I’ve been crying in front of my boss, are phone rejections more respectful, and more

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

1. I’ve been crying in front of my boss

I need some assistance with getting over some crying spells at work. Crying at work is not something I do. At least it wasn’t until I got pregnant. I think the biological changes brought on by pregnancy have made me more sensitive to criticism. Also, this a huge life change that can feel overwhelming at times. This has lead to four crying spells in front of my boss over the past six months. I did speak to HR about it and am working with my doctor. I have a history of anxiety, but my doctor doesn’t think I’m depressed. Outside of these incidents I don’t feel depressed (I feel stressed), but I seem unable to control my crying at times. In between these episodes, I also function completely normally at work and in the rest of my life, and have not had any complaints. I know this is excessive though, I just don’t know what to do about it, to stop it from happening, or to recover from it. For the record, the times I have cried, the circumstance would have been frustrating or even stressful to most people I think, but the crying is too much.

In the moment when it’s happening, try saying something like, “Please ignore this — it’s just a physiological reaction that’s frankly embarrassing, but I do hear what you’re saying and want to process it.”

And if you haven’t already talked to your boss about it, you could say something like, “I’m aware that I’ve gotten teary a few times when we’ve been talking lately. It’s happened since I’ve been pregnant, and I think it’s just physiological. I’m embarrassed by it and working to get it under control, and I definitely don’t want you to think you need to pull any punches when talking to me about anything that could be stressful.”

The idea here is to (a) acknowledge that you know this isn’t ideal (since she may be worried it’s a pattern that will continue, and may be be wondering what your take on it is), and (b) hopefully shore up her resolve to continue having conversations with you that could provoke tears, since you don’t want her to start shying away from conversations she needs to have with you.

As for ideas on how to actually stop it, I’ll throw that out to others to weigh in on.

2. Is rejecting people by phone more respectful?

I am the executive director of a nonprofit organization and am just finishing up a highly competitive hiring process. We flew in the top two finalists for in-person interviews this week and have since made up our mind about to whom we’ll extend an offer. My question is around best practices for notifying the other finalist that she didn’t get the job. In the past, I’ve always called finalists who did in-person interviews to let them know they didn’t get the job, as that seemed like the most respectful thing to do, but every conversation I’ve had like that has been awkward, if not rough, as the finalist has clearly been devastated and ended the call quite abruptly.

Simply sending a rejection email doesn’t feel right for someone who’s made the substantial investment (in terms of time and energy; we cover all expenses) of flying in for an in-person interview, but I’ve wondered if the phone call can be unhelpful in its own right because it doesn’t give them person privacy while processing what’s usually extremely disappointing news (and their emotion is often quite evident in our brief conversation). Is there a better way to handle these situations? Maybe emailing them to ask when would be a good time to give them a quick call to update them on the hiring process in a way that sounds formal but not enthusiastic, so they can better anticipate what’s coming? Or does that just needlessly draw out a process for which there is no great approach in terms of minimizing the blow?

It’s so nice of you to want to do this in the way that’s best for them, and not to seem to be giving them a perfunctory brush-off after they’ve invested time in talking with you. But go with the emailed rejection. Some people do appreciate a phone call, but significantly more people really don’t want to learn about a rejection that way. The problem, as you’ve seen, is that it requires them to respond gracefully on the spot to what might be severely disappointing news, and many people want to process their disappointment privately. Also, emailed rejections are so very much the norm that you’re not going to be perceived as doing something rude by sending them.

I also wouldn’t email them to set up the call. That’s likely to get some people’s hopes up and make it all the more disappointing when they hear the news, and people are likely to be so eager to hear whatever you have to say that they may cancel plans or rearrange their schedule, and then be annoyed that they did that just to hear a rejection that could have been emailed.

So stick with email! But if you want to do it in a way that acknowledges the investment they’ve made, you can do that by personalizing the rejection letter. Instead of just sending a form letter, add a bit that’s personalized to them — about what impressed you about their candidacy, or why you decided to go in a different direction, or a reference to something they mentioned, or so forth. Most people will appreciate that.

3. Company wants me to pay “my share” of business trip expenses

I have recently left a company where I worked as a contractor selling raffle tickets. After my first week, they asked me if I was interested in going on a business trip for a week. I did not sign anything for this trip and never received any kind of confirmation from them on how it would be paid. They did, however, tell me that accommodation was booked and they would be driving me there. From this I assumed it was a company-paid trip.

Just two days ago, I got a message saying that they have tallied the costs from the trip and I owe them $200 for my share of the accommodation, travel, and food costs. Is it my responsibility to make them tell me if I will be paying prior to the trip or their responsibility to inform me that I will be required to pay and provide a written agreement? I had no prior understanding that I would have to pay a share for the trip and had no say over accommodation, travel, or food. Can I ask them for proof of my share of the costs and proof that I was aware I would be paying?

You don’t need to do that because you can and should simply say, “I think there must be an error here. This was a business trip and these were all business expenses incurred as part of my work.” If they push back, then you can say, “It’s so normal for business expenses on work travel to be paid by the company that it didn’t occur to me you’d want me to pay part of these costs. It’s certainly not something we discussed in advance. I won’t be able to chip in for this and hope you’ll treat it like any other business expense.”

You’re no longer working there so they really have no leverage to make you pay, and they certainly don’t have any ethical standing to do so.

4. Can I ask my company to replace my personal laptop that I use for work?

I work at a very small UK tech company where I started as an intern. The day before I started, my new boss emailed me to tell me I would need to use my personal laptop for work because they would not be providing me with a company device. I hadn’t realized it was a BYOD company, but luckily I did have a laptop of my own.

Fast forward to two years later: the team has grown and newer employees are using company laptops. Meanwhile, I’m still using my personal laptop (I have a separate login for work). In the last couple of days, my computer has started complaining that the battery needs a service. Pretty soon, I reckon the whole thing is going to pack up entirely (using it for work purposes has really run it into the ground). I can just about afford to service the battery but I certainly won’t be able to afford a new laptop if my current one dies. My question is: do I have any standing to ask for the company to pay for part or all of a new personal laptop/battery? My boss and I have a good relationship, so I’m looking for a diplomatic way to frame a request if you think it’s reasonable.

They probably aren’t going to buy you a whole new computer that you’d own personally (as opposed to one the company would own), but if you’re going to continue using this one for work, you do have standing to ask them pay for the battery. You also have standing to just say, “My computer is dying and I don’t plan to replace it. Can we order me a company laptop like the newer hires have?” (Frankly, even if your battery weren’t dying, you’d have standing to say, “I’ve noticed we’re getting company laptops for new hires, but I’m still using my personal laptop like when I was first hired. Can we order a company laptop for me so I’m not putting so much wear and tear on my personal machine?”)

5. Did I get rejected because I asked for a few days to put my references together?

I recently submitted my resume for a management position with a large nonprofit I worked for 20 years ago in a different city. I had a phone interview with HR, an in-person interview with two people present and two over Skype, and a third interview over Skype. I felt they went very well, and in the final interview they asked me how soon I could start.

On a Monday afternoon, I received an email that they would like to check my references via an online reference checking program. They were requesting five references (with two of them being current or former managers) within the next 24 hours. I have been in my current position for seven years and have not kept in touch with my most recent former managers (although they have given me glowing references in the past) and I was not comfortable letting my current manager know that I was job hunting. I wrote them back the next morning to let them know that due to these factors, it might take a few days to hunt all the references down. By Thursday morning, all my references had been submitted. First thing on Friday, I received an email that they were not moving forward with my application. Do you think this is because I took three days to give them my references? Is asking for five references excessive or is this the norm these days?

Five isn’t wildly out of the norm, although three is more common. Five is a lot though.

It’s possible that they rejected you for reasons that have nothing to do with your references — like that their first choice candidate came through, or they had other reservations that you didn’t know about, or who knows what. It could also be that during the time it took for you to gather your references, they checked someone else’s references and were won over by the person. And it’s possible, although less likely, that they were put off that you didn’t have your references ready to go. (It’s true that normally you should have already put those together, on the assumption that if you’re interviewing, they’re likely to be requested at some point. But it’s not something to reject you over.)

{ 359 comments… read them below }

  1. nutella fitzgerald*

    Not sure if it’s up to the challenge of pregnancy tears, but I’ve had good luck with the suggestion to repeat “Penis. Vagina.” to myself several times when I feel tears coming on. I noticed it discussed in a previous AAM thread and I feel like it needs to be the new Magic Interview Question.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I would, too! I’ve done that before at home, when I’ve been replaying conversations in my head and ruminating on what I might have said. My kids have asked me, “Why did you mutter [such and such thing]?”, and I didn’t even realize I’d said anything aloud. It’s embarrassing even at home with my kids; I don’t know what I’d do if I did it at work with my boss! :-0

    1. MicroManagered*

      And what…. does that do, exactly? Just make you laugh?

      (I really want something to make me cry right now so I can try it!! LOL)

      1. H.C.*

        Yeah, I can’t tell if it’s to induce a laugh to counteract the cry impulse or a shorthand for “Men don’t cry at work” (however misguided -or the implication that women do- that is)

    2. Amber T*

      I’m so worried I’d burst out laughing that I’d get such weird looks! I need to remember to try this next time I get overwhelmed and hide in my office.

    3. Jun Aruwba*

      I’ve never heard of this! But I am also a serious crier (my body responds to stress by tearing up; it sucks but I’ve never had any success controlling it). I’m gonna try it!

    4. General Ginger*

      I would be too concerned that somehow I would blurt these out loud, but I could see it working. A thing that reliably works for me is rolling my eyes up to the ceiling for a few moments kind of hard.

    5. Secretary*

      In addition to this ~excellent~ idea, what I do is look up, blink more rapidly and hold my breath. That doesn’t work if you’re already crying but if you feel like you’re about to that can help stop it.

      1. Secretary*

        Also in the bathroom to get rid of evidence of tears have facial wet wipes at all times on you! Wiping the tears off your face helps with the redness. You know you look normal again with redness is gone from around your eyes and from on your nose. Redness in cheeks and forehead is just flush that you can’t tell are from tears if you smile.

    6. Joielle*

      Haaaaaa this is an amazing suggestion! I’m an inconvenient crier and will definitely try this out. Thanks!

      1. lol*

        love your name, Joielle – my name is Joy and I’ve never seen that iteration of it before.

    7. lol*

      Except that is what got her into the pregnancy situation – she may need to choose two different words. haha

    8. Nicelutherangirl*

      Unfortunately, you may have created a new problem with your solution because I’m laughing and crying at the same time now!

    9. Lydia*

      Another option (although I love the idea saying “Penis and Vagina” to yourself) if you’re like me and worry about then going from crying to giggling inappropriately, is to quickly observe your surroundings and notice one thing with each of the five main senses. For example, notice what you can see directly in front of you and name it to yourself and so on. Like saying “penis. Vagina” this is a grounding technique that distracts your thoughts and your emotions and body will then follow suit. Good luck!

    10. Buns of Cinnamon*

      I have also heard that it is impossible to cry if you concentrate really hard on clenching your butt cheeks….I haven’t tried it myself and would love to hear reports if anyone has tried it…

      1. J.B.*

        Or maybe Kegels. You’re supposed to do them when pregnancy anyway right? (I only remembered about 3 or 4 times during 9 months :)

        1. Auburn*

          I feel like I might have read it here and I tried it when I had what I knew was going to be a really emotional meeting where I needed to ask for some very big accommodations at work. Stayed tear free! Didn’t keep my voice from cracking and it was clear I was emotional I’m sure, but it was a good distraction and seemed to really help.

    11. Aealias*

      The last time I was in an emotional group situation, the coordinator suggested pressing your tongue against the roof of your mouth to stave off crying. Apparently the change in pressure and temperature on the soft palate can help avert involuntary tears.

      It helped.

      1. nutella fitzgerald*

        This helps somewhat in my experience. Pinching the webbing between thumb and index finger can also work to some extent, but neither have been quite as effective for me as “penis vagina” once actual tears have started to well up.

        God, I’m glad to be out of that job.

  2. LouiseM*

    Wow, is the situation described in #4 common? I would hate to have to use my personal computer for work as a matter of course. Boundaries and work-life balance are important, but there are also just practical concerns too for company security. This comes off as so shady, but maybe that’s a startup culture thing.

    1. GovSysadmin*

      I think it’s somewhat common for companies to do this for phones, but I haven’t really heard of it being common for laptops, although it’s probably more common for contractors and interns – it’s not clear to me if the OP was still an intern when they were told that they needed to use their personal laptop. That said, while I don’t know how it works in the UK, you can deduct some business expenses from your taxes in the US.

      My employer has a BYOD policy for smartphones, but they also give me a stipend every month that covers most of my bill since I use it for work quite a bit.

      1. AnnieL*

        OP here. The use of personal laptops started with my (part-time) internship and when I became a full-time employee we never discussed it changing. I’m sure my boss would get me a company laptop now – if I asked – I just never have. I thing it was partly because I was an intern and partly because the company was so young/small, but we’ve moved beyond both of those things now.

        1. BadWolf*

          I would bet money that no one remembers you’re running a personal laptop. It’s huge to you, of course, but unless someone is constantly auditing that, they may even have swept you into the category of “Oh, we must have bought OP a company laptop, right? Probably?”

          This is a rambling way to say, bring it up now! Advocate for yourself! Especially before your laptop croaks and you can’t work for a couple days. Much easier to transition when you have old and new laptop working.

          1. AnnieL*

            > Especially before your laptop croaks and you can’t work for a couple days. Much easier to transition when you have old and new laptop working.

            Excellent point, thank you. I will bring that up in my pitch!

          2. Ama*

            Yeah when I started at my current employer, I was given a desktop that was still running XP (in 2013!) which I accepted because it was a small nonprofit and I could still do my work just fine. Six months later, Microsoft announced they were discontinuing support for XP, so I asked my manager if we should consider upgrading my OS. She actually hadn’t realized not only that I was working on XP but that I didn’t yet have a laptop — at that point the org was trying to transition all new employees over to laptops, but I had started right before that decision was made, and went through a change in managers 4 months in, so new manager just assumed I had a laptop already (our desks were not close to each other and we always met in her office).

            Tl;dr — definitely remind them you’re still on your own laptop, there is a very good chance they’ve completely forgotten the original arrangement and will be more than happy to get a company laptop for you.

    2. Aphrodite*

      I was stunned when about six years ago I was involuntarily transferred (old department closed down) to another department at the community college where I work. During the “interview,” the dean asked me if I had a personal computer I’d be willing to bring to work. I don’t remember if I was more insulted or surprised but after a few moments I was able to sputter out that no, I would not bring it to work.

      Work is work. I’d no more bring my new MacBook Pro than a desk and chair. That is their responsibility however much it might help their bottom line to make me bring in my own supplies.

      1. Razilynn*

        I used to know a guy who got a job offer for a high ranking position (think salary of $100k+), and he was instructed to bring in his own laptop computer. Okay, a little weird, but it happens. Then they said they needed his desk and asked that he bring in his own – they needed the desk for a table in the break room/file office. Right… Then, they said he needed to bring in his own landline phone because they needed it for a new employee who would be in the office 9-5. Since my friend drove between the office and client locations (in his own car, of course) he clearly didn’t need the landline phone as much as the other person did. He also had to use his personal cell phone for work. Sounded like a great company to work for…

          1. Razilynn*

            We lost touch years ago, but as far as I know, he’s still there. Hopefully he’s not still bringing in items from home…

    3. Sarah*

      At my last job this was definitely a thing for field laptops, although they did it backhand. They issued computers that were ten years out of date, crashed regularly, and seemed to weigh more than a full bag of groceries. If you wanted a laptop that worked reliably you used your own. I only owned a chromebook, and was too stubborn to surrender, esp. since I started job searching within a month of my start date. I limped along with my company issued dinosaur. I would have had to give up and buy a laptop if I’d stayed longer.

