job candidate talked non-stop, expecting an employee to pick up lunch for others, and more

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

1. Our strongest job candidate talked non-stop

In six months, I’m going on maternity leave, and then am transitioning to a completely different part-time position. My manager has asked me to sit in with her on interviews with candidates for my replacement. For reference, this is a job that typically takes 6-12 months of training to be self-sufficient.

The strongest candidate we’ve had so far has a great resume and actual industry experience, which is rare for us. But … she was so talkative in the interview it was staggering. An interview that typically takes 30 minutes took over an hour and a half. I know about her favorite taco places, the renovations she’s doing on her house, how she met her husband, and where she gets her eyebrows waxed. We could barely fit any questions in. She just talked until one of us interrupted her.

We hire exclusively through a temp agency (long story – I’ve been fighting against it for months), so we are unable to check references or do a lot of extensive digging. I’ve already checked LinkedIn for possible connections, and asked my network if anyone has worked with her – they haven’t. She was at her previous position for three years, leaving only because she relocated.

My manager (hesitantly, admittedly) wants to hire her mainly due to the experience, but I have pretty strong reservations. It may have just been nerves that made her so chatty, but it’s not my gut feeling. We have other candidates who were more professional but would require way more training, which I think is a better bet.

We’re typically a social, pleasant office – but honestly, if I came back from maternity leave and no one had killed her yet, I’d have to check to see if she was drugging their water. Any advice?

I wouldn’t hire her. If she spends that much time on home renovations and eyebrow waxing in a job interview with two people she’s just met, you can assume it’s going to be even worse once she’s more comfortable there. That’s pretty unworkable in most jobs where she’ll be dealing with or even sitting near other people.

There are lots of reasons you might have to reject a candidate with good experience — like rudeness, poor communication, lack of professionalism, disorganization, bad follow-through, bad judgment … the list goes on and on. If you were hiring solely based on experience and nothing else, you could just hire from resumes and wouldn’t need to do interviews.

If you don’t feel like any of the other candidates are right either, you’d be better off broadening your candidate pool and talking to additional people. Don’t hire someone who’s highly likely to worsen people’s quality of life in your office.

(That goes double when you can’t check references. Which, by the way, is a BS policy. Your temp agency works for you, and if you want to check references before hiring someone, you should tell them that’s non-negotiable.)

Read an update to this letter here.

2. Is it unreasonable to expect an employee to offer to pick up lunch for others when he gets takeout?

I am the supervisor in a very small office. We mostly eat lunch in the break room, but we do all go out together once or twice a month.

One fellow goes for takeout and brings it back to the office a couple of times a week. About half the time, he’ll ask if anyone wants anything. I am the only one who ever takes him up on it, but more often than not I don’t. I always give him money ahead of time.

Is it unreasonable for me to expect him to check to see if anyone wants something anytime he goes out?

Yes, it would be unreasonable! This is his lunch break and he gets to spend it as he wants. If he occasionally asks if he can pick something up for others, that’s him doing people a favor — but he’s in no way obligated to do that, and it would be wrong for you to treat it that way. It can be be a pain to pick things up for others — it means he can’t change his mind at the last minute about where he’s going or eat outside while the other food he’s carrying gets cold, and it means he has to deal with remembering orders and collecting money and general hassle.

Thank him when he does offer, but don’t push for more.

3. What do I say to my just-laid-off boss?

My boss just got laid off. How do I send a parting email that isn’t saccharine or patronizing?

For a boss who you really liked and where you could say this genuinely: “I wanted to tell you how much I’ve enjoyed working with you and how much I’ve learned from you, especially X and Y. Wherever you go next will be lucky to have you. I’d love to stay in touch (I’m sending you a connection request on LinkedIn right now), and if there’s anything I can do to help you as you search for your next role or beyond, please let me know!”

For a boss who you’re more lukewarm about: “I was sorry to hear you’re leaving us, and I wanted to tell you how much I’ve appreciated working with you. I hope we can stay in touch. I’m sending you a LinkedIn connection now, and I hope we might have an opportunity to cross paths again!” (You can tone that down if you want, but those are the basics. Some amount of white lying is acceptable here for the sake of the relationship; if you really didn’t appreciate working with the person, the world won’t cave in if you say you did, even if it’s just for the sake of a future reference.)

4. I was fired without warning — which isn’t consistent with how my manager handled problems last time

So, I just got fired from my job. I’m devastated, this has never happened before. Just about two months ago, they brought up some performance issues and I’d been working to fix them. I felt like they’d been hounding me ever since and I never really got the chance to fix them. A couple days ago, I was fired, seemingly out of the blue, for performance reasons.

What upsets me most is that I had no idea they were feeling this way or that things were this bad … mostly because a couple years ago I was put on a brief performance improvement plan (a PIP) after messing up a project. We checked in every month, they stressed how much they wanted me to succeed. I did great, the PIP ended, everything was wonderful. So I expected that if my job were on the line, a PIP would have come first. This time, I felt like they were hounding me but not really trying to help — which I had brought up, that the way they were bringing things up wasn’t helpful, etc. Do you think companies should be consistent in the way these kinds of things should be applied? Obviously it doesn’t matter now, but I feel so blindsided.

Sometimes it makes sense to do a PIP and sometimes it doesn’t, so no, companies shouldn’t be bound to handle it exactly the same way every time.

In particular, sometimes if you’ve already been on one PIP, you’re not going to get another. The expectation after a PIP is that you’ll continue to sustain the improvements you made during it. If you don’t, your manager may not start the process all over again and instead, if serious issues recur, may move more quickly to just letting you go. Or your manager might have felt the problems last time were fixable but was less optimistic about the problems this time. This can be entirely reasonable and justified, or it can be unfair, depending on details that I don’t have from your letter.

It’s true, though, that your manager should have been clear with you at some point in the last two months that your job was on the line if you didn’t make the improvements she was asking for … but it’s also true that if you’ve been feeling hounded about your performance for two months, she probably didn’t think the firing was out of the blue or that you’d be blindsided by it. That doesn’t get her off the hook for not being clearer with you about it, though. She should have been. (Although if the issues were related to the ones from the PIP two years ago, it’s somewhat more understandable that she didn’t feel she needed to go through a formal warning again.)

5. How do I connect someone who’s hiring and someone who’s job searching?

I recently left a toxic environment and have a great new job that I love. Unfortunately, my brilliant former colleague, “Amy,” is still stuck there. She’s miserable and desperately wants to leave. A professional acquaintance at a different company who I’m fairly friendly with mentioned, before I left my last job, that she was hoping to expand her team.

Obviously, that’s not something I’m going to shoot for since I’m happy in my new position, but I’d love to see if I can get Amy a chance at working for this person, who I know pretty well and find to be wonderful to work with. Amy has already said she’d be interested in moving over there — so what’s the best way to do this? I’m on totally alien territory. Do I set them up to have lunch? Do lunch with the three of us? Or is this just a phone call or email? I feel that the best course of action would be to introduce them and back away slowly, but what’s the norm?

Get Amy to send you her resume. Then email your contact, say that you know someone who might be perfect for her team and a bit about why you think that, note that you’re attaching her resume, and ask if she’s interested in you connecting them. If your contact says yes, then send an email connecting the two of them. In that email, you’d say something like, “Amy and Jane, I’ve told you each a bit about each other. Jane is looking for people with a background in X for her expanding team, and Amy has a strong background in X and was of my most brilliant colleagues at Former Company. I’ll let the two of you take it from here.”

That’s it! That way you’re being up-front with your contact and respectful of her time, and letting her decide whether she wants the intro before you make it. Then, from there, you leave it to them.

{ 419 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

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    1. not your lunch lady*

      After I finally broke out of the cycle of being an Exec Assistant (nothing wrong with that, just wasn’t for me anymore after a few years) I was so happy to never have to pick up other people’s lunches on my own break anymore. My boss, who obviously knew I used to be an EA, had another idea however. He’d make me drive around town getting him and my 2 other coworkers lunches at all sorts of different fast food places. WTF. I was not anyone’s assistant, but general support for that specific department. I practically ran out of there. Now I don’t have to get anyone lunch. It’s nice.

  2. Sami*

    OP 2 — Oh gosh, please don’t always expect your coworker to ask if you want any food. I am occasionally the one who will go out for lunch. And sometimes I will ask if anyone would like anything. And here’s the thing- I only ask when I know that I’ll get a simple order and the money upfront. Too many people and/or too complex orders make it a PITA.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Agreed—whenever someone’s good deed or consideration becomes another person’s expectation, it can really breed resentment or become demoralizing. That’s doubly so when you supervise someone or hold greater relative power than they do. It effectively transforms someone whose job is not being your go-fer into exactly that. It’s just not a good look.

      1. eplawyer*

        I agree that the supervisor doing this is not a great look. Especially because as the LW notes, she is the only one who takes him up on it. Paying up front does not excuse this.

        Normally the supervisor sets the tone for the team. But in this case, I think the supervisor needs to take a cue from the rest of the office. He is asking out to be polite, its okay to say no.

    2. Leela*

      It also seems like this could really ruin that person’s lunch break/sap a huge amount of time out of their lunch which really isn’t fair to them.

      1. JM60*

        Additionally, since this would be a boss asking their employee to do something, that time would probably need to be paid if they’re non-exempt. Yet, most non-except employees have unpaid lunches. It’s generally not okay for a boss to ask an employee perform unpaid work.

    3. Chriama*

      I’m also wondering what the reasoning for asking is here. Presumably he doesn’t eat out all the time, right? So on top of the general hassle of juggling multiple orders I’m imagining a scenario where people start nagging him about if/when/where he’s going out for lunch and start expecting a consistent schedule.

      Also, don’t feel entitled to people’s free time. It’s his lunch break — let him handle it the way he wants.

      1. Engineer Girl*

        Entitled is the right word here. The lunch time belongs to the employee. Demanding any amount of someone’s time for yourself is indeed entitled.

      2. TIFF*

        I have the feeling this may jave stemmed from a day where he didn’t offer and OP was left having to get her own lunch or had to go without.

        The phrasing makes me cringe. It sounds to me like this is someeone in a management role who wants to give an employee some flack for not always asking if everyone wants lunch picked up.

        I can get the frustration when you never know if he is going to offer to grab your lunch. If it is something that people like in the office an employee could always be paid to head out before lunch to pick up lunch orders.

        1. Just Employed Here*

          “OP was left having to get her own lunch or had to go without”

          Isn’t this the normal state of things, though?

          1. Kelly L.*

            Yep. It sounds like maybe OP was thinking “Well, I don’t need to bring anything, Fergus will go out and he can bring me back something,” without realizing she was starting to take this for granted.

            1. AKchic*

              This is probably what happened. And it happens to so many.

              I am guilty of asking a few people “hey, I’m going out, do you want anything?” because I know I need to eat and I’m not really hungry, but if I ask someone if they’d like me to pick something up, someone will take me up on the offer and give me a food suggestion so I will be forced to pick a place and eat, so really, they are doing me a favor (otherwise I won’t decide on anything at all and will work through my lunch because I’ll rationalize that I’ll wait until I’m hungry enough to decide, and sometimes I can go a long time without eating).

              People get used to it.

              1. Specialk9*

                Blink blink blink.

                I love learning about the hamster wheel brains of other people. That’s not my particular hamster, but I have enough other hamsters that it sounds familiar!

        2. not your lunch lady*

          Boy do I have news for this employee about a service called GrubHub, Uber Eats, Postmates…

        3. Kelly O*

          That is why we have DoorDash, GrubHub, UberEats, etc. And most pizza places deliver.

          I don’t mind picking up for someone from time to time. Most of the time I just duck out long enough to get something and bring it back (30-minute lunches) so it’s not cutting into time. We had someone who was forever asking “where are you going? What are you getting?” but thank goodness she didn’t last long.

      3. Tuxedo Cat*

        The employee might want to do something personal when they go out and not tell everyone or anyone. There just so many reasons where this is just a no.

          1. Tuxedo Cat*

            In a bad way? I can think of things that my coworkers have dealt with regularly at lunch that they weren’t exactly willing to share with everyone. Everything from handling small tasks re. divorce to quick 30 minute phone screens. I think a few were close to home and wanted to go home for a power nap.

            1. Observer*

              In that I TOTALLY and completely agree with you.

              To add to your list – dealing family, health and / or financial issues. Going to take out place that some people won’t “approve” (not that it’s anyone’s place, but I can see people not wanting to deal with it). Making another purchase that they don’t want to discuss.

              I’m betting that people could come up with many more ideas, but the fundamental point it that people don’t always want to discuss what they are doing during lunch. And they should not have to.

              1. anonners*

                I totally agree with you on this one. A further point to that is that an emotionally mature manager isn’t going to make value judgments about someone’s likability or generosity because they maintain discretion about how they spend some of their time. For some people this is a tricky thing to put into practice, but it’s okay for people to want some privacy, especially if they suspect that their openness may be abused.

    4. Yeah, no*

      Oh my god yes, I just came here to say this! There are few things I hate more than picking up food for coworkers. Not that I don’t like them, but like Alison said, I’m then stuck with that place instead of being able to change my mind, I don’t want to remember special orders and substitutions, and I don’t want to try and not spill entire meals in my car while driving and then drag them all back up three floors. And it seems no one ever offers to return the favour, which really grates my nerves most of all.

      1. Kat in VA*

        There’s always that one coworker who practically requires a team of specialists to make their order since it’s so customized.

        Protip: never, EVER offer to pick up lunch from Subway or Jimmy Johns for your coworkers unless you want to have a nervous breakdown.

        1. AdAgencyChick*

          “There’s always that one coworker who practically requires a team of specialists to make their order since it’s so customized.”

          WORD. Remember this poor soul?

          1. Specialk9*

            Oh lord, talk about ruining as mitzvah with entitlement!
            “one woman routinely orders a medium green tea with one and half pumps of vanilla and exactly 4 teaspoons of honey. If there is too much or too little honey, I hear about it.”

        2. RUKiddingMe*

          It should be a rule that if someone is picking up lunch for you (or coffee or whatever) that you make it as UN-complicated as possible. Don’t want onions? Just pull them off of the damn sandwich when you get it. Do not male that person remember or check the sandwich. Normally use fifteen words to order coffee (::guilty::) do it when you are getting it. When someone else is getting it, order a “latte, two/three/four sugars” and call it a day.

          1. CmdrShepard4ever*

            In the major metro area where I live there is a great app called “Ritual” that is built exactly for this purpose. One it serves as a way to order ahead exactly how you want things, but they have a feature called piggyback that the first person to order can turn on/off at will, you can set how many other people you will pick things up for. If someone decides they feel like bringing food back it sends an alert to everyone on the team that says “John Smith is going to subway he was agreed to bring back 2 other orders, you have 3 minutes to place your order.” The great thing is everyone pays for their individual meal on the app and orders things exactly how they want it. The person that brings the food back gets 2 or 3 times the rewards points for doing this that they can later use for free meals or discounts on food.

            1. Caramel & Cheddar*

              Would like to second this app as game changing if you regularly eat out at work (or even at home!).

            2. TaylorMade*

              That sounds like a great app! I’m going to check it out to see if it’s available where I am at.

        3. Justme, The OG*

          I will if they order online and I just have to literally pick it up when their name is called. Other than that, agree.

          1. Annie Moose*

            Yup. Jimmy John’s has a cool feature on their website where you plug in the emails of everyone ordering so they can customize their own sandwich (and I believe also pay separately), and then one person can just pick up the group order. Trying to do it individually, though?? Madness!

            1. SoSo*

              The JJ group order feature saved me SO MANY TIMES when I was an admin. And yes, they can pay on their own too! It’s a lifesaver for group orders. That was the only way I would ever order Jimmy Johns for more than 2 people.

          2. CanuckCat*

            My office uses an app like that called Ritual. I get a notification when someone else orders from a restaurant in the area, which invites me to ‘piggyback’ on their order. If I want, I can order and pay through the app and my co-worker will pick it up for me. I think it works because I know if I’m ordering on my own, there’s a chance someone else will ask me to get their food too, and the app also incentivizes using it and picking up other people’s food, so you end up with a lot of discounts.

        4. Doe-Eyed*

          Yes, preach it. Followed closely by the person that is upset that there is a mistake in their order and you didn’t check all the food when 6+ people give you orders. Sorry, not a waitress. Them’s the breaks.

          1. Kelly L.*

            And the person (or people) who doesn’t give you enough money, and who you don’t really have the power to nag for it. This used to happen all the time at my old job, and I made less than everybody else by a mile, so it could be a pretty big hit sometimes.

          2. Kat in VA*

            Ah, yes, the guy/gal who screams OH MY GOD THERE’S ONIONS ON THIS, I HATE ONIONS, I TOLD YOU NO ONIONS while the other five people you ordered for, picked up, and distributed food to (along with their change) are silently rolling their eyes.

            I get it. We all have our specific tastes. I hate mayonnaise. But if someone is kind enough to deliver me my lunch at no upcharge (like Foodsby and the like) and there’s mayo on the sandwich? It gets scraped off with a napkin and I graciously thank them for their time and effort. I’m also not above telling them to keep the change to cover gas if it’s like a $11.00 order and I gave them $15.00.

            Kindness and courtesy. SO overrated sometimes… :P

        5. madge*

          No joke, this is why I’ll only ask certain people, if I offer at all.

          As an aside, our Jimmy John’s has a Group Order option that is a total game-changer. It is the only way I’ll pick up JJ’s for the office now. Each person can pay for her own order online.
          In case this isn’t a chain-wide thing, here’s their FAQ:
          The Group Order tool allows one person to collect individual orders for a group of people and submit them as one order. The Group Order administrator (person placing the order) keys the email addresses for everyone in their group and the system sends emails to each person with a link to place their order. The system will collect all orders placed through the link on the same ticket. The administrator then reviews the order and submits it to the store.

      2. Daffy Duck*

        Employees picking up takeout for supervisors or for more than one coworkers (i.e., picking up for participating office or team members) should be on the clock until all meals are delivered and he/she has returned to his/her desk. If it is more than 2 or 3 simple orders they should be called ahead and preferably paid for all at once.
        I really dislike wasting my limited time as the one person in front places many complicated orders, it is right next to the “line savers” where one person gets to the head of the line and then 15 more people show up.

    5. MusicWithRocksInIt*

      Some restaurants are much easier to get takeout from for other people than others. If i’m going to Panera and you just tell me what kind of soup you want? Super easy – I will ask several people if they want anything. If I’m going to Subway and would need to get a detailed breakdown of how you like you sandwich? No way, I’m sneaking out of the office without saying a word to anyone (I once had to get ten people’s orders at Subway and it was a nightmare – never again). So if sometimes he asks and sometimes he doesn’t, there can be very good logistical reasons for why it isn’t worth it for some takeout.

      Also – Do you ever pick up food from him? If you went to get takeout do you offer to pick it up for him or is it a one sided relationship? Even if you don’t have time to drive out and pick it up to you ever offer to place the order? It can get very tired very fast to offer to get food for someone who never reciprocates. Even if you don’t have time to leave the office you can call and put in orders sometimes, or place the order online. There are ways to help that are not driving.

      1. Kat in VA*

        Oops I posted my comment about Subway before reading yours. TEN PEOPLE, I thought my four was bad enough!

      2. SpaceySteph*

        Yes, a lot of the places here do the online ordering/payment so the person doing pickup is just doing delivery and doesn’t have to handle ordering or handling a bunch of change. Although it still can be a big hassle if there’s a bunch of drinks or something else difficult to carry. Like in your Panera example… I wouldn’t want to be bringing back 12 cups of soup to the office, that sounds like an accident waiting to happen!
        One issue we had the last time we did a big group order is that someone didn’t get their side item and the person doing the pickup didn’t know to look for the extra item. So even in the easiest arrangement, there is still extra workload that goes into picking up for others.

