

4. My husband applied for a job with my company — can I check on his application for him?

I work for a company that is currently understaffed in employees with my job title. The understaffing is, of course, causing lots of stress and we are pretty desperate to find qualified employees. Given those circumstances, I referred my husband for one of the open positions, I checked with my manager first to verify if there were any company/department polices against it, as we do not have an employee handbook. His response was that there is no policy against it and my husband’s application would be given equal chance with all other received resumes.

My husband and I have very nearly the same qualifications, educational, and work background. The open positions would be in a parallel group to me so we would not report to the same manager although our manager’s manager would be the same.

Now that the referral was sent in, I have wanted to be very hands-off in the process, but my husband would like me to follow up with the hiring manager and confirm that his application has been received. He would also like to know if he is not under consideration for the job.

In a recent hiring update given to the whole team, the hiring manager stated that she had received hundreds of applications but “none were good enough to give time to.” I feel that unless my husband’s resume is dismissed because of our relationship, which I would understand, his resume (which is nearly the same as mine except 3 years of experience at a different company) should merit a call or assignment of a toy problem.

I am wondering if I should reach out to the hiring manager to confirm my husband’s application was received or to ask for feedback on how it fell short so I can provide better referrals in the future (I am trying to persuade some other people to apply for the position). My interest isn’t just because I want my husband to get this job, it is because I want to fill one of these open positions and really believe I have referred someone who is well qualified. I just don’t want to overreach and make both myself and my husband look unprofessional.

Nope, don’t do it. It doesn’t matter how  unbiased your intentions are or even if you just want to be able to provide better referrals in the future. Because he’s your husband, it’s going to look like you’re inappropriately meddling in the process to seek an advantage for him, and it will reflect badly on both of you.

It’s possible that the hiring manager doesn’t want to hire spouses (a totally reasonable thing, since it can cause problems). Or she might be looking for a slightly different set of qualifications. Or she might not be impressed with something about his materials (legitimately or because she’s overly picky). Or it could even be an oversight on her part. But no matter which it is, you can’t follow up on his application for him without looking like you’re applying inappropriate pressure.

The best thing to do is to explain to him that it won’t help either of you to have it look like you’re seeking special treatment for him, and instead have him handle it the same way he would if you didn’t work there.

5. My new hire is missing too much work

I have a daunting question on how to deal with an employee that although very good in her job, she misses a day or two every couple of weeks.

Jane is a very talented teapot maker who is paid by the hour. She has been with us a little bit more than four months and gets along very well with the rest of the team. She has been failing to show up on more than one occasion every fortnight, citing family or medical reasons, just sending a text message one hour or two before her shift starts stating that she won’t show up. As her boss, I’ve been very patient and understanding, but her lack of professionalism places too much stress with the team as we need to reschedule our team’s activities in order to make up for her absence. I’ve talked to her regarding her absences, but it seems it goes in one ear, out the other. If she doesn’t come to work she doesn’t get paid, and it seems its not an issue with her.

Replacing Jane is not really an option as we have not found another teapot maker that can do her job quite as well, and the learning curve can be a bit long. Also this position needs a lot of trust, as she handles sensitive data. Any ideas on how to deal with this rogue employee, as my patience is running thin?

Have you told her clearly and directly that you need her to stop doing this, and spelled out what your expectations are for attendance? If you haven’t, do that immediately. Do not sugarcoat; be clear and direct.

But if you’ve done that and it hasn’t changed anything … well, if you’re really not willing to replace her, then it looks like you’re stuck with an employee who is chronically absent and doesn’t tell you until the last minute.

But I’d push you to reconsider the idea that replacing her isn’t an option. Surely if she quit or was buried under a rice avalanche, you’d find a way to move forward without her, right? She’s not irreplaceable, and letting yourself believe that she is (after only four months!) is keeping you hostage to someone with a pretty serious downside. (The exception to this is if she’s dealing with a temporary situation with an end in sight, she’s credibly told you that she’s working to change it, and you have time to wait until that happens.)

{ 407 comments… read them below }

  1. Purple Dragon*

    # 5 – My new hire is missing too much work
    If she’s doing this 4 months in my concern would that that it will get worse over time, especially if she thinks she’s irreplaceable.
    You might also point out to her that her reputation is also going to suffer long term. If her team mates are being inconvenienced by her absences then that reputation may follow her professionally for a long time.

    Good luck

    1. Rubyquartz*

      My workplace has a “Jane” who also misses many sifts and leaves us in a lurch. 100% agree with you on the reputation thing. Many of her co-workers are very frustrated with her and know they can’t count on her to pitch in because there’s a significant chance she won’t be there on any given scheduled day. Her reputation at work is as good as mud.

      It can also create a lot of resentment when people find themselves covering for Jane’s workload and her constant absences.

      1. Wakeen Teapots, Ltd.*

        Arguably, the co-worker factor is the biggest. If Jane’s behavior is affecting just you, you get to decide how long you are willing to put up with it. If Jane’s behavior is affecting her co-workers, you have to decide how long they are willing to up with it. By not correcting Jane’s behavior or replacing her with someone dependable, you’re the one letting the co-workers down, not Jane.

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          Agree 100%. Keeping unreliable people that impact the team is a morale-killer, and then you’re not just looking at replacing Jane.

          One option we used for someone who needed more schedule flexibility than we could provide for an employee was to move to a consulting agreement that was based on deliverable milestones rather than hours. (In her case, I’d try to set it up so payment is not due until deliverable are received and with a discount for late work.) If that is a possibility, you may want to consider so Jane can keep the hours she wants but you still get your teapots on time.

      2. Freya UK*

        Yep. It’s one of the reasons I left my last company – one person was constantly calling in sick or going home sick (“sick”), my favourite excuse was “I had a headache yesterday so I’m tired today”… Once I came in when I shouldn’t have (milder illness escalated into a fever over the course of the morning), but I couldn’t go home early because we were already understaffed and she’d called in sick. The latter is another issue (not enough staff), but as much as I kept bringing it up in our bi-annual reviews, and they aknowledged there was a problem, nothing was ever said or done, and my work ethic was never really valued over hers – or at least they did nothing to indicate that it was, quite the opposite in fact.

        Nb; There wasn’t anything underlying going on with her either, it’s not a lack of compassion on my part!

        1. Karen K*

          I’m going to argue that compassion can only go so far!

          In other words, even if her need were legitimate, that doesn’t mean you can’t be annoyed or irritated by the constant no-show without warning. Regardless of the reason for her frequent absences, the result is the same – remaining employees left in the lurch and picking up her work at the last minute.

          1. Aunt Margie at Work*

            This reminds me of the LW who had the problem created by management when one of the staff members wanted to work part time after having a child. “Sure, great. No problem.” The staff member was allowed to leave early and skip outside events, like manning a both at trade shows. The manager never thought through the problem resulting in the remaining two staff members simply getting stuck staying late and doing all the work. It’s hard to be sympathetic from a position of being mistreated

            1. Lissa*

              Yes! Or the coworker who was getting stuck with all the work because her coworker had a medical condition/disability (don’t remember the details) and ended up having to cancel her own vacation. The condition can be absolutely legitimate but some people seem to think that means everyone else has to just take it with a smile and never have any negative feelings about it.

            2. Freya UK*

              Yeah, as you might imagine, the ‘people with young children’ thing then became another issue at the same company. It was a small family-run business, and another family member came to join as a director & HR person – after her maternity leave… she did exactly this, favoured other parents of young children, let them change their hours as they liked etc, and expected the rest of us to pick up the slack and refused to let non-parents amend their hours. She also took great offence when the matter was addressed, calling people into disciplinaries(!) and opening with “You have a problem with mothers”…

          2. Newby*

            I agree that compassion can only go so far, but the solution might be different if there is a legitimate medical problem. For example, a more flexible start time might allow her to come in and get the work done if she had a condition that was worse in the morning. Or it might be a temporary issue that will only need to be tolerated for a little longer. Even with a legitimate reason, not calling in is inexcusable.

          3. Jadelyn*

            My org is (sometimes overly) pro-employee and we go to as much lengths as we possibly can to work with people who are having issues. We adjust schedules, we adjust work locations, offer people part-time, etc…to a point. Because even we have to eventually reach a point where we acknowledge that we are a business, and our needs are clearly not something this person can meet. You can sympathize and have all kinds of compassion for someone who’s struggling, but in the end, the whole team can’t be allowed to fail based on one person. We had an employee in my branch who had four young children (all under the age of 6 or so) and one or two of them were chronically ill, plus she had her own health condition. We tried to work with her – we gave her more flexible hours. We allowed her to go negative on her sick time to take the kids to their appointments. But when it reached a point where her constant lateness and last-second absences were causing morale problems with the rest of her time because they had to cover for her all the time, and one or two of them started getting sloppy with their attendance because “if she can, why can’t I?” – that was the point at which we had to let her go.

            TL;DR Compassion is great but it doesn’t require keeping a bad employee on, especially if that bad employee is harming your team or organization.

            1. Freya UK*

              Yep. I think flexibility is a wonderful thing in an employer, but absolutely there comes a point where people who abuse it need to be dealt with. If you don’t, you’re just disrespecting the rest of your staff and that leads to the death of morale, and eventually people will walk.

          1. Freya UK*

            I know right! I’m always bloody tired but I still show up, it’s an office job, no one’s going to die if you make a typo.

      3. Persephone*

        This is probably the area you most want to be concerned about, the possible loss of some of your other team members who (will) get fed up with covering for her and decided, since you aren’t going to do anything, they will. Then they’ll leave.

        1. TheBeetsMotel*

          And, bear in mind, if other good, reliable employees leave because they can’t stand the overwork caused by Jane’s absenteeism, Jane is not going to be able to fill their shoes.

          Doesn’t matter how good someone’s work is if they’re frequently not there to do it.

      4. Koko*

        I have a friend who’s a Jane in her workplace, but strangely (to me) nobody seems to care. She takes a sick day about once a month as a mental health day, not because of a particular stressor that she needs to get some respite from, but just because she views her sick time as a benefit she’s entitled to use and considers routine mental health days to be preventive health care.

        In my view she’s using her sick days where she should be using vacation days, but her employer doesn’t seem to care and has repeatedly promoted her and given her raises over the past few years she’s been there.

        1. Grr*

          Why is it chapping your hiney so badly that someone else is managing their benefits in a way that your company is apparently on board with?

        2. Anna*

          I don’t agree. Sick days used as mental health days are perfectly reasonable, especially as preventive care. Part of your issue with that might be that if you’re in the US we tend to ignore the importance of preventative care and focus on treating the illness when it happens. I don’t think this person counts as a Jane in the same way at all.

          1. Koko*

            I think I would agree with this more if she were pre-scheduling them instead of calling out sick one Monday every month. That’s why I commented in response to this thread about coworkers getting annoyed that they can’t rely on you to be there.

            1. Sketchee*

              This brings up more questions for answers. Is the workplace set up to handle a reasonable amount of absences?

              If everyone in the office uses all of their sick and vacation time throughout the year, there needs to be a plan for the workplace to function. Perhaps covering for each other is this plan. In which case it would even out.

              If other coworkers aren’t using their time off which is a benefit they are given and management approves, I’d feel like that responsibility falls on coworkers. Gretchen Rubin talks a lot about this on her Happier podcast. That employers and employees need to give and ask for clear expectations. What’s the sick leave policy and does everyone know it?

              In this friend’s office’s culture it sounds normal in that no one seems to be overly bothered or impacted. That sounds like they have a great set of resources to me. If everyone needs to be working at 100% every day, every week … That would be an unrealistic and difficult system depending on the role and type of work.

              When other people are out, I’ll happily cover for them. I imagine they’ll cover for me when I’m out. If it’s happening to the point that I can’t manage, I’ll talk to my manager and work something out that works for me.

              And sometimes a manager can’t work something out that works for everyone. In which case I’ll either have to deal with my current situation or change it =)

            2. Zombii*

              You said she works at a different employer and no one seems to care that she’s doing it. How does that have anything to do with the thread?

              It seems like a completely different situation (that doesn’t affect you at all) that you’re overly-invested in, to the point that you’re anonymously complaining about it on the internet and then coming back to the thread to argue with strangers who don’t understand why you’re complaining in the first place.

              Talk to your friend about this, since it’s obviously an issue to you, and complaining about it online isn’t going solve anything.

              1. JHS*

                That’s a bit harsh. I don’t think Koko was intending to “complain” on the internet. He or she thought the situation was relevant and was adding his/her two cents. You disagree and that’s okay, but you don’t have to be snarky or unkind about it.

        3. Kathleen Adams*

          I think as long as you’re not using more sick days than you’re entitled to and not inconveniencing your co-workers, this is fine. I wouldn’t do this because I’d be worried that I’d get the flu or something and need to use more sick days than I’ve got, but if you’ve got the sick days, your definition of “sick” can be pretty flexible.

          1. Artemesia*

            There are two ways to look at sick leave — one is a firm entitled number of days off and the other is when necessary. I have known employers who were very generous with sick leave so that when someone was genuinely in need they had what they needed. The calculus was that it was kind of like insurance; if you aren’t sick you are not drawing the insurance and when you are you can draw what you need. For example, my father missed 3 months of work early in his career when he had a nearly lethal reaction to a medication that put him in the hospital for 6 weeks and out of work for another 6. His employer paid him the whole time. Other years he took almost no sick leave.

            Obviously a company could be more generous to someone in real need if it runs like insurance. If it is just X number of days off which is the current trend, then if you need more than that, you are out of luck.

        4. HopeSpringsEternal*

          I have a couple of employees who like to bring things like this to my attention. I acknowledge that I understand what they’re telling me, but then I advise them that what I’m hearing is that they don’t have enough work to do. After all, they clearly have time to monitor things that aren’t their concern and aren’t causing any problems in the office. There is always more work to be done. It really isn’t wise to give people the idea that you don’t have enough to do.

          1. Koko*

            We don’t work for the same company and I’m not monitoring her or reporting her to anyone, She’s a friend of mine who has told me this is what she does, and it frankly just surprised me that her workplace is OK with it, because many would not be. I don’t begrudge her that.

    2. Ama*

      I’m curious if the biggest problem is the number of shifts missed or the number of times she’s called out too close to the start of her shift. I worked for a while where I was in charge of staffing a position that was crucial to our day to day operations. The primary employee for that position was full time with PTO, but on her days off we still had to replace her with one of our fill ins. We had a number of reliable backups so as long as we knew ahead of time that we needed someone it was no problem — but the FT employee started developing a habit of sending her “I’m sick” message between 8:30 and 8:45, which was when I was mid-commute– which meant I couldn’t act on her message until 9 and usually meant even if I could get ahold of a backup they wouldn’t be able to get to us until we’d passed some of the job’s crucial morning duties. It really wasn’t the number of absences in her case, it was just that the way she was calling out was throwing everything off.

      Once we explained the logistics to her and that we needed her to call in sick either the night before or if she really truly woke up sick, send me a text message before 8 am (both of which would give me extra time to alert our backups), things got a lot more manageable.

      1. Sadsack*

        This makes a lot of sense, but I also think being sick every two weeks is a lot, especially in a new job. Maybe there is an underlying medical issue, so OP needs to be cautious in addressing this. Your suggestion seems like a good way to start the conversation.

      2. SM*

        It’s probably a combination of both. Frequently calling out just before a shift is a problem, for all the reasons you’ve mentioned. But also, she’s also calling out once every 2 weeks. Meaning she’s missed at least 8 days of work in only 4 months of employment. That’s way too much. If the employee keeps that pattern up it would be 26 days missed in a year! And that doesn’t include extended time off for a vacation or what not, that’s 26 days off because she’s sick or her car broke or whatever excuses she has.

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          And she says “a day or TWO every couple weeks” – so some periods, she’s missing 2 days in 2 weeks, and it’s only been 4 months!

      3. LCL*

        I won’t accept sick calls by text, and the company backs me up. Our rule is you have to make an attempt to talk to a real person by phone, leaving a voice mail will suffice. The company rule for people that aren’t shiftworkers is a little more complicated, but basically the same. Not accepting sick calls by text reduces the impulse powder day call ins.

    3. Smiling*

      We’ve had our own Jane for a few years now. Every 3-4 weeks, always on the same day of the week, Jane would always text me at the last minute to say she wasn’t coming in. Yes, it was extremely frustrating during busy periods, especially if the others in our department were also out that day (I had about 5 occasions over a 1.5 year period where I was the only one in the department that day because everyone else was out sick.).

      The thing is Jane had many predecessors, who just couldn’t or wouldn’t do the job. When she’s here, Jane gets “it” and works fantastically. For that reason, we were willing to put up with it to an extent. We often expressed our disappointment, but were never very firm about how inexcusable her absences were. Once, when it got to be too much and too often, we marked Jane’s leave request (turned in after the fact) as unexcused. Her absences were drastically reduced after that.

      1. Zombii*

        When passive-aggressive management tactics didn’t work, you tried slightly less passive-aggressive tactics and that did work? Unfortunate that no one tried just coaching her on it (“expressing your disappointment” doesn’t count as coaching, and emotional manipulation is really gross, especially in a work context).

      2. SS*

        If it is every 4 weeks, I can understand an ailment that might cause her to have to call in. I don’t want to derail the topic too far, but there are women who have pain so bad they cannot stand up and cannot function for a day or two every 28(ish) days. I myself have had to call in or TRY to work from home several times due to this and I’m a conscientious employee that doesn’t call in sick more than necessary.

    4. Tequila Mockingbird*


      If she doesn’t care about showing up every day, and is flippant when you speak to her about it, then she simply doesn’t care about the job she was hired to do. With that attitude, she can’t possibly be as high a performer as you describe.

      The statement “Replacing Jane is not really an option as we have not found another teapot maker that can do her job quite as well, and the learning curve can be a bit long” is nonsense. She’s only been there four months. As has been reiterated on this board a million times… no one is irreplaceable.