    4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      It’s unfortunately more common than it should be, and I always advise that people try to keep work off of personal devices. There are so many states where an employer can be more invasive than seems fair when it comes to monitoring or pulling infofrom your devices (or having to put a litigation hold on them) that it’s really not worth it if you can avoid it. [It’s a little different if you’re a contractor/freelancer, and of course varies widely by state]

    5. KR*

      My employer has a BYOD program for cell phones and laptops. You get a monthly stipend for the cell phone (but have to download a company app on your phone to get it…) or a yearly stipend for the laptop and then connect via VPN. I do neither but I have co-workers that do both programs.

      1. Helena*

        My husband has worked in a variety of UK start-ups and small tech firms, and yep this is pretty common.

        The flip side is that when your laptop wears out the company does generally replace it, at decent spec, and the new laptop is also seen as yours to keep. The lack of work/personal laptop boundaries cuts both ways!

        Easily 2/3 of the laptops in our house were originally my husband’s work laptops. A two year old laptop is essentially worthless to them so they are unlikely to even think to ask for it back when you leave.

        So yes OP I would definitely ask for a new laptop. Pick something you actually want for yourself too, no need to go for the cheapest/most rugged workhorse if you would prefer something else.

        1. AnnieL*

          OP here. That’s good to hear! I might try and get a sense of my boss’ approach to what happens when my computer dies in my upcoming conversation about this battery service.

          1. Akcipitrokulo*

            Check on what they need for gdpr regs though – ours wouldn’t let you keep any (although they do provide it) due to risk of data leakage.

            1. AnnieL*

              I think that would be a solid argument for a new company-owned laptop, yes. However, it doesn’t quite solve my problem of a half-dead personal laptop :(

    6. Cordoba*

      I love using my personal computer for work, to the extend that I made special arrangements at my current job to get company specific-software and network access on my personal laptop and use it in lieu of a company provided laptop.

      All the corporate computers I’ve used have been a bad fit for my size and interface preferences, and often locked-down with buggy garbage security software. I would previously take my personal computer along with my company computer when traveling because I had so many experiences where the company one would not work as desired or let me install some needed piece of software in the field without going through the whole admin rights song and dance with IT.

      I also like being able to browse/watch/listen to whatever I want without having to worry about it being on a “work computer”.

      A laptop is basically the most fundamental and often-used tool for my position. I’d just as soon have exactly the one I want all the time instead of whatever one-size-fits-all model was picked out by somebody who doesn’t do my job.

      1. Nonsenical*

        Sorry but IT security person here.

        There is a REASON for those security programs. I am quite surprised they don’t require you keep some of them on your laptop. My work is very locked down for this reason. I do hope that you have regular anti virus and keep updates maintained. I hate the idea of BYOD from a security perspective, it’d be quite difficult to lockdown and administrate from a security perspective and also harder to have no social media policies and such that a lot of companies have about work computers.

        1. Antilles*

          Yeah, that’s the part that always gets me about BYOD too.
          For all your company (and their IT department) know, your personal computer at home could be all sorts of a security disaster. Do you update your drivers and Windows regularly? Do you run your malware/virus/spyware scans on a regular basis like you should? Do you visit sites with shady stuff and illegal things? Do regularly download stuff from the Internet and blindly run it? Do you answer spam phone calls from ‘Microsoft’ and follow their directions to let them into your machine?

        2. Cordoba*

          I’m sure there are many good REASONS to have those security programs, but until such a time as an employer can implement them in a way that still allows me to do my job as well with them as I can without then we’ll just have to live with their absence.

          The things you dislike about BYOD are exactly the things I like about it. I’ve got no interest in carting around a laptop that is subject to “lockdown” and a “no social media policy”.

          1. Lora*

            “in a way that still allows me to do my job as well with them”

            THIS. Holy cats, at home I have a whole boatload of quite good antivirus in addition to running a not-super-common OS and being able to boot a whole other OS from disk if something goes really sideways.

            At work (and this has been the case at multiple very fancy biotechs who have many billions of $$ of value in IP alone), they have, I kid you not, McAfee. Not fancy McAfee, regular McAfee. I can’t take any IT department seriously if they reckon plain old McAfee oughtta do it.

            That said, if my employers could get me a computer that would enable me to do my actual job, I’d be delighted to use it. Generally I get months if not years of pushback on that front, and my options are 1) don’t do my job at all, just waiting for the VP of IT to get around to telling my boss why he doesn’t think I should get to do my job 2) use my home computer 3) do some not-very-nice things to the company server. I get it, youse have a contract with Dell to provide cheap pr0n-downloaders / email checkers with WordPerfect 1.3 pre-installed, you don’t like to spend money to go outside of the contract, it’s a big pain in the butt to buy a computer to spec and then try to install security software in a non-standard machine full of specialized software, I get it, it’s a huge ordeal and you’re gonna die or something if you have to do it. But I can’t just NOT do my job for months on end.

            1. JustaTech*

              Ha! At my semi-fancy biotech one of my instruments still runs Windows NT. Seriously. I have to download controls off of a floppy disk.
              (It’s an FDA approved diagnostic device, so updating the software is so complicated as to not be worth the effort.)

              When I wanted to download data off the instrument my IT group took one look at it and said “hell no!”. I had to get this weird one-way connection because that poor old thing would be a virus magnet.

              1. General Ginger*

                A company in my industry sent us data to upload into our system monthly. Up until 5-ish years ago, they sent a floppy, and then a CD for a couple more years. It’s a digital download now, thankfully.

        3. LQ*

          Yeah, this is always what makes me itchy about it. Even if you’ve got very good computer hygiene you can still run into issues.

          And if your company has my data, now everyone has my data.

          And what happens if your company is part of a lawsuit and there is or might be data on your computer that might be pertinent to the case? They take your computer.

        4. Specialk9*

          Yeah, that post just made me shake my head. The reason it doesn’t work as well as just running around naked is because it’s more secure! We’d all like to not have to think about cybersecurity, but literally just one person can let in a hacker into the network, to take over. “But I like how easy it is” is not really a strong counter to the possibility of you putting the entire company out of business. Which is actually not hyperbole, at all.

          1. Cordoba*

            If it’s truly essential that every corporate computer have enhanced security then IT groups need to get much better about working with people to come up with solutions that are secure while still allowing them to do their jobs.

            For example, in the plant I support the maintenance and safety teams will work with machine operators and engineers to come up with whatever guards, tooling, or controls are necessary to make a specific job as safe as possible while still enabling the factory worker to perform their job efficiently. That is, they will custom design and assemble special one-off engineered safety systems for every position in the plant; and then do it again later if the job or associated equipment changes. This is because the hazards and requirements of each job are different, and it would be silly to try to use the same safety approach for all of them.

            IT in the same plant claims that it is simply *impossible* to have position-specific computer security and that everybody just needs to adapt their work processes to the one-size-fits-all solution they offer.

            People don’t do work-arounds to defeat the manufacturing machine safeties or complain about them, because they know that if there’s something that needs to improve Maintenance will actually work with them to make it better and still safe. People defeat or violate IT policy all the time, because IT makes it so damn difficult to change anything and refuses to work with people to come up with a mutually-agreeable solution.

            This is not just one company, it has been this way everywhere I’ve worked. Need a custom-designed weldment with a blast shield, light curtain, and flammable gas sensors? No problem. Want to install the driver that will let you run a data logger at a customer site? No way.

    7. AnonGD*

      I think the line is blurred in some places. My org provides us with laptops/computers. My boss doesn’t even own her own personal laptop and keeps all her personal things on the company laptop as far as I can tell (yikes). I’m a designer and need a powerful computer so I have a desktop machine… but on occasion, I need to WFH/travel and work on location. In those cases, I use my personal laptop and my company pays for Adobe CC to be on my personal machine in addition to my work desktop. Because I use my work desktop about 95% of the time I’m okay with that arrangement but it does irk me a bit sometimes that it was just expected I’d use my own laptop for the outlier occasions.

      1. the gold digger*

        keeps all her personal things on the company laptop

        I am good friends with one of our IT guys. He has found porn on company computers, which I guess shouldn’t surprise me. One VP, rather than turn his company computer in to get a new one, hit it with a sledgehammer and threw it into the pond behind his house. My IT friend and I really want to know what was on that computer.

        1. Specialk9*

          Omigosh. You’re kidding me. How did you know he did that? It’s so specific, and at his house, so did he fess up? Did he not think it was a problem?!

    8. Parenthetically*

      Neither I nor any of my colleagues has ever had a work-issued computer in ten years that I’ve worked there. I’m sure it’s very field-dependent!

    9. Turquoisecow*

      I switched to a mostly WFH job recently and my company hasn’t yet gotten me a laptop. (Technology is not an area where they excel) I was able to borrow one for a bit, and then the person I was borrowing from needed it back. Since most of my work is just spreadsheets, I sent the relevant spreadsheets to myself and used my personal computer. I made it clear that this is unacceptable long-term though. A few days later, I was able to get the borrowed machine again. No idea when (if ever) I’ll ger my own. Sigh.

      I have a MacBook and my company uses windows machines. I’m sure most of what I do would be compatible, but I point out that I haven’t got a windows machine when anyone suggests it.

    10. Jun Aruwba*

      I can tell you that it’s really common in political campaigns to be expected to provide your own laptop. Everything is on the cloud, generally, or in the VAN, so you’re likely to be using the same software suite over and over again regardless of what campaign you’re working in, and they’re temporary jobs that are always cash-strapped (running much of their labor on volunteers, after all). You have to be able to liquidate assets in a campaign at the end too, so it’s hard to imagine it being worthwhile for a campaign to buy a bunch of laptops and then have to turn around and sell them after the fact for much less than you paid (though I’m sure there are plenty of campaigns that will buy you a laptop depending on how long the campaign is running/what your position is/etc, and in those cases they’d probably assume you’ll buy the laptop off them at the end, and you’d use that in your next campaign, etc).

      1. the gold digger*

        We are the proud owners of a dozen clipboards because we don’t expect volunteers to bring their own, but that’s about the biggest level of capital investment Primo’s campaign (for state-level office) can support. And even with that, the campaign owes us money. (Serious politics is clearly a game for rich people.)(Which we are not.)(Which is why we rely on knocking on doors and going to the senior center, not on ad buys and polling.)

  3. LouiseM*

    Love the juxtaposition of 1 and 2! :) If someone called me on the phone to reject me, I would definitely cry. No thanks!

    For OP#1, I would address the crying proactively before the next time it happens. If it comes up naturally in conversation, it would be best to just mention it in passing. Like “ever since I’ve been pregnant, I’ve been crying even when I’m not upset!” Just sprinkle that around a few times and everyone will get the message.

    1. TheNotoriousMCG*

      Forreal! Honestly, sometimes with amazing news I still say go with the email. I recently got into an Ivy for grad school (and when I was paying the application fee thought ‘well this is down the drain) and they call final applicants for both denial and acceptance. I was so excited and overcome even though it was good news that I was still very close to crying.

    2. FaintlyMacabre*

      That made me remember one of my first jobs. The boss called me and I was thinking, “Hurray, I got the job!” And then she said, “I’m sorry but we decided to fill the position with someone more experienced.” I’m crushed, and am trying to be professional, so I spew out “Okaythanksforlettingmeknowbye,” because I want to get off this humiliating call of awfulness as soon as humanely possible. “Wait!” she said. “I wanted to know if you’d be interested in this other position.” I was, and I did work there, but couldn’t she have started with “would you be interested in X position, as Y position has been filled?” Would she have called back if I’d hung up quicker? I can still feel echos of awfulness from the first part of the call, 10+ years later!

      1. Mookie*

        Yours is the hypothetical Bad News Good News scenario that has run through my head the handful of times I’ve been rejected over the phone–maybe this is going to lead to another offer or some sort of parting gift, like when you’re the losing runner-up on a game show? It never has, but one lives in hope, but mostly awkwardness; beyond the brief bit of information they’re hoping to impart, they generally have no scripts for ending the conversation, and I invariably have to wish them luck in their future endeavors with nary a touch of irony in my voice.

        I vote for never phoning people with blanket rejections unless you’ve a pre-existing working relationship with them or it’s an internal transfer or summat. Even if it’s not crushing, you’re feeling feelings you shouldn’t have to try not to vocalize with the person provoking those feelings, if you get my drift. This is not a break-up. Keep it in writing, if at all possible. Or just ghost us. :D

        1. Sapphire*

          If I were a finalist for a job and got ghosted, I would feel extremely annoyed, and consider telling friends not to apply to that company…

          1. RabbitRabbit*

            I was completely ghosted at the last external interview I did. I did a phone interview, then came in for an in-person interview, and… nothing. Incredibly rude.

        2. JC*

          Something similar just happened to my friend! She applied for an executive director position, got through the interview process, and then the hiring lead and board chair asked to meet with her at a Panera. The calendar invite said something like “Exec Director Next Steps.” She tried not to get her hopes up, but how can you not?? Once she got there, they told her she didn’t get the job, but wanted to discuss how their organization could partner with another org that my friend volunteers with. I am so angry on her behalf; I cannot imagine why they thought it was a good idea.

      2. TheCupcakeCounter*

        The worst rejection I ever had was for an internal position. The hiring manager decided to put a meeting on my calendar titled something like “discussion of internal opportunity” or something similarly vague. I knew it was between me and a guy already in their department but I had more experience and seniority so I figured it was more of a second interview than anything else. When I walk into the room it is FULL! HR, several of the other teammates, the other candidate, etc… When manager starts telling me I did not get the job and them proceeds to tell me why (in great detail) they picked so and so (who looked appropriately horrified at this point) and what I could have done better in my interview, where HE thinks my career should go, etc…
        I got up when he was mid-sentence, calmly thanked him for letting me know, and went straight to a far away restroom and bawled my eyes out. Luckily we had a gym there so I had stuff to wash my face and clean up a bit. I wasn’t all that bummed about not getting that job but was just stunned at how I was told.
        When I finally got back to my desk I had an email from HR about how horrified he was at what happened and he had no idea that was going to happen. The HM was actually given a written warning about it because I told my boss (great guy) and he filed a complaint. HM confronted me about it because he was only trying to help and give me the benefit of his experience. I reminded him that he only had 1 more year of experience than I did and that I had been at workplace longer so maybe I should sit him down and tell him all the things he is doing wrong and where I think he should go career wise.
        I left 2 years later and his entire team kept quitting on him. He really was a terrible manager.

        1. RabbitRabbit*

          Holy crap. That’s worse than the one I had, which was that my then-boss forgot to tell me I didn’t get the internal job (and no one else did either as the position was being pulled and re-evaluated) and I found out in front of a meeting of my entire department because we were crowded into a conference room to let a manager who was being let go have some privacy and get her stuff to walk out. I was numb during that meeting, but did have frustrated tears during a later meeting with then-boss, and she apologized. (I did not, however, reapply for the position once it was finally reposted, and instead applied for one in the same department but not in her division.)

          1. AMPG*

            I also got ghosted for an internal position that I had applied for when they pulled the position and nobody told me. It became a bit of a “thing” between my department head (who was very supportive of my professional development) and the hiring department head, which I then felt obligated to help smooth over. So annoying.

          2. Cruciatus*

            All these stories are–yikes! This didn’t happen to me but to a coworker. A director position was available in our department and they applied as did someone else within the same campus community (but not at our location). Coworker found out they didn’t get the job during a all campus-wide web presentation where it was mentioned that “an offer has been extended” at our location (and obviously not to him). He’s still here and the higher ups never officially apologized.

            1. RabbitRabbit*

              Ouch! At least I had the slim consolation that no one got it. Plus the manager who was being let go was supposedly via a business decision from much higher up; at that meeting, our executives talked about how it wasn’t their call, and how they were told nothing else was going to happen in terms of cuts.

            2. Dealtwiththis*

              Semi-related. I was a final candidate for a job and waiting to hear if I got it. When they emailed to tell me that I didn’t get the job, that email went to my spam folder, even though I had been in email communication with this woman for weeks to set up multiple interviews. I didn’t find the email until 24 hours after it had been sent. Not a problem really but just a friendly reminder to constantly check your spam folder while you are job hunting!