    6. lunchlady*

      There’s a small shop near my work, so occasionally I’ll pop out during lunch and pick up a pre-packaged sandwich and a snack. There’s a precedent in the office that you ask if anybody wants anything while you’re out. This should be simple enough, except the times where the sandwich they want isn’t in stock and I have to call them/pick a backup if they don’t answer or I’m paying with cash but they gave me their card (ugh!) and while it sounds silly, it really does add a level of anxiety to a fairly straightforward lunch errand!

      1. Annoyed*

        Ugh. Even just with my husband it goes like this: “What do you want from (place)? What’s your back up? Second back up? Ok back in a while.”

        That’s a LOT more than I would do for a coworker, even one. When I order in for the office I tend to do stuff like deli (3-4 each breads, cheeses, meats…condiments and veggies) so they can make their own sandwiches, Chinese (several entrees, rice, noodles), or like three or four pizzas. Not good enough? Bite me.

    7. Holly*

      I know everyone’s office culture is different but in my office this would be CRAZY. Nobody does this, everyone just gets their own lunch!

    8. Oxford Comma*

      Wasn’t there a recent post where there was an employee being expected to do this? I want to say it was by her peers and not her boss, but I could be mis-remembering. It might give OP2 an idea of why it can be such a hassle.

    9. LJay*

      Yeah, the complexity of orders is a big deal to me when I do this.

      If you want something right off the menu, that’s fine and not a huge deal for me.

      If you want something with 1.000.000 customizations, it becomes stressful to me. First, I feel like a jerk asking for all of them. Then, sometimes they can’t do something and then they ask me if it’s okay without that or if it’s okay for an extra charge or if they can do X instead, and then I have to call the person asking for the customizations and relay that information and then find out what they want done and then relay the information back. Then I have to verify that the order is done correctly.

      So if I’m going to a place that lends itself to/requires a lot of customizations I won’t volunteer.

      Really, lately, if everyone can’t order online, pay separately online, etc, I’m not doing it.

      1. Annoyed*

        That scene in “Miss Congeniality” where she uses her FBI badge to cut the line and then orders like 25 customized coffees…

    10. Minocho*

      The best way to handle picking up other orders is if they allow online ordering. At old job, I would say I was going to a restaurant that did online ordering (and payment) and pickup. Everyone who wanted food ordered it online themselves, and I just picked up what was there and brought it back.

      I wouldn’t do it if it required getting the payment up front or on the back end, except for special cases (close work buddy was swamped on an ugly project, for example, and I felt like being particularly nice).

    11. Emily*

      I’ll offer to pick up food, but only at places that you can order online and grab the food off the shelf (JJs, Panera, etc). I’m not going to count change, remember that Tim wanted extra tomatoes and Sarah said no sour cream and then be in charge of passing out the food. Too much work but I will happily grab another bag off the shelf.

    12. LurkieLoo*

      In our office, one person always, always asks me if I want anything when making a run out. That same person never asks the boss. I suspect because I always say no and the boss always says yes, but has different ideas of where/what to get than whatever your original plan was, which means either a change of plans or an extra stop. Boss does get momentarily offended if anyone is caught smuggling back food. LOL

      The perk to taking the boss’s order is that it’s ALWAYS a “you fly, I’ll buy” deal.

      1. Annoyed*

        ““you fly, I’ll buy” ”

        This is me, but I never like anyone to feel pressured. OTOH there’s not usually enough “buy” to get me to want to “fly.”

    13. Anonymosity*

      Exactly. This is like the desk candy dish; often, people do it just to be nice, but then people develop expectations and entitlements and the candy dish ends up going bye-bye.

      Don’t push your colleague to do this every time.

  3. Phil*

    #2. Can we just abolish people getting other people’s takeout unless they order ahead? Those people hold up the queues ridiculously, and that’s just to order! One time, I had to wait for someone to place and pay for five or six separate orders, using different cash every time. And don’t get me started on the Subway protocol.

    There’s a special place in hell for people who place more than two separate orders.

    1. Rebecca*

      I totally agree with you. My ex manager found out I was going to Subway for lunch, and told everyone in the office that I was going and would pick up subs for them. 8 people ordered, my entire lunch break was ruined, and I never admitted where I was going again.

      The OP should not expect this, at all, and bless that coworker for even offering.

      1. Kat in VA*

        There is one caveat to Subway – some places will allow you to order online (all customized!) and you just go in, sign for it, and pick it up.

        Signed, someone who picks up Subway for 7 people on the regular. Otherwise I would never, ever get Subway for my family.

        But for work, and people writing their stuff down? Nah, that’s a lunch break-killer for sure.

        1. Antilles*

          I personally think that’s a different thing than what Phil is (correctly!) annoyed about – if you order ahead and just show up to hand them a credit card, it doesn’t really take any more time to pick up 5 meals than it would to pick up one – the cashier hands me a bag, I sign my name, and I walk out.
          The issue is when someone comes in and orders it all while standing in line, so what should be a five-minute line is actually like 20 minutes because Office Lunch Guy is ordering 7 subs AND they’re all custom made with odd quirks AND ugh I can’t read Andy’s writing so let’s stand here for a minute while I decipher it AND oh wait I forgot John didn’t want mayo on his so can you remake that one AND everybody gave me cash so can we ring these up as 7 separate orders for everybody’s change AND….

          1. Kat in VA*

            Oh, I totally agree. And I think the custom sub shops are the worst for this. Even just getting something from a local deli can turn a five minute wait into a 20 minute one with the scenario you’re describing!

      2. Michelle*

        Nope, nope, nope. I would have declined to get anyone a sub, much less 8 people. I made that mistake 1 time. On days I have to have coverage, I just say “Oh, I haven’t decided yet”.

      3. froodle*

        SCREM! oh my gosh am I glad this is your ex manager not someone you currently work for, because that is selfish and inconsiderate! It would be a dick move if you were peers but then being in charge of you makes it oogie on a whole other level.

        1. Annoyed*

          And basically requiring it to be done on personal time because “you can’t really decline.”

  4. Zona the Great*

    Yep and I’d question the judgement of a supervisor who’d brought this up as an expectation.

    1. Monday Morning Again*

      This is exactly what I was thinking. I would urge OP 2 to take a hard look at themselves and their management style. I have a hard time believing their difficulty begins and ends with wanting someone to pick up their lunch.

      I can’t imagine working in an office where picking up (or even offering to pick up) lunch/coffee/etc. while out was the norm. That would drive me crazy.

      1. Rat in the Sugar*

        I dunno, I think that telling OP to rethink their whole management style because they asked if it’s reasonable to expect someone to offer lunch pick-up every time is a bit much. I mean, I’ve wondered this question myself from both directions, since people in my office often pick up for each other. There’s been days when I didn’t want to grab something for anyone else and felt guilty slipping out to my car without saying anything, and there’s also been days when I had my nose to the grindstone through lunch and then got pretty annoyed when food was suddenly getting passed out and I hadn’t been asked. I think it’s more like what Polygrammer said below; I think OP is just asking as a general etiquette question.

    2. Pollygrammer*

      To give them the benefit of the doubt, the question seems less like “should my subordinate do this because I’m a manager?” and more “is this something that’s common office courtesy, like making a new pot of coffee when you finish the old one?”

      To which the answers are “no, absolutely not, rethink how you manage” or “no, but good on you for asking.”

      1. Allison*

        Right, I’d rather someone come here and ask, than just do it and write in 6 months later about how their employee has developed a bad attitude after being asked to take people’s lunch orders, and asking if/how they should fire them because there seems to be too much resentment to fix anything.

    3. aebhel*

      SERIOUSLY. I go for takeout a couple of days a week, but it’s not on any consistent schedule–usually when I run out of leftovers or don’t have time in the morning to throw something together. I don’t always go to the same place, and I have never once asked if anyone else wants something, because I don’t feel the need to spend my lunch break playing the delivery girl. I would be extremely put off if that was an expectation, and would in fact demand to be paid. To me, this is no less outrageous than expecting that anyone who brings in lunch should bring enough for everyone, as long as they’re compensated for it. Just don’t do it, OP.

      Years ago, I worked at a tiny office where the boss would buy everyone a coffee in the morning. Usually, whoever wasn’t busy would go pick it up, it was paid for in advance, and they were on the clock. That’s the only way to do it, imo.

    4. Annoyed*

      If it was an expectation I would consider it job related and therefore “on the clock,” with a lunch break as a separate time period.

    5. Cat Herder*

      Oh, come on. That’s why the OP is asking. No need to jump to OP’s management style is questionable.

  5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#4, I’m so sorry you’re going through this experience. I can’t imagine how you’re feeling, except that it sounds like you feel blindsided and adrift.

    If you can forgive my directness, I have to say that when reading your letter, it sounded to me that your employer actually had warned you and given you multiple chances to improve. As Alison notes, sometimes if you’ve been on a performance-related PIP, and if your performance falls again to levels that merit termination, then you’re not going to be given another PIP opportunity with the same involvement or coaching to address the new performance problems.

    You mentioned that they hounded you for a few months—I would read that “hounding” as the equivalent of follow-up warnings that your performance had not improved the way they needed it to improve. You mentioned that you felt like you didn’t get to fix the performance problems over two months… but if you truly were unable to address any of the performance problems over that time period, then what you saw as hounding and lack of support may have looked, to your manager/employer, like unwillingness/incapacity to address the performance problems on your own. For better or worse, a lot of management feedback doesn’t take the formality of a PIP (and in many cases, you don’t want it to get to that point!).

    1. BRR*

      As a PIP receiver, I also read “they brought up some performance issues…and have been hounding me ever since” as a warning. This is why it’s crucial to be crystal clear when someone’s job is on the line.

      I ask think many times the post PIP era is hard. Even if you fix the mistakes, it’s easy for others to start to question your work quality when you make a tiny error. I know this happened with me and my manager and I’m going through something similar with a colleague whose work quality needs a good bit of improvement. It will be very hard for me to regain confidence in their work.

      1. Kelly L.*

        I got the idea that OP meant that she got no warning until they brought up the performance issues two months ago, and then the hounding was afterward, and that it felt like she didn’t have room to do anything right. It’s hard to describe, but I’m imagining an annoying sort of “Now, Jane, remember to copy the TPS reports on yellow paper” every time they saw her heading to the copier, so that they’d never even know she was about to do it right anyway.

        1. boop the first*

          Ew, that is annoying. My employer does that all the time with every task, every day, for everybody. It’s… a little rough.

        2. Someone Else*

          Thanks for pointing this out. This makes that part of the letter make more sense to me. However, I still have a hard time reading all the background OP4 provided and understanding how the firing was “out of the blue”. The previous PIP, the two months of hounding, those are the warning signs. It sucks if the hounding is as you described and she basically never had a chance to show she was about to do the right thing because they’d remind every time, but all of that happening at all sort of screams “on thin ice”.

          1. OP #4*

            Hi, OP 4 here! The first PIP was several years ago and the issues were unrelated. When i say they were hounding me, I mean that they didn’t really give me any time to improve – I felt I was doing everything I could and steadily improving, but I felt like they were just breathing down my back and telling me I wasn’t improving – sometimes just a day or two after bringing up an issue! This also happened just a day after coming back from a conference where I represented my company well, was thanked for it, and everything was great and normal. Even with the hounding, all of their wording was “we want you to succeed” and “tell us what we can do to help you.” That’s especially what made this seem out of the blue. And no, I had no idea anything was wrong until 2 months ago, and I have been working really hard to improve during that time. The way that they word things, nothing ever screamed “on thin ice” to me at all, and I really wish that they’d said something.

            1. DJ Roomba*

              Hi OP4!

              I’m so sorry this happened to you and I can (sort of) relate, though maybe from an opposite perspective…I was selected as a top performer in my company which recognizes future female leaders (and it was a Fortune 50 company). I was nominated by a senior vice president and approved by an executive vice president. Unfortunately, my manager had never been nominated or selected for the program despite being eligible for a few years and became very angry and passive aggressive towards me – constantly pointing out everything wrong with me. I can only assume it had to do with jealousy or perhaps just general dislike of me. Because my work was exemplary, the attacks were all personal and about how difficult of a personality I had. The feedback was constant. I tried to “fix” my personality, but nothing I did was good enough and I was constantly going home in tears. It wasn’t until I had my mid-year review that I realized I had to get out. No, I wasn’t on a PIP but I was basically told that it was hard to imagine I’d have a future at the company. My mind is still boggled how I went from a top performer in May to problem employee in late July, after 5 years of hard work, loyalty and dedication.

              What I came here to say is this: sometimes we never get the answers we want but we have to find closure anyway. Bigger and better things will happen for you, just learn from this experience and move on to the next chapter. Best of luck to you!

              1. Cathy Gale*

                Your case, DJ, definitely sounds like bullying. You were an excellent contributor suddenly eased out for manufactured reasons. According to the Workplace Bullying Institute, very competent employees in their forties are the most likely to be targeted by a bully, statistically, because they are doing well, and liked. It’s not for a rational performance reason. Because they are high performers, they don’t see it coming. My former supervisor had never been bullied at a lower level and was shocked when it started.

                1. DJ Roomba*

                  Yeah, I try to avoid the bullying term because then I feel like I’m victimizing myself when I should be trying to take accountability for whatever was my fault. Also – not that it matters necessarily – but I had just turned 30 when I got selected and my boss was probably about 10 years older than me (I say this because of your 40+ comment). I’m still not quite sure what my fault was in the situation, but luckily that was five years ago and I’ve moved on since then!

              2. OP #4*

                Thank you, this makes me feel a lot better! I didn’t go into this in my letter, but i _am_ a high performer. I presented at the national conference for the software we work with several times, am a track chair for that conference, am very involved in our software community, and generally kick ass at work. The performance issues, while I did take them seriously, were fairly minor – work a few more hours please, try to improve my communication. I never did anything major or fireable or anything like that. It did feel like nothing i did was an improvement – they’d ask me to do something better and come back 2 days later to say they hadn’t seen an improvement. Ok, i worked more than the hours i was supposed to both of those days and had worked to improve my communication. what did you want to see? So that wasn’t feeling great, but still, i had no idea it was at that level. At this point i’m much more at peace with moving on.

            2. Reorg Blues*

              Hi, I just wanted to say I’ve been going through something extremely similar, and it sucks. No previous PIP, was a top performer for 3 years, then a role was posted that would have been a promotion for me, and I was the most internally qualified candidate. As soon as that happened–I guess they did not want me to have this role–my boss became nit-picky about minor things and did not acknowledge me for major accomplishments (like being responsible for national press coverage that spotlighted out company.) I was just told last week that I did not get the promotion and that my current role was eliminated during a larger reorg. It’s devastating and feels very sudden. I’m grieving it and feel completely blindsided. Hang in there…there’s got to be something out there better for us both!

              1. Cathy Gale*

                The good news is that you were evidently threatening because you’re good at what you do. That means you can and will find something else. I’m sorry this happened, the first weeks are raw! But if you get managed out by an envious boss who won’t acknowledge your contributions you are likely to find better appreciation somewhere else.

            3. Been There, Done That*

              Did anything else unusual happen in your office around that time? We once had a situation where we thought we were going to have staff cuts so someone left rather than wait out the uncertainty. Freelancer was brought in to cover their job because the project was still live. Boss obviously loved Freelancer and gave him lots of mentoring, integrated him into the team. Another staffer who was loaded to the gills was loaded even more and written up when they couldn’t do all the work. It looked suspiciously as if Boss wanted to keep Freelancer and not Overloaded Employee should the cuts happen. Cuts didn’t happen, higher ups okayed hiring Freelancer, and Boss suddenly got sweet and friendly to Overloaded again.

          2. Washi*

            Yeah, you’re pretty much always on thin ice after a PIP, and then the “hounding” (whatever that means) is very much “we don’t trust you.”

    2. krysb*

      At my company, when we put someone on a PIP, we have language in it that all improvements made must be maintained throughout the rest of their employment.

      1. Kelly L.*

        I didn’t get the idea the issues were the same this time, FWIW, but I could be wrong. She could very well still have been doing whatever they wanted her to do the first time.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          That was the impression I got too. Like, the problems from the PIP a couple of years ago are no longer problems but now this new problem cropped up and LW wasn’t given the same opportunity to work through the issues.

          Which… I’m of two minds about. On one hand, if LW improved greatly after the PIP and has been a productive and useful member of the team since then, why wouldn’t they give her another shot? On the other hand, if they were concerned that Issues were going to crop up every couple of years that they’d have to work through, I can see why they’d decide to just cut her loose.

          1. JSPA*

            Hm, years back, I was (unofficially?) PIP’d (if there is such a thing). Met all the conditions, except that instead of handing the documentation directly to grandboss on the day I was supposed to do so, I handed them to boss (who said grandboss was out for the day, that I was supposed to give them to her, and she’d pass them along). Thus failing the PIP.

            Later found out that it was because I’d said, when asked how I envisioned my future life, that I thought grandboss was “doing it right” and I’d like to do similar. (Which I meant entirely in terms of work-life-civic engagement-arts-teaching-health balance. Grandboss heard, “I’m coming for your job.” Boss presumed similar. (Even though I would not, in a million years, have wanted either of their jobs, nor been suited to them.) I found out only because it was not, apparently, the first nor the last time the two of them had done this.

            Sometimes, someone wants you gone.

        2. Kate*

          Our company only does a PIP once, during your career. If you have future issues after the first PIP at any time to to the degree that you would need to be on a PIP again you would be terminated without a formal write up.

          1. dragon_heart*

            This works the same way in my current company, although to be fair we don’t know if the OP was told that she has only ONE time to be put on PIP. It doesn’t matter how long ago the first PIP was, you slip up the second time and you will be let go.

            1. Artemesia*

              When you are getting feedback about poor performance after having previously completed a PIP and are being hounded about it over a couple of months, being fired is not being ‘blindsided.’ There was lots of evidence they were not satisfied with the performance. Being blindsided is when after satisfactory reviews, you show up and discover they are not happy with your performance and they fire you. The OP had lots of clues here that her job was in jeopardy. It would have been good for them to be more explicit but they were a lot more explicit than most.

              1. Katie the Fed*

                “The OP had lots of clues here that her job was in jeopardy. It would have been good for them to be more explicit but they were a lot more explicit than most.”

                This is exactly how I feel. I think a lot of time people hear what they want to hear in these types of discussions. If you’re being given warnings about your performance, that’s a big red flag that you need to shape up soon or find a new job.

              2. JHunz*

                Looking in from the outside, or in retrospect, it seems very clear. But I can understand the OP feeling that way, especially give that it was their first experience being fired. You look back and you see all the warning signs, all the times they were telling you implicitly that your job was in danger. But it feels like someone at some point should have said out loud “you’ll probably be fired if you don’t resolve these issues”. A lot of the time you don’t get warned that explicitly.

                Hopefully the OP ends up looking back at this as a valuable learning experience. I look back at my own firing that way, and also with an overwhelming sense of relief – it was a toxic environment that I should have exited without having to be fired to get out.

          2. Allison*

            That’s pretty reasonable, but it’s very clearly laid out, yes? It wouldn’t be fair if they didn’t warn people about it, and figured people would “just know” that’s how it works.

            1. Cookie Belle*

              An improvement plan is pre-firing your just getting a chance to redeem yourself, your work really shouldn’t be expected to do it for each problem you have. This isn’t the right job if you have to be on multiple improvement plans.