      1. Jane's boss*

        Many thanks Alison, as well as all the fellow readers for your comments an input. I really appreciate all of it!
        I’ve decided to let Jane go as her performance is impacting the rest of the team. I’ve spoken separately with the team and came with a plan in order to cover for her work while we find a suitable replacement.

        Coincidentally, we received notice from Jane’s previous boss that Jane presented a wrongful termination suit against them, although totally based on false pretense. It confirmed my suspicions that she is toxic and follows the same pattern of tardiness and not showing up for work frequently in other jobs. So we need to talk to a lawyer in order to shield ourselves against a potential suit. (go figure…)

        1. Another Lauren*

          Just to clarify, have you been clear with Jane that she’s not meeting attendance expectations, as Alison suggested? If not, it’s reasonable to assume that she’ll be blindsided by the news and not react well (speaking from my distant past as a terrible manager.)

          When I’ve had to have these conversations in the recently, I’ve said something like, “In the past X days/weeks/months, you’ve missed Y number of shifts, which means you’re only here Z percent of the time. I need to be really clear with you now that your job is in jeopardy due to your inconsistent attendance. If you cannot drastically reduce your absences over the next (timeframe) and going forward, I will have to let you go. Realistically, do you think you can commit to this?”

          I always like to ask for a commitment, because first of all, I like to steal as much language as possible from Alison, but also because when you do have to fire the person, you have that as supporting evidence. “In our last conversation on X day, you committed to coming to work consistently and on time. In the Y shifts you’ve had since then, you’ve been absent or significantly late to Z of them. When we spoke last time, I was very clear that if you couldn’t improve your attendance, you wouldn’t be able to keep your job. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen an improvement, so today will have to be your last day with us.”

          1. Jane's boss*

            Yes, I’ve been clear on her attendance and tardiness as well. I’ll make sure I follow the advise given when having my last conversation with her to be as clear as water.

        2. Tequila Mockingbird*

          Thanks for replying! I think you made the right decision for your team. Good luck with Jane and the aftermath.

        3. Freya UK*

          Gosh – my fiance’s last company had one of those employees! They discovered she’d done it to every job for the last x amount of years – messed them around with attendance then tried to sue them when they got rid of her, like it’s a career choice!

          Good luck!

  2. LadyPhoenix*

    Op #2: i just did some online job searching. I am a graphic designer and designed my own resume, and I absolutely hated that many of the sites just scanned the info and that was it, leaving out all the actual designing I put my heart into.

    But the worse is the numerous email postings from hundreds of job sites, some of which I don’t recall ever logging into. I have p much unsubed to all of them now because I did find a job (glassdoor was pretty great). I wonder how much mail is in the trashcan of my inbox.

    1. Audiophile*

      With a lot of these systems, they’ll ask if you want them to send you jobs that match your resume/profile. It’s often not very helpful, because it’s based on keywords. So if “design” appears anywhere in the job posting, you’ll be inundated with emails for unrelated jobs. I’ve had this happen to me, because my degree is in communications, so any job posting that lists “must be able to clearly communicate” ends up in my inbox from that application system/employer.

    2. MissGirl*

      I have the same frustration. Don’t lose hope though, the PDF still goes through so a hiring manager on the other end may still see your resume once you’ve been filtered through. I had friend apply online to a Fortune 500 company and she got the interview because if her resume design.

      1. VictoryLane*

        This is how I got my first “adult” full-time job so I always tell people to put a little time (or get someone else to put a little time) into it. I had a friend from my first crappy retail job who was a graphic designer and offered to make me one for free. During my interview the HR guy made a point to say that it was the nicest resume he has ever seen. Now seeing incoming resumes at my current job…I totally get why he was so impressed.

    3. MillersSpring*

      When I was job searching, I usually maintained two resumes–one that was attractively designed and saved as a PDF, and one that was in plain text for easier copying and pasting into applicant systems. If an applicant system offered the opportunity to upload my resume at the beginning of the process, I ignored that step; then toward the end, the system usually lets you upload other documents, so I uploaded my attractive resume then.

  3. Mike C.*

    Re #2 Let’s be honest folks, enterprise software in general is absolute garbage. The chat/voice applications used by gamers to communicate with each other or fans are more consistent and stable than the vast majority of video conferencing packages out there. And I’m sure I’m not the only one that has had to rely on an internal web tool which you couldn’t use the back button, load anything into a new tab, used frames and required IE for Windows XP.

    My guess is that since most companies aren’t software development houses, they treat this sort of thing as nothing more than a cost, move or change specs or otherwise refuse to spend what it takes to make something usable. And don’t get me started on how little thought is placed on making these tools usable for a wide audience. Everything in red/yellow/green, words are encoded as pictures rather than text, inability to adjust fonts, only one way to use particular functions and so on.

    And then the real fun starts when the clever acronym you gave your tool now has a secondary definition on Urban Dictionary or the intelligence community, but that’s a different sort of issue.

    TL, DR: Why spend money on useful tools when you could be buying back stock instead?

    1. Tau*

      I think the issue is that doing software development right is really hard. Things like getting a set of requirements off the clients, ensuring that is actually the requirements the end users will have, and then translating those into technical terms for the developers is very, very difficult, in a way that’s probably surprising to people who haven’t seen software development work before. (It certainly surprised me when I started!) And that’s just requirements, not even touching on things like change and release management, design, testing, or the like. So it’s easy for something to end up done badly or result in an inferior, unstable product where the UI makes it easy for the programmers who wrote the thing to use it and no one else.

      1. Engineer Girl*

        Yup. People don’t realize that coding is only 10% of the job, if that. Requirements definition and architecture take up the most time if done correctly. That means a a concept of operations which would acknowledge a real user.

        1. Naomi*

          Also UI design! Which is a distinct skillset from coding, and sometimes tech people who understand what’s going on in the backend can be especially myopic about the end user’s perspective.

          1. Junior Dev*

            Haha we have this problem at my job. Some of the devs were arguing with the project manager because she was trying to convince us to make a particular UI change with the argument, “the user is an idiot.” If that’s your attitude no wonder people have trouble figuring out the software!

      2. Wakeen Teapots, Ltd.*

        And who is the voice for the end user.

        We’re ecommerce, off of an in house custom package, with in house developers. Well I’m the voice for the end uers (me and other members of my team) and it’s effing exhausting. It’s not that our developers don’t want to make a good product, of course they do, but there are one zillion things they aren’t going to see or know + Mistakes Happen. We’re not big enough for fancy focus groups and testing groups and an entire department devoted to usability. You’re looking at her. [waves hi!]

        Point being: we’re motivated because good usability = dollars in the bank, which is what we get paid for. We’re motivated and sometimes I’m too exhausted by changes to quibble over “this button should really be here and not there”. It took me like 9 freaking months to get a box moved from one step in the ordering process to the next step where it made more sense.

        How motivated and educated are the people who are theoretically advocating for the job seeker end user.

        Well I ain’ta doing an online application system for job seekers. Push the button and attach your resume, that’s what we have because there’s 0 gas in my tank to troubleshoot a program after we launch one.

        1. Knitting Cat Lady*

          I just spent two weeks optimizing an algorithm.

          A simple ‘do this time intervals overlap’ algorithm.

          If you do it the simple linear way it will take ages if your data set is huge. So I had to find a fast way.

        2. ceiswyn*

          The best example I ever saw of a disconnect between developer and end-user was in a request to add a new parameter to a particular part of the process.

          Developer correctly added new parameter. QA tested that new parameter could be set and unset, using a file they could run from the command line (because there were about 100 parameters for that feature and paging through the UI was painful).

          I pointed out that developer had forgotten to add the parameter to the actual UI…

          1. Collarbone High*

            I once saw a program where the ‘edit’ button was indicated by a skull and crossbones.

            Why? Because another word for ‘edit’ is ‘revise,’ which starts with R. Arrrrrrr. Like a pirate, get it? What, you couldn’t figure that out on your own?

            1. Grr*

              Wow, that is spectacularly bad design. Especially because that clearly should have been the delete button. ;)

        3. Vin Packer*

          This makes total sense. I do wonder, though, why more companies don’t just have a “press button, upload resume” system. Why even have these buggy application forms in the first place?

          I’m job searching now, and it’s such an enormous time suck and generally horrid experience to fill these things out. And I mever know how much of a perfectionist to be about it–I don’t have time to spend five hours on every application right now, but I don’t want to not even have my resume looked at because I was lazy about the online form.

          1. Jessesgirl72*

            They don’t want to actually have to read the resumes. They want it moved to little boxes to make it easier to search for keywords.

            To be fair, there are some really bad resumes out there.

            1. Sas*

              “To be fair, there are some really bad resumes out there.” There is no excuse for making people go through what the applications do.

            2. Jadelyn*

              Even if it’s not for keyword purposes, it goes a lot faster to review applications if you know they’re all in the same exact format, with the same information in the same order displayed the same way. I can take two solid, good resumes and one of them may have a skills section at the top while the other puts that at the bottom; one separates out “relevant experience” from “other experience” and the other doesn’t; one explicitly includes “language skills” and the other just includes it as a bullet under a past job, etc. When I’m comparing those two, I have to kind of “reset” my brain in between resumes and scan from the top to the bottom to look for info because they’re not laid out the same and if I expect resume B to have things in the same places as resume A, I could end up missing things and discarding a good candidate by mistake. If those were two applications from the online system, though, I’d have a very simple table, where I could put them side-by-side and do a direct comparison. When you’re reviewing dozens of submissions, that seemingly little bit less mental effort really adds up and you get through things a lot faster and with a much more fair and balanced comparison between candidates.

              This is not to excuse the really awful crap some online application systems do, like street addresses for old companies and stuff like that. But I feel like “They don’t want to actually read resumes” is oversimplifying things a little bit – you wouldn’t want to actually have to read all the resumes either if you were looking at literally dozens of them every day.

              1. Sas*

                Good point up top, but I don’t think people are saying no to online systems. They are saying no to horrible ones that make you type in information that is useless and can’t not do that. “HR and Hiring Managers would view that as a feature, not a bug.” It’s not really though. If you don’t want to have to read resumes every day, come out with a better system, until then there shouldn’t be an option.

            3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              Yes, this is what I realized. But the trade-off is that the boxes are usually terrible. I’ve been won over to the “upload resume” and “upload cover letter” school of applications, with a brief contact info form (assuming there’s info you’re capturing on that form that would not be on a resume).

        4. Tau*

          As someone on the other side of the fence (dev) I want to say I totally appreciate your effort! It’s stupidly hard sometimes because as a dev you just don’t use the system the way an end user would and you end up missing ludicrously obvious things or fixating on points that they don’t care about. And that’s not even getting into things like UI design. (Seriously, don’t ask me to design the UI, it’s just going to end in tears.) Getting that input is so so important even though I can imagine how frustrating it must be for the token end user in question.

          So, yeah. I can see job application software ending up terrible just because you’re not going to have the sort of passionate advocate for the job-seeker which you need – everyone is going to be looking at it from the employer’s angle. Then once the system is running there isn’t going to be pressure to fix any issues – the only people who use that end will by default be people who don’t have any clout in the organisation yet, and by the time any of them do have clout they most likely won’t care that much.

          1. Troutwaxer*

            It seems to me that the intelligent thing to do is to ask for only the information needed to accept/reject an applicant for an interview. Skills, relevant work history, etc., then ask for stuff like the address of someone’s high-school if you like them after an interview.

      3. Mike C.*

        Sure, and I hinted at this when I talked about how companies prioritize their development spending. Yet there are plenty of examples where software is done right and done well. The fact that it’s easier and more stable to communicate with a 40 WoW raid than it is a Webex meeting half that size says something troubling about what the business world is willing to accept.

        And surely we can agree that frames have no place in modern design, nor do versions of IE do old that Microsoft no longer support, right?

        1. Wakeen Teapots, Ltd.*

          I think it says something, also, about how passionate people are for advocating. Piss off a WoW raider, there’s hell to pay.

          What I’m saying, ’round about, is that nobody cares enough right now to make good application software (well, consistently, there have to be some orgs who make easy to apply for a job).

          I think about it a lot because I take seriously being the voice of our customer. I don’t do that good a job but I try. Who is willing to try that hard for the applicant? I think that’s the big fail point.

          1. Lablizard*

            Also, everyone who works for the company usually only uses the system once and, after getting a new job, the last thing you are thinking about is the wonky online application. I bet companies rarely get feedback and, if they do, it is likely from the people who weren’t hired.

            1. FishCakesHurrah*

              I have a (very large) company feedback regarding their broken application form and instead of apologising and offering me another way to apply for the position, they asked me to troubleshoot it for them! Nope nope nope.

          2. Sas*

            “Who is willing to try that hard for the applicant?” Obviously, but it shouldn’t be. That’s where I could step in. Seriously, I would like to have a job that I could advise people on things like this. The problems the rest of us have, I think I could be good at that. I have floundered on the bottom for long enough to know. Anyone? No? : (

            1. Panda Bandit*

              Me too. I’m sure these companies lose a lot of good applicants because their systems are so terrible.

        2. Bad Candidate*

          MOAR DOTS

          Though I think raiders probably also have better headsets so they can hear better and mics better. Plus while your boss might get irritated at you for not muting your phone and chomping on a bag of chips, she’s probably not going to curse you a blue streak for not keeping the channel clear so you can hear raid instructions.

          1. Wakeen Teapots, Ltd.*

            or if your Mom is talking to you loudly in the background so the rest of everybody can hear. Not that that ever happened to my son or anything. ;p

      4. Jessesgirl72*

        In the end, if does all come down to money, though, like Mike C says. Companies don’t want to spend what it would take to get a program optimized for the users. They just want to buy a software package out of the box, and as long as it gets them some candidates, it’s good enough. Any lack of good candidates will never be blamed on the online application software- only on there being a general lack of good candidates.

        And then, some of the things the OP complains about- like everything having to be filled out, especially from drop down menus- they wouldn’t change anyway, because it works to their advantage. If it’s a “must fill every blank,” you can sometimes get away with not disclosing things you don’t want to disclose by saying so. If it’s a drop down menu, let’s say for current salary, there is no way to apply and not disclose your current salary… HR and Hiring Managers would view that as a feature, not a bug.

        1. Sas*

          “HR and Hiring Managers would view that as a feature, not a bug.” I think that companies that value employees do. What youre describing is a major design (if you want to call it that) flaw. It is more than likely a way to opt into a program that lazy company doesn’t really care about at all. If it is difficult to write the software, then lay off until there is something to speak of. There really isn’t a list of reasons why this is not feasible. People want to make money, sell a product, and they don’t care about what they are actually putting out there. The morale of a person looking for an entry position should not NOT be beat up any more than it would already NO EXCUSE for that

      5. Camellia*

        Hi, Tau.

        “Things like getting a set of requirements off the clients, ensuring that is actually the requirements the end users will have, and then translating those into technical terms for the developers is very, very difficult, in a way that’s probably surprising to people who haven’t seen software development work before. ”

        I’m a Systems Analyst and you have pretty much summed up exactly what I do! It’s nice to be appreciated, even indirectly. :D

        1. Tau*

          I’m a dev on a project where we haven’t had anyone in that role and believe me when I say I really appreciate your skillset! The wonky requirements and lack of communication with end users has caused all sorts of hair-raising issues… there’s really nothing like attempting to jury-rig a feature into a place where it was never intended to go or have to completely throw out and rewrite a fundamental part of the application halfway through because oops, requirements have changed. Uh, three guesses why the above was the first thing my mind went to in terms of how a software project can go terribly wrong…

          …we’re actually getting someone in to do this sort of work soon, and I kind of want to bake her cookies.

    2. Purest Green*

      The chat/voice applications used by gamers to communicate with each other or fans are more consistent and stable than the vast majority of video conferencing packages out there.

      And many of those are free or <$10! While a lot of business software costs through the nose. We still have a macro application for a specific thing that requires us to run Windows 98, and nobody believes we can get or refuses to spend the money on something new when this still "works."

      1. Alter_ego*

        I worked at a government contractor for a while that wouldn’t let us use any browser besides ie6 (it doesn’t even have tabs!!) because one small department in a different location had an application that would only work through ie6, and all of the computers had to be configured to one standard.

        It was awful.

        1. Purest Green*

          I wasn’t very clear. It’s a single Windows 98 computer set aside for the application, so our situation is a bit better than yours was. (I’m so sorry! I could rant all day about IE6. Many feels for you.)

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          When I worked for the feds, we weren’t allowed to use anything but IE8 to upload files onto public dockets. Apparently the original filing system was designed on IE7, and it was then slightly updated to enhance security on IE8. But none of the other federal websites requiring log-ins worked on IE8; they only worked on IE10 or Firefox (but not Chrome), and none of our research websites would run on a browser as outdated as IE8. So everyone had to run two browsers to accomplish core job tasks. It was exceedingly frustrating.

        3. Gadfly*

          That is worse than my last ex-job where we had to use a rather old firefox (6? 9? I’ve repressed the memory) to get the software we used for ording, designing, and feeding ads into prepress production to also work with the graphics people in India. And so our compters were throwing a fit all the time and trying to update.

      2. Beezus*

        Oh god, I had that too! We had an old server still running an application that only output files in Excel ’98. I forget why. We kept it that way – including a user machine that could not be upgraded from an old version of Office, to convert the files into something a current Microsoft product could read – until it became more expensive to keep it than it was to upgrade. Crazy.

      3. Liane*

        My roleplaying game group uses Skype and a few months ago I got an invite to do a survey for a service they were marketing to businesses and freelancers. Had all kinds of bells and whistles to communicate with clients. I did it just because I was bored.
        Questions used the Never to Always scale and pretty typical: would you use this in your business, how often, etc. Since I don’t run or buy for a business most of mine were never. There was also at various points a box to explain an answer. Mine was “I use Skype for game chats and we regularly have the call dropped or someone can’t join. So I wouldn’t want to depend on it for my livelihood. Plus I don’t have a business”

    3. Ypsiguy*

      This strikes me as a classic design-by-committee issue: a bunch of people sit down in a room together, they have a brainstorm session, and everybody lists what information they want to get from the applicants. And then the entire list is submitted to the developer.