          3. Witty Nickname*

            I once didn’t get an internal job and found out when I came in to work one morning and the name tag for the person who did get the job was up at the other end of the shared desk in my cubicle, and then another manager in my department came over to gossip that new person was supposed to start that day but had called the hiring manager (who was in another state) that morning to say she was sorry, but she had decided the job wouldn’t be a good fit for her after all.

            The hiring manager called me 2 weeks later to tell me I hadn’t gotten the job. I almost wished the person they hired had started so I could say “yes, I know. New person has been sitting right next to me for 2 weeks now.” (I was not upset not to get the job and would have been shocked if they had hired me. I wrote it off as soon as I walked out of the interview – it would have been a terrible fit for me, so it was easier to have a sense of humor about it).

            But at least that time I wasn’t told in front of a room full of people!

        2. Seriously?*

          I’m glad at least the company wasn’t insane, just the one guy. I can’t really think of a worse way to handle it than he found.

          1. TheCupcakeCounter*

            Oh no…not just the one guy. The VP of that segment was the worst of the worst and I was forced to have a meeting with him after I gave notice where I got a counter offer (a bullshit one BTW) and a bunch of lies thrown at me. I happily blew that bridge to kingdom come and called him a liar and showed him proof and would have skipped the rest of my notice period if I didn’t have such an amazing immediate boss.
            Definitely a few very good people though.

        3. Lora*

          Oh my god was his name Ken? Had a manager who would have totally done this. He had less experience than the people he managed by several years and still thought he could tell us what was what.

        4. AKchic*

          That was the ultimate mansplain-y rejection with an *audience* ever. It’s like he just wanted the audience there to see how well he could reject someone and “educate” the rejected woman on her career trajectory. I mean, if only she had come to him sooner for such advice, she wouldn’t be getting this humiliating blow in the first place!

          You handled that with so much more grace than I would have. I don’t know if I’d have left him with his skin.

      3. Kindling*

        Yeah, my current workplace called me to reject me. Note that I said current, because they then let me know on the phone that they really liked me and that there was a job in another department that they thought I’d be better suited for. I ended up getting that second job.

        I think this is about the only scenario where I’d prefer a phone call, and even then it was a little disappointing initially.

    3. MC*

      YEP. I applied for a job that was a bit of a reach for me about 5 years ago, but I was one of the final candidates and the ED called me while I was at work. Before I called back, I went home and both my roommate and my boyfriend were like, “She wouldn’t have called you if she wasn’t going to make you an offer!” Well, she didn’t, and even though she said some very nice things about how it was a hard decision and they really liked me, I totally cried. And then I had to tearfully tell my roommate and boyfriend that I in fact did not get the job. It sucked. And I didn’t even think I would get the job until I saw the missed call and it got my hopes up!

  4. LouiseM*

    #3, these people are shameless scam artists trying to shake you down for your last buck. Grifters are everywhere but it’s up to you how you react. Run, don’t walk!

    1. Specialk9*

      Yeah that one was ridiculous. ‘Oh hey, now that you’re gone we’re going to charge you for that delightfully fun business trip that you took, for fun.’ Pfffffftttt!!

    2. ladycrim*

      I’m wondering if they’re doing it because they’re angry that the LW quit and they’re being petty. “You didn’t stay in the job, therefore it wasn’t a business trip for you after all.”

      1. NaoNao*

        Probably contract one time event promoter or merchandising/marketing person gig. Like someone who hands out flyers, or “mans” the Red Bull bus at the big game, or poses in front of the newest superyacht at the boat show, things like that. Usually under “gigs” or “talent” on CL.

    1. You don't know me*

      Some NFL and NHL teams sell 50/50 raffle tickets at their games. It could be a situation like this. I knew someone who did this and she was really good at it. I could see the company sending her to another city to work a big game or work a weekend away when hometown didn’t have any games.

  5. Is This How We End Up On 20/20?*

    Tell them to take their idea of shaking $200 of their business expenses out of you, shine it up real nice and shove it straight up their candy asses.

    Anyone who asks employees to pay for business travel up front are cheap dickholes. Anyone with the balls to try to bill you after you leave is pathetic! Ignore them. Don’t use them as a reference ever. They are bad business and humans.

    1. Traffic_Spiral*

      Yeah, I’d just reply with “LOL no.” Okay, I wouldn’t – but I’d be tempted.

    2. Nonsenical*

      I am not sure about them being cheap. It is quite common for companies to have the employee pay their own costs and then reimburse them.

      1. Annie Moose*

        This is the opposite situation: the company paid for the expenses and is now expecting the employee to reimburse the company!

      2. Nanani*

        IMO that is also less than ethical, since it’s essentially asking employees to eat up their own credit (assuming something like a flight/hotel/car rental that is often required to be on a credit card) possibly beyond what they’d be comfortable with as a personal expense, plus they forego any other use for the money, including earning interest. And if the reinbursement is later than the employee’s statement date, does the employer also cover the credit card interest? Which may be higher than a corporate card would get? They should but AFAIK many don’t.

        It’s very common, but economically it’s still the employer taking advantage of the employee.

        1. Kate*

          All of this. Alison’s talked about that problem before, but also, I read Is This How We End Up On 20/20?’s comment as saying, it’s cheap if companies tell you beforehand that you are expected to pay, but it’s worse for them to spring it on you after the fact. In neither case is the employee getting reimbursed.

        2. Jadelyn*

          And all of that assumes that the employee will even *have* a credit card, with sufficient room to cover major expenses. Not everyone does. Some people are recovering from a bankruptcy or other financial disaster and can’t get credit. Some people are already carrying high balances because they used their card to get them through some hard times, or because they just made a major purchase like a piece of furniture or kitchen appliances. There have definitely been times in my life where an employer expecting me to front costs and wait for reimbursement would’ve been met with “welp, then I can’t go, because I don’t have that kind of cash on hand or credit available.”

        3. JustAnnAnonoly*

          My company has you pay for stuff and then get reimbursed. If the employee is not able to do that, we put things on the CEO’s card and she reimburses it at the end of the month. We always pay promptly (usually within a week of submission) and if someone is expected to expense a lot of things (like sales trips, etc.) we can also provide company cards.

          Most of our employees have preferred to use their own cards for points and be reimbursed. I like the company cards better because they are SO much easier to reconcile. Just hand in your receipts and make a note what each thing was for on the spreadsheet that was downloaded for you.

          I personally hate expensing stuff. If it’s small, I don’t like to bother with the hassle. If it’s large, I don’t want to go to the bank to make the deposit.

      3. Anon for response*

        When companies do that it is scammy in my eyes. Dave Ramsey will go off in a rant on this if you call to ask him about it. I work for the state of Texas in higher ed and this is how it is done here. I loathe the fact that my employer keeps my credit card information on file for work purposes and takes two or three months to reimburse me. Once it took four months. If a political candidate had something on their platform to outlaw this, I would seriously consider voting for them on this issue alone.

        1. Specialk9*

          Uh what? They keep your credit card info on file? Oh lordy.

          That’s such a terrible practice on so many fronts. It’s shady, so so shady, and it puts the credit card owners and the company at risk of having (when not if) their private data stolen and sold.

          Please tell me you guys do routine encryption (ie there isn’t an unprotected Excel spreadsheet in your corporate files with the credit card info on it) and least annual PCI audits?

          You might call the credit card company (Visa etc) and report a potential PCI violation. The industry standard is PCI DSS and please believe me, CEOs and other C-levels of any company that relies on processing financial info of any kind (but esp credit cards) sweat *bullets* over PCI compliance.

      4. Is This How We End Up On 20/20?*

        Only this company didn’t reimburse, they’re squeezing “the employees share” of prepaid bills from them. That’s the opposite of reimbursement. That’s acting like they fronted the employee the money to go but now expect a check to cover travel costs.

        It is cheap. It’s a business expense. Businesses make more money and have more tax advantages to write off $200 for each employee. Whereas an individual unless well enough off to have many more assets to account for, doesn’t itemize or reach the threshold to use this kind of thing as a write off.

        I’ve been doing books and business ops for coming up on two decades. They are cheap and reputable businesses with ownership who doesn’t take advantage of their staff does this.

        1. Fergus, Stealer of Pens and Microwaver of Fish*

          If she is a 1099 contractor, she can offset her income with the expense, but if she gets a w2 she is SOL. Either way, the company sounds like a bunch of cheap bastards.

          1. Seriously?*

            At least she doesn’t work there anymore. She can tell them that they are welcome to take her to small claims court, but she never agreed to pay for that trip and they will not get her to do so.

            1. Specialk9*

              Yeah they’re not going to get this money back. I wouldn’t be surprised if they tried to scare her into it, but “LOL NO” is how the legal world would respond too.

  6. cnstrct*

    #5 that would likely cost you the job in my area- in the timeline you provided by Thursday, reference checks would generally already have been completed- opportunities to provide additional references if it turned out someone was unavailable would be offered, but they wouldn’t wait to start the process. (I’m also in an area where it’s not uncommon to be expected to bring the list with you, so it can obviously vary in other fields)

    1. Washi*

      I think that the fact that they asked for five references changes things a bit though; I’ve never been asked for that many and would also not have been prepared! I think in OP’s position I probably would have said something like “Here’s the contact information for three references, and I’ll send you contact information for another two as soon as I am able to confirm that I have their permission to do so.” Just so they have something to get started with and so I would seem like I had at least the normal amount of references prepared.

      1. TheCupcakeCounter*

        agree – ideally you would have 2-3 references ready to go when you start the job hunting process so you could give them those to start with and then let them know the issue with the other 2 they requested.

      2. Specialk9*

        Yeah, I would be irritated that someone didn’t have 3 references ready to go. It’s like someone applying without a resume. ‘Hold on let me go write one’ would be odd.

        But 5 is unusual, so I’d understand if they sent 3 and then got me the next 2 later.

    2. Where's the Le-Toose?*

      Same boat as cnstrct. In my field, you’re expected to have your references nailed down in advance and people will move on to other candidates who do have their references.

    3. OhBehave*

      I would think when job hunting, you have your references ready. It just makes sense to me. I only ask for 3; 5 seems a bit much.

  7. So Very Anonymous*

    Please please please email the rejection. I totally agree that you can make the email more personal if you want to — that way the candidate gets that message without the awkwardness. I once got rejected via email, but the hiring manager then emailed me to make an appointment to talk with me by phone in order to give me positive feedback, which was gracious… and I appreciated that it was a scheduled call.

    Also, with a phone rejection, you don’t know what you might be interrupting. Last year I got rejected by phone as I was going into a meeting — I recognized the number, thought it might be a “yes,” and ducked aside fast to take the call, but there was no privacy, and I had to try to sound neutral about the rejection while also not giving away what the call was. Email lets people deal with the news more privately.

    1. Anancy*

      Also, an email lets you go back and reread slowly, after the initial burst of adrenaline. Replaying a phone call in your head can be useless. And an email is tangible proof, which sometimes nice to have.

      1. Mookie*

        Replaying a phone call in your head can be useless.

        Such a good point. Those kinds of memories are like earworms, once you start conjuring them up, decades later.

    2. Runner*

      The OP is so nice! But here’s the thing: I know for me, if I’m waiting on a possible job offer and see the call coming in, you better believe I’d be thinking OMG HERE IT IS HERE’S THE CALL! I’ve never in my life had an employment rejection over the phone. It’s kind of like I’ve also never had a college rejection that came in a huge packet from the university — the rejection is in a slim letter. So entirely without meaning to, the OP might actually have raised anticipation, which might explain why the rejectiom was especially shocking news for some recipients to respond to gracefully in the moment.

      1. So Very Anonymous*

        Yes to both of these points! If I see that phone number I’ll have an adrenaline boost because YAY!!!!! and if it’s a rejection I’m going to feel a little sick from the crash.

        1. Chocolate Teapot*

          And even when it has been a recruiter phoning on behalf of a client, it can still feel like a let down. Especially if they have one of those chirpy, upbeat voices as you are informed that no, your application was not successful.

      2. The Original K.*

        Ha – I actually just had a rejection over the phone yesterday and when I saw the number I absolutely thought “Oh, this is an offer.” The difference is that I was hoping it would NOT be an offer because I’d determined that the cultural fit wasn’t there, so I was glad that it turned out not to be. (I’d still rather have gotten the news via email.)

    3. Yikes*

      Hard agree with sending rejections through email. I recently got rejected over the phone after making it through to the final round and it was SO awkward. I got along with the recruiter so we started off the conversation with her asking how my recent move went and other small talk — only for her to tell me immediately after that I wouldn’t be getting the job!

      1. Runner*

        Yes, I was thinking about how this dynamic also isn’t really fair to the OP herself, because she’s trying to be thoughtful and kind and I’m certain more than one of the people rejected genuinely regrets and still thinks about having hung up abruptly on her.

        1. Mookie*

          Yes. Even in hindsight, it’s hard not to resent the managers who tried to do this with tact, grace, and kindness. The LW is a good egg, doubly so for checking in Alison to see whether it’s advisable. When the precise principles of decorum, particularly for delivering unwanted news (that is not directly life-or-death or liable to traumatize), are squishy or opaque, aim for the one that provides the best cushioning to the recipient, as the LW herself says, to process the information without witnesses and with plenty of time for an appropriate response, if any.

          Even with the substantial investment these two applicants have put in, your relationship with them is still not that of Boss and Employee. Changes and developments at work that will have a significant impact on their lives and future (especially with the company) should be delivered by you in a thoughtful, managerial way, but that context is not this one. Acknowledge and thank them for the time they’ve given you, but do it in writing. You’ll be able to execute this sad task with a great deal more polish, precision, and diplomacy than you might if you were reading from a script, where your words won’t count for much or be remembered compared to your tone and the general tenor of the conversation. And this shouldn’t be a conversation! You’re not negotiating anything or asking anything of them or informing them of some change in the screening process, so back-and-forth canned phrases are not necessary. You want to give them this news, which is unequivocal, in the least painful way, and doing it in writing helps ensure that you do without opening up an opportunity for them to behave in understandably unsocial ways (like abrupt hang-ups) that they may later regret.

          1. Mad Baggins*

            “where your words won’t count for much or be remembered compared to your tone and the general tenor of the conversation”
            Good point! After “I regret…” they might be tuned out, just processing feelings and generally not ready to hear feedback and be pleasant. Through email, they can have that reaction, take a breather, and come back later when they’re ready to reflect.

            I was on the side of “call, it’s more personal and polite” but your comment convinced me that email is more effective. One way job hunting is different from dating!

          2. Genny*

            100% agreed with the point that this isn’t a conversation. LW, some of the reason for the awkwardness is because of this point. There’s nothing for the candidate to say beyond a couple platitudes that thank you for your consideration, and you have nothing to say back to them beyond thanks for your time. Normally, formal phone calls have a bit more back and forth between the participants, but since it doesn’t make sense for that to happen in this situation and since emotions are already running high, people just abruptly end the call. I’d definitely go with a personalized email rejection.

          3. Specialk9*

            “The LW is a good egg, doubly so for checking in Alison to see whether it’s advisable.”

            Strongly agree! Very kind, AND backing up good intentions but making sure the action was also kind.

      2. BRR*

        One employer called me to reject me over the phone and it was awkward. It’s difficult to react professionally to bad news when you’re put on the spot but it’s even more difficult when you are expecting good news and seeing the number got your hopes up. Add in that many candidates may not be able to easily take a phone call during the day.

        1. Video Gamer Lurker*

          I was rejected for a job by phone – after a very short game of phone tag because I couldn’t pick up the phone when they called the first time, and it kind of got my hopes up. And then the tag game ended, and I didn’t get the job because they went with someone who had more experience.

          It was a very awkward phone call because I wanted to cry after getting my hopes up, but didn’t want to sound as crushed as I was to maintain my professional appearance.

          Worse? I was at work, so I had pull myself together and act like everything was fine even though I was really disappointed.