          3. OP #4*

            We didn’t have any official PIP paperwork to state anything like that. And yes, the issues were different and the PIP was years ago.

            1. Just Saying*

              For the future, I would consider that being put on a PIP is your one and only official notice that you are doing subpar work. That anything after that no matter the timeframe (3 weeks or 6 years) is a fireable offense and you have used up your resets at that point.

              1. Biff*

                I’m not sure that really works though when the person was on a PIP in a different position. Let’s say I was put on a PIP as a Clay Tester, and I solved my issues, and then I rose up the ranks to Teapot Prototype Builder. And now my performance is wonky, but for totally different reasons than my performance issues when I was a clay tester. I think one PIP per position isn’t unreasonable.

                1. Just Saying*

                  I can see that, but it wouldn’t be ok to get on a pip for clay consistency and then moving down the same line and expecting another when you didn’t get clay coloring right. If you change management then you may get another chance but if its on your record its still up to management on how to proceed if they want to keep fixing problems or train a new clay tester.

              2. Gatomon*

                I get this is common, but it seems unnecessarily harsh. What’s the point of a PIP if you complete it and you’re still one misstep away from getting fired for the rest of your tenure at a company? Sure you don’t give someone another shot a few months down the road, but after 5 or 6 years even? If there’s truly no way to rehabilitate yourself to pre-PIP levels of performance/trust, whouldn’t that justify firing immediately?

      2. Lemon Bars*

        Yes, when we put someone on a PIP there is language that the employee can be terminated for any issue (attendance/lateness (any time after your start time), subpar work of any kind, improper use of company property, etc)immediately after the issue is found for any time period not just during the PIP. It is also standard for managers that if you have any issues at all within a 12 month time frame after the PIP that we begin paperwork to terminate.

        I feel like OP#4 wanted another written out issue based on the new issues and after the initial PIP, and that is not how it works. It would be nice but honestly after a PIP you need to do immaculate work and then move to another area not under the same management. OP did subpar work after a PIP and it sounds like he knew for months, 2 months or 8 weeks is a long time to not fix an issue.

        1. Hellanon*

          Yes, it’s work, not high school – the employee’s personal development is not the manager’s primary focus here.

    3. LQ*

      I agree, this sounds like such a hard place to be. I wonder if there was a mismatch in level of oversight between the OP and the boss. It sounds like they did well during the PIP when there was involved coaching, maybe looking for a job where the boss is more focused on coaching on an ongoing basis would be a good fit.
      I don’t think it was entirely outrageous that there wasn’t a second PIP, and it can be consistent management to not have a second one because hitting that level of formality again isn’t reasonable for the company to try to manage again.

    4. ThatGirl*

      Yeah – I got fired from a job about 11 years ago. I’d been on a PIP earlier in the year, worked hard, turned things around, had a great review. But a few months later I screwed up again, and I will grant you, it was a big mistake. It’s possible it would’ve led to a suspension or something even without the PIP. But with that previous warning in place, they let me go pretty quickly. It sucked, I was mad and hurt, but in retrospect I understood that given my previous problems, I couldn’t have expected them to go back to giving me lots of leeway.

  6. Knitting Cat Lady*

    #2: It’s his lunch break. He can do what he wants. Don’t demand that he has to ask if anyone wants something whenever he goes out for take out.

    If anyone were telling me this they would get a *look* and a very flat ‘No.’.

    And it wouldn’t ask if anyone wanted something ever again.

    Honestly. People want to eat in their lunch break, not pick up a bazillion orders!

      1. TL -*

        I’d just say I wasn’t a delivery service, but would be happy to give them directions to the restaurant.

        If you a sufficiently cheerful person, you can say that in tone the genuinely sounds polite so that by the time the person realizes exactly what you’ve said, you’re out of the conversation entirely.

        1. Snickerdoodle*

          I had the opposite problem at my old job. I’d bring lunch from to eat and then get asked work questions when I was trying to eat. So I started eating my lunch prior to my actual lunch hour and then leaving to run errands or whatever so I wasn’t physically there to harass and, oops, didn’t hear my phone.

        2. AMT*

          I don’t know if I’d have the courage to say that, but my go-to response to questions about where I’m going for lunch has always been, “Not sure!” or “The gym!” Can’t put in your order with me when you don’t know where I’m going.

      2. Snickerdoodle*

        Exactly. I had the opposite problem at my old job; I’d eat lunch I brought with me and then get asked work-related questions when I was not actually working. So I started eating my lunch before my actual lunch hour and then leaving to run errands or whatever on my actual lunch hour so I wasn’t physically around to harass. They hated it but couldn’t do anything because I wasn’t in the office and, oops, didn’t hear my phone.

        1. TardyTardis*

          Yes, I had an ExBoss who ate earlier than I did (Dawn Patrol person), and suddenly had lots for me to do while I was supposed to be at lunch. There was no break room then (though there was one later) and she didn’t like us to eat in the cubes (though she ate in her office, of course), but in 5 degree weather, eating in the car loses it charm.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Right? If OP2 tries to make this a requirement, the employee will just stop telling people he’s going out for lunch. I would. Or I’d start packing my lunch, or eating at the lunch place instead of getting takeout. Either way I’d feel pressured to do something that feels like work, but is not my job, on my lunch break. My point being that, if the result that OP2 wants is for the employee to pick up everyone’s lunches each time he goes out, that there does not exist a way to achieve that result. It’s never going to happen.

    2. Bea*

      I don’t even come back to eat at the office half the time. I use my lunch break to get away from the place, it re-energizes me for the second part of the day.

      So yeah, hell no to picking people up something.

      If we were slammed or had a busy season like some of my past jobs, then I’m open to it. I had one supervisor who couldn’t leave and did bring lunch but had a physical job. So yes, I could see him busting butt and wilting, I would get him extra lunch during that time. He was grateful and knew that I did it out of the kindness of my heart. He never ever expected it.

    3. LH*

      I wonder if the employee is keeping it random to deliberately stop LW from making this a habit?

      I had a coworker when I was young who said she was anxious because she didn’t know how she was getting home that day, so I offered her a ride. Her home was in the same direction along the highway as mine, although dropping her off turned my 20 minute drive into a 40 minute one.

      Gradually her occasional requests changed from “would you please be able to drop me off today??” that I grudgingly agreed to, to one day “hey, you’re not staying late, are you? I really wanna get home before my TV show is on”, so that day I cheerfully said I couldn’t drive her, I was heading the other direction into the city to see friends. Don’t take my favor for granted!

      1. Annoyed*

        First time I get asked for a ride…even if they live right next door yo me, they get handed the bus schedule.

  7. nnn*

    #2: Is Ritual available in your city? If yes, it could be a non-disruptive way to nudge your office’s culture towards picking up other people’s take-out. When you order takeout via Ritual’s app or website, you can tell it that you’re willing to pick up anything your co-workers have ordered from the same place at the same time, and you can get bonus points for picking up their order for them. (Bonus points are redeemable for discounts on future orders.) But if you don’t want to pick up anyone else’s take-out, you can set it so you aren’t open to picking up other people’s orders, and they simply don’t see that you have a pending order.

    1. Phil*

      That sounds like a good service. Unfortunately, the nearest places that come up for me are in Santa Monica. I’m in Australia. lolz

    2. Willis*

      But in this case, it seems the like the OP already has a pretty clear indication of whether or not the co-worker who goes out is able/in the mood to pick up someone else’s lunch order – the guy either asks or doesn’t ask. I’d leave it at that and not try to nudge him into doing it more often.

    3. Brandy*

      We have a company called which has 1 restaurant daily that they deliver from, different one each day. You place your order and pay online and they deliver to many different companies around. They have an office drop off spot and you go grab your lunch from this spot. Easy on everyone.

      1. Indigo a la mode*

        Peach is also excellent for this. They text you a menu, you text back what you want by 10:30, and everyone’s shows up at once. Brilliant.

        This idea of picking up food for others or ordering when others go out is kind of staggering to me. I’ve just….never even considered it. I’ll occasionally bring in coffee for my two teammates if I’m stopping anyway, or use the company credit card to order us all sandwiches if we’re slammed, but intruding on someone else’s lunchtime? No way.

      2. Suekel*

        In Austin we have Lunchdrop that is similar. Each day they text you at 9:45 AM with 4 restaurant choices. You click on the one you want and the menu comes up. It’s super fast and easy to order and orders are delivered between 12-12:30. It’s strictly for office environments where there are likely to be multiple people ordering. It’s reasonable and so convenient!

    4. Izzy*

      That does sound like a great app, but unless the office organically starts ordering takeaway more often I wouldn’t propose it as a “nudge” – if nobody else is doing it then it just seems like a way of trying to pressure the one takeaway-getting guy to pick up the LW’s lunch by being like “but look, I’ve made it so easy!” Regardless of how easy it is for him to do, there could be any number of reasons why he just might not want to do it every time and he shouldn’t have to justify why.

  8. Stuff*

    #2 unless it is in his job description to be lunch picker upper then he is in no way obligated in any way to check with people about picking up lunch for them.

    1. Traffic_Spiral*

      Yup. Lunch break is sacred, and a boss who impinges on that commits high heresy against the basic office code of decency.

      1. Snickerdoodle*

        Yep. If it’s expected of him, then it’s a job requirement, and he needs to be compensated for that time, otherwise the employer is breaking the law. I pointed that out at my last job when they asked me to work during my unpaid lunch hour. It never happened again.

  9. Anonymouse*

    Re #2:

    Coworkers at my current job tried to make me feel guilty about picking up Starbucks for myself on the way in, trying to make some weird argument that if I was spending $5 on myself, I was obligated to drop $40+ on Starbucks for everyone. (We’ll ignore the fact that none of these guys were doing anything nice for me.)

    At first, I thought they were messing with me, because who is that entitled? And then the comments were made often enough that it was obvious they felt put out because I wasn’t willing to drop more than half my weekly spending money budget on them. Eventually, I just stopped bringing it in and was kind of resentful that I could no longer keep with this routine I had enjoyed. It was certainly not the only dysfunctional behavior here, and I’m over the moon that I finally start a new (better paying) job in a week!

    1. Jerry Vandesic*

      Just a suggestion, but you might want to stop by Starbucks every morning during your last week.

      1. Kat in VA*

        +1. I would not only get the biggest, grande-ist, largest drink you get, but also a few cake pops and a breakfast sandwich, too.

          1. SignalLost*

            Make it into a competition! “I bought 2 because I wasn’t sure which one would be better.” *elaborate sipping from both* “Hmm… you know, I just don’t think this one is cutting it today.” *pour out offending drink* “Oh well!”

              1. Kat in VA*

                Can I just say I am SO HAPPY there are others who indulge in petty little office revenge fantasies?

                I’m a good person, I promise, but these are killing me with laughing today!

    2. Mommy MD*

      Don’t give into that ridiculous guilt. I would have shot back that they could leave ten minutes early to get their own and buy for the entire office to their little heart’s content.

    3. Cordoba*

      I work in a large office with both my best friend of ~15 years and the person I’ve been dating for ~3 years. Everybody knows about these relationships.

      I occasionally need to leave the building for work reasons, and will bring them coffee when I do.

      One time another co-worker said to me that I should not do this unless I brought coffee back for everybody, because it looked like I was playing favorites. I informed him in this case looks were correct inasmuch as I was bringing these two people coffee because they are in fact my favorites.

      I like some colleagues more than others and am willing to do nice things for them that I won’t do for some rando. This seems entirely reasonable to me, as does only doing a nice thing for yourself.

      People will try to guilt you all sorts of weird ways. Best to just acknowledge what you’re doing and own it.

      1. Workin’ 9-to-5*

        Yikes. The concept of favorites in a professional setting is incredibly off putting. I dont think your coworker was at all in the wrong to point out the optics related to favortism.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          If Cordoba was their manager, absolutely. But it doesn’t sound like that’s the case, and it’s not a big deal if she grabs a coffee for her significant other and/or close friend without being obligated to bring it to everyone. These are adults!

        2. Cordoba*

          I’m not the boss in this situation, we’re all peers.

          Can you help me understand what is off putting about a person liking some colleagues more than others and behaving accordingly? This strikes me as entirely normal behavior. Don’t most people have a few friends at work, or at least colleagues who they prefer to chat or take breaks with? Your friends at work are by definition your favorites in that professional setting.

          This company has 50,000+ employees, and 2,000+ at this one site alone. I don’t think I’m obligated to act as though I am equally best buddies with every one of them.

          1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

            As long as you aren’t rude to others or exclude them from office social or professional communication I can’t see what the problem is. It seems really unreasonable to me to expect that someone would either have to bring treats for everyone, like elementary school, or pretend they don’t have particular work friends, as if everyone were robots. Your phrasing might have been a bit flippant but I think you’re allowed to do little special things for peers that you are close to. If one of you gets promoted it might be different.

          2. only acting normal*

            One of my teammates brought coffee back for the teammate who sits next to me the other day, because they’re friends outside work too. I just thought “that’s nice of her” (and had the very slightest pang of jealousy that I’ve never had a really close work friend. But I don’t expect either of them to be that to me! They’re 15 years younger than I am.)

            Having a mix of colleagues, acquaintances, and friends at work is normal.

          3. WS*

            One manager where I worked got really petty about people bringing things for their friends (or in one case spouse) and not for everyone (i.e. him), so people just stopped bringing anything unless it really was a whole office thing like a birthday cake. Some people are just like that!

            1. Lisa*

              In my experience, the managers who were the most insistent on everything being fair-and-equal on the surface where also glaringly nepotistic behind the scenes. One in particular wanted everything that was work-official – schedules, work-from-home allowances, training opportunities, vacation time – to be extremely fair-and-equal, even in cases where other managers at that company routinely made judgement calls and incorporated meritocratic factors. But outside of work, her favoritism was rampant, openly socializing with her favorites in very generous ways – inviting them to lavish parties or entertaining them at her home and then sharing photographs of it at the office, or structuring business travel plans to favor some employees over others. It was one of the strongest examples of the double-standards that thrived there.

          4. Hills to Die on*

            How funny of your coworker. I would see that and that you’re such a nice friend for doing that for them.

          5. Rusty Shackelford*

            I would dearly love for one particular person in my office to say I shouldn’t play favorites, because I could give her a long, detailed list of why (1) I’m allowed to have favorites, and (b) she’s not one of them.

          6. Nanani*

            Some people never got past “if you bring valentine cards (or whatever) to school you must bring enough for the entire class”

        3. hbc*

          That gets into some strange territory. Do you insist that everyone spend equal amounts of time chatting with everyone else, even if some click better than others? Does a smoker have to offer everyone in the office a cigarette if they let another smoker bum one off of them?

          As long as they’re keeping it at general elementary school rules (no overt ostracism, no bullying, don’t invite or bring gifts for more than half the group unless you do it for everybody), they’re fine.

        4. Snark*

          There are no optics related to favoritism, because that is not an operative factor here. Favoritism comes into play when you’re managing people.

        5. MLB*

          Sorry but nope. This isn’t 1st grade. It’s not a “invite the entire class to your party or invite nobody” situation. If you’re my friend, I’m going to bring you something if I go out (or at least ask if you want anything). If your feelings are hurt because I don’t bring you coffee, when we do nothing more than say hello and smile, or have an occasional “how’s the weather” conversation, then that’s on you. Now if offered to bring coffee for everyone BUT you, that’s a problem. But this is not.

          1. Drummer*

            I’m not sure what kind of school you went to in first grade but I’ve never heard of that expectation in grade school. You invite only the people you want to invite, full stop. Also, the cost for parents is not neglible

            1. JB (not in Houston)*

              This is (1) a not uncommon thing that has been discussed here before and (2) getting off topic. People have fairly strong opinions on this, so if you want to bring it up in the weekend open thread I think people would be more than happy to talk about it there.

      2. Holly*

        I can’t imagine anyone being so petty as to say that in a large office! Maybe in a small office if it was you, your friend, your s/o, and then one other person – then that person would feel left out. But a large office?? Get your own coffee!

        1. Kelly L.*

          Yep, kindergarten rule is “less than half, or everybody.” So buying for 2 people out of 3 would seem mean-spirited, but not 2 out of 2000.

      3. Snark*

        This is hilarious. Yes, I have favorites. That is a thing I am allowed to have. You are not one of them and you are moving your way down the list dammit.

      4. Antilles*

        I find that hilarious since one of them is your spouse. I’d have a really tough time not laughing in their face when they said that.
        Do I have favorites? Um, yeah, I certainly do play favorites towards my spouse…but if you’re willing to pay half my mortgage every month like she does, I’ll gladly start bringing you a cup of coffee.

    4. sheworkshardforthemoney*

      My boss will do a Starbucks run about once a month, treating everyone in the office. But he’s also made it clear that no one else is expected to do the same thing. Office culture is often led from the top and you don’t want to be the manager who expects donkey work from resentful staff who just want to get their lunch and eat it.

    5. cncx*

      i had a weird job like that and bringing stuff in a travel mug cut down a lot of the petty comments. Like you though, i wound up leaving so whatever, it was a coping mechanism while i was still ther because you can’t fix entitled! Congrats on the new job.

    6. Snark*

      Yeah, screw that noise. Even if I want to pick up, what, 7-8 Starbucks drinks and then try to hip doors open and bring them all in in those little flimsy carriers, you pay for your own damn drink. Expecting others to buy and pick up and deliver your drink is lunacy. Get out with that nonsense.

    7. Trek*

      Anonymouse: I usually handle people trying to volunteer me by volunteering them. I will say no at first but if they keep on this is usually how the conversation goes.
      “You should bring everyone Starbucks?”
      “That doesn’t work for me but thanks for telling me I can bring everyone Starbucks. ”
      “If you’re going to stop then you should bring it for everyone.”
      “You could bring it for everyone.”
      “I don’t usually stop.”
      “But you could stop! Great idea! Hey everyone Carl is bringing everyone Starbucks tomorrow..make sure he has your order.”
      So either they now have to tell everyone no or they have to pick up Starbucks and deal with everyone asking them when they are doing it again. Win Win doesn’t begin to describe it.

      1. Hills to Die on*

        I do this with my husband, who was an executive and used to telling people what to do all day (until he became disabled but is apparently functional enough to still be bossy, love him for all the good things though). This seems like what Trek is doing and would work on your coworker.

        Hubs: Can you get me a glass of water?
        Me: You are literally closer to the cup cabinet than I am. Why do you need me to get it?

        Hubs: Can you turn down the tv?
        Me: Can you?

        Hubs: Can you hand me my phone?
        me: in a minute, I’m reading something (never stop reading until after he gets it).

    8. Annoyed*

      When you say “guys” do you literally mean males?

      Oh and why did you stop bringing in your coffee? Tell them to STFU about your coffee.

  10. many bells down*

    I have to admit – I’m a lot like that woman in #1 when I get nervous. I talk WAY too much. And I’m not saying you should overlook it, but if she’s really the best candidate would a second brief meeting maybe be worth it to see if she’s any better?

    1. Mommy MD*

      I don’t think it would make a difference. She went on endlessly about way too many personal details. She doesn’t understand common sense boundaries however experienced or well-intentioned.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Agreed. It’s not just how much she talked—it’s that she would not stop unless interrupted and shared way too much personal information. That shows a failure to respond to basic social cues and workplace boundaries, both of which indicate a lack of professionalism. Also, it’s annoying.