      At no point in the process does somebody get to say “we don’t need the street address of the University the applicant attended.” It’s all about adding, not subtracting.

    4. dr_silverware*

      A lot of it is total garbage, but for pretty reasonable reason imo. A few of the factors I’d say:

      One, non-enterprise software will have a really large userbase, but their voices are all pretty small, and the software company/design team can prioritize and design for general appeal. BUT with enterprise software, you have fewer customers who have louder voices, and the design team has to operate in a way that pleases the upper levels of the customers in very specific ways, not necessarily the users. For instance with medical software, it can be great at the start, but by the time it’s been used to implement/enforce policy, informed by the opinions of powerful non-users, it’s going to be incredibly painful for users.

      Second, it’s hard to write software, and if you use any third-party stuff, the licensing can get expensive in an enterprise setting.

      Third, when enterprise customers are involved, the software gets bulkier. Whether that’s because the developers or the customers originally think they need something more complex than they actually do will depend on the situation, but it happens all the time. And then the software with more features, more complexity, and more bulk might win sales over simpler products because “just in case.”

      Fourth, enterprise products have a ton of customization options, by design. But if IT doesn’t care that much, it never gets customized, and the out-of-the-box version might be pretty crummy.

    5. mskyle*

      I find that another problem, particularly with systems that handle confidential information (e.g. HR stuff), is backwards-compatibility and outdated security policies. I work on a web app for banks (used by the bankers, not by bank customers) and all of our stuff has to work back to at least IE8, because that’s a significant percentage of our browser share, because a bunch of our user base is using some insane single logon system that someone custom-developed for them five or ten years ago. And that system is the ONLY thing that complies with their security policy, which is overly-specific and hasn’t been updated in probably 15 years.

      It was the same when I worked in medical information (I remember the wailing and gnashing of teeth from hospitals and pharma companies when a major government website stopped supporting IE6… this was in like 2010).

      The security policies and the backwards-compatibility add another layer of (imo, often unnecessary or at least not very much to the purpose) complexity to the project.

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        That scares me that banks would still be using IE8, that right there’s a security risk.

  4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP #2: I’m convinced it’s that the people building the applications have no idea what they’re doing, and/or the people submitting what information they want to collect are incompetent. It’s exhausting to fill out jobs through an online portal that’s badly designed, and to date (in my very limited experience), I’ve never seen one that was put together well.

    OP#3: It’s definitely not illegal, and I think it’s important to let go of the notion that this is/isn’t fair or is a sign of poor management. You’re being asked to come in because you don’t have to risk driving to get to work. I’m sure if other managers lived near your coworkers, the same request would be made of them. You could of course ask your manager if you can WFH because you’re uncomfortable with commuting (even as a passenger), but I’d strongly encourage you to reframe this for yourself because it’s a fairly reasonable request.

    OP#4: Definitely do not follow up with the hiring manager. There are any number of reasons why she may not view your husband’s application as competitive (including that perhaps the pool is more competitive than it was when you applied, and you are no longer at the same level as applicants because you’ve gained experience in your position), but do you really want to hear those reasons? I wouldn’t. Take her at her word and don’t challenge her on it—there’s no way you can question what she’s doing without looking like you have a horse in the race (which you do, even if you feel you’re being dispassionate or objective).

    OP#5: It’s a really bad sign that she’s missing work so often and so early in her time with you. I can’t imagine that there’s an unplanned emergency every 2 weeks that requires last-minute notice, but I’ll give your new hire the benefit of the doubt. There’s a very small chance there’s a good reason for her continuing absences, in which case it would help to be very direct and to ask her what’s going on. But even with a good excuse, this would be a problem meriting firing in all of the jobs I’ve had over my lifetime (or at minimum, a downgrade to part-time with no ability to switch shifts, etc.). She needs to show up reliably, and if she can’t, it’s probably doing you more harm than good to keep her… even if the idea of replacing her feels daunting to you right now.

    1. Kyrielle*

      Re #3, it’s not illegal, and it’s not _entirely_ unreasonable…but I think it’s more unreasonable than you think. This is a historic snow storm – some places got more than they’ve gotten in over three decades. The freeways are a mess, and it’s not just the snow – it’s the fact that the snow wasn’t cleared fast enough (we lack the infrastructure!), and the temperature rose above freezing and plummeted – twice, in fact – converting even more of that snow to ice. And the fact that there was a lot of freezing rain in some areas, too.

      The mayor of Portland, and the Governor of Oregon, both declared a state of emergency yesterday. The city of Seattle sent us some of their equipment to try to help us dig out.

      Legal? Sure. Personal? No way – OP #3 just happens to live near the wrong person.

      Safe? Nope. I’m at the edge of this and we only got 4 inches here (four! We don’t get four inches of snow even once, most years, where I am – trace to one inch, once or twice, is usually it). And still, on a road that had been cleared as far as lanes of travel, someone somehow flipped their car today. While it was above freezing. (I’m hoping they were trying to turn, because at least then they’d have had to cross something still frozen….)

      We have snow, we have ice, we have slushy ice in the afternoons, we have *black* ice, and Friday morning is supposed to bring freezing fog in some areas. I can totally sympathize with someone not wanting to be out in this. I would not reframe it as “a fairly reasonable request”. I would reframe it as “an impersonal, but somewhat-unreasonable-in-these-circumstances, request” (essential workers, such as healthcare and emergency services, sure – but I’m pretty sure they’d be better off if the rest of us stayed off the roads just now). (And, OP #3, note that people whose background is from areas where this weather is more common are not being unreasonable in terrible ways – sometimes they really don’t realize just how badly-prepared areas that don’t normally get this weather are for when it gets literally dumped on them.)

      1. Emma the Strange*

        Fellow Portlander, and I have to agree. I drove a relatively short distance to the grocery store a few hours ago (my first time out since the snow hit) and even that was nervewracking. All the roads where I live are covered in an inch or so of super compacted snow, so traction is still a little iffy. And it’s super bumpy, like driving on slippery gravel. Thank god for my office and it’s flexible work-from-home policy.

        1. Kyrielle*

          I am so lucky. I am a mile from the grocery and in a more mildly affected area – I walked it. Very, very carefully.

          Apparently I’m also lucky I’m on the west side of the loop I cross to get there. The flipped car was reported on the east side of the same loop. I didn’t think conditions were bad enough I had to worry about cars doing something that violent, just sliding. Yikes.

          1. Jessesgirl72*

            The flipping is likely a result of sliding, and drivers not used to slippery conditions. It doesn’t really take too much to flip a car- especially top heavy ones like SUVs. And people think 4WD makes them able to drive on ice…

            1. Kyrielle*

              Right, but the road the person who flipped was on actually was cleared…at least, the other half where I crossed it was…down to sanded slush. However, there was ice and snow in the center lane, so if they were turning, they had a turn and that under them. And it was above freezing, so all the ice had a fine layer of water on it.

        2. Anon For This*

          I work in the Gorge and only drove in yesterday and today with chains (I live in NoPo). It is windy out here and it SUCKS.

          I think the school districts have just given up. :)

      2. Lady H*

        Thank you, Portlander here too and I disagree strongly with Alison (but agree with her suggested script) and Princess Consuela Banana Hammock that this is a reasonable request. It’s not illegal, but I think it should be.

        I am from one of the snowiest regions in the US. Snow that buries my car does not faze me and I have a lot of experience driving in dicey weather. But this storm isn’t like storms in the northeast where plows are out with salt and sand and the drivers are experienced with snowy conditions. Portland is crippled right now and I think anyone driving for non-emergency reasons is selfish and honestly pretty stupid. Employers asking people to drive are worse! You might think you can handle the snow, but I’ve been seeing people in their Jeeps and Subarus get stuck on my street all day, wasting resources as they call tow trucks to come get them. I don’t understand how any non-essential job can’t wait a few days to keep the roads clear for emergency vehicles and utility crews working to restore power.

        OP, it sounds like you have some doubts about this company already and I would take this as a sign that they have very poor work/life balance.

        1. Lady H*

          Emma, I didn’t mean to imply that you were selfish/stupid for going to grocery store a short distance away :) I was generalizing about people commuting across town when they don’t know how bad it is, I’m in one of the worst hit parts of town but I know there are places where you can be reasonably safe getting out for supplies!

          1. Emma the Strange*

            Heh, that’s alright. One upside is that I was considering trying to get into work today, but the grocery store adventure convinced me this is a bad idea.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Ah, I didn’t have that context and thought it was a standard-fare snow storm. That said, I don’t think it changes the advice for the OP; the thing to do is to still decline and say she doesn’t feel safe being on the roads. It doesn’t sound like there’s any reason to think the employer is going to insist she come in; it sounds like it’s just the offer of a ride.

          But I don’t see anything that warrants concluding this:

          OP, it sounds like you have some doubts about this company already and I would take this as a sign that they have very poor work/life balance.

          1. Mike C.*

            Were you lucky enough not to deal with the constant freezing/melting cycles when you were in Seattle?

            1. SignalLost*

              Hey, we haven’t dealt with that the last two weeks either. :) I would not mind getting out of the deep freeze.

              1. Lady H*

                It’s weird, I lived in Seattle for almost 10 years and am new to Portland. I’ve been in Seattle for some of those big storms and it never seemed to be this big of a deal! I never would have expected that Seattle had better infrastructure than Portland to handle snow, since for both cities even a light dusting can be a big deal.

                Also: Alison, I was reading a too much into the frustrated tone in the letter about the amount of work left and number of managers. You’re right, there’s not enough there to judge whether this is meaningful to the culture as a whole.

              2. Windchime*

                Yeah it’s been pretty cold by Seattle standards. I live about 30 miles north and it’s been even colder up here. Many people don’t realize that Seattle is built on hills that rival San Francisco’s, and I think the city has about 5 snowplows in total. So even if it snows a tiny bit, the hills plus the lack of snow removal equipment plus the thousands and thousands of cars makes it super difficult. If there is even a possibility of snow, my manager has us work from home. Which used to seem like overkill to me because I grew up in an area where it was common for snow to be thigh-high and life went on as normal. But I get it now.

                1. Jadelyn*

                  It’s funny, my mom grew up in Denver, CO, so she’s used to snow. We live in the SF Bay Area now, and when I was about 7 years old we had a freak snowstorm that left…idk, maybe a half inch of fluff on the ground.

                  They closed the schools. Told everyone to stay off the roads. My mom thought it was hilarious because in Denver, nobody would even notice that tiny amount of snow, but you’re talking about a whole population that has NO IDEA how to drive in even a teeny bit of ice or snow, which makes it 10x more dangerous for them to drive in exactly the same amount of snow that people who get snow regularly would completely ignore.

                2. many bells down*

                  Those hills surprised the crap out of me when I moved here. The first time I tried to drive back into downtown from the Aquarium I thought I was going to die.

                  In southern California, we try to stick most of our cities in valleys, so downtown doesn’t have ludicrous hills.

                3. Anna*

                  Yeah, the same people who laugh about how ridiculous it is that people freak out over so little know in an area that gets NO snow are often the same ones who wouldn’t dare leave the house in the kind of rain and fog we get in the PNW (or fog if the SF area).

        3. LCL*

          And speaking from the perspective of someone who has to go to work when all non-essential people are asked to stay home-stay home please. Non-essential doesn’t mean your work is unimportant, it means your work can be time-shifted to better conditions when you won’t be in the way of utility crews and law enforcement.

      3. Ultraviolet*

        I totally agree and I hope everyone sees your post. Hundreds of cars are abandoned on the highways and other roads. There are multiple jackknifed semi trucks on the interstate. The Department of Transportation is requiring chains on cars of any size on state roads in and around Portland. It’s a disaster. OP described it as a “huge snow storm,” and I grew up in an area where huge snow storms were thought of as minor inconveniences, so I get how easy it is to misunderstand this situation. But you really can’t think of it as just being bad weather here. Like Kyrielle said, it’s been declared a state of emergency.

          1. Sadsack*

            In a state of emergency, isn’t he also supposed to stay off the road? Unless he’s in a position that warrants it, I’m questioning his judgement on that.

            Anyway, I hope that if OP stresses that he is not comfortable bring on the roads at all in those conditions, boss will be understanding. Even if he isn’t, I say still do not go.

            1. Ultraviolet*

              Speaking for myself of course, I certainly don’t think you owe anyone an apology! I think several of us in the pnw posted in the same short timeframe to try to head off any comments based on the idea that this weather was in the normal range, and because all the comments were bunched together, it ended up feeling kind of intense and scold-y. That happened partly, I would say, because it was late evening in the west US when this post went live, so a disproportionate number of us jumped in to clarify. I wanted to signal-boost kyrielle’s post, but I’m sorry if it sounded like me or anyone else was criticizing you! I never meant to imply anyone should know about the severity of the storm, only to fill them in if they didn’t.

        1. Callie*

          If the governor declares a state of emergency for an area, it ought to be illegal for any non-essential business to be open. otherwise what is the point of a state of emergency (other than to get possible federal assistance)? “Well it’s an emergency, but y’all come in to work anyway, if y’all are in a wreck and die on the way to work it’s okay, because we’re still making money!” is the attitude so many employers have. This snowstorm in Western Oregon is terrible and I wish a lot of bad things on employers who want their employees to drive in the ice to get to work.

          1. Parenthetically*

            I genuinely thought that, in a state of emergency due to snow, nonessential vehicles were not allowed on the roads! Emergency services shouldn’t have to dig my Prius out of a ditch because my boss is a harda**.

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              Sadly it depends on the locality. In many states where snow is routine, nonessential driving is strongly discouraged but not technically illegal.

              But having had my Prius “bottom out” on a snow bank in New Hampshire, I agree that folks shouldn’t be put a position that risks their safety and undermines snow clean-up (which risks everyone else’s safety).

          2. Liane*

            It is in the East too. Several years ago, there was very bad blizzard in the area of New York where a friend lives. Governor ordered non-essentials to stay off the roads, the whole bit. Bosses at Friend’s job told people “Come in or it is an unexcused no-show.” Of course the bosses stayed home, which infuriated Friend more. I think he stayed home in spite of the crazy order.
            After the fact, several-times-Grandbosses of those who gave the order reversed the resulting writeups.

          3. Kyrielle*

            It’s not quite – the state of emergency “focuses and frees up state resources” (state police, ODOT, the national guard) to act more freely in the emergency to help local communities.

            On the other hand, the same news article I grabbed that quote form DOES contain this quote from Governor Kate Brown (note her last sentence):

            “As snow continues to accumulate and local authorities respond to provide core services and clear roadways, all available state resources will be made available to ensure the safety of communities throughout Oregon,” Brown said in a statement. “I urge all Oregonians to follow the recommendations of local authorities, and avoid travel while ODOT crews clear roads and work to restore core services.”

      4. Red Reader*

        “The city of Seattle sent us some of their equipment to try to help us dig out.”

        Which is hilarious (in a shocked way, not an actually funny way) because the entire Seattle area tri-county metroplex, from Tacoma to Everett, has less snow removal equipment than the 8,000 population town where my parents live in central Michigan.

        Take care, y’all. Stay home.

          1. sensual shirtwaist*

            Seattle gets less snow in a year than that michigan town gets in the first ‘real’ snow of the year, never mind a bad weekend. Even if you calculate it by total volume rather than depth.

        1. Windchime*

          Yeah, I remember one time they said how many snow plows the city of Seattle had and it was less than my town of 3000 people where I grew up in Eastern WA.

        2. Bryce*

          Yeah, the issue is infrastructure. My mom’s about 150 miles away in an area that gets snow more often; while they got dumped on by this same storm (~3 feet), plows and such were enough that she can get to the store while she waits for it to thaw out. Meanwhile here in Portland nothing got cleared so 8 inches of snow turned into 3 inches of ice. Add in that Portland’s built in a valley so there’s almost no flat ground, and it’s rough getting around.

      5. SophieChotek*

        Maybe I missed something or misunderstood something in the original note, but it sounded like the boss (who lived close) “At the same time, she notified me that the owner lives close to me and offered to take me into work tomorrow, while admitting that the owner didn’t think it was safe for anyone to attempt to drive into work” is actually doing the driving.

        Would that change anything if the boss and employee were in an accident? Since the employee isn’t (?) doing the driving, can the “I don’t feel safe” being not the roads still apply in the same way? (Is it an “offer” of a ride or a demand at this point.)

        [I live in a snow region of the Midwest and I hate snow and driving it, so I completely sympathize with the employee not wanting to go out if it is dangerous. I went down the road to the post office yesterday and saw a three car pile-up…and the day before that I went to get coffee and saw two accidents in less than a block.]

        1. NAME REQUIRED*

          Yes, it’s the same. I feel even less safe as a passenger in any car, let alone in inclement weather. She barely knows this boss (only been employed a month or so) and likely has never been a passenger in their vehicle before. HARD PASS. Stay home.

          1. Jadelyn*

            Dear gods, seriously. If I’m going to be on the road in that crap, at least let me be in control of my own survival while I’m doing it. You could not pay me enough to be a passenger with someone in those conditions, unless it was like…a close friend or family member who I trust and who I know for a fact has tons of experience driving in those conditions (which I don’t, so in that case I’d be okay deferring to someone else). I sure as hell wouldn’t be riding with an almost-stranger.

        2. Liane*

          I don’t understand the owner, the one who is offering to drive the OP. Owner thinks it isn’t safe to drive–but is willing to drive the OP.
          That makes less than no sense. Dr. McCoy would be yelling “That’s illogical!” right along with Spock.
          OP I hope stayed home so both you and the owner, bless their heart, could be safe.