      3. Nicelutherangirl*

        I am so very much on board with sending rejection letters by email, for the sake of efficiency, clarity, and the opportunity they give the recipient to take in the bad news in private. Last year, I was rejected for a position that I really, really wanted with my religious denomination’s local synod. The rejection hurt, of course, but I accepted that, hey, those are the breaks. The awkward way the message was delivered, though, really annoyed me.
        I had my interview on a Thursday afternoon. The following Sunday, one of the interviewers, the very nice woman who handles HR for the office, left me a voicemail, requesting that I follow up. Yes, she called me on a SUNDAY AFTERNOON, using HER OWN phone, not one from the office. (AAM readers can weigh in on whether or not any of this is normal.) I didn’t catch the message until after 10pm, though, and it put me in a bit of a quandary. The timing and source of the call were so off kilter that I didn’t know if they indicated good news or bad news, and I didn’t know if I should at least let her know I received her message. I ended up texting her, telling her I’d call her at the office in the morning during my break time at work.
        When I called the interviewer the next morning, I received her bad news graciously, but I was inwardly seething because I thought the attempted Sunday contact was confusing and, therefore, unprofessional. She’d gotten my tentaive hopes up, and really, was it somehow going to screw up her work day to wait until Monday to call me?
        Yes, reject via email.

    4. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      What everyone else said – if I got a phone call, I’d assume it was an offer, which would indeed make the rejection call awkward.

      I’ve never received a call, myself. I’ve either gotten an email, or nothing. I prefer email over nothing.

    5. cleo*

      Yes. I just received my first rejection call last month and it was really hard to sound professional. I was mostly just taken aback. I’d had 2 phone interviews and it was pretty obvious to me after the 2nd phone interview with the hiring manager that it wasn’t the right fit and that they were looking for specific experience that I don’t have.

    6. Bowl of Oranges*

      I’ve gotten a rejection over the phone one time. The internal recruiter told me up front they would call me either way, then emailed me first to schedule a time to talk. I had a feeling it was going to be a rejection and was right. It was probably the best possible way to get a rejection over the phone (I even got feedback for why and he said they thought I’d be a good fit for another role and asked me if I wanted to interview for that–and didn’t pressure me into answering that immediately).

      But I still felt so awkward on the phone because I had no idea what to say. I was so disappointed, and even though I was expecting it, I still had to process those feelings and try to talk to the recruiter at the same time.

    7. Kathleen_A*

      If you’re going to reject me for a job – one that I probably want quite a bit – please, please, please do it by email. I’m sure there are people who think a phone rejection is more respectful, but they are a minority, and probably a small minority at that.

      I have had phone rejections, back in the old days when the only choices were by letter or by phone. The only advantage a phone call had over a letter was that it was quicker. But with email, that’s no longer a consideration, and a nice, personalized email rejection is just better in every possible way.

      1. A Reader*

        I agree with all of you! I am currently unemployed and job searching, and have so far only received emailed rejections. Which is fine by me! I would hope that I would respond gracefully and professionally to a phone call rejection, but if I had interviewed for a job I really, really, wanted, then I am not sure what would come out of my mouth after getting a verbal rejection.

        I would also think a phone call could open the door to the applicant asking “But why not me?” and debating the final decision. Why would an employer even want to start that conversation?!

    8. Jay Bee*

      Agreed!! I went through SEVEN interviews for a job once, and was one of the final two candidates. Final interview was with the President of the large non profit. I lost the job to someone internal who was already on the team I was being interviewed to run.

      Even after all that, my rejection came over email. And I was so thankful, because if they had called to tell me, I probably would have burst into tears. So much effort and energy to just lose the spot at the last step. Please please please do not call.

      For a different job, what I did appreciate in the past is that after a rejection email I’ve been able to schedule a call to get feedback. While the feedback wasn’t particularly helpful (very vague), asking for it and setting up the call left a positive impression with the company. So you might end up with an opportunity to speak to your #2 candidate anyway if you make that an option.

    9. AMPG*

      I agree with all of So Very Anonymous – if you want to soften or personalize the message, do the rejection via email and then offer a follow-up call to give (gentle) feedback. I’ve had that done for me, and it was a great way to build a networking relationship while getting some useful feedback.

    10. The New Wanderer*

      I’ve gotten two rejection phone calls in my current job hunt. The first one, I picked up and it was “unfortunately…” but followed by “maybe this other position,” which did help me stay professional and upbeat. And then the other position didn’t work out either, so that was a bummer.

      The second, I had to let go to voicemail because I wasn’t in a position to pick up then. Fortunately the (internal) recruiter left a detailed voice message rather than ask me to call her back, so I could manage the rejection in my own time. That was okay because a) I had a transcript so it was like an email, and b) I could hear her voice for clarification (transcripts aren’t always accurate). This company doesn’t allow feedback so no need for any follow ups, which is fine with me. I’m moving on.

  8. Bryce*

    My sympathies OP1. I’ve always been a stress-cryer, and I’ve found that A) once you start it’s very difficult to stop and B) once you’re crying there’s no way to say “I’m fine, really” that sounds authentic. At least not for me, I get all snotty.

    It’s easy to get self-conscious about, particularly if it’s new for you, but I agree with Allison’s suggested approach.

    1. Op1*

      Thank you for understanding. I feel ridiculous after it happens and want to crawl under a rock.

      1. Flower*

        I am with you. The embarrassment only makes the crying worse, but it’s so embarrassing. You are not alone; I unfortunately have no real advice, but I can reassure you of that.

      2. Project Manager*

        It’s pregnancy hormones. I had similar experiences. I never figured out a solution myself, but you are not alone!

        (I also cry when I’m angry. Boy, is that ever annoying.)

        1. Flower*

          Me while angry crying: “No, don’t comfort me! *sob* I’m not sad I’m angry! Stop it! Let me be angry at you! *sob*”

          Me, talking to my fiance early in our relationship: “Hey, if ever get angry at you and start crying, please don’t stop and try to comfort me. It’ll just make me more frustrated and cry harder.”

          1. Amber T*

            Oh man, don’t be nice to me when I’m on the verge of tears or actually crying, because I will just start crying more. If I’m in public, I’m doing everything in power to *not* cry, so the second someone goes “Aww, it’s okay,” and does the nice arm pat, I’m done. (My saint of a mother, who knows this, watched me re-enter a waiting room in a near state of panic after nurses poked at me unsuccessfully to draw blood five times, and after hearing me mutter quietly “don’t be nice to me,” loudly exclaimed for everyone to hear, “what’s wrong, bitch?” Which made me laugh so hard I forgot I was nearly crying. Until I was called back in to be poked some more…)

        2. Erin*

          I just want to commiserate I’m 21 weeks pregnant with the emotional rollercoaster from hell pregnancy and last week I left work an hour early because I couldn’t make it the rest of the day because of my home life. Luckily I’m known for being dependable.
          Add to the fact I get little support from my family, because all I have is an 85 year old grandpa and a complete bipolar father and evil stepmom who cause more stress than I can handle and my husband’s family is dealing with health issues. I feel completely overwhelmed and isolated.
          This will be my one and only pregnancy, because it’s so stressful.
          Work is the least stressful part of my life, except it takes up so much of my time to get ready for the baby.

          1. Nita*

            Hugs. Hang in there. Also pregnant and the first three months came with an unexpected health issue, made 200% harder because it’s not my first baby, and my husband is tied up with his mom’s health crisis. If it was just me at home, I’d only get out of bed to go to work, but since I had to be a functional solo parent… that was the worst and I don’t want to do that ever again. There were a couple of days I didn’t even think I could safely care for anyone, and had to beg family I’m not close with to step in for me. It was the most humiliating thing I’ve done in years, but there was just no way around it.

            Also, I hope you don’t live with your father and stepmom at least, and can put some distance between yourself and them. It sounds like they’re just draining your ability to cope with things.

            1. Erin*

              Thanks. The hormones have me completely miserable.
              Oh god no, I moved over 1 1/2 hours away. I haven’t spoken to my dad in about six weeks. He hasn’t made an attempt to call and seemed completely uninterested in everything about my last check up and said “if it’s a girl leave it at the hospital.” Which he meant as a joke, but it’s still a shitty thing to say to someone.
              I blocked my evil stepmothers number because she made a poor attempt at starting a phone fight between my father and I on Easter. I just don’t have room in my life for that kind of stress.
              I have coworkers that I’ve only known for few months who’ve shown more interest and ask about my well being more often than my father has.

        3. BadWolf*

          Me too! Also when frustrated. So then I’m also angry and frustrated that I’m crying. Argh.

      3. NOT Jenny*

        There’s a episode of Bones where the character handles this so well. She’s an extremely unemotional, practical doctor who happens to be pregnant. As she examines a dead body at a crime scene, the tears start flowing. She wasn’t sobbing just weepy and matter of factly brushed the tears off as hormones and went about her work.

      4. I'll come up with a clever name later.*

        I hated the pregnancy hormones and the tears that came with them. I worked in a medical call center when I was pregnant with my first born and had this male colleague who tried to throw me under the bus on a patient issue I hadn’t even touched. I was so angry that I burst into tears, which then made me so frustrated that I couldn’t get the tears to stop. It made me feel weak and ineffective and the expression on his face – that “oh typical emotional woman” face made me so angry!! I was lucky as most of my team was female and either currently was or had recently been pregnant and they were able to rally around me for the few minutes I needed to get the hormones to let up enough for me to stop crying. After that, whenever I felt like the tears were going to come I’d mention it lightly “one of the weird things about my pregnancy is random tears. If I start crying, please know that it’s not how I normally react and I’m working on getting it to stop.”
        It did eventually pass for me, though it moved onto random nosebleeds so that was fun.

      5. Tish the tester*

        Op, when I was trying to get pregnant I had to have a hormone injection as part of my treatment, and a half hour later found myself randomly SOBBING in the produce section of our grocery store, while trying to reassure my husband I was fine. We still joke about “when the vegetables were TOO green” because there really wasn’t anything that even set me off. The pregnancy hormones were just as bad (though maybe spread out a bit more), and it just sucks.

        1. Specialk9*

          The funniest thing I read about pregnancy hormones was an Air Force plane mechanic, who when pregnant was overcome by sobbing for the poor airplanes, all alone on the runways by themselves.

          When I was being hormonal and ridiculous, either my husband or I would start howling “but the pla-a-a-a-nes are so lo-o-onely” and it helped get my center back.

      6. Parenthetically*

        I’ve ALWAYS been a stress cryer; I have to preemptively tell people that all my emotions tend to come out through my eyes, and I still get embarrassed about it — all the solidarity!

      7. ALPA*

        OP – I am not pregnant but I totally GET IT. I told my husband I felt like I’d been on the verge of tears for WEEKS. Do I cry in my therapist’s office, on the phone with my mom, privately in the shower? NOPE. It all decides to come out during a difficult conversation with my boss. Cool cool. Thanks for that.

      8. Double A*

        I’m not a big cried and fortunately pregnancy hasn’t changed that too much, especially at work (I’ve cried a little bit more at home around my husband but that’s fine, I don’t really want him to think I’m unbreakably stoic). But in general I totally blame pregnancy for things all the time. Like today I looked down and found stains on my belly and was just like, “Darn stomach! It used to be those coffee drips would have totally missed!”

        Or if I need to sit I’m just like, “I’m sorry, I need to use my pregnancy privilege to sit down right now.” I just kind of have a sense of humor about it people are very understanding, especially because I’m still doing good work.

        You could have a line ready: “I’m sorry, I’m usually not much of a crier but I’m crying for two these days!” or “Man, these pregnancy hormones are a hell of a drug!”

    2. Flower*

      Yes! I’m one of those people who cries when I get frustrated or stressed about something, especially if I’m frustrated with myself, so once I start crying of frustration I get more frustrated and it’s a vicious cycle, and I’m sitting there apologizing for ugly crying when I really don’t mean it wasn’t to be crying at all and saying I’m fine and please just continue… It sucks and I don’t know how to stop it. Luckily it hasn’t happened to me in a work context yet, but it regularly happens in class grade contexts, and as a grad student that’s basically the same thing.

      1. Annie Moose*

        This is meeeeeee. It did happen once in a difficult conversation with my manager and I was so embarrassed. Luckily my manager was stellar and we both sort of pretended it wasn’t happening.

        It really is a physical reaction–sometimes when I’m extremely tired, almost anything can set me off, if it’s even the slightest sad or frustrating. I’ll be sitting around my house at midnight, just sobbing, for no reason at all. And I know it’s for no reason, but I can’t stop it!

        Recognizing my crying is mostly physiological has helped me come to terms with it to a degree (if it happens when I’m super-tired, I can just go to bed and trust I’ll be fine by morning–perhaps even having slept better than if I didn’t cry!), but of course it’s still something that’s not acceptable in a formal work or school environment. So it’s a work in progress for me.

        1. starsaphire*

          I had an awesome supervisor once at an extremely stressful job, and he had to deal with me stress-crying several times during one-on-ones.

          On his last day, he came over to my desk and, very ceremoniously, gave me his box of Kleenex. It was so sweet, and so awesome. :)

          Of *course* I started crying. But in that case, it *was* sadness, because I was going to miss his thoughtfulness.

      2. tangerineRose*

        Yeah, I also tend to cry if I’m very, very furious. It hasn’t happened at work often, but it has happened.

    3. DiscoTechie*

      So much pregnancy crying with my two. Luckily nothing at work, but everything else caused the waterworks. I had to stop my car because I was listening to a NPR story about ADA accessible playgrounds for children and couldn’t stop the tears. Ugh…so much random surges of the feelings. Good luck. I usually used the cop out of “oops, got to go to the bathroom” to give me a space to settle down and it’s a totally legit reason when pregnant.

      1. ket*

        The pregnancy crying was weirdly cathartic for me, but I was able to keep it to commercials for pet food or Skype, or NPR reporting as you mention, rather than crying at work. Good luck!

  9. LovecraftInDC*

    Number five, I would definitely agree with Alison’s first suggestions. Being asked for a start date is fairly common in my experience when an employer wants to move quickly (I usually ask the inverse as well, and ask what their timeline is, if for no other reason than it gives insight as to how many people they’re considering and gives them an opportunity to say if I’ll definitely be hearing from them).

    Slightly off topic for this one, but is it weird that I haven’t been asked for references at any point in my (US) professional career? I was asked for references for my first couple of jobs, first at Starbucks and then doing some summer field work. But my college IT job for a small law office, no request. My first finance job, with a very large and well known investment bank, no request. Later, at a mid sized bank, same thing. Since then, I’ve been moving internally, and the jobs I’ve gotten I know there has been communication between my managers about me, but I’ve still never been officially asked for references.

    1. Dan*

      It’s entirely possible that some reference checks were done without your knowledge. I work in a very niche industry, and at some point every body gets to know each other. My current employer has asked me about former colleagues of mine who applied at my current job. These days, I can’t go anywhere without somebody knowing somebody.

      In entry level jobs, references can have very little utility. You indicated a bit of an industry change from IT to finance, It wouldn’t surprise me if your finance job didn’t think your IT job would have had much of relevance to say about you.

      My take is that references become more important as you climb the ladder. Do I need references for an entry level individual contributor? Not that much. But for somebody in a management position, I would definitely want them.

      1. LovecraftInDC*

        That’s a great point, and I think you’ve got it absolutely right about entry level positions. All three of the companies I mentioned, I started at an entry-level, although the pay/responsibilities did go up for each one. Since I’ve been internal since then, and my managers knew each other as well as my coworkers, it would make a lot of sense that there wasn’t a need for me to provide additional references.

        I’m about to (knock on wood, fingers crossed) move to a management position, but again it’s internal and since I’m replacing my boss, the hiring manager knows me very well.

    2. Macedon*

      My past two jobs both asked for references, but never reached out to them — I think, after a certain point in a relatively small industry, your professional reputation is enough to carry you, if you crushed the interview, to boot.

    3. Liane*

      One of my current jobs, library page, did contact my references. I know because one of them texted me, “Your interview yesterday went well. Just got off a reference call. ”
      I wasn’t given any details, nor did I ask, because that is between Boss and my reference.

    4. You don't know me*

      To the best of my knowledge my references have never been checked and I’m on my seventh professional job.

