a friend interrupted my job interview, interviewer asked about the last time I cried, and more

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

1. A friend interrupted my job interview in a coffee shop

I had an awkward experience recently. I met someone for a job interview at a coffee shop recently (standard for this company). The interview was going well, but about 10 minutes in, a friend I haven’t spoken to in a few years came into the coffee shop, saw me, and headed over to say hi. She acknowledged the interviewer briefly (but I’m not sure she realized who he was?) and started asking me questions about things she knew in my life (basic things, how is my family, stuff like that). I responded by telling her I was in an interview and that I’d catch up with her later, but was thrown off for the rest of the interview.

Did I handle that correctly? Was there something better I could have done?

Assuming you cut her off pretty quickly, yes. I can’t quite tell if you did or not — it sounds like she had the chance to ask multiple questions, and ideally you would have cut her off at the very start, by saying something like, “It’s great to see you! I’m actually doing an interview right now so can’t talk, but let’s talk soon.” (If you didn’t want to specify that it was an interview, it’s fine to say “business meeting” or “working lunch.”)

But interviewers are people, and they know that sometimes when you’re in public, someone might recognize you and come talk to you. That’s one of the risks they take when they hold interviews in public areas. As long as you don’t make them wait while you talk about your aunt’s kidney function and how your kid is doing in school, you’re fine.

And here’s some advice on how to handle this if it’s a coworker who does the interrupting.

2. Job applicants who redact information from their resumes

I recruit entry-level and administrative roles for our company nationwide. Over the course of an open job posting, I potentially will go through at least 100-200 resumes.

Recently I have noticed an interesting trend. Have you ever heard of people sending in job applications where they have redacted their previous company names from their resume? I thought it was only one odd duck, but now I have seen three in the last couple of days come in like that. They were all applying for our administrative assistant position. Their reasoning varies from protecting themselves from employment scams to claiming it is due to their confidentiality agreement (for this one it is hard to believe that their past seven jobs all had the same weird clause, especially since they are all in different industries).

Is this a thing? Has anyone else experienced this? How do I respond? We usually send some sort of response to all qualified applicants and I feel like these applicants are wasting my time as I am unable to properly analyze their skills or experience when there are no identifying elements. And just as an FYI, two of the applicants even put a disclaimer in stating they intend to not release the information, even during an interview.

There is some advice out there telling job seekers who are worried about discretion in their job search to use what they call a “confidential resume,” where you redact names of employers and often even your full name and the names of schools you attended.

This is very weird advice for most people. Because it’s so at odds with convention, it comes across as oddly secretive and defensive and out of sync with professional norms. Maybe there’s some field out there where this is normal, who knows. But when I’ve seen it done, it’s never been in a field where it didn’t come across really strangely.

And your applicants are being especially weird about it, with the “I won’t even tell you this info in an interview” statements and the confidentiality agreement claims. (As you note, it’s very unlikely that their last seven job all prohibited them from ever stating they had worked there.) And how are you going to check references or even verify their employment history if they won’t tell you where they worked?

If someone otherwise appears to be a very strong candidate, you could consider writing back and saying, “To consider you, we’d need to receive an unredacted version of your resume that lists your employment history.” But I am very, very skeptical that these are going to turn out to be good candidates (especially for an administrative assistant role, where you want people who are really in sync with professional communication norms), and lots of hiring  managers would discard the applications on the spot.

3. Interviewer asked me about the last time I cried

I did a Skype interview for a sales job at a tech company. The first question I was asked was, “When is the last time you cried?” I can’t imagine why they asked me that. I was honest and said that many years ago, when I was a student teacher, a lesson I had planned went horribly wrong and out of sheer frustration I cried. How would you rate my answer? I am a male, 32 years of age.

Your answer was fine if you wanted to give them a real answer. But I really wish people would start pushing back on these utterly inappropriate interview questions with, “What a surprising question. Why do you ask?”

I mean, really. Treat this as if they were asking you about the last time you had sex or the last time you hugged your mom. It’s weirdly personal and inappropriate, and it’s okay to express surprise and ask why they’re asking. You have some agency in this conversation; you’re allowed to push back.

4. Shouldn’t my staff member at least knock?

I came back to work to discover a member of staff has had four lockers put into my office that I share with other supervisors. The lockers are for her to use to store personal belongings and clothes in because she has asthma and finds strong perfumes and scents from the locker room/changing room could set her asthma off. As I was working in there the other day, her coat was hanging on a door and shoes were on the floor and a bag was on a chair. She also just wanders into the office without knocking or saying anything. Am I being petty to think she should at least knock before walking in?

Nope, but you need to tell her that. You also need to tell her if you need her to store everything in the lockers rather than leaving items out and about in your office. You’re expecting her to know she shouldn’t be doing this stuff — and sure, maybe she should — but since she doesn’t appear to, you need to clearly tell her what you want from her.

So: “Jane, because several of us share this space, can you please keep all your belongings in the lockers that have been installed here? Otherwise it becomes too cluttered. Also, please knock before you come in — we’re sometimes in a meeting or having a sensitive conversation.”

5. What will employers think when my resume shows I’m no longer at my most recent job?

What do hiring managers generally think when they see a resume with the most recent position having an end date rather than saying “to present”? I was laid off earlier this month because of a company asset sale, and my resume now says “to April 2017.” Does it look bad to have an end date rather than saying present? Do they generally think lay-off, or do they think it’s a firing, and would that give them pause? I have never been laid off before and I have always had a job when searching for the next one.

Most people won’t assume anything. They’ll likely ask you about it when they talk to you (“why did you leave your last job?”) but layoffs are very common, and it’s a perfectly understandable explanation for why you left.

{ 297 comments… read them below }

  1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    Re: #3, I don’t mean to go too far afield, but I read “Treat this as if they were asking you about the last time you had sex or the last time you hugged your mom” as “Treat this as if they were asking about the last time you had sex … [with] your mom.”

    But the PG version made me laugh in a good way. I don’t think I’d ever thought of these weird questions as being intrusive as “when did you last have sex?” but that’s a great framework for figuring out how to respond. What could someone possibly hope to learn from asking about the least time you cried? (Aside from having their own biases/judgments on what a “normal” crying frequency entails.)

    1. Artemesia*

      What a horribly intrusive question. If I had some truly awful thing that had happened in my life I would be tempted to trot that out in order to embarrass the interviewer. (e.g. the death of someone close) Probably doesn’t help get the job, but sheesh.

      1. KarenT*

        And what on earth are they trying to measure with that question? How macho you are? They’re probably making some flimsy assumptions it that information. “Jane never cries. She must be really tough and able to handle difficult situations.” “Wakeen cries frequently; he must be in touch with his feelings and therefore a great team.player.”

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          This is making me wonder if OP is female and if the interviewer asks everyone this or just women.

          1. Gen*

            He said 32yo male in the letter. Perhaps they’ve some focus on male mental health, though this is a weird way to go about it

        2. Thumper*

          It’s such an overly personal question that I wonder if they were trying to gauge how OP reacts to being taken off guard, especially if almost all of the other questions were strictly professional.

        3. SKA*

          I wonder if they’re fishing for information they could use to discriminate against candidates. (And even if that’s not their intent, I bet it ends up happening subconsciously.)

          If you’re caught off guard, you might let out information that you’d otherwise not want to share at the top of the interview… a serious medical diagnosis, whether or not you have children, etc.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Hey y’all, I removed an already-getting-lengthy thread of people posting (real and silly) answers to the interview question. I think we could pile up hundreds of comments with our own answers but it’ll take us off-topic from the OP’s question so I’m going to ask that we not do that. (And as always, the problem isn’t one or two; it’s when it starts to take over the thread.) Thank you!

    2. Brrrrr!*

      It could be they are trying to gauge emotional stability, especially in a high stress position such as sales with such high rates of customer facing work. (I.e. Is the candidate a frequent crier? Is he going to start crying if a customer gets upset with him?)

      I merely say this from personal experience, because I LITERALLY broke down crying for almost no reason DURING an interview, and while I still got the job because they were desperate, the boss of the company did tell me later he was worried I would cry constantly. I never cried again in the office after that first slip, even when going through what a coworker called my “trial by fire”, but they will still worry.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        See, I don’t think emotional stability and bottling up your emotions for later are one and the same.

        Someone who can feel and deal with emotions – albeit not mid conversation with a customer – is to me quite healthy.

        1. Wintermute*

          tell that to customer care center/call center managers. The extent of “escalated customer” (I.e. upset people) training literally amounts to “the problem with you is that you feel feelings when communicating. Don’t do that anymore. Identify things that cause you emotions so they they won’t anymore.”

          No amount of “thinking of and being aware of your emotional triggers” is going to stop someone from getting upset when called a racial epithet, or any other strong emotional trigger.

          The problem is in this country we’re still stuck with Victorian mores and social class expectations that say “the help” should be human furniture, emotionless, endlessly smiling and endlessly submissive.

      2. JamieS*

        It’s possible that’s the logic behind asking the question but if so I don’t think it’s an effective way of determining emotional stability. Finding out someone cried after their Aunt Suzie passed or while watching The Notebook isn’t really going to tell an interviewer anything about job competency.

        1. RVA Cat*

          Though if the interviewer makes fun of my big ugly cry when putting my cat to sleep, that tells me a whole lot about the interviewer (I’d walk right out if that’s the hiring manager).

      3. Jessesgirl72*

        But I cry all the time- and yet, I almost never cry at work. So my answer still doesn’t tell them anything.

        And I also don’t think crying = emotional instability.

        1. Parenthetically*

          Exactly. All of my intense feelings come out through my eyeballs. I feel deeply. I am not emotionally volatile or unstable, and I would find such an insinuation frankly insulting.

          1. Brrrrr!*

            I admit stability was the wrong word choice. What I think they’re trying to determine is how well the applicant will represent their company to the customer, because customers can be mean and rude and angry, so while I agree their method of questioning to determine if someone were fit for the job is poor, they might just be trying to see how well a candidate handles stress.

        2. LBK*

          Same – I cry all the time at TV shows, movies, plays, books, etc. But I’m pretty sure the last time I cried about something that happened in real life was my dad’s funeral, and I’ve never cried about work. This would be a useless question if you were trying to gauge my emotional stability.