      6. Emi.*

        This. It’s so important to remember that “How safe is it to drive” depends only partly on how bad the weather is. It’s also *hugely* dependent on how efficiently your local infrastructure deals with it. I’ve lived in places where 4″ and freezing rain wouldn’t be that big a deal, because we had a veritable army of plows and salt trucks. But in an area that’s not used to it? No way would I leave my house if I didn’t have to.

        1. sensual shirtwaist*

          And also how your neighbors deal with it. I grew up in the midwest. When I was a teen my dad would take me to an empty parking lot after the first snow of the year to practice skids.

          I now live in a city that gets snow only once every couple of years. An inch closes the schools. I don’t drive in the snow, because no one else knows what the ..heck… they are doing. even though downhill skiing is big around here. People just don’t know how to approach intersections and turns.

          1. tigerStripes*

            I lived in a place that had a foot of snow or so regularly, and it was no big deal because they had enough snow plows to clear it, and they salted the roads, and most people had studded tires on their cars in that weather.

            I’m in western Oregon now, and we don’t have enough snow plows, and I’m not sure studded tires are even legal here. I avoid driving in the snow here.

            1. Kyrielle*

              They are! For Nov 1 – March 31. On rare occasions when a bad storm is expected in late spring they extend it, but otherwise you’ll pay a fine outside those dates. They do strongly encourage using other traction tires that aren’t studded, or all-weathers and have chains.

              And in this storm, for a period, traction tires (studded or otherwise) were not sufficient – chains required, traction tires not sufficient, for highways and state roads. (That was Wednesday, though.)

      7. Kyrielle*

        To add to this for anyone who’s interested (and I’m sure this is going to drop into moderation) here are a slew of local news links. It’s pretty epic here.

        Oops, the storm has now messed up our light rail (which was a lot of people’s workaround, where they were close enough to it):

        Thaw/freeze cycles bite:

        “While we did get slight melting Thursday, and more is expected Friday, the trouble is that whatever melts with in the sun is certain to refreeze overnight. Models have pushed any significant warm-up beyond the weekend; highs will likely hover in the 30s through Sunday.

        “This refreezing takes whatever slush and puddling on the road and turns it to a foggy, snow-like ice that looks as if the snow has glazed over. (Not to mention the black ice from the puddles.) Expect a bumpy, slick ride if you have to drive.”

        This isn’t Portland Metro and this area *does* get more snow than we do, but not as much as they’ve gotten with this year’s storms:

        Wednesday/beginning of the storm articles:

        The storm started during the tail end of the evening commute, and was worse than expected, so:

        And, thanks Seattle!

        And some photo ones, because some of these are just pretty:

      8. Lemon Zinger*

        Quite frankly, if I were in OP #3’s shoes, I wouldn’t be comfortable getting in a car driven by someone who has little to no experience driving in conditions like that.

      9. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I apologize if I misunderstood or if my lack of context resulted in marginalizing Portlanders’ experiences with the current snowstorm. I thought this was a run-of-the-mill snow situation, not a snowmageddon style snowstorm. Of course it’s unreasonable to try to convince employees to work when the Governor/Mayor have declared a state of emergency, even if the employee doesn’t have to drive herself in and even if it’s not technically illegal.

        My take is that for “normal” snowstorms, it’s not unreasonable to ask folks to come in when they’re offered a ride, and that’s really the point I wanted to convey to OP#3. But I also think companies should be sensitive to their employees’ concerns and try to identify ways to allow them to work from home or take the day off if that employee is uncomfortable driving (this case is a little weird b/c OP#3 wouldn’t be driving, but I think the “snowmageddon rule” applies, even if you’re a passenger). I’ve met so many folks who are terrified of driving in the snow—usually for good reasons—, and I think it’s better to accommodate that fear (within reason) than to try to convince them they’re overreacting.

        1. Kyrielle*

          Agreed. :)

          And no worries, it didn’t feel marginalizing – just like the full context wasn’t there for a lot of people, which is why I chimed in. :)

          I’m having fun watching the good parts of it; it’s pretty, it’s rare for here and I’ve spent most of my life here, and so on. But I wouldn’t want to have to go to work in it.

          So far my family has had three days off school, a Cub Scout event rescheduled, a school event canceled (they’ll reschedule it, I imagine, but that’s not yet), and I’m thinking we may have a birthday party canceled and possibly even a (routine) doctor’s appointment canceled. I’m _hoping_ that it’s not still ugly by Monday, because we have an appointment then that will cost money if we can’t make it (the cost is reasonable, is based on supplies that will not be usable by the time it can be rescheduled, and I will not be upset with them if that happens, but I surely will be upset with the weather).

        2. Lady H*

          It’s totally understandable that without context, this question could have gone a different way! If I hadn’t moved to Portland this year there is no way I would have understood why the employee felt like this was unfair. I’m glad the protestations from us folks in PDX made it clearer what the situation was :)

    2. krysb*

      #1 – If I go to an employee portal that requests more than my name and resume, I just hit the red x; however, if I was seriously job searching, I’d probably be less of a snot about it.

      #3 – I quit a job over them making me drive in the snow. It hadn’t snowed in work’s area, but it did in mine, and I live 10 miles from the nearest salted road. Nope. Luckily, it was a part-time, extra money side gig.

      #5 – One of the strongest part of my company’s culture is calling out whenever. It’s a difficult thing to reverse after people have been taking advantage of it for 5 – 10 years.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Nope — because again, the point of a snow day isn’t “free holiday!”; it’s “if you can’t safety get into work, you won’t be penalized.”

        1. Emily*

          I wonder what your perspective is on my company’s policy:

          Under some circumstances, our company has a “come if you feel safe,” policy. But hourly employees have to use vacation time, and salaried employees don’t. This results in an unequal showing up to work–higher-up, salaried employees all stay home, and the lower level employees take the risk and come in.

          This policy makes it feel like higher-ups’ safety is more highly valued than the lower level workers’ safety. I realize that everyone is being given the same direction, but it has an unequal effect, and this has always felt wrong to me. What is your take on it?

          1. JHunz*

            It certainly doesn’t seem like “won’t be penalized” applies in your situation, given that the hourly employees have to use vacation time.

          2. Anonymity*

            We have a similar policy, though it goes hand in hand with attendance (my employer uses a rolling point system to track unscheduled absences), so supervisors “may” be more lenient regarding attendance requirements.

            Our second shift line is primarily part-time employees who don’t have PTO to use. They get the joy of deciding whether to risk coming in anyway, because if they don’t, they lose the pay AND their supervisor may ding them for an unexcused absence.

        2. ThursdaysGeek*

          I’m sure that works for some. We’ve had uncommon snow for a couple of weeks (part of Portland’s storm, but east of the mountains), and my god-daughter is hourly and when schools are closed she has the choice of using precious vacation time or going without pay. My spouse is salaried and they’ve had weather delays and closures. Some people (management and union) get charge codes for that, people like him get to make it up. Making it up means working on a weekend or using holiday pay. Fortunately, I can work from home.

          For many, snow days are forced holidays or days without pay where you can’t go do anything because it’s not safe to drive. Lots of businesses here have had closures, and lots of people are going to be getting less money because of it.

      2. Joseph*

        Not at all. Snow days aren’t holidays, vacation, or sick days. That’s why companies where remote-work is an option still expect you to work remotely – even if you don’t normally telecommute.

      3. Alton*

        I think that would mainly depend on how the company handles timekeeping. At my workplace, we have electronic timesheets and holidays and office closings are automatically added to our timesheets and counts toward our 40-hour week, so those of us who are non-exempt might have to have our timesheets adjusted if we worked so that we wouldn’t mistakenly accrue overtime. But we’re allowed to work during closings if needed. We just have to make sure that our timesheets are accurate. And for exempt employees, it doesn’t really matter.

    3. BRR*

      #3 i don’t think it is a reasonable request at all. If there is a snow day it’s because people deemed it too risky to be traveling. It doesn’t make it safer if the owner is driving vs. the lw.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Although OP’s situation might be different b/c their snowstorm is apparently a snowpocalypse, it’s common in many states with snow to require people to come in. I’m not sure if you mean “snow day” = “emergency,” in which case I agree with you. But I’ve lived places where “snow day” just means “there’s heavy snow today” or “public schools are closed,” in which case you’re still expected to come in because it’s not so severe that it merits shutting down drivers.

    4. Artemesia*

      Maybe I am jaded by living in a place where things function when it snows, but I would think a newish employee with a huge backlog of work would jump at the chance to get in on a snow day and reduce that backlog in peace without the usual work distractions AND make a connection with the CEO AND impress him/her with her work ethic and build the reputation as a person who is committed to getting stuff done. Yeah snow day, I don’t have to go to school is not a very professional attitude.

      If the OP is genuinely afraid of making the trip — one thing — but she seems motivated by ‘fairness’ — they get off and I don’t. I’d see it as a golden opportunity to become known to the CEO and build a reputation as a new employee and get the workload under control.

      1. Kyrielle*

        If it’s about fairness qua fairness, I agree with you.

        But there’s a real safety issue for most of the Metro area, and if any of that is also in play, I would absolutely not go in. “Look, I’m willing to risk my life for this!” is not the kind of thing you should have to do for career advancement, outside very specific careers. (Police officer, stunt man, firefighter…but not an office worker.)

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Thank you! This is the point I was trying to make. Of course if it were about safety, then OP should not be coerced into coming in.

      3. MashaKasha*

        I’m also in the area that gets a lot of snow. Which means that, when an office is shut down because of snow, it’s really not a good idea to drive in. When the police makes an announcement telling people to stay home, it’s a good idea to stay home. (We WFH on snow days.) The CEO can lose control of their car and get into an accident just as easily as the OP would. Just because he’s a CEO, doesn’t mean the road knows it and will magically clear itself in front of his car. The two of them will certainly bond while they wait for the tow truck, so, I guess, silver lining?

      4. Kate*

        It isn’t the fact of the snow itself. Portland has 1. Almost no snow equipment 2. No snow-experienced drivers

        I am in the Portland area, it is extremely dangerous to drive here right now. OP I beg you not to go anywhere if you don’t absolutely have to. Especially since you don’t know whether the boss is a good or bad driver under normal conditions, never mind whether or not they know how to drive in snow.

        I used to live in a northern state by Canada, we lived so far north in the state that we were almost in Canada. We got 6 plus feet of snow for 6 months straight. I moved to Portland a few years ago. There is no snow here basically. It stays warm enough here in winter that I have seen every year, roses blooming in January.

        People here know how to drive in rain, but have no clue about snow. Where I am (in a city very close to Portland) there are no salted roads, the roads haven’t even been plowed really well, people are getting stuck on roads with only 2 inches of snow.

        It only takes one accident.

        1. tigerStripes*

          Yeah, in general, police, etc. are telling people to not drive in the Portland area if they can avoid it.

    5. all aboard the anon train*

      You’re being asked to come in because you don’t have to risk driving to get to work.

      I have to disagree. I often hear people make the case that if you don’t drive – walk, bike, or public transit – that it’s not as dangerous.

      I feel way more unsafe having to walk through a bad storm than drive. My last company made anyone who lived in the city come into work during winter state of emergencies and anyone who drove could get the day off. Considering the snow banks were taller than me and I had to step well into the street to see if I could cross, that the wind gusts were hard enough to push people into the street or the harbor, and that it was cold enough that you had to wear several layers more than normal, I don’t think it was less of a risk than driving. When the state says, “don’t walk outside during this storm because it’s hazardous to your health”, that should be taken into account for everyone and people who live close enough to work shouldn’t have to risk themselves just because of their location.

      /still bitter about it

      1. Kyrielle*

        Agree. Honestly, if it’s not safe to drive, I _really_ don’t want to be walking just-anywhere during it, because _someone will be driving anyway_ and when they lose control, I don’t want to be nearby.

        (Did I walk to the store yesterday? Yep. We were out of some staples…and I had a route that exposed me to a major street for only 30 feet, most of them crossing it at a light. Otherwise I was on paths that were not likely to end with a car impacting me, even if one slid.)

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I agree that folks should not be expected to come in during snow emergencies, even if they have alternate access (e.g., walking, public transit). I was assuming this was a more routine snowstorm, in which case, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask people to come in.

      3. Kelly L.*

        Yep. A lot of places, they just pile the snow off the streets *onto* the sidewalks, and then where do you walk? In the street, which is also narrower than it normally is. Or if it’s ice, the road crews will hopefully have salted the actual roads, but the sidewalks vary immensely depending on whether each individual resident got around to it.

    1. Confused Teapot Maker*

      +1 (sort of)

      I think it’s only naturally think “I felt that interview went well/not well”. I think the problem starts when you begin to equate that into “I felt that interview went well so I think I’ll get called back/didn’t go well so I’ll write this one off” as that second leap in logic ignores that getting a job is not solely dependent on a good interview and there’s billions of factors that come into play, most of which are outside the interviewees control. I’ve had some interviews which I thought went well, only for the company to pull a hiring freeze a week later or for a better candidate to come along or for the actual decision maker to decide a certain qualification is absolutely essential when the interviewer wasn’t overly fussed etc. On the other hand, I’ve had interviews which haven’t gone well, only to have the company call me back for a second one because my technical skills were strong.

      I think Alison’s right though – there is a silver lining in this one in that OP1 at least knows there was a very strong candidate in the running so, if there is a rejection letter on the way, they at least have a good idea why. That should avoid the “second guessing” trap that most of us get caught up in!

      1. Confused Teapot Maker*

        Should add – to get away from the doom and gloom – that this also applies to “9.9/10” candidate, who may have interviewed well but may not get hired for a number of reasons (e.g. weaker qualifications or experience, bad references, turning the offer down because ultimately they decide it’s not right for them…).

    2. BRR*

      I was coming to say the same thing and was thinking of that post. “People say you know whether you nailed or tanked an interview.” I agree that people say that but I don’t think it’s true. It’s hard to know how you truly did because interviews can have differing opinions on what is a good interviews. and I agree with confused teapot maker that a good interview doesn’t equal getting an offer.

      1. LBK*

        I think people often forget that your resume stays relevant throughout the whole process. It’s not like it’s just your qualifier and then everything after that is solely based on how well you do in interviews. So even if you give a killer interview, you might just not have the right skill set for the job. Conversely, if you screw up the interview but you have ten years of Teapots Xpress 2000 experience and that’s exactly what they need on the team, they might cut you a break because that knowledge is so valuable.

      2. College Career Counselor*

        Agreed. You can maybe assess your own performance at that interview vs. previous performances at interviews, or what your IDEAL (in your head) interview would have looked like, but you don’t necessarily know what the interviewer wanted/looked for/had to have.

        I have had plenty of interviews where I said to myself afterwards, “I nailed that interview” because I was happy with my performance/answers/presentation. Basically, I knew I’d done as well as I could have under those circumstances, and I generally try tell myself “if they don’t want me, either someone else did it better, or they just don’t like what I’m offering.”

        What I find more difficult is meeting or exceeding every qualification on the job listing and not even getting a phone screen.

    3. Rat Racer*

      Agreed – and there may be other factors that come into play around whether you are offered the job: the other interviewee’s references, their willingness to accept the job based on salary/benefits — I wouldn’t abandon all hope yet. (Although abandoning all hope can sometimes be a good thing, because it keeps you from obsessively wondering about whether you got the job…)

      1. Op 1*

        I am sad to say that I am very hypercritical of myself. I’m not sure if I will ever be able to feel like I did well because my hindsight isn’t 20/20, it’s 30/20. I felt like I could have done better on some of the questions, but I know my work experience is just what they need for this position and that my professional references will back me up 100% that I am qualified and capable. I hope that something similar happens to me in that, something beyond my interview puts me above this other interviewee so that I can get an offer. It’s a job I know I would be successful in and a job I know I would enjoy doing, not something that a lot of people can say! Thank you all for your encouragement and insight. I very much appreciate your responses and feel better about my situation after reading them.

        1. Stranger than fiction*

          I don’t know what all was on that scorecard, but often it comes down to personality/fit, so if that card was all hard skill type stuff, you have a chance. Also, are you sure it was for the same position? Or that they only need one for the position you interviewed for?

  5. Sarah G*

    After reading Letter #5, y first thought was, “Hmmm…I don’t know this usage/meaning of the word ‘rouge’ — I’ll have to look it up!” Then I figured out it is actually rogue? That’s a confusing inversion of letters, made me laugh. :)

    1. BadPlanning*

      We used “Rogue” for a code name once on a project. There had to be an announcement on a large meeting to double check your spelling as there were a lot of “Rouge” labels going around.

      1. DoDah*

        We call one of our team members, “Rogue.” She’s the one who dumps her projects on you at the last possible second, every.single.time.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          That’s not going rogue (or being “Rogue” from X-Men), that’s just being a colossal jerk. But sadly, “Jerk” is probably not an appropriate work nickname.

      2. Ayla K*

        I host pub trivia as a side gig and one team gave their name as “Rouge Three” (it was right after the last Star Wars film came out.) I read it out exactly as it was written and said “I assume y’all meant to put down ‘rogue’.” They had changed it by the next round.

    2. Lissa*

      I used to do a lot of online gaming in fantasy settings and the rogue/rouge thing was one of the most common typos/errors!

  6. Susan*

    #1 – It sucks that they left the scorecard in plain view, but it was almost certainly by accident. You shouldn’t let stuff like that psych you out, though! You almost never know who your competition is for a job. All you can do is give the best interview you can, and if there’s someone better, there’s nothing you can do about it.

    Also remember that the interview isn’t the only consideration. It’s quite possible that the other candidate is awesome at interviewing, but doesn’t have as much experience as you, or her references will say that she’s a terrible employee. It’s also possible that she is a better overall candidate, but she’s expecting a salary way above what this company is willing to pay. On the other hand, let’s say this had been the other way around, and you saw that the other candidate really bombed her interview; it still wouldn’t be a sure thing for you because maybe she has awesome references or is the CEO’s niece or something. You have to try not to read too much into stuff like this.