    5. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

      I’ve been asked but they’ve never been called. However, I’ve had background checks ran for banking jobs and the one I have currently. But no one has ever called the references that I’ve written down as references and I’ve been working for 25 years!

    6. Carleigh*

      My boyfriend and I do the same thing for a living and he gets asked for references sometimes, and they’ll get checked, but for some reason nobody ever asks for mine. It seems to be be hit or miss.

    7. irritable vowel*

      I agree with you about the commonness of asking the interviewee what their timeline is. LW, I wouldn’t take this question as “how soon can you start, because we definitely want you to work here” but more as a way of assessing all their candidates’ availability so they can factor that into their decision about who gets the job offer.

    8. The New Wanderer*

      I’ve reached final interview/offer decision stage three times recently (mid to senior level professional jobs) and have not been asked for references.

      I was asked to provide references in one application, where my references were contacted immediately with an auto-generated survey (to which they responded) but I myself was never contacted, so I’m not sure what was the point of contacting the references before deciding whether to even interview me. Perhaps it’s standard practice for all school districts?

  10. Elizabeth the Ginger*

    OP #1, pregnancy is temporary, and I suspect you’re right that being pregnant is making you more sensitive. There are a LOT of hormones floating around your body right now that your brain isn’t used to. I suspect this will pass. (Note, giving birth and the early postpartum period can also be up and down emotionally as your hormones swing back from pregnancy. Know the signs of postpartum depression and don’t hesitate to reach out for help if it seems like it’s hitting. It’s incredibly normal. But even if you don’t get PPD it can be an intense time. I didn’t have PPD but still had really strong feelings for several months after giving birth.)

    1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      Also, best wishes on the rest of your pregnancy. It sounds like you must be closing in on your due date if you’ve been pregnant for at least 6 months!

      1. Op1*

        Yes, thank you ladies. I know that everyone’s pregnancy is different but I suspect this isn’t completely foreign to most moms.

      2. Specialk9*

        Another thing to realize is that some birth control can prevent your hormones from stabilising. I had the Nexplanon arm implant put in right after birth, and I had low level morning sickness every day for 2 years, until it was removed — and then the next day the morning nausea was gone. So consider other options if you’re still super hormonal well after the birth.

    2. Mallory*

      I’m 37 weeks. I had a conference at my kid’s preschool and went to tears while talking about how my preschooler can’t wait to learn to read. Legit downpour of tears.

      Her poor teacher was so confused as the entire conference was all upbeat and great news, and we were just talking about how she’s an early reader.

      Pregnancy is so strange.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Oh yeah. A mildly touching burrito commercial and here come the waterworks. Incredible hormones.

        1. A Non E. Mouse*

          Oh yeah. A mildly touching burrito commercial and here come the waterworks.

          The Folgers commercial where the brother comes home for Xmas – straight sobbing.

          Pregnancy is remarkably weird.

        2. Specialk9*

          Whatever you do, don’t watch Up (the cartoon about balloons lifting a house) with pregnancy hormones, or infertility, or struggles with fertility, or really having any kid issues at all. Brutal.

        3. Double A*

          I have been crying at EVERY. SINGLE. MOVIE TRAILER. Like, movie trailers always kind of make me tear up, now it’s actual crying for like…Tag: The Movie. Or Mission Impossible. Why???

      2. CMart*

        I decided to take 2 extra minutes in my car this morning to finish listening to a song on the radio that I liked, which then turned into 10 minutes because I had to compose myself and fix my face because sitting in my car, listening to a song I loved in high school reduced me to sobbing in the office parking garage. I just… really liked that song 15 years ago I guess? I couldn’t even tell you what happened!

        Pregnancy is a wild ride, man.

        Hopefully OP’s boss and colleagues are understanding. It’s a known thing for pregnancy and postpartum hormones to cause a person to cry for the most random of reasons, let alone an actual trigger like receiving semi-critical feedback.

        1. Parenthetically*

          Yes to your last paragraph! It’s SO common. My postpartum hormones were bananas too — I’d be cruising along fine and suddenly glance down at my kid and find myself sobbing hysterically for no reason — so be forewarned about that one, too, OP1! Hormones. They are weird.

          1. AMPG*

            After I gave birth the second time, I had a mini celebration when I made it 24 hours without crying.

          2. Elizabeth the Ginger*

            Yup, I’d just look at my baby and start crying sometimes. “I — love her — so — much! She’s — my — baby!”

            1. Parenthetically*

              “Just *sob* look at his HAAAAAAIRRRR!! *hic-sob* I just love him so muuuuuuuuch!”

              (Look of abject terror from my husband)

      3. VelociraptorAttack*

        When I was about 15 weeks pregnant I started crying during the Delta Air Lines safety video and could not stop. I presume the person next to me just thought I was an extremely nervous flier.

  11. Not A Manager*

    LW1, I can’t just stop myself from crying once I start. When I try to, I think I’m more alarming to the person who’s talking to me because I act like a zombie. I would suggest excusing yourself for a moment if you can. (I know it’s not always possible.) When it’s possible, consider saying, “I’m so sorry, I’m having a physiological reaction right now and I need to take a moment. May I please come find you in 15 minutes?”

    I think this would be most effective if you’ve given the person a heads-up prior, but even if you haven’t, take a moment to explain when you reconnect with them. Maintain a professional demeanor when you do; it will reassure them.

    I believe this is the obverse of Alison’s advice to managers when their employees cry? I think she said to essentially give them a tissue and a minute, and tell them you’ll continue when they’re able. Maybe I’m misremembering.

    1. Is A Manager*

      I’ve been managing people for years, and tears are just a thing that happens. You’re right on the money — you give them a minute, some reassurance, and you move on if they’re able or you reschedule if they’re not.

  12. SS Express*

    Tips to avoid crying:

    -press your tongue to the roof of your mouth
    -scrunch your toes up in your shoes
    -take a deep breath
    -distract your brain for a second by thinking about, say, the words to a song or the times tables or listing the Kardashians in age order

    1. I heart Paul Buchman*

      I find mental arithmetic helpful. By the time I’ve worked out say 32*56 my heart rate is normally slower and I feel more in control- does make it hard to pay 100% attention to the other person though.

      Full sympathy- I tend to cry when I feel any strong emotion, especially frustration or helplessness. I have to work hard to stay calm in the moment or I tear up. Remember that pregnant women have a go to excuse to duck out for a bathroom break at any time. Running cold water over your wrists is very calming.

      1. BRR*

        That mental math trick is super helpful! While i wasn’t crying, my anxiety was pretty high this morning and the math was a good distraction from it.

      2. Turquoisecow*

        32 x 56 would just stress me out more, as Math is not my strong suit, and I can’t do that arithmetic in my head to save my life. I did, however, memorize the times tables, so sometimes I recite those in my head. Anything else I’ve memorized or learned by rote is good also, like the hiragana “alphabet” in Japanese (picturing the characters) or verb conjugations in Spanish, or maybe the alphabet backward.

    2. NYC Redhead*

      I came here to write the tongue on the roof of the mouth tip, which I have used many times. (Thanks, Glamour magazine!) Specifically, I use the tip of my tongue. I think it just makes me concentrate on something else and changes breathing.

  13. Tin Cormorant*

    #1: As someone who often cries at stupid things when I’m not even upset (often when singing along with music I enjoy), I find the most helpful way to get a crying spell to stop when I feel one coming is to manipulate my facial expressions. If you can duck away into a bathroom so people won’t think you’re crazy, making a really exaggerated happy, excited, or angry face can confuse your brain about what emotion it’s supposed to have, and the tears stop. Angry eyebrows work best for me, but experiment. Splashing some cold water on your face after can make the redness go away.

    It’s kinda like how smiling even when you don’t feel like it can make you feel happier. There’s a feedback loop in your brain that you can take advantage of.

    1. Turquoisecow*

      Music always makes me sob. Especially live music – the way it brings people together. I cry during live music performances and musicals all the time, even happy songs. If it’s a sad song? Forget about it. We went to see Hamilton and I basically bawled through the whole second act.

  14. Cedrus Libani*

    LW#1, you’re not alone on the hormonal tears. I’ve never been pregnant, but throughout my teens and twenties, I would lose all control of my tear ducts for 8-12 hours per month (just before my period). It wasn’t an emotional thing, but it sure looked that way. Inside, I’d be thinking “darn it, I forgot to buy toothpaste” – just mildly irritated, like a normal person – but outside, I’d be bawling.

    Of course, the one time I got laid off, it had to be in that window. I had to tell the poor HR lady that it was just PMS, I’ll be fine, please continue. Never had much luck with stopping it – but calmly acknowledging can help.

    1. T3k*

      Ugh, feel for you there. I’m not much of a crier, but damn it, when that monthly period rolls around I’ll cry over anything and everything. On the opposite end, I didn’t cry at all when I was unexpectedly laid off. Thinking back on it, the owner probably thought I either had nerves of steel or was actually relieved at the news (no I wasn’t. I cried later in the car after it sunk in).

      1. Specialk9*

        I got the person who was laying me off to cry, and I didn’t. I feel so proud of that! It wasn’t a surprise though.

    2. MsSolo*

      Mine is movie trailers at that time of the month. Suddenly they’re just… so… powerful… And we’re not talking sad movies. We’re not even talking good movies. I think the last time it happened it was the trailer for one of the purge sequels, because a girl did a badass thing in it. Music videos get me too, though they’re usually trying harder to provoke that kind of reaction. If you want a good cathartic cry at any point, I have to rec Symphony by Lara Zarsson and Clean Bandit; it’s just pavlovian with me now.

      1. Baby Fishmouth*

        Large musical numbers get me ALL THE TIME. ‘Dancing Queen’ in Mamma Mia, ‘We Go Together’ in Grease, even ‘Nothing Suits Me Like A Suit’ in HIMYM… here come the waterworks! Most of them aren’t even sad songs or movies. I have no explanation for it, but at least it makes my husband laugh, I guess.

        1. Christmas Carol*

          ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ flashes me back to marching band, which leads to general memories of high school, which leads to my miss-spent youth in general, which leads to sentimental gushers, which means I always try to arrive late to the big game now, even though it means I miss the kick-off/first pitch/tip-off.

  15. Stinky Socks*

    #1– ALL the sympathy. Pregnancy ramps my crying factor up to 11. I am normally not a sentimental person, but when I am pregnant, cloying “touching” commercials that normally get nothing but snark from me reduce me to tears. Multiple pregnancies, and I have *never* not have it happen, although it was definitely the worst with my first pregnancy.

      1. Loose Seal*

        Then please don’t go look at YouTube videos of service vets coming home to be greeted by their dogs. It get me in the feels every single time and I’m not pregnant!

        But the one of Chris Evans being greeted by his dog after he had been away for a couple of weeks (shooting the movies or a press tour, I can’t remember) is fabulous. Still might bring on the waterworks but it’s Chris Evans and a cute dog, so what you gonna do?

        1. A Non E. Mouse*

          Then please don’t go look at YouTube videos of service vets coming home to be greeted by their dogs.

          Those are the worst, but a close second are the videos of people meeting the children they are adopting for the first time.

          And the sheer joy on this guy’s face! I watch it if I need a good cry: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q2sM7tzILeE

  16. YB*

    #2, I personally prefer to receive rejections over the phone once it’s gotten to the I-realistically-thought-I-would-get-this-job-but-turns-out-I-was-the-second-choice point. It just feels more personal. And, in my experience, people will be more candid about what went wrong over the phone than where there’s a written record. I’ll totally concede that, based on the comments here, I am an outlier, but that’s my (very strong) preference.

    On the other hand, I was recently in a situation that showed why e-mail rejections can be better. We were hiring and had a very close-run process, with two candidates we flat-out loved but only one job on offer. We ended up calling the unsuccessful candidate to tell her the news. The candidate became quite flustered and angry and lost her temper with the head of the hiring committee and said some extremely regrettable things (including things like racially-tinged comments about members of our committee). Then, a few minutes later, she sent a very hostile e-mail rant not just to the leaders of our organization, but to the leaders of every organization in our (very small) industry. This whole situation has really hurt her professional reputation and kept her from finding work at all, and the comments here have me wondering—if, instead of calling, we had e-mailed her, would she have done a better job processing the bad news? Would she have taken a deep breath, composed herself, and maybe not felt the need to write the things she wrote? She seemed really wonderful throughout the long interview process, and I hate to think that our decision to call rather than e-mail the news may have driven her into an out-of-character, impulsive reaction.

    1. T3k*

      Maybe, but I’m inclined to think you dodged a bullet on that one. If this is how she reacted to rejection, just imagine how she’d react in other situations while working for you where she won’t have time to go gather herself. We all react differently to bad news, but most people don’t rampage, use racially charged comments, and send rants to the leaders. Hell, the worse I’ve done is just stomp around the house and sulk for a day after a rejection. So really, this is on her, not you, and you just saw a slice of how she would truly react in a bad situation.

      1. Mad Baggins*

        This. I’d be sympathetic to a stressful reaction to a bad situation, but that racially-tinged stuff? That’s not “out of character.” It doesn’t occur to most people to use those words under any circumstances.

        1. Washi*

          Yeah. That would make me think “I’m glad I called and saw this side of her so I can never consider her for anything again.”

        2. Gazebo Slayer*

          Yeah, this. Also, the email rant to the heads of *every organization in your industry*? That took time and planning. That wasn’t just a spur of the moment angry/disappointed reaction.

        3. tangerineRose*

          Agreed. If she’d sounded awkward and trying not to cry or something or spoke disjointedly (maybe because of trying not to cry) or was just awkward, that’s one thing, but racially charged comments?! Not OK.

    2. Jason*

      I also disagree entirely with AAM on #2. I would much rather have a phone call than an e-mail.

      1. Anononon*

        Well, no, it sounds like you still agree with her. She specifically clarified that while some people like phone calls, most prefer emails (which we can see to a degree in the comment section).

      2. Bostonian*

        Yeah, I just read a negative interview review of my company on glassdoor because they had gone through a long interview process and then got the rejection by email. So, it definitely varies by person. I would definitely want to process the news in privacy via email.

    3. Thlayli*

      I would suggest emailing the rejection, but including a statement that if she wants any feedback on her application to call you to discuss.

    4. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I agree that it sounds like you dodged a bullet with that candidate, but yes, I do think if you had emailed the rejection, she would have been less likely to escalate. People expect a phone call to be good news and I think it’s more of a let down to receive a call telling you that you’ve been rejected than it is to read an email.

      From what I recall, in the days before email was ubiquitous, a lot of companies sent rejection letters via mail instead of making phone calls, so I don’t think this is really a new trend.

    5. Penny Lane*

      Why would you feel bad that her reaction may have derailed her reputation/career? It SHOULD derail it. She should “never work in this town again.” Your sympathy seems completely misplaced. Racially tinged comments about the hiring committee??

    6. WellRed*

      She’s not getting hired because she has far bigger issues, not because you called instead of emailed.

    7. Inspector Spacetime*

      The only people who spew racist garbage are racists. Normal, decent people don’t do that under any circumstances. Don’t make excuses for her.

      1. smoke tree*

        Yeah … an acceptable “out of character” moment would be something like being curt on the phone or hanging up abruptly. If someone reacts to stress with racist remarks, that just shows that stuff is pretty close to the surface to begin with. Bullet dodged.

    8. OlympiasEpiriot*

      Wow. No, actually, in that case, you were seeing the raw person. This wasn’t just someone upset and emotional. She decided to through bigoted personal attacks in. Your decision to call didn’t create the situation.

      I’ve been in lots of stressful, antagonistic, adversarial situations and have even gotten angry on occasion and I don’t through out racist garbage (because that’s what “racially tinged” means).

    9. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

      YB, if it had only been the yelling on the phone, I might agree that an email rejection would have gone better for this woman; but the reality that she then took the time to write a scathing email and copy the of leaders of other organizations means that she would have gone off the rails regardless of the delivery method. If you had sent an email rejection instead she would have just reversed the order of her hostility — vile email response cc-ing everyone she could think of first, and then call you up to verbally abuse you. This is not a woman who knows how to process her emotions in a healthy, mature way.