        3. General Ginger*

          I tend to cry when I’m angry; it’s (a very frustrating) way my body deals with rage-y feelings. My answer would be completely useless to this company, were I to answer honestly, since it wouldn’t even be about the emotional response they’re (maybe?) expecting.

        4. The Final Pam*

          Exactly – I am a frequent crier and I have cried at work before, but crying at work is RARE. But at home I cry a LOT, mostly because emotional moments in movies / TV / video games almost always get some waterworks going. I also stress cry, but that’s usually when there’s some relief from stress, i.e. not at work.

      4. Lilo*

        I just had a flashback to that episode of “How I Met Your Mother”

        “I want to know you, know your soul. Ted, what makes you cry?”

        You’re not getting an honest or useful answer from that one.

        1. The Rat-Catcher*

          “This moment is fleeting…because it’s being chased by another moment.”

          Even in a relationship context, I’m not sure how these questions help. In a job interview, they’re worse than useless – they make the interviewer come across a little wacky!

      5. Jackie Paper*

        I would read this type of question as them basically saying look, something about this job is going to make you want to cry. A lot. And we need someone who can deal with that.

        I would consider it a huge red flag … as I tend to look for jobs that won’t make me cry.

        1. Nolan*

          Yeah, especially since they lead with that question. To me, starting off asking when you last cried indicates that if you take the job, it may not be long before the next time you cry comes along. I’d pass.

        2. CMart*

          Agreed. I interviewed with a company who pounced on my “describe yourself in three words” description of “a calm, focused go-getter” by practically salivating at my choice of “calm”. They were just SO enthused to hear that even in my days bartending in a high-volume, high-stress environment I never lost my cool on a rude customer.

          That was the first of many red flags that the work/life balance there was really, really out of whack and the workload on their staff was unrealistic. I think I sent a “thanks anyway but I think this might be a bad fit” e-mail before I was out the door.

    3. Hrovitnir*

      Heh, I do find it about as intrusive (or rather not as unusual but I’d actually be more uncomfortable telling a stranger about my sex life.) I’m pretty sure you don’t want to hear about people who spend a good proportion of their time grappling with self-loathing, now do you? I really need to learn to say “excuse me?” in response to questions that kind of horrify me, because I have no idea how I’d respond to that.

      1. Hrovitnir*

        Ah! *more comfortable telling a stranger about my sex life/more uncomfortable answering this question. Sigh.

      2. Queen of the File*

        Honestly there’s a good chance getting asked the question would make me start to panic cry.

      3. TootsNYC*

        The classic phrase is “I beg your pardon,” and I do think we’d all benefit from having a phrase like these on a little loop in our brains. Sort of a subroutine that we can acces anytime our brain goes “zzzzt” and can’t quite computer–either because we have no idea how to respond, or we’re shocked, or we’re disapproving, or we didn’t hear clearly.

        The tone of voice will give it whatever shade of meaning.

        1. Karen D*

          Or “good heavens!” My best (male) friend can also work the “Oh. Wow.” thing very effectively.

          1. TootsNYC*

            Well, “good heavens” and “Oh. Wow.” are going to come with a specific shading.

            “I beg your pardon” is much more flexible, as is “excuse me.” They can be used if you just didn’t hear the words, so it’s easier to have them on “autoplay.”

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              I use “Oh. Wow.” really often, and I 1000% intend shade when I use it!

              But you’re right that it also helps to have non-shady versions close at hand.

    4. Lablizard*

      I can’t imagine what work related information they hope to get from it. The last time I cried was March when one of my close friends was badly injured in the Kızılay bombing and it was unknown if he would survive. This isn’t telling them that I only cry when friends are hurt in terrorist attacks, just that the last time I cried was when a friend was hurt in a terrorist attack.

      1. Tomato Frog*

        Right, and I cried this morning when the horse died in the book I was reading, and didn’t cry when my grandfather died. The only correct conclusion someone would be likely to reach from this anecdote is that I read books (I don’t even particularly like horses). It’s such a useless-yet-loaded question.

        This sort of question is really just an abuse of the power differential between interviewer and interviewee, unconscious though it may be on the interviewer’s part.

      2. Marisol*

        My guess is that they’d be less interested in the content of the answer and more interested in your reaction to the question. I could see it being a question to test one’s poise in the face of an invasive question (kind of a stress test), or to see how emotionally available or reserved you are–whether or not you cried recently, or if you ever cry or what the specific circumstances are that make you cry is not as important as whether or not you are ok with a frank discussion of your your emotional life. I’m not defending it though–its a gross question. Just guessing at the logic behind it.

      1. hayling*

        That is … appalling. But if that’s how the company views candidates/employees, better to know ahead of time!

      2. Nerdling*

        That seems like a really good way to wind up with a discrimination suit on your hands if/when it turns out that weeding out those who answer differently disparately impacts one or more protected classes.

      3. Marisol*

        What bugs me about that test (at least the part I skimmed) is the emotional tone of the questions, which strikes me as immature and a little snow-flakey. “How do you feel about guns” is a stupid question, imo. Personally, I don’t *feel* any particular way about guns. I have thoughts and opinions though. For a guy who seems to want to be a hard boiled businessman, his questions sure have a lot of feelz to them.

        1. LizM*

          Exactly. I actually have fairly strong feelings about guns. But I’m also a professional who understands that my feelings aren’t universal. My feelings aren’t relevant, my ability to function in a workplace full of people who like (I assume) guns are. If that’s actually a big problem, ask about that. Don’t imply that my personal feelings about a topic will stop me from doing a job.

      4. LizM*

        Oh dear.

        This just seems so… confrontational? Antagonistic? Manipulative?

        I’m all for using the interview to screen candidates to see if they will fit in with the culture in an office, but this is so over the top, it seems like it’s primarily for shock value. I can’t imagine working for someone who thinks this will help him find good candidates.

      5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Oh, fantastic. I love when people circulate their framework for tone-deafness and discrimination.

        But seriously, this is a great way to knock off certain employers. I know I would not do well at an organization that embraced something like this.

      6. Michele*

        Holy cow! Those questions would send me running away far and fast. I am willing to bet that the guy giving the test gets his feelings hurt at the drop of a hat (my observation of people call others snowflakes or entitled).

    5. Greg*

      When I was in business school, one of my classmates said she was asked a question about her relationship with her parents. My immediate reaction when she told me that was, “What if they asked that question to someone whose parents had passed away? Or what if your parents are jerks?”

      And by the way, this was with a large company that was taking part in the on-campus interview program, so it’s likely the question was part of an approved script rather than an individual interviewer who was freelancing.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I have a friend who was a foster kid and was terribly abused by her biological parents (they nearly killed her several times when she was < 5). Someone asked her about her parents, and she told them, stone cold and dead-eyed, that they were in jail for child abuse.

        Interviewers who ask these sorts of inappropriate questions deserve all the uncomfortability they impose on the candidate. But also, they should ask better questions.

        1. Greg*

          I know, right? There’s an implicit assumption that your childhood was stable and placid enough that you would have no problem analyzing it for a complete stranger. I happen to have been fortunate enough that my relationship *was* stable, and I would still feel uncomfortable in that situation. I can only imagine how I’d react if that weren’t the case. More importantly from the company’s perspective, why would you want to risk making candidates uncomfortable like that?

      2. Michele*

        I feel like employers who ask that question would be the same ones who give priority to married men with children. Some sort of nonsense about them being the most stable employees.

    6. Stranger than fiction*

      My mind went immediately to perhaps he’s replacing someone who cried a lot, but it’s still inappropriate. At an old job, I had a coworker who had been holding down the dept at this start up during their initial growth spurt before they hired myself and another person. The manager told me he was so glad we were finally hired because he won’t have to have “cry Wednesdays” with her as often. Yep – it was just what it sounds like. He’d have her save up all her grievances for the week and cry it out during this alotted time instead of what I assume had been previously happening at all different times during the week.

    7. Chaordic One*

      In my experience, I find that merely replying with “Why do you ask?” is not very effective at pushing back. Inevitably the questioner will answer with some lame rationalization for their question and then repeat it. I have gotten to the point where I will now respond with something like, “I don’t feel that’s an appropriate question and it is no one’s business,” or more bluntly, “I don’t feel you need to know that.”

      It sort of seems like anything less than a direct answer is being evasive (not that being evasive is necessarily a bad thing) or worse, being uncooperative. OTOH, when they ask such an inappropriate question, being uncooperative is probably the way to go.

    8. LoneDragon*

      Is it possible that interviewers ask inappropriate questions to see if anyone has the balls to call them on it?

  2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#1, I have the worst time interrupting someone who’s interrupting me in the middle of something business-oriented that’s occurring in a public space. I just get awkward about how and when to cut someone off because it feels rude to me (even though it’s not rude—you’re saving your friend from embarrassing themselves, too, by sharing too much information in front of a non-friend stranger).

    The way I’ve tried to get over this is by practicing jumping in super early after a person first interrupts. I kid you not, I asked my friends to help me practice, they helped, and now I feel comfortable doing it. I usually reply with “it’s so great to see you! We’re actually in the middle of an interview, but if you’re around, I’ll come say hi afterward” (or alternately, “I’ll send an email so we can find a time to catch up” or “I’ll call later today!” or you could fully omit the “follow up” lines).

    People are surprisingly unoffended and usually extremely willing to extricate themselves from the situation (often because they feel awkward/rude for having interrupted you). I’ve only had one person react negatively to this approach, and they were a loon, so I didn’t feel that bad about it.

    1. Casuan*

      Yes, the earlier the better.

      I do the same technique when someone talks to me & I realise I should know their name & I can’t think of it. If I still can’t recall it, I’ll ‘fess up as soon as I can “I’m so sorry, I know I should remember your name although I can’t recall it…”
      Ideally if there’s another party there, I’d wait for them to say the name; however this tactic isn’t always reliable.