    1. roflmouse*

      This was my thought, the interview is only part of the process, and if you had a solid interview other factors in your favor can tip the scale. I mean we certainly all have heard those stories of the person that interviews amazingly but is otherwise a terrible candidate. So I wouldn’t let it distress you too deeply should you find yourself in the (extremely unlikely) situation again. Ultimately all you can do is the same thing you’d do in the interview anyway, focus on demonstrating your strength as a candidate and deciding if the company is one you want to work for.

    2. Lablizard*

      The other candidate could also turn down the job for any number of reasons. If they are all that and interviewing in multiple places, they may get multiple offers. So, OP1, forget about the other candidate (as hard as that is) and be happy feeling good about your interview.

    3. CM*

      Also, the OP’s interpretation of the scorecard was, “They just interviewed a perfect candidate,” when it could also have been, “They are easy scorers.”

      1. LBK*

        That was my thought. I wouldn’t read too much into a rubric like that; it’s probably used more as a yes/no/maybe scale than a highly scientific rating calculation.

    4. Libervermis*

      I was just on a hiring committee where we didn’t choose the person who interviewed the best because another candidate brought more important things to the table. Scorecards are highly unscientific – at least half the committee scored Best Interviewee higher than Actual Hire, but by the end of the process everyone was in agreement that Actual Hire was the better option.

      1. Op 1*

        OP here – and I appreciate all the feedback. I think because it was my first ever interview that I let it get into my head too much. I know I’m qualified for the job and I would be successful in it, but even still I can’t help but see myself as being up against the ideal candidate. Reading your interpretations made me feel much more confident about the situation. I appreciate you all taking the time to discuss what, to me, was a very disheartening moment. And I know it’s nice to know that if I don’t get the job, it wasn’t just because the other person interviewed well. And I also know now that if I do get the job, it isn’t because I got a score of 11/10 on every question. In my inexperience in the job world I felt like interviews were the deciding factor in an employers decision and that if you had a great interviewer they would just automatically be preferential to the other candidates. It’s good to know that isn’t necessarily the case. Thank you all for your encouragement and insight!

  7. Stellaaaaa*

    OP5: So Jane is missing one or two days every pay period? That’s 20-30 days off a year. Even unpaid, that’s just too unreliable. She’s been with your company for 4 months and I think it’s acceptable to remove the “probationary” kid gloves: Tell her that you need to see improvement or you’ll have to take action.

    She might be aware of how specialized her skills are, or at least how valuable you perceive them to be. Is it possible you’d see more applicants come out of the woodwork if you raised the starting wage? You’d be saving money in the long run since accepting Jane’s behavior is only going to push out the other employees. I can’t imagine working with someone who was out at least once a week, who was missing meetings that I presumed to be mandatory. I guarantee that your other employees already think Jane is receiving special treatment. You’re actually rescheduling stuff around her.

    1. Chocolate Teapot*

      Is Jane moonlighting? I once worked with somebody in a pretty senior position who kept disappearing to work on another job. Considering he was already very well paid, it seemed very odd.

      1. Lady H*

        My thought (and this is wild speculation!) was that maybe she has a painful menstruation related medical condition that she doesn’t feel comfortable disclosing. I wondered this only because my ex had issues with attendance because of this and was very loathe to discuss it with her manager because it’s so often thought of as in your head or the like. It took being put on a PIP for her to take action and work with her doctor to get FMLA when needed!

        It’s unlikely but it is a remote possibility that popped in my head.

        1. Julia*

          Every two weeks? Poor Jane…

          As someone who actually could not work once every four-ish weeks because of endometriosis (thanks, doctors, for telling women that “menstrual pain is normal”, ugh), I would suggest we do not speculate on female employees or colleagues menstrual cycles.

          1. N.J.*

            Lady H is speculating but she is using an example of a recurring medical problem that can be difficult to discuss and how this can appear as poor attendance. She didn’t say it was a definite, or that since the OP is talking about a female employee that it is definitely a female issue. I think her suggestion was interesting in the sense that it brought up a possible line of insight, and she used the appropriate disclaimers to discourage assuming something similar. I believe anecdotal points can be useful as long as they are not generalized to a situation. Your point is valuable, just not sure that Lady H’s comment rises to that warning.

            1. Temperance*

              It is poor attendance, though, regardless of the medical issue. If Jane needs FMLA, she should be asking for it.

                1. Jessesgirl72*

                  But I agree, that if it’s a recurring medical reason, she needs to disclose it in some way.

              1. N.J.*

                Certainly. I viewed it as providing a suggestion that the OP probe a bit as to Amy personal or medical situations that might be affecting attendance. Especially since the reasons provided so far for the last minute calloffs were given as such at least part of the time.

                1. Lady H*

                  This was not my point and I apologize if it was not clear. I am in total agreement with those saying that this is an attendance issue no matter what the reason!

                  My point was that good employees can have attendance issues that can be resolved, and that I happened to have dated someone who hadn’t realized what a big deal it was until she was put on a PIP. It was not a suggestion that the OP probe about the reason why the employee is missing so much work. My mention of the medical reason causing my ex’s attendance issue was just to flush out the details of why she didn’t talk about it, not to say: every medical issue with a female employee is probably period related and that it’s acceptable to speculate that from this letter. (It pains me greatly if that’s how my story came across.).

                  My point, that I should have stated more clearly, is that it’s worth it to discuss consequences with the employee so they understand that this is a big deal.

                2. Lady H*

                  Also, I realize that writing “this is wild speculation” in my original comment was not the best choice of words… I commented during a fit of insomnia and now I regret the miscommunication. Eeeks!

              2. Meg*

                Jane isn’t eligible for FMLA yet. FMLA doesn’t kick in until she has been at the company for 1 year. They might still accommodate her, but they aren’t legally required to.

              3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                She can’t seek FMLA at this point, but she should determine if she qualifies for accommodation under the ADA (but note, she still has to demonstrate that she can perform her essential job functions, and I’m not 100% sure that’s possible if she’s missing 2-4 days of work per month).

            2. Lady H*

              Yes, thank you! I was trying to be very clear that this MIGHT be a REMOTE possibility, but that obviously it’s not something we can divine. My point was not about whether it was menstrual related. It was a situation I wanted to relate about a good worker (my ex-GF) that was in real danger of losing her job because of her reluctance to speak about what was causing the attendance issue with her boss. She worked for a company that is infamous for their misogynist marketing, so it took the danger of job loss to make it ‘worth’ it for her to address it with her manager. And it worked out well for her!

              We, the readers, and the OP don’t know what is causing these attendance issues. It’s not about speculating about what it is, the point is that it can be worth it to bring up the consequences to the employee and to keep an open mind. There are legitimate reasons for missing work. The letter writer says that the employee is very good at her job, so I hope there is a happy ending for everyone invovled.

          2. Marcela*

            I agree with not speculating, but for the record, my endo gives me pain every (sort of) two weeks, when ovulating and in my period. So it’s not as crazy as it sounds.

            1. Julia*

              My endo was really bad as well before I got treatment, but I still would have hated people at work speculating about my period. Didn’t we just have a similar discussion a few weeks ago?

        2. BRR*

          There are a lot of possibilities and we cant speculate what they might be. Even if that was the case the employee needs to bring it up. In this work place, her attendance is an issue.

      2. Panda Bandit*

        Not so odd if he liked that field better or was trying to make that gig into something more.

    2. Misc*

      20-30 days a year is roughly the minimum holiday here and while it’s unlikely, it’s possible she’s thinking it’s a reasonable amount of time off based on a previous job or experience elsewhere. Which may or may not be workable, of course.

      The bigger problem sounds like it is the lack of advance notice.

      1. Kj*

        Sadly, if the OP is in the states, a job that has 30-40 days of holiday a year is VERY rare. US companies prefer us to die at our desks. If Jane is from another country, I could see her being confused, but if she has always worked in the states, she should be aware of the standard expectations. Also, aren’t they laid out in an employee handbook? One would hope!

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            That’s possible, but don’t we always assume it’s a U.S.-based question unless the LW specifies otherwise?

            1. LBK*

              I thought it was always assumed unless there’s any info in the letter to suggest otherwise, whether that’s is explicit or inferred. I’m pretty sure Alison has guessed that a reader is non-American based on their language before.

              1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                Ah, thank you. So LW is either not in the U.S., or likes olde-timey language ;)

    3. Artemesia*

      Someone with a chronic health issue or a strong work ethic would have sat down with the boss and let her know she has an issue and how she plans to make up the work so it has limited impact on the company. The cavalier just not showing up with short notice repeatedly and no attempt to deal with management about it suggests a work ethic rather than a genuine physical issue. I’d be sympathetic to someone with a chronic health issue and be willing to negotiate some sort of comp time flexibility e.g. they miss Tuesday but stay late Weds and Thurs to catch up. But without that I’d be looking to replace the person before the rest of the staff are demoralized by having to pick up the pieces.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I’m not convinced that failing to speak to your boss about a chronic health condition when you are a new hire demonstrates a lack of work ethic. I think many people are genuinely worried that their health condition will be a basis for firing, because in many industries, it is.

        But since Jane isn’t reaching out to OP, I think OP should initiate a conversation with Jane.

        1. LBK*

          Which would be super illegal. Not that it doesn’t happen obviously, but I’d hope that most companies are at least concerned enough about liability that they wouldn’t do something so blatantly obvious like firing someone after they disclose their disability.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            Absolutely—it’s often illegal, but it’s not illegal in all contexts or for all illnesses. The trick is that some chronic illnesses (or temporary but severe/prolonged illnesses) do not qualify as disabilities, so they don’t fall within ADA protections. Thus, disclosing an illness that’s not listed or doesn’t fit the ADA’s definition of “disability” can result in being fired, and that firing may be lawful.

            Unfortunately, there are some industries where it’s common/rampant to fire people when they get sick and then to paper over the firing with a different “cause.” Usually those industries involve people who desperately need the work and do not have the means to file a lawsuit or otherwise complain (outside of filing for unemployment). The restaurant industry, for example, is notorious for behaving in this way and rarely getting sued/cited for it.

            So although there are some legal protections, if I were an employee with an ongoing health problem that didn’t rise to the level of “disability,” I would be very inclined not to disclose it to my employer during the beginning of my tenure.

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              Sorry, one more caveat. Some states have more aggressive protections re: firing an employee who is sick, but at the federal level, those protections are not as comprehensive.

            2. LBK*

              Makes sense. The service industry and other shifted work in general definitely tends to discourage illness, both by pressuring people to not call out of work to avoid staffing concerns and by not offering paid leave, thus forcing people to work sick in order to pay their bills. And that’s completely irrespective of any ADA-related issues. So I can certainly see where you’re coming from.

              I think the right approach is still as Alison suggests: address it with the assumption that it’s not a medical issue and leave the door open for her to disclose one if necessary. If the OP is already going to her saying her job is in danger if the absences continue, I think at that point most people would gauge that they have more to lose by continuing to hide a chronic condition than by disclosing it.

  8. Tuesday*

    #2, I feel your pain. They’re SO bad, and no, I’m not going to put the contact information of my references into an online form on before I’ve even talked to anyone at the company. I’ve resorted to writing something like, “References provided at interview” in the references fields, but I have to wonder if that just gets me auto-rejected down the line.

    I applied at a well-respected company whose hiring software included a required field where you could select from about a dozen descriptors, like “team player” or “detail oriented.” Really bizarre. I can’t imagine HR or the hiring manager is going to actually look at such a useless question. So is it just for the software to kick out all applicants who don’t select “creative thinker” or whatever? Better select them all just to be safe…or will that get you DQed?

    The whole thing makes me nostalgic for the days of buying resume paper…

    1. many bells down*

      My favorite is when they have the “apply with LinkedIn” button. So I click it, it loads my LinkedIn … and then asks for a resume. Okay, well, that’s mostly the same but I’ll upload it no problem.

      Whereupon I get 4 pages asking me to re-enter all of the info that I’ve just given them twice. This is a part-time position! I don’t want to spend 2 hours applying!

      1. Lizcat*

        This makes me crazy! It’s gotten to the point that unless I’m really excited about the job prospect, if I’m asked for resume and job history, I’ll close the application.

      2. Beautiful Loser*

        I did one this morning. Spent over an hour entering all of the info, clicked submit and it errored out to the main screen wanting my info AGAIN! I swore and closed my browser.

        Dear Employers, if you want qualified candidates to apply, make sure your application software actually works.

        1. many bells down*

          Or it keeps rejecting one page over and over and you can’t figure out why!

          And just because I attended college doesn’t mean I got a degree. I gave up on one application (for a job that only required a high school diploma) because the “education” section wouldn’t let you leave a degree field blank. Even if I had I’m not sure how relevant a Comparative Religion BA from 25 years ago would have been …

        1. I@W*

          Wow! I thought I was alone in this. I’ve worked a lot of contract and freelance gigs. I just try to combine them as much as possible into one chunk. It’s ridiculous when they want the supervisor for every gig when you have a client and contract manager, and those people move around too, and they’re required fields. Completely draconian. And, I don’t see what value HR gets from all of these details.

      3. Jadelyn*

        Dear gods please be careful about “apply with LinkedIn” unless you get to review what LinkedIn sets up and you know all your info will actually be there. I can’t tell you how many “resumes” I’ve gotten that were basically one or two sections of someone’s LI profile – basically just contact information and education, and the layout was terrible. I’ve hit the point where if someone sends me their LI profile in lieu of a real resume, I bin it without looking at it.

      4. Sunshine on a cloudy day*

        My favorite is when I “apply with LinkedIn”. Get an email saying “your experience looks great could you send over a resume?” So I send over the resume (which is word for word from my LinkedIn profile, though LinkedIn includes more info about older/non-relevant jobs), and I get a response saying “oh, I think you’re a bit too junior for the role” or “oh, your experience is more with x than y”. Huh? You knew all of this from the start!

        This happened multiple multiple times in a recent job search. It was so odd and frustrating (but more in it just really annoyed the hell out of me, rather than I thought there a PROBLEM that could be fixed)!

    2. ceiswyn*

      I’ve been applying to PhDs lately (I’ve been doing a second degree as a mature student part time because I want to return to academia), and it is hilarious how much these things assume that every applicant is in their early twenties and has done nothing but study.

      I particularly liked the PhD application that wanted not just the employer name but the address and exact dates for everywhere I’ve ever worked. I have an almost twenty year employment history; at least one of my past employers have gone bust, several have been bought out and moved offices… yeah, have fun with that, guys.

      1. Vin Packer*

        Ha, meanwhile, I have a PhD, and I’ve been applying to academic jobs that ask for super corporate stuff that I’m constantly having to fill in with the approximate academia equivalent. It’s like….shouldn’t academic job applications ask for things relevant to, you know, academia? So we’re not all having to guess?

    3. Anon This Time*

      Those systems are the absolute worst. I’m happy at my job, but I occasionally submit resumes to positions that would bring me closer to my desired field. I don’t do online applicant tracking systems any more. They are just so terrible.

      The complete opacity is the worst part. You spend a couple hours wrestling with the system and then nothing. When the position closes, you get an (often condescending) automated rejection letter. It feels like a scene in a Kafka novel. First impressions count, and if an applicant’s first impression is a lousy ATS, it’s a negative. Did they reject you because of your qualifications? Did the software glitch out? Did you select ‘team player’ instead of ‘leader’ in Tuesday’s example above? Did anyone ever read your resume at all? Did the hiring manager mistype a query into the ATS and wrongly conclude that nobody in the pool was qualified? You will never know.

      I know scanning resumes is a lot of work. But when I hire, I do that work. It’s an integral part of being a manager, imho.

    4. J.B.*

      The night before a first round interview (they had my resume to even consider me for that interview) I got a link to an application. Which had 9 screens. With red stars beside SSN and the one box for salary. You can bet that my “give a crap” number was high. And I didn’t move on to the second round of interviews. Boo hoo, boo hoo hoo.

    5. CM*

      I’ve been in a position to be picky in recent job searches, and I refuse to apply to companies that have terrible online applications. If they can’t even get it together to have a decent online system for candidates, I don’t want to work there. The worst was when I was applying to a software company that actually made and sold the same online job application system that I was using, which did not work at all. (Like, spend 10 minutes filling out all the information they ask for in the exact format they need it, hit Submit, it sends you back to the beginning for no apparent reason and with no way of retrieving all that information.) Really bad advertising for the company. I could foresee years of dealing with complaints from angry customers and wondering how long the company would stay in business. I abandoned that application pretty quickly.

    6. Danae*

      I recently attempted to apply for a job where “where did you hear about this opening?” was a required question…and the dropdown list of possibilities was blank. There was no way to actually move forward with the application.

      (Which is too bad, because it sounded like an interesting job.)

      1. Little Miss Cranky Pants*

        I’ve had that happen to me as well. In one case, I cared enough about applying that I actually took a screenshot and sent it to the HR email.

        No response from them, at all. My give a shit factor was already in play so I wasn’t totally bummed about it, but it just goes to show that the software ‘bots are controlling the app process anymore. It’s incredibly frustrating to read a job description, *know* that you’re eminently qualified and want to apply, go through the laborious process to apply online, and then *know* that no human being will even review your resume.

        Phuckola, man, just phuckola all the way around. :(

    7. Junior Dev*

      A couple years ago, I was applying for anything and everything, and put in a couple applications at grocery stores. They made you do this awful personality test–some of the questions had obvious “right” or “wrong” answers (“do you easily get angry and lose your temper?”) but some were baffling (“is your bedroom often messy?”)

      I’ve read that companies apparently can predict performance better with things like these tests than with interviews or references, which strikes fear into my socially anxious, neurotic heart.

      (On a side note, I wonder if the perception that one is not the “right personality type” to fit into workplace environments correlates at all with the reality.)

      1. Jean*

        Every time I’ve had to take one of those personality tests for a job, I didn’t get the job or even an interview. A couple I took I got an email saying thanks but no thanks before the end of the day. Evidently my personality sucks!

      2. Anna*

        That is BS. They’ve been told they can and so get sold on this “state-of-the-art science-based” program that is crap.