  17. sacados*

    Ugh, references. I am currently job searching and get very stressed about the thought of that.
    Like the OP, I’ve been in my current company for 7~8 years. And not only am I not in contact with my manager from the company before that, it was in a completely different industry and thus almost certainly irrelevant to my current experience and the kinds of jobs I am applying for now.
    I have had the same manager for most of the time that I have been at my current company — and my other past managers mostly also still work in the same company — so I wouldn’t really feel comfortable asking any of them / letting them know I am searching.
    All of which boils down to I would be hard pressed to find anyone to give a relevant/useful reference if I am asked to do so. (Not to mention that I am abroad and most of my potential references don’t even speak English…)

    It’s kind of stressful actually, wondering if I am going to potentially lose out on job offers due to this, or if companies will be willing to overlook my lack of references.

    1. Mad Baggins*

      I’m in your same boat where most of my would-be references are at my current company and don’t speak English. I’m not looking now but I’m also concerned about losing out on future job offers due to this.

    2. Specialk9*

      I don’t think references are as much about industry knowledge – though nice if that comes out – but to check you’re not a slacker, loon, or such. It’s more character reference than subject matter expertise, in my view.

  18. Screenwriter*

    I have a similar problem with blushing–I’m very fair and blush at the drop of a hat, and it’s SO embarrassing. In a meeting: “How’s the script going?” and I start blushing. (And don’t get me started on the SUPREME embarrassment of hot flashes– “How’s the script, almost finished?” and I’m pouring with sweat and have to tear off my sweater! Thank God for HRT!) Anyway, I started saying, very deadpan, “Oh, well, now I’m blushing, I have no idea why, yep, I’m going beet red, go to town, enjoy it!” and it really, really helps.

    So I second Alison’s suggestion of being as matter of fact as possible. Talk calmly through the tears “Yep, here goes, can’t help it, pay no attention to the waterworks, sorry, it’ll be over in a second, nothing personal” (You can add “Sorry, tell Mikey it was only business, I always liked him” if you feel so inclined.) Not only will your light banter reassure them, it’ll calm you down, too. You can then explain it’s from the hormones, a temporary state of affairs, not to worry, etc. You can also try “I have no idea why this is happening, WAIT WHAT’S THIS, I SEEM TO BE PREGNANT WHY DIDN’T ANYONE TELL ME?”

  19. Audrey Puffins*

    #1, actors apparently stave off tears at inopportune moments by making a fist that digs your fingernails into your palms, and it’s certainly worked for me in the past, so it could be worth giving it a try if you want something quick and immediate.

    1. Ego Chamber*

      I have to remember to try that, even though I know exactly how it would work out.

      “Uh … you don’t have to answer if this is too personal, but … is that stigmata?”
      “Yeah, I almost started crying earlier, so.”

  20. marmalade*

    #5 – This is really odd, both for the number of referees requested AND the apparent lack of preparation.
    Five references? That seems like a lot to me – excessive, even. I usually list two referees … maaaybe I’ve listed three sometimes, but not commonly.

    I can totally see how it could take a few days to round up new referees – get in touch + wait to hear back, get their consent + tell them about your job search. Rinse and repeat a few times since people might not be available.

    However, if you’re interviewing for a job, you should have your references ready – by that I mean that their details are up to date and in an easily deliverable form. (And if you’ve handed over the details, then of course, give your referees a heads-up to potentially expect a call).
    So, I don’t know why you didn’t just say “I wasn’t expecting to need five referees – here’s the details for my 2/3 regular ones, I will arrange a couple more and send their details to you ASAP”.

    But in the case where you hadn’t pre-organised a couple of referees … then yeah, I’d say it’s really not a good look. How do you not only apply for a job, have three (3) interviews and basically be offered the job, and then get to the referee check stage and not have organised references? I don’t know if I’d reject someone over it, but it does show a pretty basic lack of preparation, in my opinion.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Yeah, I would not be impressed that you hadn’t prepared any information if I was interviewing you and you needed that long to get your references together.

      As marmalade said, asking for 5 is unusual, but I would expect someone who made it to the interview stage to be prepared to provide 2 or 3 professional references.

    2. Antilles*

      Five definitely seems excessive. Presuming you aren’t using your current job (for obvious reasons) and aren’t a serial job hopper, most people would struggle to get up to five references without either (a) using several references from the same LastJob, (b) using people from non-work situations, or (c) going way back in time.
      So I’m seriously skeptical whether Reference #4 and #5 are actually really adding anything to the discussion. At some point, there’s diminishing returns from getting extra references.

    3. Ali G*

      Agree 100%. When I started reading I thought she was going to say that she missed out because she couldn’t quickly scrounge up and extra 2-3 references on the spot (because 5 is a lot!), and I was pissed for her. But then I read that she didn’t have any ready to go after 3!! interviews and I was then thinking she came off very unprepared. I am job searching and I have 3-4 people in my pool I use as needed. I might need a day to get a fifth, or even another if I felt one of my current wouldn’t really be relevant, but I would be ready to go with at least 3 at any given time.
      OP – my sympathies, but get those references in order now for next time!

      1. Eff5References*

        Hi! OP5 here! I had 3 references ready to go, but none of them were former managers (of which they were requesting 2). In my industry, I work independently and my direct managers have historically had very little to do with my day-to-day work life. I had lined up several colleagues I worked directly with, but they are primarily based out of town and on the road a lot, so they didn’t complete their references for a few days. I was able to hunt down my previous manager from 7 years ago (in a foreign country) as well as two other managers from a job I left 12 years ago. Nobody completed references before Thursday afternoon.

        1. Ali G*

          Wait, they wanted 5 references from former managers in 24 hours through a system where the reference has to complete it??? That’s f-ed up! I HATE those systems where the person giving the reference has to do the work. If they want 5 (which is ridic to start) then they need to do the work and call/email them to set a time to talk.
          I hope they did not hold you responsible for the fact that 5 different people couldn’t complete their stupid form in 24 hours, because if so – that id really f-ed up!! I’m sorry :(

        2. Ego Chamber*

          Holy shit. You should have really explained this more clearly in your letter to Alison. I think these circumstances change everything.

          The way it was explained in your letter, it sounded like you weren’t able to provide contact info to the company who was interviewing you—but if I’m reading your comment correctly, the company actually wanted the references to fill out some kind of innate online questionnaire within that 24-hour timeframe? That is bonkers.

          1. Eff5References*

            They use SkillSurvey. HR sent me a link and I have to fill in my referee’s details within 24 hours and then they all get an email with a link to complete a survey. Three emails went out to referees the day after the request, but those referees took a few days to complete the reference. I didn’t hear back from the two former mangers I needed to hunt down until Thursday. None of the references were completed prior to Thursday afternoon and several didn’t get it done until Friday, after they emailed me.

  21. Anancy*

    OP #1, totally typical to cry so much easier when you are pregnant. Alison’s suggestions are great. Also, anxiety and depression both during and po are a big deal, and it’s also pretty common that doctors dismiss them. You mentioned that you have a history of anxiety but your doctor doesn’t think you have depression, what do you think? If you explained to your doctor that crying is affecting your work performance, do you think they might have a different perspective? At the very least, the prospect of crying at work is making you anxious, and that’s worth exploring with medical professionals too.

      1. Op1*

        That’s good feedback. Its tough, when you are a high functioning, anxious individual its easy to pretend like everything is fine.

        1. Anancy*

          Yep, I am very familiar with this strategy personally! Good luck with the remainder of your pregnancy and congrats! (It also worked for me to a couple times a week watch a sob fest movie, because I could release my tears at the tv instead of work. Mileage may vary of course.)

        2. Parenthetically*

          I’ve dealt with both anxiety and depression since puberty, but anxiety is more at the forefront these days. Pregnancy-related anxiety and postpartum anxiety get overlooked far too often even though some studies are showing that they’re actually more common than pregnancy-related depression/PPD! I’m grateful for a team of midwives (and a pediatrician’s office postpartum) who were really on top of asking me questions about anxiety/PPA and not just screening for depression/PPD, which was awesome, because I had zero PPD symptoms so my crippling panic could have gone totally undiagnosed if they hadn’t been specifically looking out for it.

    1. MsSolo*

      It’s also worth remembering that depression isn’t the only ante- and post- mood disorder. Anxiety doesn’t get the press that PPD (and post-partum psychosis – much rarer, but makes for more lurid stories, so it’s covered more often) does, but it’s a very real pregnancy side effect as well.

      1. Koala dreams*

        Yes, I was thinking of this too. One can have both depression and anxiety at the same time, but they are pretty bad on their own too.

        To the OP: take care of yourself and keep discussing things with your doctor. Good luck!

      2. Project Manager*

        There’s also postpartum OCD. Ask me how I know.

        By the way, OP, breastfeeding is supposed to help with PPD, but my personal experience is that it aggravated my PPD and PPOCD. When I stopped breastfeeding, which was around 4-6 weeks for both kids, I had an immediate and dramatic improvement in my mood, even despite the significant pressure to breastfeed from every corner of society. If breastfeeding ends up working for you, fantastic! But I want you to know that it absolutely IS okay if it doesn’t.

        1. Justme, The OG*

          I needed to hear this like 9 years ago. :/ I had PPD with some psychosis (I thought my baby had died and that the baby I saw was not real) and SO MANY PEOPLE all over the Internet told me that all I had to do to get better was breastfeed and co-sleep. Luckily, my nurse practitioner was a wise woman and had me come in immediately.

          1. Parenthetically*

            Whoa damn, Justme. How terrifying and awful. So glad you’re on the other side of that.

        2. Moonlight Elantra*

          I had a similar experience. I made it to 6 weeks with my son, and the day I gave up breastfeeding was the absolute happiest day of my earliest days as a mom. (My husband’s happiest parenting day was when he figured out how to hold the baby and the Playstation controller at the same time, lol.)

  22. Grand Mouse*

    Depending on how subtle the crying is, you can wipe your eyes and kinda dig your knuckle in. i pass this off as tiredness or my eyes watering. if you’re making a wailing sound i don’t know how to come back from that. pretend you’re singing opera because the moment moved you?

    1. Mookie*

      I’ve seen a few people explain away a potentially embarrassing cryfest by feigning a migraine or an allergy. I don’t really think anybody ever bought that, but it acknowledges the problem while actively not making it somebody else’s problem, if you see what I mean. It’s not really reasonable, but where I’ve seen it, people who try to conceal the crying with a very emotionless, mask-like face and voice elicit a lot of negative attention, as though having to make that effort marks a stain on their character or functions as a sign of stubbornness or childishness. Unless someone is behaving really aggressively, defensively, or is obviously trying to manipulate someone, I try not to judge those immediate reactions as anything other than one-offs; it’s how people use the feedback that ultimately matters, I think.

  23. Me again*

    Op2, I had the Skype contact for the last candidate I rejected because we did the first interview over Skype, so I rejected him over Skype chat. I found that a good compromise. It was real-time so it felt much more personal than email, but didn’t put him in the position of having to respond in a way where I could see how he felt.

    1. Dragoning*

      Ah, to me that would feel like being rejected over a text message. I would definitely avoid that.

  24. It doesn't hurt ME*

    Hey OP1,
    I’m an obstetrician and I see the crying thing all the time. Patients look at me baffled saying “I wouldn’t normally cry about x” and I tell them their body has been hijacked and it’s completely normal. It will pass! Your boss probably already realises this is out of character for you but it doesn’t hurt to clarify that it’s physiological. Alison’s script is a good one

  25. Kir Royale*

    #2 It is fairly standard where I am to only phone candidates with an offer. If I got a phone call, thinking they were offering me the position, then I was rejected instead, that would be devastating. If you have a strong candidate you have to reject, when you email make the email personal, by commenting on their particular strengths, and that you will keep them in mind for future positions if that’s true.

  26. Demon Llama*

    Lots of good suggestions for OP1 already, so sorry if this is repetition.

    I am also a work crier – when I get frustrated or stressed, that’s my body’s go-to. My therapist suggested something that really works: the moment you begin to feel the tears, just take a moment to notice the emotion behind it, so for example, “oh look, I’m feeling frustrated. That is why I’m tearing up.” Somehow, that simple act of allowing myself to recognise that yes, this is a frustrating meeting, somehow lessens the emotional impact and I can control the tear-response.

    In any event, I wouldn’t worry about it too much – I work in a high-stress, high-pressure job and have cried in front of my bosses a few times now – they still think I’m doing a good job and haven’t shied away from giving me more challenges! Best of luck with the pregnancy!

  27. 2nd place candidate*

    Oofda, how topical to my life! I just got a (nice, we really liked you, this was a very difficult decision) email rejection letter today for a job I was so excited about. So while we’re here and on the topic of it.. is there any expectation that I write back to such an email? If so, what do I say? Thanks, keep me in mind if something else comes along or your first choice person bails?

    As for the LW, phone or email our face to face, please just don’t tell your runner up deciding was so difficult for YOU. You had multiple amazing candidates; nothing about the situation is difficult for you.

    1. Ali G*

      For me, in that case I would write back, if only to just thank them for letting you know. Not everyone does that and it’s nice that while you didn’t get the job, you aren’t agonizing over it while they are moving on.
      I would say” Thank you for all the time you took to get to know me and for your consideration for the X position. I really appreciate you letting me know you’ve moved on, and I hope we get the chance to work together in the future.”

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Yes – this is how I’ve responded to all post-interview rejection emails.

  28. Zaphod Beeblebrox*

    OP3 – I’d just ignore the request and have no further contact with them.

    1. Delta Delta*

      Exactly. Because realistically, what are they going to do? Try to go to small claims court? It would cost as much to file as they’re trying to recover, and then likely to have their case dismissed because there never was any sort of agreement that OP would repay any expenses. I’d ignore and move on.

      1. Been There, Did That*

        Actually, DeltaDelta, small claims court costs a minuscule amount to file. Each county is different, but the typical cost to file is $18-$32. No attorneys.

        Just an FYI.

    2. Queen of Cans & Jars*

      With the nature of the work, my feeling is that they probably are like, “well, let’s give this a shot & see if we can get them to cough up the money.” I doubt that they’d pursue it any more than that. Typical scam-artist stuff.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Actually, I’m guessing they’ll bluster and/or bluff a bit, but there’s no way they could pass this off to a collection agency because the first thing you do when a collection agency contacts you is request documentation of the original debt, and I believe that legally, a bill for a hotel *billed to the employer* means exactly nothing with respect to the OP, but IANAL.

    3. Irene Adler*

      This is exactly the correct advice.

      My thoughts: This is not a good idea, but I’d be tempted to taunt them a bit. Tell them, the check is in the mail. Then, in a few days when they call to tell you the check didn’t arrive, tell them “oops! Looks like I didn’t post it yet. Just be patient, I’ll get it into the mail shortly.”

      Then keep repeating all manner of excuses until they give up. See how long they go before they drop it.

      1. Inspector Spacetime*

        At the same time, though, you don’t want to imply or acknowledge that you ARE agreeing to be responsible for this money.

        I’d be tempted to email something back, though, like “You must be joking.” Probably not the wisest move. I agree with the others here that the best thing to do would be to just ignore them.

  29. ET*

    Echoing what others have said; e-mail rejection is the way to go. I recently made it to the final round of interviews with a *very* well known tech company. Between the phone screenings, video chat interviews, and being flown out to their main campus for a day of interviews (including an on-site lunch with potential colleagues), I felt substantially vested in the company and excited to get so far in the procsss. So when the recruiter who had been managing my interview process emailed me asking for a time to schedule a call, complete with a happy face emoji (!!) I thought for sure an offer was imminent. Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be a “thanks, but no thanks, it was very close but we’re going with someone local to the area” call. I tried to be as gracious possible and thanked the recruiter for taking the time to update me and asked to be considered for any future opportunities, but in the moment, it definitely stung quite a bit and I’m sure my disappointment was audible. Most awkward pause of my life as I had to process what I thought would be a very different kind of call! The recruiter emphasized the reason he had called was because it was “so close” and I had invested “so much time” and *high profile tech company* “really loved me” and thought I deserved a call where I could ask any questions instead of a “form letter rejection.” A few weeks later they actually emailed me a generic survey asking me to rate the overall
    Interview experience and I did actually specifically mention that I would have preferred an email rejection. But on a happier note: getting rejected wound up being a good thing, because shortly after I got an offer elsewhere for another prominent company, with a better title and a $40,000 pay bump- that didn’t require moving across the country!