      Today’s Lesson: When going to a meeting in a public place, do some prep by running this potential scenario in your mind.
      bonus scenarios: How to react when the barista gives you decaf or when you trip & your beverage goes flying…

      1. Mookie*

        I’ve actively extricated myself (run away, faked a coughing fit and then motioned at people to talk amongst themselves) from several group conversations that required me to introduce strangers to one another when I’ve forgotten one or both of their names. Just writing about it makes me double over in a cringe like that plane safety meme where passengers are both demonstrating proper form in the event of an emergency and experiencing a shame spiral.

        1. many bells down*

          When I’ve forgotten one name (which happens to me a lot, I really have trouble with names), I introduce the person I *do* remember. So if I’m talking to Joe and someone I can’t remember comes over, I say “Oh hey, have you met Joe?” Usually that prompts the new person to introduce themselves “Hi Joe, I’m Abelard.”

        2. Cherith Ponsonby*

          I once got away with saying “Do you two know each other?” with a few introduce-y hand gestures, and letting the strangers introduce themselves. It worked so well I’m kind of terrified to try it again.

          I hate admitting to coworkers that I don’t know their name (even when I know they’ll be fine with it; thanks, social anxiety!), but I sit next to someone who knows everyone in the office, so it’s not unusual for me to carry on a long conversation followed by a surreptitious “Who was that I was just talking to?”

      2. Hornswoggler*

        If you forget someone’s name and use Casuan’s very good technique of immediately fessing up, it’s good to follow it up with something to show you really know who they are, if you can. ‘Oh of course, you’re the manager of the teapot lid project’ or ‘Oh yes I work with Wakeen and he talks about your work a lot’, or ‘I saw your report on tea bag use’ or (my most embarrassing one) ‘oh yes, I regularly play in a small chamber music group with your wife’.

          1. Red lines with wine*

            I think Hornswoggler is saying it’s embarrassing because he should recognize the person because he plays in a music group with the wife. Assuming it’s a small music group and SOs are regular attendees to their events, the players might be expected to recognize each others’ SOs.

        1. Casuan*

          Hornswoggler, thanks for the compliment & yes, I do this, too!
          Everyone has always been gracious about it. Also as warranted a contrite look &or comment about being around many people have me even trying to remember my own name…

      3. Blue Anne*

        I call people “Trouble” in that situation. Everyone has reacted extremely well to it so far. It’s such a pally thing to say that either they don’t think I’ve forgotten their name, or they don’t mind because I’m being super friendly.

          1. NaoNao*

            They mean (I think)
            “When I can’t recall someone’s name, I introduce them, with a smile and a twinkle, as “Trouble”.
            Dan, this is… [friend whose name you can’t recall]”Trouble.”
            [friend whose name you can’t recall]
            “Sure am [trouble] !! Hi, I’m Amy.”
            “Ha ha”, *clinks glasses*.

            It’s like when people call someone Champ, Pal, Slugger, Boss, Princess, etc because they can’t recall their name. “Hey….Champ! Hey…Slugger! How are you!”

          2. ancolie*

            Not to answer for Blue Anne, but I think I know what she’s talking about and agree it can work (not a guarantee of course).

            It’s calling them a friendly nickname that doesn’t sound like it really means, “heyyyy……you(?)!”. Some people might not be familiar with (or like) that specific example, but to me, saying something like, “sup, trouble?” sounds like they consider you a good buddy, the kind you could get into mischief or hijinks with.

    2. Mookie*

      This is me. And on an interview, where I want to have impeccable manners, I’d be so wary of interrupting her or appearing rude. And then later I’d kick myself for being rude to the interviewer (and for demonstrating poor judgment) for having not interrupted her. This is such a nightmare situation as described by the LW that I am now also practicing scripts in my head.

    3. Felicia (OP)*

      That is a good idea, thank you! Adding to the awkwardness I did not remember her name until later with some Facebook searching.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Oh, I’m so sorry! I know exactly how awful and panic-inducing it can be to be interrupted and to blank on someone’s name.

        In those situations, I just switch the order of my script. I give the person an extremely warm/enthusiastic smile almost immediately after they interrupt to say hi (signalling that hey, I know you!), and I say “We’re actually in the middle of an interview… but it is so great to see you!” Sometimes I’ll physically get up to greet them, deliver the line (maybe with a warm hug if appropriate) and then sit back down. From what I can tell, interviewers/other work people seem to interpret my reaction as, “Oh, she’s so friendly/polite” instead of “wow, that was rude.” It’s also gotten me out of having to remember names and also seems to leave the other person feeling pretty positive (instead of blown off).

    4. Aveline*

      I had to almost yell at a client the other day b/c they called me and launched into a soliloquy without asking if I was free. I answered only b/c I was standing next to my presiding Judge waiting for another attorney to call in.

      It was horrible. It was also not an emergency on the client’s part.

      Sometimes you just have to barge in firmly and say “I can’t discuss this right now. If it’s an emergency, I’ll call you back as soon as I can. Is it an emergency?”

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I used to interrupt callers who did this when I was a receptionist as soon as they took a breath. Thank goodness I never had to yell at them, though I did have to tell one guy if he didn’t stop yelling at me, I was going to hang up and he could call back when he’d calmed down. It did the trick.

    5. The Rat-Catcher*

      I had a friend who was trying to have a serious conversation with his then-girlfriend about where their relationship was headed and some roadblocks they had encountered. They were interrupted three times, and every time she held an extensive conversation with the person who interrupted. By the end of the meal, he had decided maybe the roadblocks were for the best!
      So please, OP, don’t be afraid to say that you can’t actually talk right now. It’s much less awkward than the potential alternatives!

  3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#4, you should definitely ask her to knock. Do you know who greenlit having her install lockers in your office? I ask because it sounds like something that might flow through HR (I’m thinking ADA accommodation, but if I’m wrong, sorry!), and they may be willing to weigh in about how accessible the office has to be to her, whether she should knock, etc.

    OP#5, don’t worry. It’s recent and normal, and I don’t think people will side-eye you for providing the month your employment ended. There’s also so many reasons why someone’s employment ended that are super normal, like wanting to take time off in between gigs, or wanting to travel, or wanting to see family / have babies, etc. But also, as Alison notes, if an employer is curious, they’ll ask you about it. One month is not a long enough gap to raise eyebrows or flags.

    1. kittymommy*

      #4. Yes. I’m so full of questions in this one: how did this come about? Did the other office mates know about it? Who approved it? Why does she need 4 lockers? I just find this do weird!!

      1. LBK*

        Yeah, this piqued my curiosity as well. It wouldn’t even occur to me to request something like this, nor would I think it would actually be granted! And if it’s in place of using the changing room/locker room, does that mean she’s changing in the office? We know how that went over last time someone had a question about it…

        I really hope the OP chimes in to provide more info here, because the way I’m envisioning it is just plain bonkers. And the fact that she’s barging into a supervisory office is completely inappropriate.

        1. Allypopx*

          And were none of the supervisors informed about this thing that would inevitably cause consistent disruption of some sort – did they just come in and discover it, or was OP just out of the loop? I’m so curious and confused.

          1. Karen D*

            And why FOUR lockers? I guess they come in a bank of four? If so, is there something else that’s smaller that can still be secured but doesn’t take up so much room?

            Many questions. Many many.

      2. INFJ*

        Me too! And does this mean nobody in the office can wear perfume or strong smells since the reason the lockers are in the office is to help prevent triggering the person’s asthma?

    2. Noah*

      Based on the letter, it sounds like the person just went ahead and put in the lockers and nobody told her not to. The whole thing…er…smells funny.

  4. Ramona Flowers*

    #1 I’m a bit confused that you say you’re not sure she realised who the interviewer was. How could she know that until you told her?

    However, I wouldn’t worry. You handled it fine. And maybe it’s okay for an interviewer to see how you cope when thrown off your game.

    1. Stellaaaaa*

      I think OP means that she wasn’t sure that her friend could tell it was a job interview and that the person across the table was an interviewer.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        I did get that, I just didn’t quite understand how the friend could be expected to know until OP told them.

        1. Doorclosed*

          Possibly based on clothing – full suits in an otherwise casual coffee shop. Or maybe there were resumes on the table. But yea it did seem like a weird sentiment to me too.

          1. Felicia (OP)*

            Hello! Yes, I just meant based on the context clues (my full suit (though my interviewer was in scrubs), resumes on the table, the way we were sitting and the body language skewing more professional than friendly, etc.

            1. AvonLady Barksdale*

              I would still give your friend some slack here. People meet in coffee shops for all kinds of reasons, including informational interviews or just coffee with co-workers, dressed all kinds of ways. I might not have looked long enough at the papers on the table to recognize that they’re resumes.

              I think in situations like this, it’s on you to re-direct as soon as possible. I don’t think you did anything wrong, but I don’t think your friend was oblivious or at fault (if there were fault to be assigned). Next time, just, “Hey, Andrea! Great to see you! I’m on a job interview right now– I’ll text you in a bit to catch up.”

              1. LBK*

                Eh, I don’t think she should’ve known exactly what was going on, but I think you can usually tell from body language when people are having a formal discussion vs two casual friends/colleagues grabbing a coffee. It’s not unreasonable to think she might have been a little more cognizant of what was happening.

                1. TootsNYC*

                  Add to that that it’s rude to simply insert yourself into a conversation between two other people, period. it’s one thing to do a wave-by, or a drive-by “hello,” but to launch into questions, etc., is rude.

                2. LBK*

                  Agreed – I wouldn’t try to engage in a full-on conversation until the person gave me an opening to do so. Otherwise I’d have just stuck to a quick “hey!”, a wave and then walking on. But then I’m generally not one for small talk anyway and try to avoid menial conversation.

            2. Dienna Howard*

              I’d like to know why the interviewer was wearing scrubs. In the past interviews I’ve been on there seems to be a pattern of the interviewers being dressed down while I’m dressed up. Is this the new thing now?

    2. Aveline*

      If you conduct an interview in a public place, you have to know that this might happen.

      I don’t think the interviewer would be upset at an interruption.

      The only concern is LW feeling “off their game”.

      In their shoes, I would write a follow up meeting to the interviewer and apologize for the interruption and state that you hope that the interruption did not throw of the flow of the conversation or cause any issues with the interviewer getting a complete picture of the LW as a candidate. LW should also state that they are available for any follow-up that needs to be done at the interviewer’s convenience. This way it’s not about the LW feeling off their feed, but the LW pointing out that it may have changed the dynamic in a way detrimental to the interviewer and offering a way of fixing it.