  9. Hurlanon*

    #3. I live in Portland as well and my office was closed two days this week because of the weather. I usually work from home; so the bad news is that because I’m able to work from home, I had to put in two days worth of work while most other employees got two days off. The good news is that I was able to resolve quite a few teapot emergencies, and the work that I did was recognized (and very much appreciated) by senior leadership. This kind of situation is a great opportunity to stand out as a valuable employee. But only if you feel like you can safely make it into the office!

    1. Artemesia*

      Yes!!!! What I tried to say upthread. The OP is not a school kid with a ‘yeah no school today’ mentality but a professional who has a chance to both catch up on work AND impress the CEO. Why isn’t that a plus?

      1. blackcat*

        I think because, depending on the conditions, that chance to impress the CEO comes with a negligible risk of death or bodily harm.

      2. Jadelyn*

        Because their area is under a state of emergency and the roads are straight-up UNSAFE, since the area doesn’t have the infrastructure to deal with this kind of weather? I don’t feel like risking major bodily injury is a plus in most jobs.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Yes, but most of us didn’t know that Portland was in a state of emergency when commenting. In non-state-of-emergency situations, I think Artemesia and Hulanon are correct that it makes sense to come in.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Yes. There’s been an odd assumption today that people outside the area should of course have understood that unusual context, but of course many of us didn’t and were answering accordingly.

            1. tigerStripes*

              I think those of us in the area have had snow and transportation issues on our mind for the last few days. That plus 2 earlier snowfalls that happened recently makes it a big deal to us, and it’s easy to forget sometimes that of course lots of people in other areas have their own stuff and are busy enough to not necessarily be checking on our weather – why would they?

  10. Greg M.*

    #2 I remember when I applied for a retail position with The Source a few years ago and was astounded to see their 50 question multiple choice (1-5 how much you agree with the statements) test with questions like “I would report all theft to management even just a pen” “I like to relax with a couple beers” and so on. it was ludicrous.

    #4 treat your husband’s application as though it were radioactive. nothing you do can help in this situation.

    1. A Signer*

      What even are the “right” answers to those questions?? At most jobs I’ve worked at, an employee reporting occasional pen theft would be seen as an irrational busy body, but if you say you wouldn’t report every theft you become some person with terrible integrity. Ugggghhh.

    2. Username has gone missing*

      Radioactive = very good advice!

      OP, sorry but the hiring manager won’t appreciate you telling them they’re doing their job wrong.

    3. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

      I ran into this issue when my favourite bakery/restaurant came to town and I wanted to apply. The online process took almost a hour to complete. I had all the experience and skillsets that they were looking for. I never heard back. The next time I visited the bakery (I love their breakfast sandwich), they were training two people and it was painfully obvious that neither had experience in that particular field. I gave up after that.

    4. Alton*

      Retail jobs seem to be the worst with stuff like that, in my experience. I hate those questions because they’re so black and white and feel like they’re trying to trip you up.

      Saying you would literally report “any” theft is ridiculous, because in practice it would be petty and a waste of everyone’s time to make a fuss over someone doing something like accidentally holding onto a cheap ballpoint pen they were borrowing. If I reported it every time one of my pens got taken at work, that would not give me a good reputation. But if you say you wouldn’t, that probably comes across as you being unethical or something.

      Real-life ethics are much more complicated than those crazy quizzes suggest.

      1. Partly Cloudy*

        If I even *noticed* every pen theft, I’d clearly not be busy enough with actual work at my job.

        1. Marisol*

          I can get stuck on the semantics of a question like that. If you accidentally take a pen, which is generally the way most pens migrate from owner to owner, is that really “theft”?

        2. A Person*

          I swear several staff at my previous jobs must have been running profitable second hand pen businesses because of the rate we got through them.

          (I guard my nifty four colour pen with my life.)

          1. Jadelyn*

            I buy my own pens because I’m super picky about pens – must be 0.5mm or finer, must be gel ink, must be blue, must be capped and not clicky-style – and I, too, guard them with my life. I actually had a coworker who borrowed one (under dire threat of what I would do to him if he didn’t bring the damn thing back by the end of the day) come back to me the next day and ask if he could buy one of my pens for a dollar because he liked the one he borrowed so much.

      2. Thumper*

        Even worse are the ones that simply reword previous statements to throw you off, i.e. “I like to be a team player” vs. “I would rather be a leader than a team player”. Both of those can be true but if you answer them like that you seem disingenuous. Drives me batty.

  11. Isben Takes Tea*

    OP3: Could your boss have been passing along an offer, rather than an assignment? You mention she used the word “could,” and also added the bit about the owner being nervous about people driving, it sounded to me like she was letting you know your options, in which case I’d use Alison’s wording to decline. (Not because it’s not fair, but because it’s not safe.)

  12. seejay*

    LW #3: Unless there’s a state of emergency or you don’t have a way into the office, in general you don’t get out of jail free card when the weather gets crappy. When an epic snow storm hit the area I lived in, a lot of people that commuted in either worked from home or got the day off because they couldn’t make it but because I lived within walking distance and it wasn’t unreasonable to walk in the weather, I was expected to show up.

    Unless your business/company is actually going to be outright dead (ie: retail) because no one’s traveling/coming in due to the weather, it’s not unreasonable to keep working through it. I worked through a blown transistor that took out quite a few blocks in my neighbourhood during a flood a few years back. I didn’t have internet, but I had a UPS and all my devices charged up, so I worked from home. No one expected me to go in (I couldn’t walk through the streets since the flooding was bad enough that it was dangerous) and since I could charge stuff up and it was light enough during the day with my blinds open, it was easily reasonable to work with what I had. Not all my coworkers could work: some didn’t have the ability to charge their devices once they died, some had insufficient lighting, etc, so they got a day off.

    This isn’t to say that your situation shouldn’t warrant a snow day at all, but just because some coworkers get it and you don’t doesn’t mean it isn’t “fair”. Snow days aren’t free holidays.

      1. seejay*

        And see my last point, which I ultimately clarify… the LW isn’t arguing about the dangers of the snow or the weather or the state of emergency. They’re arguing about what’s fair and what’s not compared to who gets snow days and who doesn’t. If they’d pointed out that they had concerns about driving in the weather, regardless of who was driving, that transportation was still a major concern, that there was a state of emergency and they didn’t want to leave safety because of it, those are all valid arguments.

        “My coworkers got told they could stay home, but I was told to go in, is that fair” is not a valid argument to use. That’s the point I was getting at. If they can get to work and it’s not a danger, or if they can still perform work duties at home, they can be expected to, while others might be given the day off because they can’t, and that’s more than fair given circumstances.

    1. Ultraviolet*

      I agree with you in general, but Portland has been declared a state of emergency by both the mayor and the governor. Going to work at a job that isn’t critical for public safety is actually very inadvisable right now, and I think that’s underlying OP3’s sense of injustice.

      1. seejay*

        Except they didn’t word it like that. The wording came out as “they got the day off, I didn’t because someone is offering to give me a ride in, I don’t think that’s fair”. As I and some others have picked up, the argument shouldn’t be put across as “it’s not fair that they get the time off and I don’t”. If the LW feels it’s not fair due to the dangers, then they have to word it that way. If they feel that it’s not fair just due to the fact that they have time off and they don’t, then they need to learn that this is how offices work and change their expectations of what’s fair vs unfair. The way the letter is worded, it really just reads that they’re upset over some people getting a “free holiday” while they don’t. If it really is over the dangers of the weather (which I can totally understand, I’ve refused to commute during bad weather as well, even if my boss told me otherwise, he can take the risks if he wants, I’m not about to), then they need to articulate *that* issue and not focus on what looks a petty thing. There were a few other commentors that picked up the same thing as I did. The LW might have worded it badly in their letter, but between Allison’s feedback and the comments, hopefully they’ll be able to get some guidance on how to articulate exactly what they mean. If they *do* mean that they find it unfair that some people get free holidays and they don’t… well hopefully they’ll learn that this isn’t something you fight about in a work environment without coming across as petty and unprofessional.

        1. Ultraviolet*

          It’s true (and widely acknowledged, I think) that the OP shouldn’t try to argue to the employer that it’s unfair that they have to come in when others don’t. But I do think that the fact that driving through Portland when OP wrote that letter was a truly outrageous proposition makes it feel more unfair than it would in an ordinary snowstorm. Usually if the weather’s bad, it’s understood that some people can make it in and some can’t, and while you might find yourself thinking “I wish I had a snow day too!”, that’s just the way things shake out. But because OP’s weather was so extraordinarily bad, being excused from work must have seemed like nearly a sure thing, and having it potentially taken away because the owner happens to live near OP and be willing to drive despite the authorities telling people not to must just seem so incredibly unlucky. Like winning some mean little lottery. I think it has the potential to feel unfair in a way that an ordinary snow day wouldn’t, so I would urge a little leniency toward the OP on the issue of whether they’re being petty.

    2. baseballfan*

      “This isn’t to say that your situation shouldn’t warrant a snow day at all, but just because some coworkers get it and you don’t doesn’t mean it isn’t “fair”. Snow days aren’t free holidays.”

      I think this is the point a lot of people are missing. I’ve heard enough about the weather in Portland this week to agree it’s bad weather of historic proportions. And I completely agree with pushing back on going in to work, on the logic that really no one should be out in it.

      But the letter indicates this employee simply thinks it isn’t fair that s/he has to work, rather than a concern about the safety of the weather. “They get to stay home and get a free day off and and I don’t” isn’t a reasonable reaction to the situation.

    3. Mockingjay*

      The owner admitted it wasn’t safe, but is going in anyway. What is up with that kind of thinking ?A lot of employers unreasonably expect staff to come into work during State of Emergencies, including my former employer.

      And we don’t even know whether OP # 3’s boss is a good driver in snow, or has a vehicle capable of handling such. 4-wheel drive? Chains?

    4. ThursdaysGeek*

      “Snow days aren’t free holidays.” Nope, snow days are often expensive, unplanned holidays. Many people are told to stay home, but if they do, they don’t get paid or else they get to make up the time.

  13. Chaordic One*

    OP #3 I lived fairly close to my last job and in good weather I could walk to work in 20 minutes, although I usually drove there in 10. When it snowed too much for me to get my car out (about 10 inches) I walked to work in the snow and it took about 30 minutes. I was pooped out when I there and a few minutes late, so I stayed late and made up the time (not that anyone noticed).

    I’ve since purchased an all-wheel drive crossover with gnarly-looking snow and all-terrain tires on it. It looks ridiculous, but it drives well in the snow and is sort of like driving a very tall station wagon or a minivan with a big hood in the front. (This is obviously not a solution for everyone.) Even so, when there is a lot of blowing snow and visibility is low, I stay home.

    I think that in Portland, people are not used to snow, not prepared to drive in the snow and just plain don’t know what it is like so they are very likely to get into traffic accidents. If I lived in Portland, if I couldn’t walk to work, I think I’d stay home when it snowed.

    1. Mike C.*

      It’s not solely an issue of not being experienced, it’s much more complicated than that. Snow in the PNW means temperatures that hover just above freezing during the day, leading to these lovely freeze/thaw cycles where everything gets coated in ice and slush. Mix in the facts that it doesn’t happen very often and that there are tons of hills and it’s much more difficult to manage than an area that is flat and has snow every year.

      1. Beautiful Loser*

        This is my first winter here and coming from the Mid-west it is very different especially with the temperature fluctuations. Mid-west stays freezing where out here we will see close to 40 during the day and single digits at night. Ice city.

        1. SystemsLady*

          One of several reasons Snake Alley exists, hah. Not to mention it gets so persistently and extremely cold in most parts of the Midwest, the snow and ice start to pack into this solid layer. Still not safe to drive on at normal speed, but I find it a lot less slippery than immediately after an ice storm or if the temperature’s shifty.

          Same deal-ish here btw, though I’ve been through enough PNW winters to also know this is horribly out of the ordinary. Some ice and a bit frosty when the sun hasn’t been out long, but usually it isn’t this cold for this long. Lack of preparation probably goes a lot more for city departments than drivers (who know they’ll see snow a couple times a year).

        2. Natalie*

          I’m in the Midwest (in Minnesota) and we had a snow storm immediately followed by a thaw. Even with all of our snow tires and winter driving experience, it was tough driving and there were a lot of accidents.

      2. Lora*

        Even with hills, the roads are not built for having snow on them and being plowed. In hilly parts of the Northeast where we get loads of snow, the roads are cut through the hills rather than going up and down. Because there’s no way we will get a salt truck or plow up/down. Grades here are very shallow. When I have to drive on the West Coast it is terrifying for me – it feels like the roads are swooping through the mountains like concrete eagles, and that is not appropriate behavior for a road.

        1. Kj*

          Yep. The hills are INSANE in this portion of the world. And it makes driving in snow/ice terrible. Youtube “Buses on Capitol Hill During Seattle Snowstorm” for proof. I worked a medical, 14/7 coverage needed job at the top of a hill in Seattle during a bad snowstorm. My workplace set up beds for staff to sleep; no one was getting home. If it is dangerous, the OP should stay home. No question. Riding with boss is not going to be safe unless boss is driving a snowmobile or plow.

          1. Kyrielle*

            I’m not sure the plow would be safe either. I don’t know if any have slid off in this storm, but we HAVE had plows slide or get stuck.

            Those hills again.

            1. blackcat*

              I was in Philly for the blizzards of Feb 2010. I witnessed something fantastic at the height of the second storm: A snow plow, getting stuck while trying to dig out another snow plow.

        2. saddesklunch*

          “it feels like the roads are swooping through the mountains like concrete eagles, and that is not appropriate behavior for a road.”

          This turn of phrase made my whole day better. Concrete eagles, I die.

        3. NW Mossy*

          The other issue is that because the terrain’s not flat, roads have to bend and curve, which hampers your ability to see what’s ahead. I grew up in Michigan where the roads are generally very straight and there’s little to impede your sight lines, but here in Portland (where I live now), blind curves are everywhere.

          I haven’t left my house except to walk to the end of the street since Tuesday at 5pm, and don’t plan to head anywhere for the next few days. I was relieved that my husband was able to safely make it to the grocery and back yesterday afternoon, and our neighbors appreciated getting their first home delivery of milk since their childhoods. :)

        4. Jadelyn*

          Concrete eagles – I love you!

          However, as a West Coast native who loves it here and loves cars and driving, I’m going to disagree and say that concrete eagle roads are the BEST roads. :)

        5. Kyrielle*

          I like roads like that! Except in ice and snow.

          I also LOVE the phrase “swooping…like concrete eagles”…that is made of win. Thank you for that!

      3. EE*

        I now understand why Ireland collapses in snow and much colder places don’t. They aren’t icy. Thanks!

  14. Lady H*

    I just feel the need to reply again that Portland is one big sheet of ice. The snow is compacted to ice on the roads and the sidewalks are not clear, and the patches that are have black ice. People here do not own shovels. You can’t buy salt in the store. (The city put salt on ONE road for the first time this week as a test! only! because of environmental concerns.) So this makes walking to work pretty unreasonable too. It’s so crazy to anyone not from here how much impact this storm is having!

    I tried to walk my dog around the block today. (Portland blocks are very short.) It took me 30 minutes. After almost slipping numerous times when I wasn’t walking in snow up past my boots I realized what a stupid thing I was doing to risk a broken limb. But I was happy to see all the outdoorsy Portland stereotypes out there with cross country skis, sleds and snow shoes :)

    This reminds me of the badassery of my dad, who used to be one of the only people who could get to work at the nuclear power plant because he cross country skied the 5 miles. He enjoyed pretending to complain about it while obviously taking pleasure in being the hero! (We are alike. I felt like a hero for shoveling my sidewalk yesterday with the child sized shovel I have kept in every car I’ve owned since high school…mine is only sidewalk on the block that has been shoveled!)

      1. Lady H*

        Sorry for repeating myself (my comments were made before you weighed back in), but I was surprised that people didn’t have the context because it’s been a major news story. Which isn’t entirely fair, since I haven’t followed the news at all since November! I only know it’s been such a big story because a surprising amount of my clients and family/friends have checked in on me after hearing about it.

        I really thought you wrote you answer with this context and it surprised the heck out of me :)

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I think it’s one of those stories you pay more attention to if you have loved ones in the area. Otherwise I know I for one tend to skip over stories about other people’s weather :)

    1. Coco*

      Thank you so much for providing this context. People tend to have a very “suck it up” attitude and don’t realize neither individuals nor our infrastructure is prepared for this level of disruption.

    2. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

      Ice Storm 1998. A big swath of the country was without power for an extended period of time, I’m talking weeks. Since my workplace dealt with time sensitive cross-border issues, we had to keep a staff in place. It was people who lived close enough to get in and who had power on at home. Just the luck of the draw.

    3. Alton*

      That’s awesome about your dad and his skis!

      But yeah, infrastructure and general readiness can be a big issue. My area was fortunate not to be hit anywhere near as hard as Portland, but when we got snow, my neighborhood was extremely icy because the snow compacted and froze. The plows didn’t reach us until 48 hours later, and by that time it was a little late to be able to plow anything. It was frozen solid.

      When I lived in an area that regularly got hit hard, we had icy roads but people were more used to driving on them and we had chains on our tires to help.

    4. Arielle*

      Oof. Stay safe, Portland. I live in Boston and we had a similar situation two winters ago. The city basically shut down for a month, and we DO have a snow removal infrastructure – it just wasn’t sufficient in any way to clear the volume of snow that we got.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        That’s hilarious that you feel like the city shut down. I am in Boston and missed two days in the office that winter. It was brutal, but we were expected to be in the office.

        1. blackcat*

          My sense was less that the city shut down, and more that the city was suffering from a collective sense of defeat.

          Some suburbs had it worse than folks in the city. The commuter rail lines weren’t back to normal until mid-June, which impacted a lot of people.