        I’m talkative, but I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on: (1) not dominating a conversation by monologuing; (2) not interrupting people; (3) letting others participate in the conversation, especially if they’re the interviewers; (4) picking up on social cues that I’m going on too long; and (5) not disclosing irrelevant personal details. Working with someone who’s talkative but fails to do the above can be like a symphony of fingernails screeching over chalkboards.

        1. Techworker*

          From the start of the letter I was more sympathetic to the interviewee, not least because I had a friend who interviewed for my job at the same time as me and didn’t get it and I suspect that was why. (She was brighter and more competent than half the people I ended up working with – and I don’t think I’m biased because I worked with her before we were friends). But… there’s some nervous babbling and then there’s literally not shutting up, it sounds like this was more a case of the second.

        2. Hills to Die on*

          Yes, it’s the personal info. I talk too much when I’m nervous but it would be on-topic and not THAT much. Yikes.

          1. Lil Fidget*

            Yes, when I’m nervous I can ramble about the point I’m making, repeat myself, talk to fast, or pile on too many examples – but never get so off-topic and so clearly overshare. Now that’s just me, but I would think the waxing comment would put it over the edge for me as a boundary problem versus nerves.

      2. Just Employed Here*

        Yeah, for me, babbling is bad but forgivable. A tsunami of personal details is simply way too far outside of the norm for a job interview.

        1. PB*

          Yes. It strongly indicates that this person has no sense of professional norms or personal boundaries. In the comments last week, I shared a story about an interviewee who took forever to answer questions (e.g., a five minute autobiography to answer “Tell us about yourself”). I recommended against hiring for this and other reasons. They extended an offer to her, and (surprise!) the problem continues.

          In her case, the answers were long, but at least they were on topic. If I’ve just met you, I do not want to know where you get your eyebrows waxed!

          1. Amber T*

            Yeah, I definitely babble when I’m nervous, and I can see how one personal story might have snuck its way in there because my brain put two and two together and got six, so therefore this super personal story is clearly very relevant to the job interview. But a lot of them? Meh.

            Was she super confident that she didn’t think she needed to interview? We had someone who came to interview and was so sure she was going to get the job (because she had sort of personal connections… her kid went to the same middle school as one of the partners, she went to the same temple as another (actually had the rabbi call him out of the blue when he wasn’t part of the hiring process at all)). She basically came in and casually chatted the entire time. Her resume was good, her actual references were good, she was one of the strongest candidates on paper, but the interview was just ghastly. She actually left by saying she couldn’t wait to start working here.

            1. SignalLost*

              Yeah, I was in an interview a couple weeks ago where I accidentally fell back on my go-to phrase “damn milleniallyallyalls” (I am an old millennial and we were talking about generational shifts in tech use) so then I had to cover my nervous slip, but I didn’t go on for an hour about eyebrow waxing. I think nervous babble is easy to spot because it’s almost always overly bright but short. It’s reasonable to assume someone who goes on for as long as this candidate did is a talker. That works in some offices and some roles, but not all of them.

            2. Falling Diphthong*

              I at first read this as the rabbi not being part of the hiring process at all, and was picturing a random interview segueing into “Well I’ll have to ask my rabbi how he feels about you.”

      3. Artemesia*

        Believe who they demonstrate they are in the interview. This person will be an absolute nightmare to work with. We have hired people like this — one guy was by far the best fit for our needs and we were trying to hire very qualified people on a very inadequate salary so finding people like him was difficult. So we were worried about how much he boringly blathered but thought it was something we could live with. It was awful. They are who they are. A little nervous chatter is one thing, but someone who goes on and on and on and especially about trivia like in the OP’s example is going to be worse once they are hired. And whatever it takes to make sure references are properly checked needs to be done.

        1. Logan*

          Even if they aren’t like that all the time – at minimum this is how they will behave when stressed. Interviews may be unusually stressful, but some parts of work are stressful, and I wouldn’t be able to cope with someone who talks endlessly during stressful moments…

          1. Khlovia*

            Yeah; you gain one pretty good worker and then lose the entire team within a six-desk radius over the next four months.

    2. MK*

      If she had rambled too much while answering the actual interview questions, I would agree it might have been due to nerves, but it seems that she derailed the interview entirely and overshared on top of it too. I wouldn’t give her another chance unless she was not only the strongest candidate, but miles ahead of everyone else.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I agree. Hiring managers can only make decisions based on what they see. And if we can’t get references (that seems like BS from temp agency BTW…) then there’s nothing to go on other than the interview and the resume. Someone who goes that far out of bounds isn’t likely to reign it in once hired. She’ll likely be even worse since the people she works with will no longer be strangers.

        I do think, however, that the interviewers should have worked harder to reign her in since going more than an hour over the allotted time seems excessive to me. I could see letting her go on for a bit here and there, but they allowed her to completely dominate the interview. On the other hand, it allowed OP to get some valuable info about the candidate. Guess I can see that both ways.

      2. Rusty Shackelford*

        Yeah, I have a lot of sympathy for people who ramble when they’re nervous, but it seems like this went beyond that.

    3. Czhorat*

      It someone handles themselves badly at the interview, then they are no longer the best candidate.

      They had their chance. It isn’t healthy to hire someone too much in love with their own voice to listen or ask questions when appropriate, regardless of their qualifications on paper.

      The reason you give interviews is to learn things like this. If you run like what you learned about a candidate then you should look elsewhere.

    4. irene adler*

      I agree. What have you got to lose by holding a second interview? Maybe even bring up the idea that a second interview is needed so they are sure she understands all that the position entails. Weren’t sure that info got across during the first interview.

      And, if she is an ‘oversharer’, maybe there’s room for professional coaching to curb this (after hiring)? If her skills are really, really good, then why not make this part of her onboard training? Maybe even ongoing training?

      We hired an ‘oversharer’ who does drive folks away with her endless chatter. She also possesses outstanding cell and tissue culture skills few other candidates had. A true natural. IF our boss was someone who wanted to provide enrichment and growth opportunities for this woman, he could easily have modified her behavior. Sadly our boss isn’t interested in such things. But we do benefit from her expertise on a daily basis.

      Can you imagine going through life with no one ever letting you know that your endless chatter is ruining opportunities you might otherwise be offered? I hope someone has the kindness to enlighten her.

      1. Washi*

        I see your point, but the OP has a really strong sense that this person will be VERY incompatible with her team. People can change, but when you hire someone, you have to weigh theirs skills vs. how much productivity you will lose in the time it takes to coach them out of their bad habits. In this case, the OP feels like the benefit is not worth the cost, and unless this position is extraordinarily hard to fill (like maybe your example is?) it seems likely that they should be able to find someone who can both do the job and not waste time with endless talking AND coaching about the endless talking.

          1. Tuxedo Cat*

            Is it? The other side is that someone who might not be a 100% match for skills and experience might get a chance.

            1. fposte*

              Yup, exactly. We focus here on the applicant whose story we know, but now another applicant, who maybe has written in to AAM about her exhausting job hunt or her previous toxic boss, is going to get a job. That’s not a bad thing just because we heard more about this applicant.

      2. Lynn Whitehat*

        How could you not know? IME the yammerers know who they are. But some combination of nerves, ADHD, an inflated sense of self-importance, childhood trauma, or whatever makes it difficult for them to shut their traps. No way am I taking on remedial social training for an adult who didn’t ask for it. Especially since I’m probably the ten thousandth person to tell them they need to sometimes shut their pie holes and let someone else get one single word in. If it were that simple, they would have done it by now. So we’re basically talking about acting like a therapist to an adult who didn’t ask for it. Hard pass.

      3. Observer*

        Why would the OP (and her org) hire someone they needed to coach on such a basic thing? The main attraction here, in the first place, is that she’d need less training than other candidates. But, if she really needs that kind of coaching, they are jut replacing one kind of training – which they are set up to do and also have the metrics to manage – with another training that they are NOT set up to do and which is much harder to manage.

        As for telling her, that’s a different story. Yes, it would be a kindness to let her know, but I can understand why the OP (and her management) would be hesitant to do that.

    5. Holly*

      It’s not just the level of talking though – it shows a real poor lack of judgment to start bringing up eyebrow waxing or personal details like that in an interview. Whatever happened in that interview conveyed a lack of interpersonal skill that would negatively impact the team. A second interview wouldn’t change that.

    6. LizB*

      I’ve done plenty of nervous babbling in job interviews in my time, but it’s always been long-winded answers to questions or work-related babbling. Going on about irrelevant personal things and making your interviewers interrupt you in order to ask any questions is a much bigger red flag, IMO.

      1. Anon today*

        Yeah, if it were relevant to the job I would think it is just nerves and maybe do another interview. Personal details are across the line.

    7. Snark*

      This would be extraordinarily kind and considerate. Honestly, though? She flubbed her interview running her mouth to the point her interviewers had to interrupt her, and displayed pretty poor judgment in her topics and delivery. You pretty much get one chance with an interview.

      1. GG Two shoes*

        not to mention it made the interview go from a 1/2 hour to 1 and 1/2 hours! That would be messing up people’s schedules, especially if they had another interview lined up afterwards.

    8. Trek*

      These are the type of questions that I think OP has gone through in their head for the position that takes 6-12 months to be proficient at. I don’t think they need another meeting to answer them.
      Are they trainable?-If the person never listens or doesn’t stop talking I don’t see how anyone can train them.
      Will they fit with out environment? Appears to be no but honestly I’m not sure what environment this person would fit.
      Would I want to work with this person everyday? Like it or not this matters and is separate from fitting in-literally do you want to see this person everyday? Case in point I have a co-worker in another department that I don’t work closely with but I avoid because he will try to trap people in lengthy conversations that go no where and are not work related. He is good at his job but…

      1. Femme D'Afrique*

        I think this is important because hiring is not always about finding the person with the right qualifications, but it’s also about who will fit in with the existing office dynamic. PLUS if they do end up hiring the talkative interviewee, it sounds like SHE might end up being miserable if her coworkers are not as talkative as she is, or if they end up finding her irritating. I don’t see how this could work. It sucks because she’s qualified on paper, but I don’t see an upside to hiring her.

    9. Serin*

      I had a co-worker like #1, and wherever he went, he reduced productivity for everyone in a five-mile radius. He did nothing but talk. His work sat undone while he talked. If you wanted him to stop talking, you had to look him in the eye and violate social norms by saying, “Dave, I need you to stop talking and leave now.” And if you did that, you’d have to do it again the next day! He was an absolute nightmare, and I’m having flashbacks right now. [shudder]

      Someone who can’t keep the chatter under control in a job interview, when so much depends on it, will not be able to keep it under control at work, either.

    10. Cheddar & Caramel*

      I think the subjects of the derailments makes this one a bit of a no go (even if she had answered questions in a timely fashion, they’re still inappropriate answers), but I feel like part of her interview being three times as long as expected was that the interviewers didn’t reign her in and get back on topic. She might be rambling about random stuff, but part of your job as an interviewer is to have control over the interview (whether that’s gracefully making sure people keep their answers short and on topic, or asking them to expand on answers when they’re the opposite of this woman). I’m leaning towards second interview as well, but one where it’s not a free for all from the itnerviewee’s end. Can she answer questions concisely if you keep her on topic? Because that will be important.

      1. Dove*

        The letter says that they couldn’t get a word in edgewise without interrupting. To me, that sounds like they *tried* to reign her in and get things back on topic, but weren’t successful because she just kept talking at a pace which didn’t leave any room for natural redirects or even blunt redirects without actually having to interrupt mid-sentence.

        I wouldn’t give her a second interview – the first one already took three times as long as it should have, and she’s already indicated that she’s prone to oversharing; her co-workers and managers shouldn’t have to learn to forcibly redirect the conversation or deal with the intimate details of this person’s life just to get a two-word answer for whether or not the materials they need for a project are going to arrive on time. And the LW stated that she thinks this candidate would be an *incredibly* bad culture fit.

        1. Khlovia*

          Yes, what was supposed to be a 30-min. interview turned into a 90-min. interview; so in a sense she’s already had the equivalent of three interviews. And she flunked all three.

    11. Anonymeece*

      We had a candidate who did something similar, and we could all tell it was just nerves. That said, she stayed on topic to the questions, she just took way too long to answer them.

      This candidate sounds like she’s sharing personal details and not staying on topic, as well as talking too much, which is the more important red flag, I would say.

  11. Mommy MD*

    Picking up lunch for others cuts into your personal lunch hour, is a big hassle and kills your peace. Never expect it of anyone.

    Office incessant yappers are worse than nails on a chalkboard. And this behavior is a communications problem.

  12. Cordoba*

    I’m sure it varies between companies, and probably even between bosses, but I’ve always thought of a PIP as a one-time thing at best.

    That is, if you successfully complete a PIP and then have further substantial performance issues you just lose your job. It seems like this is exactly what happened to the LW.

    This seems fair to me. If an employee has been put through a real PIP and is still not doing their job well I can understand the company not wanting to invest the resources involved in doing anther PIP when experience indicates they’ll likely continue to get substandard work. It sounds like this is what happened with the LW. It’s no fun to be in that situation, but it doesn’t seem to be unfair.

    I think in many places a PIP is really just a “prelude to firing” which does the concept a disservice. If managers have already made up their mind to let somebody go they should just fire them and avoid a performative PIP. That doesn’t seem to be the case here, as LW was around for a few years after getting off the PIP.

    1. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

      I would agree with you if the previous performance issues had been recently, but it seems that LW4 performed well enough for several years after the PIP. So it feels a little bit weird. Of course there can be reasons why it would still make sense, like if the job duties have changed or if the new problem is exactly the same as the old problem, showing that the employee hasn’t actually improved (but done other things OK). But if she’s done well with the same thing for years, then I don’t understand at all. If you make a bad rice sculpture in 2014 and another bad rice sculpture in 2018, but make a bunch of good rice sculptures between them, you’re not a bad rice sculpture maker.

      (Note: I live in a place where employers don’t have the right to fire people as freely as in the US, so I don’t have personal experience with this kind of system, I’m just trying to think what would be fair or not. Here we have a 6 month trial period and during that time you can be fired without warning for any reason as long as it’s not discrimination, and you can also quit a job without notice during that time. After the first six months it’s much more difficult to fire someone.)

      1. Cordoba*

        I expect that the vast majority of US workers go their entire decades-long career without ever being on a PIP.

        If somebody is performing so poorly as to justify a PIP multiple times then that’s an indication that they’re not a good fit for the job, even if there were a few years in-between. In all likelihood, they weren’t a superstar in those in-between years either.

        To use your example: If somebody makes a bad rice sculpture in 2014, then 4 years of barely-acceptable rice sculptures despite having received specific focused individually-tailored instruction in how they could improve their rice sculptures, then another bad rice sculpture in 2018; perhaps rice sculpting is not the right job for them.

        Typically one bad outcome or failed task is not enough to land an otherwise good employee on a PIP; these sorts of problems are most often dealt with as the outliers they are. PIPs are usually the result of sustained poor performance over a period of months or even years; I’ve seen people survive a PIP but I’ve never seen these people go on to be great at what they do.

        1. cncx*

          This. i think it is important to understand that sometimes a PIP means the job is a bad fit, not that the person is a bad employee, just that rice sculpting in that company may not be for them.

        2. Pollygrammer*

          I have a friend who mentioned that she was putting an employee on a “performance improvement plan.” It turned out that she meant that there was one tast she genuinely wanted him to improve his performance on, and some of the “improvement” was getting him training, having other employees write clear SOPs, and otherwise giving him everything he needed to succeed at something he was struggling with purely out of lack of expertise and experience.

          I told her she sounded like a great person to work for, and also that she should definitely call it something else.

        3. Katie the Fed*

          “Typically one bad outcome or failed task is not enough to land an otherwise good employee on a PIP; these sorts of problems are most often dealt with as the outliers they are. PIPs are usually the result of sustained poor performance over a period of months or even years; I’ve seen people survive a PIP but I’ve never seen these people go on to be great at what they do.”

          Agreed. If I’m putting you on a PIP I’m assuming you’re not going to work out in the long term. While it might help and we don’t have to fire you, I’m kind of expecting it. And I agree that most people who survive one are really never going to be phenomenal employees.

          1. Lucille2*

            I disagree that employees who survive a PIP don’t go on to be great employees. I think it really depends on the circumstance. There are times when an employee is not a good fit, and surviving the PIP is simply forcing a square peg into a round hole, which is never a good long-term solution. However, I’ve known tenured employees who’s performance suffered due to issues in their personal lives (like a divorce). In those cases, the PIP is more of a wake up call that their job is now on the line to an otherwise good employee.

            Of course, a second PIP in 2 years I feel is more an indication of a bad fit. If an employee is going on a PIP or having serious performance discussions after already surviving a PIP, then the second round is not likely to give as much room or time to improve.

          2. Been There, Done That*

            This sounds like the exact opposite of what a PIP ostensibly is supposed to accomplish–calling it a plan to help someone improve when in fact it’s paving the way to dump them even if they fulfill the plan. I’d think the assumption would be that there’s some faith that the employee can improve and go on to be a good worker.

      2. MK*

        Not to nitpick the letter, but the OP was put on a PIP a couple of years ago and then was cautioned about performance issues again two months ago; that hardly means she performed well enough for several years. If she was put on the PIP two years ago, then got through the PIP, then performed adequately for a time, then started slipping again, which would have taken some time to be noticed and addressed, well, that’s not an employee who has had two separate performance roadblocks in the span of many years, that’s someone who messed up, did ok for a while and then relaxed again into making mistakes, a.k.a. an consistently unsatisfactory performer. And if the OP has been working there for less that three years, this is someone who was never great at the job. It’s not weird for management to decide things aren’t likely to change.

    2. Kat in VA*

      In most places I’ve worked (as well as the husband), our phrase for a PIP is “They’re not showing you the door, but they’re certainly handing you your hat.” (Credit to the movie “Contact” for that gem.)

      Not that he or I have been PIPped – I used to work in HR back in the day and wrote them up, and he’s a Director so he’s been involved in crafting a few of them. In our experience, a PIP is basically a corporation covering all their bases so there’s no blowback when they finally let go of an employee.

      1. Snark*

        That’s generally true, but I put one of my direct reports on a PIP once for a major screwup in a specific area of his responsibilities, when his performance was great in the other 90% of his work. His hat was fine where it was, he just needed to get straightened right out on this particular area he was falling down on.

        1. Kat in VA*

          I like a PIP when it’s meant to be used in a constructive manner and communication is great on both sides. I think that’s what they genuinely should be used for: as a matter of, “Hey, this is really serious, and you’re generally a good employee, but you gotta get your feet straight and moving on this *one* or *two* areas to make you really stellar, here’s all the steps you need to get your butt together and rock it.”

          Sadly, though, in our experience (the husband and I talk shop often), a PIP is almost always guaranteed to result in an employee’s firing at the end of the PIP timeframe. At one of his previous jobs (in tech), it wasn’t uncommon to load up an employee’s PIP with absolutely unreasonable, unmeetable goals to ensure that HR could say, “Wull, we *did* tell you that you had to move that 16 ton pile of sand using only tweezers from spot A to spot B and do it all in a week by yourself, and you agreed to it even though you technically had no choice and knew it was impossible, and it’s only half done, so…later!”

          He left that job, partly due to being told he had to PIP out 7 of his 13 employees even though they were stellar in every way – his boss wanted to hire some of his buddies and the current employees were in the way. It was…a terrible company.

          1. Cathy Gale*

            Thank you for adding this. Sometimes a PIP is simply not fair and has nothing to do with your competence. You have to have a strong sense of what the atmosphere around you is like, and very realistic about your work product.