  5. Ramona Flowers*

    Just a heads up: the ‘defensive’ URL in #2 has some rogue characters on the end and isn’t working.

  6. Ramona Flowers*

    #2 Unless you’re hiring spies, this is ridiculous. Google suggests there are people out there who actually advocate adding a confidentiality watermark to your resume.

    There are people out there who have done confidential or sensitive work under non-disclosure agreements. But I suspect they are not the people sending this bucket of pointless paranoia to recruiters who are left scratching their heads.

    I also wonder: if you are required to apply for x number of jobs (e.g. on unemployment) would this count as an application?

    1. Junior Dev*

      When I was on unemployment last year they didn’t do anything to directly follow up on the content of my applications. I guess they might call the companies someone put down if the individual was suspected of lying, but I highly doubt they have the resources to look into each application.

      1. Liane*

        In my state, job contacts are self-reported. You are supposed to keep a record on this *paper form* and if Workforce has you come into their office, you are supposed to bring it. I don’t know if their people then checked, but confirming would be hard since State counts “just walking in & asking if they’re hiring” as job contacts. Now I know at least some companies reported new hires to the agency because I once got a polite form letter that translated to “We know you started at XYZ-Co on mm/dd/yy & are watching to make sure you report those hours because Penalties.” (State allows partial unemployment if you are making less than a certain amount.)

    2. Jeanne*

      I have never heard of this trend. The conceit of it makes me laugh. Who is giving this type of advice? I guess I could understand the not wanting cold calls thing but that’s a risk when you job search. Then blaming it on the previous companies is worse because you’re lying.

      1. Newby*

        I could see maybe keeping your current place of employment confidential in the initial application (if you have a really good reason to suspect that your employer will react negatively and you don’t completely trust the place you are applying, which is it’s own issue) But even then you would have to disclose it in the interview. I don’t understand how anyone would think their resume could do any good if they keep everything on it a secret.

        1. Hillia*

          This is the situation my husband is in. His boss is an immature jerk and will fire people immediately, regardless of the business impact, if he even suspects they are looking around. There are only a few employers in this area that are in the same business, so the odds that he’d hear about it are good. Same for registering on monster, the state job site, etc – he scans those regularly and would fire anyone immediately if their resume appeared. Hard to get an interview as a teapot designer when you can’t mention your work for Teapots Inc.

          1. Whats In A Name*

            Agree if you work for a crazy boss, which I am sorry your husband does. But why go as far as to say you won’t say your work for once you get in an interview? Weird to me.

      2. Aveline*

        It is legitimate advice in one context – placing your resume up on a a website where recruiters can see it. My guess is that’s where it started as legitimate advice and it has been warped and misapplied by people without the life experience or cognitive ability to know that there’s a difference between protecting your privacy from an environment where you don’t know everyone else is honest and a legitimate business.

    3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I would love to hear from someone in a field where this would be normal or acceptable. Because it frankly sounds insane to me unless someone had been a covert CIA agent (which honestly shouldn’t show up on your resume, anyway) or worked for some kind of mega-company with insane corporate espionage security or worked for a celebrity who doesn’t want that person to be able to trade on their association with said celebrity.

      But even under those circumstances I don’t understand it. Who redacts a resume!? If you’re going to redact it, take it off!

      1. Gen*

        I’m pretty sure my friend who worked on something secretive in defence was told a way of listing his job on his CV so it still showed his skills/role but in a civilian light. Organisations with a real need for that will have something in preemptively in place otherwise it’s going to be super easy to spot James Bond

        1. Mike C.*

          “Yeah, I worked for an import/export firm that required a ton of travel and knowledge of several languages.”

          There’s your spy right there. :p

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            Haha, the CIA are always the people at the embassy whose “desk” no one can discern. And their name is very blah. And their working hours are strange. All my friends in the diplomatic service (and their partners) know who the covert CIA agents are by process of elimination.

            1. Emi.*

              My great-uncle and -aunt traveled a lot because they worked for the State Department as radio operators. Years after they had died, my father was helping to go through their things and found an award for bravery from the CIA.

              1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

                My grandfather always told the whole family that his involvement in WWII was limited to helping run a little airfield in liberated Norway. Went through a couple giant footlockers he’d kept in storage for 60 years when he passed away, and discovered that the “little airfield” was a clandestine landing site in occupied Norway, and that he’d spent most of the war behind enemy lines working for the OSS, supplying the Norwegian and Finnish resistance with arms, intelligence, and scary gentlemen who knew how to cut throats and demolish bridges for most of the war.

                Basically, grandpa was a spy. It was so cool I had to take a day off just to process.

        2. Eh? Non Y. Mouse*

          I had often wondered about this. I interviewed for an internship where I would have needed some pretty serious clearance. And I always wondered how I would be able to use that experience to job hunt later if I wouldn’t be able to talk about it.

      2. Casuan*

        I would love to hear from someone in a field where this would be normal or acceptable.

        I’d tell you but then I’d have to…

        Even celebrities have production companies or the employees are umbrellaed under another company. At worst, the celebrity would ask that their name not be mentioned.

        1. Nolan*

          Yeah, a celebrity’s personal assistant would just list it like that, along with the job duties, and maybe a mention of what industry the celebrity is in if it’s relevant, they should never actually name the celebrity on the resume though.

          Likewise, I have a cousin who works as a bodyguard for an industry leader. Due to the nature of his work, he can’t say which industry leader he works for (though we do know what industry they’re in), just that he’s a bodyguard for someone with enough money and influence to require that kind of service.

      3. Djuna*

        I have had to sign non-disclosure agreements at work – but it has never so much as been suggested that they mean I can’t say where I work, or what I do.

        I’m baffled by this, as others say down-thread, if it’s really confidential there are ways to get around that without effectively declaring that “it’s need-to-know, and you don’t need to know”.
        That comes off as super-dramatic to me, and would make me question the applicant’s understanding of professional norms.

      4. PB*

        I’d love to hear this, too! I have friends in defense, and relatives who’ve worked for the FBI. They don’t redact their resumes. There’s a lot that they can’t share about their job, but they can still say that they worked there.

        1. Liane*

          My husband has held at least 1 job where he worked on Dept. of Defense contracts, with non-disclosure agreements (NDAs). He can name the company on resumes/applications and list his duties, just not specific projects or products he worked on. Heck, he can talk in a general way about what he did (“I used [list of tools and meters] for QA”), even say he worked on DoD contracts at the company.

          I have signed NDAs for playtesting RPGs and I have friends who freelance for gaming companies under NDAs. The only limits on saying who we freelanced for are that we can’t say we are GameCo employees (since we aren’t) or mention past/current projects that GameCo hasn’t announced publicly. Which means months of censoring one’s tongue and fingers.

      5. Halls of Montezuma*

        You still put down your employer, but maybe a discrete office name, like SSP instead of Navy nuclear weapons, and a scrubbed version of accomplishments. In most of those specialty fields, knowing someone at the place you want to work and knowing the right jargon are far more important to getting the job than a resume.

      6. Antilles*

        Actually, even in the CIA, they don’t just state “Company Redacted” because that actually raises more questions than if you claim to work for the “State Department, Embassy of ____” as some innocuous job.
        Interestingly, the CIA actually did this with their actual *building location* for a while – the exit sign off the highway listed something like “Fairbanks Research Station” or “Bureau of Public Roads”.

      7. QAT Consultant*

        The company I work for does consulting for pretty much any other company that has software. We all signed a NDA when we were hired. We have to redact our resumes (internal and external) to not include the names of any company we contract for or any specific products we worked on for that client.

        However, I can still list my companies name and every major task that was part of my contract for each company. It would look something like my company: Teapot Consulting Inc, client 1: A teapot spout manufacturer, client 2: A teapot retailer .. etc.

        Dates would be listed for my employment at my actual company and each client would have dates listed as well.

      8. Aveline*

        I think it’s more geared for putting your resume up on a job board site or a blind recruitment pool where you don’t know who is reading your resume.

        If you put your resume on whatever is the job board de jour and have all your information in it, you are risking both identity theft and scammers posing as recruiters (it happens).

        My guess is that these individuals got that advice when putting up their resume to such a site and don’t understand the contextual differences between that and a direct application.

        For that reason alone, I would not hire them.

        1. TootsNYC*

          In that situation, I’d suggest putting at least “sales and marketing firm of 450 employees/revenue of $X/25 clients” or something.
          (I worked for some organizations that weren’t well known, and I’d always put something like that.)

      9. NotTheSecretary*

        I do know a person who did some ghost writing. When she lists it on her resume, she keeps the name confidential as non-disclosure was a part of her employment agreement. But, you know, that’s pretty normal and expected in freelance writing. No one in that field would find it off. It’s so strange for someone, especially someone like the candidate in the OP who was apparently a receptionist, to redact their employers’ names for no apparent reason!

    4. Casuan*

      I also wonder: if you are required to apply for x number of jobs (e.g. on unemployment) would this count as an application?

      I’ve wondered this, too. Some positions receive many resumes & it’s obvious that the majority of them have no relevant experience for the job.
      Are people sending in their resumes just to meet the Unemployment quota [one who is on unemployment is required to send so many resumes, at least this used to be true]?
      If so, I expect this effect is minimised for upper-level positions.

      1. Audiophile*

        When I was receiving unemployment, it was explained to me that I really needed to apply for jobs that I was qualified for, to increase the likelihood of an interview and eventual offer. I spoke with the counselor and we went through a few similar job titles and similar fields. Only after a certain number of weeks was I expected to apply for and accept jobs outside my field.

        So it’s possible these candidates are getting really bad advice or their states have very different requirements for UI benefits.

        1. Over Development*

          When I was on UI, I had to turn in a form that named the 4 companies I applied to each week in order to get payment.

          I was unemployed for 3.5 months, so I applied to 64+ jobs.

          1. Audiophile*

            My state has a website and portal where you can track your applications or you can submit a paper version. As I understood, I had to do one or the other, plus certify that I hadn’t gone back to work. I also had to attend the meetings with the counselor, that was mandatory, or my benefits would stop immediately. Not sure how many I applied to, I was unemployed a little over a month.