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          That was a super nasty winter, though. I remember the Mayor having to tell people to stop driving out of windows into their snow drifts.

          But I was in the same boat as you, Lily—I was expected to come in for all but 2 days that winter.

          1. blackcat*

            The kids in my neighborhood made an epic snow slide/sled ramp that started at a (high up) second story window. It was awesome.

        3. Damn it, Hardison!*

          I worked from home all but one day in the month of February that year. I take the T from a Boston suburb and it was so messed up that it took 5 hours round trip to get to work the day I made it in. Fortunately my workplace has a very good WFH policy. My husband was not so lucky; he was spending 2-2 1/2 hours each way to get to/from work. Normally it’s a 45 minute commute. The bus route that we usually took to the T station was diverted from our neighborhood for most of the month because the roads were impassable.

          1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

            That was the period of time – my working partner and I were lauded for not missing any work – but we work at home. For us, it was business as usual, but we did take time to shovel out.

            And I managed to horrify people who I work with – who live in warmer climates – Florida, South Africa, Australia — by sending pictures of what happened – they can’t imagine a 15-foot high snow bank in your front yard, or piled-up snow not melting until late June-early July.

            Last year (2015-16) – was a “no winter year” in New England, save for three sub-zero days in February. This year we’ve had very little snow but we recall in 14-15, it didn’t snow until late January and we had six feet in a six week period.

    5. Rosa*

      Wow, our Portland office had to go into work yesterday, at least for the afternoon. Hopefully everyone was okay.

    6. LA*

      FYI, this is exactly why the entire Southeast freaks out at even the mention of snow. We don’t even have to get a crazy amount of snowfall to end up like Portland is right now.

    7. MillersSpring*

      It’s very similar in the south. I live in a very large city, and winter always brings treacherous ice on the roads. If we do get fluffy snow, it’s always sitting on top of ice.

      It happens maybe once each winter (or twice, or not at all), which means that our municipalities (even giant cities) do not have a fleet of snow plows or any supplies of salt. The bigger cities have a few sand trucks but they only use them on highways and main thoroughfares.

      Therefore the tens of millions of people in this region do not have show shovels, snow blowers, snow tires, chains, or experience driving on ice. The schools shut down when ice is merely in the weather forecast, because the buses literally won’t be able to get down every street safely.

      So my heart goes out to Portland! And naysayers in parts of the country who routinely deal with snow need to be more informed before they mouth off.


    Ah man, those pesky rice avalanches. You should definitely be prepared for those #5. I was stuck under one yesterday, but thankfully it was cooked rice. I’ve been a bit full all morning but I should be okay soon.

    1. eplawyer*

      Definitely the rice avalanche was the best part of the answer.

      But the point remains, how valuable can someone be who has been there only four months and has already mised about 8 days of work? I think the LW needs to rethink what “too hard” to replace really means. How great can her work be if she’s not there to do it and otherwise have to pick up the slack? You can find someone else, maybe not as stellar, but who will be good and will be there. Which means the work gets done each and every day with a minimum of fuss and muss.

    2. Golden Lioness*

      Chinese food to go: $16.84
      gas to go get it: $2.25

      Getting home and realizing you forgot one of the containers.. RICELESS!!



    #3 I’m recalling a letter I read on here the other day about someone who went to work in a snow storm when it was inadvisable and crashed her car into a tree on her way home. If you are in an area that doesn’t see a lot of wintry weather and thusly, your town isn’t equipped to prepare the roads, sidewalks, etc for it, then I don’t think anyone should try to play the hero and go out. People who aren’t familiar with wintry conditions often think it’s no big deal and that they can handle it until they get out there and have no idea how to drive in it and get a wreck or get stuck somewhere.

    Additionally, I have some anxiety about being a passenger in cars with other people and prefer to drive myself. I would not be comfortable being a passenger during an unusual weather incident in someone else’s car, boss or not. Not to mention, I’m a big annoyed that they are looking at your address and deciding you are close enough to come in. How do they know you were spending the night at home? They don’t. I hate being volunteered for things without my consent and I don’t like people getting into my personal life in that way.

    Are you able to instead work remotely? Because you have been issued a state of emergency I think it’s fair to say no. Unfortunately that power dynamic and being new puts you in a really tough spot because you’re going to feel like you’re being the difficult employee. But seriously, putting you at risk in a city that is currently not driveable, seems really selfish of the higher ups.

    I am from an area of the country that typically gets a lot of winter weather (although fortunately for me (I hate winter but have lived here all my life) it seems to be hitting everywhere else but here this season haha) and most people know how to maneuver in it, plus there are always salt trucks and plows out even before the first flakes fall. Because a lot of people do drive in our weather, even if a plow hasn’t made it through enough people have driven on the roads that they end up usually being passable, even in the heaviest of snow. It can be slow going, but doable. Even still, we are often give the option to late start or not come in at all on the worst of days (none of those have happened yet, although there have been maybe 2 school snow days, I think) I can’t imagine trying to traverse an area where the city is literally and figuratively frozen.

  17. GiantPanda*

    #4: If your employer has received hundreds of applications and none are worth even an interview there must be something wrong. This just doesn’t happen. My guess is that the job description and unstated expectations don’t match, or maybe the first reading of applications was overly selective (software looking for keywords…)
    That doesn’t change the advice, but might make it easier to get over the rejection?

    1. Zip Silver*

      You would be surprised. Every try hiring decent employees for finding like retail or fast food? It was crummy, and makes me happy to no longer be doing it.

    2. Rachel*

      I read a comment on a post here a couple years ago about an employer’s ATS rejecting all 400+ people who had applied for a certain position. Not a one got through. Turned out that the ATS was set to automatically reject anyone who didn’t have a certain exact job title on their resume – a job title that was specific to that company only. (Think something like Wakeen’s Teapots Milk Version Chocolate Teapot Designer.) I wonder if that could be the case here.

    3. OP #4*

      This is a very unique job, we’re the only company in the world that does what we do so it is an odd combination of skills and work experience we are looking for but the job title makes it sound like a more standard job. I’m not terribly surprised, especially given our location and maybe how the job description is worded, that we are recieving lots of unqualified resumes. On the other hand the company has had a very hard time finding candidates for ANY open positions so I am willing to wonder if the recruiters are dropping the ball a little.

      1. Gaara*

        I don’t doubt that you’re receiving unqualified resumes, but if no one is even worth looking at more closely, you guys are posting a crappy ad or, more likely (particularly given the rejection of your husband, who apparently is as qualified as you are for a similar role), your recruiting person is dropping the ball in some way (being lazy, not paying attention, having unrealistic standards, etc.).

    4. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      Yeah in my world (IS/IT) we just have to use our two eyes and two hands to review resumes.

      There are so many buzzwords and acronyms that you fear losing a prime candidate because he didn’t state the obvious “keyword” (example = applicant puts Office Suite on his application, and the robot is looking for “Microsoft Word”).

  18. ..Kat..*

    #3. I live in Portland, Oregon (I assume you are not talking about Portland, Maine).

    I have a problem with your manager. Just because your manager is okay with driving in and taking you with her does not mean that she is competent to drive in this weather. Nor does it mean she understands the risks. Nor does it mean her car is suitably equipped to drive in these conditions. What happens if she misjudged her cars capabilities and her driving skills? Because she does not know what she does not know? This is ridiculous.

    Why should you risk your well being/life because she “thinks” it will be okay?

    1. ..Kat..*

      If you feel you have to go in to work with her, at least have an emergency kit. Water, food, extra clothing, krampons for your shoes. A fully charged cell phone. And, no, you don’t have to stay with her if her choices strand you. Feel free to leave her alone as you hike to safety. Her choices are hers alone.

    2. Confused Teapot Maker*

      I agree this does put OP3 between a rock and a hard place, but reading between the lines, it sounds like it’s just an offer and they would be perfectly entitled to turn around and say, “Thank you but, given the warnings we’ve had, I would prefer not to take the risk”. It sounds like owner knows it’s risky, has decided she’s willing to take that risk but understands if others do not feel the same way, including up to the point of not wanting to get into the same car.

      Of course I’m reading between the lines but it doesn’t sound like they’ve gone, “The owner is driving into a work so you have to go as well”, more just that the offer is there if OP3 wants it. If they have had said that, I would agree that’s unreasonable, given how bad Portland sounds at the moment!!

      I, too, judge the owner’s judgement to drive in that weather but, at the end of the day, they’re a grown adult and can do what they like!! But I do hope they’re safe, of course.

      1. Marisol*

        I got the same vibe. I thought the owner’s offer was really nice actually. It seems like something to take at face value and that it’s fine to turn it down politely.

        1. Gaara*

          Yeah, I’d be comfortable just saying “thanks for the offer, but given the historic snowstorm, I still don’t feel safe traveling.” If they sounded like they were insisting, that might be a different story requiring a more complex analysis, but it doesn’t sound like they were doing anything more than offering.

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Same—I thought this was a more open-ended offer than a coercive offer. I know there’s discomfort with saying no when you’re new and have a great deal of work, but it sounded like an open-ended offer to me.

    3. Artemesia*

      These reactions seem really melodramatic to me. I spent much of my life in the PNW so I am not oblivious to what snow does to people out there, but really much of life is about sucking it up and doing what is needed. I have walked a mile in the snow in order to work (uphill both ways of course) and have driven in Seattle in the snow to get to work. Sure if the OP is genuinely afraid of catastrophe she can refuse, but the vibe I get is ‘fairness’ not danger. I see this in several recent discussions i.e. panic over plumbing and water issues that can probably be worked around comes to mind. I understand abusive bosses and unreasonable expectations, but in an otherwise decent work environment, having to cope with the occasional hardship seems like just part of life’s rich pageant to me.

  19. I Herd the Cats*

    OP#1 — Congrats on getting through your interview! I have a thought (bear with me here…) I tend to get nervous before interviews; lots of folks do. I’ve been to lots of interviews over the course of my career. A long time ago I realized my own internal solution to my nervousness — I remind myself that this interview, which is a *huge* deal in my mind, is …. just another part of a workday for the company I’m interviewing with. Hey, they’re shoehorning it in after lunch and before their 3pm meeting, or whatever. No big deal. I’m not sure how clearly I’m articulating that, but thinking about my interview in advance as “just a regular part of the workday” takes the edge off for me mentally. So. As someone on the employer’s end of the process: I’m certain they just left the card out because it’s interview time and they simply didn’t think about it. I will also point out gently that over the course of your career you need to learn to “unsee” things on other people’s desks. Not everyone is careful about closing files and putting away letters. Good luck. As Alison says: if you don’t get the job, hey, you were up against stiff competition.

    1. Op 1*

      I didn’t feel particularly nervous about the interview actually, which was surprising to me because I tend to get anxiety over meeting new people and being in new places. I figured that both of those in combination with the fact you’re being judged in an interview would freak me out, but I felt confident that I had what they were looking for in an employee in that position. As far as unseeing things go, I know!! I mean, it was right there in the middle of the table staring me in the face. I couldn’t not see it, but the trauma of seeing it has sort of bolstered that idea in my mind. I don’t think I would make the same mistake again if by some disturbed, unfortunate luck this situation happened again. Thank you for your encouragement!

  20. Andrea*

    AAM, would you have different advice for #4 if it was a friend rather than a spouse? Is checking on a referral’s application ever a good idea?

    1. Lora*

      As someone who has recently had to tell people what is going on with their friend’s application many times – you may ask once, when the timeline seems excessive relative to your company’s usual timeline for hiring in this position. NO MORE. It drives me farking nuts.

      We had a budget hiccup in which we didn’t get the money we were counting on for several positions until the very last week of the year. All hiring was set on Pause until February when they can re-do the budgets to account for it. Also, there were a couple of people who were referred to us by colleagues who were OK but not spectacular – one was 15 minutes late for the interview with a manager who truly honestly has zero time to spare for anything ever, and then had some responses to questions that were not awesome, one didn’t have a whole lot of relevant experience and would have been hardcore entry level, didn’t even have an internship. There’s no WAY I am going to go to bat with my manager for someone who is just OK and/or will take a lot of training when hiring is supposed to be on Pause. I would go to bat if the person was 100% perfect and had a spectacular interview in which we all agreed this person was wonderful, but otherwise it has to wait until more ducks are in a row.

      This is not information which non-managers are privy to and honestly, do you even want to know? I mean, usually the answer to “what is going on with my buddy’s application?” is something stupid and boring. Unless the candidate personally asks for feedback (and we’ve seen how not-awesomely that can go), there’s not a lot of point – and even if we are in the middle of interviewing other people, someone who is less than 100% awesome might still get the job because they are the best that is available in the market. Whether it’s a budget hiccup, they weren’t awesome enough for us to stop interviewing other people, we think they might be better in another group who won’t get their FTE approval until next month, or we have to interview 5 candidates per HR and it takes three weeks to set up interviews for one person, the end result for the applicant is still the same: keep applying other places and don’t assume you got a job until there is an offer letter in your hands.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I agree with Lora—you only get to ask once if it’s a friend, and you only get to ask if they received the application.

    2. Security SemiPro*

      I’m a bit more relaxed, and think that asking “Did you get X’s resume?” is fair game, regardless of relationship. My company’s HR process is notorious for losing resumes and aggressively bad filtering, so it’s a fair question here.

      After that, I am against checking in on the candidacy at all. It just gets too fraught. I had someone waaaaaay over invested in their friends candidacy who wanted me to escelate complaints to our HR staff about how a salary negotiation was handled wth their friend. Way too much, no good, and made me seriously re-evaluate whether it was worth interviewing their buddies again.

      1. Artemesia*

        I disagree. A single mention of husband’s application will come across many places as you being a problem employee and suggests the idea of hiring the spouse would be a terrible idea. I can easily imagine such a request moving the application to the ‘no’ pile immediately in the wake of such an inquiry in some environments.

        She already asked if it would be appropriate for her husband to apply and was told it would be fine. She just can’t mention it again.

    3. LBK*

      I think it’s a little different if it’s a friend or former colleague because there’s less implication of you asking on their behalf. You can present it with more benefit language for the good of the department rather than making it sound like a personal favor. “Hey, my old coworker Jane Smith said she was sending in an application for the Teapot Maker position, did you see one come across for her yet? She was great at spout design so I thought she might be a good addition to the team.”

      I just can’t see a way you can do that for your spouse without making it sound like you’re going to immediately go back and report to them what’s going on. I’d be very wary of giving any kind of updates to someone’s spouse for fear of giving them an unfair leg up (and obviously the hiring process doesn’t have to be fair, but generally I’d rather not feel like I’m blatantly giving someone an advantage).

      1. Sunflower*

        Also if it’s a former colleague, you probably referred them/vouched for them so it makes a lot more sense for you to be interested in the application.

  21. insert pun here*

    I actually used an online application system recently that was NOT terrible, and it was like a breath of fresh air. Basically in the first round, you uploaded your resume and cover letter, provided some basic contact info, and answered a few questions (are you eligible to work in the US, etc.) Then, if you were selected for an interview, you were asked to go back and provide some more information. Some duplicates of what’s on the resume, some not. But still!

  22. Purest Green*

    OP #1 – I don’t know if it will help, but look at it this way: that scorecard means your interviews are more likely using an objective rubric to rate and compare candidates versus vague personal opinion or bias.

    1. Emi.*

      I don’t think you can assume this. Writing down specific things you want to see in the interview is good, so you’re not just working off a general impression, but the ratings for those desiderata can still be totally subjective. “7.5/10 on teamwork” isn’t really more objective than “pretty good on teamwork but didn’t blow me away.” Quantifying things doesn’t even eliminate bias—someone could make scorecards for “professionalism” and “polish” and then knock off points for rural accents and kinky hair. Specifically regarding scorecards that ask for numeric scores, I’m always leery of quantifying things that aren’t inherently quantitative because it makes assessments look more certain and objective than they are.

      1. Security SemiPro*


        Then we can average the scores with appropriate (also bs) weighting factors and get a score accurate to two decimal places that tell you who to hire!

        Always question things with more significant digits than they deserve. Somethings don’t get digits at all.

        1. Emi.*

          “Fergus is mathematically proven to be the best candidate.”

          Also, one digit being “more significant digits than they deserve” is the best framework I’ve ever heard for this. Thank you :)

      2. Purest Green*

        I was thinking more of a defined rating system for the candidate’s skill set, like rating 7-10 meets at least this criteria. Obviously rating someone a 6/10 on professionalism with no idea how you’re supposed to assess that would be really vague and open to bias (and I agree bias will creep in no matter what, but you can do things to lessen the impact).

        And of course if the candidate has a personality conflict or other non-quantifiable characteristic, then that’s something to consider as well.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          In most cases, scorecards are not objective, and ratings are poorly defined and produce have very little value in terms of analysis. They just add a fake “scientific” feeling to a hiring process that often isn’t based on anything more than the interviewer’s feelings. In which case, why not just take free-form notes, instead?

          1. Op 1*

            They actually took notes on the question prompt they had, and had scorecards for post-interview scoring. I’m just glad they didn’t score me as I was talking. That would have freaked me out big time. I agree that numeric scorecards can be pretty vague and open to personal interpretation. My mom is a teacher and when she wants a student to be tested for behavioral issues they give her a scorecard questionnaire with questions like “is this student odd” which is probably the most vague and open to interpretation kind of question you can get lol.

            1. Emi.*

              Wow, that’s so bizarre.

              I did get numeric scores at my interview, and I could sort of see them as the interviewers were writing them, but I didn’t know how many they were out of, or even whether higher or lower was better.

  23. Mimmy*

    #2 – Universities seem to be particularly notorious for these onerous online application systems. I just don’t understand having to fill out employment and education history while also uploading my resume, which has much the same information. It even asked me for a list of references and salary requirements. For a part-time, long-term temp position. I wanted this position badly so I dutifully filled it all out but was ultimately not even interviewed :(

    1. Alton*

      You may be right. I applied to a couple jobs with one university that had these massive drop-down lists for skills. They probably had ten different categories, each with tons of options. And you had to manually select each skill that applied to you.