    1. Basia, also a Fed*

      I’m shocked that he used a happy face emoji when he set up the call. I think anyone would have interpreted that as meaning they got the job. Leading you on that way is cruel.

  30. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

    LW1 – congrats! Wishing you the best, and hoping you have a healthy baby.

    So, I mean…I get the entire stigma towards crying, and I’ll admit that – yes – it can be pretty off-putting when you cry in front of your boss (having a) been on both ends of that issue and b) categorically NOT someone who would ever get pregnant). But I feel like it’s almost worse to be the person crying in front of your boss as opposed to the boss whose employee is crying in front of them. I work in a really untraditional environment, but…I actually don’t see that much wrong with your situation. You’ve cried a fair amount, but you’re also going through a health issue that…um…notoriously causes people to (among other things) have more unstable emotions, and if you’re six months in this should already be obvious to everyone.

    1. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

      Okay, THAT submitted early.

      To add on to that – LW1’s boss may have already concluded that LW1 is probably crying more than her baseline because she’s at least six months pregnant, and that this is just one of those things that LW1 didn’t expect when she was expecting. My main thrust is that LW1 is probably worrying about this more than her boss is. By all means, she probably should explain this to her boss just to make sure they’re aware and to take ownership, but my read is that LW1 is making a bigger deal out of her crying than anyone else in her office is (hopefully).

      Also, I phrased pregnancy as a “health issue” because…I mean, it kind of is. Again, I’ve never been pregnant, and no matter how hard I’d ever want to be, I don’t think I ever CAN get pregnant (unless science really throws me a curveball), but you go through a LOT when you’re pregnant.

      (Finally, I’m assuming LW1 is cisgender, but if they’re trans – the advice still applies!)

  31. Rookie Manager*

    OP2 thanks for writing to Alison with this question! I’ve always tried to phone interviewees before to reject them but my last round of hiring made me think twice. I got some very curt responses and one person appeared to take it graciously but that night sent me an email basically telling me I was wrong not to hire him, he had the best experience and I asked the wrong questions to assess his full knowledge as I only asked about the bits he didn’t know…

    The option I didn’t take was the HR form letter because it just didn’t feel personal enough. Perhaps I just need to request an extra sentance or two be added to the form email to strike a compromise.

  32. Dopameanie*

    OP1, as for tips on how to stop crying at work…have you tried having the baby? That might help.

    Seriously tho, being pregnant sucks, which is a thing everyone already knows. (Or ought to) And it’s a rare time in your life where everyone who can see you REALLY wants to be nice to you. (Or ought to) Try not to make this a bigger thing than it has to be for you! I guarantee you are being way harder on yourself than anybody else is. This too shall pass.

  33. Legalchef*

    LW1 – it could be worse. A week and a half or so after I started my current job, I was meeting with a client who started screaming at me, which I usually know how to handle. This time, I stepped out of the conference room to collect myself, and when a couple coworkers asked if everything was okay (because the client was LOUD), I started crying. I couldn’t figure out why I was reacting this way, when usually I’m fine when this happens.

    Fast forward a couple weeks later, when I learned I was pregnant. I must have been “under the influence” of the first rush of pregnancy hormones at the time!

    So at least you are at a job where you are a known entity, and they probably know that this isn’t your norm! I wouldn’t stress over it – there’s enough to stress over being pregnant/preparing for motherhood. Congrats and I hope you are feeling well in the home stretch!

  34. Legalchef*

    Re #2, nooo! Email, not call. Unless perhaps you are calling to say “we can’t offer you X job but we’d love to offer you Y job.” Even then, I think it would be better to email saying that and giving more info about Y, and asking to set up a phone call to discuss it further.

    It’s very kind of you to want to make it more personal, but it’s so outside the norm that you’re just serving to get applicant’s hopes up.

    1. Penny Lane*

      I’m hiring right now. I have 9 applicants who have made it to the final round. We have a clear front runner and we anticipate being able to make an offer tomorrow. I simply don’t have the time to set up phone calls with the other 8 and it’s stupid to raise their hopes. They’ll get email rejections but they will be personalized about things we talked about and best wishes for their future.

      Also, some of them had references readily available, with name, relationship, phone and email info. Others were clearly scrambling and emailed me references in bits and pieces, with incorrect (discontinued) phone numbers and no email. Not a good look.

    2. heatherfg*

      I’m glad to know it’s outside the norm! I was recently rejected by phone for a job, but I let it go to voicemail because I had a feeling that it was a no because they had a really set timeline for when they’d pick someone and it was just long enough past that for them to have finished up the offer process with someone else, plus I hadn’t heard from any of my references. I think once you get to the point of a second interview an email is fine, but honestly, I’d rather be ghosted at any point before.

      This company was going to “call either way” through every step in the process which came off as weird to me. Like they were planning on calling me to tell me I didn’t make it to the second round which seemed a little much. Doesn’t HR have better things to do?

  35. Wanda Trossler*

    #2- My current boss calls instead of emails when rejecting applicants (she’s just more of a phone person in general) but she tells people in the interview that they will receive a phone call from her either way, whether they’re receiving the job or being rejected, which I think helps soften the initial excitement of “yay I’m getting the job” people feel when seeing the phone ring. So if you really feel phone calls are necessary, this might be a way to do it that is gentler.

    1. Ego Chamber*

      So you know, every interview I’ve had has said “We’ll call you either way.” You know what happens? Offers call me, rejections ghost me or email with about a 50/50 split. Saying that does nothing to mitigate the assumptions that are made about phone call because all the liars are saying the same thing.

  36. Violaine*

    #5 – That sounds very similar to what I have run into in the health care field, and they often use a site called SkillSurvey to do it. Getting all 5 people to fill out an online reference after the phone screen (and *before* an interview with the hiring manager) is already difficult enough, but to have to do it for numerous jobs? The references don’t always come through reliably, because life gets busy for them, too. I share in your frustration. Good luck in your search.

    1. lopsided*

      Same here! I was shocked when I changed careers into healthcare and they requested 5 references. Luckily, my previous job had a ton of turnover and all of my colleagues were openly looking like I was, so I tapped into that well.

      A recent job search in tech ended up requesting three references, which I was luckily able to provide due to some turnover in my current role, but I don’t see how people with the same manager for years would be able to pull off as solid of a reference set.

      1. Eff5References*

        Thanks for the commiseration! I had 3 non-supervisory references ready to go and was able to hunt down my most recent former supervisor in another country. I also found my supervisors from a job I left 12 years ago.

  37. Roker Moose*

    I feel your pain, #5. I recently had to decline an amazing position because they wanted to speak to five references. I had two ready to go, but my last two places of work would only confirm dates, not act as character references. I was told I could use ‘religious leader’ or ‘volunteer coordinator’ but I haven’t got a religion, and I don’t volunteer anywhere.

    I understand companies wanting to be thorough, but I just don’t know that many people, apart from immediate family.

    Good luck on your search!

      1. Ali G*

        I would hope so. They don’t all have to be former supervisors. I would never be able to come up with 5 former supervisors, even though I have been working for over 15 years. I’ve only worked at 2 companies and one of my former bosses has passed away…so at some point colleague references should be at play.

  38. Michigan Amy*

    I’m in the minority: I prefer a phone rejection over an email, and agree that the interviewer/receuiter saying, “You will hear from us either way” is helpful. The phone call gives me as a candidate the opportunity to ask for feedback, and it just feels more humane. It’s also temporary – over and done with. An email, being visual, is much more seared into my brain.

  39. Feedback*

    OP 2, I don’t have a preference for contact, but I agree, email is probably best. What I do want to see (and I will ask the interviewer for it) is what your thoughts were and some guidance on how I could improve. Do I need a stronger resume/experience? Is there something I could do different in the interview? I look for feedback if I’m rejected. I always appreciate this type of rejection, as it gives me something I can work towards.

  40. Nonsenical*

    Don’t call. Job offers = call

    Email = rejection. I rather not have to process my emotions live while on a call, no matter how nice the person may be. It is still a rejection and it is still going to strike a temporary blow to a person. Email gives them the privacy to be disappointed and then be able to request feedback if they wanted to.

    (I highly recommend people request feedback! I was rejected by an IT security company and because of the feedback some of the interviews provided me, I landed a coveted internship and now work for one of the top companies (after trying and failing to interview 3 times over a couple of years because my experience wasn’t quite up to what they wanted. Eventually I gathered enough experience and interview skills to successfully nail the interview when it came time to graduate from university).

    Keep trying!

    1. Anon Today*

      I agree. Because most employers (well those who bother to send a rejection) send an email or a letter, I think most applicants assume that a phone call is good news. Because of that I think that the emotional swings are larger and more acute.

      I go back and forth about feedback. For a smaller organization where there is perhaps no HR department and/or the applicant got the impression that the organization wasn’t open to feedback then I think it’s more harmful than helpful. But, other organizations I think it can be helpful, especially if you are reinforcing a concern that companies HR department already has.

  41. eplawyer*

    For #2 why not an old fashioned letter? You took the time to fly them in, why not take the time to do business correspondence. Much more personal than an email to me.

    1. Washi*

      But if they were far enough to fly, a letter could take up to a week to reach them! I don’t think a letter is more personal than an email, and has the added cons of being more effort and less efficient.

    2. Tableau Wizard*

      This would drive me crazy. The expectation is that you deliver this information in a timely, respectful manner. Sending something through the snail mail could take a long time to actually reach the recipient.

    3. foolofgrace*

      I think a formal snail-mail letter would be almost as devastating as a phone call. I would see the return address and think “Yay, it’s an offer!” only to open the envelope with shaking joyous hands to find i was being rejected. It would be like slowly peeling off the Band-Aid, giving me the time to be happy before being shot down. Whereas with an email, it’s just ripping off the Band-Aid before you even have a chance to think about it.

    4. Karo*

      …why not take the time to do business correspondence.

      Business correspondence is mostly done through email these days, though. And, while a letter may be more personal (which is sort of counter to your point about it being business correspondence), it’s a little too personal – this is a job, not a wedding invitation.

    5. NW Mossy*

      Increasingly, people don’t check their postal mail every day, especially if they do all their bill-paying electronically. If you take this approach with an infrequent mail-checker, it’ll make it seem as if you ghosted and then pop up as an unpleasant surprise. I’d stick with email here.

  42. Praxtonere*

    #2 — I recently interviewed at a company where I had several connections in the relevant division, and they assured me that rejected candidates get an email from HR, but offers are made in a call from the division director. So I went though quite an emotional swing when I got a call from the company (I recognized the phone number), heard the division director’s voice, and then heard the division director’s voice telling me that I was a great candidate, it was a really hard decision, he doesn’t normally call people they reject, and they were rejecting me.

    So on the one hand I’m somewhat happy to have gotten the personal attention and the assurance that I didn’t completely blow the interview, and on the other hand that just sucked.

    (Made worse by the fact that I was driving to work when he called and had pulled off the road at the next opportunity, and so was left sitting in some random parking lot until I could compose myself enough to keep driving to the job I had briefly but joyfully believed I was rid of.)

    1. bonkerballs*

      This may not have been your situation, but at the organizations I’ve worked for it usually takes longer to reject the second choice than any of the other rejected applicants in case negotiations fall through.

  43. Workfromhome*

    #2 While I agree that email is generally better it shouldn’t be a blanket “its best” policy and its not about applicants personal preference (which we cant always know).

    I think it depends on the prior relationship with the applicant. I’ve been the finalist for a couple jobs with clients or where I’ve been asked to apply/dealt with people I had a prior relationship. Because there was going to be a continuing business relationship even after the rejection I think a call is the appropriate method in those cases. Especially when you have a very involved process that involved travel etc. You are going to call or meet these people again after the rejection so I think that a more personal discussion about the decision and to ensure that you move forward as business partners is warranted.

    Whether you call or email make sure that you do it promptly. I had a couple instances where employers brought it to final 2 and I found out weeks before they contacted me that the other candidate was selected and I didn’t get the job. When they contacted me weeks later I really felt like saying “yeah I’ve know for weeks…thanks for finally getting around to telling me”.

  44. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

    #2 – Please don’t email to set up a call to reject someone. I’ve had that happen before, and it is crushing. I wasn’t even that set on the position, but I definitely interpreted “let’s set up a time to talk about it” as meaning that I was moving forward.

    If you want to give someone more than a formulaic decline (which is reasonable if you went to the kind of effort to bring them in that you describe), then write a personalized email, rather than using a template.

    1. Irene Adler*


      Suggest being open to providing feedback should the candidate(s) inquire.

    2. smoke tree*

      Yeah, I think emailing rejections is enough of a norm that anything else is likely to raise candidates’ hopes. I’ve only had companies call when it’s an offer, and I prefer it that way. I don’t really want to have to linger on a phone call with someone who is rejecting me.

  45. LQ*

    Chances are fairly good your boss simply..forgot. I would absolutely treat this like it’s no big deal. Your boss has a hundred things on their plate and hey, no big deal, but I’ve been using my personal laptop and I really need a company one.

    I at one point went to my boss, after being incredibly nervous about it, to ask for an upgraded computer because it was taking 20-40 minutes to do some things I needed to be doing in 2-3 that a decent machine would do in 2-3. I had prepared a giant case about why I needed a different machine than most other staff because my job was fundamentally different and blah blah blah. As soon as I said my machine was slow he looked shocked that I’d never asked for an upgraded computer before. It hadn’t occurred to him that the computer I had would be insufficient for what I was doing because he’d never stopped to think about it and I hadn’t brought it up. I never even had to present the whole case. Just spec out a computer (which he pushed me to be fairly top end, rightfully so) and the cost and it was done.

    He wasn’t intentionally making me use a bad computer. And if you assume your boss isn’t either I think the conversation will be much easier. This is just a business thing that your boss over looked and you’re pointing out that you need a tool to do your job efficiently. That’s all.

    1. Ali G*

      Yes – doubly so if you have an IT department. Boss thinks IT has you on their upgrade schedule (it’s typically every 2 years where I have worked), but IT has no idea you need a laptop because they never issued you one in the first place.
      So just ask. You are due and if they give you crap about it, well you just learned something about they treat their workers.

  46. Oxford Coma*

    LW #2 This practice seems to depend on the applicant immediately picking up the phone. Theoretically, what would the caller do if they didn’t get through? Ask for a call back/leave the news on voicemail/just hang up? So many things can snag this up, while an e-mail would do just fine.

    1. Mirth & Merry*

      I recently got rejected with a phone call, I wasn’t able to answer and the manager did leave a freaking message. I was glad to know but then he wanted me to call him back…pass haha

  47. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

    #5 – I’ve seen on AAM a few times where companies specifically want managers/former managers as references and I only have one that I’m in contact with. I wouldn’t want to give my current manager just due to not wanting him to know until I had an offer. Is it really that common to stay in contact with people you haven’t worked with in over a decade? I could probably track down former managers without much trouble but I’m a much different employee now (at 40) than I was in my 20s (you’d have to go back that far to get 3 managers).

    1. McWhadden*

      Some places actually require it be a current manager, which I kind of understand from their POV but as an applicant horrifies me.

      I agree. I’ve been at this job five years with the same manager all the time. I could plausibly go back to my manger from my previous job. But before that it’d be very hard for me to track someone done.

    2. Oxford Coma*

      I’m up a creek here as well. I was part of massive layoffs and everyone I worked with at my last job is gone. My boss before that retired and moved to another country. I’m in an age bracket where my upper-level managers left their professions without ever adopting LinkedIn/etc. so tracking them down would be incredibly difficult and creepily intrusive.