        2. katie*

          When I was unemployed, I definitely applied to some jobs I was totally unsuited for, just to say that I did. I’m an engineer with a very specialized background so after a week or 2 of being unemployed, I had applied to all the jobs that were applicable to me. After that, it’s mostly talking with recruiters/networking so it’s really hard to say “I applied to work for Company ABC” even though I was actively looking for work. So I’d end up submitting my resume to jobs I had no interest in and no business applying for since jobs that fit my skill set were very rarely posted. I felt bad doing it but I needed the paper trail for unemployment and I was told recruiters didn’t count.

          1. (another) b*

            I am OP #5. For my state (PA), I don’t think I have to prove I’ve been applying, it just asked me to fill out a profile on the state job site. Which isn’t that great so I haven’t been using it. I’ve been applying a ton from other sites (mostly Indeed and LinkedIn)

          2. Elizabeth West*

            Same here–only for me, it was hard to find jobs that if offered to me, I could actually do (because of the math LD). For instance, it made no sense to send a resume to someone looking for a bookkeeper. I can’t do books, and I might have gotten a call because of other recordkeeping tasks on my resume.

    5. Daria Grace*

      I once got tricked into going to a recruitment meeting for a spy agency (I’m not joking) and not even they do that. Obviously they require extremely detailed accurate work histories when applying to work with them. When you’re finished working with them and looking for a job somewhere else they help you with alibi/cover jobs you can claim you did which overlap some of the same skills but don’t look suspicious.

      1. mreasy*

        Can we have more info in the open thread about this spy rescruitment meeting, pretty please???

    6. rudster*

      I’m a freelance translator, and in our industry there definitely are problems with scammers lifting resumes from locations where they might commonly be posted (e.g. industry portals) or simply misusing a resume you may have sent them in response to a (probably fake) inquiry. The scammers either post your highly qualified resume their own website to imply that you work for their company/agency, or use it to steal your identity and apply for jobs, getting whatever they can in advance and then turning in junk work or nothing at all. Often the victim suspects nothing until they are contacted by an irate customer whom they’ve never worked with. I know my situation is specific, but some measure of resume security to prevent unauthorized use doesn’t strike me as especially paranoid.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        I could maybe see that for people posting their resumes publicly when they do a job that is both remote and paid in advance – redacting the employer names until they are in direct contact with a potential employer.

        But I can’t see a reason for doing this when personally sending your resume to a potential employer. Except maybe the current job, to keep them from contacting your current boss, and even then, it’s well outside of what would be considered normal.

        1. Aveline*

          I think that’s the crux of it. People taking advice given in context A and applying it to context B.

    7. Mookie*

      The watermark advice is breathtaking. I want to see a Creative Commons attribution license next. (Neither of these, by the by, would ever prevent someone from lifting material from your on-line resumé or CV for use in any scam or from simply reproducing the entire contents of a resumé in a second document sans watermark.)

    8. Lablizard*

      I actually have a touch of experience with interviewing and hiring people from places who trade in secrets, since our company pulls in managers from unrelated departments to sit in on interviews for an outside ​view. They put their employer’s name and their dates of service, it is the specifics of their jobs that get elided. For example, the answer to, “Tell me about a stressful work experience and how you handled it?” will be pretty vague on what the experience actually was and what caused the stress, but specific on how they handled it.

      1. Emi.*

        “Tell me about a stressful work experience and how you handled it?”

        Situation: being pursued through the streets of Kabul by hostile armed agents

        Task: recover disk containing crucial intelligence that would compromise multiple agents’ identities and deliver it to the President

        Action: broke into enemy safe house; terminated three enemy agents; broke into safe and recovered disk; fled safe house; leaped from rooftop to rooftop, firing pistol over my shoulder; shimmied down drainpipe; convinced carpet dealer to let me hide in his back room; appropriated motor scooter and drove to marketplace; hid in farmer’s cart to leave city; covertly exited farmer’s cart on country road and hiked across desert to reach helicopter pickup

        Result: agents’ identities protected; studio buy-in for sequel secured

    9. Liane*

      “Unless you’re hiring spies, this is ridiculous.”
      This, and the actual redacting, reminds me of the fate of one of my community college professors. I didn’t have Prof for a class, but I was on the Brain Bowl team he coached. A couple years after I graduated, he retired after a decade or so there when College was unable to verify his credentials after Florida law started requiring them for current/prospective state school faculty. Prof stated that his credentials couldn’t be verified because they had been earned under another name (names?) due to his CIA espionage career. The Ex-Spy Who Taught at this obscure semi-rural college made the news in the state.

      ****So this doesn’t derail, I PROMISE I will post link to one of the articles in an open thread at the end of the week! The non-classified details given are pretty juicy. Alison, do you want me to post it in Work or Weekend?

    10. NotAnotherManager!*

      And, if you are hiring spies, they have a process for how this is to be handled, and it is not nearly as conspicuous as redacting your resume. They’re trying NOT to draw attention to themselves, and redacting is weird and unusual.

      (Beauty of working in DC – everyone knows someone who works for an intelligence service. :)

    11. OP #2*

      Recruiting would be alot more interesting if I was indeed hiring spies! Watermarks wouldn’t have been a big deal and it is typical for us to see the last employer redacted especially if they are coming over from a competitor.

  7. Stellaaaaa*

    OP2: Is it possible that your job posting was used an an example in something like an employment seminar? It’s too coincidental that you’ve gotten a bunch of resumes so quickly with the exact same weird quirk – it’s possible that there’s a connection between those people.

    1. Lilo*

      Given the very recent influx, I think you’re likely right. They may have attended some seminar or there’s some job tipster with bad advice making thr rounds.

      This is weird for me because in my field I am straight up required by my license to disclose all past jobs in my field and relevant education (and 100% all past jobs for my background checks). My spouse works in a defense industry type job and they are also required to disclose similar information.

  8. Casuan*

    OP2: This is bizarre. Even if one’s job is classified, employers know that employees will change jobs. The employee would always have a non-classified company name & description for their job* & the organisation should brief them on what an employee can & can’t say about their role & duties whilst with the organisation & after they leave. If a candidate with redacted infos seems to be a possible fit for the position yet still claims confidentiality then ask them to contact the relevant HR for clarification & give a date by when you need the updated CV.
    That said: If this practise were legit & you have the above scenario, reconsider their candidacy because if they can’t sort out their former history & can’t think to call ExEmployer themselves then they’re not too clever…

    As usual, I’m wondering if these CVs were created under the tutelage of the same jobs search service.

    *eg: If one works for a government intelligence service, there will be an appropriate title such as “Special Agent” & the employer might be the State Department.

    1. David*

      To the best of my recollection, In Australia a number of years ago there was a little bit of a scandal when it was found that MANY of the ex-ASIO[1] agents were putting “Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet”down on their resumes. There were so many of them out there that if you found an application from somebody that had worked in DPMC you could pretty much know they were an ex-ASIO agent. I believe the agents were given stern talkings to and told “Not to do that anymore, please…. We know what you did last Sunday[2]”

      1. ASIO is one of the Australian Spy Agencies.
      2.Possibly last Saturday night as well.. And Friday night… and that girl you met who you thought was kind of cute, and last Wednesday night as well. And you probably should call your mum more often.

  9. HardwoodFloors*

    #2 I wondered if the job applicants had been burned by scammers. If I am contacted to a ‘recruiter’ (after their seeing of a resume) and the first thing they say is that they have to have a work doc resume, my reply is goodbye. Sounds like identity theft to me. (Or rewriting my resume, not OK either)

    1. Jessesgirl72*

      But these are people who are applying for a job- not ones who have been contacted by the OP or a recruiter.

    2. Audiophile*

      I applied for a job I found on CL and got a response saying they need my resume in a different format, like a functional resume. This was a legit company, but they had no offices in my area.

      I didn’t respond after that, as I figured it was a check cashing scam or something.

      I may start excluding my address and using my GV number for the next job search.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I leave off my address except for city and state. Nobody needs to know where my house is. And I just got a GV number too (picked an L.A. number, wishful thinking I guess LOL). Annoyingly, I’ve been getting calls for that number, from California, which I have to pick up because I’ve applied to jobs out there!

    3. Sunshine on a cloudy day*

      I sort of understand the thinking if (and only IF) the applicant is sending their resume to an external recruiter AND they only redact their current company.

      I’ve encountered my share of unethical/sketchy/shady external recruiters (I’ve also worked with awesome lovely external recruiters as well!). I could see an applicant fearing a particularly desperate and unethical external recruiter contacting their current company to say “I’ve heard you will be seeking an XXX, may I offer you my services” and in the process revealing their job search.

      This is really out there – totally unprofessional and really would probably not be an effective strategy on the external recruiter’s part. I’m just saying it’s not outside the realm of possibility (saw some really bizarre stuff from external recruiters at the height of the recession).

  10. Uyulala*

    #3 – if the interview asks about crying, I would take that to me that the job will make you want to cry. And probably not happy tears.

    1. Stellaaaaa*

      It sounds like one of those questions that’s meant to gauge something about you as a person. “If you were a tree what would you be.” Or somehow they think it’s an icebreaker or a way of getting applicants to tell stories about themselves. I’d imagine they get lots of people talking about sobbing over Grey’s Anatomy reruns, which is what they deserve for asking such a dumb question.

      1. Hrovitnir*

        Yes, I generally interpret these things as clueless ideas about how to get you to share something personal/answer a question professionally when you’re off balance. Or since OP was a man, some crap about whether he’s comfortable with his “feminine side” or something.

        It blows my mind that it doesn’t occur to a single person involved with these ideas that there are many deeply personal and painful reasons people cry and they wouldn’t want to tell their boss, never mind their bloody interviewer. Eugh.

      2. hbc*

        Oh, man, those questions. You can’t gauge my personality by what kind of tree I am because it would take me 10 minutes to think of more than 6 tree names and even some of those I’d have trouble picking out of a lineup. For crying, I’d sound unstable because I might have cried on the car ride over listening to an audiobook, but in my actual work and personal life I’m known for keeping my cool in a crisis.