      2. A username for this site*

        Yes, at my work a PIP means, “You’re so incredibly bad at your job we’ve decided to take the effort of doing all of the paperwork to terminate you, including corrective action forms and PIPs, even though being short a warm body in your seat is going to be a terrible hardship for us.”

        By the time someone is on a PIP, they have already committed terminable offenses. The PIP is just putting it in writing for HR.

      3. Lucille2*

        I’ve known managers who use the PIP exactly as you describe, as a prelude to firing. It’s simply going through the motions to get approval from HR to terminate someone. However, I’ve also known managers who use it for its intended purpose, to give an employee opportunity to improve performance before facing termination. I think it all comes down to the manager.

        1. Been There, Done That*

          More and more it sounds like PIP is just deceit and that no one wants the employee to improve and do a good job. And even if they do, they still have a sword hanging over them. And we’ve seen so many posts about bad, incompetent, or toxic managers here that I don’t doubt PIPs are used to just get somebody.

    3. Jen*

      A PIP is also a lot of work for the manager, at least in my experience. At my workplace it is 3-6 months of intense review, checking in with the employee and looping in those above. While 2 years may seem like a long stretch, in terms of the amount of review and impact on ratings, it really isn’t.

  13. ChargerBug*

    Sorry about the firing. That’s super stressful. But you were warned, and you’d already been on a PIP. Just try and stay positive for your next job and really pay attention to detail. Good luck.

  14. Tau*

    #1 – think of it this way: what’s more likely, that you’ll be able to train Chatty McTalkative to be quiet and let others work in peace, or that you can train one of the more professional but less experienced candidates up with the knowledge needed? I know which one I’d pin my hopes on.

    Especially because the behaviour as described is really, really egregious. I’m on the chatty side, especially for my field, but I cannot even imagine behaving that way in an interview! I wouldn’t hold out much hope for her suddenly becoming reasonable as an employee.

    The main exception I can think of here would be if the chatter was nervousness-induced and you’re certain she’s not going to be facing similar situations in her job. However, you’re the one who was in the interview and it doesn’t sound like you got the impression that’s what it was.

    1. Mad Baggins*

      This is how I would spin it to my boss. Since the job typically takes 6-12 months to be self-sufficient, an inexperienced person would take… 12-18 months maybe? Yes it’s a little longer but in 12 months you could have either 1) an experienced oversharer hated by the whole office or 2) a professional colleague who is still learning the nuances of the role. Which would you prefer?

      1. LurkieLoo*

        If the chatting made the interview process 3 times longer, it would not be a stretch to assume the chatting would also make the training 3 times longer, or more, since it can take a few minutes to get workflow up to speed again after an interruption.

        However, as others have mentioned below, it might be worth a second interview to see if the chatter was one-off nerves or personality. I don’t know if I’d be brave enough to just lay it all out in the interview that I was concerned about the chattiness, but a second interview might shed some additional light on the matter.

    2. Pollygrammer*

      I have a hunch that this candidate thought she already had the job, and this interview was just a formality. If her temp agency told her that she’s the strongest candidate they’re sending she might feel like she isn’t supposed to try to impress, just to get to know them. This doesn’t excuse talking nonstop about herself, though, because people find that offputting under any circumstances, not just job interviews.

  15. Willis*

    Yeah, it definitely sounds egregious. When I read the first couple lines of that letter, I was thinking the applicant maybe just went on too long with her answers to the interview questions, which could be nerves or an attempt to be really thorough or whatever. But I can’t really imagine getting in to too much detail about any one of those topics the OP mentioned, let alone all of them, in an interview! I can’t picture her being less talkative on a daily basis!

  16. Shannon*

    #1 If the experience will shave off months of training time I’d do a follow-up phone interview and see how she does. Maybe she was just really nervous, etc. like you said.

    1. Ender*

      You could let her know that she was too talkative and ask her if she can rein it in, then do another interview. If she’s capable of shutting up, she will, if she’s not, she won’t.

      It seems to me if the only other options are to hire someone far less experienced, or to reopen applications, this is a small risk to take. Be explicit about what’s wrong and give her a chance to prove she can set it right.

      Even if it’s a strong habit that takes her a while to break, look at it this way – you can spend 6 months teaching her this one aspect of the job, or 6 months teaching someone else everything else about the job. So long as you’re totally explicit about the problem, it seems like a much better use of a managers time to teach one skill rather than multiple ones.

      1. hbc*

        I don’t think I would tell her why, because even very talkative people can be terse for a focused 30 minutes, and then you’ve still hired the office chatterbox. I’d probably insist that I get a reference (even if just a colleague) to see what she’s like in real life, or barring that, fabricate a low-pressure reason to talk and see how she does there. Maybe going over the benefits in detail to “make sure she understands them” or something. If she spends a bit longer than average talking, fine, but if she goes over exactly how she’s used her vacation time for the past ten years, pass.

      2. BethRA*

        I think it’s a lot easier to teach someone a set of skills than to change their personality.

        1. Jen*

          I have to agree, as someone who has trained before. I have dealt with both types and I would take teaching someone from scratch over a difficult personality any day.

    2. fposte*

      But she’s likely to be nervous sometimes in the job, too, and even if she’s not like that in a subsequent interview, it’s significant that she was like that.

      I understand the impulse to give somebody the best possible chance, but honestly, that’s not how hiring works; we really can’t tailor the approach to give every candidate the best possible light on themselves. I mean, why aren’t we worrying about the other candidates and asking if they can resubmit resumes or get second interviews too? Why are we seeing only this one as specially deserving of a second try? Do you want to justify to the second-choice person why the first-choice person was allowed to get a second interview after fumbling the first when the second-choice one didn’t get that option?

      That doesn’t mean you have to have a perfect interview, but it means that a really bad interview is going to have an effect on candidacy, and that’s fine; it’s supposed to.

      1. Nervous Nellie*

        Seconded! That she did not see that the interview was her one chance to make a strong first impression and sell herself for the role says that she was not nervous. Not at all. She was very, very comfortable. Those monologues aren’t going to stop with employment, and they could really harm everyone present.

        We had her twin at the company I just left. Her endless booming monologues affected morale in team meetings and coworker interactions, and hurt the partners’ credibility when they couldn’t successfully redirect her to shut up. We even discontinued sharing quick personal anecdotes at the beginning of our weekly team meeting (which we had enjoyed for years) because she held us all hostage for 40 minutes once (of a 60 minute meeting) to ramble on about best vacation spots.

        She affected the mood in the room every day. People would avert their eyes and scurry away when she arrived. Teamwork was impossible. It was a real problem. When the boss overheard a staffer say that she didn’t have half an hour to talk to Ms. Ramble about a one-minute question, the bosses finally did something. She was put on a PIP, and then she decided to quit and move back to her home state. The first Monday post-Ms.R was oh, so peaceful. The effect on the team cannot be understated.

      2. JSPA*

        A sudden fever will put me in that state. I’m sure other people have other temporary issues that do same.

        If she’d sent a follow up email saying, “Thanks so much for interviewing me. It turns out I was coming down with the flu and was quite feverish and distractable during our interview. If you’d like to touch base again in a few days when I’m more myself, I would be willing and grateful,” that would show self-awareness, and highlight that this isn’t her normal operating procedure.

        Absent a “please excuse,” I think it’s fair to assume she considers her performance either great, or close enough to normal that it’s better to not mention anything.

      3. Brett*

        Interviews are a strange combination of meeting unfamiliar people in a nervous situation where you are required to talk.

        I’m the type of introvert where I do not talk at all when meeting new people. I bring other people to do the talking in that situation. If I try to talk in that situation, I will do what this interviewee did.

        The only way I have handled interviews in the past is by studying like crazy and scripting out my answers in detail. I interview by phone, if possible, and keep a timer in front of me the entire time so that i can cut myself off. I have been extremely fortunately in that, because our industry is small, I have done all of my in-person interviews with people I already knew.
        Despite interviews being like this, I have no issues with this in my day to day work life. Interviews just have to be a special worst-case scenario.

        1. fposte*

          I fully understand that there are outliers. It’s just a bad plan to hire expecting people to be them.

          1. Brett*

            That’s why I think the OP needs to push for references. If OP really cannot get them, from the agency or the candidate, then they have to go on what they know. The candidate has work history and experience, though, that suggests they could be missing one of those outliers.

  17. Reb*

    OP32, if you’re the fellow’s supervisor, I reckon you should cut way back on how often you take him up on his offer to get your lunch. Especially if there’s any risk that you’re influencing how often he offers, like, he offers if he happens to catch your eye when he’s about to leave. It’s possible that he doesn’t really want to pick up your lunch but feels he has to offer to because you’re his supervisor, so what looks like an innocent thing could be building resentment in him. (I know he offers to get everyone’s, but he’ll know by now that the others won’t take him up on it.)

  18. Serendipity*

    OP 1 – I don’t think taking non-stop is a deal-breaker IF the candidate is aware of that, and can edit themselves down in day-to-day work.

    I have tendency towards verbal diarrhoea. My husband used to joke that I was great to go shopping with because staff would offer me cost price goods to shut the hell up and get out of the shop. And when I’m nervous I talk a lot more than usual. I can’t help it – my brain hears silence as a void that must be filled.

    I know about my verbose nature, so I do my best to tone it down at work. In emails I write what I want to say, then edit a few times until I’ve condensed the message as much as possible without losing the point.

    I am currently in a very small team with a co-worker who is very introverted, hates small-talk and avoids people wherever possible. Could have been a disaster but we get along very well. I limit my conversation to comments about the weekend or work issues, and tell my life story to my favourite barista instead. I have also perfected a sneaky intercept to redirect people wanting to chat to our team to my desk instead of hers, which I know she appreciates. I do all the information gathering/ department liaising and she is a whiz at investigation and problem solving.

    I second the suggestion that another interview might help ease the nerves. Or just ask them directly! If they are self-aware they should be able to talk about how they manage different communication styles in a work environment.

    1. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

      I also have verbal diarrhoea and sometimes people can get annoyed when my answers are too long and too far from the point. Still I understand not to make a job interview into a long chat about my eyebrows!

    2. Holly*

      > ” IF the candidate is aware of that, and can edit themselves down in day-to-day work.”

      But the candidate is clearly not aware of it, and cannot edit themselves in a work environment, since they acted this way in an interview! It’s not comparable to how you’re describing yourself. Plus, it’s more than just the talking, it’s the interpersonal details.

      1. Lil Fidget*

        Yeah I think it’s safe to assume the interview is the candidate’s attempt at their best behavior. Even if you’re going to discount nerves, there may also be times in the job where they’re stressed or nervous, and I wouldn’t want this behavior reflecting my team.

        1. Holly*

          Talking a lot due to nerves I can forgive – *if it’s talking a lot in a way that is coherent and in an interview context.* Talking a lot about your personal life and your waxing habits during an interview is just bad judgment.

      2. Brett*

        Interviews are a special case in that you are required to talk without knowing the other people.

        It is a rare situation that you can easily work around in day-to-day work by ensuring that you have familiar people with you when you are dealing with new people in tense situations where you must talk.

    3. Secretary*

      but also, what you do sounds different than what’s being described here because you think about other people while talking.
      People like this… it sucks to get cornered by them. I say cornered by them because social convention says you’re supposed to listen patiently and be interested, but if they just go on and on and on until you interrupt, it is so much mental labor. It’s the kind of conversation you have to escape from. I wouldn’t want that on my team.

    4. Cathy Gale*

      I think it’s great that an extrovert and introvert have decided to work together so well as a team. Bravo to the two of you for your teamwork and appreciation for each other’s needs.

  19. Kella*

    I’m really curious about what form the “hounding” took with #4. Were they repeatedly telling you that the work you were doing wasn’t good enough or being generally critical? Were they demanding more, faster? How did they respond when you told them their approach wasn’t helpful?

    I’m wondering if there was a disconnect between the superiors and OP #4. Maybe OP’s superiors were saying, “we need you to meet this higher standard now,” and OP was hearing, “I need to learn how to work towards meeting that standard.” Perhaps the reason their hounding wasn’t helpful at all is that they needed OP4 to be able to do the work at that level without help. If that were the case, responding to “you need to change this now,” with “well you’re not being very helpful!” would be very offputting and indicate an unwillingness/inability to do the work at the level needed, and firing would make sense.

    1. Mad Baggins*

      “If that were the case, responding to “you need to change this now,” with “well you’re not being very helpful!” would be very offputting and indicate an unwillingness/inability to do the work at the level needed, and firing would make sense.”

      This is exactly how I read it.
      Fergina: You input these numbers wrong again. You really need to remember that llamas and alpacas should be separated on this form.
      OP: It’s just hard because I don’t know which are llamas and which are alpacas.
      Fergina: Well you need to figure it out because you keep getting this wrong.
      OP: OK, I’ll do my best.

      OP’s conclusion: Fergina keeps hounding me. I need to learn how to work better but this feedback isn’t helpful=I will keep working hard and eventually get better.
      Fergina’s conclusion: OP is not performing up to standard and is unresponsive or even defensive to feedback=Coaching isn’t working and OP needs to be let go.

      1. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

        So what would have been a good response from OP in this situation, in your opinion? Maybe ask for resources about how to separate llamas and alpacas? “You need to figure it out” is quite unhelpful indeed and if I was told that I would definitely ask for clarification and suggestions. But would that be too defensive?

        1. MK*

          I don’t know about defensive, but it might be a sign that the employee isn’t able to do the job. I would take “you need to figure it out” to mean “we expect the person doing this job to be able to manage this on their own”. And while I am hugely in favor of training employees (and frustrated with employers who refuse to do it and them wonder why they can’t find good people), there are some things an employee is expected to know beforehand, otherwise they shouldn’t have gotten hired. And the OP is an employee of several years standing, not a new recruit.

          1. Czhorat*

            I feel for OP but we also need to remember that a PIP creates more work for management; the OP’s boss need to justify the extra time spent coaching to their boss if it’s happened more than once.

            1. Jen*

              At my workplace, a PIP is almost as intense as training a new person, with similar amounts of oversight and reports from the manager. If someone isn’t showing improvement it is just easier to start from scratch than to engage in sunk cost fallacy on someone who is a poor fit.

            2. NW Mossy*

              Yes, absolutely. The last one I did (as the manager) was absorbing about 25% of my day, every day, by the time it ended. There’s no way that I could sustain that level of involvement in one person when I had 10 other people to manage and a full slate of projects, and no way that I would want to if I wasn’t seeing sustained and significant improvement.

          2. CMart*

            “there are some things an employee is expected to know beforehand, otherwise they shouldn’t have gotten hired”

            I’m dealing with this now, as the peer-trainer to the person taking over my role as I move to a different one. There’s certainly a learning curve for new positions, new tasks and projects etc… and it’s impossible to know what LW#4’s situation was this time without more details. But my current frustrations are coloring my reading of the letter, wondering if this was a case of unfortunately yet again not possessing the basics needed to perform the job.

            It’d be one thing if this was the Teapot Division design team with a new project where they needed to paint the teapots with a specific number of alpacas and a specific number of llamas. If LW was making mistakes because they didn’t know the difference and was told “figure it out”, and there weren’t any resources to enable them to figure it out then of course this would feel like they were set up to fail.

            But it’s another thing if this is the Camelidae Sorting Division and the LW was hired because they have a degree in Peruvian Animal Studies. “Figure it out” would almost be more than generous because well… they should be able to figure it out.

            My situation is currently the latter, where my trainee has a bachelor’s in Teapot Design and they keep asking me things like “but tea and coffee are the same, right?”

            1. fposte*

              I’d also say there’s a middle-ground area where it’s okay not to know initially but you should be able to do your own research to learn rather than expecting to be told. When I’ve got a writer who’s using words incorrectly, for instance, I’m not going to walk them through the appropriate word choice for every instance; I’m going to expect them to double-check their vocabulary.

              1. CMart*

                I define that middle ground as “knowing enough that to know you should know better”.

                It’s the difference between “I didn’t know llamas and alpacas were different” followed by an expectant stare, and digging into a project, seeing things were sorted by llama/alpaca and thinking “aren’t those the same? If they’re labeled differently then probably not, I should look that up…”

          3. Khlovia*

            Agree. Every other employee in the company figured out how to tell an alpaca from a llama within a few weeks of being hired. It’s kind of weirding the boss out to discover somebody who didn’t. Obviously educational resources about camelids were available.

        2. Cordoba*

          In this case I think a better response would be one that shows that the employee is attempting to employ higher-level thinking to the problem rather than just saying “I don’t get this, help me!”

          In this example, a better answer might be “I’ve been sorting them by the farms they come from. I thought Farmer Fred raises the llamas and Farmer Sarah raises alpacas?”

          This gives the managers something to work with and shows that the employee isn’t entirely lost. In this example the manager might then respond: “In most cases that’s correct, but occasionally Fred will wind up with an alpaca and vice-versa. You need to go by the field on the spreadsheet labeled ‘neck length’ to make sure you get it right.”

          Ultimately it’s reasonable for employers to expect that people will be able to figure things like this out without specific guidance and hand-holding every time. In most non-entry-level professional jobs *nobody* knows the exact answer to the problem you are trying to solve, that’s why they gave it to an experienced professional to sort it out.

          Everybody occasionally needs an explanation, misses something simple, or zigs when they should have zagged. But if there are 10 people with the same job and 9 of them consistently just show up and do their work with minimal help and #10 is continually making mistakes, or asking too-basic questions, or struggling with routine aspects of their job then it’s fair to ask if they’re in the wrong spot.

          1. aebhel*

            Exactly. It’s one thing if there’s a specific misunderstanding that’s impacting job performance (‘I thought the process was ZYX when actually it’s XYZ’), but in that case, when you’re getting feedback that you’re doing things wrong, you need to be specific about what you THOUGHT was the right process. The more effort and guidance management has to put into getting you up to the necessary standard, the more likely it is that they’ll just cut their losses.

            I feel bad for the OP, because it sounds like they didn’t realize how serious this performance issue was. But it really doesn’t sound like it was out of the blue.

            1. Lil Fidget*

              I totally sympathize with feeling “hounded” but I think that comes from a less-supportive approach to a correction – they’re not walking you through it kindly this time, because … they did that last time (even if it was for a different issue, they’re still going to feel that way).

            2. Cordoba*

              It’s a tricky balance to hit if you’re the employee.

              You want to explain what you were doing and why so that everybody can figure out what the problem is, but you don’t want to come across as making excuses or saying that they should necessarily do it your way.

              And of course, an employee shouldn’t be on the wrong end of this conversation very often.Even for non-critical jobs >95% of what you do really just needs to be right.

          2. Anon supervisor*

            Here’s the thing. I had an employee who was sorting alpacas and llamas for six years. I came in as her supervisor in year 5. Claimed to know the difference, claimed to be well-trained in the process. The problem was that she felt 100 percent accuracy was an impossible standard. No one else on staff had that problem. She also stepped it up for the PIP and passed. Then after some time there was slippage. There were reminders verbal and written. 80 and 85% accuracy rates despite my reminders (hounding.) As anxiety producing this process was to the employee, it was exhausting to me. Yes, she was surprised, shocked, and dismayed that she was let go.
            I hope OP finds a better fit in a work environment where her skills and talents will be well-used and she has satisfaction in her work.

            1. Cordoba*

              I think sometimes people understand getting off a PIP to mean “I’m good now, boss is happy, everything is back to normal” when in fact it means “you came as close to being fired as is possible, barely squeaked by, and will likely be on unofficial probation for quite a while yet”.