      1. Political staffer*

        I have a prior boss that has since moved to another country (I am still in touch with him). I simply tell potential employers that ‘he has since left the country and has no US phone number, so you will need to use email to get in touch with him. Here’s his email….”

  48. Horizons*

    What do you think is the best way to deliver the news to an internal candidate that was not selected? For a prior search, I told the candidate in person, at the end of his shift. I didn’t want him to read a rejection email onsite (especially if he happened to glance at it while in front of other people), and I didn’t know if he read emails outside of work hours. I chose the end of the shift thinking that at least he could leave work right away and not have to stiff-upper-lip it. He got another job in the field and is still professionally warm to me, so I don’t think it was a disasterous choice, but I’m always open to hearing others’ approaches!

    1. McWhadden*

      Internal candidates should almost always be told in person, imo. I can imagine exceptions based on difficult interpersonal relationship. But as a general rule I think it’s incredibly disrespectful not to.

  49. Teacher Mama*

    I teach welding and I’m a pretty hardened person, but I cried at cat food commercials when I was pregnant. I think your boss will understand if you use Allison’s script there, but “Baby Tears” are a real thing.

  50. ktln*

    I do bereavement support and in our training we were taught lots of techniques to keep ourselves from crying. (Not that we’re supposed to be stone-faced … just that we need to be in control of our emotions in order to be supportive of the families we’re helping). The techniques we were taught, which have all worked for me depending on the context, are:
    – pinching the web of skin between thumb and forefinger quite hard with the other thumb and forefinger
    – drinking water
    – using breathing strategies (counting breaths, focusing on trying to feel breath enter and exit your nose)
    – tensing the muscles in your body and then releasing
    – find a statement (almost like a mantra) that you can say to yourself in your head that helps you get unstuck from the feelings provoking your tears. Things like “What is this in service of?” and “What am I here to do?” have helped me. In work contexts, something like “This feels big, but it’s temporary” or “Remember I have choices here” can be helpful.
    I do think it’s a great idea to let the boss know what’s up – because physiological responses aren’t always easy to control, and people are usually really understanding once they know what’s going on.

    1. MamaSarah*

      All very good suggestions!! I have to occassionaly ask strangers to describe their diarrhea and sometimes I gently bite the inside of my cheek to stiffle a giggle.
      OP 1 – I also found mantras to be helpful, I choose something positive and affirming (“we can move mountains!” was my mantra for running hills).
      Do you have a prenatal fitness class you enjoy? Swimming, yoga, etc, I found exercise to be grounding even when pregnant.
      Take heart – horomones shift a couple of times during pregnacy. The second trimester can be quite smooth. Congratulations!!

  51. Gotham Bus Company*

    Letter 2…

    You actually TELL people when you’ve rejected them? How civilized.

    Over the last few years, I’ve applied for more internal jobs than I can count, and I have never gotten a single rejection letter or email.

    1. NW Mossy*

      Oof, that’s awful, especially if you at least interviewed. I know I’ve heard that my company’s HR department sometimes ghosts internal candidates and never sends the application on to the hiring manager, so I make it a point to tell them to send me every single internal candidate so that I can make sure the candidate hears something.

      For internal candidates I interview, I set face-to-face meetings for rejections – it’s part of our company culture, so people expect this. It’s not a fun meeting to have on either side of the table (I’ve been both the hiring manager and the rejected candidate), but the ethos here is that you owe people you’ll be continuing to work with something more than a thanks-but-no-thanks email.

  52. Dennis*

    Yes, yes, YES to just e-mail the rejection.

    Five years ago I was e-mailed at 11am to see if I could speak at 5pm, following a final interview. I left work early to take the call and it was a rejection. I’m still angry about it.

  53. The Other Dawn*

    OP2: I know you want to be respectful to rejected candidates and that’s great, but this is about how the candidate would feel, not how you feel. I absolutely would not want to be rejected over the phone. It’s awkward, possibly emotional, and you don’t know what you may be interrupting. Just stick with a nicely worded, personalized email and you’re covered.

  54. catlover18*

    #2 – totally agree with just an email!!! I once answered a call that I SWORE was going to be an offer (because usually rejections are via email) and it was a rejection.. and I was at work.. it was a bummer. At least when you see an email you know it’s probably a rejection.

  55. Ladylike*

    I know no one *wants* to cry in front of her boss, but seriously, LW, you’re pregnant, stressed, and probably very tired. I like Allison’s script, but does it really have to be so formal? I don’t see this as a THING, I see it as a temporary, hormonal situation. I’d probably joke, “Sorry – dang hormones. Really, I’m fine, and I want to hear what you have to say.” And try to laugh it off as much as possible, which is hard when you’re crying, I know.

    I have found lately that when I say something really meaningful or helpful to someone, my eyes sometimes fill up with tears!! Super awkward at work, but I usually just say, “I’m not crying – it’s just allergies”, and move on. People usually continue on without missing a beat.

  56. Mimmy*

    #2 – I second the suggestion to not use email to set up a phone call to discuss a rejection. Years ago, I applied for an internal transfer at a large nonprofit. The HR contact person sent me an email to set a time to meet in person to discuss the position (HR was on-site). Naturally, I got my hopes up. Lo and behold, I did not get the transfer (they ended up promoting someone within that department). I was so annoyed that this is the way they chose to handle my rejection. Yes, my story is different from the OP’s scenario, but it’s the same principle, imo.

    That said, would it be okay if the OP sent the rejection by email, as suggested, but then inviting the now former candidate to call with any questions?

  57. LadyMountaineer*

    I’ve found the best way for me to not cry is to drink a lot of water. I find that I can’t cry and swallow at the same time so that steadies me. Best of luck! I hope these nerves pass quickly for you.

  58. Inspector Spacetime*

    #1, I can usually stop myself from crying, but even when I haven’t actually started tearing up yet, I still LOOK like I’ve been crying. My face gets red and puffy, and my eyes get super red. It’s the worst. Even if I don’t cry, there’s no hiding that I want to.

  59. Bookworm*

    Rejection via phone or email: Go with email. As someone who is in the job hunt again, at this point I’m grateful to get a rejection AT ALL, let alone a phone call. Phone calls at this point are typically reserved for offers and most places do email now.

    If you really feel guilty you could put some effort into the email and thank the applicant for all they did (traveling, spending time to chat with you, etc.), that you’ll keep their resume on hand for the future/keep you in mind if something similar comes along or you know of someone who is hiring. Those things (passing along a resume or keeping it on hand) means a lot more to me as an applicant instead of you debating a phone vs. email rejection. I mean, that you put thought into it at all is great and appreciated from this job hunter but a lot of leg work on my end could be saved if you were to pass along my resume to someone who is looking and may not have even posted the open position yet, etc.

    Ultimately, though, it’s just nice to get a note at all instead of never hearing back despite a follow-up and/or finding out like a *month* later when it would have been nice to have known sooner that I was already out of contention.

  60. bonkerballs*

    This isn’t quite the same thing as actually crying, but I have super sensitive eyes. I have worn contacts for so long that when I’m not wearing them, they get really bothered by the slightest bit of air flow and start tearing up. I had to wear my glasses for work one day and everything was mostly fine during the day, just a little watery. But then right at the end of the day my boss called me in for a meeting. One of my coworkers had complained to her that one of our clients had been inappropriate and offensive towards me and so my boss wanted to hear how I felt about it. Our client population was a pretty rough crowd, but I wasn’t offended or upset by this client in the least. My coworker, on the other hand, had some inflated ideas about how he as a man in his 30s needed to protect the sensibilities of little 23 year old me. My boss’s office has a fan blowing right above my head and it made my eyes water so badly it looked like I was crying. So I’m trying to tell my boss, “no, no, I’m not offended, I’m not upset, I’m totally fine plus I’m not crying, these aren’t tears” all while tears are streaming down my face. I must have looked a mess, but she took it in stride.

  61. AnitaJ*

    How would the advice to #1 change if she had not yet announced her pregnancy at work?

    1. Positive Reframer*

      Maybe something like, “I’m dealing with a medical issue that is causing my tears ducts to be a little over reactive, please don’t take them to be an indication of my actual emotional state.”

  62. Katie*

    For #2– I guess I’m the odd person who likes to receive a rejection phone call– but it’s usually when I’ve already assumed that I’m not going to be the one picked (a long time hearing back after the final interview, a bombed final interview, etc). It shows that they care enough to put time into actually talking to me “in person,” and most phone calls include an offer of advice or help with the job search. It also makes it feel less personal, that I was rejected because there was someone better, not because I’m a terrible person or applicant (job searching gets to me, yall).

    I would say a good compromise might be an emailed rejection, but include that you’re willing to hop on the phone to go over the process and give any advice, as long as you are truly willing to do so.

    Obviously this all goes for just the final candidates. If I got a rejection via phone for a position I only applied for an never even did an interview or got past the phone screen, I’d mostly just be annoyed.

  63. DanniellaBee*

    I recently interviewed and was hired for an amazing new job. I had three references ready to go but if they had asked for five that would have required a lot more scrambling on my part. I think a 24 hours window for five references is absurd! Had I been in that pickle I would have sent then my original three and then said I will get back to you shortly with the other two while I contacted other folks to make sure it is ok to use them as a reference. Stuff like this is how employers miss out on great people by simply being too rigid and demanding.

  64. Hannah*

    A few years ago, I got rejected by a job, but they INSISTED on not only calling me, but making sure they caught me in person. Because I had a job where I couldn’t answer my cell phone during business hours, and because they only called me during business hours and NEVER EVER picked up a call back, we played phone tag for almost a week before she finally emailed me, asking for a time to set up a “call,” which I then scheduled on my calendar and made sure I was out of the office in a private space where I could take a job-searching-related call.

    Yeah, I was mad when she said “So I just wanted to let you know that we’re moving forward with another candidate.”

  65. hello coco*

    LW3: since you started as an intern, it sounds more normal that they’d expect you to bring in a device, but is it possible they just didn’t think it through when you moved up to a full-time position? if all other full time employees are getting work computers, it seems totally reasonable for you to get your own as well– perhaps it was just an oversight given how you started out.

  66. AKchic*

    LW 1 – This happens. This is so normal. Please try not to feel too bad. I know, easier said than done, right?
    I would let your boss know that yes, this is completely 100% pregnancy hormone issues, and you apologize for the distraction its causing, and that they shouldn’t feel like they need to change how they approach you, that you’ve found yourself crying at the weirdest things (I once cried at a Skittle commercial. I still don’t know *why*, but that kid absolutely loves Skittles) and that it really has nothing to do with the subject or your actual feelings, it’s just hormone fluctuations.
    You can even chalk this up to “one more thing they don’t tell you about pregnancy in general”. The ubiquitous “they” getting the blame for not warning you, so you could warn others ahead of time, of course. Hopefully the crying jags will lessen, or go away completely before the end of your pregnancy, but if they don’t, they usually completely fade by 3 months post-partum (I know, that’s not very comforting right now).

    For me, I found that imagining the taste of black licorice helped me stave off the random cry attacks. I had really bad morning sickness that lasted through my entire pregnancy with three of my kids, so focusing on bitter tastes could distract me from my occasional hormonal mood swings. Or, as an alternative, thinking about what I wanted to eat for dinner and *where* I wanted to eat it (example: I want caramel-covered salad while taking a bath).
    Essentially, get your mind focused elsewhere to distract you.

  67. The Lucinator*

    OP #2: this may have been proposed already but, provided you have the time for it and your company allows it (some may not), you could end the email with an offer to provide them with some feedback on their overall performance throughout the recruitment process. I used to do that with prospective interns in my old job. I would only hire one intern every 6 months though so it wasn’t a huge time investment on my side. I found it to be a good way to recognise the effort they had put in the process and (hopefully) help them for the future.

  68. De Minimis*

    E-mail or regular mail is always better for rejections.

    I recently had a call rejecting me for a position [thankfully, it had been a while and I already was pretty sure it was coming] and it was still awkward. I had to take the call at work and head out into the hallway, and had to ask them to repeat that I hadn’t gotten the job.

    There’s that moment of hope when you see the phone ring [especially when you can see where the call is from] and it’s really tough on job seekers to have that hope dashed.

  69. Ambs*

    This might seem a little out there, but I myself have struggled with the crying-at-work thing. What has really helped me beyond anything else is meditating, and very specifically, visualizations where I sit and imagine collecting up certain feelings in my own body and in my “bubble” around me, and then dropping those feelings down a long, long chute to the center of the planet.

    If you do this regularly (once a day for 5-10 minutes) when you aren’t stressed out, then when you feel the emotions bubbling up or tears coming on, you can actually pretty effectively package them up and usher them out of your consciousness in the moment and carry on a difficult conversation without bursting into tears. It worked really well for me!

  70. WTF HR*

    #2 please send out e-mails.
    I once played phone tag with an HR person for 3 days only to be told once we finally connected that I didn’t get the position.

  71. PC Police*

    #3 – when you say contractor, are we talking about independent contractors? If so, true independent contractors are generally paid a set rate for their services to complete a project and are responsible for any costs associated with it. One key determining factor of what makes a worker a true IC is the ability to have a profit or loss for a project. You agree to doing a project for a set amount of money and the rest of the details are up to you to decide. Do you need additional staff to complete the project? Do you need accommodations? Supplies? If so, that must all be built into your negotiated rate before the project begins.

    The company risks mis-classifying you as an IC if they cover your costs as if you were an employee.

    This entire comment is moot if OP #3 is an employee and not an IC :)

  72. Sciencer*

    I just want to say that everyone’s comments here to/about #1 are so wonderful! I’ve always been quick to cry when frustrated or stressed, and it really came to a head in grad school. Sometimes I would go online looking for tips and tricks to stop/avoid crying, and instead I’d find long comment section rants about how awful and pathetic and disgusting people are who cry at work, no matter the circumstances. Needless to say, that was not helpful.

    For what it’s worth, my main trick for staving off unexpected tears is to focus on what the person is wearing and just pay really close attention to details, like the colors or the lines of stitching or whatever. I’ve also tried mentally listing off animals that all start with the same letter. I really like the suggestions in this thread about noticing and naming one thing from each of the five senses, doing some mental math, etc. The idea is to get your mind to focus on something neutral long enough for your emotional state to stabilize. It’s important to breathe deeply and evenly while you do this – holding your breath or taking short, sharp breaths are all signals to your body that something is wrong.

    When I knew I was going into a stressful meeting, I would fill up a water bottle with ice cold water and hold it in my hands or against my wrists during the meeting, and drink from it often. That’s an efficient way to keep your body temperature down, which can help with the physiological crying response. It also gives you an excuse to duck out for a bathroom break if you really need a moment to compose yourself :)

    But really, the main thing that helped me was therapy to talk through my deep insecurities about grad school and my unrealistic perfectionism, which were at the root of the crying jags. I defended my PhD without a single tear, despite a lot of aggressive and unwarranted criticism from one committee member, and I’ve been much more resilient in the face of criticism and uncertainty in the years since.

  73. JScotch*

    UGH I once had someone email me to set up a phone call on which they told me I wasn’t getting the job I had been pursuing for months. It was incredibly irritating.

  74. So much Lisa*

    OP 3 – I keep thinking about your post and every fibre of me wants to say, on your behalf, “must be nice to enjoy your lunch without being hooked up to an uncomfortable contraption that sucks milk out of your body”.

    Or, more me: “Must be nice to eat lunch without getting basically milked like a cow. But yeah, I totally do it for the privacy”.

    I may be more blunt than I should be at times.

  75. ThatAspie*

    I don’t know if this works for the pregnant, but if you feel yourself starting to cry and you need to hide it for whatever reason, gain extreme control of your breath, blink, wipe your face quickly with your hands, and try and make it so that your face isn’t fully exposed. It helps if you wear glasses to pull them off briefly but then put them back on, because tears tend to splash up onto the lenses, which will make it obvious. (These are excellent times to clean them!) If you are not bespectacled, try acting like you have some dust in your eyes or something (but don’t overact). As for crying noises, if you feel like you’re about to whimper, whine, wail, sniffle, or otherwise blow your cover auditorally, use extreme breath control.

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