        1. Myrin*

          Yeah, I’m the same. I’m very unemotional in real life yet very emotional when I read or watch a story – fictional scenarios are about the only thing I cry about really. Wonder what that says about me.

          1. Jessesgirl72*

            Or I’m extremely emotional in my personal life- except in an emergency (I broke down in tears and shaking after administering the Heimlich maneuver on my 3 yr old nephew…) and only very very rarely at work.

            The question tells them nothing about how professional you are.

          2. Parenthetically*

            My mother is the same! I swear she will cry over a Folgers ad on tv, to say nothing of touching moments in movies and books, but she’s the most level-headed, even-keeled person alive in a real-life stressful situation.

              1. The Southern Gothic*

                Oh, Kodak. That Paul Anka song they played at the Mad Men show finale was like a kick to the stomach from outta nowhere.

              2. Episkey*

                Ha! Last time I cried was for the new Coldwell Banker commercial where the guy & his SO have broken up and he’s really sad, then he adopts a dog and the dog makes him happy again. I’ve also cried at the car commercials were the dog starts out as a puppy with a young child and then moves to the child becoming college-aged and the dog is now a senior.

            1. Marillenbaum*

              I understand this. There was a Folgers ad at Christmas of a woman talking to her first grandbaby in front of a Christmas tree, and then her son brings her a cup of coffee. Tears.

          3. Mallory Janis Ian*

            Yeah, I cry all the time over fictional scenarios. If I even see a character crying, I will cry, too, out of empathy. But in real life situations, I’m more trying to figure out my role in the situation (what is needed: comfort? support? leave them alone / give them privacy? fix something fit them?), so I’m calm in real life.

    2. PB*

      Oof. That’s possible. At my last job, I dealt with a workplace bully who made me cry, fairly often. She made other people cry, too. The fact that she’s still there — and admin wanted to give her a raise(!) — is one of the major reasons that I’m not.

      I honestly don’t know the last time I cried. What an incredibly personal question! I’ve never written a Glassdoor review for an interview (I probably should have for a few, but I wasn’t aware of it at the time). I think I would for this one.

    3. General Ginger*

      Oh, good point. Especially since this is a sales job, I’m thinking this might be a particularly stressful environment/position.

  11. FCJ*

    The last time I cried was for an INTENSELY personal reason that I would never share with an interviewer, and even if I could come up with a lie on the fly like that, I’d be thrown off for the rest of the interview. Why would someone even ask that question?

  12. Jeanne*

    #4, You can definitely ask her to knock and to clean up. I’m not clear why she needs 4 lockers and why they are in your office. Is she actually changing clothes in your office? It seems to me the lockers could just as well be in the hallway outside your office. You are the supervisor and there are others in your office. Her accomodation doesn’t have to interrupt your work.

    1. Casuan*

      OP4: I definitely think your employee should knock although she should also have the same level of access to her belongings that she’d have in the locker room.
      You said she “has had four lockers put into my office that I share…” Was anyone else involved in this decision?
      It will help if you & the other supervisors can set up expectations now so your employee is clear as to the rules. There should be some guidelines in place here, such as knocking & not using the office as a personal dressing room where she can strew things about. Just as the company can’t guarantee that items left in a locker room/changing area, the company can’t guarantee that your office is any safer.
      What if you are having a meeting & she needs to change? Are you expected to vacate the office for a certain amount of time whilst she does so or can she take what she needs to a restroom & change there?
      Or what if she needs her inhaler stat? [I assume she’d be allowed to barge in for that.]

      1. Ange*

        Why wouldn’t she keep the inhaler on her? Mine is always on my person because if I have an attack I may not be capable of going to find it.

        1. Liane*

          I am assuming she works in production floor at a manufacturer, since those are the only jobs I have seen with locker rooms. Sometimes those places have odd (at least to people not in the industry) rules about what you cannot bring onto the floor, but I would think if that were the case, there would be an exception for medical things like inhalers or epinephrine injectors.

          1. Jeanne*

            She could have her inhaler in a pocket unless it was sterile manufacturing. Lots of other things go out on the manufacturing floor like pens and pads of paper.

    2. Garrett*

      Yeah, my guess is she spoke with someone and this accommodation was made although they apparently didn’t tell all the supervisors. The employee may not even realize no one was told. I would speak to them and see what they say and then set the rules for what you need her to do. I don’t have an issue with them doing this due to her allergy, but it’s poor communication on the company’s part.

    3. TootsNYC*

      I think you could even ask her to not come in the room so often.

      This is supposed to be a substitute for the locker room–not an adjunct to her current office. She shouldn’t be coming in any more frequently than she would go to the actual locker room.

      Also don’t feel that you have to say “we may be in a confidential conversation” in order to insist that she knock.

      This is primarily your territory, and you are concentrating, and she needs to acknowledge that she is interrupting when she enters. (Though, think about which would be less obtrusive–it may be worse if she knocks. And maybe you’re just reacting to the idea that she’s now treating your workspace as though it’s community space the way the locker room is.)

      (If she needs her inhaler stat, it should be on her person.)

      1. Whats In A Name*

        Yes, this was my comment as well. Just becuase it might be closer than the locker room I don’t think it should be frequented more often. And I definitely agree with Alison that talking with her is the right first step; she might not realize she breaking etiquette or she might not realize how often she is doing it. Or that it, in fact, is NOT a locker room 1st so there are different rules of entry.

  13. K.G., Ph.D.*

    My uncle worked for [unidentified defense contractor], and he wasn’t allowed to tell anyone who is employer was. He was, however, allowed to buy us branded clothing from the gift shop. Go figure.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Yeah, this is literally the only context in which I know people who have had to redact information (although in their cases, they weren’t allowed to even list that they’d done a particular job for the secret employer).

    2. Gaia*

      Seriously? Someone gifting me their company logo gear would get some serious side eye from me.

      1. Gaia*

        Although I guess I wouldn’t know it was *their* company since their job is a big secret. I am sure it could be any company and it is just a coincidence that they got me We Make Weapons Inc polo shirts…

      2. Mike C.*

        Some company have really nifty branded gear, especially defense contractors. For the average company I think you’re right, but these are an exception.

        1. Lablizard*

          I had a Seattle’s Best Iraq travel mug for a while, but the printing wore off, so now it is just silver

      3. General Ginger*

        My parents and aunt worked for [defense contractor], and they used to have some really nice branded gear, actually! I don’t know if that’s changed since (this was in the ’90s-early ’00s), it very well may have, but they definitely have gotten some pretty cool stuff over the years.

      4. Can't Sit Still*

        Space Systems/Loral had some pretty awesome stuff, though. Plus, they had that cool space logo.

      5. K.G., Ph.D.*

        He only did it with family, as a joke about the fact that he couldn’t tell us where he worked.

    3. (different) Rebecca*

      What a hilarious loophole. Seriously. “I bought you these Graytheyawn shirts/coffee mugs/shot glasses. Why? No reason…”

      1. paul*

        Raytheon and General Dynamics aren’t particularly secretive about someone having worked for them; my BIL has. He can’t say a damn thing about what he did with them, but the fact he worked for them isn’t verboten.

        1. (different) Rebecca*

          It was a joke–the only famous defense contractor I know, put there in weird form for illustration.

    4. Emi.*

      Was he allowed to admit to having worked for them after he left, though? It’s way weirder to redact your whole resume than just your current job.

    5. CaliCali*

      Yeah, I’ve worked for a defense contractor, and while you’re not supposed to do things like loudly talk about your employment there, making it a weird secret isn’t required either. It’s the individual projects that require discretion, but you can hide that in vagaries, or you can simply state that details are confidential (which I had to do when I was applying for new jobs and couldn’t provide samples of my work). Almost all of my former coworkers who are still there have their current employer on LinkedIn. Plus, the scope of what defense contractors do is so broad that it’s basically like saying “I work for the government” — you could be designing classified weapons systems, sure, or you could be working on satellite solar panels or running an IT hosting service. And yes, you could get branded clothing incredibly easily, as well as keychains, totes…

      To the main point of the letter, however, I have never had to redact my resume — my former employer is listed just like with any other job, and the nuts and bolts of the job can be described easily without disclosing any sensitive information.

      1. K.G., Ph.D.*

        The odd thing is that he’s not even on the technical end of things — he’s a finance guy. But he’s worked for other defense contractors before (as have I) and never had to be *this* secretive about it, so go figure.

  14. Misclassified*

    Ugh. #5 reminds me that I still have no clue how to handle “So why did you leave?” when, essentially, the reason I left was they were misclassifying me as an independent contractor and had made work rather hellish as a result of me filing an SS-8.

    1. Jeanne*

      You just need a way of saying it. “I was misclassified as an independent contractor and once we realized the issue I wasn’t able to continue in the job.” Something like that. Be honest but not mean or bitter.

  15. Freya UK*

    LW3 – Run, run like the wind. It’s a ‘sales’ job and they asked when the last time you cried was? It means that this particular sales job is hellish and you’re going to be abused by the general public a LOT (likely you’ll be doing things like cold-calling), and perhaps your managers too.

    1. Jeanne*

      They could change it to “When was the last time you cried at work?” You’ll probably cry 5 or 6 times a week at our job!

      1. Quickstepping Matilda*

        I was actually just thinking that if someone asked me that in a job interview, I’d probably tell them, “I’ve never cried at work.” Like, assuming that since this is in a professional context, the question must mean in professional environments, not the time when I had to hold my daughter down so she could be vaccinated.

  16. Freya UK*

    LW5 – Don’t worry about it. The kind of person/company that will automatically assume the worst of you because you’re currently unemployed is not the kind of person/company you want to be working with anyway.

    Oh and, I just put the year of employment on my CV for this very purpose – so the last time I left a job without having one lined-up the date just read 2012-2016. I just got asked if I was still there or had left already in interviews.

    1. Overeducated*

      I do this too (mainly because I worked multiple jobs for the last several years and listing by year reduces visual clutter), but I’ve gotten the impression that the AAM consensus views this as unusual enough to be suspicious.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        Absolutely. If I see that, I’m definitely assuming that you’re trying to hide something.

      2. Emi.*

        I have jobs listed as “Spring YYYY–Fall YYYY” or “Summer YYYY” but only for student things that are arranged by semester or summer break. Is that weird?