              1. MassMatt*

                This. I had a long-term underperformer moved to my team, the PIP took a LOT of time and energy, he managed to survive it (3 month period with intensive coaching). Immediately afterwards, he started agitating for a raise. He had been ineligible for that year’s merit increase (because PIP) and had not gotten a raise in a few years (because LT underperformer) and cited his “completing” the PIP as an accomplishment deserving a raise! I was dumbfounded.

              2. Katie the Fed*

                Yepppp. They also require SO much coaching and effort on the boss’s part – ain’t nobody got time or energy to do that repeatedly.

        3. Mad Baggins*

          This is so tricky, and I think MK and Cordoba have answered it pretty well. I was once in OP’s shoes, sort of, and I interpreted “figure it out” as “I don’t know/care what you do to get it right, just get it right.” So I tried explaining my thought process so it could be corrected. I tried to identify patterns in my errors. I tried to take better notes and improve my processes. I participated in training lectures and tried to research on my own and “figure it out”. I should have asked coworkers for general advice about how they work and reached out for assistance, but I struggled with this as I didn’t have a supportive network at work. At the end, I realized that just. not. getting. it. might be a sign that this job just wasn’t for me. They needed someone who could easily tell llamas from alpacas, and I needed to feel competent at work–it was just a mismatch, and that seems like the same result as OP.

          The good news is I found a job that is a better match for my skills, and my confidence has increased, I’m not hounded ever, and life is good! So OP, I am sure you can do the same!

  20. Mad Baggins*

    OP#3: In your shoes, I would do a 1-2 combo like Alison says, of 1- expressing regret that the boss is leaving (this is a good way to put it neutrally without dwelling on the layoff) and 2- any generic well-wishing you wrote in anyone’s yearbook. If you’re not a fan of the boss, there are so many stock phrases like “best of luck in all your future endeavors” to choose from. If you really liked your boss, you can make it more heartfelt and specific, like “I learned so much about llama needlepoint from you” or “You inspired me to take the alpaca knitting exam.”

    I don’t think any true expression of gratitude is overly saccharine; it might actually feel good for your boss to know at least they had a good run. (And if you were lukewarm then a standard thanks will be truthful enough.)

  21. CurrentlyBill*

    For #1, I think it’s reasonable to choose someone else, however…

    This line: “We could barely fit any questions in. She just talked until one of us interrupted her.” tells me you could get questions in and she would stop talking when the interviewer would interrupt.

    That tells me this was also a failure on the part of the interviewer to not enforce their agenda and time limits. Some people will just keeps talking to fill silence. It seems incumbent on the interviewer, as the meeting host, to politely shut that down to make sure the accomplish their goals in the interview — which is to collect enough data to make a decision about moving the candidate to the next level.

    If the interview was scheduled to go 30 minutes, and the interviewer is frustrated that it went 90 minutes, I’d say the interviewer screwed up — not the candidate.

    To be fair, if an interview is going long, and on tangents that the interviewer is happy to see, that’s awesome. That doesn’t appear to be the case here.

    1. KR*

      Yeah I feel this. I’ve been in conversations where it’s generally accepted that someone else will lead the conversation and they don’t and I am unprepared to do the whole thing myself and end up rambling. Then again I also am not a sociable person so maybe this isn’t helpful but I feel like the interviewer should have been asking questions and leading the conversation and maybe the candidate wouldn’t have had time to ramble.

      1. Lil Fidget*

        I actually agree as well. In an interview, you the questioner has all the power. I would have cut them off with increasing brusqueness rather than let a meeting go three times over the length I had planned. (That said, a 30 minute interview would be very short for my team). I guess you did learn what you needed to about this candidate though, by letting them run on and on.

    2. Just Employed Here*

      “Some people will just keep talking to fill silence ”

      Yeah, but most interviewees will understand that they should shut up somewhere before they get to the topic of eyebrow waxing (assuming the job is unrelated to that topic).

      If it were just one of those topics the OP mentioned, I would understand (for example: I see you speak language A. Yes, I speak it with my husband who is a native speaker. Oh, did you meet in [corresponding country]. Yes/no, [very short explanation]).

      But this candidate doesn’t seem to be able to self-censor herself, and that in a situation where everyone understands you put your best foot forward. And it’s not her first job so probably not her first job interview.

      Letting her babble on without specifically reigning her in *did* give them valuable information in this situation!

      1. Emily K*

        “Yeah, but most interviewees will understand that they should shut up somewhere before they get to the topic of eyebrow waxing (assuming the job is unrelated to that topic).”

        It really depends on how the interviewers reacted. I’ve definitely had friends who report as a positive that they “ended up talking” to their interviewer about unrelated/personal topics and thought it was a good sign that the interviewer liked them. “It felt more like a conversation than an interview,” or “I feel like we instantly had a rapport,” or “We ending up talking about all kinds of things, and we got so deep in conversation they ended up keeping me for 90 minutes!” And not naively so, often those are things that happen in a good interview.

        I’m with CurrentlyBill here. Regardless of how chatty and over sharey the candidate was, the interviewers are running the meeting and being unable to stop a candidate from turning a 30 minute interview into a 90 minute one against their will is a serious failure to assert control of the meeting. I’ve had long winded candidates before, and I didn’t let them hijack the interview and take it wherever they wanted.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Your last paragraph may just reflect why she is a bad fit for this office–because they are not good at derailing the eyebrow was train once it gets up steam, even if some other offices do this instinctively.

          (I am picturing someone employing the “Don’t speak, and see what they say to fill the stretching silence” interview technique matched with this person.)

      2. a1*

        I keep thinking things like the eyebrow waxing are due to nervous insecurity, like she caught herself rubbing her eyebrows thought it must look odd so commented something about when they were waxed and so on.

      3. smoke tree*

        I think it’s hard to draw a definitive line about what topics will turn off interviewers. I have a friend who is very charming and also very talkative, and she’s told me that she tends to get into lots of personal stuff during interviews, but it works for her–I don’t know if she’s ever had an unsuccessful interview in her life. But she is also good at reading the room and wouldn’t blather on to the point of the interviewer having to interrupt. I think it comes down to a lack of general communication skills for this particular interviewee.

    3. WellRed*

      I agree in theory and wondered that reading the letter. But, I also had a co-worker who would similarly go off in 12 tangents in a conversation. We referred to it as getting caught in the riptide.

    4. Allonge*

      Fair point. I worked at a place where we started interviews with “basic facts of how this is going to happen”and one of those was: we ARE going to interrupt you if we are running out of time, this is to make sure we get to all the points we want to get to and for you to have time to ask questions too.

    5. Lemon Bars*

      Yes, I really can’t imagine how it went on for 90 minutes and you didn’t get all of your questions in because the interviewee was talking about personal stuff, and no one put a stop to it. I can see letting her go off topic a little but I have to agree 1/2 of the blame at 60 minutes over has to go to the interviewers for not taking charge of their interview. I think its a lesson as you and your boss interview more be more direct and when a topic goes off too far this is a great time to say “I think we are getting too far off topic tell me more about ______”. Giving the the interviewee something specific to focus on to get the conversation back. With 2 interviewers you really shouldn’t have large amounts of silence because beforehand you should have the questions outlined and who will ask which ones.

      1. Nom Nom*

        I have to admit, I wondered if the talkative interviewee wasn’t just filling in the gaps because the interview was so unstructured. I just can’t imagine a properly prepared for and structured interview where you just let the interviewee warble on for an hour over the time. I’ve gone over to this extent twice in 25 years (once as the interviewee and once as the interviewer) Both times is was because there was a really important thing that came up and it meant that – eg I was interviewing for a role and there was a much more suitable one that I didn’t know about and agency hadn’t told me about so they brought in the correct hiring managers etc and similar for the person we were interviewing when we had a better fit for her we desperately needed filling. I can’t help thinking there are larger problems at hand at that organisation if you will listen to eyebrow waxing and taco stories and not control your own interview. OP, perhaps it might help to have a strategy better sorted out prior to any other interviews. Also major red flag, you are leaving in 6 months and your manager wants to hire dodgy interviewee right now? You have plenty of time to find a better fit and/or refine your interviews

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          But even an unstructured interview wouldn’t open you up for a discussion about eyebrow waxing and how you met your husband. I mean, your favorite taco place, sure, because there are still those taco reports from last week. But the rest of it suggests that it was just someone who likes to talk, and not someone who was struggling with an unstructured interview.

          1. fposte*

            Yes, I agree. And the thing is, even if it was an interview that could have been managed more directly, that doesn’t change that the interviewee isn’t a good fit for this office. The question here isn’t “Whose fault is this?” but “Should we hire this person?” And the answer is no.

            1. epi*

              You raise a really good point about fit. The last sentence of the OP’s letter really caught my attention– this candidate irritated her a lot! And it sounds like she has reason to believe others in the office would feel the same way.

              I would hate to work in an office where people felt about me the way the OP feels about this candidate. Hiring her anyway wouldn’t be giving her a chance, it would be setting her up to fail. I don’t mean any criticism of the OP by that, either, since it sounds like they have good reasons for their opinion. But it is miserable to work somewhere that you’re this out of step with other people. It’s not really a favor to the candidate to bring them on anyway.

              1. fposte*

                I really like your point that it’s bad for the employee to work somewhere where she’s out of stop. I think that’s a point for the OP to remember.

                Even if we’re just talking a super Guess office and the candidate is a super Ask person, that’s a mismatch that can be an issue right there.

          2. Coffee break*

            That is really not fair depending on the interviewer and interviewee anything is open in an interview, its getting to know the job and each other. I have had interviewers who have discussed extensions because she thought my hair was fake, and one where we discussed squirrels, and laser facials all jobs where I was given an offer. The interviewer sets the tone and keeps the pace they dropped the ball and couldn’t get it back. Maybe the interviewee was bad but not so much that the manager doesn’t want to hire the girl.

            1. fposte*

              Sure it’s fair. Nobody wanted to hire her *more* because she mentioned waxing; she could perfectly well have left that out. This wasn’t the only person they interviewed, but this is the only person who got into these weeds. That suggestions something about the person interviewing, not just the interviewer.

            2. Rusty Shackelford*

              In your case, it sounds like the conversation organically veered toward those topics. I don’t think that’s the case here. From what the LW said, it seems the candidate veered off in some bizarre directions on her own. And in many jobs, being somebody who doesn’t naturally “give the ball back” is going to be a hindrance.

              1. Coffee break*

                It may not, I just can’t imagine a time where I would let a 30 minute meeting I was leading with someone that is not ranked higher than me go on for an additional 60 minutes of nonsense and not get what I need out of it. It also seems odd that the OP’s manager still wants to hire chatty Cathy.

                1. Rusty Shackelford*

                  So you’re suggesting that people who were too polite or embarrassed or dumbstruck or whatever to rein the candidate back in should ignore her failure to stay on-topic because the onus was on them to stop her? I don’t think I agree.

          3. Nom Nom*

            No seriously, that’s exactly what an unstructured interview does. It does open up all that random stuff. You might let someone ramble on for 5 minutes about eyebrow waxing (while agreeing with them on yummy tacos) but after 5 minutes you cut it off because you’ve learned enough to know they won’t be a good fit (ramble too much about inappropriate stuff and remember you’ve probably got the next candidate sitting in reception and you don’t want to disrespect them by making them wait for an hour extra while you listen to waffle – if you cut it off and they come back on point you know it was a nervous moment – otherwise red flag)

            Also OP is not leaving for 6 months. it’s not like they have only a couple of days to fix this with few choices. Boss is pushing for talky person with 6 months to go???? There’s an underlying problem here. Talky person may not be a good fit but OP’s place need to fix their interviewing and screening too. Also, OP seems to be doing to do the right thing by her org but she also acknowledges hiring processes are flawed and she’s been trying to change them (ie it’s total rubbish you can’t see a reference check an agency has done – as Alison said, that’s what you pay them for). I wish her well

            Bottom line, if you are a hiring manager who has slotted a 1/2 hour interview and it runs to 1.5 hours with no actual benefit to the place you work for (and you are actually listening to eyebrow waxing and tacos) then you need to go back and get some training on how to conduct an interview. There are no winners here. Interviewee has probably gone home and told friends and loved ones she screwed up interview “Hi AAM, I went to an interview and talked about eyebrow waxing for ages, is there anything I can do to get the job? … :) . OP isn’t happy and it seems like boss is just trying to tick a box. The situation is far more nuanced than a lot of the responses here in my opinion (which you should take with a sack of salt)

    6. hbc*

      Ugh, maybe they could have made the interview go better, but not all of her coworkers will be comfortable interrupting her to make sure they get their questions answered. “Managed to get our questions answered in 30 minutes” is not the only goal of the interview.

      And while this isn’t true for all positions, some require being able to read the room. I remember interviewing a couple of sales people, and if they were missing the body language of impatience in that room, I can only imagine what kind of impression they’d have made on our customers.

    7. a1*

      This line: “We could barely fit any questions in. She just talked until one of us interrupted her.” tells me you could get questions in and she would stop talking when the interviewer would interrupt.

      This so much. I still remember my first road trip with a friend of mine (we were new friends back then, so didn’t know her as well). She was talking and talking, I was driving and paying attention. every now and then I’d start to open my mouth to say something but there was no break, so I didn’t actually say anything. At some point in her stream of talking she said aloud “Well, you’re not talking so I’ll keep talking.” That’s when in a split second I realized her idea of conversation was different than mine or my experience. In her world (her family and friends, etc) if you wanted to talk you just started talking, and the one that was currently talking would stop, while my experience was waiting for a pause. Neither one was right or wrong, just different. I’m so glad she said this! We’ve have great conversations ever since and became really good friends.

      TL:DR – we all have different communication/conversation styles.

    8. CaitlinM*

      That’s a good point. I learned in one of my jobs to say something like, “Please excuse me if I cut you off during the interview. If I do it’s because I have enough information on that topic and need to move on.” That way they don’t have to read into the interruptions and you can get through the questions you need to. I think OP needs to take some of the blame for the interview running so long, but I also agree that the interviewee got too personal for an interview.

    9. epi*

      I think this response really misses the point. The question wasn’t who is at fault for this unpleasant meeting, but whether it is worthwhile to hire this person now. This candidate would be covering a maternity leave. The OP won’t be around to manage their meetings for them in the future. And regardless of whose responsibility it was to run the meeting, no one should be derailing it. I can’t imagine doing this at work and then telling my boss it was their fault for not keeping me on task. Professionals keep themselves on task.

      The point of an interview in particular is not for the interviewers to set each total stranger up for success. They are supposed to be looking for deal breakers because ultimately they will choose just one person. The interviewee certainly bears responsibility for going in as the top candidate and coming out removed from consideration. Who else’s fault could it reasonably be? The OP is not her mentor.

      1. Washi*

        Right, the question wasn’t “how dare she go on talking for so long?” it was “should we hire her?”

        Also, I think in an interview context, interrupting IS feedback. I remember we had one candidate who did go on and on a bit and at one point, I did cut him off to move on, and he immediately got the message and was much more concise about his answers from that point, which impressed me favorably. Maybe they could have interrupted more aggressively, but it sounds like this person was absolutely oblivious to some pretty basic cues, which is just really hard to coach.

      2. serenity*

        Agreed. This isn’t a referendum on the interview process at this particular company (which we literally know nothing about). It’s about one specific interviewee who left a spectacularly bad impression during her interview. That’s not the interviewer’s *fault* if the candidate’s judgement is this off.

      3. fposte*

        Ha, I said the same thing upthread without realizing you’d said it here. This isn’t a moral question but a practical one. Even if the interviewee went on about waxing because nobody said “Enough!”, this is an office where people don’t say “Enough” and an employee who needs the external boundary isn’t a good fit.

      4. Fin Shepard*

        I think the company should provide feedback to the temp agency and the temp agency should provide feedback to the candidate, and the agency should possibly recommend mock interview practice or something similar to the candidate. If the candidate thought she was already selected and just meeting with the company as a formality, that may have had a bearing on the situation. Was the company also interviewing other candidates? In any case, it may work out to select chatty Cathy for a limited duration assignment, but I would be wary of making a permanent hire.

    10. Matilda Jefferies*

      I had the same question – why did the interviewers not take more control of the situation? But at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. It’s pretty clear that there’s a cultural mismatch here, whatever the reason, and it doesn’t sound like the employee would be a good fit for the job.

    11. Logan*

      I had an interview recently where they provided 5 questions and then gave me 15 minutes to think about them before, and when I entered the room they said that I had 45 minutes to answer the questions and it was up to me to allocate the time as I wished. They would ask major follow-up questions after those 45 minutes, and I could ask them questions after that as well. It wasn’t the best flow, as the first part wasn’t very conversational, but I like the concept of “You, as the interviewee, have these time limitations and are encouraged to work within them”. It also worked for me, as some questions required more explanation than others, so I spent more time on them. Part of the job also required good presentation and time-management skills, so I can see how this was a big aspect of the interview.

  22. BekaAnne*

    OP#4: I know exactly how you feel.

    I had a job once where I had an absolutely fantastic six month probation review (9.5 out of 10) and then 4 weeks later, I was given a (retroactive) verbal warning for something that happened on one of my projects. I worked hard, I did everything to the best of my ability. I checked in with my manager regularly. But then, out of the blue 2 months later, I was put on a PIP. The PIP was for 3 months.
    I asked for feedback. I worked hard. I put in extra hours. I up-skilled on all our products. I made sure that all my project files were updated to the level of detail that if someone picked them up, they would know what was discussed at each client meeting and stored all my emails in our central archive. I got no bad feedback from my manager at all.
    We met at the end of each month to discuss my progress on the PIP and again, nothing negative, nothing to work on, just continue as I was doing. We got to the 3 months and my manager said that I’d done okay. She wasn’t great at positive feedback for anyone. I thought that was the last of it, and did my best to keep my head down, keep up my work and continue on the path that I had been on.
    Then I got called into a meeting about 3 weeks later and was given a written warning for not being up to standard. I was shocked. Totally and utterly shocked. I literally didn’t say a word in the meeting as they read out the letter and then gave me a copy. I just … I had no idea what had happened.
    So I scheduled a meeting with my manager who completely refused to engage with me. She would take my project updates but wouldn’t even hint at how I was doing. She didn’t give me good or bad feedback. She started taking projects off me until I was pretty much sitting in the office with a single project and about 30 minutes of work to do on it per day. I worked damned hard on that project. I managed to get money out of our non-paying client who was the client associated with my project. I got it back on track. I took some pressure off the engineer building the technical solution by drafting a very simple user guide for our client.
    Aaaand, I got invited to a meeting with my manager and HR to be given notice of termination. Again, out of the blue with 30 minutes to the end of the day. My manager smirked at me across the table and told me that I had to be expecting this. I said that I wasn’t. The HR manager gave me 48 hours until the termination meeting to put my case together.
    48 hours came and… Yeah, I laid everything out. I started with the fact that I had successfully completed my PIP and was told by MsSmirksALot that it had never ended. I came back with a “well then, I should have been informed of that fact.” HR agreed and MsSmirksALot had to swallow that. But again and again, she kept saying that even with support I had failed to show an improvement. I asked what support I had been given. She glared and said that we had regular catchups. In the end, I was terminated.
    I got my letter in the mail with a 14 day window to file an appeal. I talked to my future MIL who works with an Employment Appeals Tribunal in Ireland and she gave me the best piece of advice I ever had. Only appeal it if you actually want to work there again. I didn’t. She managed to isolate me in the office so that anyone who spoke to me got the scut work for the day if they did. I went to work at 7:30 and left at 5:30 with no one talking to me all day apart from my one client.
    I did write back. I wrote a three page letter back basically outlining the non-support, the bias towards other members of staff, the fact that she had been claiming my professional achievements as her own in the weekly executive meetings – I was copied on the emails – and then putting her professional downfalls on me (clients refusing to pay, bad implementation decisions for clients that I didn’t even work with). I gave them both barrels, but respectfully and negotiated myself a 3 month settlement paycheck instead of the 1 month they were going to give me.