      The worst part was I created an account that saved my answers, but when I applied for another position a few months later, I had to upload a new version of my resume and doing so erased all my responses!

    2. SJ*

      ah yes, higher ed applications. ONE good thing about Taleo and those systems is that once you enter in aaaaaall of your information for a job application to a particular school, it’ll save it in your account, and you can automatically submit all of that info to every job you apply for (all you need to do is upload a new cover letter). However, you need to do that process for each individual school. I live in a metropolitan area with a ton of colleges and universities, so when I was job searching I did this process over and over over for each school that had an application system. Luckily, the smaller schools generally just asked for an emailed cover letter and resume.

      And it does suck a whole lot that they ask for salary requirements and references and don’t let you skip them. :(

    3. Lemon Zinger*

      Blessedly, the university I work at does not ask for salary requirements. I don’t actually remember applying to my current job (I was doing a LOT of applications at the time) but I’ve heard from new staff that the application is fairly exhausting.

      To me, the biggest issue is that external hiring takes forever, but at a large university with tons of bureaucracy, that doesn’t entirely surprise me.

    4. Mimmy*

      Forgot to mention re: salary requirements – This was asked despite the fact that an hourly wage was given in the job description!! Seriously?? I put that exact amount as my answer.

  24. Debbie Jellinsky*

    Re: #3 – I’m a little confused. OP, you said your boss said “the office would be closed tomorrow.” If the office is closed due to the weather & travel conditions, why is anyone expected to come in?
    My office has been closed about 3 times in the past 15 years due to extreme weather conditions, & that means no one goes in. People who can work from home do, & those who can’t (because they can’t access work programs at home) basically just check emails during the day. But no one is expected to show up, nor would they be asked to, from the CEO to the newest assistants, if the office is closed. I guess this isn’t always the case?

    1. Temperance*

      I worked at a crappy company that closed for weather in a state of emergency. Well, the following day, which was no longer a state of emergency, was no better, so I elected to stay home. My JerkBoss had her husband drive her to work, in his PLOW TRUCK, and then reamed us all out for not coming in.

  25. Mike B.*

    #2 – Whenever any system has a poor user experience, it’s generally because it doesn’t need to be any better from the point of view of the people who designed it and the people who paid for it. Job candidates generally aren’t in a position to decline to use the system if they want the job, and HR/management has no choice and might not have sufficient pull to get the (inexpensive or otherwise strategically helpful) system replaced.

    You see good UX in e-commerce and websites that depend on page views, not on most things that essentially have a captive audience.

    1. LBK*

      And there’s really no way for applicants that decline to apply due to the inadequacy of the system to voice that feedback. What are they going to do? Call HR and say “I’m an excellent candidate but you’re missing out on me because Taleo sucks?” No one’s going to take that seriously.

      1. Natalie*

        And even if that was possible, there’s the issue of marginal utility. If a company is making reasonably good hires, the excellent candidates who are turned off might be 10% better. But that increase in marginal utility is hard to measure, and there’s a good chance it won’t be worth the cost of redesigning an application system.

        1. LBK*

          Also very true. As someone that is in the midst of his third system change project in as many years, I’d have to see some extremely convincing data proving my system was impacting my ability to hire well before I’d consider going through this painful process again. Some anecdotal comments from candidates wouldn’t do it.

  26. nofelix*

    #2 – Regarding online forms, remember that there are millions of ways a candidate is unique – unusually long name, unusual qualifications or work history, the list goes on. It takes real thoroughness and experience to design for every eventuality, and would take forever for an employer to test it. So it’s not surprising that the general quality is poor, especially when employers often see hard forms as a filter for unmotivated candidates.

  27. Cube Ninja*

    Ironically, in reading #4, I immediately find myself wondering if #2 isn’t in play. In my neck of the woods, unemployment is at 3.1%, I’ve had at least one open position for the past 9 months (all due to completely normal turnover that was poorly timed) and I’ve struggled to get more than 3-4 candidates at any given time from my in-house recruiters for entry level positions that pay reasonably well and provide above-market benefits.

    A hiring manager receiving “hundreds of applications” but interviewing none of them? Something stinks here.

    1. Cube Ninja*

      Since I completely forgot to include it in the previous comment, what I mean is that I wonder if the company is using one of those wonderful (gag) systems described in #2 and it’s erroneously filtering out good candidates either by applicant choice or by technology to the extent that the HM isn’t receiving useful stuff. Alternately, I’ve known HR departments to occasionally drop candidates from consideration without consulting the HM.

      None of these are necessarily the case, but I just can’t get past receiving a significant number of applications but finding zero qualified enough to bring in for an interview.

      1. voluptuousfire*

        Agreed. Something is rotten in the state of Denmark about it.

        Having said that, I’ve worked with several different ATS systems myself and if there are any questions that would disqualify you, they would be filtered into a different folder as compared to being whisked off into the abyss. Any HM or recruiter worth their salt would go through the resumes in the different folder to be sure nothing got lost in the fray.

        Unless it’s a smaller company without a dedicated recruiter or person in charge of hiring and filling those positions are one part of their otherwise large role. The HM may have gone through 15 or 20 resumes off the top that weren’t up to par and assumed the rest were crap as well. I could very much see that, especially in a smaller business.

      2. Artemesia*

        I am so glad that when I was hiring teaching faculty at a university that HR did not filter applications. It meant that I had to filter out the 50% that were nonsense and then carefully read the 35 additional % that were not good fits BUT it also meant no one screened out the top candidates. HR may be able to filter for admins or entry level accountants, but for managerial positions and academic positions they just are not going to be very good. If I had to use that system for hiring people in high level positions I would ask for the top 50% of applicants to review.

    2. OP #4*

      Our company does not use online applications, and I belove the recruiter had received hundreds of applications and however many she passed on to the HM, none of them were qualified. So there could be something getting lost in translation there for sure.

      1. Little Miss Cranky Pants*

        Something is wrong.

        Either the job description is incorrect, you’re simply expecting too much from/for an entry level position, your recruiter isn’t being clear about the job’s role and responsibilities, or *something* else. It might be worth exploring with the HM and the recruiter about what is really needed from the applicants and what is optional. It just doesn’t seem logical that only 3-4 folks are truly qualified.

        Unless, maybe, you’re really in like North Dakota. :)

  28. Angela*

    OP #1- FWIW the last person I hired was not the strongest interviewer of the bunch. He interviewed well enough and had the best combination of skills and experience. The interview is important, but it’s not everything.

    1. Op 1*

      Thank you for letting me know. Like I said, it’s my first interview so I’m a newbie in the job market. Everyone stresses how important the interview is so it just seemed like the deciding factor. It makes more sense to me now that it’s just another one of many factors that employers take into account.

      1. Bellatrix*

        Don’t let that get to you. Job hunting is tough regardless of how long you’ve been doing, but the mere fact you’ve been called in for an interview means you’re pretty good ;)

        It makes sense for everyone to emphasize the importance of the interview, because it’s something in your short-term control. Your education or work experience won’t change overnight, while there are *some* quick fixes for interviews. So yeah, three days before an interview, it makes sense to be prepping for the interview and focusing on it because you can’t do much about the other factors. But that doesn’t mean those are unimportant.

  29. Chicago Recruiter*

    #2 – Corporate Recruiter here (Fortune 500 company). Our application process is a little bulky but much of that is do to compliance as one of our business units is a government contractor so we have to have everyone provide the same information regardless of the position they are applying to. That being said, most good TA teams are cognizant of how an overly lengthy application process can hurt the candidate experience – we have a considerable amount of fall off between initial conversations with candidates and them actually completing the application, which we must have on file to move forward – again, compliance. Were going through a potential RFP for a new Applicant Tracking System, and I am heavily advocating away from one of the more popular “recruiter friendly” systems because I feel it creates such a poor candidate experience.

    Just my two cents! :)

  30. anonychocciemoose*

    With ATS software, it’s dependent on the company. Taleo? It’s a bloated POS.

    Greenhouse, Lever, Workable, Jobvite…all newer players in the ATS game and are heads above the competition.

    I work with Greenhouse every day and it’s pretty great. A lot of it is plug and play. On the other hand, some companies (I’ve noticed this mainly with Jobvite) do the contact info/resume upload/EEOC stuff and you click submit and it takes you to a full on application with essay questions. Its like “GOTCHA! Just uploading your resume? AHAHHAHHAH. Sucker!”

  31. Sue Wilson*

    #4 Wait until your husband gets an answer, or you know the hiring manager has moved on, and ask what you say is your actual question, what kind of applicants is she looking for. You don’t have to mention your husband at all to get the answer you say you want.

    That said, I disagree with Alison, I think you can ask if the application is received, but I think that has to be done closer to when an application has been sent, with a friendly “hey do you get an application from [my husband]” “Yes” “Thanks for letting me know!” and then peace out. The longer in the process you wait to ask this, the more it seems like you’re trying to pressure the hiring manager passive-aggressively.

    1. fposte*

      I think asking if the application got received is fine, but the main thrust of the OP’s question seemed really to be getting information about its handling–husband wanted her to ask how the application was doing, OP wanted to know why it didn’t get more attention. I think this is the common jobseeker situation where a question ostensibly about receiving the application is really about what’s happening to it and why. And those are questions it’s not helpful–and it’s quite possibly hurtful–to ask.

      1. OP #4*

        There is definately some conflict between what questions my husband wants me to ask and what information I actually want to know.
        I mainly want to know if there is an issue with my spouse working at the company because then I would be able to know that what I did (in referring him) was inappropriate and apologize/never do it again
        If it’s just generally a fault in his resume well he can deal with that and it wouldn’t offend me.
        It would be easier if there was a clear end process to the hiring, oh we’ve hired for the position other people had better applications, but I expect this posting to be open all year if not longer so there is no obvious time when his candidacy has been dismissed.

        I’ll definately use show him this post though when I am explaining to him why I’m not following up, I’ve been relectant to do it and he’s been presssuring me a lot about it.

        1. fposte*

          I think checking with your manager was good enough on clearing the referral that I wouldn’t follow up (assuming your manager is an honest source). If there’s a future opening that you’d consider referring him for, I’d check with HR before I did it again, but in the mean time I’d just let this one drop.

          And yeah, it’s hard; the silent rejection is hard (and really they shouldn’t do that-rejected candidates should be notified), the rejection when nobody actually got hired is hard, and it’s a tough combination.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            Yes, agreed. I think asking the HM would only hurt you and your husband, but asking your manager (or HR, if appropriate) would be a cleaner way to get the information you seek.

            And I’m sorry he’s been pressuring you. That’s not great, and it puts you in a super difficult position. :(

            1. Artemesia*

              It is also a red flag about the potential awkwardness of both working in related areas of one organization.

  32. Emil*

    #1 – A similar situation happened to me once. I interviewed for a job in which I was told upfront that there were only two candidates besides myself. When I sat down to interview, the previous candidate’s scorecard was laying on the hiring manager’s desk in plain sight. Opposite to your story, though, this candidate had scored very poorly. Scores were from 1-4, and he or she had received all 1’s and 2’s. In my case, I suspect the manager knew full well the score sheet was there and did not care, because as he interviewed me, he kept my own score sheet in plain sight. Of course, it was hard NOT to look at my own score sheet. I scored about 75% 5’s, 25% 4’s, and nothing lower. I thought I was a shoe-in based on how I’d outperformed the previous candidate, only to receive a rejection email from the hiring manager. When I asked for feedback, he told me he thought I was great candidate, but another candidate (I assume the candidate whose scores I DIDN’T see) had met their qualifications to a T. I think I was more disappointed because I had the knowledge that I’d done so much better than one of the candidates, so I assumed I would automatically be the company’s top choice. Never make any assumptions! Also, it is possible that the score sheet you saw was for an applicant interviewing for a different position (unless you saw the position specifically listed on the sheet, like I did!)

    1. Op 1*

      Oh no! Thankfully they didn’t fill out my scorecard in front of me, just took notes on the question prompt they had. I noticed I was often waiting to see if they wrote things down as I said and it made me feel more stressed that I had to say something worth writing down lol. If they had scored me in front of me I think I would have really just bombed it. Too much pressure and second guessing after each score gets circled. They were actually upfront that they had just interviewed the other candidate before me, I saw her leave the room actually, so unfortunately I’m almost positive it was a scorecard from my competition. But as Alison pointed out, at least there’s a small bright side to it. I know the person I was up against was really good, not someone inept who proved to me less inept than me lol. Thank you for sharing your experience!

  33. textbookaquarian*

    OP #3: I live in Western Michigan where we get hit with lake effect snow storms and blizzards. So I understand the situation all too well. Even living in a state that deals with winter weather regularly, Mother Nature can still catch us unprepared.

    I realize that I am probably lacking some context here. Yet it struck me as odd that the manager disclosed to the owner where OP lived. Seems like that would be crossing a line regarding personal information if the OP hasn’t expressed their consent? I mean I’ve told my coworkers the general location of where I live, but I prefer to keep my address private. It sounds like the manager may have given out OP’s address if the owner offered to pick them up from their home. Not saying it’s unethical or illegal to do. I would be more upset about that (if that’s what happened) than being asked to work while my coworkers got a day off though.

    1. Kyrielle*

      Except the owner is the Big Boss and probably already knew where OP #3 lived. That one doesn’t bother me (although a coworker, instead of immediate-manager or HR or owner, would).

      But yeah, I’d be declining that offer pretty firmly in OP #3’s shoes.

  34. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    #3 – here in the Boston area – a few years back, the late Mayor Menino declared a state of emergency and a travel ban in advance of a major storm. He was criticized by some business leaders “this @$#%% nanny state”, “oh my too much government”…

    The reasons were = there are some draconian managers. “I don’t care what the mayor says. You show up or ELSE. I have no problem getting into the office.” Yes, Mr Lumberg but you live in “Executive Towers” a block from the office. Others have to commute – none of us can afford to live where you live.

    So this said = “if you demand that your people come in that time, you are asking them to commit a crime.”

    Meaning – if you fire them – you will be responsible for their unemployment claims. Oh yeah, between social and mainstream media – you WILL be called out if you retaliate. So you had best better say “oh we care about our employees … stay home, stay safe, and I’ll send pictures from my Executive Towers apartment.”

    1. LBK*

      Yeah, another Bostonian here who appreciates the travel bans. Makes it much more clear cut: you cannot go to work. Period. Stay home.

      1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        Certainly the travel bans go beyond the prevention of forcing people to commute to work in life-endangering situations.

        What they don’t want is Redneck Ronnie going out into the blizzard to get cigarettes and a lottery ticket, only to end up in a snow bank – rescuers diverted to handle Ronnie – and they will be delayed getting to a life-and-limb situation.

          1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

            My current job – at one time I went into the office – now I work from home. We were all required to have high-speed internet and we were supplied computer equipment (now we have laptops) – and if something happened – we were NOT to come into the office but expected to work from home.

            I DO take the time during the day to drive my snowblower – clear out – and then, cup of coffee and back to work. With a good snowblower I’ve learned to live for winter.

            Thank you LL Bean for the wonderful boots.
            Thank you Ocean State Job Lots for the insulated socks.
            Thank you Carhartt for the lined jeans
            Thanks you US Leather for the jacket – thanks to Canadian Tire for the roof rake… thanks to Sears Craftsman for the 9 horse snowblower.

            It all works, and so can I.

  35. Salted French Fry*

    #5 Last June, Six months into my current job, I woke up one day and couldn’t feel my legs, and then later my hands. I hid it. I made up excuses for my doctor appointments and somehow managed to hide my symptoms from everyone. I only spoke up when a neurologist said it was likely a brain or spinal tumor and I thought I was dying. My point is, have you flat out asked her if she’s sick or has something else going on? She may be afraid of discrimination or just that people will be jerks about it.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Ack, don’t flat out ask her if she’s sick! Ask a little more obliquely (is something going on that I should know about?). But otherwise I agree with everything you’ve said.

    2. Pineapple Incident*

      That’s awful- I’m so sorry that happened to you. I hope you’ve ended up okay, and hopefully that you’ve talked to someone about how this might have affected you at work/life in general. This is a really good point to bring up- I’d assume that the vast majority of people don’t want to talk about/answer questions about their potentially scary or very personal medical stuff at work, and act accordingly, asking questions only with great care if there are red flags Re: someone’s attendance, mood, or performance at work.

  36. emma2*

    #2: I’ve never gotten a job that I applied for through an online application system. People who do are like mythical unicorns in my eyes.

  37. Machiamellie*

    #2 – last year I spearheaded a campaign to change ATS’s so that there was a better candidate experience. The one we’d been using was probably the main offended in your complaint. Ugh, so terrible!

    I’ve been there, done that. I recommend keeping all of the addresses and phone numbers for previous employers and supervisors, in a cloud based note service (I use Evernote and recommend it). That way you can have it up in another window and just copy/paste the information over. Huge time saver!

    1. Little Miss Cranky Pants*

      Tee hee! You must be so young. :)

      I’ve been in the workforce for nearly 45 years. There’s no way in hell I even remember all the places I’ve worked, much less time frames, street address, or supervisor names. I’ve worked for five different temp agencies over the decades, probably twelve different “regular” employers, and had a myriad of contract and temp jobs. There’s just not a data cache in my brain big enough to hold that info. :)

      I’d be hard-pressed to even list all my previous addresses if I had to do a background check for some reason. Maybe I could manage the info from the last fifteen years, but before that? Not so much.


  38. V*

    #5 – Does Jane have a child entering their first year of daycare or school? Because that can be pretty bad for colds, flu, and various other diseases going through the family repeatedly. Of course, you can’t send a sick kid to school or daycare, so Jane and her spouse would be trying to get someone to watch the kid, or trying to figure out who can miss work that day.

    That problem does get better after a couple months, and will be much better the next year.

    1. Artemesia*

      People with this situation need to talk with their boss and then work with them to figure out a way to make up the lost time.

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