      1. Freya UK*

        Interesting – Why ‘red flag’ rather than just adding it as a question to ask at interview, if you’re happy with everything else on the CV? If I’ve worked somewhere four years (as per my example), why would not having the months listed cause such concern? It doesn’t denote a job-hopper or anything negative – it just doesn’t make it crystal clear if I’m still there or not, and if I’m not, why assume it’s a ‘bad’ thing?

        1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

          Because if you list 2012 – 2016, you might have worked there 5 years, and you might have worked there 2 years and 2 days. So I both don’t know how much experience you have and feel like you’re trying to pull one over on me (by implying 5 years when you may have fewer)

          1. ThatGirl*

            HMMM in ATS I always put the month (often with imaginary day because it’s required) but my resume only has years… now I think I should have a resume version with months for times when there’s no ATS.

      2. (different) Rebecca*

        I’m with Freya–I can tell you the months of all my academic postings, because we follow an odd year/semester thing, so it’s either August to January, January to May, or August to May. But anything further back than that in my CV, you’ll be getting the year because it didn’t occur to me when I was 22 and working retail that I’d need to know in which season of the year they decided my services were no longer needed, and nothing I’m doing now has anything to do with what I did then…

        1. Liane*

          I am waaaay out of my 20s and I still don’t think to keep track of exact starting and ending dates, even though it seems 99% of applications (US) ask for that and you MUST give the exact date. There’s only one job I recall just the date of hire (6/12/07) and that’s only because 1) I worked there for years and 2) a number of personnel things required you to enter the exact date. (No clue…)
          Somewhere–I hope it was AAM–I read it is okay to just put the first in those cases and that’s what I do. Still, once in a while I worry about hiring managers or screeners obsessing whether I worked at NextToLastCo for 4.5 years, 4 years/5 months/18 days or 4 years/6 months/2 days

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I have month and year on my resume, and in application software requiring a day, I just put the first day of the month when I can’t remember. Nobody has ever questioned it. I put the day when I can remember, but that’s only the case for my two most recent jobs.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              I hit submit too soon–filling out a very comprehensive application for an internship in law enforcement made me keep better records, however; I had to come up with ALL the addresses where I had lived within the last ten years or so. The actual addresses, including apartment number and everything. Boy, that took some digging. Now I have a sheet with all that info going back to about 1990, and with addresses and phone numbers of past employers too, just in case.

    2. ThatGirl*

      You know, Right Management (who I’m working with post-layoff) recommends just putting years, and I thought there was something a little weird about it, but I did it anyway, although in ATS I put months… and same, I’ve been getting asked if I’m still there.

  17. Daria Grace*

    #2, If I received applications using that strategy, I’d assume that they were trying to hide working for a company that was ethically dubious or otherwise had a bad reputation

    #3 is so bizarre. Apart from being REALLY personal and not proving anything much, it risks uncovering discrimination minefields. What if in the shock of getting the question someone answers “When i was diagnosed with bipolar disorder two weeks ago” or a candidate accidentally outs their sexuality when they didn’t intend to eg. if they are female saying their girlfriend just broke up with then.

  18. MNS*

    Are the redacted CVs coming from a recruitment agency? As in, they’ve been anonymised so that if you were interested in the candidate, you could not contact them yourself or easily find them on LinkedIn – you would have to go through the recruitment agency and pay their fees. Or perhaps the candidates themselves have seen similarly anonymised CVs and thought that was the normal way to do it – not understanding why an agency might edit CVs in this way.

    1. Allison*

      That’s what I was thinking, because I’ve encountered this in previous jobs. Their skills would look awesome, but we’d have no way of contacting them without going through the recruitment agency that submitted them, nor would we be able to identify them and find the contact information. I’m pretty good at hunting down contact info, but I’m not a wizard!

      Now, obviously when we had an agreement with an agency, we were fine with getting resumes from them and crediting the agency appropriately if we hired someone they submitted (although my colleagues would be mad at me for not finding the person before the agency submitted them) – however, we also got resumes from agencies we did not have any agreement with, either to make a quick buck off getting a candidate hired, or to convince us they were worth partnering with so we’d pay a retainer.

      The kicker? Some of these people would turn out to be fake.

      We found resumes like this on job boards too, like Dice. Both fake candidates, and real people with tons of information redacted so we’d be just intrigued enough to reach out, only to get a recruiter.

      HOWEVER, in the case of #2, I’m not sure that’s what’s happening, because it looks like OP is able to contact the candidates directly. It may be that these people attended a crappy job hunting seminar and then were advised to spam ALL THE JOBS on whatever job board OP posted on.

    2. Jeanne*

      I don’t think that’s what’s happening here. OP said one candidate refused to *ever* reveal the company names. In your scenario you would eventually get real info.

    3. OP #2*

      None of these are coming from an external recruiter. We post on our website and ask people to upload their application packages directly to us. We are an IT company that specializes in cloud, IT, network and infrastructure security. Everything gets housed in our private datacenter. They are coming to us and applying directly.

  19. Patrick*

    The redacted resume thing from letter #2 almost feels like an attempt at gaming the system to me – I wonder if these people think that it makes them sound interesting and therefore increases their chances of getting called back?

    Like other comments have said it sounds like there’s a definite source giving this advice if OP is getting multiple resumes like this, and this does sound like some terrible misguided wannabe-social engineering scheme.

    1. Allypopx*

      Or an attempt at gaming the system by listing inflated skills and accomplishments that are unverifiable.

      Either way it wouldn’t get a second glance from me when up against strong, demonstrated work histories.

      1. Michele*

        Same here. Also, if I am interested in a candidate, I check LinkedIn to look for discrepancies (small ones are OK, but big ones make me question).

  20. I could tell you but then I'd have to.....*

    I have one project / position on current resume which I can’t say what I was really doing a few years ago as it turned into a legal test case which is still commercially sensitive and has wended it’s way to the highest court in the land. When I left, company lawyers and myself agreed a resume position / company job statement which reflected the duties without compromising any commercially sensitive data and which was accurate as to the essence of my duties and role in the company.

    They lodged one version with HR which they were prepared to back in a reference and I got a nice paragraph / bullet point list for my CV which would also be backed. Plus there was a note on file to refer further reference requests via the lawyers. It has never been an issue although they had me down as on secondment to a different entity than the one I was working for at the time. It was definitely not an admin role.

    If it’s not a recruitment agency taking off the details to avoid the candidate being hired directly without the fees it sounds like an anti identity theft attempt by candidates (and there are unfortunately scammers) or a dodgy candidate

    1. Graciosa*

      My challenge in preparing my resume the last time I changed companies was somewhat related. As an attorney, I was ethically bound to keep client information confidential unless the client gave permission to share it.

      Obviously, this could have essentially eliminated my ability to share any accomplishments from that job (or any similar ones). You can’t run around telling people you handled X matter and successfully achieved Y outcome when the company doesn’t want anyone to know it ever happened.

      As a result, I essentially had to get my resume cleared. When I asked for permission, I limited my request to accomplishments that had already been disclosed publicly by company executives. In some cases, deals were publicly announced as valued at “over [X]” when they were really over 2X, but I only share the former.

      It helps that clearance is handled by the company’s law department (containing other attorneys who may someday also want to change jobs!) but yes, the profession does take client confidentiality seriously.

      I’m in the group that wouldn’t bother to consider anyone who submitted a resume of the type discussed in the original question – it would be an immediate disqualifier. Even when confidentiality really is an issue, there are ways to work around it without a redacted resume!

  21. Business Cat*

    At my last job, I once ran into a resume that included a list of keywords next to years of experience at the top of the page (think “customer service – 5 years, management – 1 year, etc), and below, a statement that read “employment history available upon request.” Not a single job listed. I think even the redacted resumes have a leg up on that guy.

  22. Trout 'Waver*


    Here’s what I think: “That’s probably explains why she’s applying to my open position.” Nothing more. People change jobs way more often than they used to. I’d definitely ask why you left, so be prepared to answer that question.

  23. Czhorat*

    OP1 – dislike interviews in public for this reason. It’s less private and the setting makes for a less professional tone. Being interrupted is something the interviewer should be prepared for as,very at the very least, a possibility.

    Aside from a personal babysitter, I can’t remember ever having an interview at a coffee shop; it feels more like “blind date” than “job interview” to me.

    1. Lablizard*

      I feel the same. Who wants to do an interview from either side in a place where a toddler might have a meltdown, a couple might get into a screaming match, that one person might be talking loudly about their recent proctology results, etc.? If it needs to be a public place, reserve a room at a library or workshare place or something

    2. Mimi*

      I once had a job interview in a very large, loud ice cream shop. The interviewers (who would be my managers) thought it was a good test of how I stayed focused in a distracting environment.

      I didn’t take that job, for a host of reasons…

  24. CoffeeCoffeeCoffee*

    OP #2: Is it possible that it’s where your posting those jobs, or have you looked very closely at the working and format of your posting? I could see a large number of applicants wanting to redact information if you’re posting on Craigslist or using an ad with a lot of all-caps that might stick out to someone as questionable.

    1. Jessesgirl72*

      If you think a CL ad is a scam, then don’t apply to it!

      And that doesn’t explain the “won’t even disclose during an interview”

  25. Mimmy*

    #2 – I’ve seen the phrase “confidential resume” in job ads but never knew that it refers to resumes with redacted information. I thought it just meant that the resume won’t be shared. D’oh!

    1. Allypopx*

      I’d like to hear more about the context in which you’ve seen it pop up in job ads, since it seems to be such an asynchronous practice.

  26. Jady*

    Regarding #2 – I exclude my current company’s name from my resume. Mainly for two reasons – a) to prevent someone from contacting my company, thereby putting my job in jeopardy, and b) to prevent recruiters from contacting me at work.

    I’ve heard of A happening a lot (even on here too), and I’ve had B occur to me.

    I do provide the names of all my previous employers, though.

    1. Allypopx*

      That makes sense to me – but do you talk about your current company at interviews?

      I think the weirdest things here are complete job history redaction and no verbal disclosure.

      1. Jady*

        Only to the extent I have to during an interview, for answering direct questions.