    But yes, I was blindsided every step of the way. I had thought that there were professional conducts, steps you had to go through to be fired. I thought that they had to be upfront with you, tell you honestly how you were getting on, provide constructive feedback. They don’t. Not even in countries where you have a contract and legislation backing you up, so God help you guys in the US.

    MsSmirksALot did a horrid number on my confidence, and it’s only now, 3 years later that I’m finally starting to get over both it and my imposter syndrome. :(

    Try not to let it knock you down, OP. Get right back out there. Keep looking and you will get a better job, and bring the lessons that you learned with you. *hugs*

    1. Lawn Flamingo*

      Hugs. Gaslighting and psychological abuse (sometimes physical abuse!) is how most managers keep their staff in line where I live. Idk about Ireland, but in South Florida (US) there’s a shortage of jobs and a small elite “in crowd” who is TERRIFIED one of the temp underclass will succeed at something. I had a significant recognition recently from efforts outside the office that is quite promising. The FEAR and RAGE on manamgement’s faces when word of it got out, the nasty emails about me… if I didn’t need the income it would be comical.
      Being an island, I wouldn’t be surprised if the same limiting mindsets exist in Ireland too.

    2. 653-CXK*

      Wow, BekaAnne…your boss is an absolute jerk. Glad that your former HR and your MIL had your back!

      I went through a situation similar to what you did. In my ExJob’s process, I was put on a verbal PIP, but then they did the formal disciplinary steps before terminating me. My former supervisor was great and proactive on all this, but in the end, I just couldn’t keep up (and take the constant worry and anxiety) anymore.

      When I left that morning I was terminated, I felt free. If I were asked if I wanted to return to old company, I would say no. I would never go back to that amount of stress, micromanagement and pettiness ever again. I’m still looking, but the lesson I’ve learned is that no matter how good you think you’re doing, some people are never satisfied; if you get to their level of competency, and they still not happy, it’s time to go.

    3. WellRed*

      So glad yourMIL gave you that advice. Your manager obviously didn’t like you and there’s no getting around that. Also, did they literally call you into the office and read you a letter?! Good riddance to the whole lot of them!

    4. Observer*

      What you went through is terrible. But this sounds totally different than what the OP describes.

      The OP had already had one PIP – where they knew what the problem was and got help from the company. They were warned again, and were told what the issues were. And, they were getting continued feedback that things were not going well. So, whether the employer was being reasonable or not is not clear. But the OP definitely DID know that there was a problem and that their employer (not just the direct manager) was definitely unhappy. So, the fact that they are totally blindsided speaks to them not reading signals that were being sent, even though the manager could possibly have been more clear about the issue.

      1. soon 2be former fed*

        In forty years, I’ve never been on a PIP, but if I ever had been, I would have started job hunting immediately after being notified. Being put on a formal PIP means you are not a good match with the job requirements. Either the employer didn’t describe what they needed well, or the candidate oversold their qualifications. In any event, there is a mismatch as most employees don’t get PIPs. Get out as early as you can.

    5. Lucille2*

      This is a terrible experience, and MsSmirksALot is a horrible manager. I could’ve sworn I’ve worked with MsSmirksALot myself, but US version. I hope you are able to rebuild your confidence and come away from this more savvy than before. It’s unfortunate that as an employee, you don’t know how to spot the horrible managers until you’ve had some bad experiences under your belt. If there is any consolation in this, MsSmirksALot will end up with nothing but a team of mediocre employees. Anyone highly skilled with options will jump ship the first chance they get working for a manager like that. She’ll be left with those who are skilled at staying out of her sights but not really capable of contributing anything meaningful to the business.

    6. OP #4*

      Thank you for sharing this! I’m so sorry you went through this. Mine was nowhere near as bad as this. In fact, that’s sort of what gets me. So, it’s a really small company. My managers are my employers. That’s it. There is no official paperwork. the PIP wasn’t official, there is no official HR, no written warnings, no written anything except my termination. And they talked such a big game about wanting to help everything. I cannot stress enough that the PIP was NOT a precursor to being fired, which they also emphasized over and over to me at the time. (And it shouldn’t be!) So many commenters seem to think I should have been looking for a new job back then, and I wasn’t. I trusted my employer, and I trusted them to be transparent with me, which is something else they talk about constantly. So a lot of this, to me, was mostly feeling like they weren’t holding themselves to the standards of trust and transparency they claim to, when nothing at all drastic had changed, the improvements they wanted were a) happening and b) sort of long term things to see progress. I also think “hounding” might have come across incorrectly – what i meant by that was they would say something like “we want to see you billing more hours” and the next two days I would bill 8+ hours (we’re supposed to bill 7.5 or so) and then i’d hear “we aren’t seeing enough improvement” and i’d ask “what can i do better?” and they’d say they didn’t know. so that went back and forth for a bit and then they stopped the last few weeks so i thought maybe things were finally better and they were happy? But clearly not. So, a little more background on my blindsidedness

    1. Lance*

      Let’s try not to be so rude to the OP’s, at least. I can see where they’re coming from; from a practicality standpoint, having someone who’s already going out to lunch somewhere pick some stuff up for their coworkers sounds good on its face, but OP just has to remember that it’s also detracting from that worker’s own lunch break, so requiring them to pick up others’ orders is… not serviceable.

      1. Ladysplainer*

        No. It doesn’t make sense. Op is saying either:
        1. Employee 1 is stepping out so Employees 2-10 have no need to leave their desks;
        2. Employee 1 cannot possibly have any personal (or medical!) Business to attend to on his lunch break, so I’m entitled to have him run errands for the office.
        Both are extremely problematic, this is without getting into OP’s ableist assumption that everyone can just carry a ton of stuff.

        1. Grits McGee*

          Eh, I mean those might be possibilities, but I think it’s way more likely to be more of a fairness*/consistency thing. It seems like OP’s feeling is that if the employee is going to offer to get lunch sometimes, it’s only fair that he asks every time. Which is still a little odd, since it doesn’t sound like anyone other than the OP ever takes him up on it, and OP doesn’t mention that anyone has hard feelings about it.

          It can certainly be ableist to make assumptions about people’s physical abilities. However the employee is the one who voluntarily makes the offer to pick up the food, so I’m not sure that issue is really relevant to the OP’s specific situation.

          *Fairness in a “Oh, you have a snack? Well, did you bring enough for the whole class?”-type sense.

          1. Technical_Kitty*

            That’s not fairness unless you are in kindergarten and don’t want the entire class up in arms because Billy got a cookie for his snack and the rest have apples. In adults it is entitlement.

            OP2 is being a little entitled if they do, in fact, believe that the worked should do this all the time. I’m not sure that they do based on the reading of the letter though.

        2. Lily Rowan*

          That’s a really extreme interpretation. From the OP’s perspective, the employee is offering! And he wouldn’t offer if he didn’t mean it.

          1. ladysplainer*

            That’s the problem though. “You offer a favor sometimes, so I’m owed it every time?” I take the ableism comment back (that was me projecting my own experiences) but given the power imbalance, OP needs to really re-examine their attitude.

          2. Annie Moose*

            Yeah, I’m guessing OP’s thought process is: “Leonard often offers to pick stuff up. Usually no one takes Leonard up on this offer. It would be polite of Leonard to offer every time, and most people would continue to not take employee up on this offer. Therefore it’s not an imposition on Leonard to ask every time because he’s still not usually going to be asked to get anything.”

            Which is still inappropriate IMO (Leonard can ask as frequently or infrequently as he likes, regardless of how many people take him up on the offer), but is not the same as “Leonard should pick up lunch for everyone in the office every day”, which is not at all what OP actually said.

          3. MassMatt*

            This simply isn’t true, *especially* when the person the favor being offered to is the boss! People offer to do things all the time out of a sense of obligation or because they think it’s being polite, and DON’T want someone taking them up on it.

            As another poster pointed out, the danger of doing someone a favor regularly is they will come to expect it and feel entitled to it. Favors should go both ways, if someone is doing you a favor over and over and you are not reciprocating then they are being taken advantage of. OP, may I ask what favors you do regularly for this employee?

    2. Jessie the First (or second)*

      No need to be rude responding to a letter-writer, though. You can get your point across without insulting the OP.

  23. Banker chick*

    OP2- I might be off base, but in recent years my employer has been subject to lawsuits about not giving proper lunch breaks, misclassifying employees etc… And now they are extremely detailed in their expectations of how employees and managers act in regards to getting paid etc.. I would worry that your expectation of him getting your lunch, especially when it is obvious he doesn’t t want to, might make him say his lunch period isn’t free from work and expect to get paid(assuming his lunch is unpaid). My employer was originally sued for not giving proper lunches(lunch breaks are required for non exempt employees in my state) , employer countered many were exempt, and then it was determined they were misclassifyed.

    It might not be the same in your situation, but I would be careful what I expect from employees in this situation and how it could be interpreted. Lunch should be a break from work, not an added stress.

  24. Bookworm*

    #1: Hire one of the who needs more training but talks less. As someone who is highly introverted, nothing makes me more miserable than being stuck with someone who doesn’t know when to stop talking and it’s worse if it’s a something like a work situation (ie I really can’t escape or tell them I’m not in the mood to chat). I’ve been in these co-worker situations too: they don’t stop talking but have some quality that makes management reluctant to do anything or it’s something they’d rather ignore because this isn’t really needs to be enforced or whatever.

    Also with the training: as someone who has been job searching and finally got a job, it’s been ENORMOUSLY frustrating to see organizations all want cookie cutter candidates so they don’t have to further “invest” in them. Sure, you run the risk of them running off to the next better thing but actually investing in a less-experienced candidate could really help your organization in the long run.

    1. I'll think of a clever name later...maybe.*

      I agree. I admit, I’m looking at this letter very personally. Several years ago I was a volunteer for an organization and was paired with another woman. She was very, very quiet and while I am not a very chatty person, I felt a need to fill the overwhelming silence with talk more frequently than I had ever done before. Given that the bulk of the comments relating to the chatty candidate speak to nerves and personality, it’s a pretty safe assumption that she’d react similarly if paired with someone who was quiet or more reserved than she. I also agree that a quieter candidate who needs only minimally more training than the chatty candidate is the way to go. Invest in the training!!! :)

    2. soon 2be former fed*

      You don’t have to be highly introverted to not want to work around a nonstop chatterer. I’m introverted, but I enjoy talking to people. However, I’m extremely task focused and can work very long periods without chatting and I much prefer a quiet working environment. Undoubtedly a non=stop talker would distract those around her, even if she was able to do her own work just fine. Very few of us can just be our unvarnished selves in an office environment. Somebody should do a solid for the chatty candidate and give her some constructive criticism.

  25. Oilpress*

    OP#1 – I interviewed and rejected a similar candidate this year. I agree with you that you have to take both the strengths and the weaknesses into account. One bad weakness can undo a long list of strengths, and excessive talking is a massive weakness. If they won’t shut up then how are you ever going to tell them what to do? How will you ever feel comfortable about that person representing you or your team in meetings with other people?

    1. There All Is Aching*

      Your point about not being able to trust how an overtalking oversharer will rep the company is excellent. Time is money and both clients and other employees shouldn’t have to weather the possibility of a meeting going 3x as long. Especially when she might be in a position of authority over others, because they may have an even harder time extricating themselves from her torrent — she barely recognized the interviewers’ attempts to do so, and they wielded the power of granting her a job she wants. I had a
      boss who wasn’t nearly a tenth as bad as Brow Waxer in terms of volume, but I couldn’t escape her end-of-day social/vent sessions that extended my hours by 1 or 2 on the reg. So draining and demoralizing.

  26. Madame Secretary*

    When I was 19 I worked as a clerk at a hospital and had nurse supervisors. Our department was in a building across the street from the main building and so we had to go out in the elements to get to the hospital. It was common for employees to go get breakfast from the cafeteria and bring it back to our desks. My supervisor Kate asked me a few times to get her breakfast when I went to get my own, which was fine at first. But then she expected it every day, even if I was not going for myself. I found it extremely annoying to have to be her errand girl. It was not part of my job to get her food. One day I got fed up and when she came to me with her money, I said I would not be going to get breakfast. She became angry, to the point of tears. I got pulled into the director’s office and explained the situation to her. She told me I should have just gone to get her breakfast. I was floored. Maybe I wasn’t the best employee, but she was also not a great supervisor. She was entitled and it made me bitter.

    1. Holly*

      Wow, I’m sorry you had to deal with that – that would have merited a visit to HR for sure, but that’s a hard spot for a 19 year old. They were taking advantage and not behaving reasonably.

    2. Lexi*

      Did you use your lunch to get it or was this on company time. If it is on company time I can see especially in a hospital setting where you are not a medical professional that this being more of an expectation. My SIL is a nurse in the ER and their clerks are told during hiring that they are responsible for taking lunch(food) orders and keeping the refreshment refrigerator, and coffee pot filled. They started this after they had a few nurses pass out from not being able to leave the floor long enough to heat their lunch up and eat or go get something, as they are called back when needed. However it is never as a part of the clerks lunch times, to do any of this.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Although it wasn’t an expectation when MS was hired, only after she did it a few times.

        1. Lexi*

          True, and if this was a business office I would be with her on it. I’ve just found that hospital (actual in the hospital) work even non medical doesnt follow the same norms are a corporate or business office due to the nature of the job.

      2. Madame Secretary*

        Our office was strictly administrative – no patients were there. It was the home care service offered by the hospital. We all worked 8:00 to 4:30 every day.

  27. Allonge*

    I have a collegue who has no clue when to shut up. If I were to add up all the time wasted because of everyone else trying to be polite (at least until they learn better) and not walk out of conversations, I would come to a non-insignificant number. When someone shows you who they are, believe them.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      That was my thought too. Even if the candidate will get her work done, no one around her will get anything done that is on on their plates. I’ve had chatty coworkers in the past, it’s a nightmare.

    2. Lynn Whitehat*

      Yes. Someone like this can actually be a net negative because they drain time and morale from everyone around them. And it’s not easy to coach them about, either. This kind of behavior tends to be deeply ingrained.

  28. Selene*

    OP1, you might also want to consider what is absolutely necessary to be capable of on day 1, what is unlikely to change, and then what is trainable. In other words, if there is someone who seems smart (to the extent that that is relevant to the job) and generally like a good employee who is easy to work with (the worst case scenario with a new hire, in my opinion, is that they are a net negative because they make other people less effective. A very talented jerk can be much much worse than an average skill but easy to work with person), and who seems to have potential, you might consider that person. Obviously be sure to be careful that you aren’t seeing men or white people as having more potential than women and people of color, but instead of aiming for the perfect candidate, it can be helpful to think about someone who is likely to be a high performer 6 months to 2 years into the job. But you might consider doing a second round of interviews with the chatty person and with a few other people to see what that gets you, assuming you can see yourself hiring one of them.

  29. Alton*

    #2: One thing to keep in mind is that just because someone occasionally goes straight to the restaurant and brings their lunch back to the office immediately doesn’t mean that they’ll always want to do it that way. And he shouldn’t have to tell people if he’s planning to go out to his car first to make a personal call, or if he wants to get in a refreshing walk before picking up lunch, or if he’s meeting up with a friend for lunch, etc. Expecting him to always offer might limit his flexibility or put him on the spot.

    1. Aphrodite*

      Exactly. One of the important things I learned from a now-defunct etiquette forum was this: Begin as you mean to go on. In other words, if you don’t want to become the default office coffee or lunch picker-upper don’t ever offer to do it.

  30. doingmyjob*

    I see the talkative candidate a little differently. Ask yourself if this is something you can address through training or a frank talk with her. Sometimes people get really nervous in interviews. My thinking is that anyone who comes in will need some training, it just depends on what you want to train someone for—if she has all the other knowledge you need, then coaching/training her on this issue may wind up helping you get a great employee.

    1. Marthooh*

      These two kinds of training are not equivalent, though. After you (management) train someone to do a job, you keep giving them feedback based on how well the job is done. With behavioral issues like chattering and oversharing, you won’t necessarily know if they start to backslide, and their peers (who will be the ones to suffer) shouldn’t have to take responsibility for keeping them in line.

  31. Lusara*

    OP4, I’m really sorry. However, I think they decided they were going to fire you two months ago, which is why they didn’t do another PIP.

  32. StressedButOkay*

    OP1, my concern is less with the nonstop talking – though that can pose a potential issue if hired, like Alison mentioned – but about the lack of judgement on what’s appropriate and not appropriate to talk about in an interview. That’s such a huge red flag for me.

    Someone who became nervous and talked too much about work/the interview is one thing; this seems to be something entirely different.

    1. Bones*

      Yep that’s where my mind went as well– it’s not so much the talking in and of itself, but the spectacularly bad judgement that comes with talking *that much* in an interview.

  33. Izzy*

    OP2: Your coworker is doing a nice thing for you that he doesn’t have to do in the first place. Expecting him to do it every day isn’t a great way to return the favour.

    If you really want takeaway food at your desk every day, why not order it to the office with Deliveroo/Uber Eats/etc?

    1. Izzy*

      Or every time he goes out, rather – I see now from the letter that he doesn’t go out every day. Either way, it’s still not a reasonable thing to expect from your coworker unless you’re willing to make “fetching me my lunch” part of his job description.

      1. Izzy*

        Well, yes, that would be my first thought too! But given what the OP is asking, it rather sounds like they don’t want to get their own lunch and if they have their heart set on takeaway then Deliveroo etc is a better option than expecting a random colleague to fetch it for them.

  34. Bones*

    As someone who frequently talks too much I was all ready to defend the candidate in #1 but… oof. Girl. If I were her interviewer I’d seriously question her judgement.

  35. Allison*

    OP2, as someone who also gets takeout a couple times a week (sometimes more, I’ll admit), and who frequents those “build your own” rice bowl/salad/wrap type places, I’d be pretty ticked off if my boss told me I had to start offering to get everyone lunch. Doesn’t matter how many lunches I’d end up getting on average, doesn’t matter if we found a way to make taking the orders and accepting payment easier, I still don’t want to be of service to others during the hour that’s supposed to be *my* time, and I certainly don’t want to risk someone’s order being wrong and spending my lunch break dealing with it. I don’t want to say “I’m getting Indian today, who wants something” and having people say “awww I wanted Mexican, can’t you go to Chipotle* today?” I also don’t like the idea of people coming to rely on me for food, to the point where if I’m out, or decide to stop getting takeout, or change my routine and start going to places no one wants food from, people suddenly don’t know what to do since Lunch Girl isn’t feeding them anymore.

    *let’s not derail with “yeah no one should have to go to Chitpotle, it’s garbage!” comments. I happen to like it, their sofritas-style tofu is amazing and other, more authentic Mexican/Tex-mex places around here don’t have anything similar.

    1. Allison*

      Oh, forgot to add: the only thing that would make me consider getting takeout for a group is if my lunch ends up being paid for, or heavily subsidized, by my employer.

    2. California Limited*

      OP #1: I have a slightly different take on this issue.

      From your letter it sounds like you don’t actually have the power to do the hiring, but that you are being asked to make a recommendation to your manager. And that your company has artificially limited its options by going through a temp agency. If neither of those are under your control, then I’d say make your best case for what to do but know that the company is going to do what it’s going to do.

      Should they hire this person? Based on your description, I’d say they shouldn’t. Are they? Well, I guess that’s on them. Sometimes it helps just to know what you can control and what you can’t.

      Enjoy your new baby.

    3. Cacwgrl*

      Ugh, who does that bit about trying to get you to go somewhere else? I’m guessing since you used that reference, it’s already happened at least once. People are the worst!

      I just did a Starbucks run myself and told my workgroup I was leaving in 5, in case anyone wants to place an order, I’d be happy to grab it with mine. It’s standard here to let the group know where and when if you want to use the app and cover it yourself, we’ll mule it back for you. If you want something else, you’re on your own and if you don’t want to announce, don’t do it. We don’t mind, we all know how to use an app, place an order, drive to a local place, and can get our own food/drinks.

      1. Allison*

        No, thankfully not to me since I don’t offer to get people food period, just seemed like a thing that might happen if people start to see you as a source of food.

        Thankfully I’ve never been expected to pick up food for my coworkers. I was told, at my first job, that I needed to start offering to fill everyone’s water bottles when I got up to fill my own, and while I thought it was nice when people offered, to expect that everyone do it seemed kind of insane to me. In hindsight I wonder if the boss was trying to peg me into an unofficial role as the team’s assistant.

  36. Polymer Phil*

    OP 1 – I feel your pain about the temp agency. At my last job, my grandboss and the HR person were both wedded to the idea of using an agency with little understanding of our technical field. When my immediate boss pushed back, the HR lady said “what, do you want to go through a big stack of resumes yourself?” That was exactly what my boss and I wanted! We could have done a much better job of going through a stack of technical resumes than some temp agency that was just blindly matching keywords.

  37. Cass*

    If you do decide to make this a requirement then you may need to pay him for the time spent collecting lunch for others as the time is no longer his own (assuming he’s overtime eligible and in the U.S.).

  38. Didi*

    OP1 – Totally agree that you should pass on Chatty Cathy.

    I hired someone like this once. She wasn’t as bad as what you’re describing, but she was very talkative. I chalked it up to nerves and youth.

    Turns out it was a major flaw in her personality. She was very good at her job, but the talking was out of control. Everyone in the office hated her, clients didn’t want to work with her, she was passed over for a promotion because of it, and even simple 1:1 meetings with me, her manager, were ordeals. I gave her feedback on several occasions that she needed to be quiet in the office and needed to keep comments concise and on-point. I had her take online training courses in effective communication. She would be chastened for 1-2 weeks then go back to her old ways.

    Finally I told her point-blank that she talks way too much, it was disruptive and unprofessional. Of course, she told everyone in the office how “mean” I was and she quit. I was not sorry to see her go.

    1. ArtsNerd*

      Similar, but not quite the same: I struggled with a candidate who was competent and personable, but had a naturally very loud manner of speaking.

      We’re a mostly quiet open-ish office, and I do believe it would drive my coworkers mad — though it wouldn’t be a dealbreaker for me. But I really struggled with that factor. It’s a largely white workplace and they were Black, so there’s all that cultural and racial baggage around being “loud”, too. In the end, I realized that while I liked their personality and experience, the things the candidate explicitly stated that they like in a boss-employee relationship (clear structure, explicitly set out tasks and expectations, etc.) is not how my department functions. So I did not move them forward in the process, because they weren’t actually the best fit for the role in that way.

      But is it appropriate to eliminate an otherwise top candidate from consideration only because they speak more loudly than existing staff members? I don’t have an answer but stories like yours are moving my dial closer to “yes.”

      1. Observer*

        If your office is so open that someone talking a bit loudly is going to be a problem, then the problem is your office lay out.

        I really can’t think of too many situations where eliminating a good candidate who doesn’t talk in a “library voice” is a good idea. What the OP describes doesn’t even come close that, though.

        1. ArtsNerd*

          I agree OP is clearly over the line. That said, it wasn’t “a little loud” and we don’t communicate in library voices when we speak to each other. It was a strikingly loud speaking voice, no matter the context. Is there ever a point when “loud” becomes unprofessional the way “talking too much” does?

          Our office layout is less than ideal, absolutely! We maintain a polite fiction that any closed-door meetings in our ED’s office are totally inaudible to us. That’s… not great. But it’s also not changing any time soon. And this speaking voice would likely carry into the spaces below us which are yoga studios, who do need to maintain a reasonable level of quiet. Fortunately, it was moot in the case of this particular hiring process. But I’m clearly still struggling with it…

          (And I’ll stop here before things get too off-topic.)

        2. soon 2be former fed*

          I would give the side eye to anyone who wouldn’t hire a black person because they spoke too loudly.

          1. Mad Baggins*

            I mean, I agree in principle, but ArtsNerd says those optics are part of why they struggled with the decision, and ultimately the decision was based on fit for the role. So I don’t think “dogwhistle” is an accurate or charitable reading of that comment.

            1. ArtsNerd*

              It’s not just optics, but actual subconscious biases too! I absolutely would take the same interpretation as soon 2be former fed if I heard that thinking come from someone else and didn’t have firsthand experience. I’ve made a lot of progress in countering a lifetime of cultural conditioning of white supremacy (as well as all the other not-good -isms) but it’s not a switch you can easily turn off and it’s super insidious. Even if I had perfectly dismantled it in myself, those biases would work against getting the necessary buy-in from my colleagues who are less… self-aware.

      2. Didi*

        I think you’re describing something totally different. I wouldn’t assume that because someone’s loud it’s going to drive everyone crazy. I’ve worked in library-quiet settings that many people found oppressive. An open office concept exacerbates any disruption, so I’d look out for that in the first place.

        Also, if someone is loud but they’re doing their work and talking about work – not talking about their kids, TV shows, blah blah blah all the time, it’s not fair to fault someone for that. People who talk all the time about non-work stuff not only annoy people and waste time, but they show a lack of judgement.

  39. Jen*

    I used to sometimes get lunch for my former boss but that was because she was dealing with a serious illness and sometimes couldn’t walk very far. Even in that situation however, it wasn’t automatic. I also did it because she sometimes wouldn’t eat and I worried about her. I eat my lunch at my desk a lot, but on nice days or frustrating days I need to break to walk or read and won’t come back. I sometimes take my lunch late too. You definitely can’t take that kind of thing personally or expect it. Don’t wreck a good thing by turning it into an uncompensated burden for someone.

    I have been a personal assistant too, where getting lunch and coffee was a designated job duty, and it can be a tough one. Don’t underestimate just how big of a favor this is. This goes for anyone, subordinate or not. If they get you lunch, be nice and return the favor.

  40. Observer*

    #2 I haven’t read all of the posts, so I may be repeating something, but I haven’t seen it yet.

    Beyond all of the good reasons that Allison and the other posters have given for not demanding or even “expecting” this, there is another strong reason not to do this.

    Right now, this person is ok with doing people a favor. The second you turn this into an expectation, and one that he clearly is not interested in, you’ve given your staff a really strong incentive never to take on something extra or step up to the plate. Everyone will now know that if they are stupid enough to do an extra thing when they have the extra capacity to do it, you’re going to start demanding it even when they don’t. Why take that risk?

    1. Lisa*

      This is such an excellent point. It’s so easy to inadvertently penalize good behavior, which is exactly what this would be.

  41. Minocho*

    OP #4:

    It could be that the existence of the prior PIP meant things were handled differently this time. It could be that other circumstances led the OPs supervisor to act differently as well. At this point, the OP is in the position they’re in, and they need to figure out how they’re going to move forward.

    My best advice:

    Examine what behavior you can change to keep this from happening again.

    You can’t control others, you can only control yourself – so focus on what you can do to avoid this in the future. Off the top of my head:

    1. Ask for clarity if you’re feeling uncomfortable with a situation – ask your boss for clear and simple rundowns of expectations, next steps, etc.

    2. Make it as easy as possible for your boss to give you that feedback – when you hear something difficult or critical, thank them for the input, ask any clarifying questions you may have about the feedback, and then work on correcting the issue. That way it’s easier for your boss to continue giving you clear information – and you’ll hear it sooner rather than later, giving you a better chance to nip negative impressions in the bud.

    3. Do your best to understand what you’ve learned from this – and use that information to make this a learning experience that has value to you. Don’t be too down on yourself – be as upbeat and positive as you can – job searching is hard enough! But do think about this so you have something constructive to say in interviews!

    In my previous job, I was fired for the first time. It stung…a lot. The reason I was given makes no sense to me ( I think they were just getting rid of people and trying to find cause to avoid lawsuits / unemployment insurance payments), but I also realized that I’d made some mistakes that probably put me on the list of people to go when things changed. So…I have made some changes in this job. New job is going well – maybe my changes have something to do with it, maybe not – but I think that understanding my own failures and where I can improve myself is the first step in making myself more successful in my career.

    I hate failing…but I have historically learned my most critical and lasting life lessons from my failures. Make this something that strengthens your career!

    Good luck!

  42. Yvette*

    ” if you order ahead and just show up to hand them a credit card, it doesn’t really take any more time to pick up 5 meals than it would to pick up one – ”
    True, but what happens when you get the bag back to the office and the ham and cheese has mustard instead of mayo, and they didn’t put tomatoes on the roast beef, and somebody didn’t get their pickle? It can still end up being a nightmare for the person doing the picking up.

    1. Anon for this*

      Yes, this. I am not going to stand in the restaurant for 20 minutes checking that everything is correct.

      Plus, how to you carry all that food back, plus drinks? For even two people (me and one other), this is not an insignificant task. It’s hard to juggle your keys, the car ride, blah blah for that many, much less for a big group. We have badge swipe to get into our building, and you end up wishing you had a prehensile tail to hold something.

      I agree with everyone that this is not OK to ask.

      1. Sarah*

        I used to do this all the time for my office. My last straw was at our local pizza place where I walk to often. Everyone called in their orders so I “only had to pick them up”. Except when I got there I had 4 drinks, 2 full sized pizzas, an assortment of salads, and my…sandwich. I haven’t asked my coworkers since.

    2. Observer*

      People here do tend to pick up stuff, but it’s always understood that the person who is picking stuff up is not checking anything.

      There are a lot of people who keep kosher here. Most Kosher take out places basically seal the package, so it’s pretty much a given that OF COURSE no one is checking. But, I’m pretty sure that the non-kosher staff don’t expect anyone to be checking on their orders, either.

  43. NicoleK*

    #1 I wouldn’t hire her either. I work with a Chatty Cathy. She talks a lot, has no filter, has no boundaries, regularly derails meetings, turns half an hour check ins into hour long check ins, and because she socializes so much it takes her twice as long to complete her tasks. In the morning when she arrives, it takes her half an hour to settle down and get to work because she has to say hi to many people and wanders up and down the aisles.

  44. Ladyphoenix*

    LW1: At best, I give her one last meeting to make a good impression if she is really THAT good. Otherwise, I’d move on and demand for better references

  45. Oranges*

    #4– Right now you sound like you’re seeing the performance issues as the same. You got through the previous PIP why couldn’t they do it again and you’d be able to get through it again and keep your job.

    However, to me it sounds like the first PIP was a concrete issue with an easy solution. Like putting processes in place and making sure you adhere to them. The vibe I’m getting from your second round of issues is that they’re not as easy to fix and that you didn’t realize how serious they were (going out on a limb I’m assuming soft skills issues).

    The first issue made sense to management to try to fix. The second one? Maybe not. Maybe they thought that the second issue was a basic job/employee mismatch and no amount of coaching would help. This does happen. I’m sorry.

  46. ENFP in Texas*

    “Is it unreasonable for me to expect him to check to see if anyone wants something anytime he goes out?”

    Yes. Yes, it is. It’s extremely unreasonable, actually.

    There is no way you tell your subordinates “If you leave the office for lunch, you have to ask everyone if they want you to bring something back for them.”

  47. Kenneth*

    OP#5, I’d suggest checking your employment agreement from your previous employer before doing this. Trying to “recruit away” one of your former coworkers could fall under a non-compete agreement. With my previous employer, there was a provision in my employment agreement calling that out specifically and restricted me from doing that for 2 years from the day I left.

    If such a provision exists, the better way to do it would be to get the colleague and someone from your current employer’s HR connected to you on LinkedIn, that way it looks more like HR found the connection on LinkedIn rather than through you directly. This also means that if your employer provides any kind of “recruiting bonus”, you may not be able to accept that.

    And many could say (and likely have said) “well if the previous employer doesn’t find out…”, but that’s skirting the ethical line in my opinion. You still have agreements with your employer that survive your employment for either a period of time, or in perpetuity, so ethically it’s your responsibility to abide by them.

    1. Kenneth*

      I slightly misread the post, in that it appears you’re trying to connect her with someone other than your current employer. But the rest of what I said still stands in that it could still be a violation of your employment agreement with your current employer.

  48. Lucille2*

    #1 – It sounds like there is a sense of urgency to hire someone due to your upcoming leave and the timeframe expected for a new hire to be fully functional. IME, hiring a less than ideal candidate to get an ass in the seat generally leads to problems. We hired the Chatty Cathy candidate because her skills fit the needs of the job, but her interview was all her doing the talking but not really saying anything of substance. We risked losing the headcount if we didn’t hire and we were running out of qualified candidates.

    This person was terminated within 2 years because of poor performance. The chattiness wasn’t really the issue, but she had the habit of talking her work up to cover her inadequacies. BS was her main go to when she was in over her head. Your situation may be very different than mine, but I generally think it’s a good idea to follow your gut especially if your gut says, don’t hire.

  49. Persimmons*

    #2 One employee getting food/drink for others only works in very limited circumstances. When I was a server, one of us would occasionally do a Starbucks run when a shift was slow. This worked because:

    1. Who went was determined by who had tables and who didn’t, so it wasn’t always one person getting piled on.
    2. We only dealt in cash.
    3. There was no change. Either you handed over the exact amount, or the runner kept what was left.
    4. One substitution only. Nothing with a bazillion extra shots and syrup pumps and soy this and extra foam that.

    I think the only reason it went so smoothly was because as servers we were all very aware of the difficulty of dealing with party tables and customized orders, so it was innate for us to streamline the process.

  50. Sarah*

    The assumption that because someone is going out to lunch, they are obligated to ask if everyone else wants something makes me SO MAD. I quit (mostly) a few months ago. The University I work with is about a 10 minute max walk away from a munch of amazing places. I enjoy getting out, seeing whats new around campus, and grabbing something to eat. I will occasionally ask coworkers. But nowhere near as much as I used to. In my small office they know I am going on foot. Yet on one order they they thought it was appropriate fore everyone to order drinks, full sized pizzas, etc. It was a nightmare for me to carry back, and I got complaint about orders being wrong. And in 3 year of consistently picking up food and drinks for people, no one once even offered to pickup or comp me a coffee. The idea that a supervisor would now feel it is this employees responsibility? I feel Hulk levels of indignation lol.

  51. Duffman*

    OP4 hurts my heart because they didn’t understand the underlying implication of the PIP.

    OP2, I used to have a boss who would do this and it would make me so mad because there’s some unwritten law somewhere that says people have to make wildly off-menu orders when they do this. Or they complain about where you are going so you have to go somewhere else.

  52. Brett*

    OP #1
    Please check the candidates references somehow. This person lasted at their last job 3 years.

    I’m taking this from a personal perspective. I am what some people would call a psuedo-extrovert or extrovert faker. I’m extremely introverted, but learned to deal with people and handle the day-to-day aspects of work by faking extroversion.

    I am great at some apparently extrovert tasks like public speaking, teaching, and training. I can fake leading groups, but mostly through those three skills combined with an aura of competency and relevant empathy. Put me a situation that calls for true extroverted “leader of men” type skills and I will fold (or more correctly, I will forge forward on my own and wonder where everyone else went).

    But this creates a huge problem of social overstimulation. Unfamiliar people, required talking, high pressure, high stakes, uncommon social situations, any of these can cause social overstimulation leading to an implosion of the pseudo-extrovert facade. For me (and for at least some other people who I know are similar), this implosion looks exactly like OP #1 described. Endless rambling, a breakdown of awareness of norms, and generally an eventual complete shutdown if the situation goes on long enough. Many people think of I am extremely talkative. That is really just because I often have small breakdowns when I first interact with new people.

    An interview is all of those issues combined: totally unfamiliar people, extensive required conversation, high pressure _and_ high stakes, and a social situation that people rarely experience (and the interviewee had likely not experienced in three years).

    Now, if the job requires these types of social situations all the time (especially mandatory conversation with unfamiliar people, like outside sales), then obviously this sort of breakdown means the person cannot hold the job. But if it does not, then you might have someone on your hands who cannot handle a collision of all of these factors in an unstructured interview, but could still be a fantastic day-to-day coworker who would spend a lot of time working headsdown while interacting appropriately with co-workers she is familiar with.

  53. Anonymeece*

    OP #1:

    We had a similar situation with a candidate was clearly nervous, but talked so long that the interview went on and on and on. At the very least, she stayed on topic, just beat the questions to death. It sounds like you may be dodging a bullet, and I would stand firm on saying you don’t think she’d be compatible with your team.

    Also wanted to mention: after that experience, I started out the interview by saying, “We’ve allotted about 30 minutes for this interview and there are 10 questions…” so that they can get an idea of how long they need to spend on each. It’s also okay to interrupt and say, “Well, we still have 7 questions left and only about 10 minutes left, so thank you for your answer to that one, but we need to move on.” If they STILL don’t pick up on it, then you know for sure that’s not someone you want to hire. If they’re going over by a minute or two, eh, but it can be useful for the ones who won’t let you get a word in edgewise!

  54. bopper*

    If you don’t like the boss, use the Catbert Performance Review Generator for ideas:

    Performance Appraisal for Mr. Boss:

    Mr. Boss was tasked with many assignments this year. His performance defies measurement. It would be accurate to say that he has been responsible for the changes in our work group dynamics. His work may greatly impact the company. Many wonder at the extent of his knowledge and his core values show through in his work. No one has caught Mr. Generator sleeping on the job. He handles assignments with unlooked-for creativity.

  55. Theresa*

    The thing I would worry about with #1 is how chatty she will be in the day to day and will anyone be able to get anything done? I don’t know what the office set up is but I just imagine her in the middle of an open office plan and cringe at how much talking she’ll do to everyone. So crazy!

    But I’m also an introvert she may not bother extroverts but still seems weird to tell you all that information in an interview….

    #2 – Yeah just because you are the boss doesn’t mean that people have to ask you for favors all the time.

  56. Nacho*

    Maybe I’m just too nice, but I feel like LW#1 should give her a shot. I remember being a temp worker right out of school with no clue how jobs worked. I figured I could just skip both my breaks and leave 30 minutes early, and did so for 2 weeks before somebody finally talked to me about it. If she has the right experience, and this is her only flaw, maybe hire her but make sure she knows that she shouldn’t be so talkative.

  57. Jaid_Diah*

    Back in my old building, I used to order out for my unit, collecting the money and picking up the food at the gate. I’d have some people try to mooch, like asking for the extra egg roll or the free bottle of soda. And sometimes collecting money was like pulling teeth.
    When we moved into the city, I pretty much stopped ordering. The phones on the desk don’t ring, calls just go to voice-mail (thank you, federal WTFism) and in the city, prices are higher. It was too much of a hassle and more of us are bringing in special diet foods anyway, vegan, low carb, gluten/dairy/egg free, etc.
    Once in a while I’ll get ice for the lady in my area that is handicapped, and my coworker will get her lunch and bring in containers of iced tea from Sam’s. But that’s it.

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