        I agree the complete history is pretty weird, and would make me suspicious as well from the interviewee standpoint.

    2. The Southern Gothic*

      Also, recruiters who DATA MINE for open positions off candidates resumes. Ask me how I know this happens.

  27. Emily*

    Regarding LW2 – what’s the stance on redacting the company’s name if it’s a controversial company, charity, political organization etc but when the work isn’t tied to the company’s mission?

      1. nonegiven*

        Do they need to do that before they decide whether or not to phone you at all, or can verification and references wait until they are ready to interview at least?

      1. Myrin*

        Yeah, like I said above, if I weren’t so much into reading highly emotional fanfiction, it would have been years since I’ve actually cried IRL for me, too. (Or at least I think so. I’m highly impressed OP could even remember what seems to be the real answer because I honestly have no idea.)

    1. Michele*

      Earlier this week, I was reading something written by a guy whose dad was in a wheelchair but still taught him to play baseball and other very “dad” things. Yeah. I teared up, and I would hesitate to trust someone who didn’t.

      1. SarahTheEntwife*

        Different people are different. I don’t tend to cry over fiction, and in particular I cry more when I’m angry than when I’m sad or moved by very positive/touching moments.

  28. anonymous for this*

    One of my cringiest working memories is when I was about 19 or 20, in college, and interviewing for summer internships in my field (technical — not a social-type field at all), and the interviewer asked me “What was the hardest decision you ever had to make?”

    I … did not answer that question well. All possible professional-type answers were entirely whisked out of my mind, which was filled with memories of difficult family problems that were relatively fresh, as I’d been living at home quite recently.

    Mostly I blamed myself for being unprepared. It never really occurred to me that it might have been an unwise question to put to a young person. On the other hand, if they wanted to weed out anyone with a difficult childhood, I suppose it worked pretty well.

    1. anon as well*

      Almost the exact same thing happened to me at my first interview for a college scholarship. I even started crying right then and there. I didn’t get the scholarship, but to this day that’s the only thing I’ve ever interviewed for and didn’t get, so I blame it on the interviewer.

  29. CAA*

    It sounds like it might be those small lockers that come in a 4-high stack. They already have a locker/changing room, so somebody probably just moved one column from there to the office and she got all 4 since there’s no way to move just one.

  30. Nanani*

    Could no. 2 be some sort of misunderstanding born from a cross between online safety (Don’t put your contact info up where random nefarious people could see it!) and a genuine need for confidentiality in *SOME* fields being misapplied elsewhere?

    Like… maybe the R&D people at a previous company really did need to conceal that they worked on Unobtanium Teapots and “redacted” the part of their resume that said “Team lead, unobtanium dept.” The people who aren’t in the Unobtanium dept. didn’t need to do that but still got the memos on COMPANY CONFIDENTIALITY IS SO IMPORTANT!! The result is strange resumes.
    Generalizing out of lack of understanding is definitely a thing that happens a lot, as we’ve seen over the years on this site.

  31. Amber Rose*

    #3: I cry approximately three times a day. *sigh*
    I cry at either deeply upsetting things (death, illness, etc.) or because I just like, love this song I’m listening to SO MUCH. It’s not something I can control, it’s a body chemistry thing. Either way, it’s about as much of anyone’s business as my bathroom habits. I can either do my job, or not. Feel free to stand up for yourself against weirdly intrusive questions.

    #4: I am theoretically an intelligent individual but I often totally miss cues on what is or is not annoying other people. I used to hang my coat on a chair near my desk until my manager lost it at me because it was so unprofessional and sloppy. I literally would not have called that reaction in a hundred years. There’s a decent chance this person just needs a quick and gentle request to fix things. If it’s still a problem after, then you can be super annoyed.

  32. Bea*

    I cry all the time, I’d be pissed if someone asked me about it because it makes me feel like they think crying is a weakness. I started out by career in flower importing and it was a running joke that it wasn’t a sucessful Valentine season unless we’ve all cried once.

  33. Duck Duck Møøse*

    Alison, for #3, what if you push back, and they don’t take the hint, and keep pressing for an answer? Is there a professional way to tell them you aren’t going to answer their stupid questions? (I’m guessing it involves not calling them stupid questions :) I guess the “why do you ask” might give you a path to give some sort of answer (if they tell you why they are asking) but if their reasoning is “just because” or something like that, what do you do? Especially in the LW’s case, where is was the first question out of the gate. Do you give up on them and end the interview, or try to muddle through and see if things improve?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Depends on how interested you are. But there are polite evasions (“hmmm, I’m really not sure, but I’m much more interested in why you’re asking”) and less restrained versions (“well, that’s not something I’m up for discussing in this context. What else can I answer for you?”)

  34. LCL*

    #4, speaking as an asthma sufferer, get those lockers out of your office today. When people claim your turf like that it has a way of becoming permanent. We have people who work in the field here who need dedicated uniforms and tools, and they don’t have 4 lockers!
    If she can’t use the changing rooms because of her asthma, find another place for the lockers. Could be a hallway, a landing, next to her cube if she has one. Or even outside, if there is somewhere under cover to put the lockers. She shouldn’t be expected to go someplace she claims aggravates her asthma ( I say claims because most of the changing rooms I’ve seen have hard surfaces and are clean so less likely to hold allergens). But she can’t claim other groups’ workspace. If you let her get away with this expect much more possessive, territorial and crazy behavior.

    1. Allypopx*

      “she has asthma and finds strong perfumes and scents from the locker room/changing room could set her asthma off”

      It’s not about holding allergens, it’s likely about the products people are likely to be using to freshen up in a changing room. Those are in the air and easily inhaled. This is a problem I run into often, but I’m able to handle it by keeping my puffer on hand an minimizing dressing room time. Coworker’s asthma is likely more sensitive than mine.

      1. LCL*

        I had to hit the puffer 4 times yesterday, and take two benadryls; it’s pollen time here.
        But still, based on the limited information presented, this is a turf grab. Or equally likely, facilities is annoyed with at least one of the persons who work in that office and when asked to find a location for more lockers found the “perfect” solution.

      2. Tau*

        My asthma is, like, the mildest in the world. I use my inhaler maybe once a year, and always out of “ugh I am coughing a lot” and never because I’m genuinely worried I can’t get air. Even so, I can easily imagine having trouble in a dressing room. Chemical fumes, deodorants and perfumes are my only consistent triggers, and it only takes one person to get overzealous with spraying.

  35. Michele*

    That crying question seems like a red flag to me. I would interpret that to mean that they have people crying at work a lot. People do sometimes cry at work (and I wish we could be less judgy about that), but if people are crying at work a lot, that speaks to a major management problem.

  36. Hangry*

    In LW3’s position, I’d be tempted to reply with a random date without further info and leave the interviewer as bewildered as she’s making applicants.

    “When was the last time you cried?”

    “July 12, 2002.”

    Not that I could think that quickly in this situation. But I want to

  37. Roker Moose*

    I don’t understand what they’re hoping to accomplish in #3? What’s the ‘good’ answer to that question? The LW handled it better than I’d have done!

    1. Ayla K*

      Seriously. I was recently asked in an interview about my relationship with my parents and I sputtered out some semblance of an answer because I was so shocked. I was not invited back for the next round of interviews, but that was fine – it was such a red flag question to me!!!

  38. nonegiven*

    When was the last time I cried and why?

    Even if I could recall, I need to set some boundaries on answering invasive, personal questions, so I decline to answer that.”

  39. NotAnotherManager!*

    Re #1, is holding interviews in public places common? I would be very uncomfortable having an interview at a coffee shop, both for fear of being seen interviewing by someone I currently work with or not wanting to be overheard when discussing the details of the job. (I do work in an industry where confidentiality is critical, and some of our clients are recognizable via publicly available information without naming names.)

  40. SusanIvanova*

    #5 – I had a weird variation on that. The phone screener apparently didn’t notice that my last job ended last May with a layoff, but did ask me why I had a year’s gap in 2006. It’s Silicon Valley. It was a tech bust year. What more really needed to be said?

  41. OP #2*

    Hi everyone,

    Thank you for your comments and insights. For some of you that asked, we post all our job postings on our website and the applicant needs to apply directly to me via the web portal, so it’s not like they are posting on Indeed or through another job board. Everything comes directly to me. We are an IT company that deals with cloud, IT, and network security, so you can guarantee that our datacentre where this information goes is well guarded.

    I could totally understand leaving out their current employer. We’ve had applicants in the past do that because they were coming over from a competitor and I wouldn’t even blink an eye. It was just so odd to see a whole resume listed as:
    Administrative Assistant
    For large manufacturing company
    2014 – present

    Administrative Assistant
    For small law firm

    For medium sized energy company

    1. nicolefromqueens*

      Thinking about my situation (a journeywoman data entry and admin), I’m wondering if maybe they’ve worked through (temp) agencies, who may require this to protect their clients’ names. Still odd as you would most likely see “via Acme Staffing”. I don’t remember signing something requiring I redact client names on my resume though.

      1. Jen*

        I was thinking the same thing. I was asked to take the names of the last 2 companies I worked for off of my resume because the agency that placed me in those jobs wanted to keep their clients confidential. I list the temp agency as my employer.

  42. Nikki*

    For #3, if I gave my honest answer I don’t think I would ever get a job because I cry about everything.

  43. Printer's Devil*

    OP4, is the co-worker with the lockers one of the people who uses the office? It seems odd otherwise. If she shares the office, then I don’t think she’d have to knock, but if she doesn’t, then absolutely she should knock.

  44. Dan*

    regarding #3– I can’t even imagine what they were trying to get out of you!! If you don’t mention the right answer are they going to go all Camus’ The Stranger on you and start analyzing why you never cried at your mother’s funeral?

  45. Desdemona*

    #2 – I once received a password protected resume. I contacted the applicant, who condescendingly explained that they had to password protect the resume to prevent people editing it. They did not get an interview.

    1. OP #2*

      Password protected?! LOL I probably wouldn’t have even bothered. Unless to satisfy my curiosity as to why. Most people would send a PDF as you need certain program license in order to edit those document types.

    2. Printer's Devil*

      Oh dear. I did that once, long ago, in the way before days. It was a suggestion from my mother.

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